Going it alone in Venice

W e enjoyed our short stay in the floating city of Venice, the final disembarkation port for our Grand Mediterranean cruise. Soaking up the charm, we explored the area walking through the tiny laneways and charismatic squares, crossing bridges over the canals. Venice itself is vehicle free. Beyond Mestre on the other side of the causeway is Piazzale Roma. Located there is a bus terminus and turn-around spot, because this is the only part of Venice accessible by car. There are no cars allowed in Venice at all. No cars or roads, just canals winding through the city and boats, gondolas and vaparetto are the mode of transport.


After we arrived we abandoned an itinerary in favour of aimless walking. We decided going it alone in Venice was the best way to get the feel of a city, strolling alongside the Venetian canals. We made our way to Piazza San Marco, St Mark’s Square and soaked up the charm of this city, wandering through the picturesque alleyways.


A short walk from the heart of Venice we found a lovely place for a meal just behind St Mark’s. We saw Trattoria Ai Leoncini had a set menu for a fixed price, crisp white tablecloths and what looked like a relaxing atmosphere is a surprisingly quite location so we went inside. Not only was it relaxing and comfortable but the food was authentic and delicious. We had Spaghetti Alle Vongole (clams), Calamari Fritti and were delighted with Profiteroles for dessert.


We enjoyed walking in the atmospheric neighbourhoods of the city, across countless bridges and quiet piazzas but after our satisfying meal opted to take to the water. Not for the classic Venetian gondola ride, but a Vaporetto ride to explore the Grand Canal.  The Grand Canal is the main ‘street’ of Venice. No amount of reading could prepare us for the beauty of this city’s main waterway. Our 20 minute journey took us some 4 kilometres down this splendid thoroughfare as we pass palaces, churches and bridges.  To take the weight off our feet and relax on a Vaporetto and ride along the Grand Canal is something I will never forget. Venice is a great place to wander and everywhere we looked we were met with a lovely view. We enjoyed riding on the Vaporetto so couldn’t resist a visit to the lovely island of beautiful Burano on a Vaporetto to explore the area at our leisure


Venice is a truly unique city, who would have ever thought that this city in the marshy lagoon of the Adriatic sea  was built on a foundation of wood? True, its buildings were built on vertical wood pilings from Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. The timbers don’t rot, but petrify in the mineral rich waters. The ground floors of countless buildings get flooded with the rising waters of aqua alta or rising sea level caused by climate change. The aging effect on these buildings is from the waters reaching the porous bricks and the capillary action pulling waters up, eroding the walls and marble.


Our impression of Venice was that of a living museum, the treasures of brick and stone buildings rising out of the water along the canals narrow, maze-like streets.  It was like something straight from a postcard, resplendent aging buildings, faded and weathered with elegant decay from the rising waters.


Venice is such a treasure trove to explore and simply be. Have you been there? How did you spend your time?

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63 Responses

  1. Fantastic post! We tossed plans to the wind in favor of wandering through Rome and had the best time. Sounds like your Venice experience was the same. It seems to be the best way to get know a place and find more than just the tourist highlights. Great post…really enjoyed it!
    RobRob@TravelLatte(.net) recently posted…#Travel 140: Chip and Pin Cards in the US and EuropeMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Rob we also had the best time in Rome, originally on a walking tour, but got separated from the tour guide and ended up having the best time being lost with four other Australians on the tour. The very best memories are often the unplanned things. Glad you enjoyed our post, we enjoyed your comment.

  2. Lydia C. Lee says:

    I spent 2 weeks in Venice by myself for Carnivale one year – I had a ball (literally went to a ball too!)
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted…Sisterhood of the World Travelling BloggersMy Profile

  3. Ahhh stunning Venice! I think the fact of not having cars makes the city even more special 😀

    Happy to have you on #MondayEscapes
    Packing my Suitcase recently posted…Saving money while in ParisMy Profile

  4. John says:

    This whole adventure sounds so familiar to how we experienced Venice during our day there. We bypassed public transport that would take us straight St. Mark’s Square in favor of just walking. We thought we were reading our maps just fine but soon got blissfully lost and enjoyed happening upon a new alley and open-air square at nearly every turn. The city is a wonder. I am just amazed at the design and how it all works. We haven’t done a gondola ride (too busy and expensive; seems like a tourist trap) but did do a vaporetto to Murano and Burano. Great memories. Thanks for rekindling with this post.

