We arrived the previous night at the Sina Centurion Hotel which was absolutely superb. Excellent service, the hotel is a small luxury palace located by the Grand Canal that you can’t miss on most of the famous Venice pictures.
Venice Boasts a Grand Canal which goes around the city like a main boulevard would do in other European cities. Venice itself is remarkable well preserved and car-free city. It’s built upon countless islands, with bridges, alleys and canals and more sidewalks that you could count.
We find Porto to be reasonably cheap and your euro can really go far here: Example, you can get coffee and a pastry for less than €2.00! Just word of caution, the size of the coffee is not the massive “grande latte” you might be used to but more a “flat white”. We recommend you try the “natas” which basically is the local portuguese dessert.
The aim of our first day was to explore the city. Our first stop was Accademia Bridge. You will find one (if not the best) view of the Grand Canal from this point!
So many small bridges, monuments, colourful houses and shops! mainly shops!
From Accademia Bridge, a street called Calle Larga XXII Marzo, leads to St Mark’s. All the luxury brands are situated about this area on the same street!
St Mark’s Square is certainly one of the most beautiful squares in the world. It is also the lowest place in Venice and when the water level arises, it is the first place flooding! So here is a quick tip for you if you are a potential first time visitor: Go around spring/summer time! we went in Easter and the weather was lovely! The Square is a busy & a lively place.
Time for some coffee at “Café Florian” located in St Mark’s Square.one of the first places in Europe that served coffee frequented by Casanova or Dickens where live music is played every day! As you can imagine, coffee is not cheap here, but is it worth it? I would say yes.
St Mark’s Square, also boast the St Mark’s Campanile. You will most likely have to queue to go up, but the view from the top is breathtaking! check out the photos to get an idea and don’t forget to bring a coat & scarf! it is chilly up there!
After a quick lunch, we cross the city to join the Free walking tour. We found the tour to be very informative, but mostly interesting. We had seen the landmarks of the city so we were hoping to discover a different side of Venice and the tour did not disappoint. Our tour started in the former Jewish ghetto. We were surprised to find out that the first population of Venice was the jewish community. In medieval times, the Jewish were the lenders of the day and were allowed to do business in Venice but they were segregated to the “profoundery” which is where the word ghetto comes from. Their population grew up fast, that’s why you can see eight floor buildings, skyscrapers of medieval times to house the community!
Second day started with top notch breakfast at the hotel. Since it is by the Canal, the view from the hotel was incredible, opportunity to take a few shots.
The city is so picturesque! Could not resist few photos on our way to the island by Ferry.
By the way, you can buy the tickets for the ferry by the pier. You can always book a tour, but if in doubt and limit on budget and want to explore the islands at your pace, bear in mind, this is a visit you can definitely do on your own.
Venice is also famous for its glass, blown in Murano for centuries for two reasons:
Glass was and it is today a big business. This is a beautiful and unique souvenir you could get – we couldn’t resist, we got two!
Our next lagoon stop was Burano. The colourful houses immediately grab your attention. Burano was a fishing town so the fishers painted their houses in different colours so that they could easily be recognisable at night. Burano then became a lace making centre. Today it is very popular with visitors and its main centre is populated with tourists.
If for whatever reason you would like to have the city “to yourself” you should stay until the early evening and will be able to enjoy the island quietly as the vast majority of its visitors will have come back to the main island. After some seafood in Burano and as seafood lovers, the verdict was: excellent – There are three things I would advise you to try in venice: coffee, seafood and of course, pasta! Try to get out of the most popular areas if you can because Venice is definitely not cheap!
If you are into fashion design and interested, you will find beautiful lace that are made in Burano today by women online using needle and thread! A tradition that continues to be passed down to generation after generation.
On the way back from the islands, we got off by the Bridge of Sighs and the Gondola Parking. If you do enjoy photography, try the various lighting at different times of the day!
Last day opportunity to visit St Mark’s Church or Basilica as we didn’t get to go in on our first day located just in St Mark’s Square due to the massive queue.
Don’t miss it, it is the masterpiece of the Byzantine architecture of the “Véneto”. The church has gone through transformations becoming a melting pot of different styles. Its story began in 828, when the Church was built to guard St Mark’s body, stolen by merchants from the Alexandria Tomb and brought to Venice. St Mark’s became protector of the city. The church was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in the XI century to show the magnificence of Venice.
The mosaics and domes are very impressive. To be frank, it reminded me a little bit of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, not surprising as St Mark’s Church was rebuilt after the fire by architects from Constantinople.
Particularly impressive are the Triumphal Quadriga or Horses of Saint Mark. Don’t be deceived by the ones in the front facade of the Church. These are replicas as the originals are being kept inside – only 3 out of the 4 though.
The entry to the Church is free and there is an additional costs if you also like to explore the upstairs. Not only the horses to be discovered but also the balcony – check out the stunning view!
To be completely honest, we spent so much time at the Basilica, that we didn’t have time to explore the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) properly, a masterpiece of the Gothic architecture. Paintings from Tintoretto, Titian or Veronese can be found at the place where powerful doges ruled Venice from. You will not only see the residence of the Doge(s) itself but also the prison cells.
Outside the Palace, you can get a ride from the Gondola Parking to the other side of the river if so wish. Gondoliers are extremely busy, so they won’t or are not interested in negotiating the price with you. It was at €80 per 45 minute ride in 2016. Tip! You can actually get a Gondola to cross the river for less than €2! If you are not sure where, ask the locals.
After the tiring and tedious experience of taking a public boat on the way to the lagoon, we booked a private boat to the airport in style:). What an experience! Venice Farewell: best “taxi” ever! It is a bit pricey but 1) it is very fast & 2) it is FUN!
One of the take away from our trip is that Venice is an incredibly popular city and you may feel overwhelmed by tourists which may make it more stressful than enjoyable. Our tip is “go and explore”, discover the hidden gem Venice has to offer and don’t be scared of getting lost. At the end of the day, you are in an island and you can’t get out!
Thanks For Reading.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and it gave you a solid plan and ideas for your next trip.
Don’t forget to drop a comment with your own travel experience or any take away.