Lucy and her husband went to Venice in June, here are the top 9 things they recommend:
- Taking in St Mark’s square with a post-dinner drink
It is very expensive in the square, so we would only recommend one tipple to finish off your evening with a touch of class. The square is all lit up and the ambiance from the orchestra makes it magical.
- Views of the Grand Canal
No matter where you cross this iconic canal, the views are always spectacular. Whilst the Rialto bridge is obviously a must see, we found it to be much less crowded on the Ponte dell’Accademia, with just as nice a view.
- Wander the backstreets with no destination or purpose
The beauty in Venice lies not only in its popular tourist hot spots (Campanille, Doge’s Palace), but in the architecture of the city itself. Wandering through the backstreets, finding hidden passage ways and tiny bridges kept us busy for hours – and is also the best way to find popular local eateries and bars.
- Eat local
We used the Lonely Planet guide (I rarely travel without one) to help locate osterias and ristorantes that the locals love. It not only gives you a better feel for a city, but we also found them to be much cheaper. Venice is great for its own version of tapas – cichetti, which we fell in love with and ate for nearly every meal. Our main eating rule: NEVER eat somewhere with a picture board of the food – these are tourist traps with huge prices attached.
Recommendations for Venice:
Posso Pomo Doro (Calle Larga San Marco) – great modern take on rustic Italian food, fantastic desserts.
Pasticceria Dal Mas (Rio Terà Lista di Spagna) – bakery for great cannoli and other sweet treats, we also had some beautiful macarons here:
Barco Risotto (Campo San Provolo): We asked behind the bar what all the cichetti were and then also for a wine pairing. The staff were so helpful and the food and wine were delicious!
Osteria ai Osti (Corte dei Pali già Testori) – This place was a random find, tucked away down a back street. We were aiming for Cà D’Oro alla Vedova but after being stood in the door and ignored by staff walking past us for 5 minutes we decided to take out business elsewhere – and we were glad we did. It was VERY rustic – we did not understand most of the menu and ordered blindly (no signal to use google translate!). However, the service was fantastic, the food delicious and the prosecco 2.50 Euros a glass – perfecto! We were also too busy enjoying ourselves to take any photos, sorry! There are some good ones on the google maps page though.
Osteria Dei Sapori (Fondamenta Trapolin) – perfect for a spot of people watching and cichetti:
Al Ponte Storto Osteria con cuchina (Ponte Storto, San Polo) – This place was fantastic, super fresh ingredients, great staff and a very nice quiet corner to get away from the crowds.
- Try the gelato
You might think this needs to come under the food tip, wrong. Gelato is a way of life in Venice (and Italy – see our Tuscany blog), and we made it our purpose to visit as many different gelaterias as possible. All except one were recommended by our Lonely Planet guide, and were all fantastic.
Recommendations for Gelato:
Gelato Fantasy (Calle dei Fabbri) – because I am a real hunter of KitKat ice cream we sought out this place, and I was not disappointed.
Suso (Calle della Bissa) – amazing flavours, and always so crowded. Definitely try the pistachio, it comes with a nut butter top layer (pictured below) and it is phenomenal.
Alaska Gelateria (Calle Larga dei Bari) – great flavours but they were a bit melty and there were no waffle cones.
Magnum Pleasure Store (Fondamenta S. Simeone Piccolo) – We are kind of ashamed to say we visited this place, because it isn’t Italian in the slightest. However, it is delicious so: sorry – not sorry.
- Visit local attractions
Whilst on this trip, we kept it to strictly food, drink and wanderings; on previous trips however, I have visited the main tourist lures.
If you are low on funds then choose one, I would recommend the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), where you can walk through various rooms of the palace and also visit the bridge of sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri).
The Guggenheim is a great way to see a grand collection of art.
St Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) is also a beautiful building to visit, but arrive early as the queue can stretch as long as the square later on in the day. There are a whole host of museums and churches well worth a visit.
- Visit Rialto
We took a walking tour out of our Lonely Planet guide called “Venice Gourmet Crawl”, where we visited the Rialto market and Pescaria – where all local produce is bought by chefs and café owners for the day’s menu.
We went to Caffe del Doge a fantastic coffee shop and perfect for breakfast.
Wandered the streets, finding a great viewing point of the Grand Canal by the Museo di Storia Naturale di Venezia.
Finishing by Alaska Gelateria (see tip 5), which, despite flavours being good here, the gelato was quite wet and melted very quickly. Still worth a visit though.
The Rialto bridge is also spectacular at night.
- Visit the islands
This time we went to Murano – home of glass making in Venice.
It is a quaint little island with a lot of shops selling glass items, and a few factories where you can actually see the glass blowers at work.
The museum here (Museo del Vetro) is also a good place to visit to learn about the processes and see the current artist installation – which is pretty much mind blowing (pun intended).
You can easily buy tickets and hop aboard the waterbus to any of the islands, which works like a metro in any city with the stops along the way signposted and arrival times marked clearly.
We had lunch at Osteria al Duomo which was fantastic! We sat out in the walled garden behind the restaurant, which was beautiful and highly recommended.
The region produces Prosecco, so it would be rude not to sample a couple of local glasses. We particularly recommend a visit to Al Prosecco for a glass of the old style ‘natural process’ wines, where you can get a glass of unfiltered (cloudy) prosecco. It definitely has a yeasty flavour to it, but worth a try, great on a hot afternoon. One of the things you’ll also see people sipping around the city is a glass of Aperol Spritz, which was invented by Austrian immigrants that lived in Venice. Whilst prosecco suits me just fine, I can get why it is such a popular drink – it can be quite refreshing on a hot afternoon. There are also a couple of local breweries on the island worth visiting.
Al Prosecco (Sestiere Santa Croce) – set in a beautiful square, it is perfect for people watching and was full of locals (so you know it’s good).
Bar 1 Ciak (Campiello San Tomà) – another great spot in a shaded square, plenty of people milling through perfect for sitting back and taking in your surroundings and planning your next move.