Summer is almost coming to an end and most of us are ready to head back to school or at work. But if like me, you’re not ready to say goodbye to those warm, sunny days of Summer, what better way to escape reality and head to one of the most iconic and romantic cities in the world, where gondolas are plying the waterways through the beautiful landscape.
Yes, I am talking about Venice. Even though I visited the city very briefly before, I did want to explore more on the island and maybe have a ride on one of those gondolas, who are said to be the symbol of history and tradition of Venice.
Unfortunately, these symbols of history and tradition are not as romantic as they seem in pictures or movies. Also, they can be quite expensive ‘boat taxi’s’, starting from 80 euros for 30 minutes if they can drop you off at the place they picked you up, if not: be prepared to pay extra.
Tourism is still one of the main industries in Venice and is vital for it’s survival. However, it is also contributing to it’s demise. Locals are visibly not happy with the millions (approximately 20 mill.) of tourists visiting the island every year. And to be honest, it does ruin the romantic vibe of the city.
On the bright side, you won’t need a GPS to find your way to the San Marco square. If it is not for the many, slightly worn off, signs on the buildings, the ever increasing amount of tourists will show you the way to the ‘pigeon square’.
The tourist guide
Piazza San Marco
The main attraction for many tourists in Venice is the Piazza San Marco. It is surrounded by museums that are worth a visit but instead of paying too much for each ticket separately, you can buy a museum pass online beforehand which will only cost you €24,50. This pass not only grants you access to the the museums on the square but also the lace museum and glass museum on (respectively) the islands of Burano and Murano.
- Doge Palace
If you only visit one museum in Venice, let it be this Venetian Gothic style palace. It is one of the main landmarks of the city and served as the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice.
- The Bridge of Sighs.
A corridor of the Doge Palace will lead you to the famous Bridge of Sighs, a bridge built to link the palace to the structure where the New Prisons were housed. The name dates from the Romantic period and refers to the sighs of the prisoners when they took a last look at freedom when passing from the courtroom to the cell in which they would serve their sentence.
- The Saint Mark’s Basilica:
Probably the most overrated ‘attraction’ if I’m honest. Entrance is free (unless your knees/shoulders are out, then you’ll have to buy a ‘kimono’ to cover yourself up) but once you’re inside you’ll notice small signs indicating prices to go up stairs, see a chamber, … even sitting on a church bench is not allowed unless you are with a guided group. In short: not really worth the wait.
- The Correr Museum
No queues and no hidden fees, the Correr Museum has a rich and varied collection, covering of both the art and history of the city. This place also provides you with probably the best view on the Piazza San Marco.
Murano & Burano
If you are in Venice, make sure to take the vaporetto – a boat taxi – to the islands Murano and Burano.
Murano is known for its glassmaking: Murano glass. Venetian glassmakers were ‘forced’ to move to Murano in 1291 when the Venetian Republic feared fire and thus the destruction of the city’s mostly wooden buildings. Today Murano glass is sold everywhere on both islands, still using the centuries-old techniques, crafting everything from contemporary art glass and glass jewelry to Murano glass chandeliers and wine stoppers.
If you like to discover more of the glassmaking art, make sure to visit the glass museum on the island. Entrance is included in the museum pass mentioned above.
After visiting Murano, hop back on the vaporetto and make your way to Burano. if you google this place, you’ll see why it is so popular with the Instagram bloggers. Besides its lace work, Burano is known for its bright colored houses that make for incredible pictures. This island’s primary economy? You guessed it: tourism.
Where to eat?
Venice is infamous for it’s high prices and overcharging tourists. If you feel like having a drink on the Piazza San Marco, you will not only pay for the drink and the coperto (Italian service fee). You will be charged with fees for the live quartet that is playing in the background, the tablespoon you used to stir your coffee, the view you got whilst sitting on the famous square, …
However, you can enjoy good Italian food in Venice for less than the price of a coffee on the San Marco Square ;-).
A few tips:
- Look for places further away from the San Marco Square; the closer, the more you pay for your pasta.
- Ask! Sure, they might be a little annoyed when you ask how much the coperto is but so will you when you are presented the bill.
- Do your research! I find nothing worse than being hungry and having to look for a decent place to eat in a city where even the air is overpriced. That is why I always keep a list of a few places that I reviewed before so at least I know that I won’t have food poisoning the first few days of my holiday.
Following places were on my list:
- Pizzaria All’ Anfora: If you like giant pizzas, this is the place to be
Lista Vecchia dei Bari 1223, 30174 Venice
- Dal Moro’s: Located in a tiny street in Venice, but don’t be fooled: this place has a permanent queue in front of its doors. But if you’re in for a fast, good and fair priced Italian pasta ánd friendly service, have a go!
Calle Casseleria, 5324, 30122 Venice
- Restaurant alla Vecchia Pescheria (Murano): Murano has a few restaurants on the main streets that are quite expensive and serve poor quality food. If you walk around the streets of the island though, you might find this little place that is quite hidden from plain sight but has the best pasta all’arrabiata of the island.
Campiello della Pescheria, 4, 30141 Venice
- Hard Rock Cafe Venice: Shockingly the most expensive meal we had on our trip! But as always, Hard Rock Café never lets me down when it comes to good food, friendly service and great music.
Bacino Orseolo, 1192, 30124 San Marco, Venice
- (Trattoria) Pizzeria Ristorante Da Sara: Don’t let the secret garden trick you into thinking this place is pricey. Pasta’s, pizza’s, the best bruschetta I’ve ever had – and I normally don’t even like tomatoes – and a shot of Limoncello: what else?
Calle S. Pantalon, 3748/3818, 30123 Sestiere Dorsoduro, Venice