If you follow me on Instagram or YouTube you may have seen my announcement last week, for those of you who don’t know I’ve popped the video here to fill you in on my weekend in Venice.
We had less than 48 hours to enjoy our time in the city and I’d say we made perfect use of it, not just because of the life events that happened while we were there but because Venice is an amazing city.
This trip was also a surprise trip, my fiancé arranged everything and I didn’t find out where we were going until we got to the airport. I’ve always wondered if surprise holidays are for me, as someone who likes to plan everything and spend weeks researching a destination the idea of not knowing is daunting. However, it worked perfectly, he had done enough research to reassure me we weren’t missing out on anything and having a trusted Lonely Planet guide meant I could do a little research on the plane.
So how do you spend a perfect weekend in Venice?
Know how to get to the hotel
When you first arrive in Venice, especially if it is in the dark you can get disorientated and dazzled by the beauty of the city. Remember the boat network in Venice is a little like the London underground, you must know which direction you need to travel in to get to the right place. Be sure to check the times as if you take the bus into the city from the airport, then you’ll come into the central bus station and it may be easier to walk from here. Oh and don’t bring a huge suitcase, at some point you will need to lug it over stairs!
We stayed at San Sebastiano Garden Hotel e Venezia
Get acquainted with the city through food
Like much of Italy, Venice is famous for its food scene. There are an abundance of authentic Italian restaurants where you’ll get the typical pizza and pasta dishes that taste so much better than in the UK. You’ll also find some international restaurants serving a range of foods to suit all. We stumbled upon an African restaurant the night we arrived, it was one of the only places open past 10.30pm and it was incredible. Throughout our time in the city, we also ate at many typical Italian places where seafood dishes were the core of the menu. We had fresh sea bass, prawn carbonara, cuttlefish spaghetti and more. Don’t forget to sample some gelato too.
Have an action packed sightseeing day
Chances are, if you’re going to Venice for the weekend you’ll have one full day in the city. Pack this day with all of the main sights of the city and wear comfy shoes as you’ll walk miles.
Get up early and see sunshine
Venice is beautiful at sunrise and sunset but chances are you’ll be having dinner during sunset so make the most of an early morning. By heading out early you’ll beat the crowds and get some gorgeous photos. If you accommodation has breakfast you might want to head back for it otherwise begin your day now and stop for breakfast once the glow of sunrise has disappeared.
Head to St Mark’s Square/Piazza San Marco
This spot is the most famous in the city and you’ll want to head here as early as possible to try and beat the crowds. There will of course be others there no matter what time you visit but at least you won’t be fighting to get across the square early on. There are many sights worth a visit here: Basilica San Marco, San Marco Campanile and Palazzo Ducale. They open between 9am and 10am and it is certainly worth getting there early to beat the queues to get in.
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
This spot seems to be popular with tour groups, however, they only go to look from the outside so don’t be put off from the crowds outside. Head inside where it is much quieter and for a few euros you’ll get access to the beautiful spiral staircase and view point. The building is gorgeous and offers some gorgeous views over Venice without having to fight for a spot to see. The staircase, in and out, is also beautiful.
The Grand Canal
Probably the most famous part of Venice and an absolute must visit during your trip here. You can walk along side most parts of the Grand Canal and there are four bridges that enable you to cross this body of water: Ponte della Costituzione, Ponte dell’Accademia, Ponte degli Scalzi and Ponte di Rialto. I would recommend working these four bridges into your day or you could end up stuck on the wrong side of the canal! Each bridge is different and stunning and the views down the canal are worth having to work your way through the crowds to see the view. Rialto is probably the biggest and most famous of them all.
Wander the back streets
Venice is made for getting lost, whether that is truly lost as in you don’t know where the heck you are or just wandering without following a map, it’s worth doing! Take time to cross the small canals, grab a coffee if you see a cute spot worth resting your legs for and maybe even get some gelato.
Take a look at The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
This is suppose to be one of the greatest churches in the city and although it was something we just looked at the outside of (Sunday opening hours are different) it seems worth adding to your list of spots to visit. This area is also home to some fab art galleries if the weather isn’t on your side and you need to escape the rain/cold.
Take a gondola ride
This can be a pricey thing to do if you are on a budget trip, but it is so worth it as a little ‘treat’. You can take them day or night, although night is more expensive but much quieter. Depending on where you catch the boat from will depend on the route you take but typically they will take you for a 40 minute trip.
Drink a Bellini at Harry’s Bar
Again, not really a backpacker budget thing but if you only have one drink it won’t quite break the bank. This little bar is tucked away on the edge of the water and will lead you to believe it is closed from the outside. It gives of a ‘speakeasy’ impression until you walk through the door where the hustle and bustle waits. A Bellini is prosecco and peach juice and it tastes divine, much like the olives they bring out too. Be sure to wear long trousers if you are a guy.
Venice is a city you do not want to over pack for. Everywhere you walk will have bridges over canals and said bridges have a lot of steps. Try and refrain from even using a suitcase and dig that backpack out for this trip. It might not give you the stylish look you want in the city but it will stop you from looking like an idiot when you can’t carry your suitcase over the stairs or off the boats. Packing with hand luggage only would be a good idea for this trip.
Be sure to enjoy yourself, no matter how long you have to spend in the city, make time to soak up the atmosphere of the city.
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