There is nothing more exciting than going on a short vacation in the middle of the week, especially if it is your birthday next day and you know you will wake up in one of the most romantic places in the world: Venice. For sure this is going to be one of those birthdays that I’ll always remember and talk about, but what was most exciting about this day was that it was very intense, full of fun activities :).
Venice is a top tourist destination, but this time we were lucky because there weren’t as many tourists as a couple of years ago when we visited Venice for the first time. So this time around it was possible for us to finally see some of the main attractions. We managed to visit the Doge’s palace, Saint Mark’s basilica and San Marco Campanile.
Sometimes it is difficult to find a nice place to eat when travelling, especially in touristic places like Venice, so do some research before travelling to Venice to find some good restaurants and also make a reservation beforehand.
Although it is possible to pay by card in most restaurants and museums, it is useful to have some cash with you. There are still a few places that only accept cash.
I always return from Italy feeling a bit self-conscious about my training program, probably because of the tasty desserts that are on display everywhere 😀
Things to do in Venice
There are many things you could do in Venice, but the first that came to mind when we landed on Marco Polo Airport was that Venice would be a great city to play hide and seek 😀 The small bridges and the charming narrow streets, the old houses and palaces along the canals, as well as the many staircases that end directly in the water make this city an ideal place to get lost.
You will be amazed by how enchanting this city looks, so my first suggestion for what to do in Venice is to roam around and eventually get lost in the maze of Venetian alleys.
This is the place where all the Doges of Venice lived for over a thousand years. The Doge of Venice was the leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. Venice had doges from 726 to 1797. The palace itself looks very beautiful with a multitude of details, but the courtyard with marble stairs and statues is even more impressive. Inside the palace, you can visit the Doge’s apartments, institutional chambers, the prison and, most importantly, get a glimpse of the most amazing views over Venice’s rooftops, the domes of Saint Mark’s Basilica, The Bridge of Sights and the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
Saint Mark’s Basilica
The entrance to Saint Mark’s Basilica is free, but there is always a long waiting queue. Taking photos inside the church is prohibited. Although the entrance is free, they charge fees for seeing different parts of the basilica like the altar, the dome, the treasury etc. so make sure to have around 15 – 20 euros with you if you would like to see the entire church. Also pay attention to your attire: some of the women were asked to buy a scarf in order to cover themselves before entering the basilica.
Saint Marco Campanile
St. Mark’s Campanile is a symbol of Venice. It is a tall bell tower in Saint Mark’s square, and my favorite attraction in Venice, because of the photo opportunities that it offers. From the tower, you can see the entire city and some islands of Venice’s lagoon.
Gondola and water busses
Taking a gondola is an experience in itself, different to any other boat trip. It is a bit expensive in my opinion but definitely worth the fun. It is amazing to see how the gondoliers manage to navigate them though the narrow canals and to pass under the low bridges.
Controlling a gondola requires a lot of skill. To give you a hint about how difficult it is, I will tell you that most of the bridges in the city are lower then the height of a gondola :D. And even more so when it comes to the gondolier who is standing on the gondola. The driver of the gondola we took was also acting as a guide of the city, pointing out the important buildings and palaces on the way, and also humming a few melodies during our tour.
Overall it was a very nice experience, though make sure to check the time, and also make sure to avoid taking the gondola on the Grand Canal – choose one of the lesser-known canals for a more fun experience.
Another must-do activity is to try Venice’s water busses – the Vaporetto. They can get you to the islands in Venice’s lagoon, as well as along the Grand Canal of Venice, and you can even take a Vaporetto to the airport.
I don’t know how practical day to day life in Venice is, but a city without cars or bikes was just what I needed to completely switch to a vacation mood.
Venice is a unique place, where small and large canals replace main streets and boulevards. This city can only be crossed by boat or on foot.
But this isn’t the only reason why I like Venice, it is also because of its unique architecture. The city’s Venetian Gothic style, and the awe-inspiring layout of its buildings along hundreds of water canals traversed by innumerable bridges, make this city ever more romantic and charming.