When dreaming of an Italian honeymoon, Venice immediately comes to mind. Undoubtedly one of the world’s most visited destinations, it exudes old-world allure and is blessed with a sun-drenched, pastel patina. This beautiful canal city comprises around 100 small islands within the Venetian lagoon. Culturally rich and achingly beautiful, it offers the perfect mix of big city sightseeing with unplanned exploring – in fact half the fun is getting a little lost in Venice’s famously hard-to-navigate streets. Plus, it’s car-free, so you can take your time and wander at will.
Of course, Venice’s popularity means it’s also extremely busy and during the peak spring-summer months, the city is absolutely heaving with tourists. So, if navigating through crowds doesn’t sound romantic to you, perhaps consider travelling in early spring or late autumn when it isn’t quite so hectic.
Aside from considering the best time of year to travel, another top tip to optimise your trip is to be up and about before the crowds. Although early morning wake-up calls may not sound super appealing, you’ll be glad you got out of bed when you have the Piazza San Marco (nearly) to yourself! Aiming to be up and about at around 8am will likely see you ticking off the sights minus the crowds – blissful!
The all-important arrival
If you’re flying in to Marco Polo airport, then naturally, you’ll be taking a boat transfer to the city. But not just any boat. Forgo the jam-packed ferries and instead make your way to the private water taxi docks. Oozing Bond-esque glamour, these zippy private taxis are undoubtedly the chicest way to arrive. With retractable roofs and luxury seating, you can sit back and relax while making the scenic trip into the city.
For a dreamy drone-like view, ascend the San Marco Campanile, the bell tower of the Saint Mark’s Basilica. Boasting panoramic vistas of Venice, it’s the perfect way to acquaint yourself with the city and to see it in all its terracotta rooftop splendour. Beat the queues and arrive just as it opens to be the first up to the top.
Mention Venice and it instantly conjures images of gondolas criss-crossing the canals with their black hulls gleaming in the sunshine. Helmed by a fully trained gondolier, a gondola ride is undoubtedly a romantic and quintessential part of your Italian itinerary. Embark on a 30-minute ride and experience canal life from a different perspective, all while soaking in the scenery. Although it’s definitely touristy, it really does live up to expectations and is likely to be a trip highlight.
The canals tend to get busier throughout the day, so try opting for an early morning cruise to avoid the crowds. Another tip is to choose a gondola in one of the smaller canals rather than the grand canal as this can get heavily congested with ferries and water taxis. It’s also worth noting that evening cruises cost more, so if you’re contemplating a sunset ride – just note you’ll be paying a premium.
The hit of history
Delve back into Venetian history by taking a tour around the Doges Palace to seek out its grand staircases, opulent halls and ornate details. Infusing gothic architecture with renaissance elements, this historic centrepiece has served as everything from a political and administrative powerhouse to a prison. From the vast central courtyard to the famous Bridge of Sighs and extraordinary paintings, there is so much to see at this Italian icon.
The day trip
Loved for its gelato-hued houses and winding canals, Burano makes a delightful Venetian day trip destination. Accessible via ferryboat, this bright and breezy isle is bursting with authentic eateries serving up just-caught seafood (including the renowned lagoon fish) and stores stocked with the island’s famous lace. Enjoy taking a leisurely stroll along the bustling streets and intimate lanes, take time for a relaxed lunch in the sunshine and finish off the afternoon with a scoop (or two!) of gelato.
All images by Anika Reynolds.
Ms Zebra says: There is no place more romantic than Italy and especially Venice! Taking a gondola ride with your special other half sounds like an absolute must. Wonderful tips from Anika to avoid crowds when in Venice and make the most of your time!
About the author Anika Reynolds: I’m a freelance writer with a love of weddings and creatively styled events. I have a penchant for pretty stationery and perfectly put together cheese plates, and a never-ending sense of wanderlust!