Venice is made up of over one hundred charming little islands separated by canals, which hide many veiled gems in their passageways. It is a beautiful Italian city that has so much to offer, boasting unique architecture with stunning marble palaces and countless bridges that attract travellers from across the globe every year.
While Venice is often considered a tourist trap – and although this may be arguably true in the busy summer months – if you look beyond the superficial sightseer’s checklist, it has plenty of quirky and original activities just waiting to be discovered. Diverge from the traditional (dare I say stereotypical) visited spots with these off-the-beaten-track attractions that are sure to peak your interest.
Visit the Fondazione Querini Stampalia
Unlike all the over-crowded museums in the city centre, the Fondazione Querini Stampalia is a much more tranquil place to soak in some beautiful works of art. Set in a stunning palazzo which once belonged to a noble Italian family, it boasts its original furnishings from the 1600s and is ornamented with frescoes and stuccoes. It is a lovely place to spend a couple of hours in and discover over 400 paintings by well-known Venetian artists, including Tiepolo and Bellini.
Ignite Your Tastebuds at the Rialto Market
I will admit that I’m a bit of a foodie (or, at least, I love trying mouth-watering local delicacies), but I promise I am not being biased when I say that at the Rialto Market, your tastebuds really are in for a treat. It boasts endless stalls of delicious fresh produce, from seasonal vegetables to succulent freshly-fished seafood. I don’t know about you, but I’m salivating already!
Insider tip: I would recommend going in the morning to get first pick as it can get busy. Plus, as an added bonus, the vendors are often in a cheery mood early on and will let you sample a few cheeky tasters.
Take a Glass Blowing Workshop on Murano Island
If you have got a passion for art, you really cannot give this place a miss. Murano Island has been the honoured home of glass-makers for over 800 years, and you could be lucky enough to witness a live demonstration. I went a few years ago and it really is a beautiful and captivating craft to watch. If you’re up for it, you can even give it a go. They host a workshop where you can make anything from glistening necklace beads to charming and colourful mosaics. How many people can say they’ve blown their own glass? Besides, it is the perfect souvenir!
Explore Venice by Kayak
Okay, so you have undoubtedly heard of the world-famous gondola rides and have potentially barred it off as a cheesy tourist activity, but if you’re up for something slightly unconventional, why not try kayaking through the canals? You can take a day trip and even explore the Venetian waters under the starry night sky.
There are various tours that depart from the Lido and take you through the canals, and then further out into the lagoon. Kayaking offers a whole new perspective on the city, allowing you quick access to underrated parts of Venice and other surrounding islands, including forgotten monasteries and old secluded mental asylums that other travellers might never even know existed.
How to Get to Venice
The easiest way of reaching this beautiful canal city is by flying into Marco Polo Airport. British Airways and easyJet all offer direct two-hour flights from London. You can then travel into the city by booking an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct. A friendly driver will meet you outside the terminal, help you with your luggage and safely take you to your accommodation in just under an hour. You will be uncovering Venice’s hidden secrets in no time.
Where to Stay
Generator Venice: Set in a picturesque nineteenth-century building, the Generator Venice houses dorms with comfortable beds and potentially en suite bathrooms. It is ideally located just 10 minutes away from Venice island. If you are up for a little mingling among fellow travellers, there is a bar on the ground floor where you can swap tips over a few drinks.
We Crociferi: Located just 5 minutes from Saint Mark Square, this accommodation combines practicality and sociability in the heart of Venice. You can choose between mixing with other explorers in a shared dormitory or booking a private room or apartment. All accommodation is air conditioned and comes with free Wi-Fi. If you want, you can also request a private bathroom.
Domus Ciliota: I think you’ll like the sound of this one. Based in an old Augustinian monastery, Domus Ciliota is at the centre of historic Venice. It is a beautiful setting which you can admire at your leisure from a comfortable chair in the large inner gardens. The facility also boasts modern rooms with a bathroom and shower, air conditioning, mini-fridge, satellite TV and free Wi-Fi.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is Europe and North Africa’s most respected transfer provider. We guarantee a fixed low price which doesn’t affect the quality of our hassle-free transfer service. You can book a private, shared or group shuttle in advance via our user-friendly website and enjoy stress-free travel. During your journey, your driver might even be able to offer you further insight into the lesser known mysteries of the Venetian islands – all you need to do is ask.