Early October (2015) I went to Italy and took a mini trip inside of my trip, because why not?! I went to Verona, Padua, and Venice (and Burano) via train. Nothing ever truly prepares you for Venice. Stepping out of the train station was like stepping out of a time machine.
You can honestly spend days and days sightseeing in Venice and still catch something beautiful down a random street or canal, in the storefront of one of the handcrafted goods, or in one of the surrounding islands. Unfortunately, I only had a weekend but I wanted to make the most of it so this is what I did…
I arrived in the afternoon, so I wove my way around the endless curving streets and bridges to my hostel. Since I am forever cursed with poor weather it was raining. Attempting to carry an umbrella in Venetian streets is a talent I do not possess. Getting around Venice with just your luggage is difficult enough. If you are staying at a larger hotel they often have people who will take care of this for you.
I wanted to get an early start on my Saturday so I stayed close to my hostel, found some food, and went to see Piazza San Marco at night (Sadly, none of my pictures turned out very nice. I need to stop leaving my tripod at home.)
Saturday I got an early start and headed straight to Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) before the crowd. The palace was the residence for the Doge (the senior-most official of Venice) during the Republic of Venice.
Some of the rooms were hands down some of the most incredible I’ve seen in a palace. The picture above is a small peek into what the rooms were like. I highly recommend checking it out even if palaces are not quite your thing. It has a little bit of everything and isn’t too big that you find yourself growing bored. It helps that it is a self-guided audio tour so you can skip bits if you aren’t feeling it or take your time as you please.
Then I stopped in Basilica di San Marco, it is free to enter but there are little stops along the walking path through the basilica where you can choose to pay a few euros to see additional items. I only paid the additional 2€ to see the Pala d’Oro, which was definitely worth it!
Since the weather was looking like it might clear up I purchased a 24-hour public transport pass (only 20€ for unlimited travel). I took a boat to Burano, which took about one hour. Burano is a very interesting place to see, famous for its colorful houses and buildings and for their handmade lace. I spent a few hours wandering around taking too many pictures of the beautiful island.
Once I got back to Venice the sun was coming out so I jumped in line for the Campanile di San Marco (the bell tower). For 8€, you can get some beautiful aerial views of Venice. This line can either be incredibly long, or you are incredibly lucky. When it is a hot day, you do not want to stand in this line because you just get pounded with the sun. I advise to do this earlier or later in the day.
Afterward, I wanted to make use of my transportation pass so I jumped on a boat that traveled through the Canal Grande (Grand Canal). I took a seat up front at the end so I could get some pictures of the beautiful architecture. This was so fun and so worth it.
Some other high points of the day were seeing part of the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge), it was undergoing restoration so part of it was covered, Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), and Torre dell’Orologio (St. Marks Clock Tower)
I spent some time to see Giudecca and the Arsenal, but personally, it wasn’t my thing. A lot of people write about seeing the Arsenal and enjoying it, but I didn’t care for it. I’m not really into military museums or similar things, I obviously don’t posess the vocabulary to even express this, haha. Basically, I would have rathered see some art or archaeology museums instead.
In the evenings don’t forget to take advantage of Venitian tapas, called cicchetti. You can wander into any of the numerous wine bars in the city to enjoy these small plates of food with a few glasses of wine.
You can save the map below for your own travels to Venice. I have added every sightseeing point I’ve seen, or hope to see someday, museums, restaurants I’ve eaten at, and accommodation I’ve used. I will never add restaurants or accommodation that I have not personally tried and recommend.
I took another trip to Venice a few years later, but with my mom! You can read all about it —-Follow my adventures live as they happen via Instagram @wanderinghelene
Owner of wanderinghelene.com. Anthropologist, content creator, castle explorer, coffee drinker, and lover of markets and very old places!