Venice has become the first city in the world to charge admission for daytrippers – it is now a city of culture, cuisine and charges.

Starting on Thursday 25 April 2024, visitors to the historic heart of Venice have had to pay €5 (£4.30) to access the city between 8.30am and 4pm on key days in spring and summer. It is effectively a congestion charge for tourists.

A leading city transport and tourism official, Arianna Fracasso, told The Independent the scheme is aiming “to safeguard the city from overtourism”.

Papers please: Simon Calder at the control point outside Santa Lucia (Charlotte Hindle)

Around 30 million tourists visit Venice in a typical year – with about seven out of 10 (or 21 million) staying only for the day. Just before the Covid pandemic, Unesco warned the city’s “status as a World Heritage property is in jeopardy”.

While tourists who stay overnight in Venice hotels are exempt from the fee, they must still register online and obtain a code that allows them to pass checkpoints and spot-checks by officials.

Ms Fracasso said: “It’s like a museum in the open air, so we want to safeguard it.”

During 2024, charges apply for 29 days. The first is Italy’s Liberation Day, commemorating the struggle of the Italian resistance movement against fascism during the Second World War.

The charge applies for the following 10 days, up to and including Sunday 5 May.

Visits on the seven subsequent weekends, up to and including Sunday 14 July, will also be subject to the fee. But from mid-July onwards, the charge will be lifted.

“It’s an experimental thing just for this year,” Ms Fracasso said. “Next year, maybe it will be changed.”

Unesco warns that “Venice’s ‘Outstanding Universal Value’, the hallmark of every World Heritage property” is in peril.

Cruise ships were banned from docking in the historic centre of Venice in 2021 in response to a request from the UN body that seeks to protect cultural heritage.

But Unesco remains concerned about “overtourism, the potential negative effects of new developments [and] the lack of an integrated management system”.

How does the system work?

Any visitor who wishes to be in the historic heart of Venice – anywhere in the city apart from the Piazzale Roma transport access area and the offshore islands – between 8.30am and 4pm on the prescribed dates must register online, in advance, at

You will need a QR code on your smartphone or printed out to be allowed inside the ancient city.

If you simply want to pay the fee, clicking on “Pay the access fee” will take you through a fairly straightforward process. One tricky aspect is that you have to pretend you have read the privacy policy (all in Italian) by clicking on it before you can enable a checkbox.

Admission ticket: Permit to enter the historic core of Venice on the day the new scheme takes effect (Citta di Venezia)

Can’t I just pay with contactless or even a €5 note on the day?

Yes. The hope is that most tourists will apply online. But visitors who arrive at the main access point, Santa Lucia station, can pay with cash at a kiosk. Those who are caught without a permit risk a fine of up to €500 (£430).

No actual barriers are installed, but outside Santa Lucia station there are separate channels for locals and workers, tourists and people leaving the city.

How can I dodge the fee?

  • Be under 14 (with proof if you look as though you might be older).
  • If you live in, or were born in, the Municipality of Venice you can gain exemption simply by presenting a document certifying it.
  • Be a holder of the European Disability Card or their accompanying caregiver.
  • Stay overnight. Guests in hotels anywhere in the Municipality of Venice – which includes the islands and the mainland hinterland around Mestre – are entitled to exemption including the day you check in and the day you check out. This requires you to click on “I am a guest in an accommodation facility located in the Municipality of Venice”. You fill in the usual personal details. Then you have less than a minute to make a call from the registered smartphone to an Italian number. It is said that this does not go through nor results in any charge.

Note that guests in Venice hotels must pay an accommodation tax, usually included in the final bill.

What happens to the cash collected?

The pilot scheme as currently designed is not intended to make money, but to cover costs and to discern whether or not there is a deterrent effect on tourism.

The maximum fee allowed under the law is €10 (£8.60).

Is an access fee going to catch on elsewhere?

The unique geography of Venice, comprising an archipelago accessible only by bridge or water, makes it one of the few cities where levying a charge is feasible. But other cities with concerns about overtourism, including Amsterdam, Barcelona and Dubrovnik, will be watching developments closely.

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