I would recommend Venice as a fascinating place to visit, even though it didn’t quite live up to the idealist image I had in my head. Through the winding canals and many streets, you won’t be short of things to do. I spent three days there and here are the top experiences I had:
Getting Lost in Venice
The first thing I would suggest in Venice is to not bother with a map. We tried, failing miserably and soon realised it was far more fun to explore aimlessly, wandering beside and over the many winding canals. With so many gondoliers and splashes of colour reflecting in the water, there are numerous opportunities to use your camera and attempt a postcard-perfect shot.
Go on a Gondolier ride for €2
The gondoliers are very charming and are a typical thing to do in Venice. There’s just one problem: the cost. At $80 for half an hour for a shared gondola and over €100 if you’d like a private one it’s going to make your purse a hell of a lot lighter. So why not take a short trip for only €2? Opposite the gothic palace there is a ‘ferry’ gondolier service that takes you to the other side of the Grand Canal for just €2! For me this was the perfect opportunity to experience a gondolier ride without it setting me back a month in rent! (Okay that’s an exaggeration). It only lasts a couple of minutes but I can now say I went on a gondolier in Venice!
Browse the Souvenirs
I loved going in and out of each tempting shop I saw. Venice is well known for its glass from Muran Island and seeing all the glass work is a must. From hanging glass balloons, to fish inside glass cats there is plenty to choose from if you’re looking for something to buy. Another staple souvenir in Venice is a mask. Made out of paper mache there are some great quality masks. My advice would be to pay a little extra for a good quality one. Mine cost €15. Of course you don’t need to buy anything at all. Just wandering through the shops and seeing what they have to offer is enough.
Eat Like a Local
I was lucky enough to have an Italian friend in Venice who informed me, much to my surprise, that pizza is not the typical Venetian food but fish is. He took me to a great little restaurant tucked away near the gothic palace called ‘La Vedova’, which means ‘the widow’ in English. It was a small traditional restaurant and I loved it as there only seemed to be locals eating there. I had a squid ink spaghetti and it was fabulous! My friend had spaghetti with clams and my boyfriend had a tomato based spaghetti which were both equally delicious. It’s always important to me to try local dishes so I was ecstatic to be eating typical Venetian food.
Take a Trip Along the Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is one of the largest and most important canals in Italy. There’s plenty to see on a trip through this huge canal. I would recommend getting a 24 hour ticket for the water bus. It’s not the most luxurious form of travel, locals use it everyday for their commute, but for €20 you can go as many times as you like down the grand canal within 24 hours. If you’re patient, you may even get a seat at the front! Getting the water bus also means you can get off and on wherever you like and it’s the perfect way to get somewhere quickly without the fear of getting lost along the way. I would recommend starting from the glass bridge around 5.30pm and going all the way to the end and back. Through this journey you will see the canal in broad daylight and low light as the sun sets. Beautiful.
Enter St Marks Basilica
I wasn’t sure if it would be worth going inside this Basilica after seeing the Vatican but, believe me, it was worth it. The colours of gold shimmering from the walls and the ceiling creates a jaw dropping picture (bare in mind you can’t take photos). Seeing all the paintings is equally fascinating. There is one of Jesus and next to him a dragon with seven heads representing the devil. For €5 you can climb the stairs to get a birds eye view of the basilica and St Marks Square. I would definitely suggest this as a must-do. There is also a museum up there which houses objects of various kinds.
The basilica is free to get in; there is always a queue but we found that it moves quickly. You won’t be waiting more than 15 minutes. We waited for 10.
Tip: remember to cover your shoulders and knees
Eat the Best Ice Cream in Italy
As we were walking down the street my Italian friend got excited when he saw an ice cream shop called ‘Grom’. He claims it to be the best ice cream in Italy. With many flavours to choose from, I narrowed it down to 2: raspberry and chocolate. The chocolate had a strong taste of cocoa and complimented the raspberry well.
If I was in Venice a little longer I would like to have visited Muran island to look at the glass factory. I’m actually a little sad I didn’t end up doing this. Maybe next time!