Venetian Lagoon

5 Things You Must do on Venice Vacation

Venice has so many things to see that there are admittedly about one hundred things you must do in Venice! As all the guide books will tell you, you can’t visit Venice without visiting Saint Mark’s Square and the Basilica, but the following guide is a bit different and includes some things you may not have thought of!

FloriansCoffee in Florians

While there are many cafés in Venice where you can grab a quick cup of coffee, none of them are as much a part of Venetian history as Caffe Florian. When you come here for a coffee you’ll want to sit and stay a while, taking in the opulent decorations and relishing in the fact that so many famous people have drunk coffee here before you!

Opened in 1720 Caffe Florian is perhaps the oldest continuously operating coffee house in the world. When it first opened, the owner Floriano Francesconi named it ‘Caffe alla Venezia Trionfante’ meaning ‘the café of the triumphant Venice’, but it soon became known locally as Florians so he changed the name accordingly.

Caffe Florian has always occupied this prime position right on Saint Mark’s Square, so this, along with the fact that back then it was the only coffee house in Venice that allowed women as well, meant that Florians was the most popular place for coffee in Venice. Today there are seven differently themed halls where you can sip a coffee, depending on your mood!

Harry's BarBellini in Harry’s Bar

Just as famous as Caffe Florian is Harry’s Bar, and this is ‘the’ place in Venice to enjoy a Bellini! The Bellini and the Carpaccio were invented in Harry’s Bar so strictly speaking there shouldn’t be a better Bellini served anywhere in the world. This isn’t just a cocktail bar though – Harry’s Bar also serves some great food and the restaurant specialty is Italian favourites and classics.

The warm and friendly welcome has always been a characteristic of Harry’s Bar and has helped to attract some famous names over the course of its history, including Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Ernest Hemingway, Woody Allen, and Alfred Hitchcock. It’s been a part of the culture of Venice since 1931 when a Venetian bartender called Guiseppe Cipriana opened the bar. He’d lent a disowned Bostonian named Harry Pickering 10,000 lire a couple of years earlier. Harry paid him back but with an additional 40,000 lire telling Cipriana there’s enough here to open your own bar, and we’ll call it Harry’s Bar!

Secret Itinerary Tour of the Doge’s Palace

Everyone knows about the Doge’s Palace but did you know about the Secret Itinerary Tour of the Doge’s Palace? This is a more detailed tour that takes you behind the scenes to places the public are not normally allowed. It even includes the chance to cross one of Venice’s most famous bridges, the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the Doge’s Palace to the old prisons. In the old prisons you’ll also see Casanova’s cell, and find out where the city administration used to work. This really is a great tour and is so much more revealing than most of the others – the opportunity to cross the Bridge of Sighs alone makes it worthwhile for many tourists!

Venetian LagoonExplore the Islands of the Venetian Lagoon

The historic centre of Venice is set across 117 different islands that are all connected together by 455 bridges. These islands are called the Rialtine Islands and this is by far the most popular part of Venice for tourists to visit. But there’s more to Venice than just the historic centre as the Venetian Lagoon is dotted with many other islands as well, all offering something a little different.

If you’re staying in Venice for more than just a few days the islands of the Venetian Lagoon offer a completely different atmosphere to the busy streets and canals of central Venice. There’s Murano for example, famous for the beautiful Murano Venetian glass, while on the island of Burano Venice’s exquisite lace making industry is still going strong.

Walk the Venice Waterfront

Another opportunity to get away from many of the crowds during a warm summer’s day is to walk along the Venice waterfront. Entering the waterfront promenade from Saint Mark’s Piazzetta you turn to the left and have the opportunity to walk for about 20 minutes before reaching the end of the path. From all along the waterfront you can enjoy views of Saint Mark’s Basin where the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal meet. Off in the distance is the island of San Giorgio and the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore. You can stop and admire those views for longer from one of the cafés you’ll pass along the way, or sit in the shade of the Giardini Pubblici Park.

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