The 'sinking city' is one of the most beautiful in the world, boasting romantic scenery, historic attractions, serene canals and plenty of things to do. Venice as we know it was built on a Mediterranean lagoon and is filled with medieval history and cafes that haven’t changed since the 18th century.
Besides taking a gondola ride, you can wander down the labyrinth of cobblestone streets or through world-class museums. Discover the best tiramisu at one of Venice's top restaurants and dive into the hidden corners that inspired some of the greatest artists of our time, from Ernest Hemingway to Thomas Mann. Here are 5 lesser-known hotspots to explore away from the tourist clichés.
Avoid the queues at San Marco's campanile by riding a vaporetto (water bus) over to San Giorgio Maggiore island Here you'll find the San Zaccaria, a stunning bell tower that provides some of the best views of Venice around. Before you leave, be sure to check out the century-old paintings by Italian master Tintoretto on the central alter of the chapel.
If crowded water boats aren't your style, take a private water taxi. It might be pricier, but the most scenic routes are down in the small canals, where you can slow down for photo-ops. Some boats even serve on-board champagne. This indulgence is pricier than public transport, but it’s a great idea if you're traveling in a group and want to indulge in water-borne transport (it’s often cheaper than gondolas, too).
Another way to bypass the throngs of tourists who flock to Venice each year, is to hire your own water taxi. While this option is more costly than the crowded water buses, it's often cheaper than the gondolas, and you can take these down the smaller canals, which are beyond scenic. Plus, as it's only your group onboard, you can slow for photos as often as you like.
Set in the heart of San Marco Square, Caffé Florian is legendary. This iconic slice of Venetian history has been a hallmark of royalty since 1720, attracting celebrities over the centuries from Charlie Chaplin to Andy Warhol, and its décor hasn’t changed much since the 18th century. Try the risotto—or for something sweet, the gourmet chocolates, specialty coffees and ice-cold gelato. The patio is perfect in the summer.
Burano might be a 40-minute vaporetto from the main island, but it’s worth the day trip. This island is filled with homes painted in every colour of the rainbow. Stroll past the 13th-century church of Santa Caterina to check out local restaurants, like the Trattoria Al Gatto Nero, which serves fresh seafood and homemade pasta (just look for the bright blue building).
Museo del Merletto
In medieval times, the Burano Lace School taught merchants how to make the intricate fabrics, which Leonardo da Vinci stopped by to purchase in 1481 (he bought fabric here for the main altar of his masterpiece at the Duomo di Milano). The Venice Lace Museum (Museo del Merletto) outlines the intricate lace history in a historic palace, Piazza Galuppi. Don’t miss the famous Church of San Martino, which has its own a leaning campanile (just like the leaning tower of Pisa).