Venice Vacation - Venice Sightseeing - Venice Map
Taking a vacation to Venice is like stepping back in time several centuries. Venice is a city set upon islands in a lagoon - there are no cars, no trucks, no roads - just walking paths, bridges, plazas, canals, and out of this world architecture and palaces. With cruise ships now docking nearby, the majority of Venice visitors only spend one afternoon in the city. It is possible to see Venice in 1 day, but don't rob yourself of this once in a lifetime opportunity -- be sure to stay at least 2 days and 2 nights. For most, their vacation to Venice begins at either the Marco Polo airport or the train station (Venezia-Santa Lucia). For train arrival and departure schedules, visit their website: Trenitalia.it
. Exiting the train station you will find yourself along the Grand Canal, where there are waiting boats to take you to your hotel.
If you arrive by car or taxi, the Ponte della Liberta bridge connects Venice to the rest of Italy, and you will end up at the Piazzale Roma, just across the canal from the train station. There are a number of parking garages here. Once in Venice proper, you will either ride their water taxi system (vaporetto) or walk. Gondola rides are VERY expensive ($100 for less than 1 hour) and are normally a one time experience, not a means of transportation. There are also smaller private boats that shuttle people back and forth across the Grand Canal at various intervals. Looking at a map of Venice, (see below), you'll see the Grand Canal snakes through the main island of Venice, opening up into the lagoon near the Piazza San Marco. The most lavish palaces and fancy hotels line the Grand Canal, and your first boat ride taking you along this enchanting path will feel like a dream. The train station is on the far left of the map while Piazza San Marco is the white open space on the right side just after the canal enters the lagoon. As you can see, there are winding paths and alleys and bridges all over, making it sometimes difficult to maneuver. But use the Grand Canal as a navigation tool, and it will be hard to get too lost.
Venice Facts, Weather, Tips, and Suggestions
Venice is in Italy, obviously, making it part of the EU (European Union). They use the Euro as their currency, so everything is priced in Euros. Exchange rates change all the time, but right now 1 Euro is worth about $1.30. Most stores and restaurants accept VISA and MC credit cards, but some smaller family restaurants do not, so always confirm if you are not carrying enough cash to pay for the meal. The weather in Venice can be cold and wet during the winter and very hot in the summer (over 90F). During fall and winter, flooding is common, as we've all seen images of people walking over suspended boards while local trudge along in rubber boots. Unfortunately, it is hard to predict when flooding will occur, so you take a chance any time you visit that it may be a little wet during your explorations.
Where to Stay in Venice - Renting an Apartment
If you plan on staying more than a day or two, another lodging option is to rent an apartment in Venice. A good website is Venice-Rentals.com
. They have listings of more than 40 apartments they offer for weekly rent (in some cases, a minimum of several days) that sleep from 2-6 people. Some have rooms and balconies that look right out over the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge, some are tucked away along quieter canals and alleys. But all are nicely appointed and professionally managed. Prices range from about 1000-3000 Euros per week.
Venice is a small city, and without streets, cars, or buses, it is a city made for exploring and walking. Armed with a map of Venice and a guidebook, you can easily spend several enjoyable days just wandering. The efficient vaporetto system makes it easy to get around the main island and the neighboring local islands, Murano and Burano. However, some people enjoy the insight and experience that comes from a tour with a local guide. There are a variety of Venice tours you can take - private boat tours, gondola tours, walking tours of churches and museums, and much more. Check out Tours-Italy.com
for a listing of the tours they offer. Avventure Bellissime is the local company that provides the tours - take a photograpy tour, a Jewish ghetto tour, or the Murano glass tour. Also check out Veniceworld.com
for tons of information on the best Venice restaurants, bars, entertainment, music
Best Venice Sight Seeing Tips
Venice is divided into 6 sestieri, or regions: San Marco, Santa Croce, Castello, Cannaregio, Dorsoduro, and San Polo. Nearby are the islands Murano, Burano, Torcello, and the Lido, Venice's beach resort area. One of the main attractions in Venice is the architecture. Frozen in time for hundreds of years, the renaissance architecture surrounds you. Piazza San Marco is an easy starting point. Cafes line the perimeter, and thousands of pigeons seem to be always on hand (and on your head, watch out). The Campanile bell tower thrusts up into the sky here - it collapsed early in the 20th century and was rebuilt. A trip to the top provides you with stunning views of the entire lagoon area - dont miss it. St. Marks church is right here as well - be sure to go to the upper level looking out over the plaza, where the replica bronze horses taken from Istanbul stand watch over the plaza. The Doge's Palace is also right here - its opulent decor and artwork are the highlights of the tour, and you'll see the Bridge of Sighs where condemned prisoners got their last glimpse of freedom when being taken away.. Head out across the Rialto Bridge and take some time to visit the Academy Museum, where works of Titian and Tintoretto abound. The Peggy Guggenheim Museum is also nearby. You'll likely be accosted by gondoliers during your explorations - politely refuse them if you are not interested in a Venice gondola ride, or bargain with them if you'd like to take a boat ride. Be warned it is not cheap - but you can take 5 or 6 people on one gondola to save money (but that kills some of the romance!). Trips to the other islands get you a bit off the tourist path, but there are a lot of pushy glass factory tours that really are not very exciting, and not a whole lot else to see. If you are pressed for time, definitely skip visits to Murano and Burano. One relaxing way to rest your feet is to get on the main line that cruises the Grand Canal and circles the island - just stay on the boat as long as you want.