    • Lyn says:

      Thanks for your comment John. Glad you got around on your own and got the feel for the place and made it across to the islands too. I’m pleased we helped rekindle your fond memories of a beautiful city.

  5. Isabella says:

    I found this floating city… boring. Terribly boring. Venice is not the “living city”, not anymore. It’s just a tourist attraction like a big amusement park and nothing more than that. I spent there a lot of time and actually didn’t learn anything, but I’ve seen myriads of souvenir shops, restaurants, museums and… tourists, hundreds of people taking thousands of photos 🙁
    Isabella recently posted…Visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial ParkMy Profile

  6. Vlad says:

    I haven’t been to Venice, but when I get there (hopefully next year), I’ll probably do the same as you, I think it’s one of those cities where you’re better off wandering around 🙂
    Vlad recently posted…A Journey Through Northern EuropeMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Yes, wandering around and getting across to the islands. Vlad seeing any city from the water is different to exploring on foot and something I recommend in Venice especially.

  7. Kat says:

    I visited Venice in Sept 2008 ( a long time ago!) and unfortunately we only stayed 1 night in Venice and were on a bus tour. I would love to return to Venice some day and hope to take it slow, walk aimlessly and spend more time on our own, rather than on an organized tour. Thanks for sharing, it’s a lovely post 🙂 #MondayEscapes

  8. We visited Venice a year ago during the summer, and it was as wonderful as I had hoped. It’s truly a wonderful place to just wander around on foot. I had downloaded the Rick Steves audiotour that coincided with all the Vaparetto stops along the Grand Canal, so it was great to have an explanation about what I was seeing. Thanks for linking up with #WkendTravelInspiration.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…Sorrento, Italy: Where Life Gives You LemonsMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Great suggestions Michele, I will have to do that when in Europe again in November. I love exploring on my own but do miss the commentary of an organised tour.

  9. Crysta says:

    Beautiful, and so much to soak up in that amazing place!
    Crysta recently posted…Tennessee: An Elvis Fan Visits GracelandMy Profile

  10. Connie Reed says:

    The more I read about Venice, the higher it gets pushed up on the bucket list. It looks so beautiful.
    Connie Reed recently posted…John Dillinger Museum: Crime Doesn’t PayMy Profile

  11. Aimless wandering is a great way to see and experience a place. I’ve not been to Venice as an adult and I really should, on our first trip abroad we had a day trip there and I remember it being just so beautiful (and busy!) #mondayescapes
    Stephanie Robinson recently posted…Things in 3s: German influencesMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      We must have been lucky when we were there as I don’t recall large crowds, either that or we totally oblivious and sidetracked by the beauty of the place. Thanks for your comment Stephanie

  12. I’ve been wanting to visit Venice forever! What a beautiful place to wander through. I hope that I get to visit it one day – your photos are stunning!
    Bryna at Bryna’s Window recently posted…Corrie ten Boom HouseMy Profile

  13. I completely agree with you Lyn, wandering around by yourself is definitely the best way to get them most out of Venice – or infact quite a few cities! I remember getting lost a few times though, as all the bridges merge into one – beautiful as they are. I love Venice, having been twice so your post just makes me all nostalgic! Thanks for hosting 🙂
    Ting at My Travel Monkey recently posted…Monday Escapes #12My Profile

  14. Anna says:

    I love Venice! I’ve been there twice and mostly walked around! I’m particularly fond of the architecture, especially the windows! #weekendwanderlust
    Anna recently posted…An essential guide to MykonosMy Profile

  15. I like this idea of wandering without an itinerary. I haven’t visited Venice yet, did you get lost at all as I’ve heard that some people do? Mind you that can be part of the charm of a place!
    Suze The Luxury Columnist recently posted…6 Unmissable Hidden Gems in RomeMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      We didn’t get lost Suze, but it is not a big place. Venice is one of the only places we have been that we didn’t have an itinerary or maps.

