Venice: A Complete Guide


Two days is enough for any tourist to see all the sights of Venice, known from school textbooks: canals, gondolas, pigeons in Piazza San Marco, and shops with papier-mâché masks. It will take a thoughtful traveler like you and me much longer to figure out the web of the city, to understand the intricate numbering of buildings, to learn how to move independently instead of in the tourist stream, and clearly understand the differences between all six areas of Venice. An art critic, historian, architect and just a very enthusiastic person and life is not enough to study the history of more than 100 delightful cathedrals located on a small area of ​​the island, to believe in the chilling legends of each of the magnificent houses along the Grand Canal, to find all the works of the great Venetian artists: Titian , Tintoretto, Bellini, Carpaccio … They say that the city, built on a huge number of wooden piles, is slowly but surely sinking under the water. And therefore – hurry to see!

Transport in Venice

There are buses from Treviso airport every half an hour to Venice itself – the transfer will cost € 12 (tickets are sold by the conductor when boarding). Please note that Atvo routes reach the convenient Piazzale Roma, while Barzi Services flights stop at Venezia Tronchetto – a little further. Travel time is about an hour.

You can get there even cheaper – by regular city bus to the Treviso Centrale train station, from there by regional train – to the Venezia Santa Lucia train station. You will spend an hour and a half on such a route and € 6-7.

If your flight arrives at Venice’s main airport (Marco Polo), the world is at your feet. Take the water bus for € 15 to the station closest to your hotel. Of course, you can get from the airport to the station by an ordinary bus almost half the price, but it’s not so romantic.

The most enjoyable, simple, and economical way to get around Venice is on foot. Bicycles and baby carriages in this city will turn out to be very uncomfortable things. The gondola ride will cost € 80 for 40 minutes. Remember: this is not an excursion, but a great, but very expensive, opportunity to see the city and its inhabitants from the water. A more budgetary option is the traghetto. An ordinary boat that will take you to the other side of the Grand Canal for € 2. Since there are only 3 bridges across the Grand Canal, Venetians often use the traghetto to save time and usually stand in this boat.

As for water buses (Vaporetto), we advise you to use them only to get to nearby islands, which otherwise cannot be reached (there are also routes along the Grand Canal and routes around the island). Within the city, it will be a waste of money (€ 18 if you are under 30 years old, from 30 years old – € 35), since you can walk from the northernmost point of the city to the southern one without looking at the windows in an hour and a half. We’ve spotted!

Venice is connected with other cities by a very long bridge. If you arrive by car, then the only place where you can leave it (for a fee) is Piazzale Roma, the square next to the station. There is also a bus stop and trams from the industrial part of the city – Venezia Mestre – come here.

Hotels In Venice

There are no dormitories with “panels”, and therefore, wherever you drop anchor, in Venice you will be surrounded by sights and color. For this reason, we advise you not to consider the central area of ​​San Marco as the only possible one, but aim at more budgetary locations – you will definitely not lose in quality!

Silk Road Hostel (Dorsoduro 1420 E) is located in the “student” district of Venice – Dorsoduro. There is a state university here, so the streets and cafes are always filled with laughter and chatter. Just five minutes from the hostel – and you are on the Campo Santa Margarita, beloved by students. By the way, the conditions of the location are standard – bed & breakfast. Of course, for € 22 you won’t get any Venetian chic, but believe me, you will definitely have enough of it outside.

Pay attention to the Cannaregio area: there are much fewer tourists here, prices are lower, and the atmosphere is real Venetian. At the Apostoli Palace (Calle del Padiglion, 4702) you will find peace, comfort, and the feeling of an old Venetian home. Breakfasts here are usually included in the room rate. At the 3-star Hotel Vecellio (Cannaregio, 5039 / A), ask for a room with a lagoon view – an extra luxury for a modest € 60 per night by Venetian standards. Loft-style hostel We_Crociferi (Campo Dei Gesuiti Cannaregio 4878)… This is a real corner of minimalism with beautiful views from the windows – everything for your Instagram. From this place, it is easy to walk to the beautiful Fondamenta Nuova (Nova Embankment), and living near large water even for a couple of days is a special magic.

There is also a luxurious place in all senses, which, they say, was bukal by Hemingway himself and even described it in his novel “Across the River, in the Shade of Trees” – The Gritti Palace (Сampo Santa Maria del Giglio). Perhaps this is not the smartest decision – to stay here for € 300, but you should definitely take a walk under the windows.

It would be most economical to stay in the suburb of Venice – Venezia Mestre. The cost of housing is cut in half here, and trains to Venice run every hour. The ticket will cost you a couple of euros, just 15 minutes – and you are at the Venezia Santa Lucia train station at the very Grand Canal.

