Ultimate Guide to Venice, Italy


As you may have seen on our social media, we just spent 10 days exploring Italy! Although I’d been to Venice before during a study abroad trip during undergrad, I really enjoyed it this second time around (despite having to deal with quite a bit of rain this time!). We spent three days exploring Venice — almost completely by foot — and we’ve put together the ultimate guide to the city. You’ll absolutely love soaking in the beautiful architecture, eating delicious seafood, and maybe even taking a gondola ride through the canals. Keep reading for lodging and transportation options, along with the top things to do and places to stay during your trip to Venice.  Enjoy! 



Why Visit Venice


 Often referred to the “City of Canals” or the “Floating City,” Venice is made up of 118 small islands and over 400 bridges located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon. With around 55,000 inhabitants, Venice is a quaint town that’s growing in popularity among tourists and cruise lines alike. The city is taking measures to reduce the harms of tourism, but with roughly 60,000 tourists visiting Venice in a day, it’s more complicated than it seems. We highly recommend visiting Venice during off-peak months like September to April. Even in mid-May, the canals and top sites seemed dominated by tourists!


Lodging in Venice


Hotel Options

Upscale Hotel Options:

  • The Gritti Palace: We opted to stay at one of Mariott’s Luxury Collection hotels in Venice, The Gritti Palace Since Kevin is Ambassador Elite status with Mariott, we cashed in some of his “suite night” rewards to be upgraded to a suite for our stay. Overall, we were blown away by the room and location of the hotel. We enjoyed having cocktails in their bar (despite the outdoor patio being closed for the duration of our stay), and we thoroughly enjoyed breakfast every morning. The staff was helpful and made our stay even better. We’re writing a full hotel review, so stay tuned for that. If you’re looking for other Mariott hotels, there’s a few other options including JW Mariott, AC Hotels, Courtyard, and Sheraton.



  • Palazzina Grassi – Known for its celebrity visitors, this 5-star hotel is nothing short of amazing! It’s in the perfect location and boasts history and class.
  • JW Mariott – Located on its own private island, Isola delle Rose, is the perfect way to have a getaway. This hotel is sleek and modern and is sure to exceed your expectations! There’s a private water taxi that can take you to the mainland, but if you’re looking to be in the heart of Venice you may want to look elsewhere.

Medium Price Point Hotel Options:

  • AC Hotel Venezia – Newer hotel that’s close to the train station and water taxi stop. The downsides are that it’s a 30 minute walk to St. Mark’s Square and the rooms are on the small side. Overall, this option would be great for someone that wants to be at a Mariott property and is only in town for a day or two.
  • Hotel Antiche Figure – This is a smaller boutique hotel that is known for its friendly staff and great location. It’s located close to the train station and is in an easily walk-able area.
  • Hotel Moresco – Also located near the train station, this hotel would put you about a 15-20 minute walk to the main Venice attractions. This hotel is known for larger bathrooms, comfortable beds and helpful staff. Had we not stayed at the Gritti (or another Mariott property), we would have chosen Hotel Moresco!

Low Price Point Hotel Options:

  • Hotel Tiziano – Located just outside of the hustle and bustle streets, this hotel is perfect for those looking for a place that’s near attractions but doesn’t break the bank. It comes with breakfast and includes wifi, so you’re looking for no-frills and easy lodging, this is your place.
  • Hotel Mercurio Venezia – This location is spectacular! You’ll be a short walk from all of the major sites. The hotel is known for its complimentary breakfasts, wifi, and spacious rooms.
  • Hotel Saturnia & International – Both charming and cozy, this hotel is perfectly situated in the heart of Venice. Reviewers also noted the delicious restaurant within the hotel, so be sure to check that out too.

