Venice… Such a beautiful city filled with stunning Italian architecture, scrummy food and overflowing with culture. Paul and I have been here twice – once on our first holiday together and the second time on our honeymoon. I, therefore, thought it would be a good idea to go through my old photos and create a city guide for this beautiful place.
- Get lost – this way you will find galleries, museums, art exhibitions and shops. I got lost so much, I haven’t even been able to include some places I visited in this guide! It’ll be good for you to find some yourself.
- Stay IN Venice – it may cost extra than staying outside of Venice but you will get to see everything in the morning and evening without the cruise tourists.
- Use a water bus – you will be able to see Venice by water without paying a lot of money.
- Eat in the smaller, run down looking restaurants – hardly any tourists, mainly locals and delicious fresh food.
- Visit surrounding islands like Milano, Burano Murano – you will see why when you get there! Colourful houses, glass making and so much more.
- Stay for more than a day – Although a lot of people come for the day, they are unable to really experience what this wonderful city has to offer.
- Wear comfortable shoes – Venice consists only of walking and boats so be prepared to be taking lots of steps (I did 16,000-21,000 steps whilst there!)
- Wear layers – Although it can be colder and wetter in winter, whilst you’re climbing up and down stairs and walking around small alleys, you can get warm.
- Bring a camera (and perhaps a selfie stick) – You’re going to want to take pictures… And if you’re looking to get everyone in the shot as well as the background bring a selfie stick. Don’t own one? There are plenty on sale around Venice, but don’t pay out too much. I got one from St. Mark’s Square for €3.
- Bring wellies in winter – Sometimes the Square and alleys flood with water and no one likes wet feet.
- Wear sunscreen – Like Baz Luhrmann says, wear sunscreen. Whilst waiting in queues, even in the colder months, the sun can beam down and cause sunburn.
- Book a water taxi from the airport – For two people it costs over €100 whereas a return water bus (valid for 30 Days) will cost about €20 each.
- Get a gondola on the day – Book beforehand. This way you won’t be ripped off. You can arrange private bookings but they are a little more pricey.
- Eat at a restaurant in St. Mark’s Square or by the Rialto Bridge – The food isn’t amazing and it’s very costly. For example, I found one place that charged €12 for a coffee. Move through the alleyways and you will find small, localised cuisine – fresh and delicious.
- Go there thinking that Venice smells – it doesn’t (too much). The only time there is a smell is when the rubbish is being collected and when you walk past Rialto Market where they sell fish. There is also the odd “oceany” kind of smell, but being surrounded by water, what can you expect?
- Book lots of tours – you can walk around Venice for free and still see some amazing sights. A lot of tourist spots have audio guides which are very informative.
Hotel A la Commedia – San Marco, 4596/A, Corte Del Teatro Goldoni
This hotel is air-conditioned, has free wi-fi and a beautiful rooftop bar which sell snacks and small meals which is great for a lazy afternoon. The beds are comfy, the rooms are clean and the decor gorgeous.
Hotel San Cassiano – 2232 Santa Croce – 30135 Venice, Italy
Inside this 14th Century residence, are authentic Venetian decorated and furnished rooms. They are comfortable and some are right next to the canal giving you a beautiful view. I’ve stayed in this hotel twice and enjoyed my stay on both occasions. The staff are friendly and are incredibly helpful, the breakfast is delicious and is set in a gorgeous Italian dining room.
Venice is not cheap when it comes to meals but if you are smart and don’t get taken in by the tourist traps, you’ll get fresh, clean and well-prepared food.
If you fancy a quick snack or a budget dinner, go to the pizza stands (Antico Forno is amazing!) or smaller looking restaurants. The food is still delicious but not overpriced.
If you want something a little bit more formal, there’s Harry’s Bar. Paul and I booked a meal here (although you don’t necessarily need to) based on the Harry’s Bar reputation. At the location where the Bellini was invented it was easy to order a huge amount of drinks and a delicious (an incredibly expensive, 600 Euros ahem*) 3-course meal. One hint, if you eat here, only have one or two courses as the portions are rather large.
The decor is minimal but the service and food quality is excellent. Go there, even for a drink.
* Our meal included a starter, main and desert each, a bottle of Champagne and a few Bellini’s.
You can see more must do’s here.
TO SEE & DO
Piazza San Marco, Doges Palace, St Mark’s Basilica
The easiest place to get to and navigate from is Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). Within the square are (expensive) restaurants, ice cream bars and most importantly, the beautiful architecture including Doges Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica.
Within the Bridge is a market with lovely trinkets and Venetian masks. If you’re going to buy anything souvenirs-wise, buy it here! There are some lovely little Venetian masks, magnets, pens and trinkets that are perfect gifts for family back home.
A quick water taxi will take you to Lido de Venezia. There is a completely different atmosphere here and this is most likely due to the roads and cars that aren’t present on mainland Venice.
On a hot day, it’s a great idea to come over to relax on the beach or wander around the town centre.
For €9 you can see Venice from the top of Campanile di San Marco, a beautiful bell tower in St Mark’s Square. The queues can get long going up and down so get there early and be patient. The views are stunning – you won’t regret it!
An Opera at Musica a Palazzo – Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto Fondamenta Duodo o Barbarigo, S. Marco 2504
At the Musica a Palazzo they put on a room to room Opera. The authentic surroundings make the close operatic encounter even more realistic and dramatic. Up close and personal you get a once in a lifetime performance. And the talent of the musicians and singers is enough to give you goosebumps.
Not only is Burano famous for its lace manufacturing but also for beautiful rainbow houses that line the canals. You can reach Burano via Murano from S. Zaccaria boat terminal near St Mark’s Square (turn left at the pillared monuments by the water).
If you have any suggestions on what else people should go and see, eat or visit in Venice, leave a note in the comments.