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Destination Spotlight: Venice Travel Guide
Issue #34-23 features a Destination Spotlight travel guide on Venice including highlights of the city, as well as a look at the best places to stay, where to eat and the top things to do and see
Destination Spotlight on Venice, Italy
Venice is famous for its canals, historic buildings, iconic landmarks, as well as being renowned for its unique architecture you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world.
Venice is not just a destination; it's an experience that will awaken your senses and transport you to a world like no other. This captivating city seems unreal, like a scene out of a fairytale where the streets are made of water and ancient palaces and churches arise from the Venetian Lagoon.
I’ll never forget the look of wonder and awe on my kids eyes as we exited the train station and took our first glimpse of Venice and boarded our private water taxi to get to our hotel.
Geographically, Venice is a city located in northeastern Italy, situated on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by bridges. It is part of the Venetian Lagoon, which stretches along the Adriatic Sea.
Venice has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. It was originally founded by refugees fleeing barbarian invasions in the mainland of Italy around the 5th century, who built the city with pile foundations. Over time, the city-state of Venice grew into a major maritime and trading power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Its strategic location along trade routes contributed to its wealth and influence.
Know Before You Go
Here are a few things to know before you visit Venice.
The currency used in Venice, as well as in the rest of Italy, is the Euro, abbreviated EUR.
The Euro comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euro bills, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent coins, and 1 and 2 euro coins.
The exchange rate, as of August 2023, for $1 USD is 0.93 EUR.
If you are exchanging money at an ATM, ensure you always use a debit card that offers fee free cash withdrawals and you never select the option for the ATM to the conversion for you. Always let your bank make that conversion as you will get a better exchange rate and won’t have to pay a huge markup.
In Venice, the electrical sockets used are Type F sockets, which are also used in many other European countries.
A standard universal travel adapter will allow you to plug a variety of plugs into a variety of sockets. It is also important to note that a travel adapter will not convert the voltage or frequency. If your device/appliance is not rated for 230 V, you will also need to bring a voltage converter.
The official language of Venice is Italian, but English was spoken widely as well during our time there.
Climate During the Year
Venice experiences a humid subtropical climate, characterized by mild to cool winters and warm to hot summers. The city's location on the Adriatic Sea influences its climate, with moderate temperature variations throughout the year.
When we were there earlier this year in April, it was colder at night, but not unbearable and warmed up quite nicely during the day, typical of a nice Spring day.
Transportation System in Amsterdam
Transportation in Venice is very unique and is primarily based on water travel through the use vaporettos, water taxis, and traditional gondolas, along with a lot of walking.
These unique modes of transportation contribute to the charm and character of the city, creating an unforgettable experience for visitors.
When to Visit
The best time to visit Venice largely depends on your preferences and what you plan on visiting during your stay, but I would say the best time to visit is during the spring (late March to May) and autumn (September-October) for mild weather and fewer crowds. Even when we were there in April, the main tourist areas of Venice seemed crazy crowded, likely from day visitors from cruise ships, and I can’t imagine how busy it gets during Summer peak travel.
How to Get There
There are several ways to get to Venice, with the easiest options by air or by train.
The main airport serving Venice is Marco Polo Airport (VCE) and it is located on the mainland, near the city. From the airport, you can take a water taxi, vaporetto (water bus), or bus to reach the city center.
Venice is well-connected to the Italian rail network and is served by Venezia Santa Lucia, which is located on the western side of the city, along the Grand Canal. You can reach this station from various major cities in Italy and other European destinations.
Where to Stay
There are many great options to consider staying at when visiting Venice that depend on your particular preferences (travel style, hotel location, etc) and budget.
One of the things to consider when traveling to Venice (and Europe in general) with kids is being able to find hotels that accommodate up to 4 people in one room or suite. Most hotels have a maximum occupancy set at 2 or 3 people per room, even for larger suites sometimes, so it can become very challenging to find a hotel and room category that will work for you and not break the bank at the same time. If if you can't find a room for at least 4 people, then you may end up having to book two rooms (and not break the travel budget) and hope the hotel offers connecting rooms.
For our most recent trip to Venice, we stayed at the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, which is located on its own private island 15 minutes to the main part of Venice by boat . We selected this hotel due to the family rooms that it offered for a family of four and since we have hotel status (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium) that unlocks extra benefits/amenities like daily breakfast that easily saved us ~$80-$100 a day.
Other great hotel options I would recommend include:
Virtuoso Travel Hotels in Venice: Hotels where you can get extra value and benefits/amenities lie daily breakfast, hotel credits and more.
