Venice had been on my bucket list for quite a while because it looked like a photographers dream, although I didn’t think there was enough to do here to warrant its own separate trip, so after deciding to go to Cinque Terre and looking at the distance between it all, we decided to combine it all in a five day adventure to Italy (two days Cinque Terre, two days Florence and one day Venice).
We arrived on the train from Florence into Venice Santa Lucia train station. (Italian trains are extremely easy to get around on, and very well priced). When you walk out the front doors you’ll see the water taxi stand, where you can buy a ticket and catch the water taxi to St Mark’s Square (about €15 each). From here it is only really a 5 – 10 minute walk to any hotel in the San Marco area. This was a fantastic way to arrive in Venice. I’d heard different reviews about this place, from absolutely loving it, to its overrated and smells. I LOVED IT! Getting off the train and straight onto the water taxi and driving through the canals I thought this place is amazing! Partly because on the train into Venice you drive over quite a bit of swamp, so when you get out there and there is this whole city floating on the water, it’s remarkable to see! And contrary to the rumours, it didn’t smell, now I don’t know if this was because the time of year I was there (beginning of April 2017) but we walked all over and didn’t have any bad experiences, and I didn’t see any rats.
We stayed at the Centauro Hotel, about a 7 minute walk from St Mark’s Square. We were told on check in that we were ‘very lucky’ and had been upgraded to a superior room with a terrace. Not to sound ungrateful it was a lovely gesture, but the terrace was a small bit of roof, surrounded by walls. You could see the sky, but nothing else. The rooms are very comfortable and clean, and we’d paid €89 for a double room including breakfast which after researching for a long time was a very good price to pay for being so central. I had contemplated splashing out for a ‘canal’ view room but I really don’t think it’s worth it. You don’t need more than a day to see the sights of Venice, so if you’re staying one night, then you’re going to be out and about exploring, not sitting in your room. Save the money on the room and go on a Gondola ride instead.
As we’d arrived in the afternoon, we spent the evening wandering to St Mark’s Square to find somewhere for dinner, I was quite surprised at how quiet it all becomes. If you’re worried about Venice being expensive, quite a lot of restaurants do a set menu, of two course for €15.
The next morning after a beautiful breakfast at the hotel we headed out for a bit of exploring. We didn’t use a map but literally wondered around all the street for 3 hours, finding quieter little nooks not overrun by tourists, and pretty photo ops! We had looked first thing at the Basilica di San Marco but the line was huge, when we wandered back in the afternoon it was gone so went in then! Worth a quick visit (as there isn’t actually that many sights to see), and for small fee you can go up to the top and get a good view over St Mark’s Square.
We did take a Gondola ride, I knew in advanced that they are expensive so I was prepared to pay the price (it’s a set price on all of them for €80 during the day, and €100 in the evening), but I didn’t mind, to me this was an experience you can’t get anywhere else, and the drivers themselves are only allowed to be Venetian, it’s nice to keep the traditional alive. The ride went for about 35-40 minutes, we asked to go around the smaller canals as opposed to the Grand Canal, and he told us some interesting facts along the way, and even a little singing!
After the Gondola ride, we wandered to some other sights including the Rialto Bridge, a walk along the Grand Canal and the Bridge of Sighs. There are a few museums here (which we didn’t bother visiting), but if you did have a bit more time I’ve heard a trip to the island of Murano (famous for its glass) is also quite interesting.
One good little find was right where the Rialto Bridge joins back to the San Marco side of Venice, there is a shopping centre called Fontego dei Tedeschi, you can go to the top for free and get fantastic views across all of Venice!
We flew out of Venice Treviso airport, which is not the closest airport to Venice (it’s the other one Ryan Air fly’s out of). But you can get the train from Venice to Treviso (just get the water taxi again from St Marks to the train station), and from Treviso it’s a €10 taxi ride to the airport.
All in all I would say Venice was incredible and I loved it (there’s not many cities that inspired a renaissance), and well worth a visit especially for photography nuts, it’s got so much character! But in my opinion you only need a day (or two max if as mentioned about you want to see museums, nearby islands). If you did do it in a day you could even stay somewhere else and just get the train in and save the expensive hotel prices of Venice.