Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Travel Guide: Venice


And the European adventure continues!
We started in London, made our way through Paris and then headed onto Venice, which is right where we left off on here.
We actually wanted to save time during travel so we decided to fly from Paris to Venice on a short little over an hour flight. Super easy and fast!
We both had already been to Italy before, but had never made our way to Venice, the city on water. Literally such a crazy beautiful little city that is full of so much character & color.
Let's get into all the details!



Where We Stayed:
Since this was our first time visiting Venice, we really wanted to stay in a central location. After a lot of research, we settled on Hotel Violino D'Oro right in the heart of the city. We loved it! We were able to walk everywhere and they served an amazing breakfast in the morning that was included in our stay. (Sometimes this is key when traveling in Europe). 


Now, if you are not into touristy locations, this might not be the area you want to stay in.  It's about a 2 minute walk from St. Mark's Square which is considered one of the most touristy locations/attractions in the city. For us, it was convenient and we were able to walk everywhere. We just made sure to not eat in the square (crazy high prices) but it was really fun to just sit and people watch for a while during the day.


Where We Ate:
Venice = Italy = lots of fresh homemade pasta!
Which we love and when we are on vacation, we splurge! (And honestly, we walked almost 6-8 miles everyday, so we earned it!) 
Like Paris, Venice is one of those places where you can just walk and stumble upon some great authentic restaurants. We had about 2-3 restaurants on our list to visit and for the other meals, we just winged it. And to be honest, we didn't eat at one place we didn't like. You really can't go wrong with authentic Italian food!



Let's start with one of our favorite spots first! I don't know if it was the romantic table outside in the courtyard, the weather, the prosciutto wrapped melon, the AMAZING wine or the fresh pasta that we loved more! Overall, this place was delicious, the atmosphere was pure Italian and the wine was great. Highly recommend. 

This was a "stumbled upon" place that we found and absolutely loved. We didn't eat here, but did enjoy two glasses of their prosecco while lounging outside on their couches. 



We also didn't eat here, but I loved looking in every time we walked by. It's right in the middle of St. Mark's square, so it's pricey but everything else about it is beautiful. If anything, make sure you walk by and take a peek. It reminded me of the 1920s. 

Everything we researched told us not to visit this place. Well, we loved it. Yes, it's touristy BUT it's where the bellini drink was created! How fun is that?! We sat at the bar, chatted with the bartender about the history and loved every minute. Be prepared, the bellinis are pricey, but we wanted the experience and we were overall happy we did it. 


We ate dinner here one night outside on their outdoor patio and loved the atmosphere. Food was great, location was perfect and as always, the wine was delicious.

Located right on the water, we stopped here for an afternoon espresso and to people watch. It's located right by a bridge, so it was a nice spot to relax for a bit and take in the scene. 


Caffè Vero
So I can't find this place anywhere online but if you happen to go and walk by it like we did, stop and enjoy a glass of prosecco on the water. We loved just sitting there while watching all the boats go by. 


If anything, make sure you try some gelato....it's honestly good ANYWHERE in Venice!




Where We Explored:

One of the things you hear all the time about Venice is "get ready to get lost". Well, this is SO true. It's actually probably impossible to not get lost in Venice, as streets are poorly marked, there are twist and turns every which way, everywhere you look is another bridge and it just gets dang confusing! But there is a sense of fun in getting lost in this gorgeous city. We prepared ourselves to just wander at times, and by doing so fell across some great restaurants, bars and views. 



One of the highlights of our WHOLE trip. We booked this tour not really knowing if it would be good or not, and it far exceeded our expectations. It was a 2.5 hour long walking tour in which we went to three different locations to learn about Venetian culture, food and wine. (Tip: Don't eat before you go on this tour, they give you SO much good food the entire time). We explored parts of the local neighborhoods and even got to go into this little wine shop that refilled your liter bottles with "wine for dinner aka table wine" for 2 euros. So FUN!

We really didn't need another walking tour after our wine tour because we had learned so much BUT we had heard that this was the best deal if you wanted to ride a gondola. Some gondolas start at about 80-120 euros to ride so this deal was included in the tour price. Overall, we were glad we did it in the end because who doesn't want to ride a gondola down the canals in Venice?!



One of the top tourist bridges in the city and it sure was a gorgeous site! Definitely a must see.

Like I mentioned earlier, one of the top touristy locations in the city but you have to go through it at least a couple of times. It's beautiful, the people watching is so fun and the hustle and bustle through the square is entertaining. (Tip: there is a lot of fun music played in the square at night so if your like us, you will want to have a drink and hang out in the square for a while. The problem?! Everywhere in the square has high priced wine AND they charge you 20 euros just to sit down at one of their tables. We walked next door from the Caffè Florian to the Caffe Aurora, ordered two glasses of "take away wine" for 5 euros and sat on the steps in the square - RIGHT NEXT to the people paying an extra 20 euros to sit at the table! So crazy yet so fun!)



Other Tips:

*** Once you land at the Venice airport, you will need to catch a water taxi to the city center.  We used the Alilaguna water transport which was easy, cheap and took us on a beautiful ride on the water. Once you land, go to the Alilaguna kiosk and buy tickets (know which stop you need to get off at prior to buying your tickets - we looked it up on our hotel website before we left), then follow the blue signs for "water transport".  FYI - It does take about an hour to get from the airport on the boat to the city center. 

*** You need more cash euros in this city. We used our cards mostly everywhere in London and Paris but when we got to Venice we noticed that a lot of the restaurants took cash only and if you want gelato two times a day, you will definitely need cash!

*** When walking through St. Mark's Square, beware of pigeons. Yes, I was a victim of pigeon poop on this trip. 

*** If anyone walks up to you asking to buy something, just say no thank you and keep walking.

*** You could get your fill and see mostly everything in 72 hours.

*** Out of all the countries we've been too, Venice was probably the most touristy & crowded but we still loved every minute.

*** We thought about doing a day trip out to the islands of Murano & Burano but it didn't quite fit into our schedule. If you are staying more than a weekend, I would say definitely try to make it over to those islands. We heard great things and they look gorgeous. 

*** Forget your map. It's useless in Venice.

*** Book your hotel close to one of the water taxi stops. It's a PAIN trying to carry or wheel your luggage through loads of people and cobblestones streets if your hotel is too far away. (Ours was about a 5 minute walk and the perfect distance).



And that's Venice!
How hungry are you for pasta & gelato now?! 
Overall, I would say Venice was a gorgeous city, full of history and bright colors and we are so glad we went. There really is nothing quite like a city on the water and it's even cooler to experience and see in person. 

Wishing you all a great week!

Our last stop to Prague will be up in a couple of weeks!

xo
Ashley

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