Finding your hotel or hostel in the maze of sights and canals of Venice is another quest. And here there is no way to just tell the taxi driver the address, so take care of this in advance and fill in the required coordinates in Google Maps. Start your search with the name of the district (siestre), since the streets (salizada, calle, foundamenta) in different districts can be repeated. The numbering of buildings begins first in each district (and not from each new street, as we are used to), the countdown starts from the most “main” building in the district. A little life hack: do not rely on addresses, better – on landmarks, because sights are literally scattered throughout the city. Second little life hack: as a rule, all objects on one patch will have the same name. For example, if you see Ponte Cavallo (Horse’s Bridge), then Calle Cavallo (Horse Street) will also be here.

Places to Visit in Venice

All roads literally lead to Piazza San Marco. When you have plenty of pictures with pigeons, you can climb the Campanile di San Marco (San Marco 328) bell tower (€ 8). Firstly, because at the beginning of the 17th century, Galileo Galilei demonstrated his creation – a telescope – there, and secondly, because from such a height the city will immediately become much clearer and more comprehensible for you. The most luxurious and tourist place in Venice – Palazzo Dukale (Doge’s Palace) – will cost you € 25. The ticket price includes admission to all museums located in San Marco, but apart from the most interesting: secret rooms and prisons of the Palace. By the way, in order not to stand in line, you can buy a ticket online. You will be in the square, do not pass by Bachino Orseolo is a spectacular gondola park and one of Venice’s hidden attractions. There are a lot of them here, it is interesting to watch how the gondoliers, humming, go out on their usual route.

When walking around Venice, do not forget to go to the cathedrals, basilicas, and scuoles. Many of them are free to enter. You won’t be able to see all 100 (and even more), but it would be a crime not to get, for example, to the Chiesa della Pietà church, which is just near San Marco. In this church, Antonio Vivaldi himself played the organ for many years, and a choir of orphan girls sang here under the guidance of the maestro. If you are interested in classical music, right here you can get to one of Vivaldi’s concerts, which take place with enviable frequency. But this, of course, for a fee.

We leave from San Marco along the noisy Riva degli Schiavoni (Slavyanskaya embankment) to the Giardini Veneziani (Giardini Gardens). Perhaps here for the first time, you will see trees in the stone jungle of Venice, and 30 more empty pavilions, in which the main exposition of the famous Venice Biennale is located every two years. His Majesty Arsenale (Castello 30122), in the past a huge shipyard, now hosts various exhibitions, including a very cool (25 thousand exhibits) Museum of Shipbuilding, which is hidden in a 10-minute walk from the Gardens.

Let’s go back to the center. Not far from the Rialto bridge, the Pescaria fish market was located six centuries ago. Local chefs used to gather here to beat freshly caught cod. The market is open from 7:00 to 14:00 all days except Mondays and is well located for a fishy taste.

Even if you are not overjoyed with the theater, you cannot ignore the largest, as they say, “real” opera house, La Fenice (San Marco 4387). At one time, the theater was a favorite entertainment of the Venetians: imagine, in the 18th century there were three theaters in all of Paris, and in little Venice, there were already seven. Like many buildings in Venice, La Fenice has two entrances. From the square – for rogue, from the water – for wealthy people on gondolas. You can continue the cultural program in the Museo Della Musica (Campo San Maurizio): in addition to a compact exhibition of valuable musical instruments, there is an excellent book shop: non-trivial maps of Venice, including for children, art postcards and other cute souvenirs. By the way, on weekends, a small flea market unfolds in front of the cathedral museum.

The Music Museum has easy access to the Academia Bridge. It offers one of the favorite photographs of the city, or rather the majestic Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute (Campo della Salute | Dorsoduro 30123). Perhaps it sounds a little boring: cathedrals and basilicas. But some churches began to serve people as museums and even hospitals, and some even exhibited biennial objects within their walls. For example, in the framework of this international art forum in one of the churches this year they installed a huge letter “F” – the Facebook sign as a reflection of the new religion.

So, we are in the Dorsoduro area! If you want to be inspired again and again by the great Venetian fine art – the largest collection in the Gallerie dell’Accademia (Campo Della Carità 1050), then be sure to go to the Museum of Modern Art of the renowned collector Peggy Guggenheim (Dorsoduro 701-704). Dali, Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky – this is not a complete list of big names in Peggy’s collection. By the way, the gallery owner herself is buried in the courtyard of the museum along with her numerous lapdogs.

