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Venice needs no introduction. It simply has to be seen and 20 million visitors do exactly that every year!
Take in the beauty of the canals and islands and explore this unique city!
Many people will begin or end their trips to Slovenia in Venice.
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Car Rental in Venice
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First time in Venice - What to do and see in Venice?
Our little man was really excited to be seeing Venice for the first time. He knew from what we had told him and what he had seen and read that Venice was a place
like no other. We had spent a few days exploring the Slovenia coast and now it was time to board the Dora ferry for the journey across the Adriatic.
Ferry to/from Slovenia to Venice
Sloveniaforyou.com are partners with the ferry company that provide this fantastic service during the summer months so click the link above or here:
Slovenia-Venice Ferry Link
for all the details and Email here to book.
The journey takes about 3 hours and you can choose to grab a comfortable seat indoors or try to secure a seat outside on the rear deck. You can take the guided tour that the ferry offers if you are returing to Slovenia, or just book a one way fare if you are travelling onwards from Venice.
As the boat began to slow down, we hurried out on deck to secure a good vantage spot. As we approached Venice, we could see the long shadows of the Lido in the distance.
Rounding the Lido and then Sant Elena, we got our first glimpse of Venice proper. Vessels of all shapes and sizes were now darting across the lagoon with skill and purpose.
We slowed right down to avoid any mishaps and glided up towards St Marks Square.
On the right bank, people were growing in numbers the closer we got to the Grand Canal. Private yachts worth millions were anchored in front of grand old villas that are now hotels, apartments or private residences. We reached St Marks Square and marveled at the Doges Palace, the Square and the belltower. The church of San Giorgio Maggiore on the other side was no less impressive. We headed left up the larger canal and not the Grande Canal as that is not suitable for larger vessels. On the left is Guidecca and we took photos of the impressive Hilton Molino Stucky which attracts some of the most well known and wealthiest guests to Venice.
We docked and disembarked at San Basilio which seemed like a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of St Marks and the Rialto. Our first challenge was to find our hotel!
Getting Lost in Venice!
One tip about Venice is that most maps are only superficial in their usefulness. They show the main streets but neglect most of the smaller alley ways. A lot of alley ways are simply
not named or labelled, so you have no clue where you are sometimes.
We tried about 3 or 4 maps on this trip and got lost using all of them. Not that this is a bad thing. Part of Venice's charm is getting lost and exploring the quiet back alleys,
trying to get a glimpse of the real residents of Venice going about their daily routines. It is here where you will find a corner bar or restaurant that the locals are settled in discussing the
Our little guy loved the canals and standing on the many bridges that cross them and counting the number of gondolas passing underneath. In Venice itself we found that you could cover the whole area on both sides of the Grand Canal in 2 full days including time to browse, take the mandatory 12,000 photos and a course stop for an Aperol Spritz! If you allowed 2-3 days for the outlying islands and maybe a few days up your sleeve for St Marks, shopping and just relaxing, a week is needed to really explore and get to know this amazing city.
St Marks Square (San Marco)
St Marks Square can get horribly crowded in all seasons except winter. The focal meeting point in Venice, crowds flock to admire the square and to queue, and queue
and queue, waiting for entry into the major sights including the Doges Palace, the Campanile and St Marks Basilica. Throw in a museum and a gallery and you've got a whole day
just there. You are best advised to come really early or really late to try to avoid the crush. Some tickets can be pre-paid so you can jump the queues or you
could choose to take one of the multitude of tours on offer.
Eating out in Venice
Its probably not wise to come to Venice unless you've saved your pennies, and lots of them!! Venice is a very expensive city and the merchants know that once there,
they have a captive audience. We made the mistake of taking the hotels advice and eating at their recommendation. They obviously get kick backs but this is no
guarantee that the service or food will be any good. In this case, it was not. A lot of restaurants charge a cover charge and a service charge so do some research before settling in.
If they bring anything that was not requested (eg bread, breadsticks, water) you can be sure they are adding it to the bill. Standing at a cafe whilst eating or drinking
costs less than taking a seat and be especially aware of this if sitting to dine in St Marks Square, boy is it expensive. We spent 8 euros for a can of coke.
We dined at several restaurants for dinner and experienced pretty much the same standard. Wait staff take your order but add nothing to the experience. Portions that are miniscule for the price you pay and meals that taste ordinary to say the least. We could list some restaurants that are the exception to the rule, but it is all very subjective so best to check Trip Advisor or the various other guides available.
Our suggestion for dining (for the average family) is to make lunch the main meal (find somewhere that offers value for money and preferably with no service\cover charge) and then bar hop at night trying cicchetti (like Tapas, bite size snacks made from fresh, local ingredients for only a few euros each) from one bar to the next. Pizza from a hole in the wall or pizzeria is always good value and a large slice can be had for 2 euros. Supermarkets are often well hidden with no markings but you can notice them by the electronic sliding doors as you pass. You may just want to buy some bread and salami and eat on the run.
