Stress free trip to Venice plan for enjoying Venice in peace

Living on the west coast of the USA, the oldest structures we have anywhere are barely 150 years old, so immediately any fascinating architecture must go on the travel list. And then there is art. In the Seattle area we are inundated with local art (subjects of orca whales, boats, produce, modernism…), so the chance to visit every single museum filled with historic pieces in every city cannot be missed. But here’s some real talk: if you want to enjoy Venice stress free, let yourself be okay with not visiting every single museum.

Oh, and food. I can’t even begin to talk about that, so our friend Kavita will tackle that for us over on her blog. The best food in Venice should be left to the experts. My only thing to say about the food in Venice is that their preparation of seafood is unique in comparison with other places in Italy and at least one meal in Venice needs to be local seafood dishes.

See everything, don’t miss any major tourist sites, eat each famous food. This was the approach we took to Paris. It wasn’t practical and left us tired. As we headed south we were getting foiled at every turn. In Nice, there was a beach that just had to be swum at and nothing else mattered because we were still tired from Paris. In Florence, we arrived during a week where everything but the Uffizi was closed. In Pisa, nothing was accessible due to renovations. By the time we got to Venice, we had no choice but to drop all expectations and just see what happened. That was the key to enjoying the magic of Venice.

The tourist attractions of Venezia aren’t as many as you’d think. There are the big ones of St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace, but the real attractions are the city “streets” themselves. While touring St Mark’s and the Palace are required sites to visit, the rest of the city is best just being discovered on your trip to Venice. We learned this immediately upon exiting the Doge’s Palace…

One wrong turn and we were in a maze of old women with laundry and steps that lead into green water. There is no shame in wandering the streets until you find snacks or a spot for wine. There’s no shame in using poor Italian to connect with a local and get a recommendation. Wandering is encouraged, just don’t invade somebody’s front steps or courtyard. Getting off the beaten path in Venice is as easy as making a wrong turn and discovering something new. Maps only help so much…and it’s not a lot.

Photo tip: save St Mark’s Square and Cathedral for the late afternoon or evening. The light at that time is so very golden as it reflects off the gold leafing and windows of the square. Super early in the morning is also amazing, as it’s just a few people setting up cafes for the day and pigeons. Perfect photos to capture on your trip to Venice.

Despite having Eurail passes, we purchased inexpensive flights back to Paris out of Marco Polo airport (VCE). It was worth it to see Venice from the sky and not have to spend 24 hours on a slow train to nowhere. If you’re set on making it a train trip to Venice, the three best cities to travel from, meaning that they’re the most direct, are Milan or Florence, Italy, or Ljubljana, Slovenia. All other routes have at least a stopover or a train change… Or a really long day’s journey over the Alps.

We took a direct train with no stops from Florence (Santa Maria Novella Station). We saved money by having a second class Eurail pass and taking the regular train for all travel up to our Florence to Venice leg. We booked specific seats with our Eurail passes when we were at the station and that secured out spot on the fast train to Venice.

Booking tip: as soon as you know your departure date and relative itinerary and desired travel times, confirm your seats for your next train trip. There may be additional fees for faster trains or more direct routes, but your general Eurail pass will get you wherever you need to go, just maybe not as fast as you’d like. To maximize your time, pay the extra for the faster trains.