This past June, my mom told me she wanted to go to Venice, so we decided to plan a trip to Italy on a whim. I personally like to take my vacation and travel to Europe in June. The kids are still in school (no offence kiddos!) the weather is warm, and it is not quite overrun with tourists. When my mom and I started planning our trip to Italy, we started off by finding out where we could fly in and out of. Air Canada flies to Rome and Air Canada Rouge flies to Milan and Venice, giving us several options. We flew from Vancouver to Venice via Toronto. Once we arrived at Marco Polo airport in Venice, we hopped on the Aerobus #5 for €8 to Piazzale Roma. It was about a 20 minute ride. From Piazzale Roma, we purchased a ticket for €7.50 each for the Vaporetto (Water Taxi) at Gate F going towards Rialto and San Marco. It was early afternoon when we boarded the Vaporetto, and it was packed! Since there are no cars in Venice, it is the most convenient mode of transportation unless you hire a private water taxi. We got off at the Rialto stop and walked 5 minutes to our hotel.
We stayed at Hotel Serenissina which we booked directly through booking.com. Hotel Serenissima is a centrally located venetian style hotel with colourful and charming decor and the most exquisite chandeliers. Our room was a good size with a little foyer in the entry way. There are no elevators, but our luggage was brought to our room for us. The hotel was exceptionally quiet given its central location, and looked out onto a little courtyard. The tiling in the bathroom was the prettiest shade of turquoise. The hotel staff were extremely friendly and advised us to leave our room key at the front desk when going in and out of the hotel for safety purposes. You will find a lot of the hotels will ask you to leave your key at hotels throughout the country.
Since we only had 2 nights in Venice, we really didn’t have a moment to spare. We wandered over to San Marco square to take in the views of the ornate Basilica di San Marco, the Campanile di San Marco, a cathedral clock tower and Doge’s Palace. You can enter each attraction and admire the architectural feats for a fee. San Marco square is grand and flocked with tourists and pigeons alike. We then walked over to Riva degli Schiavoni and walked along the Venetian Lagoon. We were exhausted, but the views and the breeze off the water were so worth it.
One of the hardest things about traveling is deciding where and what to eat when you are absolutely exhausted. I am the most indecisive person ever, just ask A, and I am even worse when I am tired. We found two local grocery stores within a 5 minute walk from our hotel. See what I mean about being centrally located? There is a Coop and Ponto Simply. Both stores have everything you need, and are perfect for shopping for provisions. We couldn’t fathom sitting at a restaurant like zombies, as neither of us slept a wink on either of our flights. We picked up some crackers, veggies, a selection of meats and cheeses and wine of course and had a picnic in our room which was just what we needed.
Breakfast was included in the mornings at our hotel from 7-10am. The breakfast was fabulous and so delicious. It had a selection of fresh juices, assorted meats and cheeses, a variety of yummy pastries and cakes, quiche, mini sandwiches on a croissant, ham and cheese melts, granola and muesli, tasty cookies and biscotti, which were perfect for dipping into their excellent coffee. The wonderful staff will bring coffee to your table in a carafe with a side of milk, but you also have the choice of requesting specialty coffees such as a latte, espresso, americano or a cappuccino. The staff were so helpful, and someone was always available to answer all of our questions.
There is a restaurant or cafe at every turn. Those with a waterfront view are more on the pricier side, but if you are willing to get lost in the maze of streets, you will be able to find a variety of picturesque and budget worthy dining options.
Must sees and things to do
- San Marco or St. Marks square in English. There lies a stunning basilica, Doge’s Palace and a clock tower that offers panoramic views for a price. Entry is not free into any of these landmarks.
- T Fondaco Dei Tedeshi by DFS Galleria offer up spectacular rooftop views of Venice. Entry is free and so worth it!
- You need to take in the views off the Rialto Bridge located next to the Rialto stop on the Vaporetto
- Tour the Grand Canal. You can hire a gondola, a private water taxi or take the public water taxi (the vaporetto) which makes frequent stops along the canal. For €7.50, you can ride the length of the canal, one way, for 75 minutes. This is definitely worthwhile, as you will be able to take in all the sights. With frequent stops, you can hop on and hop off at no additional cost. Keep in mind that this is the main mode of transportation up and down the canal, so if a ferry boat isn’t your thing, you may want to splurge and hire a private Gondola for an hour or two.
- Wander the corridors, admire the architecture and get lost in the city
T Fondaco Dei Tedeshi by DFS Galleria is a department store offering up stunning views for free from its top floor. You can reserve your time on their website, or stand in line. My mom and I waited in line for less than 5 minutes which worked out perfectly. For 15 minutes take in the views, admire the beauty of Venice and take lots of pictures.
If you have two-three full days in Venice, you may want to consider the neighboring islands of Burano and Murano. Burano is home to a lace museum and brightly colored buildings making it absolutely picturesque for photo ops. The glass museum is located in Murano. Murano glass can be found in almost every store around Venice. Their handcrafted pieces make a gorgeous keepsake.
How to pack
We arrived in Venice on the morning of June 12th and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect during our stay.
- 2 dresses
- 1 lightweight black sweater
- 1 comfy pair of walking sandals
- 1 brimmed hat
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 zip up purse
- 1 pair of joggers (for on the train)
- 1 top
I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t pick this dress to wear specifically in Venice, because of course I did! I had it all planned out!
Venice came and went far too quickly! When it was time to leave, we took the Vaporetto from Rialto to Ferrovia to catch a train to Milano Centrale from San Lucia station.
Travel by train: On the fast trains, it’s definitely worth it to pay a little extra to ride in first class. The seats are comfortable, they recline, and you are provided with a juice or coffee as well as a bottle of water and a sweet or salty snack depending on your departure time.
Where to stay: I recommend staying in San Marco. The location couldn’t be more central. You will be so grateful to be near transportation, all the attractions, shopping and an abundance of dining options. If you can find a hotel with breakfast included, even better! This saves you time and money, and most are buffet style with a large selection. Booking.com is great, some of their hotels have cancellation polices, however I also recommend contacting hotels directly, as they may offer a better rate. I always shop around when it comes to booking a hotel!
Websites for planning your time
- Trenitalia – the train systems are amazing in Italy
- Booking.com – for hotel bookings
- Hotel Serenissima – where we stayed and loved
- T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace – to reserve your time to visit the terrace overlooking Venice
The next stop on our trip was Lake Como, so stay tuned for Part Two of my Italy itinerary!
You may also want to check out my Italy Outfit Round Up, where I rounded up all of my favourite outfits from my stay in Italy!