This year, I was lucky enough to take a stunning city break for a friend’s hen weekend, to the glorious city of Venice!! Venice is somewhere which has always seemed pretty mythical and magical to me.. a city on an island, which you can only get to by boat, with no cars, that you can’t get around other than by boat… it just completely astounded me, and was somewhere I could never imagine, but always wanted to visit. So for a long weekend in May, we made the two hour flight and landed in the beautiful Venice! So I thought this week, I will share with you my experiences, my recommendations and also, my top tips if you’re ever to make the journey (which I strongly recommend!!)
When we arrived, we got a 20 minute bus ride to the main centre, which is where all was revealed… hundreds of water taxis lined the canal/river, and it was here we hopped on, lugging our suitcases, to make the journey to where we were staying!! The glorious sun was beaming down on us upon arrival, so we were all in good spirits and excited to get to our apartment. After a slightly rocky ride on the water taxi, we made it to our stop, and were greeted by our friendly tour guide who walked us to our apartment. We stayed about a 15 minute walk outside of the main square in Venice, which was perfect – by staying slightly out of the main square, it also saved us a fair amount of money – as you can imagine, the closer to the centre you stay, the more expensive it becomes. We managed to book a lovely little apartment through Air BnB, and it felt in a very local secluded area of Venice, and instantly I fell in love with the narrow cobbled streets and the colourful buildings.
Places to eat
Now on our first day, as we had arrived in the evening, our first priority was, of course – food!! We managed to find a local restaurant, 300m away from our apartment – this was full of delicious local foods, and really friendly staff, and we ended up getting lots of sharing platters, a couple of bottles of wine (of course) and we were content!! There was a lot of fresh produce on offer which I absolutely loved, and lots of new things to try – Venice isn’t really somewhere to get your standard steak/burger and chips, it’s a real opportunity to try some new food.
As the weekend progressed, wherever we went, everything was sourced fresh and locally, which was a real bonus. One thing that we noticed about Venice, was that everywhere we went, you got complimentary bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil… my own personal heaven!! We ventured further into Venice for our last evening, and settled in a lovely restaurant right by the water. I had a delicious seafood linguine; again, all of their food was sourced locally and made fresh to order. Bear in mind however, the further into the centre you go, the more you do pay for food; this was totally worth it however, as we had gorgeous food and stunning views. At one point, a gigantic cruise ship sailed silently past us – it looked like something out of a movie, so if you want gorgeous stunning views of the City to enjoy whilst eating your dinner then it’s definitely worth the extra euros!!
As I mentioned at the start, the only way you can really get around Venice, is by boat!! It was so so strange that we didn’t hear one single car or motorbike/moped during our visit, and this added to the magic of Venice. The easiest way we actually found to get around, was by walking – we were extremely lucky with gorgeous weather, and to be perfectly honest, the only way to see the little nooks and crannies of Venice, was by walking and exploring. In terms of longer journeys however, there are the water taxis which take you all over th island, which are very reasonably priced.
Places to visit
There are so many places that I could list here, but that means this post would go on forever so I thought I would select my favourite places/activities, which I would highly recommend!
First of all, was the Marriott Hotel and Spa. This was our first proper trip of the weekend, so on the Saturday morning, we set off early around 9am. One of the best things about this spa, was the fact it resided on a secluded island – we had to get a private boat to get to this, which was about 25 minutes away, and it felt so exclusive it was amazing! As we arrived on the island, it felt like pure paradise – again, the sun was absolutely beaming down. As we entered the spa, we were again greeted by friendly staff, who gave us information about our stay. As we all eagerly headed outside for some sunbathing, we were stunned by some absolutely amazing views – as you can see, they were breathtaking, and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon of relaxing at the spa. This took us to 1pm, where we headed to the roof terrace for lunch.
Second of all – was, of course, a Gondola ride!! On our final day, we headed down to the ‘gondola dock’ where there were numerous boats waiting to be used. They were stunning boats, and really brought to life the traditions of Venice, and again how magical this city was. We soon boarded the boat, and I was the lucky (or not!) individual who sat at the head of the boat, going backwards! Now I’m scared of water at the best of times, so you can imagine my terror as this notion. As we glided round the city, we truly got to see the sites of traditional Venice, and learn more about the history of the city. It was an incredible experience as we saw so many hidden areas of the city which we hadn’t previously seen. This is one activity I would 100% recommend doing, if you ever have the pleasure of going there.
One final activity, isn’t really just one activity – it’s venturing out to see the city at night time. On the second night, we ventured into the main centre, which was bustling with so many people. All the buildings were lit up, as well as the boats and gondolas which just looked absolutely magical. There were live bands busking outside of restaurants – one in particular managed to gather an impressive crowd, so we stayed and watched them for a while – they soon noticed the bride-to-be, and were sure to get her up for a dance!!
Something else we noticed, and took full advantage of were the wine bars. On our first night, we didn’t want to venture out too far so we ended up visiting a small wine bar which looked extremely lively. This ended up being a fantastic idea, as we managed to find a glass of wine on the menu for €3.50!! An absolute steal!!!
We had such an incredible time, and if you are ever thinking of taking a city break over a long weekend, I would 100% recommend this beautiful place.