Venice has been a hotspot for centuries. It has always been a stop on the “European Tour”. And while that now means pricey gelato and summer months filled with hoards of tourists, Venice is definitely still a must see. There’s a reason it remains on the list of requirements to qualify as ‘well travelled’. Lets find out why!
When to Go
Like almost anywhere in Italy, the trick to figuring out the “perfect” time to go is optimizing the combination of nice weather and thin crowds. And for Venice this is late April through late May. All of these photos are from our trip in mid April and we could tell that consistent beautiful weather was just on the horizon as we had a few cloudy days mixed it with the sunny ones, but overall the weather was great for exploring the city and neighboring islands.
What to Do
I cannot stress this enough, but Venice is one of those cities where the less of a plan you have the better. Sure there are a few places you need to see, like Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge, but you will get to those by just wandering through the streets. Less is definitely more when it comes to planning your trip to Venice.
Wandering through the streets of Venice you can’t help but to get sucked into the whimsy of it all. Streets filled with water, the gorgeous Riva Aquaramas weaving through the canals; it is a sight to be seen.
Since Venice is filled with canals that also means that it is filled with bridges, with the most famous being the Rialto. But my favorite is the Ponte Dell’Accademia, you get a much better view than at the Rialto.
You will also find that the city is filled with fine shopping, you will find all the big names, Gucci, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo. So you will definitely need to pick up a few haute couture souvenirs, and skip all the tourist nonsense, which is also in great supply.
The mainland of Venice is so small that you can easily walk through all of it on a 3 day trip, and if you have a week in town you should explore the neighboring islands of Murano and Sant’ Erasmo.
Murano is of course famous for the “Murano Glass”, known for it’s fluid color and lively patterns.
And on Sant’ Erasmo, you can visit a world famous beekeeper and take home some fabulous honey. And not to mention, the ferry rides to both of these places will give you some gorgeous views of the Venice and the surrounding islands.
The best way to get around Venice and the surrounding islands is the water bus. It is just as convenient as any other public transportation system—except you will have much better views than you’re used to on the subway.
What to Eat
The real question should be what to drink because Venice is more famous for its drinks rather than its food, although the regional cuisine is quite good as well. The Venetians are big into “Apertivo Hour”, as is much of Italy. It’s basically Happy Hour, but Venetian style. And their drink of choice is the “spritz”. This is a love hate type of drink, very divisive amongst tourists. I love it; it’s Prosecco, Aperol, soda water and an orange slice. I think it’s the bitterness that gets some Americans. However, this is the thing in Venice, so I highly recommend giving it a chance.
As for food, think seafood and risotto. Lots of seafood risotto and seafood based snacks. I love all the different arancini-type fritters with salted fish inside—delicious!
Also, splurge on a few water front meals and just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
Where to Stay
My main critique of the city is that there are not that many high-end accommodation choices. My top 2 choices for hotels located actually in Venice, not on a neighboring island, are: the Centurian Palace and the Hotel Bauer.
There are other places like the JW Marriot, but it’s located on its own island away from all the action.