If you are looking for a romantic getaway - not a beach paradise lost in an ocean atoll - and prefer the charm and beauty of a city of art, the first that comes into mind is Venice. Few other destinations in the world are universally dedicated to art and love as La Serenissima, a unique city without cars where time seems to move as slowly as the gentle motion of the water in its canals. Venice is meant to be enjoyed at a slow pace and is an ideal destination for a few days away from modernity. It’s a place where wonderful views, art, and good food are easily found. Here is a relaxing three days to give to your partner for an anniversary or just for a getaway in the city of love.
If you arrive by plane, choose the convenient Airport Shuttle that will take you in about 40 minutes to one of the 38 moorings in the center. Leave your luggage and immerse yourself in the "Calli" - traditional Venetian streets - even without a precise destination, letting yourself be surprised by a small canal, a majestic palace or the first gondola you meet! If you'd rather be led directly to the most beautiful attractions of the city center leaving time to laze around and for shopping for later, try the Walking Tour of Venice.
If you arrive by train or by car near the Piazzale Roma, take the "vaporetto" waterbus line number 1, which will take you along the Grand Canal to San Marco. We highly recommend you purchase a 72 hour ticket for your three-day stay (other ticket durations are also available) instead of the single ticket – you will save a lot of money, and enjoy riding the vaporetto during your entire time. Taking vaporetto line 1 is a cheap way to get a first glimpse of the stunning old mansions that overlook the most elegant water boulevard of Venice. Don't overlook the many small waterways that are even more characteristic and romantic than the busy Grand Canal. For a romantic getaway you must choose a Gondola Ride.
You can't say you have visited Venice without having admired, loved and photographed it directly from vantage points on the water, the primary element of this city. The private tour we recommend departs from the Punta della Dogana (the former customs buildings, near the Salute church). You'll go through the most picturesque corners of the center listening to the curious anecdotes and interesting historical information your gondoliere will share with you. For even more romance, enjoy this experience at sunset, combining the Private Gondola ride to a traditional Serenade - equally interesting - to discover the most beautiful areas of Venice from the perspective of the gondola.
Back in Piazza San Marco, it's time to visit the Basilica. Its richly decorated facade (marble, mosaics, and statues) gives a luxurious appearance to the whole square. But the real masterpiece is inside, a triumph of Golden mosaics (over 4000 square meters!) inspired by Byzantine art with majestic icons and spectacular light effects. A long admission line is a constant. Book the entrance in advance to avoid wasting your time queuing up. Do you love sacred art? Experience The Golden Basilica Tour, a guided visit inside to learn more about the historical and cultural importance of one of the most beautiful churches in the world.
Leave the Basilica and get away from the colorful throngs of tourists who flock the square. Go towards the two free-standing columns - one with the figure of San Todaro (Saint Theodore of Amasea) and the crocodile - like dragon, the other with the Lion of Venice. Turn right onto the Riva degli Schiavoni, and you will be within walking distance of a small garden, almost never crowded because the tourists turn right after the Ducal Palace to see the Bridge of Sighs. You can eat a snack on the cool grass or just enjoy the magnificent view of the Basilica of San Giorgio, the churches of the Giudecca island, and the Salute church in front of you.
Following the signs, continue your visit heading to the Rialto Bridge, one of the pearls of Venice. You will come across many traditional and luxurious shops where you may wish to enrich your romantic weekend with one-of-a-kind handcrafted gifts. Be careful, as many shops are simply tourist traps! Rest assured that you will find high quality plus the magic of the Venetian artistic handicrafts with one of the following suggested tours:
Scents and Silks of Venice recalls the glories of ancient Venice, which opened Western trade with the Indies. Try the Artisans of Venice Tour for jewelry, masks and curious and valuable artifacts. Or, if you prefer the Venice of Art and Antique Dealers, including visits to workshops of artisans and restorers where you can find original household items, precious brocade fabrics, frames, prints, mirrors, and more. Shopping in this way is also a cultural experience, meeting artists who pass along traditions and ancient knowledge! Once in Rialto, admire the beauty of the cityscape and the structure of what was the only bridge across the Grand Canal - until the 19th century.
Continue on the San Marco/ Cannaregio side of the Grand Canal to Ca' d'Oro, an extraordinary masterpiece of Venetian Gothic architecture, which houses the Franchetti Gallery with paintings of the Venetian and Tuscan schools, Flemish tapestries, ceramics, and bronzes.
Close your long and charming day with a flourish by treating yourself to the Moonlight Bateau Mouche, a romantic boat ride around Venice while sipping champagne.
Start your second day in Venice with breakfast at one of the historic cafes on Piazza San Marco. Our choice is the Caffè Florian, the oldest and most charming, perfect even for brunch. It's a little pricey - but having breakfast at one of the Venetian historical mainstays in the heart of Venice is priceless!
Then dedicate your morning to visiting the most important cultural site of Venice, the Doge's Palace, seat of the Government of the Serenissima, and finest example of Gothic architecture in Italy. The power of the secular Republic was exercised in the halls of the Palace, admirably decorated by outstanding artists (Bosch, Hayez, Tintoretto, Titian). You'll see breathtaking rooms such as the magnificent Sala del Maggior Consiglio, the apartments of the Doge, and also the Golden Stairway. It is the most popular attraction in Venice so don't forget booking the ticket to avoid wasting your time waiting in line. In addition to the single entrance that gives access to all the museums of Piazza San Marco, you can choose the Absolute Venice Tour that will also guide you to many other pearls of the city. Or choose the intriguing Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace tour. You'll be taken to sections hidden to others - the Venetian prisons, the Secret Chancellery, the torture room and the Inquisition room, an itinerary of incomparable historical depth.
