Last year while living in England I visited Venice, the City of Water, not once, but twice (thank you Ryanair and Easy Jet for cheap, cheap flights!). My first visit was a four-day trip with friends and the next was a two day trip with my sister. I enjoyed myself so much more the second-time around and, if you’re interested, would love to share a few tips with you to help you get the most out of your time in Venezia…
1) Venice is the attraction. Unlike other famous cities with an exhaustive list of must-sees (think Paris and London) what I loved about Venice is that Venice itself is the attraction. Yes, you’ll want to visit Piazza San Marco and admire Basilica di San Marco, but after that, feel free to simply wander around the winding streets, criss-crossing canals and taking in the views.
If you’re one of those people who like traveling with an itinerary, plan on visiting Museo Correr and making a half-day trip to the islands (tip #4!) but, trust me, enjoy Venice simply by wandering through the endless postcard-perfect views.
2) Avoid Menu Turistico. Many of the pretty café-style restaurants in Venice boast a ‘menu turistico’ in the window complete with special pricing and fixed dining options. Avoid these places. The food is really sub-par and (and!) after finishing your over-priced meal, many of these restaurants will charge you a dining-in tax. Don’t fall for it. For service and food well done, I don’t mind adding a servizio into the bill, but these added ‘taxes’ are illegal and unfair.
3) Eat like a local. Despite far too many restaurants catered to tourists, there are still authentic, mouth-watering places to be found. After wondering for an extra forty-five minutes to find just such a spot, my sister and found a hole in the wall pizzeria which, from the outside, honestly looked like it was falling apart. Inside, however, was warm and colorful and filled with small tables. With our blonde hair and blue eyes, we stood out against the other tables accompanied by locals, and loved it. The pizza was the best we ever had and half-way through our meal, a Venetian man sitting nearby complimented us on finding this place.
We’ve since, unfortunately, lost the name of this gem, but it was located on San Polo. Otherwise, so long as you follow the locals, you’ll be sure to eat well in Venice.
4) You don’t need much time. When planning a grand trip to Europe, it’s normal to feel pressed for time, particularly if you’re traveling to Europe’s capitols. Little Venice, however, really only takes a day or two to be savored.
When my sister and I were initially planning out our Italian adventure, Venice was at the top of her list and she was hoping to spend four or five days on the island. When I told her that two days were more than adequate, she was surprised. But, as discussed in tip #1, Venice is actually quite small and doesn’t require much time to be enjoyed.
5) Tour the Islands. Even with our seemingly short two day visit, we had more than enough time to tour Murano, Burano and Torcello, the top three islands near Venice. If you haven’t witnessed glass-blowing before, you’ll certainly enjoy Murano. Torcello is really tiny and felt quite dead to us. We wondered if anyone actually lived on the island. Burano, however, felt like walking through a storybook. With street after street of brightly colorful houses, Burano is a traveler’s delight which can be seen in a couple hours’ time.
Have you been to Venice before? Have any tips to share? Xo, Em