One Day in VeniceExtras — By Mary on December 2, 2011 at 12:29 am
Exploring each of Venice’s awe-inspiring sites in a day, is tricky, but it can be done. When short on time in Venice, there are three main things to do to get an overall feel for the city and its surrounding lagoon islands.
Venice’s main attraction, St. Mark’s Square, is lively and grand. Wide and open compared to Venice’s narrow pedestrian-only streets. The square, surrounded on three sides by stunning architecture and gleaming water on the fourth, is always overflowing with both people and pigeons. The highlight of the square is the edge showcasing the Byzantine architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica. With its intricate marble and gold domes and gothic accents, St. Mark’s Basilica is a sight to behold. Four horses stand watch at its crest, like proud guardians of the city, keeping watch over Venice and its inhabitants. St. Mark’s Basilica is open to visitors and for an extra fee you can ascend upstairs toward the horses for some aerial views of the bustling square.
An easy boat ride will take you to the nearby island of Murano, the home of the famous Venetian glass. Unless you’re a glass blowing fanatic an hour or so here is enough to see a hot glass demonstration, browse a few shops, and pick up some souvenirs. Many shops offer shipping services. To get to Murano head to the S. Zaccaria waterbus station just off of St. Mark’s square along the waterfront and take the 4.1 or 4.2 line to the Colonna stop in Murano. It will take about 40-60 minutes to get there, however it is worth the time spent, as it will provide a scenic view of Venice’s larger canals.
For an insider’s look at Venice’s skinny canals and waterways, there is no better option than the quintessential gondola ride. A gondola ride may seem overpriced and cliché, especially if you’re on a budget, but do you really want to go all the way to Venice and not do what the city is most known for? When choosing a gondola, keep in mind that gondola rides departing from tourist heavy areas are most likely going to result in a more crowded canal during the ride, while getting off Venice’s beaten path can result in a more intimate ride along Venice’s back canals. To cut down on costs, go on a gondola ride during the day, opt out of being serenaded, and share the experience with others.
There is one thing you can’t forget to do while in Venice: get lost. It is entirely possible for you to accomplish this accidentally, but if your sense of direction is acute, and you always have your bearings then we suggest “getting lost” on purpose. Amble through some of Venice’s mysterious and romantic alleyways, and flip a coin over which way to turn and let chance decide which corners of Venice you’ll end up discovering. The zigzagging skinny lanes, and paths that end with canals are all part of Venice’s allure. Dedicating a few hours walking around is one of the best ways to slide inside the charm and mystique of Venice.
How to Get There
It’s most convenient to get to Venice by air (Marco Polo Airport) or train (Venezia Santa Lucia Station). If you’re flying into Marco Polo Airport you’ll need to get from the mainland to Venice’s city center and the most affordable way to do that is by bus– which can be by land or by sea. The waterbus is the more scenic option, while the land bus is a better budget option. When arriving in Venice by train, you’ll be conveniently dropped off in the center of Venice as the station is located off of the Grand Canal. Upon arriving in Venice’s city center, it’s easy to get lost and disoriented. Be sure to come prepared with directions for arriving at your first point of interest.
Where to Stay
If you’re lucky enough to have time to stay overnight in Venice and see St. Mark’s Square glowing romantically at night, here are some lodging options.
Ostello Venezia: A clean and convenient YHA hostel located on the Giudecca island just a few waterbus stops from St. Mark’s Square. It has a spacious common room and each dorm bed has its own locker. If you don’t have a Youth Hostel Association card, you’ll need to buy a card or pay an extra 3 Euros per night to stay there.
Hotel Riva: A more affordable option in expensive Venice that offers a comfortable stay with canal views and is located just off St. Mark’s Square. Ask to stay on the 2nd or 3rd floor to avoid long hikes up the stairs as there’s no elevator.
Go With The Flow
With its mix of winding alleyways and curving, flowing canals, Venice can sometimes seem dizzying. Just as the city adapted itself to be built over water, if you adapt yourself to the whims of Venice and where the city leads you, you’ll find your own piece of Venice and a more memorable experience in the city built on water.
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