Step out onto the bustling two-kilometer Fondamenta delle Zattere, wait and look at the water. Brodsky himself loved to do this here. Previously, this coastline was called “Embankment of the Incurable,” and the poet called his clever and sensual essay on Venice. Just must-see and must-read in one bottle!

You can find out what the expression “doraga-bagata” really means in the Venice Museum of the 18th century in the grandiose Ca Rezzonico (Dorsoduro 3136) for € 7. By the way, if you have a special feeling for museums, you can buy a “museum” subscription in Venice: € 35 for visiting 11 museums. The savings are notable, but, ironically or coldly, the most interesting places, like the Guggenheim Museum, are not included here. If you are going to hang out at Ca Rezzonico, be sure to stop by the Scuola Grande di San Rocco for at least 5 minutes. This is another cathedral, which is perhaps even more of a gallery. “It is unlikely that anywhere else we will find four walls in which so much genius is embedded,” one of the greats described this scuola and was absolutely right.

Time to go to the atmospheric Cannaregio area and with this, of course, to Ghetto (Сampo Ghetto Nuovo, Сampo Ghetto Veccio, Сampo Ghetto Novissimo)… Yes, yes, Venice had its own ghetto, let’s say more: this term was born here. The life of Jews in the Venetian ghetto was not forced: if a person of Jewish nationality wanted to live and work (read: trade) in Venice, he had to live in a certain territory that could not be left after 18.00. But with all this, the ghetto remained a place where Jews could feel completely safe, develop and live in harmony with their culture and religion. You will not believe it, but even now, many centuries later, when the ghetto gates were demolished long ago, many indigenous inhabitants of the quarter adhering to the lifestyle laid down by their ancestors: they do not really like to leave their area, many have trading shops or eateries, in this place also kosher restaurants are concentrated, two old synagogues and a museum of Jewish culture are open.

If you find yourself in Cannaregio in the evening (however, at any other time), then head to the Fondamenta Misericordia (Embankment of Mercy). This is one of the most non-touristy places to hang out – including locals at their prices. The embankment smoothly turns into another, then into the third. You can walk for a long time, and the music and alcohol will never run out.

In 1993, a painting by Bellini himself was stolen from the Madonna dell Orto church (Cannareggio, 3512). They say that such a light emanated from the image of the baby that it was able to illuminate the room. No, we are not suggesting you find a masterpiece, try first to find the church itself in Cannareggio.

Be sure to look into every Calle (narrow street), come out to Fondamenta Nuova. This is officially the most photogenic embankment, well, and the most useful one: from here you can visit all the islands adjacent to Venice in one day (read: one ticket), which we will now do.

The most popular island is Murano. Dynasties of glassblowers have lived here for many centuries. A long time ago, when few people in the world knew the secret of glassmaking, Venice was already making good money on it. Burano, codenamed “Fishermen’s Island”, is renowned for its colorful, toy-like houses. This is because at other times the Venetian fog is even worse than the famous English, and so that the fishermen could reach their bed and not make the mistake of the door, they began to paint the houses in torn-eyed shades. The island of Torcello is called the cradle of Venice and an important landmark. Now there is almost nothing left on it, except for a couple of churches, of course, but it’s worth mooring there. The atmosphere is uninhabited and incredible. 

Lido Is a nice place to wrap up if you have a little extra time. Now Lido is considered by tourists as “great beaches” and “nightclubs”, because in Venice itself, as you know, there is neither one nor the other, which does not make it any less beautiful. You can “darken” the trip a little by getting to the island of Poveglia – the darkest island of the Venetian lagoon: at one time poor fellows infected with the plague were brought there, and in the 20th century there was a frightening psychiatric hospital … It is absolutely impossible to get there by hiking trails, but, as they say, who seeks will always find. And the last, but very important stop – on the “island of the dead”, the “cemetery island” of San Michele… Many famous personalities are buried there, but our people undoubtedly go there to the laconic slab of Joseph Brodsky. The poet adored Venice, was here 17 times, and always in the cold season. Come and you will understand why.

Snacks & Fast Food in Venice

First of all, run in bacaro! Traditional Venetian bacaro and were created for a snack. While the big names of the city dined in lavish restaurants, ordinary workers sat in cheap bacaro, in which you can still choose uncomplicated seafood snacks, smell fish and finally hang out with the locals. 5 minutes from Bacareto da Lele train station (Fondamenta Tolentini 30135) . Here you can get a glass of young sparkling wine for € 0.6. And for € 10, there will be a feast for a couple of people. Most importantly, remember no credit cards.

