I have had a love affair with Italy for many years which really started after getting engaged In Rome in 2014 – so when booking a late summer get-away it felt a visit to the land of carbs and red wine was well overdue.
I could just write an entire post gushing about how much I loved Venice but I thought to make this a bit more useful I would share some of the great finds and top tips if you are thinking about visiting one of the most romantic cities in Europe!
Getting There & Getting Around
We flew to Venice Treviso Airport – which is a little way out of Venice. From Treviso you can get a bus (which handily is synced to the flight times) which takes you as close to Venice as you can go for €22 return (within 10 days) which takes around 40minutes. After that you can jump on the people over across to Venice where you can then pick up a vaporetto (aka a waterbus!). You can also fly to Marco Polo airport which is much closer to central Venice – you can can get a vaporetto all the way into central Venice – but it can take up to 90minutes with stopping and starting.
We chose to stay on Lido – one of the islands off Venice which is the only island with a beach. We stayed at the 5 star Excelsior hotel which is gorgeous and is where the Venice film festival is hosted! The hotel is very grand and has huge hallways and stunning views of the beach or the pool from the rooms.
Eating and drinking at the hotel is fairly pricey but the breakfast buffet is one of the best I’ve had – so many options and a great place to fill up for a full day of exploring. The hotel also has direct access to the beach and a pool area – so perfect for lazy mornings soaking up some rays.
We were lucky enough to have a private shuttle from our hotel onto central Venice every 30minutes which was a dream – many hotels who aren’t central offer this and it is definitely worth checking if your hotel has one before booking. If not then you can rely on the vaporetto to get around – just like a bus service these run on different routes throughout Venice including up the Grand Canal for just €7.50 for a single trip (including changes if going in the same direction) You can also buy passes for a number of days which is worthwhile if you plan on doing a lot of adventuring – and you can get city passes which cover travel and entrance into some of the sights.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Venice if I didn’t mention Gondolas – they are everywhere! We didn’t go on one – mostly because they will set you back €80 for 30minutes making them mega expensive but you can pick them up from every corner of Venice and are perfect for a special occasion or if you are feeling extra romantic!
Mostly, we walked around Venice – the maps are deceptive and make it look as if it’s large – it is actually fairly easy to get around with a map – walking from one end to the other takes around an hour – but do prepare yourself to get lost, but if you want to get lost anywhere it is Venice! Also if you look up you will see yellow arrow signs directing you to the main bridges to get around.
Things to Do
Venice is a great place to do a lot or to do a lot of nothing so you really tailor your experience. If you are interested in the art and history of Venice then the best place to start is Piazza san Marco. This gorgeous square is worth a visit and from here you can join the queues for the Basillica san Marco, Doges palace and the Clocktower.
Entrance into each averages out at about €20 – we personally decided to visit Doges Palace which explores where the Doges used to debate trade of Venice and acted as the court of the time. When wandering through it’s incredible hallways and large rooms you can see a wonderful number of paintings and painted ceilings as well as walking over the famous Bridge of Sighs to the prisons.
I mentioned the Vaporetto is a great way to see the famous Grand Canal of Venice – if you get the number 1 route from the square it takes you straight up the grand canal and gives you some amazing views – a bargin for €7.50.
If you are an art lover then you are really spoilt for choice – we were lucky enough to be there during the Biennial Festival where artists from all over the world are exhibiting. We went to the Damien Hirst exhibition ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ which was amazing. All ‘treasures from the deep’ this huge exhibition was split over two separate galleries – well worth a visit for the €18 price tag.
If you like modern art and wanted to see more a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is also worth a visit – especially on a lovely day where you can experience the gardens. The Dorsoduro area in general has a very art feel about it with a lot of small independent galleries with a bohemian feel. We also went to a Di Vinci exhibition in Campo S. Barnaba which Is on a gorgeous square where we also enjoyed a feel sprtiz’s and listening to some musicians play.
We spent a lot of our time walking between the gorgeous bridges and different areas of Venice – the Santa Croce area was my favourite by far – gorgeous small walkways and bridges and some gorgeous places to eat and drink, which leads nicely too…
Places to Eat and Drink…
There are so many amazing places to eat and drink – it is hard not to find a good bowl of pasta or a delicious pizza. What I will say is to move away from the big tourist areas – sure you might want a drink in the main square but it will be infinitely more expensive than if you are in the back streets.
If you are on Lido I can’t recommend La Cucina any more – this was our first top when arriving and is on the long straight from the vaporetto port where I devoured a pizza covered in aubergine and buffalo mozzarella – it was delicious! Also if you are looking for good gelato then head to Alaska gelato – they are famous for their unusual flavours (hello rocket and celery!?) but the classics are in there too – their hazelnut chocolate was delicious!
If you are looking for a slightly fancier meal or some delicious meat and cheese platters and a glass of wine then Chat qui Rit in San Marco is a bit pricier but the vibe and décor is just gorgeous!
When it comes to a great place to enjoy a spritz our favourite became Bacaro Jazz – a jazz bar with lots of atmosphere and a ceiling covered in bras from patrons – it served the best Aperol Sptriz (a venetian classic!) and we had at least once a day there – we didn’t eat in there but saw others who were and the food looked great!
If you are looking for a good wine bar then Cantina de Mori should be on your list – with its very traditional feel and copper pots hanging from the ceiling you can enjoy some delicious wines here and small nibbles – but be warned there is no toilet!
Also Bacaro Osteria Cicccketti is a tiny hole in the wall in San Polo which served large glasses of red and nibbles and some delicious fresh food to nibble on – very modern and fresh get a seat at the bar for a local feel!
Other Tips & Tricks
The biggest thing I can advise is to pack Mosquito spray – even if you are going in the winter months! I underestimated how much this was an essential and I ended up covered in bites when normally I don’t! Nothing is more annoying than being itchy!
Also pack for all weathers – on one day we were there it poured all day and this does lead the streets to flood so make sure you pack some waterproof footwear no matter what time of year you decide to go!
Also if you are under 25 in Venice you classify as a student so don’t forget to pack your ID – sadly that didn’t apply to us but throught it was worthwhile mentioning!
That is my full guide to Venice – I fell hard and fast for this beautiful city and our break was without a doubt in my top 5 holidays so if you ever get the chance to visit – grab it with both hands!
Until next time x