Ah, Venice! It is one of those cities that you see in all the guidebooks and travel shows as the ultimate travel destination to admire a city rich in cultural history, architecture and of course scrumptious Italian food. It almost looks too picture perfect and it is all true! Venice was exactly how I imagined it to be and despite the number of tourists already flocking to this popular Italian destination at this time of the year, I had the best time endlessly walking amongst the hundreds of winding canals and snapping pictures of the old, beautiful buildings and famous gondolas. The best way to make your way around Venice is by foot. It is relatively small and the areas of San Polo, San Marco and Sante Croce is best explored walking and twirling through the narrow, cobblestone streets and small bridges. The numerous shops selling Murano glass, leather handbags and gloves, bakeries, gelato and pizza will excite your senses.
I stayed in an Airbnb outside the main island of Venice in a residential area called Marghera because the price was a lot cheaper than the accomodation right in the centre and to be honest it was a really nice break from being surrounded by so many people to come back to a quiet neighbourhood at the end of a long day. There also many hotels in Marghera as the Mestre train station is a main stop to travel to other cities in Italy. From various bus stops in this area it takes about 15 minutes to reach Piazzale Roma. All transport like buses and taxis stop here and the rest of Venice is accessible by foot or ferry. Catching the ferry around Venice is a great way to see the city from a different and necessary perspective. It is a lot cheaper than taking a gondola everywhere.
From Piazzale Roma walk to the romantic and famous Rialto Bridge. It is fairly easy to navigate your way from San Polo to San Marco as there are signs everywhere pointing you to the directions of the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco. Be prepared to secure your spot quickly on the Rialto Bridge to take the iconic shot of the famous Grand Canal of Venice. It will take your breath away hearing and seeing the bustle of the ferries, water taxis and gondolas passing underneath the bridge.
A couple minutes away from the Rialto Bridge in a small alley called Calle del Paradiso is the restaurant Al Paradiso. They serve an amazing Margherita Pizza! And like me, if you are feeling slightly guilty about all the pizza, cheese, gelato and wine you have been indulging in, they also have an amazing Greek Salad to serve on the side.
As you cross the Rialto Bridge and make your way to Piazza San Marco you will be surrounded by all the designer brands you can think of and the window displays are meticulously perfect. It is a fabulous place for some window shopping to be inspired by the sophisticated and chic designs by famous Italian designers. Now prepare to be awed as you enter Piazza San Marco! First, visit the spectacular Basilica di San Marco. The beautiful gold leaf ceilings and colourful mosaics will leave you speechless. Second, it is necessary to see the Palazzo Ducale, also known as Dodge’s Palace in the Venetian Gothic style. Lastly, climb the Bell Tower of St. Marks Basilica for views of the city and the surrounding islands. Piazza San Marco is alive with energy and excitement as tourists admire these spectacular landmarks.
There are many restaurants surrounding the square but I would not eat here because it is so overpriced! All these restaurants have the allure of musicians playing famous classical pieces but you can appreciate their talent without taking a seat in one of these restaurants as they play outside facing the square. If you want to experience a nice and less expensive dinner outside people watching, head to Pizzeria Santo Stefano in Campo Santo Stefano and order one of their pizza or pasta dishes with a delicious Aperol Spritz.
For something different, visit the island of Murano where they make their famous, world renowned Murano glass. There are many glass factories with showrooms displaying amazing sculptures and glassware. My favourite place in Venice, besides the main island is Burano. Burano is an island 30 minutes away by ferry from Murano. The whole island is filled with bright, colourful houses and apartments. It is also famous for its production of biscuits and lace products. Buy a handmade cotton or silk scarf with lace detailing as a memory of this unique place and don’t forgot your camera!
Spring is definitely the best time to visit Venice because the weather is starting to get a little warmer and there are less tourists. Of course Venice attracts lots of people throughout the whole year but in the spring the streets will be less messy and less smelly than during the summer months. Venice really is one of the best holiday destinations in the whole world, the canal system and old buildings making it a unique city on water that will leave you wanting to come back for more.