I try and avoid people as much as possible, I swear I’m a nice person but too many people, particularly when I’m on holiday just stresses me out.
Venice being the size it is, doesn’t allow for you to escape from people at all times, but there are places you can go where you’re less likely to be knocked out by a rogue Nikon lens or a flag-wielding tour guide.
Venice was a really special trip for me as I hadn’t been there since I lived there as a child. Part of our trip was visiting our old house, the shops we used to go to, the restaurant where I celebrated my first birthday and the office where my dad used to work. It was so surreal seeing the places I’d only ever seen in photos and my mum taking me back was just the best birthday present I could have received!
I was lucky in the fact I had my mum as my very own seasoned tour guide. I think we only got lost maybe twice the whole time we were there (which definitely wouldn’t have been the case had I been in charge of navigation). I had previously been recommended a free walking tour but seeing the upward arch of mum’s left eyebrow, I figured we wouldn’t be following a flag on a pole anytime during our trip!
The best pre-Venice tip my mum gave me (as I was sat on my already overfilled suitcase willing it to shut) was to pack a water bottle. Although sceptical at first due to the already tactical packing which had taken place, it was a genius tip! There are water fountains dotted ALL over Venice so you can fill up as you walk, and with the heat, you’ll be constantly thirsty and grateful of not having to spend €2 on bottled water at every turn.
Going going Gondola!
Did you even go to Venice if you didn’t go on a Gondola? At 80€ for half an hour it is pretty expensive, but this really is a lovely way to see the city. You can cut down the cost by sharing with other people but personally, I didn’t like the idea of being wedged into a narrow boat with a family of randoms blocking my view of the Grand Canal. No thank you, sir. So we opted for the 80 euro option, yes it was expensive but well worth it!
If you’re looking for an ambient setting for people watching and an afternoon Aperol, then this is a great place to stop. Effectively the Venetian version of the Ritz complete with live music and a buzzing atmosphere, Caffè Florian is located in Piazza San Marco. This is a perfect place to have a rest after a busy day of sightseeing. B
eware that this is one of the most touristy places to stop, so drinks will be more expensive (14€ for an Aperol Spritz plus 6€ each to sit outside and enjoy the music). But how often do you get to enjoy Venice though right? Also, how can you put a price on the amusement of watching the hilarious poses people get into, all in the name of the gram!
The birthplace of the Bellini. Harry’s Bar is frequented by a whole host of celebs from George Clooney and Woody Allen to Anjelica Huston but more notably it was also a fave of my mums when she lived in Venice! So naturally, we had to go for a visit and a Bellini. I wasn’t blown away by the interior, I won’t lie, it does look rather like an old mans working club and a spruce would not go amiss, but the drinks were lovely!
At 24€ per Bellini, they should be nice tbh and it did feel as if the staff were internally willing us to order anything else, I think we counted about 30 Bellinis being made in the half an hour we were there. But as we sat there giggling and enjoying our drinks it was really nice to be taken back somewhere that my mum had enjoyed with friends.
Hot sun of a beach
When you think of Venice you probably don’t think beach right? Well, I definitely didn’t anyway. But if you have more than a few days why not pop over on the boat to Lido (15€ return on the Vaporetti) and visit the free beach. With white sands and warm sea (as well as a lovely little cafe to enjoy an Aperol or three), this is the perfect place to escape the clusters of tourists in central Venice.
One of the places I’d 100% recommend visiting is Burano, which is a small island accessible by boat. You can reach this island in around 45 mins by heading to Murano (Faro) by boat and jumping on a second boat all the way to Burano. If you get a 1 day travel card which you can pick up from the small newsstands beside the water, you can go on as many boats as you like in one day.
I was unsure what to expect and was prepared to be surrounded by hundreds of people but Burano is so relaxed, even more so than main Venice. The main attraction here is all of the coloured houses, Notting Hill eat your heart out. Also make sure you stop off at the Principe – Ristorante Pizzeria (with red and green parasols) the pizzas are quite literally to die for!
Wine flies when you’re having fun
Wine comes by the glass, ½ litre or litre in Venice. Now when you order a bottle at home you know what to expect/ how many glasses are in a bottle, how many glasses are in a litre? Not a bloody clue. You can guess what I’m going to say next. On our first day we got over-excited and ordered a litre of wine with our lunch, which turns out is quite a lot of wine, particularly in the heat of the day resulting in unplanned afternoon naps. So maybe when you’re ordering wine you’re probably best ordering a ½ litre and make sure to give the house wine a try, you won’t be disappointed!
Most places in Piazza San Marco are costly and filled with tourists so if you want to immerse yourself more fully in the Italian culture and escape the tourist trap, then head to the backstreets for lunch. Avoid any restaurants with pictures plastered all over the windows/menus – these are aimed at tourists and tbh we all know what a plate of spaghetti looks like!
If you’re anything like me, when I visit a new city my list making goes into overdrive. My worst fear is missing something, yes the FOMO is real huns. But if you’re in Venice for a few days this is plenty long enough to see St. Mark’s Basilica, Canale Grande, Ponte di Rialto, the Bridge of Sighs etc so ensure you make time in your schedule to get a bit lost and wander away from the beaten track!
Ps. If your budget is limited here are 5 fab free things to try out in Venice xo