Venice welcomed an astonishing 20 million visitors in 2019. Although numbers dropped considerably in 2020 when Northern Italy was particularly badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, such high visitor numbers are increasingly unsustainable for a city precariously built on water. With a permanent population of just 55,000, it is not unusual for Venice to see almost three times that number visit daily.

Subsequently, calls for something to be done have been growing increasingly hard to ignore, with some even claiming that this unique architectural and historical gem was becoming “Disneyfied”. The move comes after a decision in April 2022 to ban large cruise ships from entering the city to protect its shores from the high waves of water they generate.

When and how much will Venice start charging tourists?

As of January 16, 2023, Venice will become the first city in the world to charge an entry fee to visitors and require them to reserve a spot in advance through a new online booking system. This “revolutionary” entry fee will be a maximum of €10 per person—the exact price of the entry ticket will range from a minimum of €3 to a maximum of €10 depending on the time of year and visitor numbers. The more the number of requests to enter on a particular day, the higher the ticket will be. The full amount is expected to be applied at the busiest times of year in the city, including the summer vacation, festivals such as Carnival, regattas, and over the Easter break.

Like many other popular destinations in Italy, Venice already charges a per night tourist tax added to short-term accommodation rates. This tourist tax will continue to be charged to overnight guests via their accommodation bill, but does not apply to daytrippers, who will be specifically targeted by this new Venice entry fee.

Which areas are covered?

Visitors to the following areas and islands will be required to pay the new entrance fee: Venice’s historic center, the Lido, Pellestrina, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Sant’Erasmo, Mazzorbo, Mazzorbetto, Vignole, Sant’Andrea, La Certosa, San Servolo, San Clemente, and Poveglia.

The fee will apply both to those arriving by public transport and in private vehicles.

Who is exempt from the Venice entry fee?

With the exception of residents, everyone visiting Venice will be required to pay the fee. The only exemptions are children under six, disabled people, students, visitors coming to Venice for health reasons or to see relatives, or those coming for a sports or cultural event. It is not clear yet whether those exempt will still need to book a free spot or will be able to come and go as they please.

How do I buy a Venice entry pass?

The new multilingual online booking system for the Venice entry pass is scheduled to be released this fall in preparation for its introduction early next year. QR technology is thought to be involved. Visitors will need to book their ticket in advance rather than on arrival. Those with flexible vacation times may want to consider avoiding the tourist peaks and choose a quieter time, when the pass will be cheaper and easier to acquire.

What happens if I don’t buy a Venice entry ticket?

Fines of between €50 and €300 will be levied for anyone found to be in violation of the new ticketing rules, in addition to the threat of criminal prosecution. Spot checks will be carried out by specially trained local officials who will patrol the areas in question.

With the funds raised from this new Venice entry ticket earmarked for funding the city’s maintenance and reducing living costs, it’s hard to argue against the scheme. Having said that, Venice’s councilor for tourism, Simone Venturini, is keen to make clear that the aim is to manage the influx of tourists in a sustainable way rather than to raise cash.

Time will tell as to whether the system is successful, with other tourist-thronged cities across Europe watching on closely…