Venice, the city built on water – is a definite must on any first-time travel to Italy. With water levels rising every year, who knows how long Venice will be around for considering the massive floods that have already creeped up during colder climates. Venice is extremely touristy, but a lot of fun and calls for much exploration. Here are some highlights you won’t want to miss.
Travel in Style by Vaporetto: Venice’s main transportation is the Vaporetto (water bus). They arrive pretty frequently, but note the direction and list of stops before you hop on. Tickets must be purchased in advance at the ACTV ticket booths, tobacco or newspaper stands; they are not sold on the boat. To validate your ticket, make sure to tap it against the yellow card reader prior to boarding.
Piazza San Marco: It has a gorgeous and lively atmosphere, both during the day and night. It’s a great place to people watch and listen to some live music while relaxing with a shot of espresso or a glass of wine. The piazza also houses Basilica San Marco, Palazzo Ducale (pink and white marble palace), and the Campanile Bell Tower. We went through the basilica in a few minutes (free admission), but didn’t bother with Palazzo Ducale. If you’re interested in checking out this palace, book the Secret Itineraries Tour in advance, where you will get a special guide to visit rooms and chambers where the Venetian administration was carried out.
Ponte di Rialto Bridge: This bridge is super packed with tourists with a string of restaurants on each side (not very good ones with tourist prices attached), but also leads to windy alleys full of great shops.
Gondola Ride Around the Grand Canal: Try looking for the ones with a singing man and accordion player. There is some leeway in bargaining for rates. I’d recommend taking a ride during the day time or before sunset. We opted for a ride shortly after sunset, but the majority of the ride was fairly dark. Venice is not nearly as lit up as I thought it would be.
Get Lost in Venice: You can see all the main sites in one day, but Venice is best experienced by getting lost as much as possible.
Food Recommendation: Make a trip to “Caffe Florian” located in Piazza San Marco. It’s Venice’s oldest cafe (since 1730) who served coffee to Casanova, Charles Dickens, and Marcel Proust to name a few. We indulged in caffeine and mouth watering sweets. Loved it.
Hotel Recommendation: We stayed in the 3-star hotel outside of Venice called “Best Western Plus Quid Hotel Venice Airport“. Beautiful modern accommodations with hotel shuttle service (5 Euros/person). The hotel gave us two connecting rooms, one with two single beds and one with a double bed. The hotel also offered the best American breakfast we had throughout the entire trip. The only downfall is that you have to take a 20-minute bus ride into Venice and it ends fairly early in the evening, so you’ll have to take a cab ride to get back. Rates were ~$60 CAD/person/night.
And now onto Day 3 – Verona.
Interested in other cities?