I have officially completed my first week in my new job and it really has got me thinking about where my travels took me last year and one in particular for some reason I have not spoken about yet.
I am trying to utilize my travels to help you guys by providing you with handy guides to read. I hope that the information I provide in these become useful to you, I started a Yorkshire Guides series and my first one was:
- Knaresborough (go and check it out if you haven’t already).
I really do not understand why I have not published this post yet as it was over a year ago. I guess part of it may come down to the controversy around tourists in Venice however, my boyfriend and I had an amazing welcoming experience and I would love you all to have the same.
I have discussed the controversy around Venice so have a little read on that as not everything is sunshine and rainbows and I want this blog to talk about issues as well (check it out here).
Planning your stay:
There are many parts to Venice and sometimes it can be confusing as to where to stay? You want to be close to the main sights but you don’t want the noise. You want to be close to transport links but don’t want to pay a fortune.
There are several districts in Venice where you can choose to stay, I asked for some advice from a friend of mine who I worked with who is from Italy. As my boyfriend and I were both 21; I’d just been on my placement year and he had just graduated university we did not want to be spending a fortune. She recommended the Canareggio area as it is close to transport links, there are plenty of shops nearby and it is just outside of the main touristy area.
When we were looking online all of the hotels were coming up really expensive, and there were not many options in the Cannaregio area. Most of the accommodation we were finding were out of the budget. That is when I thought about Air BnB. I did a little bit of browse and found a really promising looking one in Canareggio with Maurizio so I contacted him and got it booked.
I know, I know added controversy with Air BnB but I would never have been able to visit Venice without staying with Maurizio, we felt truly immersed into the culture and we managed to stay outside of the busy streets and ate with the locals.
You can see in the picture above the quiet side street that we were in it was a great respite from the busy tourist area and we were still close to great restaurants on the waterfront.
Just do your research to get the best value for your money!
The Transport system:
Of course, Venice is built on over 100 small islands and there are absolutely no roads, just canals. This means that transport to/from Venice can seem slightly intimidating.
Trust me it is really straightforward. I took loads of time before I traveled to Venice to familiarise myself with the different coloured lines so I wasn’t completely overwhelmed on arrival.
There is the Alilaguna & ACTV service. Here are some tips that I hope you will find really handy:
- An important thing to know is the Alilaguna is the service to/from the Airport and the ACTV does not run that line.
- Another important point is that when you are buying tickets you will buy the ticket for the full line so for example the blue line from the Venice Marco Polo Airport to Fondamente Nove is shown as a ticket to the Lido. (This is super handy as I got really confused as I could not see F.T.E Nove as an option to purchase).
- You can purchase tickets from machines that are available at the waterbus stations & airport and they are valid for a full day unlimited use. This meant we could go to Murano & Burano in a day with no worries about timings.
Here this is what the tickets look like and you can see they are for ‘Full Journey‘:
Here’s what to look out for when finding ACTV and Alilaguna’s.
Make sure you keep an eye out for the different colours on the side of the boats as well, it helps you to make sure you’re on the right route.
A handy tip would be to print off the maps so you know exactly where you need to go in advance.
The map may look slightly overwhelming but trust me it’s easy once you get your head around the colours. Here’s a link to where I got mine: ACTV Map Print
What can you do?
Let’s face it we are all very different people with different passions for travel. Some people go simply for the food, to see the main sights or some of us like to do something slightly outside the box.
- The very first activity I want to recommend is rowing in Venice. You may see the many gondoliers around costing 80 euros for a short ride and although some may say it’s worth the money we fancied doing something different. That is when I found out about Row Venice: I wrote a blog post all about it so you can find out more.
We got the full experience of being a gondolier for ourselves and it was incredible go over and check out their website for something unique: Row Venice
- Next, I would just advise you to just walk around and do not worry about getting lost, we did many times and actually discovered some gorgeous hidden gems.
For example, we discovered some stunning churches ‘Basilicas’ and we were blown away each time we discovered a new one by the architecture inside.
The first one we came across was Basilica Santi Giovanni e, Paolo, if you are a student you can get in with a discount of around 1.50 Euros or the standard rate is 3.50 Euros. It’s a little amount and they are truly worth looking around.
We discovered many more through our walks and they made a great way of getting out of the hot sun.
One tip I need to mention is that you must dress appropriately for entering any churches, bring a big scarf with you so you can cover your shoulders. This will especially come in handy if you are going to visit St.Marks Basilica.
- We, of course, made it our main goal to go to St.Mark’s Square and get our photo together (Gross Couple Alert).
