Updated: Feb 13
Venice is arguably on everybody's bucket list as one of the most beautiful and spectacular places in the world. After visiting Venice for myself, I've decided that the magnificent city has earned all the recognition that it gets. My husband and I were only able to spend 2 days in Venice due to numerous factors such as delayed trains and the urge to not miss our plane (an obvious one), but you better believe we made those 2 days worth it.
Those 2 days were like a dream for us, and Venice was a very romantic city to round off our honeymoon. Here's a look into how to spend 2 days in Venice.
1. Take a Gondola Ride
The best way to see Venice is from the water. Venice is full of narrow canals and "streets" without sidewalks, so you couldn't walk around in some parts even if you wanted to. Because of this, a gondola ride is essential.
My husband and I found out what time the sun was setting and opted to take a gondola ride during this time. The cost is 80 euros for 40 minutes at any time of the day. If you're on a romantic trip, going during the sunset makes the experience very special. You can book one online here to ensure you score a ride at your desired time.
2. Visit the Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is significant due to its history. In the 19th century, the last view prisoners saw on their way from Doge's Palace to their cells was out of the windows of the bridge. The myth is that the prisoners sighed as they saw their last view of Venice, which makes sense because the particular view across from the bridge is stunning.
3. Walk Across the Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is the largest bridge stretching across the Grand Canal. The architecture of the bridge is a significant achievement of the Renaissance era. Many people flock to the bridge to see a topnotch view of the Grand Canal, especially at sunset. Many restaurants and shops are located along the canal close to this bridge.
One thing we noticed in Venice is that a lot of the bridges were covered in moisture, perhaps from condensation from the canals or water particles in the air. Because of this, some bridges were very slippery, so it's good to watch your step.
4. Visit Murano and Take a Tour of a Glass Factory
Murano is an island in Venice that is known for its many glass-blowing factories. This island is accessible by a waterbus, the line 3 "Diretto Murano" boat, or a water taxi. At these factories, you can watch workers blow the glass and make small sculptures (on our tour, the workers made a horse). After the demonstration, you will be guided into a room to view the factory's best work, ranging from small animals and kitchen supplies to chandeliers and large pieces of furniture.
These pieces are not cheap, so plan to bring a lot of money if you're going to buy any glass work. For smaller items, they will wrap it up for you in an airport-safe way. For large purchases, the factory will ship to your house. If it makes you feel better to have things planned in advance, click here to view the best Murano tour options and book ahead.
Pro-tip: It's not mandatory to tip the workers doing the glass demonstrations, but it is appreciated. Plan to bring a few euros to leave in the tip jar.
5. Saint Mark's Basilica
There are A LOT of famous cathedrals in Italy, and some of them are more interesting than others. I put Saint Mark's Basilica pretty high on my list of must-see cathedrals in Italy. Entrance to this cathedral is free, though donations are accepted.
The inside of the basilica is just as impressive as the outside, and like many holy places, we weren't allowed to take photos of the interior. Because of this, you'll just have to trust me when I say that the inside is breathtaking. The walls and ceilings are made out of 85,000 square feet of gold mosaics. Dozens of pictures made from small gold particles reflect beautifully in the light and make this church my second favorite in Italy, only behind Rome's Pantheon.
6. Doge's Palace and Piazza San Marco
Located in Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark's Square) is Saint Mark's Basilica that I talked about in the last point, the Museo Correr, and Doge's Palace. Saint Mark's Square is the only public square in Venice, and tourists and locals alike use it as a meeting and social place.
The Gothic-style Doge's Palace was once the home of the Venetian government, but since 1923, it has been a museum for tourists to marvel at. The Museo Correr focuses on both the art and history of Venice, and the 2012 addition of the museum's Imperial Rooms showcase the lifestyle of Empresses that once utilized the spaces. These are all interesting places to tick off your list while wandering through Saint Mark's Square.
7. Peruse Through a Venetian Mask Shop
Venetian Masks have been created for centuries and re-popularized during the carnival celebrations. The masks are traditionally made with paper-mache, feathers, fabric, and gems. The Carnival tradition is still alive in Venice and resembles what Americans celebrate during Mardi Gras. Today, you can visit a local Venetian mask shop and get an original, handmade mask that is only authentic in this great city.
It's important that you spend your money in a locally-owned shop instead of a gift shop, which often times sell masks that are cheaply made, mass-produced, and made from plastic. Souvenir shops are great for magnets, calendars, and T-shirts, but when it comes to masks, these shops are making it harder for the local mask-crafter to stay in business. We visited a local lady who spoke mostly Italian, and she took time out of her day to explain the mask-making process to us and fill us in on Venetian history. Our experience was the most authentic it could get.
Where should I stay?
There are so many great places to stay in Venice, as it is a very walkable city. I can't recommend a particular part, but I can recommend a few hotels.
Economy: Hotel Centauro.
This 3-star hotel is incredibly affordable. The Grand Canal is only a 2 minute walk, and the Rialto Bridge is 6 minutes away.
Mid-Range: Hotel San Cassiano Ca'Favretto.
This 4-star hotel has a bar and lounge, and it is only 0.5 miles to the city center. The interior is both fancy and modern, but with enough authenticity to feel like a part of something bigger.
Luxury: Hotel Rialto.
I went to Venice on my honeymoon, and I chose this amazing hotel located right beside the Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal in Venice. The hotel offered a free tour of the Murano Glass Factory as well as a great breakfast, breathtaking location, and superior staff. I highly recommend this hotel, as it is worth the price.
Venice is one of the most picturesque and romantic places in all of Italy, and definitely the prettiest in Northern Italy. Boasting an exciting atmosphere and a unique culture, this big-ticket travel destination is popular for a reason.
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