We’ve just googled this to make sure we weren’t talking complete nonsense – but, Venice is actually sinking! So, why are you not on Sky Scanner right now booking flights!? We’ve been lucky enough to visit this incredible city twice in our lives and we’re almost certain (if we don’t get hit by a bus walking across Oxford Street tomorrow) that we will be back numerous times.
This city is like no other! Yes, Amsterdam has canals, and yes Copenhagen has canals, but you haven’t seen a canal until you’ve seen a Venetian canal. They are magical. FACT.
There are bridges leaping over canals everywhere, little ornate balconies hanging over, tall shuttered buildings on either side and beautiful gondolas floating down the middle. It’s actually a slight problem because it means it takes you hours to get anywhere! You’ll walk around a corner and have to stop for a few more moments to take in the new, ever so slightly different sight to the one you just witnessed five seconds before.
Now, Venice has it attractions and they are amazing attractions, but the beauty of the city is wandering, get lost. It’s the best place to get completely lost and trust us it’s really not that hard to do. Bridges don’t go exactly where you expect, you’ll want to turn right but the ally will turn left, it’s a crazy but beautiful logistical nightmare.
So, as we’ve stated the canals are the reason that we love this city and the mother of all canals is the Grand Canal. It’s near enough impossible to take a stroll down this canal because there are buildings on either side right up to the water front but if you magically take the right turning you can get onto the hotel and house’s jetties and see it from there. It is a huge expanse of water and it is simply stunning in the sun with beams of light flickering of the boats ripples. On one trip, we took our books and a little picnic found a little jetty and watched the world float by for hours! Is there a better way to experience Venice? You can also hop on the river bus to get you from A to B. They aren’t the most elegant boat but again a great way to see the city, and to avoid getting lost in the allies if there is somewhere you actually need to be!
One of the Grand Canals wonders is the Rialto Bridge. It can be a little touristy mid-day and if you’re looking for some standard Venetian souvenirs (we won’t lie we have a few masks…) there is an abundance of choice. But, if you head there early in the morning, or manage to make it for sunset it is a truly magical experience. It is an imposing bridge and a must visit when in Venice!
St Marks Basilica
St Marks Basilica and the attractions surrounding such as the Doge’s Palace and San Marco Campanile by the Piazza San Marco are an afternoon in themselves. The San Marks Basilica is an absolute beauty. It’s a beautifully ornate gold building from the outside and a vast religious space within. You have to take a trip to the upper levels so you can really appreciate it from the inside and then you’ll be lucky enough to head out onto the balcony and see the Piazza San Marco in all its glory. This again, like most place in Venice, becomes extremely busy so get there early doors so you’re not surrounded by hordes of tourist and you can appreciate it quietly. After having explored the Basilica head across to the San Marco Campanile for some more breath-taking views of the city. You’ll have a queue a little while to get up there but you will not be disappointed!
Piazza San Marco
All these treasures are located around the Piazza San Marco and this is a hit list destination in itself. Its a vast piazza with restaurants, cafes, wine bars and it’s a fantastic place to sit and again watch the world go by. We’re not going to fool you, it’s not in any way the cheapest place to sit and relax in Venice, it potentially could be the most expensive, but your paying for the stunning backdrop of the Basilica and maybe a cheeky busking band or two.
Fun fact: We’re a little obsessed with history, especially modern European history. Having explored Berlin and its history to length, Auschwitz in Poland, Ann Franks house in Amsterdam and other battle sites in France, this was high on our agenda.
One area of Venice we really enjoyed in Venice which was a little off the beaten track was the Jewish Quarter. Like other sites we’ve seen around Europe its full of history and is littered with plaques about what happened during the 30’s and 40’s. If like us your history obsessed this is a must see on your trip to Venice.
Wine, Carbs, Mozzarella and Tomatoes
Finally, if the art, history and the architecture doesn’t draw you in (and that would break our hearts just a little) then there’s always the food and who doesn’t love food right?! Like everywhere we have been in Italy the food is exquisite. The fresh fruit and vegetables, the freshly made pasta, the wine they’ve pressed from their own vineyards… really what more could you want?
As we’ve mentioned Venice can be a little touristy at times and when looking for places to eat you do need to be a little more selective than when in Rome, Florence and Milan, but the gems are still there. However, if you’re sitting in a little piazza, with a glass of wine in hand and a carbonara in front of you (as a second starter – not a main obviously) then everything in the world will be alright.
Top Tip: We’ve travelled to Venice in April and then again in October which we found to be perfect times to see the city. It’s warm enough to wander around happily but not too hot. We’re sure you’ve heard the rumours of the smelly fish markets in the height of summer which we’ve always tried to avoid and also, we sure those little allies are absolute wind tunnels during the peak of winter.
Top Tip: Airbnb has been a dream for us both times we’ve been in Venice, the hotels can get quite pricey so check it out!