As you can probably tell from my Instagram, my husband Jeremy and I are currently traveling through Europe. We saved up our vacation time from work and since my coworker was getting married in Austria we decided to take extended time off. Jeremy found a great deal on a non-stop Delta flight to Venice, so we started our vacation there. We don’t come back to the United States until after Labor Day. So stay tuned, I will be recapping our travels as we go!
We arrived in Venice on Sunday, August 4 and stayed through Wednesday. Before coming to Venice, Jeremy and I received many mixed reviews from people who had visited, either loving it or hating it. But, Jeremy and I ended up absolutely loving it! Part of the reason we loved Venice so much is we stayed at the Grand Hotel dei Dogi, across the city from the hustle and bustle of St. Mark’s Square. St. Mark’s Square is the location of the main tourist attractions of Venice, including St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and the Rialto Bridge is nearby.
We booked the Grand Hotel dei Dogi on Marriott points because I loved that it was in a quiet location and we got more of a local experience. There are plenty of other accommodations closer to St. Mark’s Square, but that wasn’t what we were looking for. The Grand Hotel dei Dogi property used to be a private residence and has now been converted into a boutique hotel with 64 rooms. The hotel has the most stunning garden – one of the largest private gardens in Venice. Every morning we would start our day having breakfast outside on the veranda and then take a brief winding walk through the garden, which led to the back of the hotel property and a small private dock overlooking the water. As water covers both sides of the hotel (with a canal in front, and the bay behind), I felt like we were in our own private oasis of Venice.
Places to See
We were supposed to have 3 full days in Venice, but unfortunately our Delta flight from Atlanta was horribly delayed. So, we ended up only having 2 full days, but made the most of it. Luckily Venice is a relatively small city and you can easily walk the entire city of Venice in a day. However, Jeremy and I loved taking our time exploring over 2 days.
On our first full day we walked to St. Mark’s Square (roughly a 30-45 minute walk from our hotel) and explored all the main tourist sites. We walked over Rialto Bridge and through St. Mark’s Square, but opted to skip paying for tickets to go inside St. Mark’s Basilica or Doge’s Palace, as we’ve seen more than our share of European churches. Plus, the large crowds and long lines looked like too much for the hot sun. Instead, we decided to visit the islands of Murano and Burano, both a quick boat ride from Venice. Our hotel had free water taxi transportation to the island of Murano, known for its glass-making. We toured a glass-making studio and wandered around the island of Murano. Then, from Murano we took a public ferry to the island of Burano, known for its brightly colored houses and lace-making.
On our second full day we explored the rest of Venice. We stopped by a few churches and cathedrals, including Chiesa degli Scalzi, Chiesa San Geremia, Chiesa Madonna dell’Orto (this church was right next to our hotel) and Chiesa dei Frari. We walked to the triangular area of Venice where the Grand Canal meets the Giudecca Canal and the location of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. As you walk around the city you will cross over many other bridges, including Ponte della Accademia and Ponte degli Scalzi. There are also famous museums in Venice, including the Galleria dell’Accademia and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. We didn’t make it inside to either of the art museums (again, we’ve seen our share and were enjoying just walking around outside), but it gives us an excuse to go back.
On our last night in Venice we hired a private motor boat and the driver took us on a 1 hour sunset tour of the city before our dinner. It was such a magical way to end our trip to Venice. I know many people love the Gondola rides – but it just felt too touristy (and again – too hot!). With the private motor boat tour, we instead had a lovely breeze, could see way more of the island in an hour, and were able to enjoy a nice bottle of local sparkling rose we found that a small wine shop near our hotel made.
Places to Eat
For our food spots, we mostly just walked around and stopped if it looked good, plus a few recommendations from the hotel. We ate at the following places:
- Grand Hotel dei Dogi – we had breakfast every morning at our hotel overlooking the garden. Even if you don’t stay in this hotel, I would recommend having dinner here one night. The garden is so romantic.
- Al Timon – we ate here our first night. Extremely fresh seafood and pasta.
- Ristorante Pizzería Al Faro – an awesome pizza place in the historic Jewish neighborhood of Venice.
- Ristorante Riva Rosa Burano – we grabbed an appetizer and a bottle of rose here in Burano.
- Algiubagio Restaurant – we ate here on our last night after taking our private boat tour. It’s a romantic restaurant overlooking the water.
- Adagi Cafe & Wine Bar – a cute little cafe we grabbed a drink at after touring Chiesa dei Frari.
- Last but not least, I recommend getting a cappuccino and gelato daily. 🙂
After checking out of the Grand Hotel dei Dogi on Wednesday August 7 we took a water taxi to the Venice Marco Polo airport. We got our rental car, a cute Audi Q5. Then, we drove through the Dolomites, a mountain range located in northeastern Italy, and form a part of the Southern Limestone Alps. Will recap our trip to the Dolomites and the wedding in Austria next!