Westin Europa & Regina
During our two-night stay in Venice, we stayed at the Westin Europa and Regina property. It is important to note that the property is currently closed for renovation and will be re-opening in Spring 2019 as a St. Regis property – ‘St. Regis Venice’. As such, we have not experienced firsthand the changes that will be made to the property during this renovation period. Nonetheless, the one constant that shall remain will be the superb location of the property. The Westin Europa and Regina is situated along the Grand Canal – offering exceptional views – and walking distance to major sites such as St. Mark’s Square (six minute walk) and the Rialto Bridge (13 minute walk). Our room and bathroom were very spacious for a European hotel – however, the shower was not. The shower in our room was so tiny that it was challenging to even move around in there. However, to make up for the world’s tiniest shower, we had a fantastic view of the Grand Canal. From all three windows we had a picturesque view! We were able to open up all our windows and enjoy the sound of the boats passing through. As we visited Venice in December – when the weather tends to be pretty chilly – we didn’t get the chance to grab a drink at the hotel’s restaurant which has outdoor seating adjacent to the Grand Canal. Definitely make time for that during your visit! Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at this property! We can’t wait to see how the property will look once renovations are complete and it becomes the St. Regis Venice!
St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
Take a stroll through Venice’s famous St. Mark’s Square! St. Mark’s Square is the principal public square of Venice – where St. Mark’s Basilica is located. The Piazza has several stores and restaurants located on the outer skirts.
Grab a bite to eat at Cafèe Florian. Cafèe Florian is the oldest cafè in the world and located in St. Mark’s Square. On arrival day, we had a late lunch in the cafè and enjoyed it so much we returned the next day for breakfast and lunch once again! During the summer, this cafè would be an ideal spot to people watch as outdoor seating is available! Great food and excellent service! Definitely recommend!
St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
Visit St. Mark’s Basilica located in St. Mark’s Square. St. Mark’s Basilica is the city’s most famous Roman Catholic church. The Basilica is the most visited site in Venice and after taking one look at the architecture of the Basilica there is no surprise as to why! Reservations for guided tours can be made in advance online. During our visit, we opted to not do a tour and we just strolled around the Basilica on our own.
St. Mark’s Clock Tower (Torre dell’ Orologio)
Book a tour of St. Mark’s Clock Tower. On our first day in Venice, we booked a tour of The St. Mark’s Clock Tower. Now I have to be honest – we didn’t learn much while on this tour because unfortunately due to our limited time in Venice and available tour times, the only tour we could make it to was in italian – in which none of us speak italian! So we pretty much spent the entire time trying to figuring out what the tour guide was saying and just smiling back at her whenever she would look at us. But it did appear that everyone who did speak italian was enjoying their time and learning a lot! With that being said, we still had a wonderful experience as we were able climb the clock tower and get a closer look at the clock’s machinery. The tour also gave us access to the rooftop where we had an amazing view of Venice and St. Mark’s Square.
St. Mark’s Campanile
Take a ride up to the top of St. Mark’s Campanile. A visit to the top of St. Mark’s Campanile allows one to view the city from above and a definitely MUST do! St. Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica – located in St. Mark’s Square. The St. Mark’s Campanile is 323 feet tall making it one of the most recognizable symbols of Venice. Unless you purchase a ‘Skip the Line‘ pass beforehand, visitors usually spend a significant amount of time in line waiting to go up to the top of the campanile. As we visited Venice during their low season (in December) we did not purchase this pass online beforehand (as it is only available for purchase between April 1st through October 31st) but luckily there was no line (definitely a perk of visiting Venice in December – although it was freezing up there!). After the view, of course, the best part about visiting the St. Mark’s Campanile is that one can ride an elevator all the way to the top. This is HUGE bonus that we definitely missed when we visited Florence and had to climb 414 steps to get to the top of Giotto’s Campanile! The cost of the pass is 13€ for adults and 9€ for children. Reservations are non-refundable and can’t be changed.
Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)
Tour Doge’s Palace. Doge’s Palace was the seat of the government for several centuries. A Doge is someone who is elected to a government post for the entirety of one’s life. During our visit, we decided to do the ‘Secret Itinerary‘ tour, which we were required to book in advance. The cost of this tour was 22€ per person and lasted a little over an hour. Our group consisted of approximately 20 people and our tour guide was really good about waiting for everyone to enter each room before she would begin sharing with the group any information. The decor in Doge’s Palace is quite impressive and elaborate – especially the ceilings in some of the rooms. Would highly recommend this tour!
A historical collection of weapons and armaments is stored within multiple rooms of Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale).
Rialto Bridge & Market
Take a stroll through the Rialto Market and cross the Rialto Bridge. The Rialto Bridge is usually crowded right before sunset with tourists trying to capture a picture, but a definitely a must do while in Venice. You can grab a bite to eat and/or a glass of wine in one of the several restaurants in the area before you jump into a gondola to experience Venice from the water!
Gondola Ride on the Grand Canal
Take a gondola ride! A gondola ride along the Grand Canal is definitely one of Venice’s most iconic experiences and a must do for first time visitors. Although we enjoyed our gondola ride we both definitely agree that it was probably not worth the price. Gondola rides are approximately 80€ during the daytime and 100€ after 7pm. Our gondolier did not interact much with us which we think if he would have it would have probably enhanced our experience – we saw other gondoliers singing and acting as tour guides to their passengers. Nonetheless, since it was our first time visiting Venice we couldn’t leave without strolling along the Grand Canal and the smaller waterways of Venice in a gondola. Definitely a romantic moment!
Roam the Alleys of Venice
Before you depart Venice, one of the best things to do is just wander the streets of Venice aimlessly! You never know what you may stumble across – which is the best part!
Hope you enjoyed our weekend itinerary in Venice! Let us know what your favorite things to do while visiting Venice are! Happy Travels!