When I recently visited one of my best friends in Scotland and she suggested taking off for a few days to go to Venice, I didn’t hesitate in saying “yes, take my money.” We had no solid plans; we went and roamed around getting lost.
Venice is like a labyrinth filled with restaurants and shops around every corner. The architecture is beautiful and the food is divine. Each canal is worth a photo but the best thing to do is really just take it all in…there was something really nice about having no plans. Go with your girlfriends and talk to locals and if by chance one of them asks you out on a date, go for it. Eat as much gelato as possible, get a buzz off of Aperol Spritz, dance through St. Mark’s Square at night, and I don’t care what anyone says, splurge and go on a gondola. Also, black pasta is really damn good. Try it.
Here’s my Venice Guide with personal recommendations if you ever plan on visiting!
Where to Eat & Drink
- Al Mascaron Restaurant
This is a traditional Italian restaurant, which you’d think wouldn’t be difficult to find in Venice. I guess what I mean by this, is that the menu isn’t altered in any way to cater to the Western palate. Don’t eat before going here so you can order as much food as possible, including that black pasta I mentioned above. The food is so good that next time I visit Venice, it will be just so I can have this food again!
Note: Closed on Sundays. Make reservations in advance!
- Harry’s Bar
This is where the famous Bellini was created. It is expensive but if it intrigues you, add it to the list!
- Skyline Rooftop Bar
Admittedly, I’ve never been here but from what I’ve seen, there is an amazing view of Venice from across the water.
- Pasticceria Marchini Time
I love to pop in here in the morning to grab a cappuccino and freshly squeezed orange juice with a pastry. I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day!
- Fabbri Marosticana Gelato
There’s not one gelato shop I can recommend in Venice. All I know is that the only flavour I am looking for is Fabbri Marosticana, which is pistachio with sour cherries drizzled throughout. It’s not a flavour available everywhere, so keep your eyes open and order one for yourself anytime you see it!
- Aperol Spritz
I really believe you’re committing a sin of some kind if you visit Venice and don’t have an Aperol Spritz.
What to Do & See
- Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)
If you walk through here late at night (10/11PM), it’s nearly empty and the traditional live music echoes through the square. When people talk about the magic of Venice, I’m almost positive this is what they’re referring to. Stroll along the water and order a drink from one of the vendors and take in your surroundings while hearing the water splash against the gondolas.
- Bridge of Sighs
This famous bridge got its name because prisoners would walk along it on their way to prison, sighing at the view knowing they may not be free after crossing it. When you visit Doge’s Palace, you can walk through it as it connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms.
- Doge’s Palace
This is Venice’s most popular landmark and is located right in Piazza San Marco. Formerly the residence of the Doge of Venice (leader of the Republic of Venice) and the seat of the Venetian government, the palace is full of grand rooms and artwork. Take your time and listen to the audio guides on your tour. There is a lot to learn! Get your tickets beforehand as there is always a very long lineup.
- Ride a Gondola!
When you think of Venice, you think of a gondola. They’re the image of romance and tradition. However, riding on one can be quite expensive depending on how many people you’re with. The prices for gondola rides are officially set and are currently €80.00 for 40 minutes, holding 6 people at most. I considered this a once in a lifetime experience, so why not splurge a little. You can find gondola stops all around the canals.
- Church of the Pietà – Saint Mary of the Visitation
Antonio Vivaldi was the Chorus and Concert Master here during the 1700’s so make sure to look for performances ahead of time so you can see his music performed live in this church. It’s…an experience.
- Acqua Alta Library
This little bookstore is so cute. It is filled to the brim with books and even has a gondola inside to hold even more. Outside, you can climb a set of stairs made out of old books and look over the wall into a canal.
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection
A modern art museum where you can question what art is, but also see a Jackson Pollack up close. Worth it.
I didn’t know much about Italy’s history, let alone the history of Venice. So on my first visit, I was able to see Venezia The Show, which is a lighthearted play that takes you through the 1,500 journey of Venice’s exciting and at times, devastating history. If you ever plan on visiting, try and see this play on your first night so you can really appreciate the history of the city you’ll be exploring. The show is only 1 hour and 20 minutes and I highly recommend checking it out if you need a history lesson on this beautiful city. It’s not always playing, so make sure to visit the website here for showtimes and tickets.
I’ve made a map of all these places in Venice, you can download it here. Follow me on Instagram (@jo_hayward) for more photos and feel free to send me a message if you have any questions or other suggestions for when visiting Venice!