Venice receives an estimated 30 million visitors each year, making it one of the most loved tourist destinations in the world for good reason. Dark stone alleyways and gently sloshing canals evoke a romantic mystery that allows visitors to easily imagine that they are walking the streets that Casanova once tread. With the popular city in danger of being “ loved to death,” it’s important to know what to expect.
Here’s my Guide to Venice:
What to do:
Explore at Night ☕☕☕☕
When the tourists are gone, the cobble stone alleys are lit by small lamps and it’s easy to image that you’re in Casanova’s Venice. I wandered the city streets very late at night with a girl friend and felt completly safe, but always use normal precautions.
St. Mark’s Square ☕☕☕☕
One of my favourite squares in Europe! Grand arched shops and café’s, which was once part of the palace, line the bustling square. With the Cathedral on one side and the imposing clock tower on the other, this makes for the perfect place for people watching. Just watch out for the pigeons!
St Mark’s Cathedral ☕☕
Although a beautiful cathedral with impressive history, there are many other churches in the city that are just as grand. I don’t think it is worth the never ending line that grows here in the summer months, but a short line in the winter would be worth the visit.
Dodge’s palace ☕☕☕☕
This was one of my favourite stops in Venice! The grandeur of the Venician empire is on full display in the architecture, artwork and design of this former residence of the Dodge ( Duke). Below the expansive halls and gold lined stairwells lies the chilling chambers of the prison in which Casanova was held.
Get Lost ☕☕☕☕
To really experience Venice at its best, you need to get lost in the maze of alleys and bridges that makes up its heart.
Ride a Gondola ☕☕☕
Cliché, I know, but where else can you experience a traditional Gondola? Not only was the ride itself enjoyable, but our Gondolier provided some really interesting historical facts about the city and pointed out important landmarks as we floated along. Also, don’t feel like this needs to be a romantic experience if you don’t want it to be. Three of us shared the experience and had a blast!
Drink Bellini’s ☕
This could be done anywhere in Italy, but nothing beats sitting in a silent courtyard beside a canal sipping this refreshing peach and Prosecco cocktail.
Find Hidden Churches☕☕
The perfect place to escape the heat and crowds if visiting in the summer months as most people will not pay the small fee to enter. The architecture and religious artwork is stunning.
Take a Ferry To Another Island☕
If there’s time, several lesser known islands sit close to nearby Venice, each boasting its own unique charms. Murano is known for its world famous blown glass, while Burano is renowned for its lace and textiles. I wouldn’t take away time from Venice to visit if you only have a couple days, but if you have an extra day it would make a good day trip.
Where to Eat:
Avoid restaurants within eye sight of main attractions if possible, the food will not be the best and you’ll pay an arm and a leg for it. If you did want to sit and enjoy the sights, I’d recommend a simple cup of coffee ( of course!) or a glass of wine. Otherwise, try finding a secluded courtyard somewhere and trying something a little more off the beaten path for better food at a cheaper price.
One exception to this was Café Florian.
Elegantly decorated in classic Venetian charm this café dates back to 1720 and rumour has it that Casanova used to frequent it when it was a bar. Even though it is situated in St Mark’s square, I would recommend sitting inside to feel as though you’ve stepped back through time.
How to Arrive:
Train– from many places in Europe, this is a very scenic and enjoyable way to arrive. The train travels over the water in a truly unique experience.
Plane: Venice has an international airport. Grab a ferry, water bus or taxi to the island.
When to Go:
Spring or Fall would be a great time to visit, before it gets too cold or too busy. Summer’s are hot and overcrowded, winters are cold, but sparse.
Things to Know:
- Even though it is Italy, it can get quite cold in Winter. Bundle and enjoy having Venice almost to yourself.
- Cruise ships dock here in the summer so crowds can get insane! Get up early or arrive late at main sights to avoid the crowds.
- Venice has no roads, seriously, none. To get to your accommodations you have two choices : 1) Water Bus- I would recommend this option. It’s cheaper, easy to use and makes for a fun adventure OR 2) Water taxi- More expensive, but a good option if you want to get to your accommodations quicker and without a crowd.
- Venice can be prone to flooding in the winter or spring. Check the news to see if this affects you. Long, elevated platforms are set up in St. Mark’s square to walk along, but you lose the elegant feel of the cobble stones below.
What have your favourite memories of Venice been? Comment below!