I heard a lot about Venice. I read a lot about it. I saw a documentary about Venice.
But nothing can really explain the real beauty and uniqueness of this special place.
When I first visited Venice this summer, I realized that it is probably the only most beautiful place in the world built by humans, not by the mother nature.
It is an almost miracle for me, how people which settled there in about 400 A.D. could actually build a whole city on the water.
I can’t even say how much I am thankful to my hubby for taking me to such a wonderful place.
A Bit From The History
The main reason why people began to settle at this lagoon was that they were escaping from barbarians invasions after the collapse of Roman Empire. People from prosperous areas became refugees and were looking for a safe place to settle – somewhere where invaders could not catch them.
And Venetian lagoon was a great place for this. Isolation and lack of sea skills of enemies were a perfect defense for locals.
Once people settled there, they became to live a prosperous life, because they got sea salt and fish which they started to trade for other things.
Also, the relatively isolated position of Venice to the rest of Italy caused that Venice has been freed of the political matters of Italy.
As Venetians were understandably great sailors, they became to sail and trade with countries along the Adriatic sea and up to the oriental cities of Middle East like Constantinople (Istanbul) and Levant.
And this was the time when Venetians became to be one of the most successful, and powerful city in the Europe. They traded with oriental merchandise which was widely demanded in Europe and vice versa. Venice became a trading mediator between Europe and Orient.
By the late 13th century Venice became the richest city in Europe – not only when it comes to high standard of living of its inhabitants, but also culturally rich, as people from many parts of the world came to live and work here. Many Arabs, Jews, Europeans, Dalmatians and other different nationalities mixed their culture together and created a vibrant and society which significantly influenced the appearance of this city.
As you might already guess, the oriental influence on this city helped to invent Venetian gothic style – unique gothic architecture style which is only in Venice. Many of buildings you can admire there are built in Venetian Gothic such as remarkable Doge’s Palace or Ca’ d’Oro.
The isolation from Italy caused that Venice has got a different political setting than in the rest of Italy. Actually, the political institutions of Venice were by far the most liberal from the whole Europe at that time of Middle Age. Flourishing with artists, craftsmen, and traders which helped to create and develop special Venetian culture and heritage which we admire today.
Venice Of Nowadays
Venice of today is really enchanting and charming place. Even though it attracts millions of tourists, this will not take your impression from the city.
Especially for couples, it is a truly romantic destination. No wonder why it’s called the capital city of romantic.
You can easily escape from the crowds with your loved one somewhere among the secret tiny little streets of wonderful historical buildings or cross the countless bridges across canals full of ships and gondolas.
Riding a gondola on the Grand Canal could be your most romantic memory.
Almost on every corner of Venetian streets, you’ll be amazed by stunning historical buildings and its surroundings. One funny fact is, that buildings are often built so close to each other, that you can not really step out further to see them at their best – from the distance.
Along the historic pompous buildings and gorgeous atmosphere, you will be probably thrilled by the weird feeling that you are basically walking on the water, as all this city and its buildings are built on the wooden piles set in the sea.
This never stops amazed me when I realize that the locals really do live like seagulls, constantly on the sea…
What To Do, See And Experience In Venice
When you are still at the stage of planning your holiday to Venice, you should consider these two main facts:
- No time-frame will ever be enough for such a spectacular place
- Prepare your wallet – Venice is not a cheap destination – but we will reveal some tips how to keep up with your budget in this guide.
Best Time To Visit Venice
Most of the visitors are coming during peak season which is summer time from July to mid-September.
We have visited Venice during August and really enjoyed the nice hot weather, however, for some people it may be too hot. Also, someone who doesn’t like crowds of people should avoid visiting Venice during this period.
For individuals who want to enjoy “calmer” atmosphere and less hot weather, we recommend planning visit in spring or later autumn.
You may wish to visit Venice also during the most exciting time of a year in February – to see the Venice Carnival – one of the most interesting attractions of the world!
Many people visit Venice especially for a particular reason – to see Biennale, whether it is Architecture Biennale or Art Biennale, its exhibitions are regular draws for artists and people interested in art and architecture. Usually running from May to November, you can read more information about Biennale and their exhibitions at www.labiennale.org/en/biennale.
List of things you should not miss in Venice:
1. St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) and Doge’s Palace – Probably the most famous tourist attraction of Venice is a breath-taking monumental square which had strong social and political importance in the past. From here you can admire unbelievably beautiful church of St. Mark (Basillica San Marco) with its magnificent Venetian gothic architecture. Also, there is a Campanile of St Mark’s church ( a tower) and an early renaissance building – Clock Tower. The combination of architecture composition is exceptional.
Don’t miss to have a look inside of a Basillica San Marco – it’s free of charge and you will be impressed.
Get on the top of Campanille (Entrance fee: 8 Euro) which is the tallest building in Venice to see the spectacular view of the whole historic city and lagoon.
2. Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge – You will probably already know Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge from all those postcards, guide books and all famous pictures from Venice. Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge on the canal and is famous for the Rialto market which we definitely recommend to see.
When visiting Venice, you will certainly not miss the Grand Canal which is something as a highway there – the biggest and most important way as much today, as it was in the past. We recommend you to have a nice long walk along the Grand Canal to experience the center of a Venetian unique atmosphere.
