Say goodbye to cars, buses… In Venice its only boats that cause peak hour traffic. The uniqueness of this city seemingly built on the sea brings millions of tourists a year, from all over the globe. Surprisingly though, there are still sights in Venice that slip off the usual tourist radar – escape the crowds and head for a day trip to Murano or Burano Island, just 45 minutes away. Or just get lost through the maze of small canals, bridges, and lanes and see the hidden magic of this ‘sinking city’.
How to get there:
The best way to reach Venice is via train, with plenty of trains (and many direct) arriving from Verona, Rome, Florence, Milan, and international transfers including Germany, Switzerland and France.
The main train station in Venice is Santa Lucia – this is also the end of the line for many journeys. Piazzle Roma just near Santa Lucia, and is the main bus station in Venice.
Flix Bus operates regular transfers from France, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia.The drop off point for Flix Buses will either be Tronchetta or Mestre.
From Tronchetta, catch the People Mover (just above the station, similar to a monorail) across the bridge to Pizzale Roma.
From Mestre, this is one station before the end of the line in Venice, so you can catch almost any train heading in direction of Santa Lucia Station.
The closest airport is Marco Polo, from which you have two options to get into Venice:
Take ATVO bus or ATVV 5d bus to Pizzale Roma – tickets cost €2-3 and leave every half hour. The journey takes around 30 min.
Catch the ferry from outside the arrivals hall (head left and follow the covered walk way) to Piazza San Marco. Tickets cost €12, leaves every hour and takes around 70 minutes. You can buy a ticket at the dock or on the boat.
How to get around:
You will get lost in Venice. Despite how good at directions you may be, despite how many apps and maps you use. You will get lost in Venice. With 117 islands, 150+ canals and 400 bridges, plus many addresses consisting of no more than a district name, and a long number, it makes for one maze of a city.
My advice: use a good map (download one here), pay close attention to landmarks and make sure you have plenty of time to explore – you can always turn around and retrace your steps!
To help you through the haphazard, you can catch waterbuses or vaporettos to take you between districts. Tickets cost between €5 and €12 depending on your end journey, or a €20 ticket gives you a day pass (24 hours).
Routes are numbered, with a few letters thrown in for added confusion. Some of the best routes below:
1: Piazzale Roma > Santa Lucia Train Station > Grand Canal > San Marco > Lido
3: Piazzale Roma > Rialto > Accademia > San Marco
LN: Fondamenta Nuove > Murano > Burano > Torcello
Where to eat:
Osteria de Baco
This local bar is said to be where all the gondoliers hang out, and you can see why; plenty of tremezzini for €2 (triangle sandwiches with crusts cut just like your mum made) and fragolino for €2 (strawberry wine that’s a bit extra).
Fresh paninis and bar snacks galore, all under €5.
Osteria Dai Zemei
This is a must if you want to try authentic Venetian chicchetti; fresh bread and a variety different, creative and absolutely delicious toppings, starting at €2.
Dal MoroThis hidden gem dishes up cheap and quick meals, with fresh pastas cooked to go for €5.
Where to stay:
Hostels are few and far between in Venice city, so try to book early.
Camping Jolly has 2-bed cabins for €12, and makes for a cheaper alternative to a hotel in town. Located on the main land, 10km from the centre of Venice, the hostel runs shuttle transfers to and from the city throughout the day.
BnBs and Hotels on the other end are seemingly endless in the city, and VivaVenezia is a good middle-ground with private rooms for €56.
An idea of costs:
- Hostel: €12
- Coffee & croissant for breakfast: €5
- Lunch at Osteria da Bao: €4
- Vaporetto day ticket: €20
- Gelato: €3
- Glass Ornament: €5
- Dinner at Dal Moro: €5
How long to stay:
I suggest at least 3 full days – and you’ll be lost for at least half of that!
What to see and do:
Historic Buildings & Sights
Ponte dei Sospiri or The Bridge of Sighs: Named after the endless sighs from prisoners as they took this bridge from court to their cell. Not very romantic. This bridge is often crammed with tourists.
Rialto Bridge: The oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal, built in 1255 and has survived a fire from a revolt (1310) and collapsed twice from overcrowding (1444 & 1524)
Basilica di San Marco: Open from 9.45am-5pm, Monday-Saturday and 2- 5pm Sunday. Free entry but make sure you get there early as lines start to gather throughout the day.
Chiesa dei SS Giovanni e Paolo: Open from 9.30am – 7pm, Monday-Saturday and 1-6pm Sunday. Entry is €3. This church has the largest stained-glass window in Venice which dates back to the 15th century.
St. Mark's Square: One of the busiest places in Venice. This lively square often floods when there is a king tide.
Aside from the canals, Venice is famous for its glass, leather, venetian masks and lace. Keep in mind how tourist-centric the city is, and you will have to hunt for a good (and authentic!) piece. If the price is impossibly cheap, it’s most likely not real. Head outside of the main tourist strip, or to the islands for a better chance of finding something special.
As touristy as it is, there’s something so romantic about a gondola ride in Venice. A trip starts at €80 in the day and €120 at night, and there’s no haggling here – all prices are regulated.
One tip on how to still get a ride without spending your entire day budget is to try and share the ride with new-found-friends. Gondolas can seat up to 6 people, and €13 is much easier on the wallet!
Murano feels like what Venice would have 50 years ago, without the hordes of tourists. Murano is famous for its intricate glass blowing – there are a few factories which you can either tour or take a class yourself.
There's also huge sculptures made of glass in the middle of town!
Burano Island is less than an hour by boat from Venice, but is often missed on the must-see list. Colourful houses line each street, and was originally a way of listing addresses and differentiating between houses. Today, if a resident wants to repaint their house they have to apply to the local government who will then supply a list of official acceptable colours for that property.
Burano is also historically famous for its intricate lace-making. There are some stunning little boutiques around the island but be warned; genuine Burano lace is expensive, and most of the lace in the main city is imported from Asia.
To reach Burano, catch vaporetto 12 from Fondamente Nove stop. It takes around 45 minutes and costs around €14 return.
For good views of Burano, get off at the small island of Mazzorbo, the stop just before Burano. Walk across the island from to the pathway where you'll see Burano and then cross at the foot bridge connecting the two islands.