Tea or coffee? I’ll take a hot chocolate. Today’s the day folks! The first installment of Comprehensive Travel Guide to Italy: Venice is here. People automatically assume that traveling on a tight budget isn’t possible in Europe. Thankfully, we’ve proven that theory is false, as Audrey said “nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible!” This past summer my sister, who lived in Rome, and I traveled throughout Italy for $2,000 each (Note, that this is excluding the copious amounts of leather goods purchased). This series will offer a comprehensive day-to-day itinerary for 10 days Italy. Here’s a playlist to set the mood and let’s begin!
Keep in mind that we did save quite a bit on tickets due to travelers points. Now, if we look at a map of Italy:
it makes the most sense to start from the top of Italy and work your way down. Thus, the first stop of the ten-day trip to Italy is Venice! Before we chat about the day-to-day itinerary, let’s talk logistics:
TIME: After having traveled to Italy three times, my mom has learned that you only need one full day in Venice. Thus, I suggest getting to Venice in the morning, so you’ll have time to rest for half a day. Then one full day and then another half a day. Trust me when I say, that’s plenty of time to enjoy the lovely city of Venice.
HOTELS:. Hotels tend to be pricey in Venice, but Hotel Lisbona is the exception. It’s right in the center of everything. The breakfast, which is included in the price, is amazing. I don’t use that adjective lightly when discussing food; it truly has a wide selection, vegetarians fear not. Some rooms are small and there isn’t an elevator, but it adds to the European charm. My sister and I fell asleep every night to the music of the Gondoliers and woke up to the music as well (We had the windows open, otherwise you can’t really hear it). The best Hotel for those on a budget.
i. Now, once you arrive at the Marco Polo Airport , you’ll need transportation to Venice. I recommend this Viator voucher to get from the airport to Venice. Once you get to the airport and pick up your luggage, you’ll walk over to a stand to get your voucher approved. From there, you’ll walk over to the dock and someone will help you get your suitcase in the boat. Then, enjoy the boat ride! A prime location for instagrams, if I do say so myself. The benefit of this voucher is that they take you as close as possible to Hotel Lisbona, so you’re not wandering around Venice with your suitcases.Also, you get to see the Rialto Bridge.
ii. Once you get dropped off at the Hotel, check in and feel free to rest for a bit. But, if you’re like me, go out an explore! Get lost in the city! I must preface, whilst getting lost please have a map so you’re not completely stranded in the canals, or at least be comfortable enough to ask for directions.
SHOPPING:Venice is known for Murano glass and masks. After having been to Venice many times, my family has come to learn that F.G.B Di Bubacco Giorgio & C is the BEST shop in all of Venice for Murano Glass Jewellery. Here’s the link to their site. Their pieces are works of art. Prices range from 5 euros to over 1.000 euros.
The people who run the shop are the kindest people on the planet. My sister had bought a necklace from them during her one trip, and it broke while back in the States. Six years later, this past summer, my sister and I went back to the shop to see if they would replace it. They did and free of charge!
GET LOST: From Hotel Lisbona, you can cross the bridge and head over to the famous Piazza San Marco, where you’ll see the Basilica di San Marco. Then you can keep walking towards the boat dock from the Piazza and see the Doge’s Palace from the outside. Then mozy your way to the Bridge of Sighs. The options are endless really.
FOOD: Plan on eating copious amounts of food. Let’s face it, it’s a requirement to do so whilst in Italy. A place my sister and I discovered was Rossompodoro. It has an array of options on the menu- pizza, pasta, and even a gluten-free menu. It’s cheap and delicious; you can’t ask for more.
iii. Something fun to do before or after dinner is a Gondola Ride. Of course, it’s not a proper Gondola ride without being serenaded. City discovery has a great voucher, that’s wallet friendly and lovely.
iv. YOU HAVE TOO: In order to celebrate your arrival in Italy, you must go to Caffe Florian. It’s the oldest cafe in the world, opening in 1720. You could sit outside, which would be nice (just bring a sweater, sometimes it gets chilly at night), but sitting inside is the most fun when you ask to be seated in the older part of the cafe. Once you enter the Florian the room to your left is architecturally and artistically a masterpiece.
v. After the Florian go and get some rest; tomorrow’s going to be a long day…
i. We start travel days early in the Mantikas Family; there’s so much to do! First thing on the agenda is Doge’s Palace Tour at 9:00 am. Here’s the voucher from Viator for $55.60 per person. The price includes skip the line (trust me it’s worth it), the price of the tour guide, and your entrance ticket.
