Whether you’re on a romantic break or a weekend trip with your friends, planning what to do in Venice is recommended before you travel, simply because there is a lot to see. As the city is known to be filled with tourists all year around, if you don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going, you might get trapped in the tourist hotspots and miss the authentic side of the city. I have spent the last ten weeks in this beautiful city and picked up some of the local lingo. Here is everything you should do, see and say in Venice.
You will most likely be due to arrive in Marco Polo or Treviso in the morning or early afternoon. To make sure that you get to the main island for as cheap as possible, book coach transfers ahead of your arrival. As there will undoubtedly be many people in your way say permesso or scusi if you want to get past someone.
After you arrive to Piazza la Roma, you might be starving. So why not grab a pizza straight off the bat? Head down to Pizza 2000.
The pizzas there are one of the tastiest in Venice and to top it off, they’re also great value for money. To order say Ciao, Vorrei una… (Hi, I would like) and the name of the pizza. Finish with per favore, which means please. When you get given your pizza, thank them with grazie. If you fancy an ice cream, the gelato sold in Fontego delle Dolcezze is incredible. My favourite was the strawberry cheesecake.
Then you will probably want to check in to your accommodation and do some wandering around the city. Make sure to go to the Ponte di Rialto, check out the views from the top of the bridge down the main canal. Nearby is the luxury shopping centre Fondaco dei Tedeschi, you can get a view of Venice for free from the top floor. You may want to do some shopping in the area before heading to dinner. Wander down to Santa Maria della Salute before heading to dinner, as it is one of the most impressive churches in Venice.
For dinner, go to La Zucca, one of the best restaurant on the island. As the restaurant is so popular, you would need to book a week or two in advance, especially for a Friday night. Greet the waiters with Buonasera, although you may not speak Italian, they will appreciate the gesture. The food is fantastic and isn’t too expensive. The restaurant also does fantastic desserts. When leaving, wish them buona notte and stroll down the canals and enjoy the stunning views.
Wake up early and head to the Mercati de Rialto (Rialto fish market). It’s interesting to see all the fresh produce come in by boat.
If you’re visiting when the Biennale is on, I highly recommend spending Saturday afternoon at the exhibition. The Biennale is located on San Marco, so use the morning to visit St Mark’s square and the basilica. Grab some lunch in Caffe Florian Venezia, which is the oldest café in Venice. Head down to the Arsenale and the Giardini, where the Biennale is located and absorb the views of the main canal on the way.
After spending the whole day at the Biennale, you will be exhausted so get the boat back to Cannaregio and order an Aperol spritz or two and sit down by the canal. There are many bars in the area and great places to grab a bite to eat. Here you will need your Italian skills (or a phrasebook) as many locals do not speak English.
In the morning, go to the Acqua Alta bookstore. This quirky bookshop is stuffed full of books and floods during high tide. You can also get some authentic postcards and books here, as well as things to take back for your friends and family.
Later you can visit the three islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello that are all unique in their own ways. Get a €20 all day ticket to travel to all three near the train station.
Firstly, you will travel to Murano, the city known for its glass making. Make sure to visit the Duomo di Murano Santi Maria e Donato and Chiesa di San Pietro Martire. If you’re interested in the production of the Murano glass, make sure not to miss the Museum.
Next, you will head to Burano. This island is remarkably colourful and is known for its lace. Find somewhere to grab some food and enjoy the wonderful architecture.
Finally, Torcello is beautiful in the light and very dark in the evening, so make sure you go there before sunset. It has a total population of ten people and was once more populated than Venice. It’s chilling but beautiful to walk around the abandoned island of Torcello.
Finish off your trip by having dinner at Ai Tre Archi and order the seafood, as it is freshly prepared and delightful.