Venice is one of those places everyone must visit at least once. The uniqueness of Venice is that it is comprised of 118 islands connected by over 400 bridges. The charm of its canals, bridges, and stone buildings with hanging flower baskets are truly spectacular.
I first visited Venice almost 20 years ago and the biggest difference was how crowded it was this time around. The thing about Venice is knowing where to go without the crowds so you can enjoy the beauty, charm, and romanticism. Otherwise, you will be battling through a multitude of people and totally not appreciating this beautiful city.
The area around Piazza San Marco can be tough to get through, especially during day time hours when you have thousands of visitors strolling around from the cruise ships docking for the day.
Follow these tips for memorable experiences in Venice...
Pre-arrange for a private boat transfer from/to the airport or train station... this is usually the highlight of my clients' trips. Being whisked away from the train station or airport into your own water taxi and arriving at the doorstep of your hotel is quite the experience.
Visit the main sites with a Private Guide... As a first time visitor you don't want to miss touring St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace which are right in the square. But don't try to do it alone! You will be standing in very long lines just to get into the buildings. A private guide will get you right in and offer the most magnificent tour explaining the sites and their history. Three hours is all you need for this tour and it is well worth it.
Skip the gondola ride... they are tourist traps and completely overrated in my opinion. It's usually a very expensive 30 minute ride. You will get so much more from the private water taxis and boats. But they are beautiful to watch all along the canals and first time visitors always like to experience a gondola ride.
Stay in a hotel away from Piazza San Marco... there are some spectacular hotels near the main areas but equally good ones are also away from the crowds so you'll have your oasis while relaxing and enjoying the real Venice.
Wander the streets of Santa Croce... this area was absolutely spectacular. You'd never know thousands of tourists were walking around only 10-15 minutes from this section of Venice. Pastel colored buildings and bridges, and quiet alleys with romantic canals at every turn.
Visit neighboring islands... Have more than a couple of days? Hire a private boat for half a day to visit the neighboring islands of Murano and Burano. These small islands are famous for glass blowing and lace-making. Burano has brightly colored buildings and lovely outdoor restaurants for lunch.
I often hear people say they were not impressed with Venice because they didn't experience the charm and romanticism they expected. But keeping these tips in mind will give you a completely different perspective on Venice.
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