I realized that through the craziness of the holidays, I never got to do a recap of beautiful, charming Venice!
The last stop on our 10 day trek, and I have to say, I believe it was the right place to end. Venice is a tiny marshland island that doesn't have as many "MUST DOS" as the others, so you can leisurely stroll around, get lost, and just enjoy its unique beauty. I'm always careful to use the word "unique", as the PR world teaches you that almost nothing is UNIQUE, and reporters hate to hear that word... but Venice truly is. It has the most fascinating history & structure I've ever seen, or am likely to see again.
The water level raises and lowers several inches a day, so don't wear shoes you are afraid to ruin! You're essentially walking on a floating city (or sinking, depending who you ask), and water comes up on the street from time to time.
Venice has a major airport, train station, & bus station. You can easily fly in from another country (and then take a water taxi from the airport, so fun!) or take the train in like we did. It was just under 2 hours on the high speed train from Florence, and it was easy peasy to get to our B&B from there.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Walk. Walk more... and then keep walking. There are NO cars in Venice. Zero. Everywhere is a pedestrian walkway and you'll see why... some of the "streets" (we'll use that term loosely here) are only wide enough for one person to walk through. If you find yourself to be broad shouldered or have hips that really don't lie, you might even have to turn sideways from time to time. Don't feel bad, this isn't your fault - it's Venice's.
The water taxi (called a Vaporetto) is fun... but only useful at three times: If you're taking a train, taking a plane, or going to Morano or Burano. The water taxi only travels the grand canal, and makes only a handful of stops. The other water taxi takes you to the airport or to a few other local islands. If you're trying to get to an attraction... walk! And hope there are a few signs along the way.
Venice is quite the maze... although it wasn't as bad as I imagined. I consider myself pretty directional & detail oriented, so we just paid attention to landmarks to find our way back to certain places. Take your time & enjoy - you are likely to get lost, but it's part of the fun of this gem :)
THREE VERY IMPORTANT NOTES
- do NOT buy the Vaporetto pass unless you've done your research. We took one taxi in, and one taxi out - so the 24hr pass would have been useless, and likely will be for you, too.
- If you're not getting on at a Vaporetto stop, you are taking a private water taxi... and these are even more expensive than Gondola rides, and not nearly as fun. So make sure you're at an official stop.
- do NOT rely on Google Maps in Venice. Most of the street names repeat several times... so get a paper map and feel free to ask for directions.
Just an example - we stayed over near that hospital.... in an entirely different neighborhood than the green circle implies :)
Wherever you want. Everything is walkable, so don't worry too much about it. My only advice would be to be within quick (10 or less) walking distance of a major water taxi stop. This will make your arrival & departure much easier, the less winding streets you have to take with a backpack (PLEASE PLEASE don't bring a suitcase... you'll regret it forever). We stayed about a 5 minute walk from the Rialto Bridge in this Airbnb & I would highly recommend it. We were also 5 min away from an airport water taxi... so we had a very easy time! But truly, this won't be hard to come by. It's also fun to be a on a canal. Note above, don't trust Google Maps! Get a paper map or ask your host/front desk/anyone around.
Most of the island of Venice is filled with tourists over the last few years. Less than 35% of the people on that island every day are locals. Most have moved to the mainland in order to make room for more room rentals & hotels. This means you should have no problem finding a great room in your budget.
Also note, you will save a few bucks, but do your research before you stay on an outlying island. There are several that will come up in a hotel or Airbnb search for "Venice", so make sure you're ok with that (and know the water taxi schedule will work with YOUR schedule) before you confirm that booking.
WHAT TO DO
Honestly, we did a lot of wandering & eating our way around Venice. We popped in a few churches, museums and so on. The one thing I wish we would have done was go up in the clock tower in St Mark's Square. Here's what we did!
- Ghost Tour
- A must do, in my opinion. Venice has a fascinating history. We booked this one, and it was also a great way to see the city at night & hear some great stories!
- Take a Gondola Ride
- This is one of the more frivolous things we did... but it was SO fun to see the city this way. You get go to on the tiny water ways that the water taxis can't get to. In my opinion, do this around sunset - this way you're getting an amazing view!
- Museum of Music
- This was free & just beautiful. They have instruments from some of the most famous musicians in history! Definitely worth checking out.
- St Mark's Square
- The famous church. The square itself is incredibly beautiful, although very touristy - this is the famous place with all of the pigeons. Needless to say, we didn't stay long :) But definitely worth stopping by!
- Eat Seafood
- Venice is coastal, so they have some very interesting seafood! Our favorite restaurant was Alberto's, if you can find it :) It's near the hospital if that helps! ;) It was recommended to us by our Airbnb host, and it was worth it. Busy on a Saturday night, but certainly worth the wait.
According to some people, this beautiful city is sinking... so get there while you can! Hopefully they've helped that problem and stabilized it, but I would still get there at your earliest convenience. It's incredibly charming & breathtaking, and we loved it.
Have you ever been to Venice? Do you want to go now?
Here are my other recaps from Italy:
Wine Tasting in Tuscany