3 days in Venice

Venice is an unusual city that consists of many tiny islands inside of a lagoon, with centuries old Venetian Gothic architecture lining canals with gondolas and water buses. It’s a place where the salty sea air permeates the senses, while fresh pasta and wine fills your belly.  In this post, I’ll give you some great ideas for what to do if you have 3 days to explore this amazing city.

Stay at an Airbnb

We took the boat ferry a few stops down to meet with our AirBNB host, who's grandmother left her family a cute villa on the south side of the island. She led us down a few cobblestone streets full of warm colorful buildings to a gate that led into a courtyard. Up, up, up the stairs, then up a wooden spiral staircase into the apartment. It was the cutest place, with trinkets of times past everywhere. What I love about AirBNB is that you get a feel for what it might be like living in the city. In this case, rather than a receptionist and a lobby we had an Italian native host and a centuries old quaint apartment. This can make a trip that much more special.

Go on a Free Walking Tour

Free walking tours are a fantastic way to explore a city and socialize with others. On our tour, our guide Elena was an enthusiastic Italian scholar who shared her love for the city and its history. We visited Santa Maria Assunta church, where we saw Titian's masterpieces "Martyrdom of St. Lawrence" and "Assumption of Mary." Then, we walked through the lesser-traveled streets of Venice, gaining insight into the city's canal infrastructure and the effects of salt deposits on its buildings. Elena also educated us on sustainable tourism in Venice, emphasizing the importance of supporting local businesses by eating at Venetian-owned restaurants and buying products made by local artisans to preserve the city's unique culture, as the economy heavily relies on tourism.

2 ways to be a sustainable tourist in Venice:

  • Find restaurants owned by locals. You can usually tell it's local if there aren't signs with images of the food, or if the menu is only in Italian. Venture off the beaten path to find some hidden gems.

  • Purchase masks, blown glass, and other goods from local shops. These are a bit more expensive but you can tell they are quality hand-made. For example, the masks are papier-mâché instead of plastic. This also helps keep these centuries old crafts alive for future generations to enjoy.

Experience a Wine and Cichette tour

The Venetians have a tradition of bar-hopping and indulging in small bites called "cichette." A Wine & Cichette Tour is an excellent way to participate in this social scene. Our guide took us off the beaten path to some hidden restaurants that offered twice the quality at a fraction of the cost. We tasted various cichette dishes, including squid, meatballs, and cheese on fresh bread. Listed below are the restaurants we visited, and whether you join a tour or explore on your own, they are exceptional. I loved the tour because it was chance to socialize and drink with other travelers.

Grab a drink at Al Timon Bar

Al Timon bar is a more laid-back local hangout where you can enjoy your wine while lounging on a wooden boat along the canal. Savor your wine on the boat for an unforgettable experience. We had a fantastic time here, reconnecting with some of the people we met on the walking tour. As the night progressed, we found ourselves dancing in the streets, having a blast with our newfound friends. We eventually made our way back home around 4 am, meandering through the captivating city, which was even more magical with the reduced activity during the late night.

Visit the Gallerie dell'Accademia Art Museum

Gallerie dell'Accademia museum boasts a collection of masterpieces by renowned Italian artists. My personal favorite was Paolo Veronese's The Feast in the House of Levi. This impressive artwork covers a large portion of the museum's wall.

Explore St. Mark’s Square

Don’t leave Venice without going to the famous St. Mark's Square. Inside Saint Mark's Basilica, we marveled at the numerous mosaics crafted from various stones and the majority featuring shimmering gold glass. For a fee of 5 Euro, we climbed the steps to the terrace, offering an impressive view of the entire square. It’s worth it for the aerial view that offers great photo opportunities, especially if you head up there near closing time, where fewer people are present.

Check out Liberia Aqua Alta (Bookstore)

A local informed us of a unique bookstore named Liberia Aqua Alta on a canal that is worth visiting. The store is the epitome of disorganization, with books stacked in bathtubs, boats, and even a gondola. It has a cozy nook with a view, as well as a staircase made of moldy books that leads to another canal viewpoint. If you enjoy unusual sights, this bookstore is worth considering. It may not be a must-visit, but I found it amusing to take pictures and browse through its collections.

Campo della Maddalena Square

Campo della Maddalena Square offers a pleasant atmosphere for drinks. The square is surrounded by restaurants with outdoor seating areas. On the quiet Sunday evening that we visited, we savored a few glasses of Prosecco and cherished our final night in this majestic city.

Do you know any other amazing sights or restaurants in Venice that we should try? Please leave them in the comments below.

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My Style: Venetian Hues


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