Spend a weekend of fun in the city of bridges with Katie McGonagle's guide to Venice
You’ve got to love a city that makes you feel like a movie star from the moment you step off the aircraft.
As our water taxi zipped across the lagoon from the airport to the city, complete with clichéd wind in our hair and a trail of cool spray in our wake, I was already enthralled.
Luckily, Venice didn’t disappoint. The sumptuous city blends romance and rich heritage with a warm Italian welcome and more fascinating sights than you could ever fit into a weekend.
With new airlift courtesy of Monarch, which has added four flights a week from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham, there’s never been a better time to send your clients to Venice. Get the lowdown on what to do with our action-packed guide.
09.30: Where else can you start but St Mark’s Square? It’s chock-full of tourists, hawkers and overpriced cafes, but it’s the historic heart of the city and at least if you go early you’ll get in before cruise ship passengers descend.
Pose for pictures outside St Mark’s Basilica, stop for a coffee with orchestral accompaniment at Caffe Florian, reputedly the oldest coffee house in Europe, or walk in the former footsteps of the city’s leaders with a visit to the Doge’s Palace. The last two will set you back a bit, but are worth it to tick them off the bucket list.
11.00: Get lost in Venice’s alleys and back streets, browsing shop windows full of carnival masks and glassware. It’s best to wander and see what you find but if your clients need direction, suggest heading towards the Rialto Bridge via the impressive Campo Santa Maria Formosa, then crossing to the lively Rialto markets.
12.30: Hop in a water taxi for a tour around the narrow waterways of Cannaregio, a fascinating historic district and home to the Jewish quarter. Then cruise back along the Grand Canal watching out for gondoliers in striped T-shirts.
14.00: Push the boat out with lunch at the Terrazza Danieli restaurant in the Hotel Danieli. The food is delicious but the views over the lagoon are the big draw, though they come at a pretty hefty price. I’d recommend the Caprese salad and tempura-style seafood, washed down with a glass of Bardolino rosé. Divine.
16.00: You’ll have spotted the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore on an island opposite the restaurant, so get a closer look. Marvel at the gleaming white Palladio-designed façade, spot artworks by Tintoretto and Jacopo Bassano, then climb the bell tower for superb views over Venice. It’s half the price and minus the crowds of the St Mark’s Square campanile, so you might even get the place to yourself as you watch boats jostling for position in the waters below.
20.00: After freshening up, grab a quick bite at one of the local trattorias and finish with gelato from ice cream vendors lining ?each street corner. To party with the Venetians, head to Campo Santa Margherita – it’s a water taxi ride away but stays buzzing until 2am.
10.00: No trip to Venice is complete without its islands; Citalia’s half-day tour of Murano, Burano and Torcello is its most popular excursion (from £23).
Start in Murano, home to the world-famous glassware hand-made by skilled craftsmen. We watched one master turn a molten blob of glass into a dainty fluted-edge dish at family-run Ars Cenedese. Then wander down the pretty canal-side walkway filled with shop after shop selling signature wares – though watch out for variations in quality.
12.00: Move on to Burano, famed for its lace-making, colourful houses and distinctive S-shaped biscuits. Get your camera ready ?as you approach the patchwork ?of pink, red, blue, green and orange houses.
13.00: Finish with Torcello, a tiny outpost once more powerful than Venice but now with a dwindling population and just the ruins of former palaces and churches. Then enjoy a gentle ride back to Venice and a light lunch before returning to your hotel.
18.00: Get dressed up for a fun evening out, starting off with a bellini at Harry’s Bar,the place where the fresh cocktail was invented, then a water taxi or a gondola ride to Antico Martini Restaurant for a tasty mix of traditional Italian and European flavours. Walk off your dinner through the still-packed streets ?to soak up your last few hours ?in Venice.
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