Venice: In One weekend
Can you visit a foreign city in one weekend without booking annual leave from work? Yes you can, and we did exactly that. Last summer, we booked return flights to Venice in early September for £51 return from London Stansted to Venice Treviso. This was an amazing deal with Ryanair but the problem was the flight time from Stansted was super early. As the flight departed at 6.20am, we had to get to the airport well in advance meaning we didn’t get much sleep. We left London Bridge at around 3am to get to the airport at 5am. However, given the cheap flights and the fact that we didn’t need to book time off work, we thought lets go!
As much as we were excited, we were nervous. This was also our first trip to Venice so we were worried that we would not have enough time to explore everything that we wanted to. Our parents who visited Venice the year before warned us that a weekend was not enough but we would be able to visit the main sights. The tight timeline also meant that strict planning was necessary. Our schedule looked roughly like this:
9.20am - Arrived in Treviso and bought coach tickets to Venice
10.05am - Arrived in Venice and we took the Riverbus 4.1 line to Arsenale
11.43am - Arrived at our AirBnB house in Castello
12.25pm - Lunch at Alfredo’s Di Dal Moro
1.02pm - Arrived at Doge’s Palace
2.21pm - Left the palace, walked around St Mark’s Square and back to Castello for rest
4.41pm - Went back out for a wander
5.42pm - Arrived at T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi shopping centre and headed to the rooftop just in time for sunset at approx 6.10pm
6.36pm - Dinner at Ristorante Ca’dolfin
8.00pm - Returned back to our AirBnB house in Castello
08.45am - Breakfast at Rosso Pomo Doro in San Marco
09.17am - Gondola ride from San Marco
10.52am - Took the Riverbus to Burano
11.30am - Arrived in Burano
12.58pm - Lunch in Burano at Al Raspo De Ua Locanda and wandered around Burano
4.20pm - Returned to Venice and wandered around St Mark’s Square
6.00pm - Left Venice
6.41pm - Arrived in Treviso and had dinner at Bar Ristorante Pizzeri (right by the airport)
10.00pm - Flight departed (was supposed to depart at 9.20pm but it was delayed)
Arsenale, Castello located on the eastern side of Venice is the quieter residential part. Full of secret alleyways and little bridges, there was a hidden gem in every corner. We stayed in an Air BnB house right next to San Martino church which was within a 10 minute walk to St Mark’s Square but yet quiet enough to avoid all the crowds.
Prior to arrival, I had researched cheap eats in Venice and Alfredo’s Di Dal Moro came up as a top rated place on Tripadvisor. This was a hand made pasta take out shop (or you could eat standing up inside) serving pasta in take out boxes. You get to choose the type of pasta and sauce you want and additional toppings at an extra cost. We both had spaghetti with fish sauce and chicken pieces and mushrooms as toppings. The place was a pasta hot spot and the prices were reasonable so do expect to queue. As there were no seating areas inside, a number of customers sat on the floor nearby the shop. There were actually signs around the area prohibiting people hanging around with food so after we had ordered, we walked over to St Mark’s Square and had our pasta there.
One of the key highlights of the trip was visiting the famous Doge’s palace. This was formerly the Doge of Venice’s residence and now a key landmark of Venice. Be sure to pay attention to the gothic architecture and detailed paintings in each room. My favourite was The Chamber of the Great Council on the first floor. As the largest room in Europe spanning 53 metres long and 25 metres wide, meetings of the Great Council were held here.
The Chamber of the Great Council:
Great views from the palace:
The weapons on display. The collection features over 2,000 armoury that were readily available to the guards:
Also, don’t forget to visit the numerous prisons as a reminder of the gruesome past:
The palace courtyard:
Later that evening, we decided to go and watch sunset at T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi shopping centre. Be sure to get there early as the queue can be quite long. We queued for approx 30 minutes by the lifts before it was our turn to enter the terrace. There will also be a number of tour groups that have priority to enter as they have booked a slot. I therefore advise you to book a slot to avoid the queue. You will be given a 15 minute slot to enjoy the sunset but the view was well worth the wait.
When wandering around Venice, don’t forget to top up your insect repellant as mosquitoes can be found everywhere especially at night time. This is due to the city being located in a lagoon and the mosquitoes love it. We had dinner at Ristorante Ca’dolfin and decided to sit outdoors given it was a nice warm evening. We didn’t realise that there were mosquitoes in Venice until we were so badly bitten during dinner. Despite being bitten, we still managed enjoyed our dinner.
The next day we decided to get up early to take a gondola ride. The gondola is a narrow traditional boat historically for the wealthy Venetians. Nowadays, it is on every tourist’s bucket list when visiting Venice. There are approximately 400 gondolas in Venice all operated by the same company charging a flat rate of $80 for a 30 minute tour. Each boat can fit up to six people so you can share a gondola if you don’t want to hire one to yourself. There were also a number of factors to consider before choosing a gondola e.g. whether to take a private or shared one, where we wanted to be picked up from, the route and the gondola style. We decided to go for a private one in the end as we wanted our own space and we didn’t want others to be in the background of our photos.
We decided to pay a visit to the nearby island, Burano. Burano was a 45 minute journey by river bus from Venice. This was a difficult choice as we were debating whether to spend the rest of the day exploring the other side of Venice or to go somewhere new altogether. After persuasion from E and scrolling through tons of Instagram photos, we finally decided that the rainbow island was worth a visit. Burano, also known as the island of lace has always been ranked amongst other places, as the most colourful place on Earth. The island is famous for its multicoloured fishermen cottages where no two buildings next to each other are the same colour. Lace shops are to be seen everywhere the moment you step on the island. Also a tradition of the island which dates back to 1880. Lace was born when a Burano fishermen gifted his fiancé lace on their wedding day and she loved it so much that she decided to recreate it. You can learn more about the tradition of lace by visiting their lace museum.
We stumbled upon Al Raspo De Ua, a lunch hot spot for tour groups. The restaurant decor was like no other. Hundreds of photo frames and Venetian masks hung on the walls with Burano glasses and pots. We had lasagne and spaghetti which was reasonable priced and tasty.
Despite the short trip, we did get a good insight of what Venice had to offer. There were places that we didn’t get to visit (e.g. St. Mark’s Basilica, art galleries and Murano), we also didn’t spend much time shopping but we saw the sites that we wanted to see.
Would I go to Venice again?
Of course, in fact it is my favourite European city. It’s a beautiful and unique city full of culture and it was a shame that we couldn’t stay for longer. I have since promised myself another trip here to fully appreciate the city. Would I recommend going for a weekend? Yes, if you want to visit a few sites and if you don’t mind keeping a close eye on the time. A weekend trip involves rushing to and from places and can potentially be stressful. It definitely was tiring but it was still a great getaway from London.
What are your experiences of weekend trips abroad? Let us know your experiences as we’d love to hear from you!