And speaking of cicchetti, there is a lot of activity around the Rialto Bridge but we prefer the ones you find by accident, in the far corners of Venice like over by the Arsenal
for instance. SFY offer a great cicchetti tour that is getting rave reviews, see more details through UrbanAdventures and book using our link:
Amazing Cicchetti Tour
Shopping and Getting Around in Venice
The Rialto is good for shopping and that is another delight whilst in Venice. Those with unlimited funds will have fun on Calle Larga XXII Marzo, just west of San Marco,
(Prada, Gucci, D&G etc) but the rest of us mere mortals will enjoy haggling over a colorful mask or some glassware from Murano. Stores can be found down almost
every main alley, usually it goes: souvenirs, shoes, bags, masks, jewellery, cafe and the process starts again.
At 7 euros per journey, transport is quite costly if you're just taking individual water taxi ferries (Vaparettos) from place to place. A one, two or three day travelcard is the way to go if you are moving around a lot from island to island or just down the Grande Canale. Traghetto are the cheapest way to cross the canals if you just need to go from one side to the other but they are unnerving as you must stand for the journey. Not ideal for a family but ok for a single person and only a couple of euros. Then of course we come to the Gondola. They are everywhere and definitely an experience you must have! Take the splurge and find a gondolier who looks cheery and respectable.
Outer Islands around Venice
The outlying islands of Venice are another world away. Murano and Burano seem so secluded away from the hustle and bustle that is Venice. Many people will take
day tours that cover the main islands rather than trying to see each one individually. A good idea if you can find the right tour. People on tours stopping in
Murano for instance, have often complained that it is just one long sales pitch as they walk through the glassworks after seeing a minute or so of actual Glassblowing.
Same for Burano and its lace but on a smaller scale. Even the Cimitero or Cemetery island is quite interesting.
The Lido is a couple of days exploring on its own. Packed with the well-to-do crowd on private beaches in summer, people don't realise how long it actually is
and you definitely need transport to see the whole island. Probably a good idea to stay away from here during the Film Festival.
Venice in Review
From our hotel balcony window, our little guy made friends with a pigeon who stopped by momentarily before flapping off across the canal.
Amongst the charm around its canals, a lot of Venice looks run down, derelict and shabby. Its no surprise considering how old the buildings are and the cost to keep them going.
Many have fallen into disrepair as the owners have no funds to fix them. Some of these villas have been restored and look amazing, especially grand on the inside.
The constant flooding (Acqua Alta) in Venice doesn't help but the system of barriers they are constructing will hopefully alleviate this problem.
We love Venice because of it's uniqueness. A city built on the water that has an amazing history and is like no other. The people, the food, the drink, the art and culture. Events like the Film and Fashion festival plus the Carnivale mean there is always something going on. Come and join the masses and experience Venice at least once in your lifetime. Hopefully our brief review has given you some insight into this amazing city. Ciao Venezia!
Getting From Venice to Slovenia (and vice versa)
We can help you with one way car rental\hire if you wish to leave Venice Airport\Treviso and drop the car off in Slovenia or another nearby country (eg Croatia)
See our page at: One Way Car Rentals from Venice\Treviso
You can of course also pick up and drop off at Venice Airport\Treviso as well whilst travelling into Slovenia, Austria or Croatia etc.
From Venice the freeway takes you east towards the Slovenian border. The freeway will almost seamlessly take you straight to Ljubljana but beware that there are often roadworks on the freeways which may result in delays. You are tolled at tollbooths in Italy but please be aware that once you near the Slovene border, you MUST buy a Slovenian Toll Vignette sticker to place on the car windscreen. Purchase at any service station near the border. They come in various time length periods. You will be fined heavily if you do not possess a vignette. Same for Austria as well.
A couple of alternative diversions from heading straight to Ljubljana would be:
a) At Nova Gorica, turn left and head up the beautiful Soca Valley following the emerald green Soca River, a must see! At Most Na Soci you can take the car train under the mountain to Lake Bled and Bohinj on the other side. Or you can keep heading north to visit charming towns of Kobarid and Bovec with spectacular mountain views and hiking paths. From Bovec head over the Vrsic Pass and down to Kranjska Gora where you can then join the freeway and head to Bled or Ljubljana.
b) Near Slovenia, head south and visit bustling Trieste and other towns and sights in the area like Koper, Izola, Piran and Portoroz along the Slovene coast. Lipica, Skocjan Caves, Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle. Then head up the freeway to Ljubljana.
If not hiring a car, GoOpti offer great rates for transfers from Venice\Treviso\Trieste to Ljubljana and other Slovenian towns. Check and book via our link HERE
Trains are plentiful from Venice Mestre to Gorizia where you can jump the border with a bus or taxi to Nova Gorica. You can then either take a bus from Nova Gorica to Ljubljana or take a train to Bled Jezero via the Soca Valley as mentioned above. It is quite a scenic journey! You can also take a train from Venice to Trieste. From here take a taxi to Sezana and continue with another train to Ljubljana. Or take a bus to Koper and explore the coast before taking a train from Koper to Ljubljana.
