Venice - On and Off the Beaten Track
Venice. It seems to be one of those cities that people either love or hate. I’ve visited multiple times, and am happy to report that I fall firmly into the love category. And I can tell you why that is, and how you can be sure to visit and fall in love with it yourself.
You see, Venice has a deeply confusing street layout. And most visitors cling to the one major road which loops all the way through town and takes in the major sights, from the famous bridges and canal ways, through to St. Mark’s Square.The secret to enjoying Venice, even at the busiest times of the year, is to get off that main thoroughfare as much as possible.
Throw away the map. Wander those back alleys. Get deliciously lost in the side streets. Ask yourself where all those crowds have gone, because, amazingly, few take the time to get off that main route. Then dive back out of those alleyways for the highlights, safe in the knowledge that you can find relief hiding moments away.
St. Mark’s Square
Certainly the most famous sight in Venice is St. Mark’s square, or the Piazza San Marco. There’s a lot to do in this square, with my personal highlights including the view from the top of Campanile di San Marco and the free to enter Basilica di San Marco.If that sounds too much like hard work though, take a break at one of the many cafes, where you can enjoy some lovely live music whilst sipping a beverage. Be aware that the prices are likely going to be fairly astronomical, but you only need to do it once, right?
Voyaging on a Gondola
In their heyday, up to ten thousand Gondolas plied the waterways of Venice, responsible for the bulk of transportation duties around the waterways of the city.
Nowadays, around 400 are in use, and taking one on your visit to the city is one of those iconic Venetian things that, like drinking expensive coffee in St. Mark’s square, you basically have to do. And if you want to do that with your other half, being gently serenaded down quiet waterways by a traditionally dressed (and highly trained) gondolier in a handmade vessel, then you can of course do that. Prices are fixed by the guild of Gondoliers, and you can see them here.
I do have good news if you’re on a budget though, or just want to have a quick taste of what a Gondola ride is like: you can take a “Gondola Taxi” from one side of the river to the other. This is a much less romantic option, and is going to be over very quickly, but hey, you can get a photo of yourself in a Gondola and have still have lots of change left over for that coffee or gelato.
Heading out to the Other Islands
The most visited part of Venice, which is home to all of the above attractions, is made up of 118 islands. There is however more to the Venetian lagoon than Venice, with the four islands that make up Burano being very much worth your time.
A forty minute boat ride from Venice will take you to Burano, where you’ll find beautifully coloured houses, quiet streets, and a thriving artistic community.
Other islands worth your attention include Murano and Torcello, also easily reachable via short boat rides. So many visitors to Venice barely make it off the main roads, let alone to these other destinations, and I assure you that you will not be disappointed to do so!