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Venice is a beautiful beautiful place. I say it twice because it deserves it!! It looks exactly like it does in the pictures and is an undeniably romantic city, no matter who you’re traveling with. It’s also extremely walkable and probably like no place you’ve ever seen before (which can be recognized by simply looking at a map of it, with waterways weaving in and out of every street). To be 100% honest though, I probably won’t be returning anytime soon. After experiencing the floods of tourists and inflated prices, I kinda decided it was a check off the bucket list. BUT, I definitely think it’s somewhere everyone needs to visit once in their life and can have an amazing time as long as they have the right resources. If I had the tips and recommendations I’m about to share with you going into my visit, I would have felt my experience in Venice was an entirely positive one. So keep reading if a Venetian vacation is in your future- I promise it will maximize your trip!!

History/Culture: Everywhere you look in Venice has an ancient-Renaissance feel, from its art, architecture, city layout, and overall romantic Italian charm. That being said, it’s no surprise that this city has been one of Europe’s most important art and culture centers for centuries, home to countless of the most infamous composers and painters. Even all the locals gush this sort of artistic, worldly vibe. The only thing that seems to take away from the cultural appeal though is the overflow of tourists, especially because Venice businesses take HUGE advantage of this with its numbers of unauthentic tourist traps. Like I mentioned earlier though and will explain more in depth throughout this guide, there are ways to get around this and have a fully authentic Venetian experience.

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Transportation: The best way to get around the city is by foot and by ferry. The island of Venice is very small so you can pretty much walk everywhere you need to go. As for arriving in Venice, things get a little more tricky since it is a pretty isolated place. I think the best way is by train if you’re already in Europe because it drops you off right at the beginning of town (We did an overnight train and saved a lot of money). If you’re flying in, you can then take a boat, bus, or taxi to get to the island (we went to the airport by bus when leaving because it was the cheapest).
Economy: As I touched on a little, Venice is extremely expensive!! Value definitely does not equal a lot of the prices in this city. You’ll see this in both the food and hotels- an expensive menu does not always mean good food and a pricey room doesn’t mean it will be luxurious. That being said, be skeptical before you buy and DO RESEARCH. I didn’t come into my trip researching much about restaurants and bars as far as quality and prices went and ended up wasting a lot of money.
Sunrise arrival from the night train

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Hotel: When you start researching a place to stay in Venice, you’ll begin to see the crazy hotel prices, so if you’re trying to save money, I recommend choosing a bed and breakfast or hostel instead! Everything I found on Expedia was too expensive for my budget, so if you’re having the same problem search on Hostel World instead- it gives you tons of options for nice, affordable B&Bs! We stayed at the B&B Sognare a Venezia, which was still pretty expensive compared to the other hotels on my Eurotrip, but definitely well-priced for Venice standards. The rooms were cozy with nice bathrooms and the location was perfect- close to the train center, away from the tourist attractions, but still close enough to the action. I wouldn’t describe the rooms as spacious or luxurious, but you don’t spend anytime in your room anyway while in Venice (or you shouldn’t be!!).

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Food: I unfortunately don’t have tooo much to say about this section, because I didn’t do my research before visiting, and therefore fell victim to many overpriced, unauthentic Italian restaurants. Sorry if I’m getting repetitive now, but again I warn you, DO NOT think price equals quality here. We would think “This place has an italian name with a classic italian menu, it’s on a busy street, and has expensive prices. That must mean we’ll get a good quality Italian meal!” But no, we soon realized that was very dumb thinking!! So take a look on Trip Advisor for the best restaurants and book reservations early if you’re going during high tourist seasons! When I finally decided to do so myself, I found THE BEST pasta in Venice, as well as great gelato. See below:

