Long Weekend in Venice

Long weekend in Venice - Iconic City

Long weekend in Venice. Why did I wait until my late forties to visit Venice?  Happily, Olivier’s birthday provided the perfect excuse for a long weekend getaway to this iconic city.Even from the air, your heart can’t fail to skip a beat at the sight of Venice.  A serene miniature city floating on the horizon.

Decisions, Decisions Venice by Water Bus or Water Taxi?

Long weekend in Venice
St Mark’s Square

Once you’ve landed at Marco Polo Airport in Venice, everything is well signposted.  We headed straight to the airport landing stage (dock).  Here you have two choices to reach Venice.  Take a water bus (vaporetto operated by Alilaguna) or a private or shared motorboat (water taxi). 

There are pros and cons for both. First, the water boat.  This is a quick, direct and romantic way to arrive in Venice but it’s expensive.  In contrast, the water bus is much cheaper.  A return ticket costs approximately 27 Euros.  Above all, however, it’s a means of travelling side by side with the locals.  As a result, we opted for this route to Venice.

However, take note!  Journeys by vaporetto can last between 40 minutes and 1 hour 45 minutes depending on your Venetian destination.  The Alilaguna blue line stops at 12 places and people hop on and off.  Therefore, make sure you buy a drink and snacks at the airport!

We had a 1 hour 45-minute journey to the island of Giudecca!  However, we loved circumnavigating Venice.  It is a romantic way of taking in the sights at a leisurely pace.  Who can forget the first sight of blue stripy gondola mooring posts at Murano?  Also, the Campanile in St Mark’s Square looming ever nearer as you approach Venice? very good start for our Long weekend in Venice

St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), Venice

Fortunately, our hotel operated a complimentary shuttle boat over the lagoon to San Marco.  You can’t escape travelling by boat in Venice and you quickly settle into life on the water.  Taking the boat shuttle each day was a relaxing start.  Furthermore, it provided a great opportunity to admire the Venetian skyline time and time again.

We recommend soaking in the sights and atmosphere of Venice on your first day.  After landing at San Marco, weave your way along the canal between the colourful market stalls.  Then, cross the Bridge of Sighs which connects the prison to the Doge’s Palace.  Venice will overwhelm your senses with its familiar architectural riches.  The whole experience feels like you are walking in one of Caneletto’s majestic paintings. 

Turn right and you will quickly find yourself in Saint Mark’s square (Piazza San Marco).  The Campanile (bell tower) looms high above you to the left.  Notably, the spectacular Basilica San Marco dominates the square.  This impressive domed building has lavish gold spires and beautiful frescos.  The sheer magnitude and decadence of these landmarks make you feel quite small and insignificant.

We headed under St Mark’s Clock Tower and strolled along the quaint streets, crossing the canals.   You can’t escape getting hopelessly lost in this labyrinth of a city.  Enjoy it!  One of the rewards is finding small simple restaurants (osteria) and bars (bacari) in tiny alleys.  Here we enjoyed sampling typically Venetian dishes with the locals of Venice.  


Food and The Grand Canal

Owners of the osteria and bacari are happy to share their knowledge of Venetian specialities.  This is how we found out about tapas-style Cichetti. Furthermore, we discovered that our delicious Tiramisu dessert was created in the area.  Another local restaurant owner recommended Seppia al nero.  A black cuttlefish pasta which turns your mouth black!  He also introduced us to the vivid orange Aperol spritz enjoyed by many in Venice.  We needed very little encouragement to try it and compare it with the more widely known Campari!  Find out for yourself which you prefer, but we bought two bottles of Aperol in Duty Free!

After eating, enjoy zig-zagging backwards and forwards over the Grand Canal and the Rialto bridge. Simply, watch gondolas and boats go by.  Take time to admire the flower bedecked restaurants perched high above the Grand Canal. Back on the tiny back streets of Venice, the shop windows are a sight to behold.  On display are irresistible pastel-coloured gelato, enormous rolled sandwiches, mouth-watering pizza slices and intricate Venetian masks.  These are still worn in the annual Carnival of Venice from February to March.

