Get lost is everyone’s advice about visiting Venice, every corner of Venice is like a maze and you will most definitely lose your way around. The amount of times we ended up walking down an alley to end up at a dead-end was laughable, but it’s all part of its charm. Venice really is a must-see, yes it’s full of tourists but we are all here to see the same thing, how amazing Venice is.
Danny and I visited Venice for a few days on a mid-week trip in May, in which we were hoping to miss some of those larger crowds and the sweltering heat. Our weather was perfect, it was warm without being muggy and by going on a Wednesday we missed a lot of the crowds, it wasn’t until the Saturday that we really started to feel it being more crowded. However there are some quiet parts of Venice away from the tourist spots. We were exactly that however, tourists on holiday and here is what we got up to, which hopefully will provide some helpful advice if you are planning a trip to Venice.
Venice has two airports, we flew to Marco Polo which is the closer of the two, with Easyjet from London Gatwick. The flight is quick at just two hours and a water taxi can have you in Venice in under half an hour. The water bus/ferry is easy to catch from the airport and costs around 6 Euros. We decided to opt for a water taxi, which means you have a little boat all to yourselves, apart from the driver of course. These aren’t cheap at 110 Euros one way, but when in Venice, it’s an experience in itself. I pretty much felt like a movie star as the boat jetted up the Grand Canal, definitely the way to arrive into Venice if you can – we booked ours online here.
Our water taxi dropped as at the nearest water taxi stop, some hotels have their own, this tends to be the five-star hotels. Ours was just a short two-minute walk from the San Angelo taxi stop. We stayed at Corte Di Gabriela which is a boutique hotel and one I would recommend. It was a lovely hotel and very central to all the main areas, just a short five-minute walk to Piazza San Marco, but far away enough that it was in a lovely quieter area.
There is so much to see in Venice, as I mentioned above, getting lost can just be as enjoyable as planning where to go. Turning every corner brings a surprise and I’m not sure I’ll ever tire of seeing water everywhere. Of course there are some tourist hot spots, so make some time on your trip for these.
Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco is the main square in Venice where you will find Basilica San Marco, which is as amazing outside as it is inside. It’s free to visit but the queues in peak times is pretty long, so if you don’t fancy waiting then I recommend picking up a skip the line ticket which is 3 Euros per person. The basilica does have a dress code, shoulders must be covered and at least a knee-length skirt or shorts, however I did see a few exceptions whilst we were inside, but I’d go dressed ready to go in as per the rules just in case. We also did skip the line for the Bell Tower opposite the Basilica, it means we didn’t have to queue and were straight in on our time slot. You can book skip the line tickets for this online here. This gave such a great view over Venice and the square.
In the Piazza is also Doge’s Palace, which we never went inside but was as amazing to see from the outside. Around the square are designer shops like Prada, Gucci and Saint Laurent. You’ll also find all the pigeons here.
Rialto Bridge isn’t hard to miss and I luckily got a picture of it as we came into Venice on our water taxi. It connects the San Marco district with San Polo and is one of the four oldest bridges in Venice. It has a great picture opportunity upon the bridge, but does get very busy, so try to go either early morning or evening.
Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is easy to spot, just located down from the Piazza San Marco and behind Doges Palace. This bridge was where prisoners from the connecting prison would travel from to the Palace. It’s named as such as the prisoners would sign as they would cross it, to their cells in the prison.
Off from the square is where is you will find a line of gondolas. We decided to take one from here one evening. The gondola again is a pretty pricey experience, but one I couldn’t not do whilst in Venice. It’s 80 Euros per half hour, as we took one near the square we had a tour round that area which was a nice spot. There are gondolas situated all through Venice so it’s easy to find one when you want one.
Trip To The Islands
On our visit we took a day trip to Burano island. This island is famous for its lace making and has a lace museum as well as trying the local biscuits, Bussolà Buranello Cookies which you cannot miss as they are the ‘S’ shaped biscuits you will start to see in the bakeries. The island is beautiful and all the houses are coloured, like a calm Notting Hill with canals. There is endless photo opportunities here, so whether you are doing it for the gram or a keen photographer it’s full of picturesque moments. If you’re not either than just enjoy the views and sample some of the amazing seafood at one of the restaurants, I recommend The Black Cat. Read more about my trip and how to get from Venice to Burano.
On the way to Burano is also Murano, another Venice island famous for its glass making. We never went to the island, but it could be worth doing a day trip to both.
If you are in Piazza San Marco then you might want to try Florian Cafe. This cafe has been in Venice since the 1700s so it is pretty iconic. Yes it is very expensive, you’re looking at 8 Euros for a pot of tea and not forgetting the 6 Euro charge per person for the outdoor entertainment, which is a classic musical quartet. But again it’s all about the experience, I just had to sit and enjoy a drink in the square and laugh at the seagulls swooping in on people’s sandwiches – this really happens.
We visited here on our first night, the pizza was great and they lots of different options. It wasn’t too expensive and just an easy option if you are nearby.
Another hotel on the Grand Canal, the Bauer Hotel has a private terrace, we had lunch here and drinks before heading home on our final day. It was a nice chilled out spot and the food was lovely.
Caffe Centrale Venezia
We stumbled upon this restaurant as it was on our way to our hotel when walking back. We went here for dinner one evening and we were so glad we did. The food was lovely and presented very well. They have a mix of seafood, Italian inspired dishes and I opted for a steak which was really tasty. It has a modern feel inside and I really liked it.
The Gritti Palace
One of my favourite places we ate on our trip was the Gritti Palace Hotel terrace for a late lunch and wow the view was incredible. The hotel is located on the Grand Canal and the view just made lunch all that more enjoyable. The food here was fantastic, I had a burger (so Italian I know) and it was delicious, plus some pretty fantastic cocktails. A great spot for lunch, drinks or even dinner in the restaurant.
Ca’ del Sol
I had no intention to buy a Venetian masquerade mask, but it wasn’t until we walked past Ca’ Del Sol I had to have one. I couldn’t even walk past this shop without going in, it was an Aladdin’s cave of masks and these are all handmade in the factory opposite, so these aren’t the mass-produced made in China ones you will see on stalls, these are quality masks. I fell in love with one and it had to be mine. The owner is lovely, happy to help and let you try them on.
T Fondaco dei Tedeschi Rooftop
Fondaco dei Tedeschi is a designer department store which is not only great for shopping but it has a rooftop with a 360 degree viewing point over Venice. It’s free to go up, you just need to pre-book tickets, which you can do here. I booked these for our final day and it was a great way to end the trip for one last look at the city from above.