Venice is one of the most unique places I have ever been. From the beautiful waterways separating all the streets, to taking a bridge to get to the door of our Airbnb, wandering and getting lost through back streets, to capping off evenings with the cutest Gondola rides and accompanied gondolier singing. It is an experience unlike anything else...a place that feels like you could truly be in a Disney movie. If you are planning a trip to Italy, I highly recommend putting this stop on the list and checking out some of the top things to do in Venice, Italy.
WHAT TO DO:
St Mark's Basilica - Cathedrals are always one of my favorite things to see when visiting new places. If you are in Venice you cannot miss the opportunity to visit this beautiful church. It is free to enter, but there is usually very long lines, so make sure you purchase the tickets online for 2 Euros to skip the wait! It takes about 10 minutes to walk through, photos are not allowed and fun fact, knees and shoulders must be covered. =)
Campanile di San Marco - Noted as one of the most recognizable symbols in the city, this is the bell tower of St Mark's Basilica. Take the elevator up for 8 Euros to see some amazing views overlooking all of Venice.
Doge's Palace - A Venetian Gothic style palace, with the most impressive architecture. My favorite part of the palace was the prison. It was crazy to see the conditions the prisoners used to live in. Make sure you cross over the Bridge of Sighs (connecting the new prison to the old prison) and take pictures looking through the lattice work grates. This landmark shouldn't have a wait and you can buy tickets before you go in.
Gondola Ride - #1 rule, you cannot go to Venice without taking a gondola ride, cliche and all! I would recommend going further away from the main square and hopping on a gondola on one of the back streets. We went during sunset and it was absolutely beautiful, while being a lot more quiet and romantic. It is 80 Euros, which is pricey in Europe, but a once in a lifetime experience. You can also split the ride cost if you don’t mind joining along with other people.
Grand Canal boat ride - Venice seems very small but there is still a lot to see. Since we didn’t have a lot of time to explore, on our last day we took a boat ride through the grand canal to get to the airport. We started at St Mark's Square and got on a Vaporetto (aka waterbus) that took us all the way to Piazzale Roma. This is such a great way to see more of Venice and really experience the Grand Canal. You also get the best view for photos of the Rialto Bridge. You can take the No. 1 vaporetto (ACTV )Linea 1 from Piazzale Roma to Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) or the other way around.
Murano & Burano - We didn’t get to head over to the islands of Murano & Burano as it was downpouring the day we were going to go, but if you are in Venice it is definitely something you should have at the top of your list.
WHAT TO EAT:
Trattoria Al Gazzettino (GF) - This is a small quaint restaurant with great service. While we waited outside to be seated they passed out glasses of wine to taste and a small sample of a pasta dish. I got the gluten free spaghetti, Tagliolini aglio olio e peperoncino o all’Arrabbiata (Olive oil, garlic and pepper flakes), which was delicious! At the end of the night they send you off with a bag of their pasta. YUM!
Dal Moros Fresh Pasta To Go - this little spot is great for a quick bite to eat. The pasta is insanely fresh and tastes amazing.
Suso Gelatoteca (GF)- This was the first time I have ever tried gelato (gasp, I know!) and to say it was delicious is an understatement! Bonus - they also offer gluten free cones and dairy free/vegan ice cream.
Mea Libera Tutti (GF) - This is a health food store that I fell in love with due to their offering of a TON of gluten free products. I stocked up on a bunch of snacks and bread for lunches on the go. The owners were so friendly and very helpful on giving any advice for eating gluten free around the city. The directions took us close to the store, but it was a little difficult to find and very easy to pass as it is a tiny store away from the main areas, so keep an eye out.
*GF = Gluten Free