Venice Visitor Guide
Venice is in the north-east corner of Italy, tucked in along the coast of the Adriatic Sea as it sweeps to the east in to Slovenia. Venice is made up of 118 small islands which are intersected by canals and connected by numerous bridges.
Why visit Venice?
Venice holds a great deal of magic in its islands and canals. It is unique in what it is and quite proud of its presence. Simply going to walk through the alleyways and ride in a gondola is reason enough. But you can add the beautiful St. Marks place, the stunning museums and galleries, and the food to your list of reasons why you should absolutely pay Venice a visit.
Best time to visit Venice
Spring or Autumn are ideal times for a visit to Venice. The extremely high prices of summer time, along with the crowds, are not to be found in shoulder season. If you can bare the cold, winter is also magical, but it does cool off to around freezing at times, so you’ll want to layer up.
Top 5 things to see and do in Venice
- St. Mark’s Square: The main public square of the city, here is where the concentration of tourism is and where you’ll keep coming back to. It’s a lively, pretty spot.
- Go for a Gondola Ride: It wouldn’t be possible to pay a visit to the city without going on a gondola ride. The prices are regulated by the city, but are not cheap. Go for a Gondola ride at sunset.
- Get lost: Wander through the little alleyways of Venice, put away your map, turn off your phone, and let yourself get lost.
- Bridge of Sighs: Named after the sigh’s of prisoners being led across it, the bridge is entirely enclosed in white limestone.
- St. Marks Basilica: Located in St. Marks square, the basilica is a large, impressive Roman Catholic one.
- The Islands: Murano, Burano, and Torcello are the 3 most visited islands around Venice. You can even visit all of them in one day.
- Cruise the Grand Canal: The inverted S of the Grand Canal is the most picturesque waterways of Venice, wide and spanned with 4 gorgeous bridges.
- The Bridges: Venice has hundreds of bridges and the famous ones are an art into themselves. Cross over the Rialto, one of the most famous ones.
In Venice you’ll choose your neighborhood which will also be your island. There are not a huge number of places to choose from but there is diversity in your options. From very touristy St. Marks to islands further afield which afford more privacy. It’s important to be aware of where the bridges are when making a choice as you don’t want to get stuck not being able to move to the next island. Some hotels do have private shuttle boats to help guests get around. Accommodation in Venice is generally quite pricey, so keep that in mind when making your choice
Getting around in Venice
Venice is very walkable, as long as you know where the bridges are. That being said you must, at least once, take a gondola ride, though this is more of an attraction than an actual form of transportation. There is the water bus (vaporetti) as well which can be used to get from place to place along the grand canal for a reasonable price. For private, expensive transfers there are the sleek water taxis
Venice has many tourist cards - from a card just for transportation (transport pass )to an all inclusive Unica card. If you are there for 3 days or more, you could buy an Unica card. Youngsters (those under 29) should go for Venice Rolling Card
Due to its accommodation prices and the difficulty of getting in and out it is not recommended to use Venice as your base while taking day trips. Spend the time in Venice that you would like to actually be in the city and then head elsewhere to base yourself for more explorations of the region. You must visit either Murano or Burano or possibly both.
What to eat and drink in Venice
- Baicoli (eat): With a history intertwined with Venice and its relationship with the sea, these biscuit like foods are often served with coffee. Where: Ristorante Gabrielli
- Mołéche (eat): Small green crabs, they can be pulled straight from the lagoon in springtime when they are shedding their hard shells. Where: Antiche Carampane
- Risotto al nero di seppia (eat): A risotto dish served jet black from the squid ink it is cooked with. Where: Osteria ai Carmini
- Aperol Spritz: Prosecco mixed with Aperol this is a typical cocktail choice amongst locals. Where: Al Prosecco
- Prosecco: The Italian bubbly wine is a standard drink that doesn’t need cause to be drunk. Where: All’Arco
Planning a Venice visit as a family
Venice is perfect for families of all shapes and sizes. You’ll want to keep a tight grip on the little ones in crowded St Mark’s square. But beyond that Venice can be lots of fun for tots. To start with the food is ideal. From gelato, to pizzas and pastas the Italians have a very child friendly cuisine.
As for what to do, zipping up and down the canal on the much cheaper water taxi can be great fun for little ones. As can zig zagging through the streets of the city.
Planning a Venice visit as a couple
Venice is full of romance. A gondola ride on the grand canal, a gelato in St. Mark’s square. A stolen kiss somewhere in the maze of alleyways. It’s the perfect place to fall, or keep falling, in love. And to top it off Venice has some of the most luxurious, romantic date worthy hotel rooms in all of the land.