Airbnb Options

Hotels in Venice tend to provide a lot of value to customers. For example, many offer airport transfer or breakfast included. Sometimes, Airbnbs can be hard to find and difficult to get to within Venice. Since you’ll most likely be walking, you’ll want to consider how you’ll get to the apartment from either the public water bus or a private vapperetto. Nevertheless, we always support Airbnb and love living like locals when we visit new cities. Here are 3 options you may enjoy:

  • Option 1: $68/night apartment with terrace just 10 minutes from the Rialto Bridge
  • Option 2: $56/night ancient Venetian apartment that is super close to main attractions
  • Option 3: $96/night apartment rented by a Superhost. It’s a bit of a splurge (compared to the others) but the views are to die for.

With so many options on Airbnb, we recommend locations that are close to main attractions and that offer flexible check in times (if you’re getting in early or late, for example). If you’re new to Airbnb, you can sign up using this link here to get $20 off your first stay.


Transportation in Venice



As I’ve mentioned above, you will most likely be walking for the majority of your stay in Venice. The public transportation (water bus, which is shown in the left corner of the image above) is reliable, however it can take a great amount of time to get from one destination to the next due to the many stops the water buses make. In addition, the passes can be quite expensive, at 7 Euro one way. Another option is private water taxi, however the cost of this option is extremely high. Check with your hotel or Airbnb for any included transportation to make the most of your stay. Ultimately, we found that walking was the easiest and quickest way to get around Venice.

When you’re traveling in from either the airport or the train station, it’s easy to utilize public transportation. From the airport, you can walk just outside and find kiosks for public bus tickets. This is roughly 8 Euro per person one-way. It’s easy to store your luggage under the bus and the buses take you directly to the first public water bus stop. From there, you’ll buy a 1-way water bus ticket and hop on to head towards your final destination. From the train station, you’ll already be at a water bus stop. It’s easy to buy a ticket and hop on. The water bus routes are pretty easy to understand (and posted throughout all stops) and all water buses are clearly marked with their route number. If you ever get on a water bus that doesn’t have a ticket kiosk at the station, simply go to the driver’s area and say you need to buy a ticket. You’ll simply pay the attendant rather than be fined 60 Euro or more if you’re caught without a ticket.


Eating & Drinking in Venice



Venice is known for its delicious seafood, along with the traditional pizza, pasta and gelatto that Italy prides itself on! We had some wonderful meals while in Venice and are excited to share them with you all. We took full advantage of Venice’s many wine bars and aperitif culture — before dinner people gather at bars or small restaurants for an Aperol Spritz and bruchetta bite before moving on to their next food destination. Our favorite restaurants (plus a few we wish we could have made it to) are included below:


If we didn’t eat breakfast at our hotel, we always tried to find the most authentic-looking cafes along our route to our first stop. We typically ordered croissants/pastries and a cappuccino. We found that with breakfast, it’s most economical to eat and drink at the standing bar rather than sitting and being forced to pay a “cover” charge. However, it’s even pricier to get “take away” coffees, as they up-charge you for the disposable cups. Although we didn’t eat out for breakfast much ourselves, we’ve compiled a list below of places we found to have good reviews or places we were recommended:

  • Pasticceria Italio Didivich – This place is known for its friendly staff that will explain all of the pastries and sandwich options to you. It’s also known for its eggs and bacon, so if you’re feeling American, have at it! 

Price: $

Location: Castello 5908 30122 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: Rialto Bridge

Recommended foods: Pastries + cappuccino 

  • Pasticceria Da Bonifacio – Local spot for breakfast near St. Mark’s. Be warned, there’s no seating and they don’t speak English. Look no further for the perfect Italian breakfast spot!

Price: $

Location: Calle degli Albanesi 4237 30122 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: San Marco

Recommended foods: Chocolate pear tart and chocolate dipped tiramisu

  • Farini – There are two locations in Venice, and they both are extremely popular so seating fills up fast. Try a delicious pastry or a pizza if you’re there for lunch. They also have fruit and yogurt in case you’re feeling like you need a taste of home! 

Price: $

Location: Sestiere Castello 5602 30122 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: Rialto Bridge

Recommended foods: Four cheese bread


  • Rossopomodoro – Situated near St. Mark’s Square, this place is the perfect stop for any meal to be honest! We went multiple times during our trip, and really enjoyed our lunch.

