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Whatever floats your gondola!

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Venice is a city full of romance, culture and some of the most incredible basilicas in the world. The city is completely unique with over 150 canals, making the area technically a series of tiny islands, only connected by the hundreds of bridges and walkways.

To be completely honest, Venice wasn’t our favourite city in Italy (sorry! Rome will always be our number one). However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some absolutely incredible sights to see. We visited in March when the weather was cold, wet and even hailing at times, which we think probably dampens the enchanting atmosphere that everybody says makes Venice so special. Keep reading to find out about the gems that make this city so unique…

A rooftop view of the grand canal in Venice, Italy
Venice in the sun! (The ten minutes of sun that we saw on our visit)

Beautiful basilicas - Like the majority of Italian cities, Venice’s basilicas are not to be missed. Yes, you should certainly go and visit the gorgeous St. Mark’s in the very centre of the city. But there are so many more cathedrals dotted about the city, which are generally free to enter and completely worth the visit. Try and go in a few when you pass by, rather than only stopping at the main attraction.

Our personal favourite was San Salvador. This was one of the only places we really picked up on that enchanting atmosphere that everybody says Venice has. Both the interior and exterior are beautifully designed and ornate. This basilica is much quieter than St. Mark’s, meaning you get some peace to soak in the atmosphere and really enjoy the space.

Beyond the canals… - What we did realise about Venice on our trip is there is so much more to this city than just canals and views, although this seems to be the main tourist attraction. The culture of this city is hugely focussed around their Carnival, held annually in February and famous internationally for their eye-catching costumes and masks. In shop windows throughout the city, you can see elaborate, often handmade dresses and masks, which should definitely be on your list of sights to see.

Another must-see is the famous book shop - Librairie Acqua Alta. Not only is the shop stunning, with highly stacked shelves that a bookworm could only dream of, but they have a gondola filled with books in the centre. To top this off, there is a full staircase (which you can walk on, carefully) made entirely of books outside! It’s a completely unique sight and definitely worth a visit if you have the time.

However, if it’s being by the canals that you want to experience in this city, we don’t blame you in the slightest. Make sure you don’t miss the famous Rialto bridge, and head to the grand canal for a serene walk by the water. The only off-putting element is the slightly damp smell that lingers all around the city… it's not enough to ruin a dream trip, but it is most definitely there.

It’s not a post about Italy if we don’t mention the food and drink scene! Although this time, surprisingly, we’re not talking about pizza and pasta…

A select spritz pictured in front of a canal in Venice, Italy
A large Select Spritz from Bacareto Da Lele

Cicchetti and cocktails - Often referred to as the tapas of Venice, we didn’t have a clue what cicchetti was until we arrived in this city. Cicchetti are small snacks, designed to be finger food and to go perfectly with a drink such as prosecco or a spritz in a traditional Italian bar.

Normally, they’re small slices of bread with a topping, and most bars that sell them have a wide range. Often, the toppings are seafood, but sometimes you can get vegetarian options, or variations with cheese or cold meats.

Cicchetti aren’t the only Venetian speciality you need to try on your visit, we also highly recommend a Select Spritz. This is pretty much identical to the extremely popular Aperol Spritz, but the Aperol is switched to Venice’s local equivalent - Select Apertivo. It’s slightly stronger in alcohol content than Aperol, and slightly less sweet but more flavourful, we think it’s definitely worth a try.

Looking for a bar to get your hands on cicchetti and cocktails? Give Bacareto Da Lele a try. Situated near to the Santa Croce church, it’s allegedly the cheapest bar in Venice. If you’re looking for luxury, this is nothing upmarket, but you get so much for your money and really get to soak in a wonderful atmosphere. Locals, tourists and students all gather here for an affordable spritz and a snack - they have some of the best cicchetti around and they’re normally only between one and two euros each! The spritzes are also by far the cheapest we found in Venice, and you definitely aren’t compromising on quality or strength!

We may have had a mostly rainy visit to this city, but we can’t deny that Venice is a must-see destination. So go and explore the floating city, and enjoy a select spritz (or four)! Just don’t have too many and end up falling into a canal…

Additional information:

Getting there: Venice is easily accessible by air, with direct flights from many major cities around the world. It's also easy to get to by train or coach from major cities in Italy and surrounding countries.

Visas: Citizens of most countries do not need a visa to visit Italy for a stay of up to 90 days.

Currency: The currency of Italy is the Euro.

Language: The official language of Italy is Italian, but English is widely spoken.

Time zone: Venice is in the Central European Time Zone, usually an hour ahead of the UK.

Ready to go?

- Search for a hotel in Venice on Expedia here

- Find tours, experiences and things to do in Venice on GetYourGuide here



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