Venice is awesome! There is no place like it in the world. In order to truly enjoy its uniqueness like a local, you MUST do these 7 things!
1. Take a ride down the Grand Canal and Lagoon
Coming to Venice and not going down the Grand Canal is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower – you just gotta do it! Whether it’s by gondola, water taxi, or vaporetto (waterbus), take the time and spend the money to see Venice the way it is meant to be seen – from the water. The palazzi along the Grand Canal are magnificent and if you go in the evening, around sunset, the lighting is spectacular.
2. Wander the back streets to see the true Venice
I feel so sorry for people who come all the way to Venice and only see San Marco and Rialto – they are missing the beautiful essence of the city! In order to truly capture the magic, you must venture past the tourist spots and go to the “hidden” streets full of local charm. Hint: If you see a gondolier trying to get customers, then you haven’t gone far enough – keep going!
3. Get out early
My absolute favorite time to explore Venice is in the early morning – around 8:00 am. Most tourists are not out yet and the city is full of local activity. The locals and their kids are on their way to school and work, trash boats are loudly collecting and emptying trash bins, delivery boats are busy maneuvering through the canals, and the streets are filled with the scents of espresso and freshly-made croissants. I love to start my morning with the rest of the Venetians standing at the bar (counter) to enjoy my espresso while chatting. Then after being nicely caffeinated, I love wandering in and out of streets and over bridges watching all the morning mayhem on the canals below.
4. Visit the local artisan shops
Venice used to be filled with shops selling handmade crafts and artwork, but now it has been overtaken by mass market and commercial products. However, some of the true Venetian artisans are still scattered throughout the city and offer a beautiful look into Venice’s artistic past.
5. Go on a cichetti hunt
Cichetti (pronounced cheeketty) are Venice’s version of tapas. There are many varieties of these delicious snacks and a great way to spend an afternoon is to pop into several of them and try a few at each. Some people call this a “cichetti crawl”, the snack version of a pub crawl. There are many cichetti bars all over Venice and finding them is half the fun! Buon appetito!
6. Drink a spritz
A spritz is a famous Venetian cocktail made of Aperol or Campari, prosecco, and bubbly water. They are served over ice with a green olive and an orange wedge. Most Venetians enjoy them in the evening after work while chatting with friends. They are very refreshing on a hot day, especially when paired with some fried cichetti!
7. Make an early visit to the Rialto Fish Market
If you want to see locals in a shopping frenzy, then head on over to the Riato Fish Market. Here the people watching is as good as it gets. You can watch local old ladies vie for position at the fish or produce stand and see the fisherman beautifully display anything and everything they caught that day. Live snails inch their way off the table to safety, squirming eels and crabs try their best to escape, and wide-eyed swordfish greet customers with a smile. Oh, just another morning at the Rialto Fish Market!
Well, there you have it! 7 awesome ways to enjoy Venice at its best! I hope you will find it as amazing as I do!
How about you? Do you have something to add to the list? Please share with us!