Venice. Gondoliers romanticizing the atmosphere with their singing, roads made of water and automobiles blissfully taken over by water taxis, not to mention Piazza San Marco serving fancy wines with some truly mouthwatering Italian cuisine.
To my utter surprise, this just turned out to be a trailer. By the end of my second 7-day Venice vacation, I was finally satiated that I saw it all. Like every first-time visitor, I too had no idea about how much this place has to offer!
So here I am, trying to make an effort to help those planning to visit the Great City of Love! Not only will I be listing Venice’s most famous tourist attractions but also some of the most amazing places still hidden from the popular eye. Basically, this is going to be a one of those ‘whole enchilada’ blogs on 15 Things to do in Venice.
Let’s get started!
Whether you reach at the Santa Lucia Railway Station, the Piazzale Roma Bus Depot, or the Venice airport across the lagoon, Grand Canal will be the first one to welcome you in to the city. You will feel like a painting by Canaletto has come to life.
A whole-day city tour in #1 Vaporetto (Water taxi) takes you through the length of the Canal. I’d suggest you to either pick up a detailed guidebook for yourself, or hire a guide. This will help you mark the places you wish to visit later on.
For me, Piazza San Marco is a 24-hour tourist spot. Venice is hardly a nightlife town. So you can find a lot of peace and quite in the late hours. Don’t forget to visit this place when the restaurants are shut down. The beauty will take your breathe away!
As for the daytime, this Piazza offers 3 major attractions- St. Mark’s Basilica, The Doge’s Palace and Torre dell’Orologio.
The churches in Italy are beautiful. And Basilica Di San Marco is absolutely magnificent! There’s art in every corner. You can book your entry time into Basilica online, free of cost. The three museums inside have separate paid entries. Let your pocket decide what to do about them. But do go out on the roof to view the Square.
Campanile, the Bell Tower of Venice, is the tallest building here at almost 325 ft.. A short elevator ride will take you to the top of Campanile. If you visit this place at the hour mark, you might get your ears blown off!
The Lido, Roof of the Basilica, the lagoon, even the Dolomites can be visible on a clear day. The view is spectacular from this place. I highly recommend this place at the time of sunset.
A secret suggestion for those who want to avoid the crowd would be to head on to the tower at San Giorgio Maggiore. This building has an equally sweeping view of the city
I’m sure you have been dreaming about posing at the Rialto Bridge, like all tourists. Well, this bridge has much more to offer.
Near Rialto Bridge is the popular Rialto market, also the local fish market here. For foodies like me, this place is heaven! Besides the fresh supplies of sea food, this market offers a lot of fruits and veggies too.
So instead of spending a fortune at some fancy Italian restaurant with colorful pictures of cuisines displayed on the menu, I’d suggest you to try the local street food here nearby this market. It’s so mouthwatering!
If you are planning Venice with a good amount of time on your hand, do take a day out for the Murano and Burano islands.
I’d vote higher for Burano. This island is less crowded and definitely more beautiful. The colorful buildings here remind you of Disney cartoons; a perfect place for a romantic stroll.
Yes, I am talking about the Bridge of Sighs.
Built in 1962, this bridge was used to shift the prisoners from the Court to the Prison Cell. It got its notorious name when the locals claimed to have heard sounds of the convicts complaining about their punishments.
The place has kind of a creepy air to it, or may be you are just imagining things like others!
We all know that Venice has been a prime repository of art since the late middle ages. Art connoisseurs such as Tintoretto, Canaletto, Titian and Tiepolo have made their mark all over the city.
The gothic style church of Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari displays Titian’s ‘Assumption’ right above its high altar. Tintoretto’s epic ‘Crucifixion’ can be found at Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
Besides these legendary masterpieces, the contemporary works of art have also lived up to the history of Venice. The ‘Peggy Guggenheim Collection’ established only in the 20th century has been the Third most popular tourist attraction in the recent years. In 2009, ‘Punta della Dogana’ showcased works of art giants like Jean Tinguely, Jeff Koons, Dan Flavin and Rachel Whiteread to the city.
Not to mention the longest art extravaganza, the Venice Biennale, which takes place every alternate year.
The Ombra and the Spritz are two most famous Venetian delights. A perfect combo with Italian breakfasts, light snacks and desserts, you’d be lucky if you could discover the wine cellars that only locals know about. Prosecco and Spento are some other popular wines.
Take some aperitivo time out to enjoy wine and cicheti (snacks) with Venetians. Restaurants like Bancogiro, Naranzaria offer a Grand Canal facing view to enjoy some aperitivi. Besides, Ombra and Spritz served at Al Marca, Ardidos an Skyline Bar are amazing options too.
Get slurpy with the delicious Gelato
the Italian Gelato must not be missed. Boutique del Gelato is my personal favorite, sans the crowd. The place is always full, no wonder it’s good at what it does.
Besides, Alaska Gellateria Sorbetteria is another place known for its Gelato experiments and unique flavors. Do try their Hazelnut and Yogurt.
Around 80 inmates of Guidecca Women’s Prison run a tailor’s workshop behind the high walls of their habitat. Their talent recently hit the headlines when they produced work for Palazzo Mocenigo.
Besides producing period costumes, they do a flourishing business with contemporary clothes, sequined bags and jewelery, a wide variety of furnishings and accessories. You can purchase them from Banco no.10, near the Church of San Giovanni in Bragora.
Carnevale of Venice is the world’s largest masquerade party that takes place around Jan-Feb. Professional poseurs dolled up in flamboyant costumes gather at Piazza San Marco for some papparazzi. The locals, on the other hand, arrange private celebrations and gather in smaller squares.
If you need a break from the structures, Torcello island is the best escape into the nature. Approximately an hour ride from Venice is the Torcello Nature Reserve. While you actually can’t hike in the main fields, it’s still a relief from the tourist hordes and commotion.
There’s a 7th century church here. You will love it if you loved St. Mark’s.
VJC has recently become the shutterbugs’ favorite. Known for its contemporary jazz acts, it is closed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The club charges cover and has become the latest page 3 hangout for celebs.
Those aware of the jam in Harry’s Bar and still wish to taste the Bellini, can cross the water onto the Guidecca, to Harry’s Dolci. The waterfront is perfect for lunch and some fine tipple.
Venice is best explored on foot. So after having a fling with the Gondolas for an hour or two, it’s time to throw the map away and follow your nose. Don’t be afraid to get lost. You WILL get lost. But the buzz of the streets and friendly Venetians will lead you to the right path.
I haven’t listed the epic Gondola ride in my top things to do in Venice. Well, I think it is way over exaggerated. Besides, the Gondoliers charge you exorbitantly, and not everyone finds it as romantic as they promise.
I’d rather recommend kayaking in the waters. You don’t have to be a pro for it. All you need is a few minutes of training and you’ll be good to go.
Venice can be as picturesque as you ever dreamed and more! Make sure you do all the things listed here. Think local if you really wish to know Venice inside out.
Enjoy your Venice vacation. It’s time to drink like fish! haha!
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