Venice holidays – what to see and do

Venice
Grand Canal

Venice holidays are popular for many people. Venice itself is such a magical and unique place. Full of wonderful things to see and do. We had the pleasure of visiting Venice for our anniversary in August. Luckily there was no smell (that happens sometimes). However, it was incredibly hot. In other words, I would recommend visiting at a cooler time of the year. We booked the whole trip online, researching the best deals, and settled with booking.com.

Venice holidays – arriving in Venice in style

This was a celebration trip, therefore we decided to take a private water taxi from Marco Polo airport to the Hotel. Certainly this is not the cheapest option by far, but it was a lovely experience. The journey on the waterways took approximately 35 glorious minutes. I must say that I did feel like a film star as we whizzed towards the hotel.

Transport from Airport to Hotel for Venice holidays

There are many ways to get from the airport to your chosen Hotel. Many people go directly to the Alilaguna water bus which is at the airport. It takes a little longer, however, if you are watching your pennies it is cheaper.

Pack lightly for Venice holidays

Dragging luggage around Venice is horrible. Luckily we knew this in advance and had packed lightly. We did notice groups of hot, sweaty, tired tourists dragging big heavy suitcases, followed by screaming, unhappy children. Not a good start to a holiday!

Depending on where your hotel is located you may find that you have a hefty walk ahead of you. Venice is full of bridges, steps, narrow streets and unfortunately pickpockets (as I found out). Be wise and travel lightly if you can.

Venice
Bridges of Venice

What to pack?

This depends on the season that you are travelling to Venice. Summertime packing is easy. Wear as little as you can get away with because you will get incredibly hot. Comfortable footwear is an absolute must! Venice is for walking and lots of it. In addition, most of the pleasure of visiting Venice is to see it on foot.

Winter packing for Venice is different. Warm clothes are certainly needed. Venice does get cold, and wet, in winter, in addition it also floods! Boots, coats, jumpers, warm socks, wouldn’t go amiss.

Districts

Venice has six zones called sestieri. Each has it’s own character and personality. These are:

  • San Polo & Santa Croce
  • Piazza San Marco
  • Murano, Burano & Torcello
  • Cannaregio
  • Castello
  • Dorsoduro
  • Other Islands

Make sure to research each one before booking your accommodation. For instance, if being near the Grand Canal is important to you, look for something close by. Some areas are quieter than others. Check reviews on trip advisor or other sites. Cannaregio is quieter than many of the other areas. In addition, there are lovely Bacari (wine bars), traditional trattorias located at the side of the canals. Very popular with the locals. One of the things I loved most about Venice is that all goes quiet late at night. No loud nightclubs booming music. Just a lovely peaceful, lazy atmosphere.

Accommodation in Venice

There is no denying that Venice is an expensive place to stay and visit. From the high-end regal hotels near San Marco, to smaller budget-friendly hotels, Airbnb, and self-catering options, you are spoilt for choice. There is something to suit all pockets. Do take into account the time of year you are travelling, because many budget hotels don’t have great AC which you will certainly need in the summer season.

We booked our Hotel well in advance online. It is definitely possible to get last minute deals, particularly out of season from November to February when the crowds have left and the temperature has dropped. Many of the hotels around the Rialto bridge are midrange, full of character, and set in a great location for exploring. Rialto also has a popular bustling market, popular with the local Venetians. We met a lovely couple stocking up on food. They had decided to go self catering in the Rialto area as an alternative to booking a Hotel. Always an option.

Luxury Hotels

Venice has some lovely hotels to choose from if you are looking for something special. The Gritti Palace is a grand historic hotel on Campo Santa Maria Del Gigli O Zobenigo. Close to the Peggy Guggenheim museum, Basilica of St Mary of Health, Punta della Dogana, the Grand Canal and San Marco.

Eating out in Venice

Eating out in Venice can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. From budget friendly menus called menu turisticos which are generally cheap. This reflects the quality of the food being served because the food is generally quite basic. Wander around and pop into the local wine bars as a serving of cicheti (similar to Spanish tapas) is tasty. Not a meal in itself, however a light snack to silence a grumbling tummy until dinner.

