Venice has always been on my list of places to visit, and this year I’ve made myself a birthday present and booked the three of us to go there for three days in April. We found a perfect little AirB&B apartment in a quiet area near the University of Economics (sounds counter-intuitive but it was indeed quiet and peaceful), and spent our time on the island without any plans but just basically walking around, soaking up the history, and enjoying the sights.
On the first day we walked for the whole day, clocking nearly 15 miles according to the smartphone’s pedometer! On the second day we took it a little easier and took a boat to the nearby Burano, and later in the evening enjoyed a boat ride along the whole length of Grand Canal.
We really lucked out with the weather too. It was weird reading about how it always rains in Venice because the weather was absolutely fantastic (even a little too hot!).
At the end of our stay my 7 year old asked: “So, mummy, did we travel to Venice just to walk and look around? What was the point of that?!”. I guess he’s so used to more eventful holidays that involve either a lot of swimming (Spain), or a lot of running around on errands (when we go to Russia to stay with my parents). I think we should start doing more of the “walking and looking around” type holidays, don’t you think?
A few rather random tips for visiting Venice without a plan:
- two full days is really more than enough to walk around and enjoy the sights. We had a half-day on our third day and didn’t even go out as we were shattered!
- don’t forget to visit Burano – a nearby island about 40 minutes – 1 hour away on the boat (depending on where in Venice you are staying) but plan to visit first thing in the morning if you want to avoid the crowds.
- same goes for St Marco’s Square – go very early in the morning to enjoy it – or don’t even bother! We only got there at midday and promptly left – none of us have the patience for endless queuing!
- as someone on a gluten- and dairy- free diet and also a person who doesn’t particularly enjoy seafood I found it really tricky to eat out in Venice – it’s all mostly pizza and pasta everywhere you go. You can get soups in some places so that’s what I did, and since we did have a kitchen in our apartment we cooked dinners ourselves instead. Finding dairy-free milk alternatives in cafes was also really difficult but ask them for espresso with ice and you’ll forget all about lattes, it’s really yummy!
- the best ice cream in Venice, including the yummiest vegan raspberry and dark chocolate gelato is at Gelatoteca Suso near Ponte di Realto.
- we were at first worried about drinking tap water in Venice but soon realised that water fountains are everywhere and a little research confirmed that it’s perfectly safe to drink, and tasty too.