Exploring Venice: The Best Ways to Experience the City

This was my fourth visit to Venice, Italy, and each time, I am mesmerised and enchanted like a six-year-old. This city never stops to amaze me, even under the grey sky and the drizzling rain. The weather forecast didn’t look good, but I couldn’t have asked for better weather than on my first day. The sky was of beautiful azure colour, and the cloud created an enchanting decor that made it look like you were in a movie scene, with an absolutely stunning sky. 

Of course, I was not on my own! The city captivates millions of visitors every year. Navigating this floating masterpiece can be an adventure, as the absence of cars and roads gives way to an intricate network of narrow streets, bridges, and waterways. In this blog post, we will explore the best ways to see Venice: through leisurely and unplanned walks, hoping on the iconic Vaporetto water buses, or ascending the city’s bridges and stairs for panoramic views. Let’s dive into Venice’s magic and uncover this mesmerising city’s secrets.

1.Embrace the Magic of aimless wandering 

Let yourself be surprised by the city. Even if you follow an itinerary, be surprised and make detours if you spot exciting alleyways, squares or bridges. Be on the lookout to be surprised at every corner, through alleys, crossing bridges and squares, and you will stumble upon hidden viewpoints. As you wander, be prepared for surprises, such as charming boutiques, quaint caffès, or even washing lines hanging across two buildings.

Most of the time, you don’t need a map; you can easily follow the guided path (look for the indications on the wall) to San Marco, the Rialto or the train station. I love that Venice has no cars; you don’t have to look around before crossing a street. It makes you feel so free and liberated. Remember to explore the quieter neighbourhoods away from the bustling tourist hotspots to witness authentic local life like at the Venice Arsenal.

2.Glide Along the Water on a Vaporetto 

To truly understand the essence of Venice, a ride on the Vaporetto, the city’s water buses, is a must. These iconic vessels navigate the grand canal, offering unparalleled views of the city’s landmarks. Hop aboard and enjoy the gentle sway as you float past the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, and St. Mark’s Square. The Vaporetto is a practical means of transportation and an opportunity to appreciate the Venetian lifestyle from a different perspective. Consider purchasing a day pass to make unlimited journeys, allowing you to explore various islands in the Venetian Lagoon, such as Murano, Burano, and Torcello. Take the vaporetto line 1 to take the grand tour of the Gand Canal.

3.Ascend Bridges and Stairs for Panoramic Views

Venice’s iconic bridges and stairs connect the city’s neighbourhoods and provide stunning panoramic views. The most famous of these is the Rialto Bridge, which spans the Grand Canal and offers breathtaking vistas of the waterway and its bustling gondolas. Immerse yourself in Venetian life by strolling along the bustling stalls of the Rialto Market on the iconic Rialto Bridge. Here, you can experience the sights, smells, and flavours of this vibrant market, where the freshest fruits, vegetables, and fish are sold daily. A visit to the Rialto Market is the perfect way to feel like a true local!

Another bridge with a gorgeous viewpoint over the Grand Canal is Ponte del’Academia next to the museum Galleria dell’academia, which features Venetian Artwork from the 13th through the 18th century with paintings from Titian and Canaletto.

4.The hidden roof Tops

Make a booking to go up the rooftop terrace of the Fondazione Dei Tedeschi; for a view over the Grand Canal, it is free to go up, but you need to make a booking via the link 

The San Marco Campanile, the bell tower, is open every day. Ascending the iconic St. Mark’s Campanile is a must for anyone seeking a spectacular view of Venice. This towering bell tower is located in St. Mark’s Square and offers an elevator ride to its panoramic terrace. From there, you’ll be treated to a 360-degree view encompassing the city’s maze of canals, red-tiled rooftops, and iconic landmarks. Marvel at the beauty of St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and the bustling Grand Canal as they unfold beneath you. Whether you visit during the day or at sunset, the view from St. Mark’s Campanile is an awe-inspiring experience.