Venice

We ate out in some great places that didn’t break the bank. By choosing the pasta and pizza dishes you can stay well within your budget. Seafood dishes can be fairly expensive, but a lovely treat. Drinkwise, my favourite was the well known Spritz made from Aperol, Prosecco, and Soda. Delicious enjoyed by the Grand Canal watching the busy bustling waterway. House wine is inexpensive and doesn’t taste like vinegar.

What to do in Venice

With so much to see and do in Venice, make sure you’ve planned your days and can fit it all in! Our first day was spent exploring the area, getting happily lost in the winding and twisting narrow streets, climbing over bridges, and finding ourselves in San Marco.

Walking tours are also a great way to see Venice and learn about the history along the way. As a result, you are hearing a locals perspective on living and working in Venice. I must admit I did find myself wondering about how on earth they get their furniture into their apartments surrounded by water.

Venice pasta
Pasta galore

San Marco

Otherwise known as St Marks Square. Rich in its history, San Marco is a must see. Dotted around the square are elegant restaurants and designer shops. Orchestras play to the customers, while the pigeons dive bomb and flap around the tourists in the Square. We visited the Doges Palace built in Venetian Gothic style and Basilica di San Marco. Beautiful mosaics, and intriguing history. Well recommended to escape the heat of the midday sun! Climbing (or elevator) the Campanile is also an option which does offer fabulous views.

Venice
San Marco

Murano

On exiting the Doges Palace we were given free tickets on a private Vaporetto to Murano, a glass makers paradise. True artisans skilled in moulding and blowing glass into beautiful vases, glasses, chandeliers, figurines and much more. We were already aware our tickets were given to tempt us into the Murano glass factories but we were happy to go along with that. Tragettos are also available to take you over the Grand Canal.

Glass makers had to move from Venice to Murano due to fire risks. We were fascinated to watch a glass blowing display. Murano glass is beautiful, colourful, and spectacular. Yes, you will be encouraged to buy a piece of Murano glass if you visit a factory, however, it’s up to you to do that or not. By this time we were getting thirsty and stopped at one of the lovely waterside cafes to enjoy a cool drink before heading off to Burano.

Burano

Venice
Venice Burano

Back onto another Vaporetto to Burano. Before long we disembarked and found ourselves in a lovely quiet colourful little fishing village. I couldn’t resist wandering in and out of the many handmade lace shops or taking photos of the multicoloured houses. The atmosphere was far less hectic compared to Venice. A peaceful respite for a few hours. After a while our grumbling stomachs found a delicious seafood restaurant and we spent a pleasant couple of hours eating tasty seafood and just watching the world go by.

Venice
Relaxing times in Venice

Gondola Ride – a must do for Venice holidays

One of the most popular things to do in Venice, certainly not the cheapest. We didn’t get serenaded on the canal, however, our Gondolier did talk about the history and then left us in peace and quiet to take in the sights, sounds, and atmosphere as we floated along. If a Gondola doesn’t “float your boat” pardon the pun, then go for a more budget-friendly alternative.

In conclusion, Venice is a destination that really has to be seen to be felt. This wasn’t the first time I had visited and I enjoyed it as much now as I did then. Well recommended as a City break, and four days was enough for us.

If you enjoyed this Venice holidays article. Please feel free to leave a comment or head over to the other destination blogs on the site.


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4 Comments

  1. Sofia
    March 27, 2019 / 2:18 pm

    I’m just living 2 hours from Venice and if I say that I have never been there people don’t even believe me! Right yesterday my boyfriend and I were talking about this. Probably we will plan a trip soon. Will keep your suggestions in my mind! <3

    • Isobel
      Author
      March 27, 2019 / 5:29 pm

      Hi Sofia. Thank you so much for commenting on the Blog. I love Italy! I hope you enjoy Venice as much as we did. x

  2. March 27, 2019 / 10:45 pm

    I just love this article. I have been to Venice twice and had no idea it was divided into six zones, or that taking a water taxi from the airport was an option. Thanks for the tips.

    • Isobel
      Author
      March 28, 2019 / 9:13 am

      Hi Debbie, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I didn’t know it was divided into six zones either until we visited. Each one with such a different vibe. Thank you for commenting.

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