A Perfect Day in Venice
Venice, with it’s winding canals, trademark gondolas, delicious bellinis and unmistakable Italian charm, is everything you have dreamed of Italy and more. Everywhere you look, this city is nothing short of magical.
Sometimes, it really seems like Disneyland, like there is no way this could possibly be real. Could this city really have been built on these intricate waterways and could these people really live their daily lives without cars? But as you watch the Venetians wind their way through the canals in their immaculately-kept gondolas and wooden reva boats, carrying
A Perfect Day in Venice
For me, my perfect day in Venezia begins early in the morning, waking up in the Hotel Colombina, which is my favorite canal-view hotel in the very best location ( just off of Saint Mark’s Square ) , and I think one of the best places to stay in Venice. Where I order a caffè macchiato (because, seriously, could Italian coffee be any better?), and look out the big, beautiful window onto the canals.
Take in the morning before the crowds
I love going on a run in the winding streets of Venice in the morning. Running is always my favorite way to get a good feel for a new destination; getting a good workout in before the day-crowds and tourists have come and before the city is truly awake. If you’re around Venice in the morning, you’ll get to watch the local Venetians lugging their fresh seafood from boats into their restaurants, and see the gondoliers preparing their beautiful gondolas for the day ahead. It’s the best way to take in the morning quiet (complete with the occasional whistling of a gondolier) & the city’s magic before the rest of the world has a chance.
This is one of the most common travel tips given by Italian tour guides in Venice. Seems ironic, right? For a tour guide to tell you to get lost? But, they’re not wrong. Some of my favorite memories in Venice have come from getting lost in the narrow cobblestone streets, with no true destination in mind but just taking it all in. Getting lost in Venice is something everybody should have on their bucket list. The maps are really not much help in this crazily winding city, and, trust me, you won’t complain.
Get on the water!
No trip to Venice is complete without exploring the city’s waterways. If you’re as lucky as me and your hotel has a complimentary boat tour, take it. At the Colombina, they have a private boat driver take you around the canals. You can also take the Vaporetto, which is the water-bus that goes up and down the Grand Canal, stopping at all the key spots along the way, or hire a water taxi to come to your hotel (H2Uber, anyone?), or you can go for the once-in-a-lifetime bucket list quintessential gondola experience, complete with Italian serenades and striped gondoliers.
Lunch at the Danieli
Originally built as a palazzo for the family who conquered Constantinople, The Danieli Hotel sets the standard for Venetian luxury. Think marble columns, immaculately carved archways, ornate and over-the-top decor complete with plush velvet furniture lining the lobby. The luxe hotel has seduced royalty and millionaires stopping in to Venice for centuries, and today it is one of the very best places to stay in all of Venice. Head to the rooftop terrace for lunch or a drink and overlook one of the most stunning views in all of Venice. This terrace is my favorite place in Venice, and holds a special place in my heart as being where my grandmother held her 21st birthday celebration. So channel my Nana, order a bellini, and experience the Danieli- Venice at its very best.
Shop at the Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge crosses the Grand Canal in the heart of the city, connecting the districts of San Marco and San Polo and for 300 years was the only way to cross the Grand Canal by foot. Today, it is one of Venice’s largest tourist attractions, and one of the best places to shop in Venice. (Here’s where I get the best deals on Venice’s famous Murano glass!) I also like to post up and people watch at one of the many waterfront cafes lining the Grand Canal.
Saint Mark’s Square
No day in Venice is complete without exploring the most popular square in all of Italy. The square surrounds the beautiful Byzantine cathedral, the Basilica San Marco, which was constructed in 828 AD and is still one of the most opulent architectural marvels in the world. It holds more than 8000 square meters of intricate mosaics, most on a background of gold venetian glass, creating a divine shimmering effect to the ceiling of the basilica. Entrance will cost 2 euros, and make sure you cover up your knees and shoulders if you wish to enter. ( Saint Mark’s Basilica Entrance Tickets )
Adjacent to Piazza San Marco, the beautiful Campanile bell tower is another Venice must-do. Yes, there will be a line of tourists. and, yes, the hike up to the top of the tower will be quite a steep work out. But trust me, the views are worth it. At the top, you’ll see spectacular panoramic views of Venice. Entrance 8 euros. ( hours & timetable for the Campanile )
Grab some gelato!
What is an afternoon in Venice without gelato? My favorite is the coffee gelato at Gelateria Nico by the Accademia. So, so good. And, ***BONUS**, with all the walking you’ve done today, you’ll have earned it!
Bellinis Canalside at the Gritti Palace
The Gritti Palace is another must-see hotel in Venice, and one I highly recommend staying in if you have the chance. But, even if you don’t, stop by for some bellinis. Occupying the most beautiful and sought-after real estate on the Grand Canal, the Gritti’s peaceful canalside terrace is just far away enough from the bustle of the crowds and just close enough that it’s easy to get to. A bellini is a must- the peach nectar/champagne concoction, was, after all invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice. ( Gritti Palace )
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