What to do in Venice and a quick stopover in Florence! We had the best time in Venice, and here I share all the things to do, eat, and see!

picture of Venice with text for pinterest

We finally saw the new[ish] Spiderman movie yesterday now that things with our house have settled down. The Venice scenes gave me all the feels! It’s been almost exactly a year since we were there, but I have to say I still remember it all like it was yesterday.

The fact that the entire city functions seamlessly without busses, trucks, cars, or even motorcycles still baffles me. In Houston, it’s near impossible to get to many places without motor-powered vehicles unless you live in the cities center.

I hope you find this travel itinerary useful if you’ve got a trip to Venice planned for the future, or if you’ve already been and just want to take a walk down memory lane! Editing these pictures was so much fun; it made me feel like I was back there all over again!

So without further ado, here’s what to do in Venice and a little about our quick stopover in Florence!

picture from Rialto Bridge in Venice

boats of narrow canals in Venice

Getting to Venice:

There are two main ways to arrive in Venice: 1.) by taking a flight 2.) by taking the train. If you are still in the planning phase of your trip, I highly recommend arriving by train if at all possible as it is much, much easier that way.

  1. Arriving by plane: you would need to take a flight to Marco Polo airport. Then you’ll need to either take a bus or a water taxi/boat to make the rest of the journey into Venice. The trip time depends on the type of transportation you choose but will take anywhere from 30 minutes to just over an hour.
  2. Arriving by train: The central station is the Santa Lucia station that is right on the Grand Canal. You can book your tickets on Trenitalia well in advance (they have an English website) as we did and it makes it super easy to get tickets before you even leave. Once you arrive:
    1. You can take one of two public water taxis (called the Vaporetto) to get to Rialto or San Marco or the other one which goes to Lido. Take 1 or 2 to get to Rialto, the difference between the two is one makes more stops than the other, so be sure you know your stop and whether that particular water taxi stops there! Line 1 takes roughly 35 minutes to get to Rialto; line 2 takes 2 5 minutes. The cost is approximately 7.5 euros/person.
    2. The other option is to take a private water taxi to get to your destination. The Vaporetto is the more economical option, but the drawback is that during the busy season (and if a ton of trains arrived around the same time yours did) you could be looking at a long wait to get on one.

picture of one of the bridges visible from the trainstation on Venice

St. Marks Square from a distance

gondolas on the water in early morning light

Venice| What to know before you go:

  • Depending on where you’re staying, and if you need to travel by Vaporetto often, you might want to invest in a travel card. They were roughly 20 euros a day or 60 euros a week when we were there; this may have changed though. If you don’t mind the walk, you can easily get around everywhere without the card. We didn’t bother getting one as we stayed off of an island (J.W. Marriott) close by that offered a complimentary water taxi to and from Venice center, and we decided that we needed to walk the rest of the way to burn off all the pasta and pizza we were having!
  • Hotels and Airbnb’s have a mandatory city tax (usually in the ballpark of 3.5-7 euros depending on the city.) This is due in cash at the time of check-in (the cash thing might be for Airbnb, though, I don’t remember how we paid at the hotel, unfortunately!)
  • Locals generally don’t tip. Gratuities are sometimes expected from tourists though. Try to avoid excess tipping, and you certainly do not have to calculate a percentage the way we do here in America. I suggest tipping ~1-4 Euros if you’re at a sit-down restaurant if you liked the service. Most sit down restaurants already have a built-in “dine-in” fee, so check your receipt. If they brought bread to your table, chances are they charged you for that too!
  • Italians don’t do coffee (or other beverages on the go) so expect a few looks if you ask for a latte or cappuccino in a takeaway cup… that’s if they have them! Most coffee shops don’t. 
  • Also, upwards of 10,000 steps a day should be expected! Especially in Venice! Even if you end up taking a water taxi a few times a day, you’ll still end up walking a ton to get to restaurants and such.
  • If you don’t plan on having data or a wifi hot spot (affiliate link) with you on the trip, consider downloading a map for the cities you’re going to on your Google Maps app that you can access even when you’re offline. Even though we took our hot spot with us, Anees downloaded the maps which came in handy when our hotspot was running out of juice or when we were out of range.

picture of flowers on balconies on the canals

olives on olive branch

free flowing water through a an iron water fountain

gondola on the Venice canals during sunset

Venice and Florence | Words to know:

Although in both Venice and Florence, my experience was that most people spoke decent enough English to communicate, it’s always good to know a few words and to thank someone in their native language!

