The best advice we received prior to visiting Venice, Italy, was "it's worth seeing but one night is enough." The City is beautiful and the maze of channels are remarkable, making this stop worth the extra few hours on the train. However, the City is also very packed with tourists which is not ideal by our measure. The reason, of course, is no where else will you see a City with over 400 bridges and 118 islands. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Venice also has several notable museums, squares and architectural sites. Feel free to pass on an expensive gondola ride but don't forget to enjoy a perfect cup of Venetian coffee.
Get Lost. The single best thing to do in Venice is to get lost in the labyrinth of streets and canals that zig-zag this intriguing City. Indeed, the City itself is the tourist attraction. Side streets are filled with street performers, shops, and bridges that cross canals.
Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco, Torre dell’Orologio, Campanile di San Marco. Plaza San Marco is the heart of the City, where for centuries it has served as a major political and social center. The Torre dell'Orologio, a late 15th Century clock tower, sits on the north end of this Plaza, which Plaza famously floods on a regular basis. On the eastern end of the Plaza sits the Basilica di San Marco, a Roman Catholic church that is emblematic of Venice's Italo-Byzantine architecture.
Rialto Bridge & Shopping. The Rialto Bridge (no photo here) is the oldest of the bridges that cross the Grand Canal in Venice. Built in the 16th century, it is a great example of the Italian's ingenuity that was pervasive during the Italian Renaissance. In and around the Rialto Bridge are several places to shop if that is what you enjoy. Note though that this highly trafficked area targets tourists. More reasonable prices can be found along side streets, which we visited when walking to and from our lodging.
Doge's Palace & San Marco Basin: Just adjacent to San Marco Square is San Marco Basin. Take a stroll along this waterfront to snap a photo of the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore. Steps away from the waterfront is Doge's Palace, where historically, Venice's public offices, court rooms, stables, armories and prison were located. In addition to viewing the Building's gothic architecture, self-guided tours are available to view this historical site that dates back to 14th Century.
Where We Stayed
Locanda Marinella: Staying in Venice can be quite expensive as this City is small and has nearly 30 million visitors every year. Locanda Marinella is a small, modest hotel within walking distance of San Marco square. Hotel staff are kind in this clean and comfortable stay. Pricing varies but it is comparatively affordable. (photo credit right: Locanda Marinella).
Where We Ate
Dining, like lodging, is pricey in Venice. We do not have any particular recommendations except that be sure to pause for a cup of Venetian coffee and a Cannoli. Open air markets are also a great place to pick up snacks or lunch at more affordable prices.