Our next stop on this little European travel series is Venice. Just saying the name brings a smile to my face. Although none of us can name a favorite place in all the stops we made, all of us named Venice in our top three. I really did not know I would love it as much as I did. It’s enchanting and amazing and feels like walking through a storybook. None of the pictures can do it justice, but I’ll share them anyway to give you a little idea…
We even got a little glimpse of the Alps from the plane (see the white mountain tops?)…
After a short taxi ride (which ended up being cheaper for us than taking a bus), we checked into our hotel, which I will tell you more about later, and our love for Venice began!
The city is really a group of many small islands, joined together with charming bridges crossing the numerous canals. There are no roads and no cars! Just adorable gondolas and plenty of water taxis if you need to get across town in a hurry.
We arrived in the afternoon of our first day and the sights literally took our breath away.
It’s been said by many that the best way to see Venice is to just wander and get lost, and that’s kind-of what we did, keeping to the direction of St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco).
There are more adorable Italian eateries than you can count on almost every corner, and one amazing observation we made was that during our entire time in Italy, our family of six never had to wait at a restaurant! The restaurants offer many of the same Italian classics, but do vary in price, so take a look at the menu boards posted outside, and remember that the prices on both food and goods seem to get higher the closer you get to St Mark’s Square.
And, Oh! The Gelato! It’s everywhere and so delish! This also ranges in price, but if you look hard enough, you can get a nice big scoop for 1.50 euro!
There’s also lots of great shopping! Beautiful Murano glass is sold everywhere as well as Venetian masks. And then there are the big names you know as well.
Everywhere you turn, there are beautiful houses and flowers.
And so many beautiful bridges across the canals, like the famous Bridge of Sighs…
When we arrived in St. Mark’s, once again, it was just breathtaking. (I love these shots Grant captured on his GoPro.) This is the location of St. Mark’s Basilica, St.Mark’s Campanile, and the Doge’s Palace, which you can tour if you choose. (Tickets for the palace are about 18 euro for adults, 11 for kids).
The square opens up to the lagoon, where there are gondolas, water buses, and water taxis available if you’s like to get a view from the water!
The official city gondolas are serviced by gondoliers in the traditional black and white striped shirts. The fees are non-negotiable at 80 euros for a 30-40 minute ride. The price jumps to 100 euro after 7pm, so keep that in mind. Most boats will seat up to 6 and there is no per-person charge.
We opted to take a water bus from St Mark’s back to the train station that evening and it was a beautiful scenic ride at the perfect time of night! The cost was 7 euro per person, and the cruise was around 40 minutes. So beautiful!
We got off the boat just a short walk from the train station (this is the view from the train station steps!), and then we took our short train ride across the bridge to our hotel. And speaking of our hotel, it turned out to be a fabulous choice!
When we were booking, we, again, had to find a hotel that couldaccommodate a family of 6, so we chose the Best Western Hotel Bologna, which is just across the bridge from Venice in Mestre. It is directly across the street from the small train station, so when you get off the train from Venice, it’s literally just a few steps away to the hotel. (The pic below is the view of the hotel from the station.)
Click here to visit the hotel site and you’ll see that it’s not only very affordable, but the rooms are beautiful, clean, and very spacious. And the breakfast is not only amazing and unlike any hotel continental breakfast in the US, but also included in the room price! (Another huge bonus if you’re traveling as a family.) Granted, you will not have the old world charm in this hotel like you would in some of the hotels in Venice, but on the plus side, you will not have to pull your luggage off the boat and roll it down the stone streets to the hotel, or pay the high prices in Venice, either. Check this out if you are traveling to Venice! I highly recommend!
On our second day in Venice, we were greeted with rain which lasted on and off throughout the day, but it did not dampen our spirits as we made our way through the streets some more. We spent the day walking, eating, shopping, and then walking some more!
And just about mid-day, the skies cleared up and the sun came out for us to have a beautiful gondola ride! And, yes, the gondolier even sang!
Even through the rain, we had a day we will never forget in Venice.
And did I mention the gelato?
On that third day, we packed up all 6 suitcases and all our carry-ons and rolled them across the street once more to catch a train to our last stop. We hated to leave Venice, but if we get the opportunity, we will definitely go back! If you’ve been here, I’d love to hear about your visit! Share commentsbelow or ask whateverquestions you might have and I’ll try to answer!
Stay tuned for our last stop in Europe coming up next!