Leaving the building for an appetizer or a light lunch, make a stop at Harry's Bar (Calle Vallaresso) right on the Grand Canal. Founded in 1931 by the hotelier Cipriani - one of the most famous in the world - it was frequented by artists such as Toscanini, Charlie Chaplin and Ernest Hemingway, who became a regular customer to the point of having his exclusive table. You will find snacks, aperitifs and quick lunches. It's not the cheapest, but it's perfect for your romantic getaway.
Go back to St. Mark's square for a quick visit to the unusual Clock Tower. Specialized staff will guide you through the five floors to discover this ancient and complex machine, crowned by the bronze statues of the Moors. On Epiphany (January 6) and Ascension Day (the Thursday 40 days after Easter), statues of a trumpeting Angel leading the Magi emerge in procession from the precious doors on either side of the Virgin and child. The complex is a true masterpiece of mechanical engineering that will surprise and delight you! If you are still hungry for culture, visit the Correr Museum (included in the ticket to the Clock Tower or the convenient Museum Pass Card) in the Napoleonic part of the buildings on Piazza San Marco. There you will find a rich collection of paintings depicting Venice, artworks by Canova, opulent furnishings, and rooms telling the life of Doges and wealthy merchants who created the myth of Venice.
Alternatively, we suggest that you discover the beauty of the lagoon of Venice with an Excursion to the Islands, a special afternoon, far from the hustle and bustle of Venice to admire amazing views and experience the popular culture. On Murano, you'll discover the world of glass blowing and glass sculpting as you enter into traditional glass workshop, where you'll also have the opportunity to purchase high-quality products. Then stop over on the picturesque Island of Burano, not only famous for the lace, but also for the colorful fishermen's houses. The final stop is Torcello, the oldest part of the lagoon, with magnificent mosaics of the Cathedral and the Church of Santa Fosca.
If you prefer to stay in town and you love good food, join the Flavors of Venice tour, a fun, tasty, and cultural afternoon in which you will be led to the temples of the city's gastronomy, where food and drink prevail. Taste wines, desserts, cheeses, jams, olive oil, spices, and spirits that you can also purchase. End your evening with a romantic walk at sunset near the Zattere, where you can admire the landscape of the lagoon, a view of Giudecca island, and the sun dipping into the horizon with breathtaking colors. For dinner, try the Riviera restaurant (Dorsoduro 1473 – Zattere) with its refined and romantic atmosphere, delicious cuisine, and excellent desserts. What else could you wish for?
You can't leave Venice without visiting the Dorsoduro district. Located in the southern part of the Grand Canal, it is one of the liveliest areas, much frequented by young people and students, but especially artists and art lovers. Beautiful private art galleries, wine bars, fashion boutiques, and craft workshops all abound. From downtown (the San Marco side), cross the Accademia bridge admiring the splendid panorama of the Grand Canal. Make your first stop a visit to the Accademia Galleries - ancient seat of Fine Arts Academy and currently a beautiful museum that offers the most interesting collection of Venetian and Veneto region art. It houses masterpieces by, among others, Titian (The presentation of Mary at the Temple), Tintoretto, and Giorgione (The Storm), as well as sculptures and drawings including the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci (for conservation reasons it is not always on display). Book your ticket in advance as the Accademia Galleries is a much visited museum especially by student groups, you won't regret it!
If you prefer modern art, or you are interested in the evolution of art, you are a stone's throw from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Opened in 1980, it houses the personal collection of Peggy Guggenheim, the American art collector, bohemian, and socialite. Niece of Solomon Guggenheim, she collected art from a young age. In 1949, she established herself and her art collection at the beautiful Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, directly overlooking the Grand Canal. It is one of the most important museums in Italy for modern art, exhibiting works by Picasso, Braque, Klee, Brancusi (among many others), as well as fundamental works by Gianni Mattioli, the Nasher Sculpture Garden, and hosting remarkable temporary exhibits.
Explore the surroundings, looking for craft shops, bookshops, art and beautiful churches, such as the Gesuati church, and views from the Zattere onto the Giudecca island and San Giorgio Maggiore. Here you'll also find one of the few remaining dry docks, San Trovaso, which is an ancient Venetian shipyard (squero) where gondolas have been made and repaired for centuries.
You are close to Ca' Rezzonico, which you can visit with the Museum Pass. It's an elegant building housing the Museum of the 18th Century in Venice, one of the pearls of the city. Here you can admire the splendor of the rich bourgeois families who organized magnificent feasts in costume in the city's most impressive private salons. Ca' Rezzonico is one of Venice's finest museums, as it displays the rich furnishings and art created for palace life much more harmoniously than any museum space could do.
Then, reach the Punta della Dogana, not only for the best view over Venice's center but also to visit the Chiesa della Salute, built in devotion to the Virgin Mary for deliverance from the plague that decimated Venetians between 1630 and 1631. Built on an octagonal plan, it is very rich and original, and offers one of the best views onto the Doge's Palace and the area of San Marco.
Keep in mind that Venice is a city of water, born and developed in close symbiosis with the sea. If you are looking for an alternative and very romantic day, try a Half or Full Day Sailing Excursion! Sail the calm waters of the lagoon aboard a traditional fishing boat, stopping in small fishing villages with fantastic panoramas! Once on the water, you will be offered a welcome drink and lunch. You can choose from a picnic on the boat or dine at one of the restaurants along the lagoon.
Looking for something truly out of the ordinary to complete your romantic getaway? End your stay with a candlelit Galleon Dinner Cruise in Venice. You'll be served a gourmet dinner as you sail around Venice and into the northern lagoon, past smaller islands and fishing villages... magical!