Venice, Venezia, the beautiful Italian city that surpasses all expectations. This extraordinary island city off the eastern coast of Italy deserves all the praise that it gets. There is truly no place like Venice. This is a city where you can truly get away from the hustle and bustle of real life. There are no roads, no cars, and no traffic. The island of Venice is separated by 400 canals that are connected together by bridges to make the island livable for its citizens and a dream for its visitors. Here you will find how to make the most of your time in Venice.
Besides the absolute uniqueness and beauty of the city, Venice has recently been drawing visitors from all over the world for one very scary reason: The city is going extinct. It is slowly sinking more every year. The waters have been rising around Venice over the past decades. The main square in Venice used to flood twice a year. Now it floods 60 days a year. In fact, when we went, the city was flooded.
This amazing city is something that I consider a must-see, bucket list item. Go see it before the world makes it the next “Atlantis.” If you don’t believe me, look at these pictures:
Here is the ultimate 24 hour guide for things to do during your time in Venice
In the morning:
Skip the gondola, ride a kayak
Everyone knows that Venice is famous for it’s gondolas with men in striped shirts and hats singing to you as they row you down the Grand Canal. However, it is not as romantic as you may think. The Grand Canal is like a highway for Venice. There are ferries, water taxis, personal boats, and gondolas all on the one canal. Riding in a Gondola costs roughly 120 Euros a person, and you won’t be able to get that romantic feel you hope for.
My advice: Skip the gondola and take a kayak tour. With a kayak tour, you can get away from the noise of the taxis and the tourists and really explore the beauty that Venice has to offer. With kayaks, you get to incorporate the canals of Venice with an adventure that is unlike any other. The kayaks will also allow you more time on the water, more views of the city, and less guilt for being overcharged.
There is this option as well if you want to take a rowboat around Venice instead.
If you want MUST do the gondola:
I would recommend that you go in the evening. Either when the sun is already setting or late in the evening when Venice has gone quiet. Both will offer a more romantic setting. The best tip that Venetians give to tourists is to not go on the first Gondola that you see. If you can find a Gondola away from the main ferry stops, you will be more likely to get a better price.
Many tourists say that your gondola experience depends on your guide. Some guides get really into it and wear the striped shirt, have the cute hat, and sing or hum as they row you around. Some guides however, will not give you that treatment. Singing is not required of the gondoliers. Regardless, riding on the water in Venice, whichever method you choose, is a definite bucket list item for your time in Venice.
Read More: Things To Do in Venice
In the afternoon:
Take the Vesperatto to Murano
Instead of spending your afternoon shopping, as completely tempting as that may be, getting away from Venice may actually be the best way to spend your afternoon in Venice! The island of Murano, kind of like a district of Venice, is about a 30 minute ferry ride from the Grand Canal. You will have to take the Verperatto in order to get there, but it is so completely worth it.
Have you ever heard of Murano glass? Well Murano is actually considered the birth-place of blown glass. In Murano, you will immediately be bombarded with shop after shop of extraordinary blown glass art. It will immediately seem that every single person on the island makes blown glass because of the sheer quantity in the shops. You can find anything from tiny ornaments to HUGE art sculptures made purely of this fragile, colored glass.
My husband and I walked the streets of Murano going from shop to shop just to see what was available. We decided to try and find a glass blowing demonstration so that we could experience the process of this beautiful art for ourselves. We found a place where we paid 10 Euros a person for the demonstration, but then the euros immediately converted into store credit to buy something with. They even let us combine our credits.
The actual process of making the blown glass is amazing. There are so many people who have been doing it for years and can make this beautiful horse with pliers in just 5 minutes. It honestly blows my mind and is something that you have to experience for yourself.
Side note: Don’t be afraid to barter as some of the shop owners tried to barter with us.
