My Venice Travel Guide will help you decide what to see, where to stay and most importantly where to eat and how to avoid typical tourist traps if you visit this unique, truly special place.
Venice is one of a kind, there is no other city in the world which was built almost entire on water. When I say city, I mean gorgeous palaces, decorative churches, picturesque architecture with stunning marble buildings and squares. While taking a boat ride along Grand Canal, it´s easy to recognise that Venice has been a stylish and wealthy city throughout most of its history.
Venice is effectively built on 118 islands that are connected with 400 bridges therefore the easiest way get around is either taking one of the boats which are in the public transport system or water taxi.
Since Venice is a labyrinths of canals, tiny bridges, picturesque squares, the most stylish way to experience it in my opinion is to get lost, follow your intuition and stop looking at GoogleMap – it anyway does not really work most of the time.
Here is the top 5 sights you must see while you are in Venice!
+1 Get lost and adore this beautiful city without an agenda
Where to stay in Venice
Hotel Ca ‘Alvise
Address: S. Marco, 3673, 30124 Venezia Italy Website
Let´s be honest, vacation in Venice can get very expensive if you want to stay in the center, close by St Mark´s Square perhaps in a room with canal view. We have been to Venice several times but before COVID pushed the prices down in popular tourist destinations like Venice, we have never really been able to afford a hotel like Hotel Ca ‘Alvise in the centre.
Hotel Ca ‘Alvise is an elegant, charming hotel only few minutes walk away both from St Mark´s Square and also from Rialto Bridge. Like many other hotels in Venice, it offers a truly Venetian experience just look at the style of furnishing and the view from the room. We really enjoyed the huge comfortable room with plenty of space and the close proximity to everything including restaurants and the most beautiful spots in the city. It is far from the most luxurious places in Venice but a wonderful, comfortable hotel to stay in the heart of the city in Venetian style which we absolutely loved!
What to eat in Venice
As every other region in Italy, Venice also has its own culinary culture. Venice, a city on the sea, not surprisingly offers plenty of great fish and seafood dishes on top of the usual and brilliant Italian cuisine.
If you want to step out of the pasta, pizza, gelato golden triangle, try the Sarde in saor which made of fried sardine fillets marinated in vinegar, onions, raisins and pine nuts. For rice lovers I recommend to look for Risotto al nero di seppia, which is a black risotto colored with squid ink.
Beside what to eat, the more important questions is
Where to eat in Venice
Every city has excellent and better to avoid type of restaurants but in Venice I can´t ignore the fact that a huge number of the restaurants are absolutely not recommended by other fellow travelers looking at Tripadvisor or GoogleMap reviews. Without going into too much theories on why this is the case, let me recommend you a couple of considerations in regards to how to avoid tourist traps.
- Always check either GoogleMap or Tripadvisor reviews to learn about the place in terms of food quality, service, pictures about the food, potential hidden charges. I personally only go to places which have a review of min 4 or 4.5 out of 5 and also like to check the pictures about the ambience, food etc.
- Always check the menu upfront to avoid surprises later in regards to prices, also look for hidden charges. In Italy “coperto” is the most annoying thing ever. It is basically a table charge you will have to pay, usually around 2 eur per person and for that amount normally some bread and butter is being served to start with. I personally really hate this system but it is almost impossible to avoid it in traditional restaurants. It is something you have to accept, however check how much coperto will be charged and what you get for that amount
- Be extra careful at prime locations, e.g. on St Mark Square. Understandably prime view has a price tag and I am fine with, I often go for it myself just for the experience. However make sure you know upfront how much 2 cappuccinos will cost you to have that marvellous view. Maybe 20 eur not worth for the view, it’s up to your budget and preferences.
- Not related with food but be aware of the “flower” and “bracelet” guys who pretend to give away their products on the streets then as soon as you touch e.g. the flower, you will be charged 20-30 eur
Now let’s focus on some brilliant restaurants I have tried and can warmly recommend. Please please do your own research if you visit this wonderful city and you will have a great time. Let’s support businesses which work hard on providing excellent quality and experience for their guests, for you. I have carefully selected the following places which won`t let you down.
We have been traveling in Italy now for a few weeks and it was just about time to go for some wine tasting. We came across Vineria all’Amarone as one of the best rated restaurants in the centre close to Rialto Bridge, and we quickly learnt that they are a popular Wine bar in the city. This family run place opened in 2013, when a freshly retired ex restaurant owner from Venice realized that staying at home is not his thing. Instead, he felt energetic and creative enough to open a Wine bar focusing Amarone wines in particular produced close by – therefore the name of the place.
