I´ve been lucky to see Venice a couple of times. WOW ! It´s definitely a city you don´t want to miss. Adventure, culture, food… It´s probably on every bucket list so no matter what time (killing time synonym) of the year you choose, have patience to wait in lines and walk in the small alleys. To me, it´s the most romantic place I´ve seen so grab your partner (or do it by yourself , because you are worth it) and prepare to be dazzled.
How to get around (find a way around) Venice
If you are going by a car the cheapest and closest car park to the center of Venice is Venezia Tronchetto. It´s 21 € per day and opened 24/7. It´s located close to Vaporetto, boat stop, which will take you to the famous San Marco square. I love (apple of eye meaning) to walk around as much as possible so we always use the People mover (1,50 € single ride) to reach Piazzale Roma. There you will find a ticket office for water bus lines, Actv, which operate as the water ferry network for Venice. And now, welcome to not so cheap Venice ! A single ride is 7 €, it´s valid for 60 min and only in one direction. I would recommend buying daily passes if you are going to use vaporetti a lot (1 day: 20 €, 2 days: 30 €, 7 days: 60 €), but remember Venice is a walking town and everything is reachable by foot. Ok fine, there is also Murano and Burano, two islands that you should see, but I´ll tell you about that later. We used an app Orari Autobus & Vaporetti ACTV to find the line that we needed or to check on a timetable.
Where to stay
If this is your first time in Venice don´t go cheap (if you really don´t have to) staying in Mestre is nice but don´t you want to really experience Venetian life, to feel the romance, to watch gondolas and listen to the gondoliers sing? To be awaken by loud Italians opening their stores or having there first cappuccinos?
We stayed at Hotel Bonvecchiati, NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci and Best Western Plus Quid Hotel Venice Airport. First two are in the heart of Venice and definitely expensive (around 300 $ a night ) but worth it ! Amazing views, food, location…. Third one, Western Plus, is in Mestre and the price is around 150 $. Don´t get me wrong, Western offers almost the same quality, the only thing that is missing is you don´t have that feeling of being in Venice. It all depends on your wishes and your budget of course.
What to see
Somehow we always stayed for a weekend getaway. For us that was enough but feel free to go crazy. Have a city map with you because you can easily get lost despite the signs of major attractions on every corner. We got lost couple of times, being smartasses as we are „we map the lost“ ( lost the map), that´s what you get sightseeing after a couple of glasses of wine !
Piazza San Marco, one of the most beautiful square in the world. There you´ll find Basilica di San Marco, a symbol of Byzantine Venetian history and it takes an hour to see it, depending on the time of year. Remember there will be lines to enter. Also climb Torre de L´Orologio if you want to see Venice from above.
Palazzo Ducale, headquarters of Serenissima Republic also worth seeing. Pray for nice weather or you´ll literally walk on water. The square gets flooded as most of Venice when it rains. If you look across the canal you´ll see Santa Maria della Salute, beautiful white baroque church.
Ponte dei Sospiri is one of the most famous bridges after Rialto. The legend says lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset, under the Bridge . The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment, but in reality, the prison was for petty criminals and no executions awaited them.
Rialto is probably most photographed sights in Venice. It´s the oldest bridge over the canal, currently under renovation. Early in the morning is the best time to walk across the bridge and see the shops and market.
Two islands that I mentioned before and shouldn´t be missed are Murano and Burano. Take water bus lines 41 or 42 from San Zaccaria stop, near Piazza San Marco. It takes around 45 min. They call Murano the Glass island. Check numerous presentations of how Venetians make glass for more then 700 years. Their creations, creativity and knowledge is amazing ! Mr. G. surprised me with a beautiful glass rose. Your better half would love a gift/souvenir from here. Trust me !
There is so much more to see in Venice, this is only what I would recommend if it´s your first time. I´m sure every church, bridge or museum deserves attention. Venetians don´t hate me for mentioning only these top sights. We will see more of Venice I promise, cause it has a special place in our hearts.
When you decide to sit down, relax, have a drink , lunch or just (definition just in case) some coffee take off the beating path, avoid all those tourist places that are overated. Simply ask a local Venetian where would he take his wife for a nice dinner. Because he knows those places are worth visiting. That´s how we found are favorite restaurant . Not telling you the name, becouse it won´t be our hidden treasure anymore.
You will be impressed by this city, no doubt.