A beginner’s guide to Venice, Italy

 

Venice, the floating city which is probably on every traveler’s bucket list. I have the blessing of living very near, that’s why last Thursday we decided  to spontaneously drive there for the weekend as the borders to Italy are open again. Of course, we followed all health safety instructions (how the safety measures look like in Venice right now you can read here), but we felt perfectly safe. Because we got quite some questions about Venice on IG, I decided to write down some basic information and share some photos with you. So here we go …

 

1.Arrive

You can arrive to Venice by plane, boat, bus, train and car.

We arrived by car and as Venice is without roads for cars, you have to park somewhere outside. On the island there’s a parking garage “Tronchetto”, which is a bit expensive (aprox.21€ for 24 hours), but you are just steps away from the vaporettos (water buses) which will take you further into the canal maze. We parked in Mestre, the city on the mainland. We chose Venice city park for 5,50€ for 24 hours. From there you just take a bus over the bridge to Venice and then change to a vaporetto or simply walk.

Going around

Venice is best seen from the water or on foot. We walked a lot and when you get lost you’ll find the best sights 😉 Regarding the vaporettos (water buses) – there’s an unlimited 24 hour ticket for 20€, which allows you to go all the way to Murano, Burano, Tronchello, Lido and other islands in the lagoon.

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Vaporetto station

 

2.Where to stay

Many hotels are open again and I think they are cheaper than before the virus outbreak. We always search our hotel rooms on Booking.com and this time we were suuupeeer lucky. Anyway – try to book a room in Venice, not outside in Mestre. If you want to combine it with a beach holiday, take a look at the hotels in Lido and you can get to Venice by vaporetto.
In Venice I think all the locations are good as the canals spread all over the island, the bridges and small streets are picturesque everywhere and if I can tell you my honest opinion: if you are close to the biggest attractions (Rialto and St.Marc’s square) then also everything else will be more expensive (coffee, restaurants …).

3. Where to eat?

In such a short time, we didn’t concentrate on exploring many restaurants, but we can tell you what to try 😉
Keep in mind that in Venice wood ovens are forbidden because of the old wooden architecture. That means you can’t get the typical napolitana pizza, but hey, you are still in Italy which means the pizza will be good.

Another thing to try are spaghetti al nero di sepia, so with black squid ink. Although I didn’t eat fish for a looong time, I made an exception this time as I really wanted to try this interesting looking dish.
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Don’t miss Italian coffee! But be aware that take out coffee is much cheaper as if you drink it there. For a breakfast with big chocolate filled brioches (croissants) and a cappuccino and hot chocolate we paid 11€.

If you watched Feed Phil on Netflix, you’ll get an idea of food in Venice. We checked out 2 places he recommended – one for chichetti and the other for gelato. Unfortunately, both were closed ☹

On Burano don’t miss the S-shaped cookie Buranello. And a visit to Italy is not complete without a tiramisu.
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4. What to see and do

It all depends on how much time you have, when are you going to visit (during the week it is less crowded) and what are your interests. Here’s a choice of different ideas:

*The Doge’s palace

If you decide on just one museum, let it be this one. I don’t remember if I have ever seen such a display of wealth – the rooms are masterpieces by themselves, the golden frames, the artworks … if only those walls could talk. You will also see the old prison and most important – you’ll see the Bridge of sighs from the inside, so basicaly from the “right side”. 😊 It got its name from all the sighs of the prisoners who were on their last way to their execution.
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*St. Marc’s Basilica

Jure’s words were: “I can’t believe I didn’t see this beauty on our previous visits.” The basilica is a beautiful religious monument dating back to 1092. You can enter the basilica for free, but keep in mind that you have to dress properly and photographing and filming is forbidden. Currently they are renovating it, so only access to the Museum and the bell tower is possible.
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*St. Marc’s square

We arrived on Friday evening during a heavy storm. After reaching our accommodation, we went straight to St. Marc’s square to catch some last rays of light. When we arrived, my heart skipped a beat. The ground was lightly flooded, the lights were reflecting in the water and at a café someone played the piano with such gentle melodies we all just stood and marveled. The big square was a huge mirror, we were maybe 20 people there and the music was filling our hearts. This was such a sad but also a hopeful moment … I just said to Jure: “It can’t get any better, I saw Venice in the most beautiful light, we can go home”. Of course we didn’t go home, but this evening will forever stay in my memory.
Please come here early in the morning if you want to have the square to yourself or in the evening if you want to see the basilica in a beautiful golden light.
On the square is also the oldest Venetian café called Florian if you want to check it out.
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*Rialto bridge