Venice Gondolas

Venice gondolas

No visit to Venice is complete without a ride on a Gondola.  However, here are our top tips.  Firstly, gondolas are expensive and be aware that Venice operates official rates.  Secondly, think about where you board your gondola.  You can join the hoards and go under the Bridge of Sighs or down the Grand Canal.  This was a Venetian traffic jam we wanted to avoid.  Instead, we found a couple of gondoliers moored in a tranquil back street.  From the cosy velvet seats, the sound of the gondoliers’ calls and serenades echo around less busy canals.  From this new perspective, take time to appreciate the inaccessibility of Venice and hence its charm.  The canals truly dictate which direction you take as a pedestrian in Venice.  Also, take time to wonder at the skill of those who built these structures rising from the canals.

Murano and Burano, Venetian Islands


The islands of Murano and Burano are very close to Venice and are worth a visit.  First, board a vaporetto and enjoy the scenic boat ride to Murano, home to the famous Murano glass.  Here, there are many opportunities for you to join working factory tours. However, we preferred a less organised option.  At our own pace, we wandered along the main canal and admired the stunning glass creations in the shop windows.  Along the way, you can catch frequent glimpses of artisans at work in their studios.

After a short stop here, we took another vaporetto to our second island destination.  Burano is a small fishing village and is famous for its hand-crafted lace and brightly coloured houses lining the canals.  The streets are adorned with shops selling artisan products with lace floating in the breeze.  Against a backdrop of brilliant blue sky, the multi-coloured houses form a dazzling patchwork.  Buildings here are a complete contrast to the earthy colours of Venice.


There are also many places to eat in Burano.  Choose a quieter restaurant away from the main square, then sit back, relax and eat.  Whilst you do, watch the skill of those who navigate their boats in and out of the tiny canals.  Or, see if you can spot the gravity-defying leaning bell tower (Campanile) of the San Martino church.

Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) & St Mark’s Bell Tower (Campanile), Venice

The main aim of our four days in Venice was to explore the city and visit nearby islands.  However, we couldn’t go home without visiting the grand Doge’s Palace.  As its name suggests, this building was home to the Doge and the seat of the government.  However, it also served as the city’s courtroom with its famous jail across the Bridge of Sighs. 

Of course, there was a long queue to enter the Palace, but it was worth the wait.  The façade of the building is intricately carved with magnificent statues and sweeping staircases.  Inside, the cavernous ceilings are truly breath-taking.  High about your head, gilt framed frescos and wide stone arches leave you marvelling at their construction.

The sheer beauty and opulence of the palace is in stark contrast to the bare prison areas.  It’s easy to sense the history of this place.  Feel a shiver as you run your fingers over the etched carvings left by prisoners.  Peer through the tiny lattice windows over the Bridge of Sighs.  Imagine the last sighs of prisoners catching their last glimpses of Venice.

To finish our visit to Venice, we ascended the 99-metre-high Campanile of St Mark’s.  The Campanile is a square tower topped by a spire which was once a lighthouse.   Today, there is a lift to the top. Only one of the five original bells remain, but the views from the belfry are spectacular.  Venice is mapped out before you, like a miniature world beneath your feet.

Doge's Palace
Lagoon from Campanile
Inside the Bridge of Sighs
Inside the Doge's Palace
St Mark’s Square
Campanile, St Mark's Square

To Go Futher

This is a selection of books to help you to plan your next trip or to enjoy on the plane

Final Thoughts about Venice of this Long weekend in Venice

Venice is a city like no other and has something for everyone.  On our four-day visit, we only scratched the surface.  Of course, you can’t visit Venice without exploring some of the main sights and you need to queue. However, we also found time to soak up the atmosphere by getting lost in this Venetian maze.  As a result, we managed to discover some quiet less well-known corners which never failed to delight.  For us, this was travelling Off the Tourist Treadmill in Venice. If you want to learn more about us click here

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What Do You Thing of Venice? Romantic Place or too Commercial? Leave Comments Below

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. What an awesome post! We are thinking about visiting in the fall and you have a lot of great insider information here! We will definitely take a gondola ride, so we will try to avoid the popular, crowded areas. We are also thinking about taking a water taxi, but maybe the water bus would offer a more authentic experience. Thanks for all the tips. Also, your photos are fantastic!

    1. Off The Tourist Treadmill

      Thank you! So glad you found our post helpful. We loved the water bus and it’s a chilled way to start a visit to Venice. The water taxis sweep in and out and offer a very different experience. Definitely head to the back streets for quiet gondola rides! Enjoy your stay in Venice and let us know if you have any other questions.

  2. WOW, looks amazing, I’ll be sure to go soon!

  3. Hello, Venice is a beautiful city. 3 or 4 days is perfect to visit it. Your suggestions to visit Venice are good because i visited this city like you.

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