What to do and see in Venice
Planning your trip to Venice
Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is a very unique place because most of its buildings are old and date back to XVI, XVII and XVIII century, so you will feel being part of a movie set. I suggest you stay away from the touristy paths, especially away from St. Mark and Rialto. You can stay in the districts of San Polo, Dorsoduro, Castello or in the Ghetto areas. From there you can easy walk to all the main sites. Accommodations in thoses areas should be more affordable too. Do not stay in the mainland near Mestre or you will not be able to enjoy Venice by night
Walking is essential in Venice. The city is built on many small islands so there are no cars. There are more than 400 bridges connecting the islands so walking around with luggage is not comfortable. I suggest to take a waterbus (vaporetto) or a watertaxi on your arrival (most people arrive in Venice by train at Santa Lucia Station).
Hall-day visit guide, for people that stop by on a cruise trip
If you are on a cruise trip and you just disembarked with your ship you do not have many options. You will stay in Venice few hours only so I suggest you to make a sightseeing outdoor tour that includes St. Mark's Square, the Bridge of Sights, Rialto Bridge, the Church of Frari and San Giovanni and Paolo. If it is morning you must visit also RIalto market and eat the cicchetti (local tapas) in a typical hosteria around, for example Le Do Spade or Bancogiro (where you can sit also outside near the canals for a great relaxing view).
Only one day stay in Venice
If you spend only one day and one night in Venice I suggest to visit mostly outdoor sites with short stops inside unmissable churches.
In the morning you should go first to Rialto fish and fresh vegetable market, which is right int he city center. There you can visit San Giacometto, one of the oldest churches of Venice. Then you can walk to Campo San Polo and the Basilica dei Frari. In this church you can visit the tomb of famous painter Titian. Even if you are not catholic I suggest you explore churches and monasteries beacuse tehy are full of great works of art, like small museums. From here you can go back to Rialto bridge, Campo San Bartolomeo and the houses of Marco Polo family where the famous explorer used to live.
You should keep walking toward Campo San Giovanni and Paolo to see this amazing church and the charming square. If you feel hungry there is plenty of place to choose from. You do not need to sit down in a usual restaurant and waste one hour or more of your precious time (most of the time goes by ordering). You can stop in one of the many traditional Cicchetterie (local tapas places) where you can taste many small dishes, little delis and sandwhiches, appetizers and very good wine for reasonable price sitting in or outside on stools. Check my online food guide for my favorite ones.
Your visit should continue to Saint Mark square. If lines are not too long enter the Basilica of St. Mark and climb the belltower for a breathtaking view of the city.
You can then walk down the brisge of sights and take some pics of the Church os St. Maria della Salute in the distance.
In the late afteroon and evening you must take a gondola ride to experience the typical small romantic boats of Venice through the charming narrow canals of the city.
You can then go back to the hotel to get changed for dinner or continue your vsit to Fondamenta Nuove and the Ghetto, the old Jewish district (yes the place where te word ghetto was born!). This area is full of nice good palces to dine and drink it is a perfect place for relaxing night promenade and good gelato for the gran finale.
If you have the chance to stay in Venice one more day you definetely have to visit the interior of the Doge's palace. It was the political center of Venice where the Doge, the governemtn leader, lived and met with the senators. The palace is decorated with paintings and frescoes by the best Venitian artists, including Tintoretto and Veronese.
You can then walk down to the famous Opera theatre Teatro La Fenice, one of the world's oldest and have lunch in Campo Santo Stefano. Two minutes away you should reach the Accademia bridge to take great scenic photos on the Gran Canal
In the afternoon you can visit another great collection of art, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, with many masterpieces by the best Venetian artists. You can spend the evening walking and geeting lost in the pictoresque alleys of San Polo district getting a wonderful Tiramisu (it was invented here!). You can also go to watch opera in La Fenice theatre. It is a unique experience.
On the third day of your stay you can take a public waterbus (vaporetto in Italian) and go to two famous small islands: Burano and Murano.
Burano is very pictoresque with its colorful small houses and old churches. Walking there looks like walking in a fairy tales village
Murano is the most famous island of Venice. Why? Because its glass is renown and exported worldwide. You can visit for free a glass-blowing small factory and learn about Venitian glass making.
People that stay more than three days in Venice usually decide to do so because they really love the city. Hence, they should take a stroll down the least touristy ditrict of Dorsoduro to meet the locals, speak to the grocery store onwers, watch the kids go to school. Another off-the-beaten paths area is Castello, and I suggest you reach the arsenal and via Garibaldi to take more spectacular pics.
You also have time to visit the Gallerie dell'Accademia, another world-class art colletion of great XVI and XVII century paintings.
You can spend the last evening in one of the most charming and romantic squares such as Campo san Giacomo dell'Orio where there are many small good restaurants.
If you then decide not to visit everything on your own, but you feel enriching your experience with a guided tour, contact me and we will make your experience in Venice memorable.