At Bacaro da Fiore (San Marco 3461) try grilled cuttlefish or octopus, fish balls and God knows what else. Just point your finger at what you like, we promise: prices do not bite in real bacaro.

Pizza to go is not exactly an Italian theme, but to save money, you can grab a great piece for € 2.5 at any shop along the way.

The shabby signboard ” Caffe Rosso ” (Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro 2963) will take you to a small cozy place where the local students gathered for a long time ago for heated discussions. Get a bag of French fries – € 3, and for the same price – Aperol Spritz. This uncomplicated refreshing cocktail is so popular in Venice that it seems as if it is being poured through all the canals in the evening.

Let’s get closer to the topic of Italian coffee at the Torrefazione Cannaregio (Cannaregio 1337). A cup of excellent espresso for € 0.90! Even a frappe in this place can lift you to the heights of cheerfulness, by the way, here it is eaten with a spoon, like mashed potatoes. Rumored to be one of the best coffee spots!

On the way from the station to Rialto, stop at the Frulala kiosk (Strada Nuova 2235): they make some really cool fruit blends of all stripes. Yogurt, fresh juice, ice cream, or alcoholic cocktails – delicious!

Cafes & Restaurants in Venice

Edalny in the city on the water are not sophisticated in the interiors, everywhere here there is either “modest” Venetian chic, or authentic places smelling of fish, if you do not take into account the soulless streaming restaurants on the shopping streets, which, moreover, themselves include 12% of tips for you. into account.

Caffe Florian (Piazza San Marco 57) is a crime to get around. All celebrities who have visited Venice since the middle of the 18th century drank coffee here. It is very pleasant that such a legendary place is accessible to mere mortals in almost its original form. Even for some € 30 for a dessert.

Harry Bar (Calle Vallaresso 1323) is another historical and expensive place 5 minutes from Piazza San Marco. This bar got into the novel of Hemingway, who liked to sit here with a glass or two. And the first owner of this restaurant invented the Bellini cocktail and the well-known carpaccio dish – and named them after Venetian artists. By the way, the most original Bellini in the world will be released under € 19. Not so much for history in a glass!

Osteria alla Staffa (Castello 6398) . It is worth booking this place to try traditional Venetian cuttlefish in their own ink, however, by the way, meat-eaters (and especially thrifty people) have nothing to do here.

If you want a “tried and tested” meal, the area also has excellent spaghetti (and pizzeria) 6342 a le Tole (Castello 6342). They say that in the morning in the window where you can see how the pasta is made, which in the evening gets on the table ready-made. Pizza – € 8, another fat plus in the karma of this institution.

You can finally become Venetian in the humble place of Osteria Bea Vita (Fondamenta delle Cappuccine 3082). Cichetti (an analog of tapas) here costs € 1.5–2, which is more like the truth, and the prices for main dishes are more “Venetian” (from € 12), but reasonable.

Osteria Al Diavolo E L’acquasanta (San Polo 561b, Calle Della Madonna) in a dark and ominous street turns out to be an interesting place with thousands of archived photos and other artifacts, delicious food, and a rude owner, but even more colorful!

Malibran (Calle Cannaregio, 30121) . Restaurant-pizzeria at the hotel of the same name (which, in turn, is located near the theater of the same name). They cook – and very well – all Italian, sorry, Venetian classics. Be sure to take a liter of homemade wine there for € 9 – you won’t notice how you have to order another decanter. 

Trattoria San Basilio (Sestiere Dorsoduro, 1516) . A leisurely family-run establishment with excellent pasta located near the Vaporetto stop. Be sure to sit by the water to feel the atmosphere of the city.

Bars in Venice

Venice has a strange relationship with bars and nightlife in general. There are almost no long-running establishments, but the bars are still becoming bacaro, which we went to for snacks during the day. After 23:00 in Venice, as in a provincial Belarusian city, calm and quiet.

Bacarando in Corte dell’Orso (San Marco 5495) in the heart of the city. It is not easy to find if you are not heading here on purpose, which means that the chances of seeing a crowd of tourists are even less. The prices for drinks and snacks are not at all “central” here. € 1.5 – chichetti, € 2 – prosecco or spritz. Everything as you love.

The dark and seasoned Osteria all’Alba (San Marco 5370) is renowned for its great cocktails and prices. The walls are covered with numerous guests, and in the late afternoon, such motley people gather that it becomes really interesting. As usual, the main part of the party is on the street, and there is an ad on the door asking you not to make noise, because people live on top, but they hardly pay attention to it.