  • CiaoHello
  • BuongiornoGood morning
  • Prego You are welcome (sometimes they greet you this way.. as in go ahead)
  • Lei Parla IngleseDo you speak English?
  • Grazie Thank you
  • Grazie MilleThank you so much
  • Mi scusi Excuse me
  • Quanto costaHow much is this?
  • Questo ha carne Does this have meat? (super important if you’re vegetarian/pescatarian because a lot of stuff does)

TIP: If you have wifi or a hotspot, be sure to download the Google Translate app on your phone! It’s helpful when two people are trying to communicate in different languages!

the view when you're walking up to St. Marks Square

St. Peters Basilica in St. Marks Square

the beautiful entrance on St. Marks Basilica

small bridge on Venice canal

A picture of the Rialto bridge from an angle

hubby and me on the Rialto bridge

a distant picture of the Rialto Bridge

a picture of me with the canals and a gondola in the background

a picture of our gondolier with the Rialto bridge behind him

our gondola about to pass under a small bridge

picture of large gondolas about to go through a small canal

a picture of me with an umbrella with Gallerie dell'Accademia in the background

beautiful flowers in the balcony windows on an orange building

me sitting on a stairway of books in a bookstore on Venice

What to do in Venice| Things to see and do:

  • Wander in St. Marks Square:
    • It’s great for people watching and if you want to just hang out for a bit, take a load off and grab a latte or macchiato at Caffe Florian.
      • ADDRESS: 30100 Venezia VE, Italy
  • Rialto Bridge:
    • Watch the sunset and check out the Mercato a the foot of the bridge! This is one of the best picture-perfect spots of all of Venice’s Grand Canal.
      • ADDRESS: 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
  • Doge’s Palace:
    • Wander the grounds, around St. Marks square. The architecture is stunning when you’re done and check out the bridge of sighs, which is located just around the corner from Doge’s Palace.
      • Fact: people debate why it’s called the bridge of sigh, but one of the most common stories is that it was the last look that prisoners had of Venice before they were taken into prison, so it was a sigh of despair.
    • Doge’s Palace has a Secret Itineraries Tour which is really cool to take if you’re interested. It’s informative, and I wouldn’t call it boring in the least.
      • ADDRESS: Located at St. Marks square
  • St. Marks Basilica:
    • Entry is free if you decide to wait in the line. However, it can sometimes be a very, very long line! During the busy season, the wait can get into the hours, and it’s no fun standing in the square with the sun beating down on you. Luckily, you do have an option to skip the line if you’d like, you can reserve tickets online for 6 euros/person and get in without having to wait at the time of your choosing!
    • ADDRESS: Located at St. Marks square
  • Take a gondola ride:
    • The gondola rides usually start in the smaller canals and take you to the Grand Canal with at least a view of the Rialto bridge. Depending on your gondolier, they may share some interesting facts along the way! Lady Gaga was in town when we visited, and our gondolier showed us the hotel that most celebrates stay at when in town. Last summer, a gondola ride for roughly 30 minutes was around 80 euros for a day trip (2018) and a little more for an evening ride. If you want to experience a gondola ride but not pay the hefty price tag, you can always try and find another couple to split the cost.
  • Visit Libreria Acqua Alta:
    • I have to say, this was one of the coolest things! Hidden in the back alley of an old bookstore, is a staircase made out of old books. The place is neat to check out, and it’s always such a fun photo opp too!
      • ADDRESS: Calle Longa Santa Maria Formosa | 5176 – Castello, 30122 Venice, Italy

a large scoop of strawberry cheesecake gelato on a cone

tomato basil sauce on fresh pasta from pasta to go

pistachio and chocolate hazelnut gelato from Suso Gelato

a can of lemon soda with water in the background

What to do in Venice | Food:

  • grab a slice of pizza from Antico Forno (1,241 reviews, 4.6 stars): the place doesn’t have much sitting room, you can stand and eat at the bar, or take it with you and find a nice spot on the canal (where they actually allow food and sitting) and enjoy it there! If you like lemonade or sparkling lemon water, might I recommend a lemon soda! They are available just about everywhere in Italy, and it’s kind of like carbonated lemonade. So good and it tastes great with pizza on the go!
    • ADDRESS: Calle de L’ogio de la Rugheta, 970/973 (Near Rialto Bridge)
  • Get fresh pasta to go from Dal Moro’s (4,893 reviews, 4.5 stars): Again, this is another takeaway location, but we loved it so much that we came back twice in the few days that we were there! They make and serve fresh handmade pasta from scratch (you can see them doing it while you stand in line.) I tried a couple of different kinds – both the white sauce and the red were equally delicious! They also have tiramisu for dessert, which was yummy! It’s alcohol-free, so everyone can enjoy it!
    • ADDRESS: 
  • Pizza Al Volo (710 reviews, 4.5 stars):
    • Pizza Al Volo is great for a late-night bite, or if you want to have a super casual dinner. They make the pizza right in front of you, dough stretching and all! Seating is minimal, but we preferred to take the pizza to go and enjoy it outside on a park bench. They are cash only if I remember correctly.
    • ADDRESS: Dorsoduro, 2944, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
  • Vizio Virtu:
    • A chocolate shop near Rialto Bridge. You can taste chocolate in all forms here and watch them make some on site.
    • ADDRESS: Calle del Forner, 5988, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy (10am-7pm)