Easier to take a train as mentioned above and then take a bus from Nova Gorica. There is a bus from Trieste to Ljubljana but it is at some silly time and not worth the worry unless the times match up for you. There are also buses from Koper or Sezana if you don't want to take a train.
See the top of the page for a full review of the Ferry Service between Venice and Piran (Slovenia).
Top 10 Sights and things to do in Venice
1. St Marks Square (Piazza di San Marco)
The epicentre of Venice needs no introduction. The square is without doubt the focal point of Venice and the main meeting point for the millions who come every year.
The square itself is an imposing space being enclosed on all sides by arcade style buildings which house offices, museums and stores and cafes at ground level.
The domain of pigeons and cafe tables, the square is famous for being the location of the Doges Palace, the Basilica San Marco and the Campanile (Bell Tower).
2. Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
The most famous and recognisable bridge that crosses the Grand Canal in Venice,
The Rialto was the main food market and off loading point for cargo in days gone by
when Venice ruled the trade routes. Today the markets still thrive and the elegant marble bridge is home to a myriad of shops that try their best to part the tourist from their holiday dollars! A must see.
3. Doges Palace and Bridge of Sighs (Palazzo Ducale)
Venice’s most famous palace, the rulers of Venice lived here since the 7th\8th centuries in this magnificent gothic creation and also during the renaissance period when Venice was at its most powerful.
Famous artists like Tintoretto and Titian were employed to adorn every room and every room is simply stunning. You will marvel at the architecture, history and art at every turn. The Palace was
also a jail and when a new jail was built adjoining it, it was linked by the now famous Bridge Of Sighs. As you might expect, the queues for the Palace Tour are very long if you aren’t with a tour. But it’s worth it!
The romantic symbol of Venice, the gondola is a beautifully sleek and slender boat and one of the main attractions for anyone visiting Venice.
There are about 500 gondolas in use today and they can be seen everywhere, from the Grand Canal to the back canals. A gondola can hold up to 6 people and the standard trip and fare is set at 40 minutes so the price
will be calculated accordingly depending on how long you want to go. Also note that prices are higher in the evening. If you’re lucky, you may get a gondolier who will serenade you!
5. St Marks Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
One of the most famous examples of Byzantine Architecture anywhere, it goes without saying that if you are visiting St Marks Square, you will want to visit the Doges Palace, the Campanile and the Basilica.
The original structure has remained relatively untouched for a thousand years, but come inside and see the amazing interior which has been regularly embellished over the years.
6. Glassblowing in Murano
Glassmaking from Murano is world famous and a visit to see them making the glassware is really a mind blowing experience. Obviously not a skill picked up overnight but rather handed down from generation to generation,
the art of transforming silica into virtually anything you want is a sight to behold. The island of Murano is full of these workshops but beware, most tours (and beware of any so called “free” tours) are aimed at
showing you a short demonstration, then grinding you hard in the showroom until you relent and buy something. But have fun in the process.
If you are thinking about visiting Venice but can’t decide when to go, Carnevale might be right up your alley. While still horribly crowded under the mostly grey skys of Febraury/March,
Carnevale has to be up there as one of the world’s great parties. The two week festival is a colourful affair with parades, fireworks and of course, the obligatory wearing of the famous Venetian masks!
No one has a definitive answer as to why people started wearing them, but hell, they’re a lot of fun and a great way to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise speak to! Go to a grand ball or just wander the streets,
Venice is alive during Carnevale!
A trip up to the top of the Campanile Bell Tower in St Marks Square is a must do if you want a great bird's eye view of Venice. It's a 100 metre elevator ride up and costs around 8 euros. Just be sure to avoid being up at the top of the hour as the bells will deafen you!
9. Other Islands
Venice is made up of many islands and the Vaparettos or water taxis make it easy to get around and see all of them. We’ve already mentioned Murano, but you can also visit Burano, famous for its lace and colourful houses,
or the Lido, playground for the rich and famous and a beautiful island. Guidecca is opposite St Marks and is also a fantastic place to visit. Even Cemetary Island (Cimitero) is a fascinating place to stop if you have the time.
So many choices, so little time!
10. Getting Lost and Dining in Venice
This is something you will naturally do whilst in Venice but getting lost is so much fun. Wandering the streets with no sense of direction or time limits is really enjoyable. Along the way, you can of course stop at the many trendy cafes to sip an Aperol Spritz and people watch. Bars offer cicchetti or finger food and there are hundreds of restaurants to choose from, just watch out that your wallet isn’t stung too hard! The fish markets are a highlight of any visit so perhaps try some local recipes with fresh seafood from the lagoon!
11. We’ll throw in one more….Art and History
Venice IS art and history so of course Venice has some superb museums (Correr, Ducal) and art galleries (like the Accademia and the Googenheim).
There are too many to mention but all you have to do is look around you.
Lovers of art, history and culture will have a great time exploring Venice!