I considere Venice to be relatively small, and I’m sure you can cover most of it within three to four days. But just in case you need some extra guidance, I’ve put together a travel guide for a magical Italian getaway.
What To Do
St. Mark’s Square
Visit this lively plaza and stroll around. You can shop, feed the pigeons, or have dinner at one of the surrounding restaurants. They usually have live music and outdoor seating. But, you should know, all St. Mark’s Square restaurants are SUPER expensive. If you still want the experience, you can have something small, like a cup of coffee. Oh, and don’t forget to go inside the basilica. Trust me, you don’t want to skip it.
Ride a Gondola
This one is obvious. Of course you should ride a gondola in Venice. But, what you need to know is that every ride costs eighty euros per thirty minutes. If you ride during sunset and anytime after that, it’s one-hundred euros for thirty-five minutes. The prices are fixated and are non-negotiable. All gondoliers work under the same employer and you won’t be able to haggle down the price. Make sure you plan for this and include it in your budget. It’s the one thing you MUST do in Venice.
Go up the Bell Tower
If you think Venice is beautiful from ground-level, wait until you see it from above. It’s absolutely magical! To get some incredible views, go to the top of the Bell Tower in St. Mark’s Square. It only costs eight euros and you can be up there as long as you’d like. Try to make it by sunset for an even more breathtaking experience.
Visit the Surrounding Islands
Venice is great! But make time to visit the surrounding islands, as well. Murano is just a 15-20 minute ferry ride away. The island is famous for its glass making and tons of little shops selling glass products. Another cute and colorful island nearby is Burano. It’ll be a forty-five minute ferry ride from Venice, but it’s worth the travel time. Burano island is one of the most colorful places in all of Italy. All those colors will definitely uplift your soul. 🙂
Walk along the Grand Canal
Walk as much as you can and try to cover most of the Grand Canal. There’s, literally, so much to see and so much to discover. Think of the Grand Canal as Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California or The Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, but, more cultural, of course. Plus, some of the city’s most famous bridges are along the Grand Canal.
At some point, stray away from the touristy spots and get lost. Go through unknown alleyways and walk without a destination in mind. You never know what you’ll come across. I discovered some of the cutest buildings thanks to my curiosity and spontaneity.
How To Get Around
Ferry: Instead of paying seven euros per ride, you can get a Travel Card for the days that you are staying in Venice. I purchased the 72 hour Travel Card for 40 euros and I was able to ride the ferry as many times as I wanted. It was also very convenient because I knew I wanted to visit the surrounding islands. You can obtain these at any ferry terminal.
Walk: This is basically the only other way to get around. If you don’t want to use up your data, download the Google Maps app. It allows you to save maps and use them offline. Or you can do it the old school way and, simply, ask the locals. They’re very friendly and helpful. It might even spark a conversation and you might end up making new friends. 🙂
>> When choosing a gondola to ride, don’t just base your decision off of the appearance of the gondola. Have a quick chat with the gondolier, too, so that you can get a feel of his personality. This way, you can choose someone chatty that will provide great historical facts, a silly fun gondolier that will make you laugh, or you can choose someone more quiet if you wish for a more peaceful and romantic ride.
>> Almost everyone speaks English, but the locals really appreciate it when you attempt to speak Italian. Learn the basics so you can have pleasant encounters. Here are some common phrases to begin with: Thank you = Grazie | You’re welcome = Prego | Please = Per favore | Yes = Si | No = No | Excuse me = Mi scusi | I’m sorry = Mi dispiace | I don’t speak Italian = Non parlor Italiano
>> Venice will always be touristy. Mentally prepare for that and try not to feel overwhelmed by the crowds. Especially during summer! It gets super hot, sticky, and full of tourists.
>> Book a room through Airbnb; they’ll be inexpensive in comparison to hotel rooms. You’ll, also, get a feel of what it’s like to live as a local. I, personally, don’t think you truly get to know a place unless you get lost in that city and stay the night at a local’s home.