We did head into Basilica di San Marco and it is absolutely worth it and generally costs around 5 euros. I’m not going to lie the queue to get in is long and you can not take any large bags in with you. You can’t take any pictures inside but you can snap a picture of yourselves on the balcony at the top. Again you must cover your shoulders if you do not have any covers you can pay 1 euro for a shawl.
- Not only can you wander on the main island but why not make use of the boats and head over to the other islands including Murano and Burano?
We dedicated a whole day to covering both islands so we could really take our time. We bought a ticket on the ACTV that lasted us all day and covered all parts of our journey. We headed on over to Murano first.
Murano is famous for its stunning glasswork and there are little shops showcasing the creations. Do not take any big bags with you as it is slightly scary trying not to knock anything over. If you are lucky you may even get to see glasswork being made which is fascinating.
Burano is iconic for its brightly coloured houses that you have no doubt seen all over your Instagram feeds. I was so excited to head over and see it for myself and with my own personal photographer in tow, there was no doubt it would be worth the trip.
It is absolutely beautiful, there is no doubt about that. However, like Venice, it does get pretty busy but you can find quieter areas just like we did. It is well worth the walk around and it such a stunning spot to just sit and take in the surroundings.
We even stopped for a bit of food which I will tell you all about…
Now there is no doubt in my mind that Italian food is by far my favorite. I could not wait to get to Venice and to have some proper authentic dishes.
Venice by far has the best seafood I’ve ever tasted which comes as no surprise, being able to utilize the jewels of the lagoon brings this seafood to the top of my list.
We ate over at Trattoria da Romano after having a very rude welcoming at the so-called ‘best restaurant on Burano‘ called Trattoria al Gatto Nero. If you don’t have a reservation and fancy checking it out then expect to be ignored. They asked if we had a reservation even though the restaurant was empty both inside and outside and once we said no then there was absolutely no chance of getting in and they just moved onto the next people. The food is supposed to be incredible but if you really want to try it then I would make a reservation first.
However, I would highly recommend Trattoria da Romano the service was incredible everyone was very kind and our seafood platter was out of this world.
Now our favorite restaurant was just around the corner from our Air BnB, called Ristorante d’alvise.
Ristorante d’alvise is sat right on the waterfront and has a stunning patio seating area that was full of pure relaxation and a great spot to watch the sun go down.
The service was amazing and the food was even better, this restaurant was our staple ‘go-to‘ and we would highly recommend it. Plus that pizza…my lord I am a massive pizza fan and it was incredible.
- Of course, any trip to Italy including Venice would not be made with endless amounts of Gelato and Aperol Spritz. I had my fair share of both and the weather was very hot so my diet was an equal split of Pizza, Seafood, Aperol and Gelato. A diet I would happily continue back home but it’s not quite the same.
Before we went to Venice we were told some negative things about how busy it is and that it smells but from my experience I want to reveal some handy tips and common misconceptions about Venice:
- Do not forget the bug spray as I did and slept with the window open and ended with a massive number of bug bites more than I’ve ever had before. They were so uncomfortable and when you head to the smaller islands such as Murano and Burano there seems, to be more midgies. I was very lucky to have Maurizio who popped a bug repellent plug into our rooms and to Phil for donating a pair of his boxers to kill the midgies.
- Be patient, some areas can be busy especially around St. Marks Square but that is to be expected just take it easy if it’s too busy just go back later or get up early.
- You do not have to spend a lot of money if you are going to eat right near the main square of course prices will be more expensive and so will the drinks but if you walk a little further out the prices will go down.
- The Smell I did not really notice it that much until it got really hot and we were down little side streets but it is not strong enough to put me off at all.
- The transport is not as difficult as it seems, make yourself familiar have a look online at the timetables and you will be an expert in no time.
I adored Venice and although I did have some nerves because it is quite a new travel experience I was excited. Phil’s nanna had always insisted that we should go together and when she sadly passed away we knew we had to go. It was a very touching moment having that first walk around and we cheered our first drink to her.
One thing that I will take from this trip is to not let too many people put you off. If you want to go you should go, be respectful, immerse yourself with the locals. I know that over tourism seems to be happening all over the world but we felt very welcomed but if you can, try and go in the times when it is quieter for example in September to November.
There is a very big cruise issue that I have previously written that you can read about before you go:
I really do hope that you found this information helpful and if you want me to write some more about Venice for example about my experience over in Murano and Burano then let me know in the comments.
I want to thank my wonderful boyfriend for his photography you can check out him over on his website here.
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Thank you so much for reading,