Your ultimate guide to ‘La Serenissima’
Having already written about Rome and Florence, we round out our series with this Venice travel guide. We have all the tips, recommendations and inside information you need on navigating this unique city!
We will be making regular updates to this travel guide, be sure to bookmark this page and refer back to it when you are making your travel plans!
Famous the world over, Venice is truly a sight to behold. Peaceful canals, winding passageways and stunning buildings around every corner, sometimes Venice looks like it’s been taken straight from a fairy tale. There is much to love about Venice, from the history, art and architecture, to the lively festival scene and excellent cuisine.
One of the best things about Venice is you can walk nearly everywhere on the island. You can get from one end of the island to the other on foot in around an hour. This makes choosing a place to stay easy – you’ll be in a great spot everywhere you go!
The main island is split into six districts, or sestiere – Cannaregio, Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, San Polo, San Marco and Castello. Each has its own charm and appeal, as well as range of attractions.
The central districts of San Polo and San Marco is where you will find attractions such as the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. Consider Santa Croce if you want to stay close to the train station (Santa Lucia). Cannaregio has a more local feel, while Castello is where you will find the famous Biennale Art Festival. In Dorsoduro you will find lively piazzas, art galleries and cathedrals.
Venetian cuisine has so much to offer. Obviously, seafood plays an important role, however you will also find influences from parts of eastern Europe, given it was an important trading port in years gone by.
Start off with Venice’s answer to tapas, cicchetti. Small bites (think bread, olives, meat, seafood etc) usually eaten with a small glass of wine, standing up at the bar. An experience that will have you fitting in with the locals!
More substantial dishes include risotto, pasta with squid or cuttlefish ink, or game served with polenta.
Wine from the region of Veneto (of which Venice is the capital) are of high quality. Veneto is home to prosecco, the world famous sparkling wine. Other popular types of wine include Soave, Valpolicella and Bardolino.
Venice is full of hidden gems. It’s too easy to walk past a building, not knowing what incredible sights are held within. One of the best examples of this is the church of San Pantalon, just west of the Grand Canal. A very unassuming exterior contrasts with an utterly breathtaking interior. A monumental canvas on the ceiling of the church by Giovanni Antonio Fumiani is truly a sight to behold. One of the largest canvas paintings in the world, this is definitely worth a look. A great tip when visiting – have some coins with you to feed into the machines on the cathedral floor, they will activate lights which will illuminate the canvas for a short time!
Ca’ Pesaro in Santa Croce is a wonderful gallery without the large crowds. Primarily modern art (with plenty of pieces on display from previous Biennale festivals) as well as a large collection of art and artifacts from South East Asia.
We have written a number of articles on Venice in the past. Select one of the links below for more helpful resources!
- Venice – The Deciphered Code
- Experience Venice as a local – introducing Cannaregio
- Venice from home – Doge’s Palace
- Venice from home – Ca’ Rezzonico