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The stunning fairy tale city of Venice is built on over 100 islands amongst canals and lagoons and connected by nearly 400 bridges. There are few places in the world that have such a romantic atmosphere as Venice and its stunning Baroque architecture, museums, galleries and piazzas are iconic symbols of the very best of Italy.
Situated in Northern Italy on the Adriatic Coast between the Rivers Piave and Po, Venice is home to just over 250,000 people, 55,000 of which live in the historic center. Venice is the capital of Veneto and holds a special place in the hearts of anyone who has ever visited it.
It’s easy to reach Venice, from overseas or within Italy, making it an ideal choice for a weekend city break. If you are planning to visit Venice for the weekend you should try to arrive on Friday evening so you have time to settle into your accommodation, take a stroll and have a leisurely dinner before your sightseeing begins the following day.
How Do You Get To Venice?
The easiest way to get to Venice is either by plane or train; however, you can also drive from within Italy. The city’s main international airport is the Marco Polo Airport which is one of the country’s busiest transport hubs, but you can also fly into the smaller Treviso Airport.
The Marco Polo Airport is just over 4 miles to the north of Venice and runs a shuttle bus service to the city center that departs every 15 minutes. The bus will stop at the Piazzale Roma and takes around 25 minutes to arrive. Bus tickets are very reasonable and cost under 10 Euros per person.
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The Treviso Airport is around 25 miles from Venice and is primarily used by low-cost airlines such as Wizz and Ryanair. Most visitors arrive in Marco Polo though since it serves the major airlines.
If you’re traveling to Venice by train you should get off at the Venezia Santa Lucia station which runs trains to other parts of Italy as well as several nearby European countries. Taking the train is the most convenient way to get to Venice if you’re traveling from Florence, Rome, Milan and other Italian cities.
Once you get to the city center you’ll need to catch a water taxi, ferry or walk to other parts of the lagoon to reach your accommodation.
The Best Place For A Weekend Stay In Venice.
Every district of Venice has its own special characteristics but the most convenient for a short weekend break is San Marco. This is the oldest part of the city and is home to many of Venice’s top attractions; including Saint Mark’s Square, the St Mark’s Basilica, the Museo Correr and the Palazzo Ducale.
You can also enjoy window shopping in the designer boutique stores and see two of the city’s most famous bridges, the Ponte di Rialto and the Ponte dell’Accademia. All this makes San Marco the perfect neighborhood for your weekend in the city.
One of the top hotels in San Marco is The Gritti Palace, a luxury hotel on Campo Santa Maria Del Giglio. The hotel overlooks the Grand Canal and has some of the most beautiful views of the lagoon in the city. The 15th Century Gritti Palace was transformed into a hotel in the mid 19th Century; and although it has all the modern conveniences it still maintains its classical Venetian décor and style. With a canal-side restaurant, a gym, spa and a range of beautiful suites to choose from, The Gritti Palace is one of the finest luxury establishments in the San Marco neighborhood and ideal for your stay in Venice.
Obviously the Gritti Palace is not for everybody. But don’t worry. There are hotels in this area that will fit any budget. For under $100/day, you can stay in places like Hotel Serenissima, Hotel San Gallo or Hotel Centauro.
Where Should You Eat In Venice?
Venice has an amazing reputation for its unique cuisine and so although you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a restaurant there are a couple that you just can’t afford to miss out on!
The Majer is one of the city’s favorite restaurants for both breakfast and a light lunch. Located on Fondamenta Sant’Eufemia, just 400 meters from the Ponte dell’Accademia, this is the perfect spot for your breakfasts and lunches in Venice.
On the breakfast menu, you’ll find coffee, brioches, pastries, cake slices, fruit juice or stuffed buns. All the pastries and bread are handmade by the restaurant so you can really taste the freshness in every bite.
Later on in the day, on the lunch menu, you can choose from pizza slices, Cicchetti made with cheese, cod and vegetables, a range of salads, sandwiches and seasonal soups. This all makes for the ingredients of a perfect light lunch in the middle of a day of sightseeing.
In the evening, one of the city’s top fine dining restaurants, the Ostaria La Busara is a typical Venetian restaurant that specializes in seafood and other regional classics. Located on the Salizada San Canzian it’s easy to get to the restaurant from the city’s historic center.
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The Ostaria La Busara’s famously creative chefs combine traditional techniques with a modern flair, with each dish looking like a highly refined work of art!
All the dishes use locally sourced ingredients and are as healthy as they are delicious. There is also a superb wine list that has been carefully put together to complement the seafood and other Venetian dishes that you’ll find on the restaurant’s seasonal menu.
