The Practical Traveller: Venice Part 1

Date Posted: 17/01/2020

Laura Jackson, part of our social media team, recently visited the stunning city of Venice. Before her trip, she took extra care to plan and research everything she did, ate, and drank to make sure she was organised, could save some money, and get the best out of her time there.

The first of her organised travel series, let’s hear all about Laura’s time in Venice…

“I want to share my passion for organising, researching, and budgeting top tips to hopefully help make trips memorable for everyone. 

Venice has always been on my bucket list; reason being it looks like no other place in the world. After hearing so many stories and seeing pictures over the years of the romantic gondola experiences, detailed alleyways, and canals I decided to plan my own trip."

"I decided to start looking well in advance (11 months ahead) as the flight prices are usually at their cheapest. I came across a really reasonable flight from Edinburgh and using our own HTOL (Hays Travel Tour Operating) system, I managed to package together a flight and centrally-located hotel called The Bridge Hotel for £350pp based on 3 nights on a bed and breakfast basis. I researched the hotel and found it was in a really central location and less than a five-minute walk to St Mark’s Square and other popular attractions."

"Venice is a big place and has a lot of areas outside the main island to stay but if you want a true Venetian experience with gondolas, canals, and alleyways then you need to be on Venice island which is full of charm and history. 

Once everything was confirmed I began to make notes of the extras I needed to think about – travel insurance, airport parking, attraction tickets, and transfers. I began researching my trip using recommendations from friends and also watched YouTube vlogs to make a list of places to visit and things to eat."

"Booking Venice transfers can be quite expensive and a private water taxi can cost up to £250 for two people. Direct with Alilaguna, I booked on their website and paid £42 for a return ticket for two people. The airport has clear signs to locate the water bus so it’s hassle-free once you arrive and then you can enjoy views of the island on the 40-minute transfer."

Day 1

"Once we arrived at our stop, we took a five-minute walk to the Bridge Hotel, passing through St Mark’s square down a quaint little alley and realised just how close we were to all of the attractions. We were checked in easily and greeted with a traditional Italian room then dropped our bags off and went straight out to explore the city at night and find somewhere to eat. After researching restaurants, takeaway, and watering holes beforehand I had created a checklist of Italian cuisine I wanted to try…"

Gelato – Suso 
Cicchetti  (small local Italian snacks) – various areas in Venice
Tiramisu – I Tre Mercanti
Takeaway seafood tub – Acqua e mantis 
Takeaway pasta box – Dal Moro’s
Takeaway pizza slice – Farini’s 

Bellini – Harry’s Bar – Famous for creating the first Bellini in the world
Aperol Spritz - various locations in Venice

"After watching vlogs and using Trip Advisor I wanted to find the highly recommended pizza restaurant Farini. Luckily we found this place within ten minutes of wandering, so our first night was all about fresh Italian pizza. Due to arriving quite late Farini’s was a great place to grab a slice and sample our first Aperol Spritz and with prices of €3.80 for a slice of pizza and €4.00 for a spritz it meant our first meal was less than €20; a nice inexpensive start to our holiday. After our lovely food we headed back to the room for an early night ready for a jam-packed day ahead of us."

Day 2

"We had an early start today and headed down for breakfast, which consisted of a selection of fresh meats, cheese, pastries, and yoghurts – a great range of things to enjoy before a hot day exploring."

"We had a few hours before the tour I had booked for 11am started, so I took this opportunity to find the famous book shop on my to-do list called Libreria Acque Alta. This free attraction is famous for having books in gondolas; this is because Venice is so used to rising water so they use the gondolas to keep the books safe. We bought a few old Italian books for around €20 as a lovely memory for our bookcase at home. If you wish, you can get a photo in the gondola attached to the book shop and climb the famous staircase of books which overlooks the canals.

I'd pre-booked a ‘Gondola ride with an original Venice walking tour’ through an attraction ticket company called Do Something Different and paid £43pp. This meant we could explore the main attractions of Venice with a guided tour and also had included entrance to the Basilica. Afterwards we broke for one hour to have lunch and do our own thing."

"This was another great opportunity to tick off something else on our food checklist! We made use of Google Maps to locate the distance from St Mark’s Square to Dal Moro’s for some fresh takeaway pasta. The portions were huge for a street food lunch and only €7 each – these I would definitely recommend."

"After lunch we re-joined the group to enjoy the 30-minute gondola ride through the Grand Canal; the most famous canal in Venice. It was great to have this included in our day prior, as to hire a gondola on the day would set you back €80. The gondola can carry up to six people, so if you don’t mind sharing the experience with other people it can cost you less than €14pp instead. 

Following this experience we decided to wander the streets and get lost in Venice for the afternoon. It was amazing exploring the various canals and views with no particular place to go and nowhere to be. After half an hour of exploring we stumbled upon a lovely little tiramisu bar called I Tre Mercanti. I immediately recognised this place from my pre-holiday research, so we went in to sample some treats."

"We tried a Nutella and a pistachio flavour tiramisu with a fresh still lemonade on the side. The tiramisu pots were €4 each and a decent size, as well as the freshly-squeezed lemonade that was the same price – a definitely must-try! I Tre Mercanti was a lovely find and definitely worth a visit. I also loved how it doubled as a shop where you can buy goodies to take home.

After a busy first full day we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a visit to our pre- booked restaurant for the evening. We had a great recommendation from a friend to visit a seafood restaurant called Da Alvise. This eatery was on the other side of the island, so it took around twenty minutes of walking through the streets to find."

"It was set in a beautiful location on the waterfront and because we had pre-booked we ended up with a lovely table with breathtaking views of the waters surrounding Venice. It made for a very romantic setting and with an Aperol Spritz and an array of delicious pasta and seafood we felt like this was an amazing choice. We had a lovely seafood platter to start which was €30, followed by two seafood pasta dishes at €18 each. Each spritz was €5 and the local lager was €4. This meant we had a wonderful night for less than €90 between us.

We rounded off our night with a few stops in the local bars on the way back to the hotel to sample more of the local spritz and lager.”

Read about the rest of Laura’s exciting Venice trip next week…