48 hours in Venice, Italy
Updated: Aug 11, 2018
There's something special about Venice that I just can't seem to put into words. It's more of feeling. A feeling of calm, yet chaotic; a fisherman's village, but fancy & upscale at the same time... and hands - down romantic ♥
Getting to Venice
We landed at VCE Marco Polo airport in the afternoon. We picked up our "espressowifi" (more about this later) and hopped on the Alilaguna boat. A one way ticket is €15 or €27 round trip (as of 2018). If you are planning on taking the train off the island to another destination, just get a one way ticket for the boat and buy a train ticket later. There's no advantage in buying these online or in advance - it's an easy buy in the airport and the same price. It also doesn't matter which stop you get off, it's a flat fee. We got off at the San Zaccaria stop near St Marks square. This took a little over an hour. If you can spare the time, it's pretty special arriving to Venice by boat. There are private water taxis that only take about 20 minutes and drop off as close to the hotel as they can (right in front if it's waterfront). These run about €130 for the whole boat. A good option if there's a group!
Food & Drink
This being my first time to Italy, I was new to Apertivo. It's basically happy hour with food (awesome right?!). The idea is, the slight alcohol content in the drinks help stimulate appetite, allowing you to eat some snacks before going out for dinner...yes, more eating :) For those who are on a budget, this is a great way to save money and use this as your dinner. Some places include the food in the drink charge, others charge separately for each cicchetti (we found the cicchetti to be about €2-4 individually).
These are some of my favorite spots while in Venice. Each place had unique treats. They all have great wine, so I'll just skip over boring you with that. I tried to take pictures of all of them to help in finding them. All' Arco has a small sitting area inside, otherwise you just stand outside with your wine and cicchetti. Al Merca' is located near the Rialto market. It doesn't have any seating, just a bar. The crowd here were all college students. We liked it so much we went here our second night too! At night al merca' closes but the bar two doors down is open and had a dj playing when we were there. There's also another square behind the al merca' which has some good nightlife - all standing only. The Osteria all ciurma is another little hole in the wall spot that has a few seats, maybe 5.
Another right by the market is we-nice. They specialize in local seafood. They get the first picks from the market each morning and cook up some amazing eats. Try the black squid!
We went to Osteria-al assassini initially for cicchetti around lunch time, but found ourselves back here for dinner with friends. They change their menu daily depending on what they have, and it's all incredible. If it's on the menu, my favorite of all the items was the crab gnocchetti. I'm drooling just thinking about it. We were the only non-locals here & they don't have english menus. We just had to pick out words we recognized and go from there! It was fabulous!! Note to self, they are closed Sundays.
Last but not least is Devil's Forest Pub. Yet another gem we stumbled upon. We actually heard the live music from a few streets over and hunted this place down. It was poppin' on a Friday night! The live band took up almost the entire bar, leaving just enough room to get a few people up to the bar to order drinks. The bartenders here do not rush, they take their time to make each cocktail perfect. I have never had a bartender take such pride in making my drink!
Get lost in the streets
"Turn your phone off and just get lost in the streets of Venice" the best advice I received. We stumbled upon picturesque alleyways, the famous Rialto Bridge and quaint homes between eating and drinking our way through Venice. St Mark's Square is very beautiful. We strolled through here and checked out the gorgeous St Mark's Basilica. Be sure to skip the restaurants around here, it'll cost a pretty penny.
A few tips
When ordering wine, request the "house wine". It is the least expensive and typically is the wine produced closest to where the restaurant is (it usually comes out of a tap). Also in my opinion, was the BEST wine!
Ask for the price of the gondola ride before getting on, the standard is €80 for 30 minutes during the day, and €100 at night. Again, if you're short on cash, skip this and save your money. Instead, go to the Grand Canal and cross it via a Gondola. It is only €2. Granted, you will only be in it for a few minutes and will be sharing with other Italians, but it's also very local. This is how the Venetians travel across the Grand Canal (they also stand, not sit, so give it a try!).
Don't order a latte, you'll get milk.
It is frowned upon to order a cappuccino past 11:00am. Cappuccinos are acceptable before 11:00am, espresso acceptable any time. Seriously, Italians drink them all day...& fast - it's not an event like eating.
Wear your walking shoes, you can really walk the whole island without needing a water taxi.
Wifi isn't offered at cafe's like we're used to in many countries. Granted, you may not need it. But if you're planning a full Italy trip like we did, consider a handheld wifi. We got EspressoWifi and it worked great! We had a signal everywhere we went, even when we drove through Tuscany. It was $70 for our 11 day trip. There's small charges depending on if you pick it up or they deliver it etc. We picked it up at the airport and left it at our last hotel before flying home so we didn't have to think about it leaving the airport. I haven't tried any other brand so I can't comment on any comparisons but I would definitely get this one again.