This is probably one of the most famous bridges in Venice. It has a triple staircase and many shops on it. It’s the oldest bridge over the Grand Canal, but in today’s shape and form it’s from 1591. Usually it was packed full, but this weekend it was quite empty and you could easily snap a picture from it.
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*Bridge of sighs

As I have already mentioned above at the Doge’s palace, you should know you can see it also if you don’t decide to visit the Doge’s palace. When I first saw it, I was pretty disappointed, but later when I found out the story behind it, I liked it more.
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*Accademia bridge

Head to this bridge for a great view of the Grand canal and the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. This is also a very popular spot for sunrise.
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*Constutione bridge

This will probably be the first bridge you will cross when you arrive to Venice by bus. From this modern minimalist bridge you’ll have a beautiful first glimpse of the Grand canal and the Church of San Simeon Piccolo.
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*The Grand canal

Looking at the boats floating on the waters of the Grand canal is an entertaining thing to do. If you want to see it from the water, you can do it on the budget with a vaporetto or splurge a little bit and ride a gondola.
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*Ride a gondola

I always thought it was cliché and that I will never do it, because I couldn’t imagine it can be romantic in that crowd. But this weekend everything was different – there were almost no gondolas in the canals, the gondoliers were really friendly and offering discounts (the normal rate is 80€, in the evening 100€, up to 6 people per boat), so we thought if we don’t do it now, we will never do it. And oh boy, it was a beautiful ride. As I said the canals weren’t crowded, so we were able to drive all the way to Rialto and see under this famous bridge before entering narrow smaller canals. This was such a last minute decision which we definitely don’t regret.
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*Libreria Acqua Alta

This is a very special book store. As you know Venice is often affected by floods, that’s why they store the books in things that float, for instance in a gondola, a bathtub etc. There’s also the famous book staircase, which will help you to see over the wall. But you will have to find out yourself what it is. 😉

*Collezione Peggy Guggenheim

You like art? This is the place. But not just any art – here you can find modern contemporary art at its best. Admission is 15€, but there are many discounts, check their website.
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*Eat gelato

Not just the food I recommended before, but eat gelato aka ice cream. On Trip advisor I found “Suso” to be #1, but honestly I wasn’t that impressed. OK, it looked really nice with the sprinkled cone and the special flavours, but somehow it didn’t win me over (and believe me, I could be a gelato tester by profession). On the other hand I really enjoyed the ice cream at Venchi, where you can choose up to 2 flavours for 3,20€ and for some extras you can have a chocolate filled cone or special ones with sprinkles etc.

*Murano island

Murano is a small island just a 10 min vaporetto ride from Venice. Go to the vaporetto station F.te Nove C and hop on a vaporetto 4.1 or 4.2 (take a look at the signs, the displays work very well. The island is famous for its glass making dating back to the 13th century. Visit a glass artist, but don’t be surprised by the prices 😉 Otherwise the island is nice to walk around as it also has a mini version of its Grand canal.
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*Burano island

This island is further away, you’ll need up to 40 min by vaporetto. But it is soooo worth it to come here. ❤ The colorful houses are a treat for every eye that make the grayest days happy and bright. Also don’t miss the beautiful lace they make here.
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*Torcello island

Torcello is a green relatively quiet island your vaporetto will stop at on the way to Burano.

*Mazzorbo island

This island is connected by bridge to Burano. It is known for vine growing.

*San Giorgio Maggiore island

This is the island you see from the Venice waterfront when you are in front of the Doge’s palace. We came here for sunset and we were there alone enjoying the sun setting behind the historic roofs of Venice.
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San Giorgio Maggiore  from Doge’s Palace

*Lido di Venezia

This is the place if you want to combine visiting Venice with a beach holiday. This is a long island with a long beach, resorts, hotels and everything else you need for a beach vacation. The most important part: a vaporetto connects Lido to Venice.

*Carnival in Venice

A very special time in Venice is of course Carnival in February/March. We visited the city twice during that time which resulted in Jure hating the city and the last time he threatened to never return. I managed to get him here again, and this time it was a totally different city. If you would like to come during carnival, you should stay on the island, because then you have the chance to avoid the crowds in the morning and in the evening. You don’t need any tickets, the masked people are walking around the city, the most of them around St. Marc’s square and at the waterfront.
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I can’t even tell how much I enjoyed this trip. Seeing Venice like this was never imaginable and I think now is the best time to visit – not just because to avoid the crowds (it will probably be ok until cruiseships dock again), but also to help the Italian people to get up again. I know – all the countries need support in tourism, but why not divide it if you can?! This trip will stay in my memory forever. ❤

I created story highlights on IG where you can see what we did there day by day. Welcome to take a look and follow us if you like our pics 😉

 


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