Venice is one of the most iconic romantic travel destinations and offers the hustle and bustle of a European city break, mixed with the slower pace of being by the water.
Venice itself is actually made up of more than 100 individual islands, making it one of the most unique places you will visit. As you can imagine, with so many tiny islands and so many canals, you will cross hundreds of bridges when exploring this special city.
I spent 4 days in Venice and had plenty of time to experience everything I wanted to see, however I would have been more than happy to stay far longer if I could! You can definitely see Venice in a long weekend especially if you’re travelling from the UK as the flight is short and the city is relatively small.
If you’re looking to go for a longer period of time, I’d recommend going during the warmer months so that you can make the most of the water and the surrounding islands which offer a ‘beach holiday’ vibe and experience a mix of beach and city trip in one.
Key landmarks & places to visit in Venice
Top 5 places to visit in Venice
Saint Mark’s Basilica & Square
St Mark’s Basilica is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. This Basilica is the most famous church in Venice and dates back to the 11th century. There has been continuous work on the Basilica throughout history and during the 13th century the height of the domes was significantly increased which now means that the domes can be seen from the surrounding piazza.
The Basilica itself is stunning, especially on a sunny day and viewed from the surrounding square. The views from the top of the Basilica are breathtaking and you can see for miles. The views showcase the canals, the architecture and the ant-like Italians and tourists going about their business below. This landmark is probably the most important place to visit if you’re staying in Venice.
The Doge’s Palace is a Venetian Gothic palace which is made up of various layers and areas of previous buildings which used to be in its place which have evolved over time. The oldest part of the building is St Mark’s Basin which is thought to have been rebuilt from around the 12th century.
The architecture is impressive and can be seen from the canal as well as on land. This is a place to visit if you’re interested in seeing the historical side of Venice and learning more about venetians and the history of the people and city.
The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges crossing the Grand Canal. I highly recommend visiting and crossing all of the bridges as the architecture and design is so different in each and as there are only four this is a do-able task!
The one bridge you must visit however, is The Rialto Bridge. It has been rebuilt several times since it was built initially in 1173 and remains one of Venice’s most iconic landmarks.
The Grand Canal is the main canal in Venice. The canal travels through the main districts of Venice and around 2.5 miles long. The Grand Canal has over 170 Venetian buildings surrounding its banks, representing historic architecture along with modern buildings and the four bridges which cross the canal.
You can take a gondola along the Grand Canal, but a cheaper and quicker alternative is to use the water way ‘bus’ system. There are stops just like we have bus stops and you can pay for single journeys as well as a day pass, again, just like a bus! These boats are much quicker and can take you around the main island and the small surrounding island and landmarks while you continue sightseeing and soaking in the scenery.
San Giorgio Maggiore
You can take the water bus over to San Giorgio Maggiore where you can walk around the interior or the building and enjoy the surrounding gardens and can even take a lift up to the bell tower which gives you the opportunity to view Venice from a whole new perspective.
If you’re visiting Venice, the one thing everyone has to do is take a ride in a gondola. Yes, it’s a given, but make sure to allow for plenty of time on your trip to enjoy a gondola ride so you don’t have to rush it at the end.
They can be quite expensive, but if you find a gondola a little further out from a touristy square and certainly not right next to a famous landmark, you can find a pretty good deal. I have also shared a gondola with someone else and split the cost which not only makes it more affordable, but it also allows for very interesting conversation and the potential to make new friends on your travels.
Food-wise, Venice has a lot to offer. Obviously most of the cuisine is typically Italian, with lots of pizza and pasta, however there were plenty of options for me including amazing salads, seafood and chicken.
You can grab a slice of pizza to take away as you wander around the streets, or you can find a quaint restaurant in a square or piazza and enjoy an Aperol spritz while people watching. There are lots of different options for both daytime and evening and for those in larger groups or families and couples on a romantic getaway.
Of course there are lots of places to grab a cup of gelato – it is Italy after all! Looking for vegan gelato was surprisingly easy and as you would expect, extremely tasty! I definitely over indulged but where else can you eat gelato for breakfast, lunch and dinner?!
I love Italy and have not yet found a place here that I don’t absolutely love, however there is something special about Venice. When you visit many cities in Europe, you do start to see the similarities in structure, design, history and general vibe (of course there are lots of things which make each city unique), however being on the water makes this city feel different to anywhere else in the world. There is no other place on earth that you will find yourself crossing 50 plus bridges a day, or having to navigate water busses through the busyness of a European city.
I cannot recommend Venice enough, especially if you’re looking for a weekend getaway or somewhere that feels a little more relaxed and chilled out than your typical city break.
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