Venice is one of those places that you should visit and cross it off your bucket list. We truly enjoyed it. Here is how our 4 days went.
Thursday was our arrival day to Venice from the USA. We arrived in the morning and arranged a concierge service to pick us up and take us to the hotel. We didn’t want to mess with taxis and boats because we brought four suitcases with four weeks of cloths for our month-long European trip. Plus, we had a wedding celebration, so we needed to pack all the additional things such as wedding dress etc. We arrived at the hotel exhausted & totally jet lagged (traveling from West to East is way harder to adjust to than vice versa). After we checked into the hotel we decided to relax at the pool, eat dinner at the hotel and go to bed early. We stayed at the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa since my husband is a Marriott Rewards member with a very high status. We booked our entire trip to Italy with his points which was very nice since we paid very minimal money for the hotels. We love staying at Marriott properties – service is always top-notch.
Since we used our arrival day to fully recover from jet lag, our Day 2 was practically more like a Day 1 to us. The JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa at which we stayed is located on its own island – a 20 minute ride via water shuttle from the St. Mark’s Square boat terminal that the hotel provides free of charge. Starting from 8:00 AM, they provide boat shuttle service every 3o minutes from the hotel to St. Mark’s Square and back to the hotel, until 12:00 AM. We took the boat shuttle to Venice and we spent entire day walking thru Venice and getting the feel of the place. We spent most of the day walking the narrow lanes and back ways of the non-touristy areas where locals live. It was very interesting to see how locals live & their everyday activities. Venice is a city built on water. Canals are their streets. Small boats are their cars. Even everyday activities like grocery shopping take on added complexity. Everyday life in Venice is very unique. I highly recommend spending at least a day touring the non-tourist areas of Venice so that you can get a true experience of Venice not just the touristy part. It’s very interesting to see how they dry their laundry, get their groceries in and out of their boats into their homes, and kids playing. Venetians have a totally different and unique way of living in other country and doing everyday activities. Food & drink prices are expensive in touristy areas which is normal and to be expected. However, out of the main tourist areas of the old city you can always choose to experience local street food and restaurants geared for the locals which are budget friendly. While more expensive, dining choices are abundant in and around the St. Mark’s Square area. You can get a piece of pizza on every corner as well as delicious sweets and gelato.
On Saturday we visited Doge’s Palace. I would highly recommend getting your tickets online, so that you may skip the wait in enormous lines. Its saves you plenty of time and headache. The Doge’s Palace was worth seeing. The architecture will leave you speechless. After our roughly 2.5 hour visit at the Doge’s Palace we treated ourselves to delicious gelato. Gelato shops are located on almost every ally way. Whichever gelato shop you choose, I am sure you wouldn’t make mistake. My favorite flavors are Coconut, Stracciatella, & Pistachio. Around 6:30 pm we took a classic gondola ride. It was an amazing and romantic experience – except the smell in a couple of the smaller canals :D. Since we were visiting Venice in September it was not that bad of a smell. I did hear that July and August are the worst since it’s very hot. Gondola Rides can be expensive, up to 100 euros, depending which kind of a gondola you choose. Also, you can book them online too. I would highly recommend experiencing the gondola ride mostly because it’s a once in a lifetime experience. It’s such a great memory to have and you get to see city of Venice in a different way. Sunset gondola rides are a little more expensive but are well worth the extra money. Watching the sun set on the water from a gondola in Venice is an amazing experience.
On our last day we visited three islands of Burano, Murano and Torcello. We bought our tickets here. After the tour we thought we would have much enjoyed just getting a taxi boat to those islands. We would have saved so much time. Island of Burano was worth seeing, it’s a very small island with the cutest colorful houses, local restaurants and shops. The island of Murano is famous for glass making where we spent an hour watching a master make the different figures out of glass. You might find it interesting to see if you are into that kind of stuff. The island of Torcello’s main attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, founded in 639 AD. A few other attractions include the church of Santa Fosca, and the Museo Provinciale di Torcello which was once the seat of the communal government. Once we completed our tour of the three island we used that afternoon to visit St. Mark’s Bell Tower. The view was defiantly worth the tickets. You get to see a beautiful view of Venice which we truly enjoyed. You can also visit inside and explore the interior inside as well as learn the function of five big bells in the daily life of Venice in the past. We returned to the hotel around 6:00 pm to pack and go to bed early since we had a very early flight to catch the next morning.
I would highly recommend visiting Venice in early May or late September when weather is still nice but not as crowded with so many tourists.
Bring comfortable shoes since you will be doing lots of walking and site seeing.
Bring a mosquito spry, that’s the one thing I wish I brought with us, especially if you are traveling in summer times even September counts 😊
Watch your purse from thieves, don’t carry large sums of cash or passport. Leave that at the hotel.
Buy online tickets for sightseeing, especially the ones that are labeled with “Skip the Line” to avoid enormous lines you will be glad you did it. We didn’t visit St. Mark’s Cathedral, and we recommend you do. We were unable to purchase on-line “Skip the Line” tickets for the days we were in Venice. All those tickets were already purchased. We didn’t want to spend 2-3 hours in line to purchase tickets at the door. Usually you will need to purchase these tickets 1-3 days in advance depending on the attraction. Unfortunately for us the first available tickets were for the day we departed Venice.
Plan on visiting only one major attraction a day and do that as early as possible. If you can’t get into the attraction before 9:00 AM, plan on spending an hour or longer in line – even with skip the line tickets. Between 9:00 and 10:00 tourists pour into the main attractions and make visiting them a lot less pleasant.
Managing your time helps you get the most out of your visit. We broke our days into three 5 hour blocks
– 6:00 AM to 1:00 PM – Waking, breakfast, transit to the major attraction, time at the attraction, late morning snack, visiting other non-tourist areas
– 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM – We used this time to either return to the hotel to relax in the room or at the pool. This is the hottest part of the day and frankly the most unpleasant to spend doing battle with the crowds. Around 5:00 PM we prepared for our evening activities.
– 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM – This was our time for more relaxing activities – dinner and leisurely evening strolls. Most restaurants don’t open for dinner until 7:00. We used the hour between 6:00 and 7:00 to get to our restaurant. If you do plan on eating at nicer restaurant in the evening, I recommend you make reservations – tables fill up fast. Dining for us isn’t just about sustenance, it’s an experience in and of its self. We spent nights in Venice reviewing the events of the day and planning the next day over a bottle of wine and a nice meal.
You will love visiting Venice & Thank you for reading!