In the evening:
See the Piazzo de San Marco
During your time in Venice, I would highly recommend visiting the Piazzo de San Marco. This plaza is considered the central area of Venice. Here, you will find MANY different shopping options and, even better, the St. Mark’s Basilica. This beautiful church was completed in 1092AD and has incredibly architecture, design, and icons from different time periods in history. This church also bears the mark of the water damage that comes with the constant flooding of Venice. You need to experience this beautiful church before it ends up underwater.
Do some shopping
The streets of Venice are lined with all kinds of shopping. It is your go to place to shop for any designer brand you think of (Furla, Gucci, Jimmy Choo) as well as local Italian designers. There are so many unique shops that make you just want to stop and look at all that they have to offer. My favorite shop was actually one off of the Piazza di San Marco that specialized in making beautiful clocks and chess tables. My husband and I love chess so it was very interesting for us to see all of the beautiful sets.
Italians are actually obsessed with the concept of Black Friday! I’m honestly not sure that they even knew what it meant to Americans. They just assumed it was a sale. We were in Venice during the American Black Friday and we saw over 100 shops with “Black Friday” signs in the windows. However, they didn’t always get it right.
In the nighttime:
Go the the casino
The Casino di Venezia is not only perfect for your night time adventures in Venice, it is also the oldest Casino in the world. This casino was established in 1638, and it is a must-see. The Casino itself sits right against the Grand Canal. If you would like to arrive in style, you can take your own water taxi right up to its doorstep and take the red carpet entrance into the casino. The casino itself is upstairs and consists of card tables, roulette tables, and slots. I spent most of my time at the Black Jack tables and did pretty well for myself. The casino is a fun and classy way to spend your night time in Venice.
Venice is one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever been to. There is truly nothing like it. Around every corner, there is a new beautiful street or new section of the canal system to see. It is so easy to get lost in Venice, and honestly, it is so worth it to not rush that process. I feel as if some of my favorite moments in Venice were just spent walking around and taking in the beauty and the uniqueness of the place. It truly is a one of a kind experience.
There is a joke among travelers that wine is cheaper in Italy than water. I found that this is actually sometimes true! You could easily pay $3.50 for a bottle of water and $3 for a glass of wine. The accessibility of wine means that you can, and should in my opinion, have it whenever you want. Take advantage of the amazing wine and use it even better enjoy your time in Venice. However, when in Italy, the abundance of wine means that you should be able to choose some high quality drinks for cheap. Prosecco is my drink of choice when ordering alcohol in Italy, but you really can’t go wrong with anything you choose.
Where to stay during your time in Venice:
While we were in Venice, we stayed at this DREAM of a hotel. We decided to splurge (for my birthday) and pay extra for this beautiful hotel. When we saw the picture, I never thought we would actually be able to afford it. However, we got the Deluxe Royal Suite, as pictured above, for only $220 a night! I have never felt more like a queen than getting the true royal treatment in this hotel. It was on the main island of Venice, and it was easy to get to. I would highly recommend this one of a kind night stay.
Bonus tips for your time in Venice:
- Skip the suitcase. You will be doing a lot of walking and maneuvering a lot of stairs in Venice. If your hotel is not directly on the Grand Canal, I would recommend skipping the suitcase as it will be a pain to maneuver around the the rocky roads of the ancient city.
- Buy your blown glass in Murano. You will find so many opportunities and places to buy blown glass around the main island of Venice. Do your best to hold off on buying it though! You will find better quality and more intricate pieces of blown glass if you go the island of Murano. You may also be able to meet the artist of your piece if you are lucky!
- Plan to get the day pass for the ferry, it lasts for 24 hours. It costs around 20 Euro per person, but it makes your life so much easier as all travel in Venice is done by walking or by boat. The Vesperatto will also take you to Murano.
- Hotels will hold your bags even after you check out for the day. If you are planning on spending part of the day in Venice after you check out, most hotels actually expect this and will have a plan in place to hold your luggage. Take advantage of this!
- You CAN’T drive in Venice. As soon as you cross into Venice, there are two parking garages at the entrance to the island. You will need to take the automated people mover (APM) to the plaza where you can get on the ferry to your hotel.