THE TOUR: Rather than just wandering aimlessly through the Palace listening to the audio, you get to wander around with a fantastic tour guide, who is personable! It’s two hours long and a real joy.
ii. Next you’re off to St. Marks’s Basilica at 11:15/20. Again, I recommend buying ahead of time a voucher to skip the lines. You can waste an hour or more just on-line. The solution, this voucher from venetoinside.com. It’s only 4 euros and you’ll enter the Basilica through St. Clemente’s Door. Make sure you bring the vouchers with you! The Basilica is stunning. Hopefully, it’ll be sunny the day you go, that way the mosaics glisten.
KEEP IN MIND: Regardless of your religious beliefs, the Basilica does prohibit shorts, sleeveless dresses, and low-cut clothing. Also, suitcases, bulky bags, and backpacks aren’t allowed in.
iii. LUNCH: For lunch I stop where ever you would like! Sometimes searching on yelp can lead to going to highly touristy restaurants, and it’s best to look around yourself. Note, if you see a selfie stick, it’s probably filled with tourists. Just make sure it’s quick, so you can make the next stop on the agenda!
iv. Then we have the Murano, Burano, and Torcello Islands Tour from City Discovery at around 2:30! It’s a lovely tour that’s four hours long and you really do quite a bit. Prices start at $24.18 . Make sure you arrive at least 20 min before it starts at the meeting point, which is, as of now, the Yellow Desk on the Tiva Delgi Schiavoni at the feet of the Ponte della Paglia.
Murano: This is the magical place where Murano glass is made. On this tour you’ll get to see how Murano glass is made, observing glassblowers casually working.
You could buy your Murano glass jewelry or other souvenirs on the island, but it is over priced. If you find something you love of course, don’t let this stop you!
Burano: Here you get to see some of the lovely hand-made lace that they’re known for. Not to mention, it’s a beautiful little island.
Torcello: The last island has some fascinating ruins/monuments you’ll get to see.
v. After that tour is done the rest of the night is yours! Go dancing, go shopping, go do whatever your heart desires, which may very well be gelato and sleep. But, just don’t forget to pack, as it’s your last night in Venice.
i. Day 3 is your last day in Venice, and if you get up early enough, you could walk around the city once more before you have to check out.
ii. Seeing as though the next stop on this 10 day Italian extravaganza is Florence, you’ll need transportation to the Santa Lucia Train Station.Once again, I’m recommending this Viator Voucher.
You can’t arrive at the train station without your tickets, make sure to purchase them. The easiest way to get to Florence from Venice is by Rail Europe. Prices vary depending on when you purchase and what class. My sister and I spent $92 for two one-way economy class tickets. It’s about a 2 hour train ride.
Hopefully, you’ll all get the chance to enjoy Venice and all it has to offer. It really is a fun city to walk around. After exploring once you’ll start to recognize streets, and the people are so welcoming; it’s impossible to not smile. Next week, Comprehensive Travel Guide to Italy will take you to Florence, a city close to my heart. Till then folks!
P.S: Rather than bombard you with picture after picture throughout the entry, I thought I’d add a fun little side-show of pictures from my stay in Venice!
P.P.S: this is just one way to travel to Venice, and is not at all the only way to travel to venice. I should also point out that I’m not sponsored by any of these companies or sites; these are the companies that I’ve used in the past and have had a great experience with. I hope you also have an equally incredible experience with these companies!
Edited as of 2017: My laptop that stored all travel photos and information has crashed, and I’ve been working on retrieving that information to finish the series! I can’t tell you how much it saddens my heart that this series is still incomplete.