Venice – The Ultimate Tourist Guide
Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and attracts visitors from all over the world. It has a reputation of being an incredibly romantic place, full of honeymooning couples taking a candlelit trip on a gondola along the canal and can deliver a beautiful setting for a romantic getaway.
It is an art-enthusiasts heaven, with picture-perfect views down every street and galleries to visit on every other block.
What to see and do
Venice is famed the world over for its complex network of canal ways. The main waterway of the whole city is the Grand Canal and it really is quite something to see it for real. I studied the books and read up on the history of Venice before going there to visit, and I had seen photos and paintings of the iconic view of the Grand Canal dozens of times, but nothing compares to standing there and seeing it for yourself.
If you want the best photo opportunities then I would definitely recommend going there early in the morning, before all of the days’ crowds arrive and block your view. It can get very busy during the daytime.
St Mary of the Friars
Santa Maria dei Frari is an iconic Venetian church constructed during the mid-13th century. The architecture is in itself a masterpiece but the church is also home to many important renaissance works of art. Titian’s “Pesaro Madonna” is perhaps the most well-known of these, and Titian himself is actually buried in the church as well.
Teatro La Fenice
The Teatro La Fenice is Venice’s Opera House and dates back to the year 1789. Since it was built it has burned down twice, but the restored theatre is definitely worth a visit today.
You can take a guided tour to find out all about the history of the building and the performances which take place there. If you like ballet, opera or classical music then you should have a look online to see if you can get tickets to see something while you are in Venice.
I can assure you that the overall experience will not disappoint.
The Dorsoduro is a neighborhood in Venice which is home to most of the city’s renowned art collections. It is a great place to stop for a drink to enjoy the view as there are usually a few less people wandering around this part of town.
The area is also home to the Peggy Guggenheim collection which is a must-see for any art enthusiasts as it houses works by Picasso, Mondrian, Pollock, Miró and Marini. As a keen photographer I easily spent a whole day walking through the beautiful and picturesque streets.
Where to stay
Venice is much less relaxing than I had expected. For a city with so much water and from all of the picturesque photos that I had seen, I actually found that it was quite a shock to arrive in such a busy and bustling city.
If you are looking for a relaxing, romantic getaway, it is probably a good idea to choose a hotel which is a bit further away from the manic city center.
Staying in the center
The Bauer II Palazzo is located right on the Grand Canal itself and offers luxury 5 star accommodation within walking distance of all of Venice’s main attractions. It has a roof terrace which offers breakfast with stunning views out over the city and the canal.
If you are looking for something a little less expensive, the Ca’pisani is another city center hotel and is decorated following the art-deco style of the first half of the 20th Century. I absolutely loved the fact that every room is different, it felt much more special to feel that the room was in some way unique.
Staying away from the center
The Ca’dogaressa hotel is still on the canal front so the center of the city remains easily accessible, but the hotel itself is removed from the intensity of city center life. There is a canal side café where you can enjoy a cup of coffee ‘al fresco’ and definitely embodies the perfect compromise between the price you pay and the service you receive.
Getting around the city of Venice can end up costing quite a bit of money. The cheapest and best way of seeing the city itself is to walk from site to site, and although Venice is quite a small city, this can get a bit tiring after a day or too.
The canals act as roads in Venice, and the easiest way of getting from place to place whilst resting your feet is by water bus. You can buy a ticket to let you travel for a single journey of up to 60 minutes, or a travelcard which will allow you to have unlimited travel around the city for a given number of days.
Unlimited travel over a 24 hour period will cost you 20 euros (about $25) and 48 hours will cost 30 euros (roughly $37).
If you have somewhere to be at an exact time, the fastest way of getting from A to B is via private water taxi. These are not cheap by any means, and will charge extra if you book them over the phone and for any journeys taken after 10pm or on Sundays, but they are quick and efficient.
Where to Eat
If you are in Venice for a special occasion, why not celebrate by eating at one of the best restaurants in the world. Antica Osteria Cera is a restaurant which has been awarded two Michelin stars and serves traditional dishes served to an exceptional standard. It has a particular reputation for being a fantastic place to eat fish and seafood.
Quadri is a restaurant with one Michelin star and is one of the places to eat in Venice. It is much more creative with the food it serves and the restaurant itself screams decadence and luxury.
Whatever you are looking for from your trip to Venice, just be aware that it is an extremely expensive city, and whatever you choose to do will probably end up costing you rather a lot of money (it doesn’t help that the value of the Euro is still high).
If you are at all worried about how much your trip will cost you, I would recommend choosing a hotel in the city center and walking to most of the attractions that you want to visit. This, honestly, is the best way to see the city.
When looking for places to eat, choose the restaurants on the side streets which are a bit further from the tourist hoards and you will see that the prices are often significantly lower. And if you’re looking to learn more enjoyable ways of using the water ways, check out my post here.