I have been to Venice many times, it’s one of those places that I could return to time and time again and would always find something new to see or do. While perusing the destinations on offer in a British Airways sale last year I found a deal to Venice for £100pp for flights and hotel, and at that price I couldn’t resist booking myself a cheeky Venice city break just before Christmas 2017.
On the run up to this trip one of the things I was really looking forward to was the shopping! Yes, you heard it right, shopping. Well, Christmas shopping to be exact. Earlier in the year I decided that I would create my own Christmas hampers, and so I bought baskets, gift tags, ribbons, and decorative padding. Now I just needed one thing… some items to go in the hampers. As I had decided early on in the year that I was going to make hampers I had picked up a few bits up on previous trips, but because Venice was my last trip of the year I had a mission to complete my hampers.
My Winter 2018 Venice City Break
Flight Time from London: The published flight time from London to Venice is 2h 20m, however the actual flight time was around 1h 50 minutes.
Airline & Airport of Operation: You can reach Venice from London City, Gatwick and Heathrow airports with British Airways, as well as from some regional airports across the UK on a range of other airlines.
Transfer Time to City: Venice’s airport is located nine miles from the centre of the city and the easiest way to reach Venice is by water taxi or water bus. You can purchase a return to the city for around €27pp or a three day pass for €65pp with a company called Alilaguna. A water taxi will be around €75 each way.
Where to Stay on a Venice City Break: For this trip I stayed for two nights at Hotel Paganelli which was located along the water front, just two minutes from Piazza San Marco. I booked the hotel as part of a flight and hotel package from British Airways for just over £100pp during one of British Airways amazing sales.
The decor in the hotel was typically Venetian, with fabric walls which I have seen many times before in Venice. I paid about £40pp extra to upgrade from the standard room to a deluxe lagoon view room. Apart from stunning vistas over the lagoon the room was only slightly bigger than a standard room, but it did also have a sofa bed, so in theory the room could accommodate an extra person. The room package included breakfast, but it was quite a basic continental offering, consisting of pastries, bread, cheese, meats, cereal, juice and hot drinks. The hotel has two buildings and the breakfast room is located in a smaller building behind the main building where the reception is located.
Top Attractions on a Venice City Break
Visit Doges Palace
Despite my many trips to Venice in the past, I have never actually been inside the Doges Palace, so on this trip I decided I would plan a visit here. It was just a short two minute walk from the hotel to Piazza San Marco, where the Doges Palace is located. The entrance fee is €20pp and I would allow around three hours for your visit. During your visit you will see some of the original pillars and facades from the building preserved inside the museum to prevent further erosion and damage. You will also get to explore all the ornate gothic style council chambers, the Doges apartments as well as the grand rooms of the Ducale Palace and the prison.
During my visit there was a stunning collection of diamonds and jewels on display from Venice and from around the world, which were quite fascinating to see. The best part of the tour for me was the chance to walk over the Bridge of Sighs to the prison and explore the ancient prison rooms and cells. The Bridge of Sighs linking the court rooms to the prison, and prisoners walking over the bridge would have one last look out the window to see the beauty of the lagoon and sigh before being incarcerated.
Visit Murano and Burano
While on a Venice city break I highly recommend a trip to the islands of Murano and Burano. I didn’t manage to make a visit on this trip, but I have done so on previous trips to Venice. If you buy a three day pass on Alilaguna you can take their boat from Piazza San Marco to Murano and then on to Burano and back again.
Murano is known for its stunning blown glass and its definitely worth visiting the Murano glass blowing factory to see how these gorgeous glasses and ornaments are produced. Burano is lesser known than Murano, but is famous for its many multi-coloured houses and also for its very intricate lace works. You can visit many shops in the main square where you can purchase some beautiful pieces.
Venice is a great place for shopping whatever you are looking for. From local Italian and Venetian delicacies to top designer brands, you are sure to find everything you are looking for in Venice. During this trip I actually needed to get some shopping done for my Christmas hampers. Venice has many little markets in various locations around the city and these were perfect for what I wanted. My plan was to find items such as authentic Italian pasta, sun dried tomatoes, and Italian drinks, such as Limoncello, amongst other things. Together with items from previous trips, such as Belgian Beers and Chocolates, these made perfect home made Christmas gifts.
Restaurant Recommendation on a Venice City Break
I visited two great restaurants while on this trip to Venice, one of them was called Trattoria Alla Rivetta and was located just a stone’s throw from the hotel. The other was about a 15 minute walk away, located on Calle Dolfin and was called AI 56 Zerootto.
Trattoria Alla Rivetta
Trattoria Alla Rivetta is a small typical Trattoria, located just around the corner from my hotel, about a two minute walk from Piazza San Marco. Upon entering I was offered some arancini from the bar next to the entrance which was delicious; a small taster of what was to come! The restaurant was laid out into three small dining areas. I was seated in one towards the rear with just five tables, one of which was occupied upon arrival, the other three were taken shortly after. The decoration was what you would image your typical Italian trattoria to look like, wooden panelled walls with hundreds of pictures hanging all over the place, the staff all smartly dressed in matching clothes,and from all generations.
For dinner I started with a plate of clams in a white wine and garlic sauce, followed by Veal escallops in a Madeira sauce and a berry pannacotta to finish. To drink I opted for a carafe of house red wine. Something I have found time and time again in Italy is that you just can’t go wrong with the house wine, unlike many places in the UK. If you are looking for a traditional meal while in Venice, I would highly recommend finding this place as the food was stunning. My three course meal including wine cost approximately €40pp. If you can’t find this place, I’m sure many of the authentic trattorias away from the main tourist areas will equally be as good.
AI 56 Zerootto
Unlike the typical trattoria that I ate at on the previous night, Al 56 Zerootto is an Italian restaurant serving up classics with a modern twist. The restaurant itself is light and airy with a modern feel, with huge windows on two sides of the restaurant that look out to the hustle and bustle of Venice’s busy streets.
My meal here was a little more expensive, at around €60pp. I started with a tomato and mozzarella salad followed by a seafood risotto, rib eye steak with pepper sauce and a creme caramel to finish. The food was absolutely delicious, however I wouldn’t say that it was better than the previous night at the trattoria as it was a completely different style of food. I feel the price was slightly higher due to its prime location, on the main thoroughfare through Venice so it attracts tourists all the time.
Top Tip: Pre-book either a return water bus with Alilaguna from the airport, or even a three day pass if you plan to use the boats more often, or plan a trip to Murano and Burano.
Currency: Italy’s currency is the Euro, and at the time of writing this the exchange rate was approximately 1.13 Euros to the Pound.
Weather: I visited Venice during December and I was quite lucky to have nice weather for the majority of the trip, with quite favourable temperatures given the time of year.
Best Time To Go: Venice is a destination that can be enjoyed year round, however the winter season does tend to be quieter. It may be worth checking the tide time tables in Venice, as many of the streets can flood a couple of times a month when the tide is at the highest.
Recommended Duration: I stayed in Venice on this occasion for two nights which I don’t think was long enough. Previously I have stayed in Venice for three nights and I think that three nights is a perfect amount of time to appreciate this city.
Final Thoughts on my Venice City Break
One of my main aims for this trip was to complete my shopping for my Christmas hampers, and I succeeded. Luckily I had taken a large case with me! I even had time to enjoy the sights of Venice and enjoy some delicious meals despite the fact it was a very brief visit. I would definitely recommend a minimum of three nights for your first Venice city break. All my previous trips to Venice have been at least three nights. It goes without saying that I will visit Venice again soon enough, however I will be staying for longer next time!