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You now have to pre-book entry tickets before visiting Venice

Tourists will have to pay up to €10 and flash a QR code at turnstiles to get into the city

Huw Oliver
Ed Cunningham
Written by
Huw Oliver
Ed Cunningham

If you’ve ever visited Venice, you’ll almost certainly be aware of the city’s decades-long struggle with overcrowding. In peak season, the city is so rammed with tourists that navigating the cobbled alleyways around the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco can feel more like rugby than a relaxing vacay.

But last year the city started to fight back – specifically targeting day-trippers. These tourists often stream off horizon-blocking cruise ships towards Venice’s many major attractions, clogging up the city’s streets and straining its resources. 

Last summer the city banned cruise ships from its historic centre to help retain its Unesco world heritage status. The Italian government also declared the lagoon a national monument to help protect the fragile ecosystem from mass tourism.

Now local authorities are going ahead with a plan to introduce pre-booking, along with charging an entry fee. The scheme will start in June, requiring people to book online before visiting. They’ll be sent a QR code that will let them through turnstiles at Venice’s main access points. Ticket prices will vary depending on when you book: they’re likely to reach €10 (£8.30 or $11) at peak times, dropping to €3 (£2.50 or $3.40) when it’s extremely quiet.

Don’t think you’ll be able to cheat your way through, either. The electronic gates will be backed up by 500 cameras in the city centre to search for stray, non-ticketed tourists. Residents, workers and students who travel to the city every day will be able to bypass the gates, most likely thanks to a ‘virtual key’ on their phones.

Venice isn’t alone in rethinking its relationship with international visitors. Here’s how Amsterdam is fighting back against overtourism too.

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