  • Suso Gelatoteca (1,991 reviews, 4.6 stars):
    • ADDRESS: Calle della Bissa, 5453, 30124 San Marco, Venezia VE, Italy
  • La Mela Verde (Green Apple) (486 reviews, 4.3 stars): 
    • ADDRESS: Fondamenta del ‘Osmarin, 4977A, 30122 Venezia VE, IItaly

Stopover in Florence:

On the way to Cinque Terre, Anees and I made a quick stopover in Florence. Anees had recently finished reading Dan Brown’s Inferno and was excited to get a chance to see all the things they talked about in the book. Me? Though I love to read, I cheated and watched the movie 😂 So I wouldn’t call this much of a guide, it’s just a quick ‘what we did in Florence.’ Florence certainly disserves its own post and at the end of the day, both of us wished we could’ve spared a few extra days to stay and take in all of Florence’s beauty!

the streets of Florence at sunset

What do see:

  • Duomo Di Firenze: The church had free entry, but if you’d like to climb the bell tower (it’s 400 steps) it costs 15 euros. Both of us really wanted to do this but unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time as we wanted to make it to the Statue of David before the museum closed.
    • ADDRESS: Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
  • Galleria dell’ Accademia (for the Statue of David):
    • The museum closes at 6:50 pm so be sure to give yourself plenty of time. There is an entrance fee, but we ended up getting lucky because on the first Sunday of every month, the entrance is free and we happened to be there then!
    • ADDRESS: Via Ricasoli, 58, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

picture of Duomo Di Firenze

picture of Duomo Di Firenze from an angle

inside Duomo Di Firenze

Florence with Duomo Di Firenze in the distance

statue of David at Galleria dell' Accademia

florence at sunset with the sun setting behind a large building

Where to eat:

  • Bar Pasticceria Cucciolo (366 reviews, 4.6 stars):
    • If you’re looking for a yummy Italian pastry, this is the place to get it! They have delicious bomboloni (or Italian doughnuts) stuffed with Nutella and sweet cream. They also offer mini pizza’s and such, so it’s a great place to grab a snack or breakfast.
    • ADDRESS: Via del Corso, 25R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
  • Mercatos Centrale – Mercado di San Lorenzo
    • A cool market place resembling a food court. They offer snacks, spices, specialty food items, fresh meat, and veggies. They sell yummy prepared eats on the top floor and the lower floors are for fruits, veggies, and cheeses. If you’re a foodie, you would love this place! This place stays open till midnight so great for a late-night snack!
      • ADDRESS: Piazza del Mercato Centrale – Via dell’Ariento, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
  • Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco (749 reviews, 4.5 stars):
    • Both Anees and I agree this has to be Florence’s best-kept secret! We would say this is one of the best restaurants we ate at on the whole trip! The food here was just outstanding! We ordered a pappa al Pomodoro (tomato and bread soup) and that I can still taste till this day, homemade pasta with pesto Genovese (one of the best pestos I’ve tasted,) and gnocchi with shrimp, zucchini, and tomato sauce. We both wish we had more space to try the truffle pasta, I’ve heard it’s simply amazing. The place also has a cool taverny vibe, something out of Harry Potter almost, complete with a Boars head on the wall!
    • Dinner is served from 6:30 – 1030pm.
    • ADDRESS: Borgo S. Jacopo, 43, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
  • Gelateria La Carraia (3,620 reviews, 4.6 stars):
    • what to get: try the custard flavor and the chocolate mousse gelato. The chocolate mousse is a must for any chocolate lovers!
    • ADDRESS: 

fried veggies in a cone at the Mercato Centrale

pesto with pesto genevese at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco

shrimp with gnocchi at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco

chocolate mousse with vanilla gelato on cone

Leave it to me to share more places to eat than things to do in Florence! But I have to say, Florence is definitely on our list of cities to come to see again! I hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful if you’re looking for what to do in Venice or Florence! If you have any recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Until the next adventure!

Florence with the sunsetting behind it

comfy walking shoes are a must!

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