We went for the “5 Italian region red wines” (Alto Adige, Abruzzo, Piedmont, Tuscany, Veneto) wine tasting experience with some authentic finger foods called cicchetti. I am by no mean professional in wines but my personal favourite was the Amarone wine (Veneto), with clear scents of prune, berries and even chocolate. Regarding the cicchetti, I loved the gorgonzola & mascarpone and nuts as well as the smoked ham with dehydrated grapes which are perfect pairing for such red wines.
This was the best evening we spent in Venice and I can warmly recommend to anyone interested in trying some Italian wines. If you fancy any particular one, the owner has a small wine store just next door where you can stock up before you leave Venice.
Ostaria A La Campana
Address: Calle dei Fabbri, 4720, 30124 Venezia Italy Website
There are different types of restaurants in Italy, the one called Ostaria is traditionally referring to a wine bar type of restaurant with relatively simple dishes. We made an excellent choice with Ostaria A La Campana when we were looking for a good quality, authentic lunch spot.
The Ostaria was full of locals enjoying their lunch with a nice glass of wine. Yes, wine for lunch on a random Tuesday, before going back to the office for the afternoon meetings. The menu is short with typical Italian dishes: pasta, some grilled meat and of course fish. My spaghetti with mussels was a decent portion and came with a tasty tomato sauce.
It is not a posh fine dining restaurant but it does not need to be. It is a prefect authentic Ostaria with great food and reasonable prices which makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a decent meal in a very Italian atmosphere.
Restaurant La caravella
There is an excellent dining option in Venice called Restaurant La caravella, that offers a true fine dining experience perfectly matching the level of designers shops on Calle Larga XXII Marzo shopping street.
The restaurant located in Hotel Saturnia, which owned by the same Venetian family over a century, certainly they took the time to perfect everything, we could not be happier with our experience there. Contemporary Italian cuisine in Venetian style, luxurious meals in friendly and approachable atmosphere. The quiet, peaceful inner garden is an oasis in Venice with lots of green plants around and the perfectly blue sky above us.
The scallop with peas cream and black ink coral tuile was a strong start visually as well as taste wise! Following the starters, we were recommended to try their signature fish soup which might have been the most delicious fish soup I ever had, they absolutely took it to the next level. Hubby went for the the steak which was served with potato cream infused with truffel, my weekness, I was sold at this point. With the desserts this restaurant is really a dream come true! We tried two; panna cotta and tiramisu variations. The panna cotta is infused with levander flowers and served with strawberry coulis and hazelnut crunchy biscuit. Taste even better than it looks, the flavors and textures are just out of this world. I loved also how they serve the traditional and the modern version of the tiramisu on the same plate, 100% the most advanced tiramisu we had during out trip in Italy.
By the way if you want feel some Italian spirit right in your home, check my home made tiramisu recipe in here.
Restaurant La caravella offers a memorable dining experience and I can warmly recommend to anyone visiting Venice.
We found this small pasta shop just when we wanted to grab a quick lunch in the middle of the city. Dal Moro’s is well hidden in the city`s narrow alleyways but worth to look for it 100%! As soon as we saw that they are making pasta onsite we were confident with our choice!
They offer 5 different homemade pastas and 9 artisan sauces, always freshly made from top quality Italian ingredients. While we were waiting, we have learnt that when the owner Gabriele opened his store in 2012 it was the first fast food place in the world to offer fresh pasta with homemade sauces. Since then the business has been expanded and currently operating in Spain and Canada as well. I am not surprised why they are so successful, we should have a Dal Moro’s in Sweden too!
You can either ask for takeaway option or eat onsite in the small shop. We went for the seafood pasta and carbonara plus a tiramisu, of course! Seafood pasta box for 7 euro makes it a no brainer in Venice, highly recommended!
I have been to Venice several times before but it was first time to experience the real Venice without thousands of tourist groups. In fact, the city was super calm and laidback. It is amazing to stroll around the narrow alleyways and bridges, get lost and explore the unbeaten tracks.
This was the first time I have had the chance to recognise the locals and the local lifestyle which is a truly unique way of living in this historical town. Like the postman who is walking along the labyrinth of canals then takes the boat to the other side of the street, how cool is that? Imagine living without cars and metro, instead walking or taking the boats to get to work, shop or visit friends and family. We fell in love with Venice even more and can’t wait to be back soon!
Have you been to Venice before? What are you favourite spots?