Italy was the fourth stop on our journey across Europe and after the cold miserable weather of London and Paris we could not get there fast enough. We were also going to be travelling through Italy with my sister Laura, so we were very excited to be seeing her for the first time in almost three weeks.
Venice was our first stop in Italy and we couldn’t wait to visit the ancient city surrounded by water. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has Venice on their bucket list forever, how could you not? It looks crazy beautiful.
We were only in Venice for one night so we were very lucky that we were blessed with beautiful sunny weather on the afternoon that we arrived. We spent the whole afternoon walking around the narrow cobbled streets and checking out the local fashion trends, cafes and restaurants and of course, eating all of the gelato that we could find.
What better place right?! For such an ancient city we were actually really surprised at the amount of modern boutiques hidden in the streets, with some really beautiful and unique fashion pieces!
Gondola rides in Venice
If you’re in Venice, the obvious can’t miss experience is to take a gondola ride through the canals. It is an obnoxiously expensive half an hour, but to be honest, the fear of missing out will most likely have you hopping aboard!
The price for gondola rides are set by the city of Venice, so at least you know you’re not being ripped off (I mean, anymore than you actually are). You might be able to try and haggle with a gondolier if you feel lucky, but they are pretty tight with sticking to the pricing. Gondola rides during the day are about 80€, with prices rising to 100€ after 7pm.
A good thing to remember is that due to the extremely high walls of the city, a sunset or evening gondola ride won’t always mean that you get to see the sunset. If you’re inside the city walls, it will be a pretty dark ride if you choose to go at night, so it might be worth taking a ride just before the price changes.
Above everything, if you can put aside the price, sit back and enjoy the ride it really is a beautiful way to explore the city.
Where to stay in Venice
Arriving into the main port of Venice is nothing short of hectic. There are a million people around, arriving and leaving Venice Island, looking for taxi boats and shopping at the waterfront market stalls. From the Port the only option to get to your accommodation is to drag your suitcases through the cobbled streets or to catch a smaller taxi boat through the canals, if your hotel is accessible this way.
There are lots of porters hanging around that will help you carry your bags to your hotel for tips. We were lucky enough to meet a lovely Italian man who helped us with our bags and directed us to our hotel for free. I think he could see how confused and lost we were and just wanted to help out of the kindness of his heart, boy did we appreciate it!!
We stayed at Albergo San Marco whilst in Venice. It was in the perfect location, just off St Mark’s Piazza and an easy walking distance to the Grand Canal and major ports. The hotel was charming, with beautiful friendly staff and speedy wifi. Complimentary breakfast was served in the cafe downstairs with cereals, pastries cold meats, and my favourite – snack sized nutella packs. Make sure you grab a couple for the road!
Albergo San Marco || San Marco 877 (Calle dei Fabbri), San Marco
No matter what kind of experience you’re looking for there’s something for everyone. Foodies will be in absolute heaven, with the narrow streets absolutely overflowing with restaurants and cafes that all offer delicious perfect Italian food.
Everything we tried in Venice tasted so good, you might leave a little heavier if you’re not careful! If you want to experience the sites of Venice and the Veneto make sure you check out:
- The Grand Canal where you will find water taxis lined with classical buildings and crossed by the Rialto Bridge
- The main square of Venice is Piazza San Marco, a popular gathering place for locals and visitors and where you will find more pigeons then you have seen before
- The iconic cathedral Saint Mark’s Basilica with it’s on-site museum
- Doge’s Palace with Gothic buildings hosting exhibitions with prison and armoury tours
- St Mark’s Clocktower also know as Torre dell’Orologio, displaying the time of day, the dominant sign of Zodiac and the current phase of the moon
- Day trip out to Murano to watch (and maybe even try) the intricate process of glassblowing
Make sure you take the time to really soak in everything Venice has to offer. Have lunch along the water, take in the detail of all the old buildings, stop and browse in all of the unique boutiques and stores.
On the weekends you can find a fantastic fruit and vegetable right next to the Grand Canal. Perfect place to stop and stock up on everything healthy you might have forgotten about amongst all the pasta and gelato!
Arriving into Venice
Arriving into Venice by air means landing into Marco Polo Airport, which is found on the mainland of Italy. The easiest and most comfortable way to get from the airport to Venice is with a private taxi boat, but of course, it’s also the most expensive.
Since we only had the one night on the island, we wanted to get there as soon as possible so we chose a private taxi to get us there. It only took about 20 minutes and to be honest, made us feel pretty special rocking up at the dock in.
On our way back to the airport we caught the public taxi boat – much cheaper but also much longer, it took us over an hour to make it back to the airport. If you can find a few people at the docks to split the ride with you might be able to save a few euros and make some new friends.