I am here to confirm that Venice is actually just as amazing as it seems in all the photos you’ve seen. Unlike anywhere else I’ve been before, the colorful mazes of streets intertwined with the rivers make this island city a perfect vacation spot. There is just something different about Venice that makes you slow down, relax and enjoy the surroundings. And, after coming from Rome where you run from one historic site to the next, relax is exactly what we did!
Like I mentioned before, Venice is literally a maze of buildings on top of small interconnected islands. While extremely walk-able (we were able to get from the train station at one side to Castello where our Airbnb was in about an hour) you have to be prepared to weave all around to find your way. Using Google Maps on our phones with locations on (but still in airplane mode) worked perfectly well to get around. Aside from walking, the only mode of transportation around the islands are the water ferries. At 7.50 euro each way or 20 euros for a day pass, they are a bit pricey but definitely worth using. Plus who doesn’t love a boat ride! Don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry though, as you can expect boat transportation is very leisurely.
What To Do & See
We ended up running into one of my friends from high school and her boyfriend who were also traveling in Venice for the weekend. Small world! We all agreed that although it is slightly cheesy, we wanted to do a gondola ride but the prices were crazy. Since they run 80 euros for 3o minutes, splitting a ride between us 4 was the perfect solution. We got ours near the San Zaccaria water taxi stop and had a great time! The views are beautiful no matter where you go, just try not to take a gondola that brings you down the Grand Canal since that always has so much boat traffic.
Visit the island of Murano just a quick ferry ride away. Known for their glass blowing craft, this was a nice place to walk around and look for presents to take home. We weren’t able to fit it in, but the Glass Museum offers tours and glass making demonstrations every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon for 18 euros. While you’re over on Murano, take the ferry to the small fishing island of Burano to see some cute colorful houses and hand made lace.
Definitely check out Paradiso Perduto tavern for night of seafood and drinks. There was a live jazz band playing while we were there but not sure if that’s an every night thing. One thing we did noticed about restaurants and shops is how early everything closes. Don’t expect to sit down to eat anywhere past 10 PM. Also, we learned that pizza ovens are not permitted on the island so they won’t have crispy crust (aka the key to a good pizza) so I recommend sticking with pastas!
In general, anywhere you wander in Venice will have something beautiful to see. You never really know what will be around each corner but it is guaranteed to be lovely. Even walking through the more touristy San Marco Plaza past the Basilica was nice, although you definitely notice the streets radiating from that area to be a bit more packed with walking tours and such. We were pleasantly surprised with how safe walking around the streets at night was too! Read here for more about the Byzantine architecture and notable buildings of Venice.
Also, I’m sure you may have heard discussion about Venice “sinking” in the nearish future. If you want to read more about that, this is a good article detailing the history of how the city was made and its fight to survive. Very interesting!
If you haven’t been already, I hope you make time to visit Venice soon. So far it has been our favorite trip this summer!