Venice, the city that people completely love or hate. After the first morning, I could see how either of these feelings could be felt. The crowds can be terrifying, but the endless canals are mesmerizing. You could easily lose your way, or you can choose to get lost and enjoy the journey.
All of this said, I chose the latter and found Venice to be everything I thought it would be. Yes the crowds were intense in the middle of the day, but have you seen Piazza San Marco completely empty in the morning? It's beautiful. The evening light over the Grand Canal from the Ponte dell'Accademia felt like a dream. The immense amount of character in each building echoed a story from another time.
As we wandered through Venice, we searched out cafes and gems that were a little on the outskirt, allowing us to bypass the crowds. Venice is somewhere completely worth putting at the top of the bucket-list, and after going back and forth on whether or not to go, I am so happy I went.
Check out the weekend guide to Venice, Italy.
What to Know Before Going to Venice, Italy:
- There are no cars in the city. You can get around by foot, the water bus (vaporetto), or private taxi.
- Vaporetto are set prices, ranging anywhere from 6-15 euros, depending your start and ending spot.
- Private taxis are incredibly pricey — though you'll feel like James Bond. They will not start their engines for less than 60 euros, even if you're just going five minutes.
- Crowds can be overwhelming, so be sure to wake up early for empty streets.
- Pre-load Google Maps (offline) to have good directions in the city and accurate water bus times.
Where to Stay in Venice, Italy:
- The Hotel Metropole: A hotel set along the canal, was once a former palace. Designed with elegance and decorated with beautiful antiques, this hotel is truly one of a kind. It offers a quiet retreat to guests during the times of the day when it's busy, and features world-class cuisine. Read the full review here.
Where to Eat in Venice, Italy:
- Aciugheta: A local's spot to grab a great draft beer or local wine, with the classic Venetian style tapas called
- Trattoria alla Rivetta: A home cooking-style restaurant with Venetian fare.
- Bacaro Risorto: Another good local spot for cicchetti.
- Bacareto Da Lele: A small bacaro that has a hole in the wall feel, with small bites and drinks.
- La Bottiglia: a quaint wine bar.
- Ristorante La Feluca: So good we ate here twice. Fresh-made pasta, and beautiful fresh fish dishes.
- Dal Moro's Fresh Pasta to Go: A cheap option, with good pasta in a container to go!
- Ristorante La Colonna: Set off-the-beaten path, this small restaurant was a highlight for a local's spot that has classic dishes.
- Pasticceria Chiusso: Bakery and cake stop with good coffee.
- Osteria Bancogiro: One of the oldest bacaros in Venice, this is an upscale and lovely spot.
- Osteria Anice Stellato: A rustic setting and elegant food with regional food.
- CoVino: A modern restaurant with a pre-fixed menu, serving fresh takes on classics.
- Enoteca Al Volto: One of my favorites for a drink and a snack or dinner, their black ink pasta is out of this world.
What to Do in Venice, Italy:
- Get lost, literally. The canals go on forever, so you can easily spend hours exploring.
- Take an afternoon trip to Burano or Murano.
- Museum hop through: Doge's Palace, Ca' Rezzonico, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo, Museo Correr, Gallerie dell'Accademia, or Venice National Archaeological Museum.
- Experience the Opera.
- Take the vaporetto for San Giorgio Maggiore to see the Benedictine church from the 16th-century.
- Gondola ride. I avoided this experience for the first three days, then on the final night we got into the gondola and went around under the moon light and buildings were all lit. It was so beautiful and moving. The price is completely worth it.