One of the things that I’ve loved about blogging is that I’ve been able to find some pretty amazing women that I have a lot in common with! Today one of those women is guest posting for me: Emily from Everyday Accounts. Not only do we both happen to be accountants, but we also have a deep love for traveling and are both Texans!
I’m so glad that I found her blog last year, and I’ve loved being able to follow along on all of our travels inside and outside of Texas, including a 2.5 month trip to Europe that she took with her husband earlier this year! Thank you so much Emily for writing this guest post for me about one of the beautiful cities that we’ll be visiting!
Hello there, Wandering Weekenders readers! I’m Emily, and you can find me at my blog Everyday Accounts. Ashley and I have so many things in common: we both live in the great state of Texas, work as accountants, and love travel and adventure. Needless to say, I was very excited when Ashley asked me to guest post while she is exploring Europe!
My husband and I have made travel and adventure a top priority throughout our first five years of marriage despite both holding full-time jobs. On my blog, I share about our travels, and I’m always sharing about our everyday lives at home in Austin. Currently, I’m writing up mini travel guides on the cities we visited on an extended trip around Western Europe.
We didn’t know what to expect out of Venice because we had heard mixed reviews from our friends and family – some thought it was wonderful, while some didn’t enjoy it at all. Because we weren’t certain, we only booked two nights there, and we ended up wishing we had had more time to explore the “City of Water”. Although we know there is plenty for us to discover still, we left feeling like we had done the best we could to get to know Venice on such a short trip. That’s why, while I recommend booking more time, in today’s post I’m sharing my recommendations for the traveler who only has one day in Venice.
1. Take the morning tour with Venice Free Walking Tours.
This tour group prides itself on taking tourists “off the beaten path” in the city while still giving a thorough overview of Venetian history and culture. They do fantastic at both goals – just check out the TripAdvisor reviews! All of the guides are locals and know many details about the city that you won’t find in a guidebook. Interestingly, you can’t know your tour route beforehand because each guide takes a different route based on their favorite parts of the city. Although Daniel and I are planners, we didn’t mind this method – after all, Venice is the perfect city to simply wander and explore in.
None of the guides take their groups to visit St. Mark’s Square or the Realto Bridge because they focus on the local heart of the city, but they still share some history and facts about those areas. At the end of the tour, we were provided with a very helpful list of suggestions for dining and exploring. I recommend signing up ahead of time – our group was full when we went in March, so they weren’t accepting anyone who hadn’t booked ahead. Also, bring some cash to tip your guide at the end. They offer afternoon tours as well, but with only one day in Venice, you’ll want to take the morning tour to get a feel for the city before you start your own exploring.
2. Stop in the Libreria Acqua Alta.
If you like unique bookstores, you will love Libreria Acqua Alta. This bookstore has tons of used and new books scattered all over the place. You will find books sitting in gondolas and bathtubs and more. The best part is the back of the shop where you will find a staircase made of books that you can climb for a gorgeous view of the canal!
3. Check out the Venetian mask shops.
Venice celebrates the Carnival of Venice each year, and it is perhaps most famous for the iconic Venetian masks people wear during the festival. There are shops all over the city where you can peek in and look at the handmade masks.
4. Eat gelato.
This suggestion speaks for itself. You cannot go to Venice and not get a gelato to have in hand while exploring. We enjoyed Suso Gelato which is close to the Rialto Bridge.
5. Visit Realto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square.
These two attractions are about 8 minutes apart and by far the most touristy parts of the city. They are great places to people watch, and you have to see them both at least once.
6. Peek into the stunning St. Mary of the Friars church.
Known as Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Italy, the church as it stands today was completed in 1396. Don’t let the plain exterior keep you out – the inside is an absolute treasure.
While one day in Venice doesn’t allow enough time to visit one of their world-class museums, this church is a museum in and of itself. It holds many Venetian Renaissance art pieces and monuments to famous artists and sculptors.
The entrance fee is about $15 per person, and the church closes at 6pm each day and is closed on Sunday mornings. Don’t miss this!
7. Have dinner at Osteria alla Staffa…
…or one of the other authentic, family-owned Venetian restaurants outside of the touristy area.
Book a table or arrive right at 7pm! Italians don’t eat dinner until at least 9pm, but based on our experience, they tend to book tables ahead of time. When we walked in at 7pm, we were only able to be seated without a reservation if we agreed to be finished by 9pm.
8. Get lost!
Venice is known as a place to wander without a destination, and I cannot recommend doing that enough. We did this once during the evening and once during the day – both are very different and very wonderful experiences.
Those of you planning a trip to Venice may notice that we didn’t do a few of the more popular Venice activities such as riding a gondola or going over to the Murano or Burano islands. While we would have loved to go to the islands, one day in Venice did not allow enough time to explore both the main part of Venice and the islands. After discussing the gondola ride with our Airbnb host, we decided against it. He explained that they are very expensive and not as romantic or charming as they seem (he gave us the image of a gondolier chatting on the cell phone while kicking walls to propel the gondola). We ended up being happy with our decision: it didn’t quite fit in our budget, and it gave us more time to spend exploring the city by land.
Those are my recommendations for one day in Venice! I hope that most travelers have more than one day in this beautiful city, but as you can see, it is possible to have a wonderful time in Venice with just 24 hours. Happy travels!