Italy has one of the richest food cultures in the world, full stop. This comes as no surprise given how the love of food is infused in every aspect of daily life – whether you’re gathering with family or taking a stroll with friends, there’s a perfect Italian cuisine moment waiting for you if you know where to look.
Additionally, enjoying local traditions is one of the best ways to make sure you’re getting a truly authentic Italian experience. While this can get trickier and harder to find in the most touristy cities in Italy, it’s never impossible – and Venice isn’t an exception. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the typical tourist must-do’s while still immersing yourself in the soul of the city, a self-guided Bacaro tour in Venice is an absolute must!
In this mini-guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about a Bacaro Tour – what it is, how to do it, Italian words you should know, and my personal recommendations to navigate your way through a seriously delicious dining experience.
As I’ve mentioned before, traveling doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg – there are plenty of ways to enjoy an authentic Italian experience on a budget. I’m all about traveling on a realistic budget and knowing what you should splurge on and what you can save on.
With this in mind, I’m confident your time spent drinking, snacking, and chatting with locals on a self-guided Bacaro tour is well worth an evening in Venice. Although, I don’t think you’ll need much convincing ;).
Now – let’s dive in!
First thing first – what in the world is a “Bacaro”?!
A Bacaro is a type of traditional Venetian tavern where locals gather after a long day’s work to laugh, relax, and enjoy each other’s company.
It is a rich Venetian tradition passed down from generation to generation where you go from Bacaro to Bacaro (or bar to bar) to get something called “cicchetti” and “ombra.”
Think of it like a pub crawl – just earlier in the evening and filled with more local delicacies and traditions. Twist my arm.
Small by nature, these taverns give you an intimate, front-row seat to local Venetian culture and authentic, no frills cuisine.
As I mentioned above, part of a bacaro tour is indulging in ah-mazing food.
“Cicchetti” are small Venetian snacks, such as “crostini,” which are small pieces of bread with a bunch of different toppings like fish, meat, vegetables, or “polpette” (meatballs made of meat, cheese, or fish). Is your mouth drooling yet because mine is.
There’s a variety of different crostini at every bar, but one of the most famous Venetian cicchetti flavors is “baccalà mantecato” – whipped salted cod. Even if you aren’t a fish person (I’m not), you should try it. It’s surprisingly delicious!
In addition to varied Italian cuisine, no bacaro tour would be complete without the “ombra” – a small glass of red or white wine.
One of the best parts of a self-guided bacaro tour is how affordable it is. You can literally find cicchetti at almost any bar or cafe, and they usually cost anywhere from 1.50€-3€ per piece. Happy wallet AND happy stomach?! Sign me up.
A glass of ombra (again, wine) is also very cheap due to the fact that the Veneto region where Venice is located is famous for wines. These usually range somewhere between €0.60-€2 per glass.
If you aren’t a wine fan, you can always opt for an Aperol or “Select” Spritz instead of ombra. In fact, Venice is famous for Spritz, so you shouldn’t expect to pay much more for a spritz in Venice if that’s more your speed.
Another one of the big reasons that I personally love doing a self-guided Bacaro tour is that you can go completely on your own and on your own time – you don’t need to do a guided tour to experience life as the local Venetians do.
This means if you strike up a conversation with locals at bacaro A, you don’t have to rush off with a tour group to make it to bacaro B at a certain time. Dreams.
It’s traditional to either stand or sit outside of the bacaro and enjoy the company of others while enjoying your snacks. Or you can take it outside and walk around while you snack and head to the next bacaro.
My friend Maddy and I opted to take a gondola ride with our cicchetti and a spritz in hand. I hiiiiighly recommend adding this to your bacaro tour – yes, it’s touristy, but hey, you’re in Venice, and pairing the touristy things with the local traditions gives you the ultimate Venetian experience.
Simple, delicious, and truly so much fun!
After living in Italy for a while and sampling my fair share of bacaro cuisine (it’s quite the sacrifice, I know), I’ve curated my own list of stops to guide you on your way!
As you’re creating your itinerary, consider adding these to the list:
Venice’s streets and waterways are some of the most unique in the world, and experiencing the city with a yummy snack or drink in hand is always a favorite of mine.
A self-guided bacaro tour is cheap, easy, and fun. And it’s great for groups, families, couples, and solo travelers alike. In my opinion, it’s one of the best ways to explore Venice like a Venetian, and I always love the warm and inviting feeling of this magical city.
If you’re looking for other top tips for navigating Italian food culture, you can find my guide to proper coffee etiquette here.
And whether you’re in the beginning stages of planning a visit to Italy or already have your tickets booked, I’m always happy to answer any questions you have along the way.
To book a call with me, simply follow this link to get some time on my calendar. And if you’re planning to city-hop while you’re in Italy, be sure to check out my blog on how to spend a day in Florence, too.
Happy traveling! ❤️