  • Dal Moro’s Fresh Pasta To Go– The pasta here is SO fresh (made right in front of your eyes and only needs to be dropped in boiling water for 2 minutes), SO cheap, and SO delicious. I had linguine with pesto cream sauce and it was INCREDIBLE!! I strongly recommend getting this- my boyfriend tried alfredo and arrabiata, and was jealous of my order both times. The only downfalls of this place is that it’s kinda tough to find, tucked away in a little alley, and there’s always a line. But it’s worth it!! Not only is it the best pasta in Venice, but some of the best I’ve had in my life. Once you get your takeout from the window, you can enjoy it sitting along one of the many surrounding canals.
  • Grom Gelato– Very popular throughout all of Italy and when you go you’ll see why

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Activities:

  • WALK THE ENTIRE CITY,  during both day and night!! I say that in all caps because this is the most important thing to do while in Venice, and the most beautiful (and free 🙂 )!! The city is gorgeous during the day and maybe even more beautiful at night (with less tourists and the lights illuminating the canals). If you have the energy, the entire city can be seen by foot in one day as it’s much smaller than it first appears.
  • Visit St. Mark’s Square- while there, tour St. Mark’s Basilica, the beautiful church that dominates that square (but go very early to beat the crowd), feed the pigeons (if you aren’t afraid of the germs- I did this as a young girl and thought it was a blast lol), and eat at one of the restaurants lining the square and people watch/listen to live Italian music
  • Tour the different galleries and art museums- you’ll pass a ton as you explore the city
  • Take a gondola ride through the canals- beware they’re very expensive though
  • Buy Italian leather in one of the hundred leather shops- there’s no better place in Europe to buy leather than in Italy!

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Day Trips: I purposely made this a separate section because the day trips I took around Venice TRANSFORMED my experience. Everyone needs to do these excursions, especially if you’re in Venice for more than a couple days. We learned after the first day that we had already walked the entire city so had plenty of time to explore around by ferry.

  • Burano– The CUTEST, most colorful little fisherman’s village off the coast of Venice. You’ve probably seen this little town on Pinterest or circling the web somewhere because of it’s brightly painted houses, each a different vibrant color. My boyfriend and I hopped on one of the Venetian ferries to get there and stayed for a couple hours, drinking wine and eating local pastries while watching the fisherman sail in and out of the canals. It was dream-like!!
  • Lido– If you want to get away to an Italian beach and have the extra time, take the ferry to Lido to enjoy a free beach day and tanning. This was a nice break from all the Venice tourists and constant buzz. I recommend bringing a panini picnic though as the beach food isn’t very great.

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Nightlife: Don’t have much to say about this section because we only went out one night, but the night we did was amazing and was such a window into the culture of Venice. We happened to stumble upon the line of bars/pubs in Cannaregio the Saturday we arrived because we heard music and loud crowds and decided to follow the noise. While there we drank cheap beers on the canal and people-watched all the artsy, bohemian Venetian locals (we were literally some of the only tourists there). All the pubs are very small, old-Italian style and outside on the canal you see locals partying on their little boats going up and down the canal, playing music. This was definitely the best night we had in Venice, and surprisingly one of the most genuinely cultural experiences we had there.

Tips:
  •  The best time to explore the city is in the early morning before 10 am (Wake up at 7am to actually walk the streets alone- I recommend this). The busiest times for crowds are from noon-nightfall, especially on the weekends. That being said, weekdays are better days to visit than weekends.
  • In order to save money and utilize your money in the best way, just know that 2 full days in Venice is more than enough time to see and experience the full city (Like I said, I walked the entire city in one day!). A third day would give you enough time to explore the surrounding Venice islands, such as Burano, the colorful fisherman’s village, and Lido, the cute Venetian beach town- each no more than an hour boat ride away from Venice. I really recommend these day trips because they are equally as charming as Venice, but way less touristy. To sum it up, 2 days = you’ve conquered the city of Venice, 3 days = you’ve conquered the entire province of Venice.
  • Venice food is generally very EXPENSIVE! To avoid pricey meals and also experience some rich Venice culture, visit the food markets in Rialto from Tuesday-Saturday, which have been running for almost 1,000 years now! There you can taste some well-priced, authentic Italian classics and make a picnic for yourself on the nearby canals.

Comments:

  • August 6, 2015

    Amazing post! well written.

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