Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Top 10 Things To Do In Venice, Italy

I can't stop reminiscing about our amazing trip to Italy, so I decided to start a series on the blog called #TravelTuesdays.  For the next several weeks, a post will go live on Tuesdays about each of the cities that we visited in Italy - Venice, Florence, Rome, and Positano.  I plan to provide the deets on where we stayed, what we did, what we ate, travel tips, and of course, what I wore.  The first #TravelTuesday post is about all things Venice.

View of the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge

The coolest thing about Venice is that it's built over 100+ small islands; therefore, there are no roads, no cars, and no bikes - just canals and boats.  Public transportation, police, and even ambulances are all boats.  Every time you cross a bridge while walking around Venice {which happens very frequently}, you are walking to a different island.  It is truly one of the most unique and beautiful cities I've ever visited. If you get the opportunity to visit yourself, below are my travel tips and top 10 things to do!

Transportation to Venice:

Airport Link Transfer

If you fly into Marco Polo International Airpot, like we did, I highly recommend taking the Airport Link Arrival Transfer.  It is a shared boat transfer that picks you up from the airport and will drop you off right at your hotel.  It costs about $75 per person, but was worth every penny for a stress-free arrival to our hotel and it was a great way to see Venice from the water!

If you arrive into Venice by train, you can hitch a ride on Venice's public water transportation - the vaporetto - and get dropped off at the closest location near your hotel.  We took the vaporetto from our hotel to the train station when leaving Venice.  It was very easy to navigate and we were able to see more beautiful views from the Grand Canal.

Where to Stay:

Luckily, Venice is VERY walkable, so you can't go wrong with your lodging of choice, whether it be a chain hotel, boutique hotel, or Air BnB.  We stayed at Hotel Gorizia, which was a lovely boutique hotel in walking distance to St. Mark's Square and Rialto Bridge.  The hotel was very affordable and included a great breakfast spread {and a wonderful cappuccino machine}.  The rooms and bathrooms were very small, but that's par for the course anywhere in Europe.  If you prefer chain hotels, I heard GREAT things about the Hilton Molino Stucky.

Top 10 Things To Do:

1.  Explore St. Mark's Square

The main Piazza, or Square, of Venice is located right on the water.  There are shops, restaurants, museums, and it is home of the famous St. Mark's Basilica, Doge's Palace, and San Marco Campanile {the beautiful bell tower}.

Travel Tip:  The cafes in St. Mark's are WAY overpriced.  The cafes here (and in most places in Italy for that matter) charge a hefty fee just to be seated.  If you're looking for a caffeine fix, pop into a cafe and order an espresso at the bar to drink while standing up.  You'll pay a third of the price!  Don't let them talk you into taking a seat, insist on taking a drink like a local.

2.  Visit St. Mark's Basilica

St. Mark's Basilica

This is the most famous church in Venice and it's definitely worth going inside to see all of the beautiful mosaics.  The line to get in is typically very long, so we paid for a skip-the-line guided tour that included both the Basilica and Doge's Palace.  Another benefit of the guided tour is that we were able to climb the stairs to the top of the Basilica for a beautiful view of St. Mark's Square.

Travel Tip:  You must cover your knees and shoulders to enter the Basilica.  If you forget, you can purchase a cloth at the door for 3 euro to wrap around yourself.

3.  Visit the Doge's Palace

Doge's Palace
View from Bridge of Sighs
Go inside Doge's Palace for a sense of Venice's rich political past.  The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, as well as, where the Venetian government used to meet.  With the skip-the-line guided tour, you also have the opportunity to walk across the famous Bridge of Sighs.  This bridge was the route for prisoners making their way from the Doge's Palace into Venice's old jail, and legend has it that the sighs of the prisoners could be heard as they passed over the bridge catching their last glimpse of freedom.

