Whenever I tell someone about my time here in Venice, my stories are generally accompanied by a dreamy sigh and sappy, nostalgic descriptions of the city’s heart-melting beauty. I can’t emphasize enough how much I adore this place! Made up of 118 islands linked by a network of canals and bridges, Venice is by far one of the most picturesque and photogenic cities that I have ever visited. Bright blue water courses through the city’s canals, which are lined with a beautiful mix of cute houses and architectural gems. There really is so much to see, and so much to love about Venice.
Of course, I think it’s best if I show you what I mean. Let me take you on a quick tour of this beautiful floating city by showcasing some of my must-sees:
First thing’s first: you can’t visit Venice without seeing Grand Canal. This spot, the focus of countless postcards, is quintessentially Venice. You can admire the view of vaporettos, motor boats and gondolas gliding by from four different main bridges (Rialto is the most well-known, but also the most crowded), or simply take in the romantic ambiance of Venice with a stroll along the water.
St. Mark’s Square by Night
During the day, St. Mark’s Square is a tourist hotspot, with crowds of visitors from all over the world trying to sneak in their perfect photo opportunity. At night however, the square empties significantly, and takes on a whole new energy. The square’s illuminated facades, coupled with the sound of live music in the air, create an impossibly magical experience. Luckily, the MS Michelangelo docks about a 15 minute walk from St Mark’s Square, making early morning and late night visits incredibly easy.
The Venetian Gothic façade of Doge’s Palace is one of Venice’s most recognizable landmarks. Located in St. Mark’s Square, your visit will offer you a glimpse into the residences of the city’s Doge, formerly the republic’s supreme authority. In addition to touring the Doge’s apartments, institutional chambers and courtyard, you’ll also get great views of the Venetian lagoon from inside:
A Venetian Sunset (and Sunrise)
I’m a big fan of simple things, and the truth is, few sights thrill me as much as a good sunset. Having dreamily watched hundreds of them, I must say, sunsets here in Venice are a cut above the rest. Equally matched to their beauty is their diversity. Every night, it’s a new visual spectacle… Will you be treated to a bright pink sky against the charming lagoon-side buildings, or will a blue to orange gradient light up the city? It’s best to find out yourself, so grab a spot to sit and soak in the view. I promise you will not regret it.
… Not to mention, the sunrises are well worth the early wakeup call as well:
Libreria Acqua Alta
With a bold sign out front declaring its status as “the world’s most beautiful bookstore”, this hidden gem is a real treat for any book lover. Translated, its name means “high water bookshop”, and its owner has found a peculiar way of beating the high tides of Venice: they simply let the water in! With books and other curiosities filling every corner of this store, you’ll find gondolas and bathtubs housing a wide array of treasures, in addition to gorgeous creations made of ruined books, including a courtyard wall and set of stairs.
BONUS: Get lost and find a slice of Venice to call your own.
Whether it’s a small spot along the Grand Canal, a tiny café in the middle of nowhere, or even an unassuming residential street, I highly recommend you tread slightly off the beaten path and get completely lost in the winding labyrinth that is Venice. While yes, it’s a very touristic city that sees over 22 million visitors a year, just a tiny bit of wandering can help you discover a quiet, but still beautiful side to the city that most visitors don’t see.
Having been to Venice once before, I can honestly say that river cruising is the best way to explore the city. Having a floating hotel docked in the heart of Venice can’t be beat, and opens up endless opportunities for exploration. Curious about your options? You can read about CroisiEurope’s offerings for the area here.