Visiting Venice is one of those things that everyone to do in their lifetime. The place is simply gorgeous. In fact, it has this otherworldly quality to it. It’s easy to imagine you are in another time or universe completely. I guess that’s just the magic of the place. Also, there is so much to fill your time with when you get there, you just don’t want to miss a thing. So read my guide below to help you decide which places to see and what activities to do while you are in the beautiful city of Venice.
Arriving in Venice is an experience in itself. You hop on a boat and travel across the pale blue cloudy lagoon. Passing islands with family houses in various states of ruin. Then, suddenly, there it is this fantastical city rising out of the water. With all its fancy architecture, colours, and canals.
When you first glimpse the legendary city of Venice, it really does take your breath away. It’s distinctly Italian, but not like Rome or Verona. In fact, it’s like nothing else in the world, and you can barely wait to get on land and start exploring. But where should you go first?
St Mark’s Square
A good first stop of your Venciencan getaway is the Piazza San Marco. This is a large open piazza in the centre of Venice, not far away from the main dock. It contains the San Marco Campanile and dotted around it are the obligatory Italian coffee shop and gelato stands.
Grab yourself a beverage and enjoy people watching and soaking up the atmosphere for a bit, while you plan the rest of your visit.
Also while you are in the vicinity it a great time to visit Saint Mark’s Basilica. This is a beautiful 11th – century cathedral located on one side of the piazza.
Running masses daily, as well as a confession for committed Catholics in a variety of languages, this a beautiful and spiritual site not to be missed. But do book online to save time on entry, as like anything in the vicinity of St Mark’s Piazza it can get incredibly busy at peak times.
San Giorgio Maggiore
Also don’t miss the lovely island of San Giorgio Maggiore, made famous by Monet’s painting.
While it used to be home to a monastery, times have changed, and it’s now the base of the Cini Foundation Arts Centre replete with an open air theatre and famous library. Although the church is still there and the bell tower still rings often in C#.
Next, why not head on over to the Doge’s Palace, which is just across the way from St Mark’s Palazzo? This is a 14th-century building of great beauty; designed for the mayor of Venice to reside in.
Admire the architecture from the outside, but also make the time to tour the inside as well. As there; you can see Doge’s Apartments and the armory.
But remember that as one of Venice’s most popular attractions the line for this can get very long. So it is worth heading here first, to ensure you get to enter.
Once you have walked around the Doge’s Palace, it’s likely that you are going to start getting hungry. Luckily for you, Venice is full of high-end eateries, gelatos stands and wine bars where you can rest and refuel.
If you are looking for a bite that won’t break the budget, it’s best to move away from the busy areas surrounding St Mark’s Square and find a restaurant in one of the back streets. As there food is just as good but will probably be a lot cheaper. Expect pasta and pizza along with excellent wine in most establishments, but do check the prices before you sit down.
Or, perhaps you would like to sample Venice’s culinary delights in a more structured and guided way? If so, why not give one of the Venice food tours a go? These will guide you around Venice, stopping at the best Bacaros – the small wine bars in Venice. As well as offering the chance of a Gondola ride, an iconic Venetian experience. You will also get to sample delicious Cicchetti, or savoury bites, as well as Venice’s world famous Gelato. The lemon flavour is particularly good!
Once you are refuelled and refreshed from your food tour, you may want to head over to another one of Venice’s most famous visitor attractions, the Murano Glass Works.
This is an island that is dedicated to the production of fancy glass in a time-honoured way. You will be able to walk around the workshops and see the glass blowers at their traditional craft. As well as browse their wares and pick the perfect piece to display as a memento of your journey.
Apart from the glassware, there are also many other delightful things to buy in the city. Along the grand canal and the main docks, you will find small stalls selling trinkets and souvenir for a few Euro. Such as plastic gondolas and wooden gondoliers.
But further into the city, there are plenty of high-end boutiques that specialise in fashion and eyewear. Obviously, the Italian sense of style is present here so don’t expect the colours to be muted or prices to be low.
You can even visit the Casa di Reclusione Femminile or women prison, and browse the items that they have on offer. These are sewn by the inmates who are trained in tailoring as part of their rehabilitation.
Obviously, on an island with canals instead of roads, you would expect to find a lot of bridges, so resident don’t have to jump into a boat every time they need to get somewhere, and Venice certainly doesn’t disappoint. In fact, there are a few bridges that are worth visit as landmarks.
These include Rialto Bridge, a famous covered bridge in Venice dating from the 16th century and the world famous Bridge of Sighs. A covered bridge which is the perfect spot for romantics.
Lastly, no trip to Venice is complete without a visit the Grand Canal. Sort of a main street with water, this route is where you will find all the most beautiful palazzos and rooftop bars in which to while away the hours sipping cocktails, and people watching.
Just remember if you need to get a taxi home at the end of the night; it will be a water taxi not one with wheels!