Venice wasn’t part of the plan when I crafted my itinerary for Italy, but when my Danish friends spontaneously decided to head there the day after we finished our stint in the Dolomites, I couldn’t resist tagging along.
I LOVE VENICE SO MUCH!! In fact, it is now my most-visited city in the world outside of the US and Australia.
I can’t think of a better city for frolicking.
In my mind, exploring Venice is just like being a real-life character in a video game. The city is technically comprised of over 100 islands, with a nonsensical maze of lanes, canals, and bridges for you to navigate. At least half of the time, you’ll have to turn around and head in the opposite direction if your chosen path dead-ends at a canal or leads to a hoard of tourists. And there’s no vehicular traffic, making it very pedestrian friendly.
Seriously, it’s such a fun city for frolicking. I think it’s infinitely more romantic than Paris with its gondolas, quiet little alleys, and Venetian Gothic architecture.
If aimless wandering isn’t your thing, worry not – there are signs all over the place directing you towards St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge, which is where most visitors want to reach.
I, however, much prefer an alternate version of the game, which is to run away from St. Mark’s. When I see a “San Marco” or “Rialto” sign, I head in another direction. My objective is not to reach this famous square, but rather to end up blissfully lost which in my opinion is THE best thing to do in Venice.
Getting lost is how you come across cool-looking buildings, small squares where the locals are hanging out, and unique views down the canals that you never would have spotted had you been focused on following the signs.
But above all, getting lost is a fantastic way to escape the tourists!
To address the elephant in the room: yes, Venice is very touristy. How could it not be? This place is gorgeous, historic, romantic, insert oodles of other positive adjectives here.
From what I hear, Venice is full of tourists all year round so there’s really no escaping them. I assume that summer is peak season and that, on my recent visit in early August, I saw Venice at its most crowded (outside of Carnevale).
And yet, I still managed to have a fabulous time frolicking around the city. Sure, at times it was a bit annoying having to squeeze my way through crowds, but at no point was I so exasperated that I wanted to leave. It’s pretty easy to gain some elbow room if you head away from the main tourist trail leading to St. Mark’s.
All of the above photos I took this year. For comparison’s sake, I’ve thrown in a few photos below that I took 10 years ago during my 5 week backpacking adventure around Italy. Back then I was traveling around with my first-ever SLR, a Canon EOS Rebel, and had a habit of underexposing and over-saturating my shots. Yikes.
Needless to say, most of my photos from 2007 make me want to puke rainbow vomit. BUT, I really like the ones below and think they’re ok to share with you guys.
Heading south from Venice to explore more of Italy? Check the Venice to Florence train timetable and book the cheapest train ticket in advance!