Walk the streets and canals
Venice was made for walking as there are so many charming tiny walkways to wander down, and then you reach the end of one and you’re out in a beautiful piazza or along the grand canal. Navigating the streets is not for the impatient however, the best maps are still insufficient to keep you on the right path or get you to where you want to go with the least number of detours. Google maps wasn’t much better as the GPS wasn’t very good at keeping track of where we were, never mind where we wanted to go. With a 20-foot margin of error, the GPS had us on the wrong path much of the time. But that’s what’s great about Venice, you can just stroll aimlessly and eventually end up somewhere fun and interesting, and you can find great little niches along the way.
Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco is where a lot of the action is; the piazza is the home to a million pigeons, each with its own tourist, or so it seems. Tons of touristy knickknacks can be had for far too much money and you can visit any of the dozen or so restaurants and cafes that line the perimeter of the square. You can also visit Saint Mark’s Cathedral. There is often a long line for the free entry into the cathedral, but we found a place online where for 2 euros you can skip the line and walk right in, totally worth saving 45 minutes to an hour when you have a limited amount of vacation time! You can do it all from your smartphone too within minutes.
Il San Marco Campanile. We found that taking the 8 Euro trip to the top of the bell tower in the Piazza San Marco is sooooo worth it. You get a 360 degree panorama of Venice, the Adriatic, and the Alps for as long as you wish. It’s an easy elevator trip to the top, no walking required!
No trip to Venice would be complete without a ride on the water. It’s up to you how you want to do it: choose a gondola, which is probably most classic, a water taxi, or a vaporetto (water bus). This time in Venice we had a great time on the vaporettos. They are a good value at just $15 for all you can ride for a 24-hour period. They take you to all of the classic spots you want to go, even off of the island. We even took a one-hour tour of the Grand Canal on a vaporetto which you can see here. Obviously the gondolas take you through the much quieter and smaller passageways of Venice and I strongly recommend you try them, but bring your wallet and your patience because the rides are about 80 Euros for about a half hour ride, and there are often long lines. The water taxis cost somewhere between the gondola and the vaporetto, depending on how far you travel, but they get you there quick and directly, if that’s what you’re in to.
While there is a lot to see and do in Venice, it’s a lot of fun to just pretend you’re a local. Just grab a coffee and croissant, a slice of pizza, or a gelato and just sit and watch the tourists walks by. We had a lot of fun trying to guess if the passersby were Americans/Canadians or Europeans, just by the clothes they wore. It’s actually a lot of fun and I think you really enjoy the city (any city for that matter) and feel the energy of it more thoroughly when you are just sitting and being a part of the scenery. We sometimes do that in our home base of San Diego and it feels good to do it while traveling too.