Venice is like a dream you never want to wake up from. Wandering through the maze of alleyways, above the sparkling cannals, it feels like a truly magical place. I can't compare it to any other place but it definetly is one of the most beautiful cities I've seen so far.
We stayed for three days. It's not uncommon for tourists to take day trips to visit venice, but I recommend you to stay for at least two days. The more the better :)
We arrived late at Treviso Airport and bought a roundtrip ticket with the airportshuttle - Big mistake. More later - to venice. After a short ride with the local waterbus (7.5€) we had delicious dinner and spent the night wandering around and exploring the dimly lit streets.
Okay now to the important stuff.
WHAT TO DO IN VENICE?
Bad things first; You are not the only tourist in Venice. Be prepared for a beautiful, yet crowded experience. From 10 am streets will fill up with people, so If you are looking to take some great photos prepare to get up early. Another tipp: Stay away from the mainstreets which will be packed with tourist during midday. Just use the parallel side streets.
The following picture were taken around 5 o'clock. First the tourist-packed mainroad. Bellow the street right next to it. A difference like day and night, right? :)
Also don't expect to see the whole of Venice in a weekend. The city is made up of 120 islands and a maze of narrow, twisting streets. Your sense of direction will be put to a hard test here.
However there is a upside of getting lost. This is the only way to come across those hidden alleyways and bridges. Actually Venice is so beautiful that you can - and should - spend your time strolling through the city, seeing the old churches, artists and sparkling canals.
Piazza di San Marco
The most famous Piazza in Venice, and it's a must! It is a really breathtaking scene. Wether crowded by pidgeons, tourist or occasionally flooded, it's worth a visit. If you like you can also brave the line at the Basilica di San Marco - just make sure your knees and shoulders are well covered, it's a church after all. Inside you can feel free to stare at the marvellous architecture and artworks as long as you want. And the best part: Entrance is FREE!!
Next up is one of the oldest bridges on the Grand Canal. It's located just a few walking minutes from Piazza di San Marco. While the bridge is impressive by itsself, the old fish and vegetable market located behind it is far more interesting. It's bustling with chefs, colors, noises and the smell of the sea.
Bridge of sights
Just down from San Marco's, right at the port is the bridge of sights. Why is it called that way? Well, convicts would walk right through the bridge before taken to prison. The prisoners would sight at their last view on beautiful venice.
If you take the Doge's Palace tour (19€) you will be able to walk though it, as well.
WHERE TO EAT?
Seriously, what are you thinking? Italian food is amazing! Like expected. But there are also a lot of bad restaurants in Venice. If you find yourself sitting in a cheesy looking place with an overpriced menu then that's what you will get. Just trust your inner gut.
You should definetly go for fish, if you have the choice. The city has some great traditional specialities and the fish is always very fresh since Venice is located right at the ocean.
Another must is icecream, of course. Grab yourself a gelato, find a remote little corner with a nice view on the canals and enjoy la dolce vita.
WHERE TO STAY?
When it comes to accomodation there isn't much difference between the Hotels. Most are set up in the very opulent, oldschool style that is typical for venice. What you should care most about is the location! If you end up on one of the remote islands you will have to pay for the transport every single day. Which you don't want.
We found a very nice Hotel that was just 3 walking minutes from Piazza di San Marco. From there we could reach almost every interesting location in a short time. It was called Hotel Mercurio and costed around 70€ each night - breakfast included. For those who come here frequently, you know how much I value a good vacation-breakfast.
Now for some general tipps
- Don't be afraid to ask locals - wether for directions or dining advice. Like mentioned in my Milano guide, they always know the best spots!
- drink tap water - ask for tap water or you will automaticaaly get the expensive bottled water included on your bill
- wear comfortable shoes - Venice is a pedestrian's city so you will do a lot of walking
- Maps.me - One of my favourite apps for traveling. You can download any city map beforehand and use it without internet. It saved our life several times!
- Airport transport - be careful here. There are two different bus station in Venice depending on the bus company. We bought a rountrip ticket but arrived at the wrong station on our way back. Not knowing there were two we just asked for "the bus station". We had to buy another ticket from the other company since we would have missed our flights otherwise.
© Pictures by Philippos Mylonas