A beautifully romantic and incredibly famous city in Northern Italy, Venice is regarded by most as a place that they ‘have’ to visit at least once in their lives. I’ve visited just once before for a short day trip, so I was very excited to return and see much more of the city. With its beautiful canals, classic architecture, gondola rides, interesting history, UNESCO World Heritage status and so much more, it’s easy to see why Venice steals the hearts of those who visit. There’s always so much to do in the city, so here’s a guide to a few things you have to see and do when visiting.
Getting from the airport
Transport from Marco Polo airport couldn’t have been more simple. We took the water transport, Alilaguna, blue line into the city centre but there were a number of stops across the island before we reached our stop, San Marco. Transport costs €15 for a one-way ticket or €27 for a return, but it was incredibly stress-free, departs regularly and it is clearly-directed within the airport.
Where we stayed
During our visit, we stayed at the Hotel Cavalletto which was just off San Marco’s square, next to a major gondola pick-up point. This was in an excellent location and meant that I could enjoy my breakfast with a view of the gondolas and the happy visitors who filled them. With breakfast included, our stay was very much in line with our budget, although as we visited in February, I’m not sure the same could be said for peak times of the year. On arrival, we were reminded that visitors of Venice are required to pay a city tax of €4.50 per person, per night, so make sure you have money left at the end of the holiday to pay for this.
Piazza San MarcoAn iconic site in the city, St Mark’s Square is home to some incredible attractions in Venice including St Mark’s Basillica, Doge’s Palace, the Clock Tower which was completed in 1499 and Museo Correr. You can enter all of these buildings but for all except the main section of the basillica, you do need to pay for entry. If you’re looking to visit Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr and the viewing balcony of the basillica, it would be worth investing in a city museum pass which gives you access to these and many others across the city. If possible, I would recommend buying this pass in Museo Correr as it’s usually a lot quieter and means that you don’t pay the extra €8 for online fees, making it just €24 for the privilege.
Go island hoppingVenice has a number of islands that are worth visiting when you find yourself in the city. Perhaps you’ve heard of Lido, which has beautiful beaches or perhaps Murano, the island famous for its glass blowing? If not, they are both said to be worth visiting, especially during the warm summer months. After a recommendation from the Roman Guy, during my stay, I visited Burano, the island which is known for its colourful houses and delicate lace. You can get to Burano using the Vaporetto for about €7, boarding from the San Zaccaria stop and it will take about 45 minutes to get there. If you want to go to a few of the different islands or use the Vaporetto as your transport around the city, you can buy a day pass for €20, which we did.
The Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is one of the oldest bridges on the Grand Canal, connecting the San Marco and San Polo regions. But it is one of the most visited spots in the city because of its beautiful architecture and incredibly clear views of the Grand Canal, allowing you to capture those picture-perfect moments. This is a free stop but you can get some great views of the bridge if you choose to view it by boat, either by gondola or the city’s Vaporetto, the latter obviously being the cheaper option.
Based on the Grand Canal, the hand sculpture, ‘Support’ was created by the artist, Lorenzo Quinn, and first appeared in Venice in 2017. This piece is said to be a statement piece about climate change and the impact it’s having, particularly on the city of Venice. The hands are said to represent the next generation of Venice, who has the ability to keep the city afloat or tear it down, depending on how they choose to act. This is a definitely a point worth visiting on your trip, just to appreciate the art and understand its message.
Scala Contarini del BovoloThis seems to be a stop that is visited less frequently by tourists but is still a very beautiful location to experience. Known for its external spiral staircase which makes a fantastic photo opportunity from the outside, it also has a top floor with wonderful views across the city but you have to pay a small entrance fee of around €8 to access this, as well as the small ‘museum’ on the first floor. I would recommend visiting during the golden hour as it’s a lovely place to watch the sunset over the city in quite a peaceful location.
Grab a gondola
Gondola’s have been a tradition in Venice for centuries. However, what was once intended as local transport for the Venetian’s has now become a major pull for tourists visiting the city. However, when you’re in Venice, it’s an experience you just have to have and there are plenty of pick up points around the city, so they’re not hard to find. It’s a set price per gondola which can hold up to six people – it’s €80 for 40 minutes or €100 for an hour. However, after 7pm, the base price goes up to €100 for 40 minutes. This can be a pricey experience, so wherever possible, look to share a gondola ride with some other friendly travellers.
The ArsenaleOccupying a large and proud place in the city, the Venetian Arsenale was the heart of the Venetian naval industry, having been founded in 1104 and was renowned for its speedy creations. The shipyard is a must-visit for history buffs who wish to learn more about Venice’s naval history and the mass industrial product of its ships.
There’s so much to see in Venice that it would be almost impossible to include in one blog. But these are a few of my favourite experiences after my recent visit to the city. You’ve probably heard that Venice isn’t cheap and that’s certainly what we found when we stayed here. Plus, it can get pretty busy during the peak summer months. But the experience is worth it – after all, everyone has to visit Venice at least once in their lives. What’re your favourite things to do here?