Venice is one of my favorite places we’ve ever visited. We reminisce on our first night in Venice a lot. We ate at a waterfront restaurant late at night once we were all settled in our hotel and then wondered the streets a bit. We finished the night by opening a bottle of red wine that we brought with us from Santorini, and sat with our feet hanging off of the sidewalk close to the water and just talked for a couple of hours. Venice is one of those towns that you naturally feel and can be safe in. There are no worries that came to mind about safety, scams, pickpocketing, etc. It was an amazing time to just explore a new city and take in all the views.
1. Visit St. Mark’s Square at night
The most romantic and beloved part of our trip to Venice was when we stumbled upon the St. Mark’s Square at night. The square has restaurants parallel to one another that have a live orchestra play during dinner time. It was such a beautiful sight to see – kids running around playing, people buying roses from locals walking around, clear starry sky, gorgeous Saint Marks Basilica glowing from the lights around it, and having orchestras take turns playing beautiful classical pieces. We would sit there for an hour sometimes just soaking it all in.
2. Tour Bridge of Sighs & Doge’s Palace
A place where the Venetian Government have met in the past, and once Doge’s residence, this beautiful building is a must see tour that you can usually get a ticket for that includes the Bridge of Sighs which is the most famous bridge where prisoners would walk thru on their way to their cells or execution. It’s called the Bridge of Sighs because it was their last look to the outside world.
3. Watch the sunset at Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge is filled with souvenir shops to check out, loads of waterfront restaurants, gondolas waiting to pick up people for a ride, and a gorgeous place to catch the sunset. Tourists will push thru the crowd to get a good look of the sunset and it’s definitely worth it! To this day, that is the most gorgeous sunset I have ever seen. You can’t capture the beauty in a photo. Must see!
4. Get lost in the city
Venice itself is pretty tiny and walk-able. We loved to try different streets everyday and discover new squares and shopping centers that we hadn’t seen the previous day. My recommendation is if you see something that you want to buy, make a bookmark in your maps of where it’s at. There were a couple of shops we thought we’d remember the name to and were never able to retrace our steps back to the correct shops!
5. Visit a nearby island – Burano and Murano
These are both easy boat tours away from Venice with particular history to their islands that you can discover. Burano is known for its bright colored buildings and lace making. You’ll still see lots of shops that sell their fabric. Murano is known for its glassblowing. We visited Burano. It was an easy boat ride, and the buildings were definitely colorful. It had a very small town vibe to it and was a good 2-hour stop. If you have more things on your list for Venice, I’d recommend maybe skipping these trips and exploring more of Venice.
Pro Tip for dining: Due to constraints with getting food to the islands of Venice, lots of restaurants charge a cover charge (coperto) to dining in. It’s usually written on the first or last page of the menu so it can be a bit discreet. That can add up to 15 euros to a bill at times so check for that prior to ordering.