Venice is by far my favorite city that I have visited in Europe so far. How can you not love the cobblestone streets, colorful buildings and never ending canals. My husband and I spent 3 perfect days there so I thought I’d write up a little guide with our favorite things to do and places to eat!
1. Piazza San Marco
This is probably the most famous area in Venice next to the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. Here you’ll find St. Mark’s Basilica, the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It was built in the 11th century and is one of the most beautiful Cathedrals in the world, known for it’s opulence. Right next to the basilica you will see St. Mark’s Campanile, which is the Cathedral’s bell tower. You can climb to the top for beautiful panorama views of Venice. In 1609, Galileo used the tower for an observatory and to demonstrate his telescope.
2. Museum Pass
There are a few museums in the plaza that are worth seeing while you are there. I suggest buying the Venice Museum Pass that gives you access to 11 different museums- Doge’s Palace, Correr Museum, Archaeological Museum, Monumental Rooms of the Marciana Library, Ca ‘Rezzonico, Palazzo Mocenigo Museum, Casa di Carlo Goldoni, Ca’ Pesaro, Murano Glass Museum, Burano Lace Museum and the Museum of Natural History.
Right behind St. Mark’s Basilica is Doges’ Palace or Palazzo Ducale which is included in the museum pass. The Doge was the ruler of Venice and functioned essentially as a king. You don’t need to take a guided tour through this unless you really would like to know the details of the history. We simply walked through all of the grand assembly halls, apartments and down to the prisons where they kept traitors and criminals.
3. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
This museum isn’t included in the museum pass but was my favorite museum in the city! The extensive collection of modern art includes works from Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró, Max Ernst and more. The museum is actually housed in an 18th century palace where the Guggenheim heiress lived for 30 years. She began to share her private collection with the public seasonally in 1951 until she passed in 1979. In 1980 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation decided to open the collection year round!
4. Canals, so many canals
The best part about the floating city is all of the gorgeous canals. It is so fun to walk aimlessly throughout the city and marvel in the beauty and uniqueness of each canal. I could have done that every day and been happy.
5. Rialto Bridge & Grand Canal
The Rialto Bridge is quite possibly the most distinguishable landmark in Venice. It is situated right on the Grand Canal which is filled with gondola’s and surrounded by shops, restaurants and the Rialto Market! You can visit the open air market in the morning to see all of the chefs and restauranteurs buying their fresh fish for the day. The fruit and vegetable stands are so bright and colorful, especially the little red pepper bouquets that look like flowers. They also sell little spice packets for different styles of pasta that make the perfect gift for friends and family. If you’ve never been to Venice I think it’s worth it to take a gondola ride. It may seem cheesy or touristy but that is the mode of transportation that the Venetians used many years ago. The cost of the gondola ride is managed by the government so it’s 80 euros no matter where you go.
6. Murano & Burano
These are little islands take about 30 minutes to an hour to get to by water taxi. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to go to Burano while we were there but Murano was beautiful! Murano is famous for its hand blown glass art and there are a ton of stores that sell anything from wine stoppers to drinking glass sets to chess sets and gorgeous, intricate chandeliers. This is a great place to get souvenirs for friends and family as well. Both Murano and Burano have beautifully colored buildings that make for a great photo backdrop. Burano is farther away from Venice and famous for it’s lace. Next time I’m in Venice I will definitely be visiting!
7. T Fondaco dei Tedeschi
This is a high end retail mall built inside a beautifully restored old Venetian palace. Everything is duty free in here so if you’re considering buying and luxury items this is a great place to shop. If you’re not looking to shop you should still stop by because there is a great roof top with sprawling views of the entire city. We were there in the off season so we got up to the roof no problem but I have heard that you need to schedule your visit ahead of time if you’re there during the busy season.
My Favorite Restaurants in Venice
- Taverna Scalinetto – This was our absolute favorite restaurant in Venice. We went twice during our 3 day trip. The Melon and Prosciutto appetizer is a MUST as well as the gnocchi with salmon and zucchini. All of their pasta is delicious because it’s handmade fresh daily. The service was phenomenal and the wine list was extensive.
- Al Covo – This is a wonderful family owned fine dining restaurant. The minute you walk in, you are greeted with smiles and superb service. My husband loved their gnocchi dish and I had Nutella gelato for dessert that was to die for.
- All’ Arco – Cicchetti are small snacks or tapas like in Spain and All’ Arco is one of the best in the city. It’s located in a somewhat remote area off of the Rialto Market and the store is so small with a bar to stand at and only a few outside tables. This is a great place to stop for a snack in the middle of a long day of walking. Their menu is constantly changing but everything we had was delicious!
- Ristorante La Caravella – Michelin star restaurant alert! We went here on the night of my 30th birthday and everything was absolutely outstanding. We had the beef carpaccio appetizer with aged parmesan, the meat melts in your mouth while the parmesan has such a unique sharp taste that you don’t get from the parmesan in the states. My husband had the ravioli and I had the Sea Bass for our main dishes and they were both delicious. For dessert, I had the salted caramel mousse with candied pretzel crust and sweet bread….I could have eaten 300 of those. For a Michelin start restaurant, the prices are quite reasonable. We had an appetizer, 2 bottles of wine, 2 main dishes and 2 desserts for about 170 euros.
- Pasticceria Bonifacio – There are a million little pasticceria’s in Venice but we found this one near our Air BnB and it was delicious. It’s very small but perfect for a quick cup of coffee and a pastry or just grab one of there many delicious pastries and head out for your day!
- Acquastanca Osteria – This is a great little restaurant on Murano. We had some really delicious burata and prosciutto as an appetizer. They are known for their seafood pasta, we didn’t get it but it has tons of high praise in their reviews.
Venice was one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to and it was so special to be able to celebrate my 30th birthday there. It’s definitely a birthday I will cherish forever! xo