  16. Lisa Wood says:

    Oh gosh I never ever realised that Venice was a city without cars – how smart are they! Your description and photos of Venice is stunning, love the idea of seeing the city by a relaxing boat ride, as well as walking through the streets. The best way to travel is to explore and to try their local foods – love your pictures and now want to visit Venice. Such a beautiful city, thanks for sharing the experience 🙂
    Lisa Wood recently posted…Australia ZooMy Profile

  17. I love visiting Venice because it is an absolutely beautiful city. The photos are stunning!

  18. Eileen says:

    Wow, Venice is gorgeous. Wonderful photos and a great post. Enjoy your week ahead!
    Eileen recently posted…Eileen’s Random TravelsMy Profile

  19. I love Venice, and I haven’t even been there yet. I really hope we’ll get the opportunity to visit soon.
    Monica @WeTravelTogether recently posted…The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers AwardMy Profile

  20. Jacqueline says:

    I love, love, love Venice. We went during Christmas a few years back and saw the pope! Then, the next morning, the whole city flooded! The water was everywhere and we helped our hotel owner mop up! It was such a bizarre (but fun) experience!
    Jacqueline recently posted…typhoon soudelorMy Profile

  21. Anda says:

    Ah, your post reminded me of beautiful Venice. Your description is so vivid, and so are your pictures. Aimless walking is the best way to see a city.
    Anda recently posted…The Glacier Express – Why I Wouldn’t Ride It AgainMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      It was only a few days Anda, but I recall it all vividly like it was yesterday. Such a wonderful place, one I will go back to again and again.

  22. My mouth was watering when you described your menu. I wanted to sit down at a table in a piazza and watch the world walk by.
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted…Photo Flashbacks: Things to do at Grand Mirage Resort BaliMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      It was pretty good Sally, pity I wasn’t well enough to appreciate it, but don’t panic, I made absolutely certain this profiteroles didn’t go to waste! It was all delicious and I hope to go back and try it all again and not be sick next time.

  23. Fairlie says:

    Aimless wandering is my favourite way of exploring Venice! And on one infamous occasion, where a mix-up in our time zones saw us having breakfast in a small bar in a square at 6am on a Sunday morning, and turning up for ‘opening time’ at the Doge’s Palace at what we thought was 8am, but was actually 7am…we had an hour to walk through quiet, crowd-free streets and just soak up the beauty of that early morning light on the incredible architecture. One of our most memorable moments.
    Fairlie recently posted…Geisha spotting in Kyoto – a night walking tour of GionMy Profile

  24. Aimless walking is my favourite means of traveling. This is when you see things not necessarily in guide books. This happened in Venice with a back street locals cafe.
    Paula McInerney recently posted…A Romantic Weekend in Colmar FranceMy Profile

  25. liz says:

    Ah beautiful beautiful Venice!! Its obvious how much you enjoyed your trip and your advice to just wander and explore is spot on! Its always my favourite way to travel and feels more like exploring rather than just visiting! Thanks for sharing!
    liz recently posted…Top 14 things to see in PaduaMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Liz, as you know Venice is such a beautiful place, I certainly did enjoy my experience so much, despite having a terrible head cold at the time and the most comfortable bed ever at the Hotel Papadopoli, I could not miss a moment.

  26. I like to explore like this too! Just walk around, visit some markets, sit around to observe the locals and have a great meal. Nothing beats that (at least for me).
    Ruth – Tanama Tales recently posted…Yosemite National Park: Vernal Fall HikeMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Ruth I agree, nothing beats that. Though I do enjoy sightseeing and other elements of travel, the markets and people watching while eating the local cuisine is an experience that never fails.

  27. Thank you Lyn for hosting. It’s great to get involved when I get the chance 🙂
    Ting at My Travel Monkey recently posted…Time Travel Thursdays: AntiguaMy Profile

  28. Nancie Lee says:

    You’re description of Venice makes me want to go all the more! Italy is in my top two places to visit and Venice is a must see. I think a gondola ride would be wonderful. I think I would enjoy walking and exploring too!! Thanks for the great post!
    Nancie Lee recently posted…Bankhouse Coffee – Long Beach, MSMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Thanks for linking up with us Nancie. Italy and in particular Venice are is somewhere I can’t recommend enough. I think a gondola ride would be wonderful, but preferred to get more value for money on the Vaporetto… maybe next time.

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