48 Hours to Fall in Love with Venice
With its emerald canals, gothic architecture and colourful street life, it’s no surprise that 20 million tourists visit Venice each year. The floating city is a photographer’s dream.
Consisting of 118 small islands, separated by canals and linked by bridges, Venice has to be seen to be believed.
Arriving for a weekend escape, I instantly fell in love with everything about the city – the food, the people, the secret alleyways and big inviting squares.
Where to stay?
Venice has a reputation for romance and there’s certainly no shortage of show-stopping hotels. You’ll be spoilt for choice, from the most luxuriously grand five-stars overlooking the waterways, to quaint bed and breakfasts tucked away on pretty side streets.
- If you’re willing to blow your budget on a weekend to remember, wake up in style at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani – the hotel of choice for Mr and Mrs Clooney who tied the knot there in 2014. The traditional Venetian styled hotel offers Michelin star dining with unrivalled views of the lagoon and Doge’s Palace.
- Offering luxury for a little less; book into the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice. Located in a former flour mill on the banks of Guide Island, this unique venue oozes sass with its rooftop swimming pool and bar.
- For the best views in the city, stay at Best Windows boutique hotel, sitting within Venice’s 15th century clock tower. Overlooking St Mark’s Square, it’s the ideal venue for travellers keen to explore the museums, history and romance of San Marco.
- Ca’ del Tentor bed & breakfast is located within an easy 10-minute stroll from San Toma Waterbus Station, 10 minutes from Rialto Bridge and 20 minutes from St Marks Square, Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. Turn left from Ca’ del Tentor onto Piazza Roma and you’ll find a cluster of great little restaurants.
- Stay just outside Venice and you’ll get a lot more room for your money. Elegant guest house Domus Dotti V, is situated on a quiet side street in Treviso (near the airport). From here, take a 30 minute train ride to Venice for only three euros per person. While Treviso can’t compete with the glamour of Venice, it’s certainly worth a wander.
What to do?
- Order an espresso on St Mark’s Square. The experience is a bit like stepping into a movie – take a seat and admire the architecture, listen to the live music and spend an hour people and pigeon watching.
- Wander on foot. It’s easy to get lost in the narrow alleyways – almost every corner looks just like the last; but straying from the tourist paths gives you the opportunity to stumble upon some lesser known hidden gems.
- If you need to rest your feet, see the city from the water and float through the canals on a gondola. Camera at the ready as you pass by beautiful buildings, ducking under tiny bridges. Have your cash handy too – typically a gondola ride costs €80. Tip: If you don’t mind sharing the experience with others (and you’re looking to cut down on costs), most gondoliers will allow you to split the bill as a group.
- Take a seat at a waterside restaurant; nothing says ‘I love you’ like being wined and dined in Italian style alongside the Grand Canal. Tuck into fresh breads, pastas and tiramisu while the waiter pours the wine and the passing gondoliers sing their hearts out.
What to see?
- The Rialto footbridge sits over the grand canal. Step out of Santa Lucia train station and you won’t be able to miss this imposing structure on your left hand side. Selfie stick at the ready as you join the crowds for that perfect backdrop.
- Stepping off the boat and standing in the centre of piazza San Marco is an experience in itself; but here is where you’ll discover Doge’s Palace and Saint Mark’s Basilica. Standing side-by-side, these are two of the city’s most iconic buildings. Steeped in history, the religious landmarks feature stunning architecture; get up close to see the intricate stone carvings and colours.
- If you think the city looks breathtaking from the ground, you’ll be overwhelmed by its beauty as you take in a bird’s eye view of the city from Campanile; the highest building in Venice. There’s also an abundance of rooftop bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a romantic evening looking out on to the twinkling city lights.
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