Today marks a big change for Venice as it officially rolls out an entry fee for day trippers. This long-anticipated measure aims to ease the heavy toll of overtourism that the UNESCO-listed city has struggled with for years.

Alongside cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam, Venice has become synonymous with the challenges of overtourism. With a staggering 30 million visitors in 2019, many of whom stayed for just one day, Venice is desperate to protect its fragile infrastructure and historic charm with the new so-called Venice Access Fee. 

Local officials, including Mayor Luigi Brugnaro, have championed the fee as a "first-of-its-kind" experiment intended to make Venice more livable. However, not everyone's on board. The policy has sparked controversy, with protests from local committees and activists throughout the city on Thursday. Matteo Secchi from the residents group argues that this fee might turn Venice into a "theme park," stripping away its authenticity and offering little real benefit to the locals.

Speaking to the Guardian today, Secchi said: “You can’t impose an entrance fee to a city; all they’re doing is transforming it into a theme park. This is a bad image for Venice." 

UNESCO has previously expressed serious concerns about irreversible damage and ongoing deterioration in Venice due to human activities, climate change, and mass tourism. The organization has criticized Italy for not making significant progress in addressing these complex issues.

The entry fee is part of Venice's broader strategy to manage tourist numbers and protect its heritage more effectively. Here’s what you need to know about this new tourist fee and other initiatives the city is implementing to control its visitor numbers.

Protesters start walking at Piazzale Roma, opposing the charge for tourists to enter the city
Protestors hold a banner reading "No to ticket, Yes to houses and services for all" as they demonstrate against the measure in Piazzale Roma on April 25 © Stefano Mazzola/Getty Images

What is the Venice Access Fee in 2024?

It costs €5 and must be paid by day trippers over 14 years old. 

The fee is known as the Venice Access Fee, and according to Simone Venturini, the local councilor responsible for tourism, around 10,000 tickets had been sold by the time the scheme began at 8:30 am on Thursday.

On what days do I have to pay the Venice Access Fee?

Day trippers will need to pay an entry fee on 29 peak days in 2024. This is during the first peak tourism period of 2024 (April 25 to May 5), each weekend in May and June, plus the first two weekends of July.

The Venice Access Fee will only apply during peak hours from 8:30am to 4pm. Those arriving later for dinner or a concert won't have to pay.

One of Venice's most iconic landmarks opens to visitors for the first time in 500 years

Who has to pay to enter Venice?

All day-trippers over the age of 14 must pay the fee. Those staying overnight in Venice accommodation will not have to pay but will still need to register to visit Venice via a new online booking platform.

Residents of Venice and the wider Veneto region (and their relatives) will not have to pay an entry fee. People with disabilities, students enrolled to study in the city, and those visiting the city for the day for health reasons or a sporting event or concert are also exempt.

How do I pay the Venice Access Fee?

Day trippers can pay the fee through the online booking platform. Upon booking, visitors will receive a QR code that they can then scan at electric turnstiles located at Venice's main access points, including the main train station, to gain access to the city. Officials say they will also check people's QR codes at random.

Authorities say this new system will allow them to understand better how many people will be coming and going and prepare accordingly. They hope to apply more resources in areas like waste management and traffic control on busy days.

People queue in a makeshift office to purchase entry tickets to Venice
Venice city council has placed an office where tickets can be purchased in the railway station forecourt © Stefano Mazzola/Getty Images

Venice's other measures to manage overtourism

The entrance fee is another cog in an ambitious and heavily monitored system that tracks the comings and goings of people in Venice. In 2022, the council installed a network of cameras, sensors, and mobile phone data in the city to keep track of visitor numbers and information.

This tracking system aims to identify areas where crowds gather and temporarily restrict access until the congestion eases, diverting people elsewhere to avoid blocking pedestrian traffic. Officials say the tracking system gives them a clearer picture of the number of people passing through and allows them to predict when specific areas will get busy. They insist it's done with “absolute respect for privacy.”

Furthermore, in response to UNESCO's warnings about the damage caused by cruise ships, Venice officially banned such ships from the historic city center last April. Instead, large ships are now redirected to alternative ports like Fusina and Lombardia, alleviating the pressure on Venice's infrastructure.  

Steward check that tourists have purchased access tickets on April 25, 2024 in Venice, Italy
A steward checks that tourists have purchased access tickets © Stefano Mazzola/Getty Images

Is Venice restricting tourists?

No, the Venice City Council has previously said that they won't limit the number of visitors. Instead, they plan to raise the entry fee on days when visitor numbers reach a certain threshold. However, they have never revealed any details of what that threshold number is.

Are there any rules in Venice?

Yes. Venice has implemented various rules designed to maintain its cleanliness and heritage. These are enforced by the Venice City Council Municipal Police. Violators face penalties ranging from a €25 to €500 fine or, in some cases, a ban from the city. These rules include the following:

- Do not consume food or drink on St Mark's Square, unless at a bar or restaurant.

- Always walk on the right.

- Do not stop on any bridges.

- Bicycles are banned (even if pushed by hand).

- Only book tours with qualified tourist guides.

- Never buy goods from illegal vendors.

- Picnics are only allowed in public gardens on this map.

- Do not walk around in swimwear.

- Swimming and divining are both banned.

- Do not litter or do graffiti.

- Love locks (and all other types of padlocks) are prohibited.

- Do not feed the pigeons.

This article was first published Jul 24, 2020 and updated Apr 25, 2024.

Explore related stories

Woman taking photo with a smartphone of Jungfrau while riding in train

Sustainable Travel

The best train rides in Europe: 10 amazing journeys for 2024

Jan 16, 2024 • 8 min read