Price: $

Location: Calle larga San Marco 403, 30124 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: San Marco

Recommended foods: Hot dog!

  • Trattoria Pontini – Also a great spot for either lunch or dinner, this restaurant boasts a nice view of the canal and delicious Italian food. If you go for dinner, there can sometimes be a wait so if you don’t want to wait ~30 minutes, we recommend making a reservation!

Price: $$

Location: Cannaregio 1268 30121 Venezia Italy

Closest landmark: Train station

Recommended foods: Seafood pasta and tiramisu 

  • All’Arco – This is a great place to grab small plates, cicchetti. Many reviewers say this is the best cicchetti they had while in Venice. Be warned that sometimes there’s a long (but quick-moving) line, and it’s only open for lunch. It’s closed on Sundays, and it’s cash only. Be there at 11:30 AM for the best selection!

Price: $

Location: San Polo 436 30125 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: Rialto Bridge

Recommended foods: Cured ham and Parmesan cicchetti

  • Bigoi – Although it’s standing room only, this is a must if you’re looking for a quick authentic lunch. With most pastas being just 6 Euro, you’ll be able to grab a hearty meal for a low price.

Price: $

Location: Calle Crosera 3829 30123 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: San Polo

Recommended foods: Duck ragu and beef Bolognese 


  • Rossopomodoro – As we mentioned above, this place is a good stop for a casual meal no matter what time of day it is. We especially loved our dinner here and it inspired us to go back a second time for lunch. It’s possible to make a reservation online, but we didn’t mind the short wait in line. Pro tip: There’s also one of these in Rome if you love it as much as we did and have Rome as a stop on your trip!

Price: $

Location: Calle larga San Marco 403, 30124 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: San Marco

Recommended foods: The calzone is the best bang for your buck, and we even had left overs! 

  • A Le Tole – Known for its ambiance (which is equipped with a live singer!), this restaurant is a good spot for a romantic but not expensive dinner. Be sure to grab a reservation prior to going since it’s small.

Price: $$

Location: Castello Campo San Giovani Paolo Barbaria delle Tole 30122 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: Rialto Bridge

Recommended foods: Duck fettuccine or pizza (large serving!) 

  • Ai Garzoti – This restaurant prides itself in its fresh seafood and hearty meals. Reviewers loved the many options offered and many said it was the best meal they had in Venice. We’d recommend making a reservation prior to going to avoid a long wait.

Price: $$

Location: Santa Croce 890 30135 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: Scalzi Bridge

Recommended foods: Seafood pasta and house wine

  • Trattoria al Portego – This is easily the most authentic restaurant Kevin and I ate at while in Itlay — so much so that the menu is only in Italian! The servers and staff were extremely friendly and helpful. We recommend making a reservation a couple days in advance!

Price: $$

Location: Calle de la Malvasia 6014 30122 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: Rialto Bridge

Recommended foods: Squid ink pasta (not on the menu, but they’ll make it if you ask!), seafood lasagna, and ravioli  


Venice is known for its small tapas, cicchetti. These are small bites, typically served on a slice of baguette (called crostini). They’re usually 2-3 Euro each and are great for sharing a pre-dinner appetizer and drink(s). Most of the spots that serve these don’t have much room for sitting, so make like the locals and stand around outside the restaurant and enjoy! If you do find a seat, be warned that there might be a “cover” charge of about 2 Euros per person — this goes the same for restaurants as well! We’ve listed some of our favorites below.

  • Osteria al Squero – Although it’s a small place, the food is delicious and there’s plenty of room to take your small bites outside to sit along the canal (which happens to be a gondola boatyard, so enjoy the views!). Grab a glass of Prosecco to complete the appetizer!

Price: $

Location: Dorsoduro 943 30100 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: Pointe dell’Academia

Recommended foods: Meatball and fish fritter

  • Le Chat qui Rit – We loved this cute little restaurant and went back multiple times for drinks, but not for dinner (although we wish we had!). When you order drinks, you get some small appetizers like chips, nuts, and olives. The service was great and we enjoyed relaxing and people watching in their outdoor seating! 

