Venice is my favourite city in Italy, there’s no doubt about it. There’s no other place like it in the world, since the whole city is built on water. You won’t find roads here, just canals, and the main mode of transportation is by boat.
Venice blog posts
Things to Do
The Doge’s Palace- Located in Piazza San Marco, the Doge’s Palace was the home of the Doge of Venice and the seat of government for centuries. The regular tour will take you inside this remarkable gothic palace to see the opulent rooms, but I can highly recommend taking the Secret Passages tour. You’ll see hidden doorways and secret passages, visit the cell where Casanova was imprisoned and cross the famous Bridge of Sighs.
Saint Mark’s Basilica- Standing amongst the crowds in Piazza San Marco, you can’t help but gaze up in awe at Saint Mark’s Basilica. This Byzantine church was originally the chapel of the Doge, but in 1807 it became the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archidiosese of Venice, and it supposedly houses the remains of St.Mark, the patron saint of Venice. Saint Mark’s is one of the most spectacular cathedrals I have ever seen, with a gold ceiling that shimmers in the light. If you climb the stairs and go out onto the terrace, you’ll be presented with brilliant views of Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal.
Saint Mark’s Campanile- Saint Mark’s Campanile is a tall red brick bell tower that dominates Piazza San Marco. It is actually a replica, as the original collapsed in 1902. The new one, which was inaugurated in 1912, is an exact copy of the first one.
Gondola Ride- It may be rather expensive and touristy, but a gondola ride is the highlight of any trip to Venice. You’ll get to see Venice from a whole different perspective, and as you venture down the narrow backstreet canals, you’ll feel like you’re a whole world away from the crowds of tourists in Saint Mark’s.
Rialto Bridge- The Rialto Bridge is the most famous bridge in Venice and the oldest bridge that spans the Grand Canal. There are shops on the bridge itself selling jewellery and souvenirs, and there are lots of restaurants lining the river here. Of course it’s quite touristy, but it’s a romantic spot to have dinner in the evening.
Accademia Bridge- This is a wooden bridge that offers great views of the Grand Canal. It connects Dorsoduro with San Marco and is a great spot for taking photos.
Venice Travel Tips
Buy yourself a bottle of wine- Before you go on your gondola ride, buy yourself a bottle of wine and some plastic cups so you have something to drink while you’re floating down the canals!
Throw away the map- Forget the map, because in Venice you WILL get lost! Navigating your way around all those canals and bridges can be difficult, so the best thing to do is look out for the signs that are painted on the walls above you. They’ll either say “Rialto” or “San Marco” which gives you a general idea of which way you are going.
Stay on the mainland- Staying on the islands is generally more expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget, look at staying on the mainland and getting a bus or ferry in. I always stay at Camping Fusina, which has a ferry stop directly outside that will take you into Venice. You can read my review of Camping Fusina here.
Try going in the off-season- Like the rest of Italy, Venice is really busy and hot in the summer months from about May/June through till September. If you want to avoid the crowds then it’s best to visit in the off-season in spring, autumn and winter.
Beware of Aqua Alta- Venice is built on water, and therefore it can experience acqua alta (flooding). High-tides and heavy rainfall can cause the canals to overflow, resulting in the streets being flooded. Acqua alta is most likely to occur in October, November and December so if you’re traveling to Venice in these months, it’s best to check the tides and the weather forecast on the Internet. If you think there is a possibility of acqua alta, then take some Wellington boots (gum boots) with you just in case!
Haggle on the price of your gondola ride-A gondola ride is definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime things you should experience in Venice, but it can also be rather expensive. I have written a guide to the price of gondola rides to give you a rough idea of what you should be paying. It’s possible to negotiate a little bit on price, so don’t be afraid to haggle with the gondoliers.