My husband and I recently went to Venice for an extended weekend break and were surprised at just how lovely the city is. Normally, weekend breaks can be quite hectic and not terribly relaxing; however, I cannot stress enough just how relaxed we were in Venice.
When we were originally talking 2018 travel back in September, we decided to just book up loads of weekends away for the year at once so we could have something to look forward to and break up the year nicely. Every single time, my husband always pushes for mega early morning flights which I loathe. We always arrive too early and can’t check in or need to arrange for silly o’clock alarms to get to the airport on time. Venice was no different.
We had a taxi collect us at our flat at 4:30 am, to be at Gatwick for 5, for our 6 am flight. When we arrived in Venice, it was already balmy and sunny, which was nice after feeling miserable for being up so early! The customs queue was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. We queued for nearly an hour to get in the actual queue for customs. We finally got up to queue for Customs and it seemed like a never ending abyss of angry people who had been slowly herded around for ages. I approached a customs agent and asked if I could go through the EU queue with my BRP and reluctantly, they agreed. Flash forward 3 minutes, and we were out.
When you finally get through Customs, it is a 14 minute walk to the pier to get the Alilaguna ferries (54 euros for a return trip for 2). The ride to our stop, Ca’Rezzonico, was 55 minutes approximately.
Upon arrival at Ca’Rezzonico, we had a few hours to wait before our Airbnb host was to meet us, so we settled in Campo San Barnaba for some pints & pizza.
Here are my top Venice tips:
- The city is super walkable. You’ll clock some steps, but you really don’t need to buy a vaporetto ticket. You can definitely walk just about anywhere you need to go within Venice (with the exception of St. George’s and Judaica).
- If you do buy a vaporetto ticket, buy a 24 (or 48) hour pass and use it for a cruise around the islands of Venice. You can also use your vaporetto tickets to go to Murano and Burano. Vaporetto tickets are quite expensive. We bought a 48 hour pass and it was 60 euros for the two of us.
- If you have to chose between Murano and Burano, choose Burano. It’s beautiful and vibrant and just so much more lively than Murano.
- If you want the true Venice experience, skip all the central spots for drinks & food and head to the North West part of the city that used to be the Jewish Ghetto (Cannaregio).
- Gondola rides / tours are 30 minutes and have a set fee of 80 euros. Its 80 euros if there are 2 of you or 6 of you. If you’re a bit skint or want a cheaper experience, chat with some people in the queue and try to share the gondola to save on costs.
- Rialto Bridge & St. Marks Square are mega busy and mega expensive. We had 2 cocktails in Rialto, near the bridge, and it cost 20 euros. We had 7 glasses of prosecco and 5 pints in Cannaregio and it was 28 euros. Perspective.
- Don’t limit yourself to crazy expensive hotels. Venice has loads of rental properties, including Airbnb options. Our Airbnb for 5 nights was the equivalent of 2 nights’ in hotels. We had 2 bedrooms, a large living space + an outdoor space on a quiet, residential street.
- St. George’s is a bit lack lustre, but worth going to go up the tower to view Venice. You pay 6 euros and get to go to the top for amazing views. There’s a glass display and a maze, but otherwise, we were a bit bored. I think we spent 45 minutes there, including waiting for a vaporetto to leave. You do not have to climb to the top of the tower (there is a lift). Every half hour, the bell rings so be prepared for that if you’re at the top of the tower when it happens.
- Eat. We ate everything. Gelato. Pizza. Pasta. Salads. Everything was so nice. We always struggle with food when we’re away because of the abundance of seafood options (and sometimes, seafood being the only option). Venice was no different in that it offered loads of seafood options, but we were always able to find something delicious. Also, one of the highlights of eats / drinks was on Burano. I had a watermelon slush. It was literally just fresh watermelon blended with crushed ice. It was so delicious and I think of it often (featured in the Burano photo above).
- Wander & explore. Get a map and just get lost on the winding streets. We got lost so many times just wandering around, but that’s exactly what we wanted. By the end of the trip, our map was in 6 pieces. We used it so much, just wandering through the streets, climbing over bridges, wandering along the canals, and enjoying wine in the many campos.