What to do in Venice:
Our step-by-step city guide to 2 perfect days in Venice, Italy.
The city of water never fails to overwhelm tourists with its cones of gelato and intricate architecture. But Venice is also home to much more; forgotten pieces of history still retain their place in the canals of the city. With the timely vaperetto (public water bus) at your disposal, one can easily explore the best of Venice.
Introduce yourself to the city with a stop at Caffe Florian. Opened first in 1720, this is a great place to soak up the sun and watch the crowds build up in St. Marks Square. A cup of strong cappucino and warm croissants will keep you company at this artistic coffee bar.
Lunch and Afternoon
One of the other large islands in the Venetian lagoon, Murano is famed for its hand-blown glass. Ranging from glowing reds to soothing whites, this is a great island for shoppers. The glass is made into jewellery, vases, beads, dinnerware and even brooches. You can also prebook a demo with a Murano glass factory. Make sure not to schedule a glass-making demo for Sunday, as most factories will be closed.
Burano Lace History:
The Burano lace museum is a must visit. Burano has a long-established tradition of needle-lace making, though precise historical records are lacking. The museum used to be the main lace-making school on the island. It now is home to a collection of lace cloth and designs. The museum shop offers plenty of shopping opportunities for tourists.
Pasta on Torcello:
With a population of only 20 inhabitants, Torcello is a hub of nature and calm. A great place to dine here is at Locanda Cipriani. Here one can sample typical Venetian cuisine surrounded by lush greenery and azure waters. Lunch favourites include a variety of homemade pasta with your choice of sauce.
Dinner and Evening
Sunset Gondola Ride:
The quintessential Venetian experience. Take a serenaded gondola ride on the canals of Venice then enjoy dinner at Hostaria Ai Coristi Restaurant, near La Fenice Theatre. You’ll be captivated by the glamor and elegance of Venice as you glide in a gondola on the canals. You can also opt to have your gondolier sing traditional Italian ballads during your ride. Afterwards you can feast on the carefully prepared dinner, each dish crafted according to recipes of the most traditional Venetian cuisine (fishes, shellfish, prawn, mussels and all fresh products of the Adriatic sea). Be sure to try the restaurant special, plump lagoon prawns with polenta (thick corn mush).
Midnight Tiramisu: For a decadent bedtime treat, try a slice of creamy tiramisu. You can pack a slice of this Italian dessert to takeaway during dinner itself. Layered with soft mascaporne and kahlua-soaked sponge fingers, this is makes for a sweet ending to end your first day in Venice.
With fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and an unbelievable variety of Italian produce, Rialto in the morning is a must-see. The area around Rialto bridge comes alive at 8am everyday, as boats unload the day’s market stocks, so be sure to get there early to catch the action. Visitors are often offered a free taste of plump juicy tomatoes, sweet Seville oranges, berries, homemade jams, steamed fish and more.
Lunch and Afternoon
Basilica San Marco:
This is the most famous of the city’s churches. The interior is based on a Greek cross, with each arm divided in three naves and emphasized by a dome of its own. The marble floor is entirely tessellated in geometric patterns and animal designs. The upper order of the interior is covered with bright mosaics containing gold, bronze, and the greatest variety of stones. On the whole, the decorated mosaic surface is about 8000 square metres. From the 11th century the building has been known by the nickname Chiesa d’Oro (Church of gold), due to its opulent design, gilded Byzantine mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power.
At nearby Piazza San Marco you will find plenty of Italian cafes. One of the best for authentic Italian pizza is Pizzeria al Vecio Canton. Take a break here and feast on delicious cheese-laden doughy pizzas. The finest flour is mixed with natural mineral water to form a dough that is left to rise for at least 24 hours. The result is a light-as-air, crunchy crust. Be sure to try the Bufalina, made up of three different types of mozzarella. Other popular toppings found here include ham, cured raw beef, gorgonzola cheese, anchovies, spicy Italian salami and rocket salad.
This palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice. The original artwork of the palace, some of which are masterpieces of 14th and 15th century Venetian sculpture, were placed in an area specifically set aside for this purpose: the Museo dell’Opera. After undergoing thorough and careful restoration works, they are now exhibited, on their original columns. These ‘display’ rooms of the museum are traversed by an ancient wall of great stone blocks, a remnant of an earlier version of the Palace. The rooms also contain fragments of statues and important architectural and decorative works in stone from the facades of the Palace.
Dinner and Evening
Italian Wine Time:
Sample a variety of new and vintage Italian wines and grappas at the renowned Harry’s Bar. Once frequented by Ernest Hemmingway in 1949, the bar introduces a different part of Italy to tourists. This is a relaxed informal space where locals come to socialise and chat. The bar menu features different kinds of cheese, meat and seafood snacks to go with your drink. If you prefer cocktails, be sure to try some that use Italian flavoured liqueurs as their base.
One can pick up their favourite flavour from nearby Alaska Gelateria. The shop has been consistenly voted as one of the city’s best gelato shops on tripadvisor. This is because all the gelato is made entirely by hand. The menu is ever-changing and includes house standards like ginger (zenzero) and more experimental flavors such as artichoke (carciofi) that you aren’t likely to find anywhere else.
The steps near Santa maria della salute (which marks the begining of the grand canal), are a great place to sit and watch the city at night. With the lights from the city brightening up the steps, and the water reflecting the dome behind, it is well worth stopping here to reflect on your last moments in Venice.
Let us know about your experiences
We would love to hear your thoughts about what Venice has to offer, and any experiences you would add to your perfect trip. All are welcome in the below comment box.