The title may sound a bit odd. Who would want to get lost while visiting a city? Trust us, Venice is a special case. A maze of narrow alleys and canals, stunning architecture and beautiful squares. With all this, the best way to discover Venice, the iconic “floating” Italian city, is by getting lost and simply wander around with no pre-defined route. Being so unique, Venice is naturally a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We spent a few days exploring Venice a few years ago and it was a great experience, even though the major sights were very crowded, as expected. The great thing about getting lost in Venice is that it helps to avoid most of the crowds that flock to Rialto Bridge or Piazza San Marco. And there’s so much more to be seen.
Actually, even following a map, one can unintentionally get lost quite easily. Fortunately, there are street signs virtually every other corner pointing towards Rialto, San Marco or Ferrovia (train station). It’s quite easy to get back on track if one wishes so, but let’s not spoil all the fun.
Crossing the larger and smaller canals using the dozens of bridges available is a great opportunity to see how life in Venice works, as everything is done by boat. Imagine all the normal services everyone is used to having on the roads. In Venice, these are all water-based, and waterways act as roads. Police, deliveries, you name it. All by boat.
The buildings, some colourful others palace-like, rising from the water are incredible and most very old. It’s impossible to do justice to the architecture that can be found throughout Venice in a short article like this. It needs to be seen. We randomly wandered the streets and stumbled upon many interesting buildings. Hopefully, the pictures help to highlight what we saw.
At the Grand Canal, the bustling “street” of Venice, it is sometimes very difficult to understand how so many boats can cope with each other and don’t have accidents. It almost looks like a game.
Among the many types of boats that cross Venice’s canals every day, the Gondola is the most famous one. Tourists queueing at main points are a common sight. Despite the usually expensive price, they are a joy to the eyes and suit very well the Venetian atmosphere.
On the side canals of Venice, there are plenty of small boats that the few locals who still live there use as transport, with many docking points and boat garages spread throughout the buildings. We saw some locals unloading groceries to their houses. Sometimes, to get to these side canals we had to go through the narrowest alleys we’ve ever seen in order to find a passage. Completely lost.
One of the top things to do is to walk along one of these canals, calmly enjoying the unique setting that Venice provides.
Inevitably, we ended up at Piazza San Marco, the main square in Venice. Around this always-busy place, there are many interesting things to visit, Basilica Cattedrale di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, Museo Correr and the Campanile. We visited all, but our favourite was clearly the Campanile, which offers amazing views across Venice. A very nice way to discover Venice and to hear the bells up and close.
A visit to Venice is not complete without discovering it from the water. Not literally, though. We’ve talked about Gondolas before, but there are alternatives like the water bus, which is a far better way to see parts of the city otherwise impossible to see. The numerous buildings that face the Grand Canal are a great example of this.
No dull moments exist in Venice. At sunset, the colours of the building façades are highlighted as the sun strikes the canal. There’s always time for another walk, time to see something new and interesting.
Have you been to Venice? How was it like to discover Venice? Let us know in the comments!