Think Europe, think Venice….along with the rest of the world! Everyone dreams of a trip to Venice. Yes, Venice, the land of romance and canals. It’s a must destination at least once in a lifetime. And let’s not forget to mention that Venice is a photographer’s Disney World! So, before you go, especially if it will be a summer visit, remember to bring a dose of patience to handle the hoards of tourists coming by land and by cruise ship.
Where to Stay
The good news is… now that the Euro is at an all time low, (almost equal to the dollar) even a night at a five-star hotel, won’t break the bank. Research where to stay using tripadvisor. My favorite site for booking European hotels is Booking.com. I have used them every time I travel and have found their rates to be very competitive and the actual website to be very user-friendly. Of course, check the other hotel booking sites as well along with each hotel’s website. I stayed at the Hotel Danieli, a Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel, using cash and points. It has all of the charm and elegance you would expect from a first class hotel sitting on the canals of Venice. I recently noticed that one of my favorite hotels in Florence, L’Oroligio, opened a hotel in Venice and is getting excellent reviews. I would not hesitate to stay there. The lobby of the Hotel Danieli, Venice.
What to do
1. Get lost
Yes, Venice has its share of museums, churches and synagogues, but my favorite thing to do in Venice is to just get lost. You could spend days, maybe even weeks, meandering through the narrow streets and canals; beauty and charm are found around every corner. Get off of the main streets and go explore! The best time to absorb all that Venice has to offer is at dawn and dusk. You’ll avoid the crowds and the light is magical for photos.
2. To gondola or not to gondola
Well, this depends on your wallet and how much you are willing to spend. This short ride will set you back a few bucks! For me, I was content just being an observer! That being said, this is the one and only place in the world to take an official gondola ride while being swooned by a real gondolier.
3. Visit the neighboring islands
An absolute must…take time to visit the neighboring islands. Even if you don’t get off of the boat, the ride itself is enjoyable and worth the ride. While everyone gets off at Murano to visit the glass blowing shops, stay onboard and visit the often overlooked bright and beautiful Burano. This little island will put a smile on your face and brighten up your day! It is a small fishing village and is filled with brightly painted buildings everywhere you look. What a place to own a Benjamin Moore paint store! The folklore says that the buildings were originally painted these bright colors so the fisherman at sea would not lose their way upon returning home. Tip…to avoid the heat, go early in the summer and early in the morning.
4. Mangi, a lot
Again, get off the beaten path and explore. Definitely run, don’t walk, away from the restaurants that have waiters standing in front shoving menus in your face. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, eat where the locals eat. Don’t be afraid to ask a local for his/her recommendation.
5. Visit Marco Square
You can’t go to Venice without a visit to Marco Square. However, if you are a photography buff, consider losing some zzz’s one night in exchange for a great photo opp! These photos below were taken very early in the morning.
Venice is easily accessible by the high speed train. Some even day trip from Florence. Venice is a great starting or ending point when visiting the big 3 in Italy… Venice, Florence and Rome. Summer is hot, get out early to explore. Wear comfortable shoes, Venice is a walking city.