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On our road trip to Italy in September 2020, we hesitated to spend a few days in Venice because of its reputation for mass tourism.
At any time of year, you’re sure never to be alone in this city that is the stuff of dreams the world over. But with the health crisis raging at the time, the city was deserted by tourists.
In fact, it was the perfect time to spend a few days, even if some of the city’s most emblematic buildings and museums were closed to the public.
With its canals, bridges, gondolas and timeless architecture, Venice is an incredibly beautiful city that’s well worth spending a few days in!
For our part, we had two and a half days to visit the city and its surroundings. This was enough time to get a good overview of the different districts and the most iconic monuments.
We loved Venice, wandering its streets, getting lost, and opening our eyes wide at each new discovery!
Itinerary for a 2-day visit to Venice :
- How to get to Venice ? The city is served by two airports: Marco Polo and Venice-Treviso.
Venice-Treviso airport: you can reach the center of Venice by cab or bus (ACTV or Terravision companies), costing €22 return per person. The journey takes around 40 minutes.
Marco Polo airport: you can reach the center of Venice by cab, vaporetto or bus (ACTV or Terravision companies). The return fare per person is lower than at Venice-Treviso airport, because it’s closer.
The bus will drop you off in Piazzale Roma, just over the wide bridge linking Venice to the mainland, and a stone’s throw from the railway station.
- Getting around Venice? There are no cars in Venice. To get around the island and neighboring islands, you’ll have to walk, take the vaporetto, or even take a gondola if you have the means.
Vaporettos are the only form of public transport in Venice. A single trip on the vaporetto costs €7.50 and takes 75 minutes. If you plan to make several trips in a single day, we advise you to buy a Venezia Unica City Card, which allows you to take the vaporetto unlimitedly for a period of 1, 2, 3 or 7 days at an attractive price.
Taking a gondola ride to visit Venice is extremely expensive. Fares are regulated by the city, and a 40-minute ride costs €80, rising to €100 after 7pm.
1 | Marvel at the monuments of the San Marco district
1.1 | Place Saint-Marc
Piazza San Marco is a must-see. This mythical square is home to some of Venice’s most famous monuments: St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile di San Marco and the Doge’s Palace.
The photo of St. Mark’s Square below is pretty symbolic of the city as we visited it: big blue skies and, above all, very few tourists! It was around 4 p.m. when we took this photo, and if you’ve ever been to Venice, you’ll know that it’s clearly unusual to see St. Mark’s Square so empty… Suffice to say, we made the most of it!
Take a good look around you, there are wonders everywhere, including the clock tower illustrated with the 12 signs of the zodiac.
1.2 | Saint Mark’s Basilica
This impressive and particularly colorful basilica is easily recognized by its facade bearing a golden lion with wings, the symbol of Venice.
1.3 | Doge’s Palace
Its white stonework makes it easily recognizable. The architecture is once again magnificent, with its many sculpted arches.
1.4 | Soupirs bridge
It’s a must-see when visiting Venice. Known the world over, it fascinates with its history and architecture.
While some people mistakenly associate the Bridge of Sighs with a romantic image, the reality is quite different. It was built to link the Doge’s Palace to Venice’s New Prison. It was through this passage that prisoners made their way from the courthouse to the torture chambers and dungeons. Its name therefore refers to the sighs that condemned prisoners would utter as they crossed the bridge.
2 | Enjoy the peace and quiet of the Castello district
As you wander through the narrow streets of Castello, you’ll notice a real contrast with the hustle and bustle of the city’s most touristy areas. It’s well worth the detour. The streets of Venice are like a labyrinth, and the most beautiful places are sometimes to be found where you least expect them. So we have just one piece of advice: don’t hesitate to get lost!
Today, it’s the city’s largest district, and one of its highlights is the Venetian Arsenal.
3 | Discover the Acqua Alta bookshop: a real surprise
The originality of this bookshop lies in its totally atypical décor! Between the mazes formed by the stacks of books and a cat that seems to have taken up residence in the bookshop (yes, a real cat!), you’ll also find a gondola serving as a large book bin.
In the bookshop’s private courtyard, an impressive pile of books forms a staircase where you can sit or climb to admire the view of the quays! An atypical place!
4 | Admire the immense Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo
5 | Climb the Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is one of the symbols of Venice and a must-see when visiting the city of the Doges. It is the oldest bridge and certainly one of the best known in Venice, as it is one of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal on foot.
6 | Stroll through the magnificent Dorsoduro district
6.1 | Academy Bridge
From the Accademia Bridge, we discover a magical view of Venice. Situated at the mouth of the Grand Canal, it links the San Marco and Dorsoduro districts, and offers a superb perspective of the incredible Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. Whether during the day or at sunset, this is for us the most beautiful spot in Venice.
6.2 | In the streets of Dorsoduro
6.3 | La basilique Santa Maria della Salute
This singular church is located at the southern end of the Grand Canal. You can recognize it because it stands on a very narrow stretch of land between the Grand Canal and the Bacino si San Marco. It’s one of the most impressive buildings to visit in Venice.
7 | Visit the Grand Canal by vaporetto
The Grand Canal, as its name suggests, is the largest canal in Venice. Almost 4 km long, it crosses the whole of Venice in an inverted “S”, dividing the city into two distinct banks. It is the main artery of Venice and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful avenues in the world.
To round off our visit to Venice, we took the vaporetto to discover the Grand Canal from the ferry terminals near the Santa Lucia station, in the direction of the Doge’s Palace and back. If you have to choose between an outward or return trip, we recommend you take the water route from the Doge’s Palace to the Santa Lucia station.
The Grand Canal is a treasure trove of architecture: palaces, churches, grand Venetian houses… In fact, the banks of the Grand Canal are home to some absolutely magnificent buildings, some of which can only be seen from the water.
8 | Burano: an island of 1001 colors
My article on Burano (and Murano): link
During our stay, we decided to visit Burano, the Venetian rainbow. It’s a small island in the northern part of the lagoon. To get there, take vaporetto line no. 12 from the Fondamente Nove pier in the Cannaregio district. It serves the islands of Murano, Mazzorbo and Burano. The journey takes 40 minutes. You’ll arrive in a small village with beautiful canals and, above all, colorful houses. It’s clearly one of our favorites. Don’t forget to make a detour to Burano if you come to Venice!
Where to stay in Venice?
We stayed in the Castello district. Our apartment was (very) large, charming, well equipped and above all well placed for exploring Venice. It was the first time we’d had so many messages sent by our host to advise us on transport, check-in/out, visits, restaurants/coffee shops… You can feel the organization and professionalism! Super service! Booking link: Michelle in Venice.
Thanks for reading!
My most beautiful photos are on Instagram
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