Other hotels I would recommend include the St. Regis Venice, San Clemente Palace Kempinski Venice, Hotel Danieli, Hotel Capriani, Hilton Molino Stucky Venice, as well as other hotels that can offer value-added benefits from Marriott STARS/LUMINOUS, Hyatt Prive, Hilton Impresario and more.
Things To Do
There are many things to do and see while visiting Venice, as the city is full of iconic landmarks, historic palaces, and a vibrant cultural scene with a rich history.
Here are some of the top attractions and activities to consider during your visit to Venice:
St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco): Marvel at the intricate Byzantine architecture, stunning mosaics, and gilded interiors of this iconic cathedral located in St. Mark's Square.
Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale): Explore this historic palace that once served as the seat of Venetian government. Admire the opulent interiors, the Bridge of Sighs, and learn about Venice's intriguing history.
Grand Canal: Take a vaporetto ride or private water taxi ride along the Grand Canal, Venice's main waterway. Admire the elegant palaces lining the banks and experience the unique charm of this bustling water thoroughfare.
Rialto Bridge: Cross this famous bridge spanning the Grand Canal. The bridge is not only a functional crossing but also a picturesque landmark with stunning views.
Gondola Ride: While it's a touristy activity, a gondola ride provides a unique perspective of the city. Opt for a quieter side canal to escape the crowds.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection: Immerse yourself in modern art at this museum housed in Peggy Guggenheim's former residence. The collection includes works by Picasso, Pollock, and more.
La Scala Contarini del Bovolo: Scale the spiral staircase and take in another unique view of Venice
Murano and Burano Islands: Take a vaporetto to these nearby islands. Murano is renowned for its glassmaking, while Burano is famous for its colorful houses and intricate lacework.
Rialto Market: Visit the vibrant Rialto Market to experience the sights and sounds of local produce, fish, and artisanal products.
Campanile di San Marco: Climb the bell tower in St. Mark's Square for breathtaking panoramic views of Venice's rooftops and canals.
Accademia Gallery: Admire an impressive collection of Venetian art from the 14th to 18th centuries, featuring works by Bellini, Titian, and Tintoretto.
Venetian Islands Exploration: Beyond Murano and Burano, explore other islands like Lido (known for its beaches), Giudecca, and San Giorgio Maggiore.
Take a cooking class: There may be many options to choose from, but the kids cooking class at the JW Marriott Venice was an experience our kids will never forget
Explore the narrow streets and canals: One of the best ways to experience Venice is to simply wander around the narrow streets and canals. There are many hidden gems to discover, such as small churches, bridges, and shops.
Where to Eat
The city center of Venice is very walkable and no matter where you are in the city, it seems like there is a cafe or restaurant around every corner.
The places we ate at largely depended on which part of Venice we were in around lunch or dinner time and location mainly dictated the available restaurant options for us.
For example, I always like to plan ahead and research food options closest to where we would be in the city, so we don't have to hunt around too long to get a bite to eat. Knowing what options we have near us and where they are located comes in handy when traveling with younger children, but for this trip I didn't make a list of places to eat at and figured there would always be something close by where we were that would work for everyone.
For breakfast each morning, we ate at the hotel (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium breakfast benefit) at the JW Marriott Venice at Cucina, which easily helped us save over $80-$100 a day on breakfast alone.
While exploring Venice, other sit-down restaurants we enjoyed on this trip included:
Gio's Restaurant (St Regis Venice)
Sagra Rooftop Restaurant
Rose Bar Lounge
Venice is known for its fresh seafood, risotto, cicchetti, and traditional Venetian dishes, which are heavily influenced by its maritime seaside location. While you’ll still find pizza here, just know that it is not a speciality in Venice and won’t be as good as you’ll find elsewhere in Italy.
Venice is a beautiful and unique city that is worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. It is a city of canals, bridges, and palaces, and it is a feast for the senses. Soak up the atmosphere, take a gondola ride, and enjoy the beauty of this one-of-a-kind city.
If you're considering a trip to Venice, I hope some of the information here can help you plan out your next trip. There is so much to see and do, so be sure to plan ahead and add some of the city's top attractions to your itinerary. Or better yet, consider a private or semi-private guided tour so you don’t miss out on anything and learn all about history along the way. I highly recommend Context Travel for this, as well as Family Twist.
I hope this destination spotlight guide helps you plan out your next trip to Venice and gives you a glimpse into highlights of the city, as well as a look the best places to stay and things to do and see in this unique destination.
The Family Travel Guy
I hope this email helped spark some travel inspiration!
Learn More Here: About Me | The Family Travel Guy
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