Our Favourite Venetian Experiences

Wednesday 20 August 2014

While Venice may be known for hoards and hoards of tourists crowding St Mark's Square and expensive gondola rides, it's not that difficult to find unique experiences to take in the floating city.

Cruising with Context

I've touted Context Travel on this blog several times and our experience with them in Venice was no exception.  There were a few 'walks' that I had bookmarked for the first portion of our Italian vacation but timing was not on our side and the only one we could squeeze in was "Venice by Boat."  It did not disappoint.

We met our docent, the immaculate private boat and it's driver for close to two hours on the water.  Our docent did a fabulous job introducing us to the city.  We learned all about the history of the city from how it came to be to how it exists today.  We began to understand the challenges a city on water faces and often most interestingly, the quirks that visitors to the city almost never hear.  It was nice to hear a backstory to what we'd already seen but also led us to seek out different areas on foot for the remainder of our stay.

Our time on the boat was fulfilling enough that we decided to forgo the typical gondolier experience and we didn't miss it in the least.

Taking in the Views from San Giorgio Maggiore

Most people visiting Venice opt to visit the bell tower at St Mark's Basilica but we had heard that there was a lesser known tower across the water with fantastic views of the city.  We took a water bus over to the monastery where we were greeted by a practically empty cathedral and tower.  The views from the top were magnificent and with only a few other people in attendance, we could take our time admiring the city from above.  Also, the lift up the tower is half the price of the bell tower at St Mark's.


Getting lost is part of the Venetian experience so we decided to embrace it instead of fight it.  Each day we'd set off in a particular direction but without a strict timeline or destination in mind.  Our favourite moments were found in deserted alleys that I'm not sure we'd find again if we tried.  Also fun, trying to draw our route on our city map when we stopped to eat or drink.

Have you been to Venice? What were your favourite lesser-known experiences?


  1. I love all of your Venice photos, they make me miss my trip there! We were only in Venice for a day, so we didn't get to explore too many unknown areas. We did get to see a glass blowing presentation, so that was a really neat experience.

    1. I spent a morning at a glass blowing workshop here in Stavanger - definitely a neat experience!

  2. ...Oh, it all looks so ENCHANTING--I MUST see Venezia before it sinks!!..

    Betty J. Ogburn

    1. Certainly a destination to prioritize!

  3. beautiful! i'm also a huge fan of Venice - what a magnificent city (when it's not filled to the brim with tourists)!

  4. Oh, I wish we'd gone up in the monastery! We went up in the clock tower, which was my favorite thing we did there (other than seeing a couple of scuolas- the art! the wealth!), but they don't let pregnant ladies up in the clock tower due to steep stairs. Sigh, I guess we have to go back now!

    1. Funny - no one said anything about pregnant ladies climbing the steep stairs of the campanile in Florence which I did reluctantly for Joe.

      But, any excuse to go back is a good one to me. We have to go back to visit the islands ;-)

  5. Venice is amazing! Can't wait to return


  6. Oh Jay, this makes me want to travel back straight away. Those Context tours sound amazing - I wish I'd gotten to know the history of Venice better when we were there. No better city in the world to just get lost in :)


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