3. Gallerie dell’Accademia – is one of the most famous galleries in the world because of its collection of Venetian paintings. Gallery’s significance is the exposition of a world’s masterpieces of some famous renaissance artists such as Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, Titian, Carpaccio, Bellini, and others. Art lovers can also admire paintings of famous Venetian painters in the churches and cathedrals all over Venice. For the contemporary art visit famous Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
General Admission to Gallerie dell’Accademia: 18.50 Eur
4. Teatro La Fenice – This beautiful theater is probably one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Despite the fact that it burned down several times, it was always restored and remained its significant importance in the world of opera.
5. Scuola Grande di San Rocco – this museum was founded by wealthy Venetians in 1478. Named by the St. Roch, protector against plague, the museum is mostly famous because of a vast contribution of artworks from Tintoretto. Except for Tintoretto, you can admire here various other artist’s works including spectacular interior and exterior architecture.
6. Giudecca Island – is a small and calmer island near the center of islands of Venice. With few minutes of a ride in a water bus from the center of Venice, you can enjoy there many waterfront restaurants, have a nice walk along the lagoon with the spectacular view and also can get cheaper accommodations in one of many backpacker hostels and guesthouses.
7. San Giorgio Maggiore – is an imposing basilica of a classical renaissance style from late 16. century. Located on the tiny island of the same name, you can get there easily using a local bus (water bus). We especially recommend to visit this place for the sunset, so you can experience romantic sunset as never before, with the view on the Venice such as on our picture below.
8. Murano – is a series of islands known for a craftsmanship with a glass. Traditionally, glass workshops used to be located directly in the center of Venice, but due to many fire accidents, they decided to move all workshops to Murano. Nowadays, you can admire works of these crafts all over the island, buy it as a souvenir in many of local souvenir shops and even visit one of the workshops to see a craftsman making a glass on your own eyes.
9. Burano – is another small island famous for its cute colorful houses and traditional lace making. Burano is definitely a place with a special vibe and you will love its atmosphere.
10. Torcello – mysterious and remote island is one of the places you would like to escape to from the rush and insanity of today’s society. In the past paradoxically, it was rich and vastly populated area thanks to the trading with Constantinople, later hit by malaria and those who didn’t die, quickly abandoned the island. Today it has a population of 10 people. When you get there, you can feel the peaceful and remote atmosphere and admire beautiful cathedral and its surroundings – Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta founded in 639 A.D.
11. Lido – Popular holiday area where you can swim on the beautiful beach, or shop in the little souvenir shops along the road. There is also famous Venice International Film Festival every year.
Where To Get Budget Accommodation In Venice
If you don’t want to spend a couple of hundred dollars (or Euros) per night for accommodation, you probably won’t like to stay in the center of Venice. Hotels are also often fully booked and the cheapest accommodations are usually sold out quickly during peak season.
For the cheapest accommodation options try one of the backpacker hostels at Guidecca Island such as Generator Hostels where suits for 2 starts at just €40. There is a lot of hostels and B&B in the center of Venice, however, during peak season there is a high probability that they will be fully booked unless you book in advance.
Also, there are few camping spots directly at the Lido, so you may want to try
The only best option for us (everything was booked) was accommodation at the nearest city near Venice, called Mestre (it actually belongs to Venice). We have been staying at Relais Ca´ Sabbioni hotel or rather said 5-star mansion, and we quite enjoyed our stay there, even though, it wasn’t the best hotel we’ve been staying at, in comparison of price and services, and also wifi connection was pretty bad there.
The main advantage of that place was, that there is a bus station right in front of the hotel, which will take you straight to Venice ( 30 minutes drive ).
There is plenty of hotels, motels and other kinds of accommodation in Mestre which offers cheaper options than accommodation in over-expensive central Venice. Just make sure you will check transportation options (if you don’t rent a car) from your hotel, and if you arrive by car, be sure to check if there is a parking place available for you.
We also stayed at campsite Serenissima, which helped us to save a lot on accommodation. It´s definitely not the best camping spot we have ever been to, but you will save a lot and can combine nice camping experience with Venice trip.
Prices vary but for us it was: Car+Tent+2 adults = 33 € / night + tourist tax (0.20 pp).
Cheap Transportation In Venice
If you want to save a significant amount of money for transportation, then you should opt out for ACTV Tourist Travel Card. With this card, you prepay a certain amount of money according to a number of days you want to use it and can travel freely with unlimited water and land buses fares.
7 days travel card cost 60,00 € (pp) and you can also buy add-ons for example for transfer from and to the airport. For more information check the official website: www.actv.it/en/
What Not To forget To Do In Venice
Remember that Venice is special and you should enjoy it at the best cause it’s definitely a lifetime experience destination. Don’t forget to try popular sweet orange aperitive called Spritz, which you will love upon the first sip. Enjoy romantic Mediterranean dinner at one of the many waterfront restaurants.
Buy a bottle of wine and go find some secret spot near the water just for yourself and your loved one.
Or head to the local convenient store, buy some treats, sit on the street and listen to local street artist playing known melodies of Venice canals and its stories.
Get lost in Venice – seriously, if you will walk out of highlighted tourist spots you can get lost among tiny mysterious streets of this charming city and discover many hidden surprises there.
Have you been in Venice? What is your experience and travel budget tips? Have you got any other question regarding planning your holiday in Venice? Let us know, we will help you!
We kindly wait for your feedback.
Thank you, and have nice travels.
© Independent Couple 2016
All pictures in this post were taken by Radoslav Cajkovic www.radocation.com and are subject to copyright.