Venice, the romantic city seemingly floating on water is filled with tourists throughout the year. The city sits on more than one hundred small islands, located in the Venetian Lagoon. The islands are interconnected by bridges and separated by canals. You can take a Vaporetto or a famous Venetian gondola to explore these canals and enjoy the rare view of all those beautiful buildings that Venice has. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the city was a major financial center and a maritime power, being the capital of the Republic of Venice. Thanks to the international trade that the city was part of, Venice has grown to be the first international financial center. The golden age of the city reached its peak in the 14th century. The wealthy noble families of Venice had palaces built one greater than the other and financed many artists.
Things to see and do in Venice
Landmarks of the city
The most famous of them all is the St Mark’s Basilica (1063), built in italo-byzantine style, located on the Piazza San Marco, right next to the Doge’s Palace. The Doge (the Duke) was the ruler of the Republic of Venice. The palace of the Duke was built in Venetian Gothic style and was opened as a museum in the early 1920’s. The clocktower (1497) marks the entrance to the Piazza San Marco from one of the main streets of the city, the Merceria. This street connects Rialto, the commercial center of the city and the piazza through the two stories high archway built at the base of the tower. The clocktower was built so that it could be seen from a great distance, marking the wealth and prosperity of the city. Before leaving the San Marco square you should also see the Campanile, the old bell tower, first constructed in the 9th century. The structure we see today was rebuilt in 1912 after its collapse in 1902.
After feeding the pigeons on San Marco square, stroll down the Piazzetta towards the lagoon. The sight of the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, located right across the blue water of the Basin of San Marco is a view to remember, especially due to the bright white marble facade of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, built in the 16th century. If you turn left on the molo you can take a look at the world famous Bridge of Sighs that connects the Doge’s Palace and the prison.
Spend the evening on the molo
If you are on a romantic trip, I strongly suggest you spend an evening on the molo. Just buy a bottle of champagne at a local store, take two glasses, and go sit down at the end of the Piazzetta, listen to the sound of the waves and admire the dance of the gondolas on the water of the bay.
Back at the Clocktower, you can walk through the archway to Mercer street, it will lead you to the commercial center of the city, the Rialto. Here you find another very famous bridge of Venice, the Rialto bridge, full of shops on each side. It is the oldest bridge stretching across the Gran Canal. The first wooden version of the bridge was built in 1181, but then in the 16th century, the bridge was finally built in stone, resembling the old wooden structure.
Murano Glass Museum
You can visit the factory to see how all these colorful glass drops are made. The Murano Glass Museum, in the Palazzo Giustinian, is well worth visiting, so you can take a peek at the glassmaking history of the region.
The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is the main channel of the city. If you arrive at Venice by train, the first thing you’ll see after exiting Santa Lucia railway station is the Grand Canal. It has more than 170 buildings on its shores, many of the rich families of Venice built their palaces on the shore of the Gran Canal. I recommend you take a Vaporetto along the Gran Canal and marvel at those palazzos: Palazzo Dario, Ca’ d’Oro, Ca’ Foscari or Palazzo Barbarigo, just to mention a few.
If you feel like hitting the beach, after all this sightseeing, you can take a waterbus to the beaches on Lido, just 10 minutes away from the Piazza San Marco. The golden sand and the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea are a real vision. There is an admission fee to pay though.
Typical travel costs
Accommodation in Venice is pricey, a double room in a three-star hotel is somewhere between 120-300 EUR. You can save some money if you stay at a hotel in Mestre, rather than Venice, situated only 5 miles away. A double room in a three-star hotel in Mestre is between 60 -130 EUR.
Public transportation by bus or train is very well organized in Italy so you should take advantage of it when getting from Mestre to Venice.In Venice, I strongly suggest you take the Vaporetto, as a 40-minute gondola ride officially starts at 80 EUR, but practically I did not find any below 120 EUR. A ticket for a Vaporetto ride costs 7 EUR and is valid for 60 minutes, you can use it on different Vaporettos, as long as you go in the same direction.