As we flew above the sea, descending into a new world, I couldn’t tear myself away from the plastic oval window that I was sat beside. I looked down at the tiny islands surrounded by water and tried to distinguish which one was which. Was I looking at the famous glass island or the one with the coloured houses? I had heard many great tales of this little spot in Italy. Stories of magnificent beauty, magic and untold amounts of gondolas guided by men singing ‘just one Cornetto’. I couldn’t wait to explore.
You see, Venice had been on the ‘list’ for a while and as a huge fan of everything Italian, I knew I needed to go. That’s why I was super thrilled when our lovely friends Kim and Simon (or Kimon as I like to call them), suggested a trip, I had my passport in my hand before you could say ‘gelato’.
We had chosen to travel in the summer, which was something that I had been warned against. Told that it was smelly and crowded. I had heard about such an odour from so many people that I genuinely wasn’t sure whether or not I needed to pack a peg for my nose. I was absolutely delighted when upon our arrival I discovered that it really isn’t that smelly and no more crowded than London, so I tossed my carefree nose in the air and began to enjoy the beauty that is Venice.
The sun was shining and the water glistened as it danced underneath, surrounding us on our little island. There were no roads, no traffic lights, just bridge upon bridge over little canals weaving through the land. Boats were an accessory to the water, like a new pair of boots on a rainy day. Enjoyable, yet completely convenient. I have always had a charming love affair with both the sea and travelling by boat. I love how free I feel bobbing along, taking in my surroundings. Needless to say, I fell completely in love with Venice. The people, the food, the beautiful architecture, the boat rides, the beach and mostly, the fact that in all of the places that we have visited, the sights we have seen, Venice is remarkably unique.
We had such a tremendous time exploring what Venice has to offer. I find that when I am visiting somewhere new, I need to experience it. Fully. I need to walk the streets the locals walk, I need to see all of the famous landmarks. I need to eat the local cuisine. I need to absorb so much that I can barely move.
In case you haven’t guessed, I loved our time in Venice and I now present to you twelve things you must do in Venice.
1. Take in the architecture.
Have a meander around the cobbled streets that are swallowed by buildings, creating tiny walkways, but don’t forget to look up for there are so many gorgeous buildings oozing Italian history. Forget your Millenium Dome, these buildings have been here for centuries and they are pretty gorgeous!
2. Visit Murano – the glass island.
Murano is a great little island to explore, especially if you want to get away from the rush on the main island. It’s a little quieter, but just as beautiful with gorgeous buildings and cute little glass shops.
3. Go on a Gondola ride.
Whilst they are a little on the pricey side (80 € per boat for around half an hour), I simply couldn’t imagine having visited Venice without going on a gondola. The idea just feels criminal. You can find slightly cheaper rides just off of the main canal, and to be honest the best part of our ride was meandering down the narrow paths, away from the big boats on the main canal, so if you are looking to save a bit of cash it’s a good way to go. We all loved our ride on the gondola. Just don’t expect them to be singing ‘just one Cornetto’. I was terribly disappointed.
4. Stuff your face with the most scrumptious authentic Italian cuisine.
Eat, eat and then eat some more. There are so many cute little restaurants lining the streets of Venice, each one offering wonderful traditional dishes. I am a big fan of Italian food and loved shovelling pasta in my face. They are all pretty reasonably priced too, and there are a few pizzerias where you can grab a slice of pizza for a Euro or two.
5. Visit a glass making factory on Murano.
There are a few factories on the island of Murano and many of them offer free tours where you can watch the glass being made. Definitely worth a nosey!
6. Visit the Lido island.
The Lido island feels a bit more familiar with its roads and larger shops. It’s still very beautiful and worth a stroll around.
7. Have a day at the beach.
The beach on the Lido island is so lovely with golden sand and warm waters. There are also little restaurants nearby and beach shops, so it’s so easy to spend the whole day there. They also have volleyball and boat hire facilities if you are feeling fun!
8. Hire a bicycle
Why not explore the islands by bicycle? There are a few places dotted around, especially on the Lido island. With virtually no cars, cycling is a great way to get around.
9. Head over to Burano
Burano is a stunning island riddled with brightly coloured houses. It’s so unique and there are lots of restaurants and shops around to spend a few hours.
10. Eat copious amounts of gelato.
When in Italy it is of paramount importance that the consumption of gelato takes place on multiple occasions throughout the day. There are so, so many different flavours to try and each gelataria has their own speciality flavour. Try them all!
11. Grab a Venetian mask
Venice is reknowned for its unique masks and there are so many shops on the main island selling traditional Venetian masks. We loved looking at all of the crazy designs and seeing how they are made.
12. Watch the story of Venice
Something that I wish we had done was watch the story of Venice performed on stage. There is a show that runs most nights on the main island, but unfortunately I only heard about it on our last day, so we were unable to go. It’s performed in English and sounds really good, so give it a go if you can!
So there you have it, my guide of things to do in Venice.
Have you visited Venice before?