Updated: May 22, 2020
As part of a larger trip to Italy, my first stop was Venice. I was more excited about Florence and Rome, so I was pleasantly surprised by Venice! Although often referred to as "The City of Love", don't let that fool you. I'm sure it's very romantic if travelling with the one you love, but there's a lot you'll get out of Venice travelling with friends or alone.
Obviously Venice is a city built on water, but you actually have to visit to understand how unique an experience this is. I can't compare it to any previous cities I've visited.
One thing to note is that Venice can't be explored as easily as other cities. I did try to walk as much as I could, but it's somewhat of a maze, even when using a map. Quite often I would work my way through various side-streets to get to a destination, only to arrive at a dead end, or a waterway with no way to cross. Provided you're not in a hurry to get somewhere, this can add to the fun of exploring the city.
If you intend to go quite a distance then it's possible to get water taxis or the water bus which is a cheaper option.
One thing to be aware of is that Venice can be very expensive, especially in touristy areas, so check prices before entering cafes or restaurants.
Unless you're made of money, I'd avoid visiting any of the bars or cafes on St. Mark's Square, as these can be extortionate. You're better off looking in the side-streets for cheaper options.
When people think of visiting Venice, they usually think about taking a ride on a gondola. As you explore the streets and waterways of Venice, you'll see dozens of gondolas passing by.
Although I wanted to give it a go, the lack of being with a romantic partner and the high price put me off. They have a fixed price of €80 during the daytime, and €120 at night for a 25 minute ride. It was a little more than I cared to spend, but if I return to visit for more of a romantic getaway in the future, then I'd love to give it a go.
Saint Mark's Basilica
The beautiful ornate cathedral church on St Mark's Square. Not usually being one for churches I didn't go inside, however I understand that entrance is free, and it actually looks quite beautiful inside. I am now regretting not popping my head in.
If you're into churches or beautiful architecture then this is a sight you won't want to miss.
The bell tower, or St Mark's Campanile is one of the tallest structures standing out against the Venice skyline.
Being situated next to it, it is of course 's the bell tower of St. Mark's Basilica. You can go inside and up to the top for some magnificent views at €8 per person. But be warned, there are often huge queues which can last for hours, but a queue jump ticket is available online in advance for a higher price.
Personally I'd always recommend queue jump tickets even if they are dearer, as they save you so much time.
Bridge of Sighs
A secluded bridge made of white limestone, and a popular sight in Venice.
It connects The New Prison to the interrogation rooms. Convicts would sigh as they walked over the bridge and looked through the windows, seeing their last view of Venice before their imprisonment. Hence the Bridge of Sighs.
Personally I thought it was a pretty bridge, but it puzzles me as to why this is so popular with tourists. There is so much other beautiful architecture in Venice which doesn't receive as much attention.
The oldest of the bridges which cross the grand canal. It's the most popular bridge in Venice, and is always surrounded by tourists. In my opinions this is a much grander and interesting bridge than the Bridge of Sighs. The only problem being the amount of tourists.
The bridge now has numerous shops selling all sorts of items, be it souvenirs or expensive jewellery.
Another major landmark, just off of St Mark's Square. It was once the seat of Venician government, the Doge was the actual elected chief of state. Since the 1920's it was turned into a museum, displaying the many ornate rooms and spectacular paintings.
Entrance to the museum is free, but there are often long queues, so I suggest hitting this at an off peak time.
It's very easy to access the island of Murano by using the Vaporetto, a water bus. It will only take 9 minutes from the stop at Fondamente Nove.
The island is famed for glass making, and you'll find several shops selling glass ornaments of all shapes and sizes. You can also see the items being made and the glass-blowers are happy for you to watch them work. If you've never seen glass-blowers in action, it's quite amazing at how quickly and easily they transform the glass.
I'd suggest visiting Burano after Murano, which takes about 25 minutes by the Vaporetto water bus.
This island is famous for the production and sale of lace items, and you'll find many shops selling items made from lace. However the real attractions here are the brightly painting houses. It feels a little as if you're in a children's TV show.
The houses are different colours because in the past it was how residents and the postmen identified where people lived, instead of a house number. Personally I preferred Burano to Murano, it had a nice and happy feeling to it, maybe because of the bright colours?