Price: $$$

Location: Calle Tron San Marco 1131 30124 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: San Marco

Recommended foods: Purple wine (sounds weird, but it’s just a type of rose!)

  • Naranzaria – This was the best find bar-wise of our entire trip I’d say! We went multiple times for drinks and cicchetti before dinner. If you’re here and want another drink before dinner with a change of scenery, stop by Al Merca which is right near by.



Price: $

Location: San Polo 130 30125 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: Rialto Bridge

Recommended foods: Aperol spritz! Or any glass of wine really.

  • Vini al Bottegon – This is a fun stop for cicchetti and really cheap wine. Unlike the other cicchetti stops, there’s lots of standing room in the back which came in handy for us since it was too rainy to take our appetizer outside along the canal. It’s also a wine shop!



Price: $

Location: Fondamenta Nani 961 30123 Venezia, Italy

Closest landmark: Pointe dell’Academia 

Recommended foods: Scallop mousse and 1 Euro wine


Things to See & Do in Venice

  • Piazza San Marco, also known as St. Mark’s Square, is home to some of Venice’s most famous landmarks. This spot is the social, religious, and political center of Venice. Within the square, you’ll find several landmarks that we recommend visiting:



  • Basilica San Marco – This large church is the focal point of the square. We made reservations online and purchased a 3 Euro express pass to enter (linked here). It was nice not having to wait long, but the line was still quite extensive due to tourist groups. In addition, be sure if you have a backpack or large purse to check your bag across the way before getting up to the entry point (we made this mistake and had to wait in line twice!). 
  • Campanile San Marco – I liked this campanile because it didn’t involve any stairs but still gives a great view of the city! There’s an elevator that takes guests straight to the top where you can snap some photos (although there is a grate, so you’ll have to get creative for those panoramic shots) and can look out of binoculars. We bought 13 Euro skip the line tickets (linked here) and thought it was well worth our money!
  • Doge’s Palace – We thought this was one of the most underrated tourist spots in Venice! Perhaps people didn’t want to wait in line, or maybe they didn’t want to pay the entrance fee, but it wasn’t crowded and had a lot to offer! We enjoyed seeing the palace and especially the prison cells and Bridge of Sighs. We purchased a 24 Euro museum pass (linked here) and were able to skip the entry lines. If you go to one more place with the pass, it’s worth your money. We’d highly recommend this pass!





  • Bridge of Sighs – Through Doge’s Palace, you can walk through the inside of the Bridge of Sighs, which we thought was a really neat opportunity. You can also take pictures of the outside of it on the nearby Ponte della Paglia bridge. We recommend going for photos early, as it gets pretty crowded!
  • Cafe Florian – This famous cafe opened in 1720 and is the 2nd oldest continuously running cafe. Although the drinks are pricey, it’s a neat atmosphere and there’s almost always live music to enjoy while sipping your cocktail or coffee.



  • The Rialto Bridge is the most well-known bridge in Venice. It is one of the two points at which you can cross the Grand Canal. 



  • T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi – This is Venice’s newest shopping mall that’s packed with luxury brands. It’s located in the formerly abandoned Fontego dei Tedeschi, Palace of the Germans. There’s a rooftop terrace that’s free to the public — we’re sad it was closed due to the weather for us! Needless to say, we didn’t make any purchases but it was fun to explore and window shop.
  • Mercati di Rialto – This market is for fresh produce, fruits, and fish. If you want a neat experience (and if you’re an early riser), stop by around 6 AM to see the market being set up. Otherwise, it’s fun to look around and eat some fresh fruit. 



  • Murano and Burano are islands near Venice that are known for glass and lace respectively. We booked a this trip for 40 Euro per person through TripAdvisor and really enjoyed the experience. Our guide was a local that had great tips and suggestions, and we even had time for lunch on Burano. If you’re staying in Venice longer than 2 days, we’d recommend seeing these beautiful islands!



We hope you enjoy Venice as much as we did, and we hope this guide is helpful as you plan! Stay tuned for our 3-day itinerary for the perfect Venice vacation coming soon to the blog!

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