We checked off another city from our travel wish list this past weekend. We visited a romantic, historical and charming city in northern Italy. A city without cars but with a plenty of boats, pictured in many movies and full of tourists year-round. Where have we been? In Venice, of course!
Many of our friends visited Venice during the famous Carnival of Venice, but I’m glad we have been there in summer. I enjoy traveling much more when the sun is shining, and I can pack lightly.
As usual, we did a bit of research before our trip, listing things to see, do and eat in Venice. But similarly to our recent trip to Paris, we had a very loose plan. Venice is famous for its canals with gondolas, and Italian cuisine is full of delicious comfort foods. We knew we would like to spend our days exploring the city, enjoying what it has to offer and observing people and the rhythm of life. And we were looking forward to crispy pizzas, delicious pasta, and decadent ice-cream.
In little over 48 hours, we visited beautiful places, ate good food and explored nice areas. And since you asked ? I would recommend adding the places listed below to you Venice to-do, to-see, and to-try list.
Visit a glass making factory at Murano
In every souvenir shop in Venice, you’ll find Murano glassware. All the fancy product comes from the Murano island located north-east from Venice, which has a centuries-long tradition of glass making. All the products are handcrafted, and most of them are quite expensive. Many are decorative, but there are a lot of products for everyday use, like glasses, vases, plates, jewelry, etc. Some of them have even reasonable prices ?
Count about 4 hours for a visit to Murano. It that time, you can get to the island by boat from Venice, visit a glass factory, walk around, shop for glassware, get a drink, lunch or ice-cream and take a boat back to Venice. Murano is definitely a place worth your time. If you have even more time, also visit Burano island.
Go to the top of the St Mark’s Campanile
You might have noticed that we like to have a bird’s eye view of a city. If there is a possibility to go to the top of a tower in a city, we do it. There are several towers in Venice, where you can go to the top and look at the city. We decided for the St Mark’s Campanile, the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica. The line to get to the top is usually long, but it goes quickly. Admission is 8 euros, and there’s an elevator that will take you to the top and back. Since the tower is in the center of Venice, you’ll see the city in all direction.
Explore Cannaregio, Dorsoduro or Castello districts
Venice has six districts. Most visited is San Marco and San Polo district where you can find the most famous landmarks of the city. But they are also full of tourists, rather crowded and loud.
In Venice, nothing is too far, so it’s not a problem to wander outside of the heart of the city. On our walks, we explored Castello district, especially around lively Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. We liked Cannaregio district in the north part of the Venice which was more quiet, calm and rather residential area. The atmosphere in Cannaregio is quite different than in the center of Venice. The third less touristy district is Dorsoduro where we were staying.
Cross the Canal Grande on a gondola
We wanted to do this but didn’t at the end. Venice is famous for gondolas, but they are rather expensive. A thirty-minute ride costs 80 euros, but there are a few places where you can cross Canal Grande by gondola. The ride takes just a few minutes, and you might share the gondola with strangers, but it costs only 2 euros per person.
Enjoy Italian pizza, pasta, gelato, and coffee
Every day, we had lunch or dinner at a restaurant in Venice and truth be told, we were not impressed. We didn’t have a bad experience, but it wasn’t anything exceptional. One place I like very much was Farini. It’s not a restaurant but a bakery. They serve freshly made Italian classics like pizza and focaccia. You can watch chefs preparing big rectangular pizzas, and you buy a slice. A minimalistic and modern design of the Farini, as well as a colorful display of pizzas, was what lured us in. We had a coffee and cakes here as well, and everything was fantastic.
While on summer holiday, ice-cream is a must, especially in Italy. Italian ice-cream is a world-known delicacy. And if you spend hours walking around the city, you’ll burn all the ice-cream calories easily 😉 We certainly lived by this rule, and we tried ice-cream in many gelaterias in Venice. The raspberry sorbet in Grom and mint chocolate ice-cream in Gelato di Natura were my favorite.
You can find one of the best coffees in Venice in a small coffee shop called Torrefazione Cannaregio. This tiny place is located in Cannaregio district, and it’s roasting coffee beans and serving strong Italian espresso since the 1930s. A cup of coffee here is cheap, strong and you can enjoy it served Italian style, standing next to a bar 😉