Why only a Weekend in Venice?
Quick travel has never been my style but the prices in Venice make it near impossible to take it slow. There are options of course – you could stay on the mainland and come into Venice daily by train. However, the romance of Venice after dark makes a stay in the city worth the price. This is true especially if you can reduce those nights by fitting as much as possible into fewer days! So learn how I was happy with this one exception to my slow travel rule, and discover how to spend 2 nights or a weekend in Venice.
Tip #1: Accept the Price and Stay in the Centre
Whether you Airbnb, go for a guesthouse or a hotel, the price will always be expensive in Venice. So why do it? First of all, you reduce your wait times and the cost for the train and the city’s water taxis, vaporettos, by staying near the Rialto bridge. From the centre, you can walk any direction in Venice and never truly get lost – it’s an island after all, and not a big one at that! Staying in the city leads to an overall greater degree of relaxation. After all, if you sleep in, you can’t swim from the mainland to meet your tour on time or make that coveted dinner reservation.
Note: You really can’t swim. The water isn’t clean plus it’s very much illegal!
The other benefit of a stay in the centre is having Venice to yourself – well, with far less tourists. Venice is at its purest in the early morning and late evening. All those beautiful shots of a near-empty St. Mark’s Square can only happen early in the day before the cruise ships come along. There is also nothing more magical than Venice after dark, when the narrow, dimly lit streets are less crowded and you can stroll by the canals at a gentle pace. Feel the city’s atmosphere as it must have felt for locals so many moons ago. You can also get that prime view from a cafe late at night and watch the gondolas go by, and know you’re never too far from your bed when you start to feel sleepy.
Tip #2: Day One is for a City Tour
To limit the escalating cost of overnight stays, embrace a city tour on Day One of a weekend in Venice. It’s an efficient way of getting oriented and absorbing the many layers of history this city has to offer. Be prepared to walk – but also be prepared for:
- restaurant recommendations from a local
- skip-the-line access to sites like St. Mark’s Cathedral
- an understanding of the neighbourhoods where real Venetians still live to this day.
A full day tour makes your overall time in Venice more cost effective and time efficient.
The company I recently went on a tour with is called Walks of Italy. I honestly appreciated every moment and felt so much better acquainted with the city having a knowledgeable local guide than I would have felt with even 5 days on my own. While you may think the tour’s expensive, remember a coveted (and pricey!) gondola ride is also included in the price. Another of their tours suggested by my Renaissance Studies professor in university is the Exclusive Alone in St. Mark’s Basilica After Hours option. And if you think a city tour is too touristy – guess what? Venice has only 55,000 residents and over 3 million tourists a year. Embrace the reality that touristy Venice is modern Venice in so many ways.
Tip #3: Day Two is Free for the Islands and the Details
After orienting yourself to Venice on Day One, you’ll have a better sense of what you want to explore. Check out more details in the main city while having enough time to spend an afternoon on the islands of Murano and/or Burano.
Murano was my island of choice, famous for its glassblowing demonstrations and fabulous pieces for purchase. To get there, you’ll take an inexpensive vaporetto ride that passes by the awe-inspiring cemetery island created by Napoleon. Burano is also very unique as the island of lace-making and I wish I had better organized myself to get there too!
One of my favourite parts of visiting Murano was exploring the real neighbourhoods of the island and eating in a cafe full of locals. These authentic spots can be hard to find in Venice. Yet, if you think like a Venetian (or more foolproof – make contact with a Venetian) you will find these real moments during your trip.
So that’s it!
Sure, your trip to Venice may be quick, but if you follow my advice you’ll have a fun and thorough experience while staying within budget. If you spend a weekend in Venice be sure to comment below!
Also check out my Instagram @intrepidemma for more Venice snaps and to see my most recent trips and tips. You may want to make Milan your next stop after Venice, so check out my articles on this fabulous and fashionable city.