Osteria Ruga di Jaffa (Ruga Giuffa, 4864) . We advise you to come here before dinner time to warm up with a couple of chiketti under a glass of wine or prosecco (from € 3.5), drink an Aperol spritz, or decide on a glass or two of grappa. If you get into a rage, stay for dinner, but keep in mind that the place is popular and all tables may be booked.

Vino Vero (Fondamenta Misericordia, 2497) . A noisy yet sophisticated in-house wine bar with gourmet choices and Venetian simple snacks on the atmospheric (especially at night!) Embankment of Mercy. There is enough mercy here: every third door leads to a drinking and eating establishment. Immediately next door you will find Il Paradiso Perduto (della Misericordia, 2540) – sincere, simple, tasty. For beer, here you definitely have to give up! And if you are an esthete, check out Sullaluna (Fondamenta Misericordia, 2535) . This is a stylish bookshop combined with a coffee shop and bistro. Everything inside is eco-vegan-friendly.

Chet Bar (Dorsoduro 3684) already lacks the obvious Venetian flavor, which compensates for the noisy student people, because we are in Dorsoduro! Very Instagram cocktails for € 5 and great atmosphere.

From the last bar, smoothly move to Venice’s only seedy nightclub Picollo Mondo (Calle Contarini Corfu 1056A) – it’s close by! Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Assorted music and an old-school room – for € 12. If your soul is still hungry for adventure, go to the suburb of Mestre or to the nearby island of Lido. There will be options, but no one says which is more interesting or cheaper, and remember: you still have to sail home.

Shopping in Venice

In addition to the notorious masks, which can be bought at a price of € 1 and up to infinity, all kinds of Murano glass souvenirs, bead sets, famous lace from Burano island, jewelry, aged writing supplies: feathers, sealing wax, stamps, envelopes, luxurious notepads. And also leather gloves and quite decent bags for € 30, which are sold everywhere.

The most popular are the mercerie (shopping streets) with all this and much more: everything from the Rialto Bridge to San Marco square. Here in house 5778, you will find cool ready-made sets for traditional pasta as a gift to your mother, in 1590 – “delicious” ceramic plates. Be sure to take a walk along Via Garibaldi and Via Strada Nuova – there are also plenty to choose from.

Ca Macana (Dorsoduro 3215) is an interesting place where you can not only buy but also make/paint the mask yourself under the guidance of professionals. Lifehack: if you are traveling with children, you can leave them here for an hour or two and make time for a small aperitif.

Conceptual shops with all sorts of hipster rubbish are practically not found here, because antique reign in old Venice. Take a look at a small shop on the same Embankment of the Incurable (Dorsoduro, 64) or in absolutely any other place. Everywhere there is something to open your mouth from! But if you really want something fashionable, there is an excellent book shop at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, again in Dorsoduro.

Walking through the most densely populated and therefore interesting area of ​​Castello, be sure to check out the legendary Venetian bookstore – Libreria Aqua Alta (Libreria Alta Acqua, Sestiere Castello 5176 / B). We bet: there has never been a store in your life where books rest in a gondola, in a bathtub, and sleepy cats are lying on books. A free photo zone and a free beautiful view of the canal are waiting for you. And if you get lost in this second-hand bookish chaos, we recommend taking one of the books by Alberto Toso Fei, the author of fascinating stories from the secrets and mystifications of Venice. We guarantee: such a book will definitely open your third eye to the city.

Not far from here, near the beautiful “marble” church Santa Maria dei Miracoli, there is a large Venetian flea market four times a year. Drop-in!

Turning to traditional Italian shopping, there is not much good news. All brands are located, of course, between Rialto and San Marco and in the expensive five-story COIN department store (Cannaregio 5787). Honestly, it is either very expensive here, or sad, except for the nameless shops. By the way, don’t rely on H&M dear to your heart – in Venice, he frankly let us down.

Your way out is to go on a one-day shopping trip to an outlet close to Venice – Outlet Noventa di Piave (40 km from the city). It is also not cheap and branded there, but discounts and a choice (more than 90 boutiques) will delight you very much. And the last thing: do not even rely on the Venetian duty-free, an absolutely useless thing.

Life hacks & Info About Venice

  • The farther from San Marco square, the cheaper. The rule applies to all items.
  • Be wary of people who just give you something in your hands. Most often, dishonest traders give red roses to the confused girls (another legend of Venice), and then demand a sickly fee from their companions. And the flowers are not taken back.
  • If you tune in to a busy tourist program, take care of the Rolling Venice Card or Venice Card – unified travel passes that will help you receive substantial discounts on major tourist destinations. Public transport has another subscription system – ACTV.
  • veneziadavivere.com – events, exhibitions, events in Venice
  • alilaguna.it – water transport in Venice

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