4.  Walk across the Rialto Bridge and shop the Rialto Market

Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is the most famous bridge in Venice that extends over the Grand Canal.  It is a great place to go take a picture with a view of the Grand Canal in the background.  In the mornings, you will find a food market with fresh fruits, veggies, fish, bread, etc. where the locals come to get their food for the day.  There are also tons of clothing, jewelry, and souvenir shops {open all day} on the bridge and along either side.

5.  Take a boat ride - it doesn't HAVE to be a gondola

We didn't ride a gondola, but we got lots of beautiful pictures of them!
There is nothing quite like seeing Venice from its canals.  Since we took the Airport Link boat transfer into Venice, we opted out of the expensive gondola ride.  A gondola ride will typically cost you about 80 euro per person for a 35 minute trip.  If that seems a little pricey, take a ride on Venice's public water transportation - the vaporetto.  It goes down the Grand Canal and around its most famous islands.  A single ride costs about 7.50 euro per person or 20 euro for a day of unlimited rides. 

6.  Visit the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello

Unfortunately, we did not have time to do this, but it came highly recommended.  You can take the vaporetto and visit all three in a day.  Murano is famous for its glass {which you'll see being sold all over Venice}.  You can visit the workshops and watch local artisans spin molten glass into beautiful jewelry, ornaments, cups, etc.  Burano is known for it's brightly colored houses and homemade lace, and Torcello is known for Santa Maria Assunta church which houses impressive mosaics and a bell tower for a great view.

7.  Eat Venetian Tapas - cicchetti

Delicious cicchetti and house wine
Italians eat dinner late at night - typically around 9PM.  Around 6PM, many restaurants open up for tapas, or cicchetti, where you can get plates of cheese and cold cuts and discounted glasses of wine to keep your hunger at bay.

Travel Tip: Do NOT eat at any restaurants with pictures of food on the menu or where people are standing outside begging you to come in.  These are tourist traps that will serve you over-priced, low quality Italian food.  This goes for everywhere in Italy!  If you're in a touristy area - like St. Mark's Square - I recommend walking a couple of blocks away and picking a small, local restaurant.

8.  Drink an Aperol Spritz

Aperol Spritz
If you followed our vacation on my Instastories, you saw that I had my fair share of Aperol Spritzes.  It is a delicious, refreshing drink made out of Aperol {an Italian orange flavored liqueur}, Prosecco, soda water, and a slice of orange.

9.  Eat ALL the Gelato

Eat all the gelato you can get your hands on! But eat it FAST because it melts quickly given the heat and humidity in Venice.  My favorite flavor was pistachio.

10.  Get Lost

My favorite thing we did in Venice was just walk around, away from the touristy areas, with no destination in mind.  We found quaint canals and alley ways filled with the cutest shops, a Chianti wine tasting, and an amazing restaurant.  We stumbled upon Antico Gatoleto around dinner time and had the most delicious caprese salad and seafood risotto.

What to Wear:

We visited Venice in August, and it is EXTREMELY hot and humid that time of year - with highs in the 90s.  I highly recommend packing light, airy clothing, comfortable sneakers or sandals for lots of walking, and a hat to protect your face from the sun.  Given that we had to cover our shoulders and knees to visit St. Mark's Basilica, I wore this cute two-piece set and brought a short sleeve linen button down to tie over the top when visiting the Basilica.  Many ladies also wore midi or maxi dresses and brought a pashmina or light scarf to tie around their shoulders before entering the church.  On the days you're not visiting churches, sundresses, shorts, and tank tops are your best bet.  It is also important to carry a purse with a zipper.  Touristy cities, like Venice, are known for pick-pocketers so be sure to keep your purse close and zipped at all times!

Overall, Venice was a fascinating and beautiful city.  I highly recommend stopping for at least 24 hours during your next Italian getaway.

Have you ever been to Venice!? What are your favorite things to do? Tell me in the comments below!

PS:  I would love to hear your thoughts on the #TravelTuesday series.  If there's anything specific you want me to talk about in a future #TravelTuesday post, let me know in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment