After several years of travel, I’d have to say Venice, Italy is still my favorite place of all time. There’s something so unique about a city floating in water, and gondoliers singing their way through the canals.
It’s not even so much about the architecture or the food (which I do love), but it’s more about the feeling I get when I’m there. Venice made me fall in love with traveling, and it continues to shine through the visits.
“I think that if you ask any traveler which country is their favorite, they’ll probably tell you the first country that made them fall in love with traveling. We feel that connection to the one where we got bitten with the travel bug.” – NomadicMatt
I honeymooned through Italy in 2011, and Venice was our first stop. I’ll never forget the awe I was in the entire time I was there. At that moment my travel list grew exponentially, and clearly, it hasn’t stopped since. How can you forget that feeling?
I’ve now been to Venice three times, plus 19 other Italian towns, and numerous countries around the world, yet Venice still wins me over.
It’s such a visited city, and parts of it could be so touristy. But it has this charm that even the most seasoned travelers can’t deny.
As I was editing these photos, I was reminded of how much I love this city and all its dreamlike moments. Like looking out of the hotel window and watching the gondoliers casually passing by.
Or catching the traffic jam under the Bridge of Sighs. Legend has it that the Bridge of Sighs got its name because prisoners who crossed it on the way to their cells or execution chambers would sigh as they caught their last glimpse of Venice through the tiny windows.
Even something as simple as seeing the locals run their errands and wondering if they realize how magical their city is.
Then passing by an artist who’s painting a picture of the scene.
And visiting Florian, one of the oldest (and most gorgeous) cafes in the world that was born in 1720. I recommend you sit outside and enjoy their live orchestra, definitely adds to the experience.
Or taking in the views from the Rialto Bridge and capturing that perfect photo.
I mean, come on! How can you not feel like you’re walking through a movie scene whenever you’re in Venice?
Whatever the moment is, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one enamored with this floating city.
Where To Eat
But enough about the magic, let’s talk food…
Gelateria CA’ D’oro– My favorite gelato place in town! Try the Amarena flavor, my favorite of all.
Torrefazione Cannaregio– Well reviewed roastery making delicious cappuccinos while you stand by the counter like a true local. The service is amazing, and you can even bring some coffee beans home with you. Aren’t those the best souvenirs?
Dal Moro’s– Takeaway pasta, and one of the best-reviewed places in town. Venice isn’t cheap and paying for a sit-down meal every day and night can get expensive. Dal Moro is a great option for a cheaper dinner, and it’s so good that you’ll most likely run into a line while you’re visiting, but it moves pretty quickly.
Gelatoteca Suso– Another great gelato stop with really good reviews to back me up. I loved their coconut flavor.
Frulalà Fruit Bar– This place was so fun! They had two locations when we were there, and we chose the outdoor stand with a handful of stools, and people walking by wondering what all our fuss was about. The guy working the juice/cocktail bar was offering people free shots as they walked by as a way to draw them in lol. It worked. Cocktails are made with real fruit, super refreshing and delicious.
Where To Stay
Hotel San Cassiano – Residenza d’Epoca Ca’ Favaretto– This was the first hotel we stayed in when visiting in 2011. It’s right on the Grand Canal, and we chose a room with a canal view. The rooms are decorated in traditional Venetian style. They serve a wonderful breakfast, and the breakfast room has a balcony with a gorgeous view of the canal.
Carnival Palace Hotel– Located near the Jewish quarter (and Cannaregio), further away from the Grand Canal, but closer to the train station. Our room had a canal view, and the decor was more luxury modern. Their breakfast options included an omelette bar and mimosa’s!
You can also go for an Airbnb anywhere near or around the areas mentioned above or the Cannaregio District (save $40 on your first Airbnb HERE.) Cannaregio is a great area that’s not as crowded as the center and filled with lots of cool facades and food options.
Some Side Notes
Do not leave without visiting Burano, the most colorful island I’ve ever seen in my life, and it’s only a 40-minute boat ride away. I’ll blog about this place very soon.
If this is your first time visiting Venice, splurge on that gondola ride (if it’s on your list). We did it the first year just to have the experience and loved it, but it’s too expensive to do it every time. Shop around, there’s a base price of 80 euros for 40 minutes but gondoliers will add to it depending on length and time of day. Look for them outside of main areas, you’ll usually find a better deal. Don’t be afraid to haggle a little.
The water taxi rides are worth it, especially for your arrival and departure. The city can be hard to navigate at first, it’s basically a maze once you go into the side streets. We got so lost the first year we visited just trying to get to our hotel, and not the fun kind of lost. Save yourself time and take a taxi to your hotel, enjoy the views of the city from the water, and take lots of photos along the way.