I know a couple people who are crazy about Venice and a lot more who were not so crazy about it. The not-so-crazy contingent usually had two things to say.
The True Thing: “Three days is enough.”
In the summer, Venice is hot, mosquito-y because of the canals, frequently overpriced, and crowded. If you don’t book months and months in advance, accommodation will seem super inflated, and food is expensive even for Italy standards.
This picture is from near the Rialto Bridge, and I don’t think there’s any time of day or night (maybe 5 am or so?) when I could have gotten a shot without people in it.
So I don’t think I could have handled weeks of Venice high season. 3 days is perfectly fine to see the sights and then get out.
The Untrue Thing: “Venice is overrated anyway.”
I was really extremely ready to believe this. I tend not to like cities that are mostly or entirely tourism-based. They’re generally hokey and lack character. Often, dealing with the city isn’t worth whatever the attraction is in the first place for me. So when I heard people say that Venice was smelly, unkempt, or just generally Not Worth It, I took it at face value.
I didn’t really notice the smell; I didn’t find it any more unkempt than any other city; and Venice is unbelievably beautiful.
Wandering around and seeing the canals, the old buildings, the piazzas, and the boats has charm in spades. It’s a unique part of the world. I don’t think I’d recommend that anyone skip it on their Italy tour, even if all you do is walk around for a day. If you can handle the commute, maybe stay outside the city, but the carless narrow streets have a certain charm, too, and I liked being in proper Venice (as usual, we rented an airbnb).
I guess the moral is that you should listen to what people say and then reach your own conclusions. How groundbreaking! (Just kidding. It’s not. But I do think you should go to Venice.)