What Should You See In Venice?
What you have to see in Venice will depend on the time you have. If you are there only for a weekend, you should visit the popular spots in the San Marco area. But if you have a few additional days, I highly recommend a tour of the islands that are near Venice including Lido, Torcello, Murano, Burano and Lazaretto Nuovo.
The Grand Canal.
The Grand Canal is one of Venice’s best-known waterways and although it can get quite busy during the tourist season no visit to the city would be complete with wandering along its banks.
However, if you want to avoid the crowds you can book yourself onto a private gondola tour with a guide and commentary. There’s nothing more romantic than gliding along the canals on this 1 hour tour as you pass by famous landmarks, including San Giorgio Island and Saint Mark’s Bell Tower.
Ideal for couples, families and solo travelers, this magical tour is the only way to experience the Grand Canal.
The Caffe Florian.
Located at the very heart of San Marco Square, the legendary Caffe Florian has been serving customers since 1720; in fact, it’s said to be the oldest cafe in all of Italy! The cafe has kept its traditional décor which gives it an enchanting air and the gourmet chocolates, gelato and specialty coffees are a must-try experience during your time in Venice.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
As one of the premier art collections in the world, The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice is one of the city’s top attractions. Containing collections of modern European and American artwork, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is located in the former Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, overlooking the Grand Canal.
The gallery houses art by many of the most esteemed artists of the 20th Century including Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Mondrian and Jackson Pollock. You can also explore the museum’s beautiful sculpture gardens during your visit to the gallery. To find out more about the Peggy Guggenheim Collection you can visit their official website.
Visit Murano, Burano And Torcello – Half Day Guided Tour.
This half day guided motor boat tour will take you to some of the most interesting islands in the Venetian Lagoon. You can also choose from a morning or afternoon departure time to better fit the trip into your weekend schedule.
During the tour you’ll see the marvelous Byzantine churches on Torcello, watch traditional glass blowers on Murano and have the opportunity to browse handmade lace on the island of Burano. The tour is a relaxing and enjoyable way to see parts of the Venetian Lagoon that most tourists don’t even know about!
All along the way, your guide will be giving you a commentary on the important sites you pass as well as interesting historical and cultural facts surrounding the islands.
Saint Mark’s Basilica – Historical Walking Tour.
To see the most famous historic sites in central Venice you can join a guided tour that will take you past the Rialto Bridge, the Rialto Fish Market, Marco Polo’s house and St Mark’s Square. The highlight of the tour is entering the beautiful St Mark’s Basilica before taking a short gondola ride back to the tour’s starting point.
The spectacular interiors of St Mark’s Basilica incorporate priceless gold mosaics that depict images of the prophets, Biblical scenes and Saints. Over the centuries these mosaics had to be repaired and were sometimes updated to reflect new artistic styles. This means that they include masterworks from the Medieval, Byzantine and Renaissance periods among the amazing displays.
This small group tour, with a maximum of 20 people, is the ideal way to get a taste of Venice’s best-known monuments and buildings while benefiting from the guide’s local and historical knowledge.
Alternatively, you can visit St Mark’s Basilica on your own; but the experience is probably going to be much richer if you join a tour because your guide will be able to point out the significant historical and cultural features for you along the way.
Discover The Authentic Culinary Traditions Of Venice.
One of the most unique cultural features of Venice is its culinary tradition. There are many quirks about Venetian cooking which you won’t find anywhere else in Italy. For instance, unlike most of the rest of the country, Venetians use more rice in their dishes than pasta. Similarly, due to its location on the lagoon, Venetians excel in a wide range of delicious seafood dishes.
A fun way to discover the culinary traditions for yourself is to join a 3 hour walking food tour of the city. During the food tour you’ll be able to visit several well-known bars, restaurants and a few secret food spots you’d never have found on your own!
During the tour you’ll have the opportunity to sample a variety of regional dishes; including seafood, gelato and lovely Venetian wines. Just make sure that you don’t have a huge breakfast before the tour or you might not be able to try everything on offer!
Experience The Enchanting Magic Of North Italy’s Best-Loved City.
Whether you are a solo traveler, a couple or a family, a weekend in Venice will be an experience that you’ll never forget. From the stunning galleries, museums and churches to the magical canals and lagoons, Venice is one of Italy’s must-visit destinations.
A weekend in the city is plenty of time to get a feel for the atmosphere and start to explore the winding streets and cultural heritage. Of course, if it’s your first trip to Venice you’ll soon be making arrangements for a return visit!