Forget about the pricey gondolas and get ready to use the public vaporetto and walk around the island. The best way to see Venice is to get lost on those streets and you will discover beauty in every corner.
My travel App: Ulmon. It has all the sightseeing places saved and most of the restaurants and bars as well. It can be used offline which is very practical.
My booking site: Tripmasters.com . This is my 3rd time going through them to arrange my travel plans and I love the site. They have a great itinerary suggestion, hotels and all for a great price.
My Hotel : Hotel Canaletto beautiful traditional hotel situated between St Mark Square and Rialto Bridge. I love to stay in traditional hotels where I feel like I’m in an authentic Venitian Palace. The rooms can also have a view on the Canal, perfect spot to just relax and enjoy a glass of wine. Great location, great service, great room and great price.
Start the day with a half a day tour of some Venetian Lagoon islands Murano, Burano, and Torcello. If you have time to spend a day in those islands, then take the vaporatto and go by yourself and fully enjoy Burano and Murano. If you have a cramped schedule the half a day tour is the way to go. The tour starts by St Mark Square. The boat takes the San Marco Canal and passes along the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and Arsenale to get to Murano. Murano is famous for its glass manufacturing industry. Hence, we got to see a Glassmaking master at work in a factory. It was impressive to see how one can in just a few minutes make an animal out of a liquid glass. After the demonstration, I went to explore the island but I have to say, there was not enough time to fully explore. We then went to Burano, famous for its lace and colorful fisherman houses. We had 30 minutes on the island. It was magical to be able to walk along all those colorful houses. You start your walk at the main square Piazza Galuppi , where you can visit the church of S. Martino, and then walk along the canal to discover the picturesque bright island. The tour ended with the 3rd island Torcello, the first center of civilization in the estuary. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the cathedral and the Church of S. Fosca. I booked my tour with Local Venice Tours and the tour as well as the guide were both great. I just wish I had more time to spend in Murano and Burano.
You will get back to St Mark Square by 2pm. Stay in the area to go to :
- See the Bridge of Sighs
- You will pass by the uncompleted church of the Pietà by Canaletto but unfortunately, it is in restoration and you can’t go inside for now.
- The Famous St Mark Basilica – if you want to skip the line get your ticket online. If not make the line. The entrance is free. You can pay 5 euros and go on top of the basilica but it’s not worth it
- Admire the St Mark’s Clock Tower right next to it. You can go visit the tower and learn about the clock machinery by reserving in advance
- Go on top of St Mark Campanile Bell Tower. That elevator ride is worth it. You will have a beautiful view of St Mark Square and Venice in general.
- Visit the Dodge Palace or Palazzo Ducale.Again if you want to skip the line you can buy your tickets online. While visiting the palace you will pass inside the Bridge of Sighs and you will be able to see Venice from the inside.
Have a gelato at one of the best gelato places in Venice: La Mela Verde.
You can relax at one of the famous cafes on St Mark Square: Caffe Florian the oldest one where Goethe used to go to grab cappuccinos, Grancaffe Quadri where Proust used to go and have a cappuccino at Café Lavena. You can go to any of those places at night to have a good drink and enjoy their live music.
At night, you can also stop by Harry’s Bar, a very posh small bar between St Mark Square and Grand Canal
Get a 24h Vaporetto Ticket and ride along the Grand Canal. You will get to see all the Venetian style buildings and the beautiful city architecture.
Hop on Vaporetto No 2 and go to island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Situated in front of St Mark Square. The Church of the same name built in the 16th Century, has a bell tower that gives you a great view of Venice.
Along the ride you will pass by the Cannaregio Neighborhood also known as the Jewish neighborhood.
You will see the front of Palazzo Balbi and Ca Rezzonico ( artist Canaletto)
You will be able to admire Ca D’oro, the 15th Century Gothic Palace and the Venice Casino, the world’s oldest casino built in 1638.
Don’t lock yourself in the museums and explore the Dorsoduro neighborhood by foot instead
Start your walk at Rialto Bridge. The Bridge is being restored but you can still enjoy one side of it. Have a Gelato at Gelateria Da Suso. Great way to start your walk around Venice.
Walk along the canal to get to San Toma Vaporatto Stop. From there you can walk towards Frari Church inside of which you can see art from Venetian artist Titian. Along the walk you can see the Ca Fasconi University and Scuola Grande di San Rocco Museum where all the arts in the building are from artist Tintoretto. The best Gelato in the area can be found at Gelateria Il Doge.
Around the same neighborhood, by Squero San Trovaso you can pass by a little construction site; it’s where they make the gondolas. Go to Gelateria Nico to get a Gelato and come back to watch them building the gondolas.
Walk towards the end of the island, Punta della Dogana, to go to Galleria dell Academia Museum and Peggy Guggenheim Museum. If you are not a museum person you should still go and see the Guggenheim garden. Gorgeous. Visit the Santa Maria della Salute Church and just relax by sitting on those stairs and admire the Grand Canal.
Cross the Accademia Bridge and go to La Fenice Theater. If you have time, go see a representation at night. If not, you can take a tour of the inside during the day. If they are having rehearsals some parts of the theater will be closed.
P.S: The Accademia Bridge is the perfect stop to catch the sunset.
Must go places for Happy Hour and Dinner:
They are a lot of amazing places by Rialto Bridge in San Polo neighborhood that is full of locals and younger crowd contrary to the expensive cafes on St Mark Square. Try the local drink Spritz and eat Chiccheti Tapas at :
- Naranzaria with Canal View
- Al Merca – Must go for happy hour as all the locals and students come to the piazza for a drink.
- Cantina Do Mori
- Bancogiro with Canal View
- Cantina do Spade
- Da Fiore
The good thing is that all those bars are next to each other … a bar crawl in Venice anybody?