A Weekend Guide to Venice

If you think that Venice is the kind of destination you can only visit on a romantic break or your honeymoon, you’ve got it all wrong.

Sure, it’s the sort of place where you can stroll hand-in-hand, float along in a gondola or share a bowl of pasta, Lady and the Tramp style. But Venice is also the perfect city to explore for a weekend with your friends or even on your own.

A Weekend Guide to Venice

It’s easy to reach, and no matter where you are in the city you’ll be surrounded by jaw-dropping beauty.

So when you do make it to this watery Italian city, follow this guide to Venice for a weekend you’ll never forget.

What to do in Venice during a short break

Eat – You’re in Italy, so it’s hard to find a bad meal while you’re here. Pasta is a must, of course, but cicheti, which are small, tapas-like plates, are the must-eat item when you’re in Venice.

You’ll find them in bacari, which are small wine-bars dotted around the city – order a glass of wine and enjoy bite-sized specialties you won’t forget!

Gondola Ride – It may seem like a cliche, but you really can’t visit Venice without enjoying a traditional gondola ride. It’ll set you back €80 for 40 minutes, which is the price set by the city – but the memories are truly priceless!

A Weekend Guide to Venice

St. Mark’s Square – A truly stunning square that’s rich in history and loaded with selfie-stick-carrying tourists. Go early to get the best photos.

A Weekend Guide to Venice

Rialto Bridge – Not only is this one of the most gorgeous bridges in the world, it’s also a bustling marketplace where you can buy souvenirs, jewellery and artwork to take home with you.

A Weekend Guide to Venice

Venice off the beaten track

Use a Local Guide – If you really want to see Venice off the beaten track, get a local to show you around. The city is a veritable maze of canals and alleyways, so leaving your tour in the hands of a local is the best way to understand the destination properly.

Whether it’s art, food or even theatre you want to explore, Venice Tours will make sure you have an unconventional insight into their city. Venice is a very busy city so once you’ve seen the main sights it’s great to get off the beaten track and see a different side to the city that only a local would know about. This is especially great if you’re short on time – I think of it like fast-tracking your way around the city!

A Weekend Guide to Venice

Traghetto – Don’t want to pay €80 for a gondola ride? How does €2 sound?

The locals’ gondola, also known as a traghetto, is a quick boat ride that’ll take you across the Grand Canal where there’s no bridge in sight. It’s only a two-minute journey, but you still get to sit in an ornate gondola, guided by a gondolier in a stripey shirt…so it totally counts.

A Weekend Guide to Venice

Libreria Acqua Alta – If you like books, you will adore Libreria Acqua Alta. It’s a bookshop, but it’s almost like an exhibition, with old boats filled with literature, cats roaming the aisles and a huge outdoor staircase made of – you guessed it – books!

You’ll find it at Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa.

A Weekend Guide to Venice

How to get to Venice

There are plenty of flights from the UK arriving into Venice Marco Polo, which is the international airport just a few miles out of the city. We like Skyscanner for finding the best flight options.

Catch the ATVO bus from right in front of the main terminal for €6 (one way). It’ll take you to Piazzale Roma in around 20 minutes, and from here you can hop on a vaporetto (more info below).

If you’re travelling on a low-cost airline, you might fly into Treviso airport. It’s much further out, but it’s easy enough to get to the city from there too. The ATVO bus costs €12 one-way or €22 return (to use within 10 days) and will take you to Piazzale Roma, where you can catch a vaporetto to almost anywhere in Venice.

A Weekend Guide to Venice

 

Getting around Venice

Working your way around a new city can be daunting, but in Venice it’s a total adventure!

In a lot of areas you can only get around on foot, along the narrow alleyways and across miniature stone bridges, water lapping beneath your feet. Where the canals widen, though, you can jump on a vaporetto, the cooler, totally Venetian version of the London Underground.

These boats travel along the main canals of Venice, and for €20 you can buy a 24-hour pass and see as much of the city by water as you like.

A Weekend Guide to Venice

 

Where to stay in Venice

 

Stylish Hostel – Generator Hostel

A Weekend Guide to Venice

Perched on the edge of Giudecca Island, just across the water from St. Mark’s Square, ultra-trendy Generator Hostel offers hip communal areas, affordable rooms and a 24-hour bar. The dorms are basic, but there are private en-suite rooms available if you’re not a fan of sharing with strangers.

