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Internet Access for the Smartphone Addict in Venice

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St Mark's Square, VeniceEven if you just can’t live without ‘net access on the Venice leg of your European tour you might balk at the cost of hotel wifi – many hotels charge extra for it and many wifi hotspots in cafes and bars are of the paid-for variety.

There is a public wifi network, available in many squares and open spaces around the city but unlike some municipal wifi projects, this is strictly pay-for-play and its implemented in one of the most user-hostile ways you can imagine.

If your smartphone is carrier unlocked, then you’re in luck, as the two largest carriers in Italy, TIM and Vodafone can provide you with a prepaid SIM card to go in your phone, with internet included. What’s more – both of them allow you to tether a laptop or other device (I’m writing this on my laptop while connected to my iPhone’s Personal Hotspot).

Make sure you’ve got your passport on you (a driving license or national ID card will suffice for EU citizens) as they require proof of ID when you buy a SIM.


Located not far from St Mark’s Square, the Vodafone store will sell you a SIM card for €20. The minimum internet package you can activate will set you back €3, which gets you a 250MB weekly allowance. They operate a ticket system for customers, so make sure you select ‘Prodotti’ from the touch screen at the door, then wait your turn downstairs (upstairs is for mobile internet for tablets and dongles).


Walk a little further in the direction of the Rialto bridge and you’ll get to the TIM store. TIM’s deal is a little sweeter. They’ll hook you up with a SIM with ‘unlimited’ internet already enabled for €13. The unlimited really means 250MB a week, after which point the speed drops to 64Kbps (just a little faster than dialup). Unless you’re a heavy user you probably won’t hit that in a few days in the city. You also get €5 of calling credit and some inclusive minutes to domestic landlines.

Being connected while you’re wandering around this historic city is a very 21st century experience and navigating it using Google Maps and GPS makes you wonder how people managed before smartphones, though if you’re going to need to do a lot of on-foot navigation, you can conserve a lot of data by pre-loading your phone with the map of Venice using OffMaps, an iPhone/iPad app that uses offline copies of OpenStreetMap maps in conjunction with your device’s built-in GPS.

Planning a trip to Venice? We’d love to put together a Venice travel package just for you. Get in touch to find out more!

Charlie takes care of the marketing side of things at JayWay Travel. A long-term Prague resident, his interests are cooking, eating out, cycling, skiing and travel.

4 thoughts on “Internet Access for the Smartphone Addict in Venice”

  1. Hey there, helpful post!

    In Venice. Got my Vodaphone prepaid SIM for unlocked iPhone yesterday. Trying to tether my iPad. Everything seems set up, but I’ve received this message twice.

    Il tuo credito e’ insufficiente per effettuare l’operazione richiesta. Se non hai la possibilita’ di ricaricare puoi richiedere SOS Ricarica chiamando il 42010

    My Spanish is telling me that I have insufficient credits to do this operation. The two devices are paired over Bluetooth, and I have the Tether icon on iPad (and blue One Decice Connected bar on iPhone), so is this an artificial limitation? You say you connected your laptop, but did you try an iPad?

    I’ll have to hit the Voda store again and see where that gets me.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi, I was using a TIM card, but Vodafone Italy’s support site implies that Personal Hotspot can be used – they give setup instructions. It might be necessary to drop by the Vodafone store and asking for support. Good luck.

      • Charlie,

        Thanks for the quick reply. The personal hotspot is supported, but I needed the “Internet Go” plan. Yesterday, I paid €30 for (I believe) a €20 SIM card, three weeks of data at €3 for 250 MB each week (€9), and a €1 something (tip? Who knows. I just ended up paying €30 and didn’t think about it enough).

        Today, they said I needed the Internet Go plan, which is €25, allows tethering, and comes with 5GB of data for the month. Seems the deal, but I need to check back at the store tomorrow, since I’m not sure what my original €30 plan bought me. I suppose €20 for the card and to start service, but the unused weeks of data shouldn’t be needed.

        One other thing: I got the tethering to work with my iPad (using a 3GS as the source), but can’t get our two iPhone 4Ses to see the 3GS and vice versa. Not sure if it’s a 3GS issue or that phones can’t pair with each other, but it’s not good.

        Thanks again.

        Btw, my Voda store was about a two-minute walk from the Rialto water bus stop. Just keep going inland for a block at the bottom of the bridge. At the corner of a little piazza. There’s a Disney store within view.


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