It was very early on a Saturday morning when we headed to the train station to catch our train from Verona to Venice. With our tickets purchased and seats reserved, our camping booked near Venice, we had everything we needed to enjoy a relaxing trip to the city of love.
Except we forgot one tiny huge detail: it was a Saturday in August and we were on our way to one of the most visited cities in the whole world.
Bottom line: we couldn’t even get to our “reserved” seat on the train. We actually couldn’t get past the entrance to the train so that’s where we stayed for the rest of the journey, in a fully packed train, with André standing up and me sitting down on a “seat” that a kind Italian man offered up.
Our adventure had only just begun!
Some hours later, we were finally in Venice and we (along with the rest of the crowd on the train), stepped onto the station and went directly to our camping.
We had actually booked a night at a camping site with a pool so it felt amazing to dip our toes in the fresh water before venturing out into Venice.
Once at the Floating City, it was easy to forget the morning madness. The smell of the sea, the sound of the gondolas floating along the canals, the picturesque façades of the colorful Venetian buildings: everything came together to create a romantic and enchanting atmosphere around us. We tried to visit the best of Venice in the short time we had so here are our tips for the attractions you can’t miss:
PIAZZA SAN MARCO
For those who visit Venice with such a short amount of time as we did, this is the best starting point to the rest of the city. In this square, which is also known as the largest reception hall in Europe, you can find Venice’s main monuments such as Basilica San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, Campanile, Torre dell’Orologio, the Bridge of Sighs and Museo Correr.
BASÍLICA SAN MARCO
A true architectural masterpiece, this was undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking monuments we have seen in Europe to date. Originally built to receive the body of Saint Mark, the basilica combines the best of Western and Eastern architecture in a blend full of unique details. Admire the byzantine ornaments on its exterior and the Pala d’Oro inside, a collection of 250 panels covered in gold that embellish the altar.
BRIDGE OF SIGHS
This bridge, which connects the interrogation rooms of the Palazzo Ducale to the prison is undoubtedly the most famous and photographed bridge out of the 400 ones that cross the canals of Venice. Interestingly enough, its name comes from the sighs of the prisoners that would pass by there, but legend says that couples who kiss on a gondola under the bridge at sunset will be granted eternal love.
The gondolas are the icon of Venice. Everyone always imagines themselves floating along the canals on a gondola in the most romantic scenery of all at least once in their lifetime. Today, the gondolas are used by tourists and a gondola ride through the canals of Venice is a must!
Best known as the Doge’s Palace, this was a residence for the Venetian nobility since the 9th century. It’s simply a majestic building, extremely well-preserved, and its outer façade is breathtaking and unique, built with white Istrian stone. Today, you can visit the palace and admire the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, the Porta della Carta and the Giant’s Stairway.
There are over 150 canals in Venice and the Grand Canal is, as you can already guess, its biggest extending for some 4km. This great water corridor is where the Vaporetto, the gondolas and the water taxis circulate. Follow the canal, which starts near the lagoon by the Santa Lucia station, and walk along to Piazza San Marco, crossing the Rialto and Academia bridges on the way.
GALLERIA DELL’ ACADEMIA
If you only have time to visit one of the various art galleries in the city, then make it this one. It’s here that you’ll find the largest collection of Venetian art with works dating back to the founding of Venice all the way to the Renaissance, with the Byzantine and Baroque eras in between.