 

The Local Option – Airbnb

A Weekend Guide to Venice

There’s something fascinating about the life of a local in Venice. How do they move house, when there are no vehicles in the city? What do they do when it floods? Do they ever get motion sick just getting to work?

Live like a Venetian while you’re there and find out for yourself, by renting an Airbnb apartment, like this pretty home.

For the romantics – Bloom and Settimo Cielo

Where to stay in Venice

If you’re looking for a dash of romance during your Venice weekender, book in at one of these two B&Bs, right in the heart of Venice. Prices start from €138, with each room decorated in rich red, gold or purple, lending it a cosy and romantic air.

There’s a roof terrace complete with complimentary prosecco, so you can watch the sun go down over Venice in style.

Do you have any Venice recommendations to add to this list?

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A Weekend Guide to Venice

Elle Croft

Elle Croft is a London-based travel blogger who is equally happy exploring the city she lives in as venturing to far-flung destinations. She's a firm believer in stylish travel, and will always look for a twist on the traditional. Luckily for her, London offers unusual experiences in abundance. When Elle's not travelling or blogging over at A Bird in the Hand you can usually find her, coffee in one hand and camera in another, strolling the beautiful streets of the city she calls home.

SHOWHIDE Comments (17)
    1. It was VERY busy in the main tourist areas (St. Mark’s Square, Rialto Bridge), but once you get into the little back-streets it can be much quieter. I woke up early to see the city without all of the tourists (I know, I know, I am one too) and that was my favourite time of day. By the time everyone descended I was people-watching over a plate of pasta!

  1. Great guide! I loved my two days in Venice, if solely for the cichetti bars! For anyone who says Venice is too much like Disneyland, just go off the main path a bit and you’ll find locals hanging at cichetti bars around every corner. Drink and eat with them during the day, and then when the tourists go home around sunset you’ll have the canals all to yourself 🙂

  2. I am really sorry to have to point this out, but this guide to Venice contains several inaccurate statements.
    Unlike most of Italy, it is actually very easy to come across a bad meal in Venice. The city is full with tourist-orientated eateries where the food is simply not good and prior research as to where to eat can save you a terrible culinary experience especially when you are tired after a day of sightseeing and can’t afford to spend a fortune on a meal.
    Rialto Bridge is very beautiful, but it has been undergoing a restoration for the past year and it will be at least another six months before this is completed. In the meantime, the bridge has been covered by large advertising billboards which hide its beautiful architecture. It is accessible and the shops are still open though.
    A traghetto is not an ornate gondola. It is a simple black gondola which is not lacquered. It is very streamlined in its appearance (especially in comparison with a gondola), albeit it is a great and cheap experience to ride the traghetto.
    I was also disappointed by the omission of several important and truly Venetian sights in the ‘recommended to see’ section of the guide. For example, a short break in Venice can easily accommodate a visit to the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, to mention but a couple.
    All in all, the guide started very well, but it is rather superficial. I am sorry for the harsh words, but Venice is my favourite city and recommendations need to make it justice.

    Best wishes,

    Rossi

    1. Hi Rossi, I’m sorry you didn’t like Elle’s guide. Like all guides to any city, everyone has their favourites and everyone has different experiences in every city. When I posted this article on Facebook I had a lot of people disagreeing with everything because they simply hated Venice and wouldn’t recommend anyone going there at all. The same happens with any article about London, people either love it or hate it and some people think some things are worth seeing and other things aren’t at all. Thanks for your comment, feedback is always welcome!

      1. Thank you for your reply, Monica. The question I raised is not if Venice needs to be visited or not, the point I made is that if you offer information about a particular city it needs to be precise and correct at the time of posting it. As I pointed above, the guide started very well and then it just breezed through the topic. I think I have come to expect a bit more from this blog, hence my reaction.

        Kind regards,

        Rossi

    2. Hi Rossi,
      Thanks for your feedback – it is true that there’s plenty more you could see in Venice, and loads of it worthwhile – but I based my recommendations on the trips I’ve taken to Venice so far. I honestly haven’t eaten any bad food in the city – perhaps I’ve just been very lucky – but I’ve tried and tested these highlights with a number of my friends and they’ve thoroughly enjoyed the places I took them to. Sorry you don’t feel like it does your favourite city justice, but I hope it still helps inspire people to visit Venice and discover it for themselves!
      Elle

  3. I would love to go Venice but it has to be with the wife, some romance as she deserves it. Lovely post thanks for the share.

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