Is there a more unique city in the world? Venice should be on everyone’s bucket list. Beyond its famous canals, it’s also a city steeped in rich architectural and cultural history. Here are our top 5 things to do in Venice:
Take a canal boat ride
No trip to Venice would be complete without taking a ride on the 45 kilometres of waterways throughout the city’s downtown. Vaporetto and gondola are the two ways to get around the city on the canal system, and why travel to Venice unless you’re going to take advantage? The varporetto is the shared transportation, like a water bus, while the gondola, the traditional flat-bottomed row boat, is more like a taxi and, one could argue, far more romantic. Plus, the gondoliers are very knowledgeable about the city and its history. Gotta do it.
Come for the Biennale
Venice is home to the famed Biennale, which is held on odd-numbered years and showcases the most outstanding expressions of art from around the world. First held in 1895, the Biennale set the template for all large-scale contemporary art exhibits that followed. The Biennale also hosts the Venice International Film Festival, which awards its famous Golden Lion to the best film appearing at the festival.
Enjoy an espresso at Caffè Florian
Established in 1720, Caffè Florian is the oldest café in Italy. Here, noblemen, politicians, intellectuals and womanizers would meet, such as Carlo Goldoni and Casanova or, more recently, Gabriele d’Annunzio. Today, the Caffè Florian still retains the charm of the ages it has lived through. With its architecture, the result of renovations and reconstructions, the richly decorated rooms in different styles (the most famous being the Senate floor, the Chinese Room and the East Room, the Hall of Famous Men), and its 18th and 19thcentury interiors, the café is an important cultural centre. But it’s also simply an ideal place for enjoying an espresso while sitting at a little table in the heart of Venice, a few steps from the Grand Canal.
Have a relaxing beach day at the Lido
The Lido, or Venice Lido, is an 11-kilometre family-friendly beach in the north of the city. Often quiet and always convenient (it’s a half-hour walk from the city centre), this spot is the perfect escape inside the city. Unless there’s a storm, the Lido rarely sees breaking waves, and the water isn’t very deep for at least 100 feet out from shore, which makes it perfect for families with young children. The best times to visit the Lido are in June and September, when you can enjoy long walks barefoot on the fine sand, play racchettoni (a paddle game), and swim without human obstacles.
Have a bellini at Harry’s Bar
There is no bar in Europe with a richer history. Harry’s Bar opened in 1931 and was declared a national monument in 2001 by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage. Built from an old warehouse near to Piazza San Marco, Harry’s Bar is legendary for its famous clientele over the decades. Intellectuals, artists and writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Arturo Toscanini, Guglielmo Marconi, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Aristotle Onassis and Peggy Guggenheim, were all known to frequent Harry’s. Why have a bellini here? Because aside from being a bar and restaurant, Harry’s is also, and arguably almost more importantly, the birthplace of the Bellini.As you can see, there’s much more to Venice than just the canals. Tell us what you plan to do on your trip to this magical city in the comments below!