5. Discover Venice Beach, Venezia Lido

I’m a big fan of film festivals, still have it on my wish list to attend one of these as a photographer. Can you hear my wish, universe? I never realised that the Mostra was taking place on Venezia Lido, a small strip of land island with a beach. It takes about 20 minutes on a Vaporetto to reach the island. It was a surprise that cars and vehicles were allowed there, but this place has developed in the last 50 years, most buildings are modern architecture, except for a few mansions and luxury hotels. A great way to uncover the island is to rent a bike. I chose to walk my way along the beaches and came across the film festival building next to the Excelsior Hotel, where I could picture all the stars walking the corridors of the hotel during the Mostra. The window designs of the building backing on the beach will be quite familiar as they often appear in photos during the festival. To my surprise, the beaches are quite large. The not-so-nice surprise was that most beaches are private, and you must walk a long way to find the free beach. As this was this early in the season, I could still walk through one of the private beaches, but some would refuse to let me through. The private ones have an array of beach huts all along, which created an attractive graphic design for a photographer. If you can picture yourself sipping your Aperol spritz on a beach, hop on a Vaporetto to Venezia Lido. There are a few bars where you sit on the beach and do nothing all day but look at the horizon. Sounds like a treat?

Exploring Venice is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and no matter where you venture in the city, you’ll find something new and delightful around every corner. From the Grand Canal to the Rialto Bridge to St. Mark’s Square, Venice has something for everyone. Take a gondola ride, visit one of the famous carnivals, or take a guided tour of the city. With so much to do and see, Venice is sure to provide you with a unique and unforgettable experience. So, gather your courage and take the plunge. Explore Venice and discover the wonders that await you!

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Italy will never be a normal country. Because Italy is Italy. If we were a normal country, we wouldn’t have Rome. We wouldn’t have Florence. We wouldn’t have the marvel that is Venice.
— Matteo Renzi

What does Venice evoke in you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! Immerse yourself in the romantic canals and captivating culture of Venice and let me know what feelings it brings out in you.

Where to drink a cappucino?

Remember, Italian don’t drink cappuccino after 11am. After that, it’s only coffee, expresso rather. There are several places to go to have a cappucino. You will notice that the locals often drink it standing at the bar, have a brioche (croissant why they don’t call it croissant I don’t get?) with marmalata (jam). Breakfast here is like in France, where you eat pastries rather than having your sunny side up or a fryer. The further away from Piazza San Marco, the cheaper the coffee. 

  • Pasticerria del Mas near Santa Lucia Train Station

  • Farini, there are several locations across town. You can also have a bite of pizza.

  • Pasticceria Ballarin Calle San Crisostomo close to Rialto Bridge (only standing)

  • Pasticceria Bar Martini Di Palombella  Cannaregio Lorenzo Strada Nova (take away or standing at the bar).

  • Caffè del Dodge close to Rialto bridge. A traditional and cosy Italian bar to experience Venice like a local.

Where to go for dinner 

It’s best to avoid the vicinity of San Marco’s Square. Venice is an expensive city; depending on where you eat, the prices can be similar to London. 

  • Osteria Ai Pugni – Fondamenta Gherardini, 2836, – Dorsoduro area

  • A bar restaurant with a friendly atmosphere with tapas-style dining

  • Osteria al Veggio Bragos on Strada Nuova -Cannaregio area A traditional trattoria great place for fish and seafood.

  • Osteria La Zucca, Sestiere Santa Croce 1762, the restaurant is relatively small, so booking a table is advisable. A warm welcome and creative cooking on the menu with various vegetables and more.

  • Trattoria al gatto nero – Burano – Via Giudecca, 88, Venezia VE, Italy. Lagoon seafood and homemade pasta are served in a gorgeous setting.

  • Trattoria Casa Mia, – Cannaregio, Calle de L’oca, 4430, Venezia VE, Italy.  Home-style cooking and traditional pizze in a rustic setting.

Where to go for a drink or afternoon tea

  • Caffè Florian Piazza San Marco is one of the world’s oldest caffè in Baroque splendour. You are paying for the view, the traditional servers in white jackets. Nothing is exceptional except the experience and sitting on San Marco’s square sipping hot chocolate with whipped cream or a Spritz. One of the most overpriced places in Venice, but the experience is worth it.

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