Most couples looking for a romantic weekend break shun Venice for good reason – having an authentic getaway in the city of love can be quite a challenge. It is, after all, one of the most sought-after touristic destinations in the world. But we are not ones to turn down a provocation so it was to Venice that we went on our one-year relationship anniversary weekend. You can check out our photos from back in 2012 in the gallery at the bottom of this post!
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Beyond the shallow reason that we wanted to be able to say “when we were in Venice”, the culture addict in me always finds great things to do there. Even if you travel with children, there are many things you can do in Venice to keep them entertained. As a couple, however, we were drawn by la Serenissima due to its location (overnight direct train ride from Vienna), its size, and of course, its mystique. Truth is it’s impossible to cast aside a feeling of abandonment in Venice as if you surrender yourself to the canals and forget the world outside the city even exists. It is this unique impression of losing one’s firm footing that you should experience together with your loved one during your Venetian getaway. Whether it is by going on a gondola ride, getting lost in the multitude of narrow streets, navigating the crowds, or uncovering masks at the carnival, the city beautifully prompts you to stay true to the only things you have for sure: your true self and your partner. What can be more romantic than that?
While there are other locations in Italy we would recommend for a honeymoon itinerary, it is for this otherworldly experience that we believe every couple should go on a weekend break to Venice. You could always splurge and spend three days in Venice as well. Below we will explain to you how to approach this city break to avoid the clichés and have a stay that will enrich your personal love story and create cherished life-long memories.
What to read
We love reading ahead and at a destination, thus please refer to our complete list of favorite books on Venice.
For a romantic weekend getaway, I highly recommend Marlena de Blasi’s heartwarming account (click to buy) of how she moved to Venice after falling in love with a stranger in this city. A beautiful description of how love can open up new possibilities in one’s life and bring out our better selves, all intertwined with Marlena’s love story with the city itself.
When to go
If you are in Venice on a romantic break aimed to be slow-paced and focused on genuine Venetian experiences, the best time to visit is from September to November. Although there will be a slight drop in the temperature in these months, you can explore the city without much tourist chaos and at your own pace.
Where to stay
We loved our stay at Hotel Continental, which offers modern comfort in a historic setting and a great breakfast overlooking the canal. It also has the advantage of being located in close proximity to the train station, away from the overcrowded St Mark’s square, and it is a good base to discover neighborhoods such as Cannaregio, Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, or Castello (see the next section on what to do in Venice). More hotel recommendations you can find here.
Palatial hotels are of course the specialty for romantic city breaks in Venice, thus if you can afford to relax for at least a day in grand Renaissance styled ambiance, our collaborators at Italy Tourist Visa Online have put together a list of luxury hotels in Venice. They offer the finest comfort alongside breathtaking sights of the city, sensational culinary delights and soothing spa wellness.
Hotel Gritti Palace has one of the most scintillating views of the city, and it is located right in the heart of Venice overlooking the Grand Canal. The hotel elegantly blends modern lifestyle with Italian heritage settings. The private rooftop terrace offers a splendid panoramic view of this charming city.
Sina Centurion Palace is another hotel on the Grand Canal displaying the grandeur of ancient Italian architecture fused with contemporary flair. Housed in the 19-century Palazzo Genovese, this stunning hotel offers an opulent stay with incredible vistas of the waterfront.
San Clemente Palace Kempinski Venice – The journey from Piazza San Marco to the island of San Clemente where the hotel is located provides an exceptional touch to the romantic holiday. Enjoy the beautiful scenic views of Venice as you cross the waters to a petite Venetian paradise of your own. Wrapped in solitude, you and your beloved can revel in the classic ambiance and enjoy the services of this Venetian paradise.
What to do and where to eat
On the first day of your Venice getaway, explore a Venetian neighborhood on foot or in combination with a 12-hour ticket for the Vaporetto to enjoy the city’s famous canals like a local. We went for a walk from Ponte degli Scalzi to Ponte di Rialto, had some fresh fruit at the Rialto Market, and then took the Vaporetto to Accademia. After a walk around Dorsoduro and ice cream at Gelateria Nico, we saw the Peggy Guggenheimcollection and returned back to our hotel with the Vaporetto. We were lucky enough to end the first day of our weekend break with dinner at Trattoria alla Fontana, which we discovered by chance on our evening walk and can only recommend. We would go back to Venice just to eat there, it was the perfect authentic romantic dining experience for our relationship anniversary.
Alternative activities to visiting a museum on your first day, recommended by the locals, include shopping and/or spa relaxation, everything topped of course by an appropriate dinner experience. This is, after all, your getaway to the most romantic city on Earth!
For shopping, Le Mercerie located between the Ponte di Rialto and Piazza San Marco is quite famous for popular Italian brands and high-end fashion houses. Other places to consider are San Samuele, Calle Larga XXII Marzo, and Mercatino dell’Antiquariato.
Even if you cannot afford luxury accommodation, you can still spoil yourselves with time off at a spa location. Reali Wellness Spa, Aman Venice Spa or GOCO Spa, set on a secluded lagoon, are the top venues.
To wind up your day with a scrumptious Italian meal, romantic dinner options are waterfront restaurants such as Riviera, Ristorante Algiubagio Venezia, and Oro Restaurant. On the other hand, you can choose a rooftop restaurant such as Restaurant Terrazza Danieli to enjoy a tranquil dinner with your beloved along with beautiful moments overlooking the Venice unique skyline. More suggestions for romantic restaurants in Venice can be found here.
Wake up early on your the second day of your Venice getawayand make your way to Piazza San Marco before sunrise. There is no better time to encounter this marvelous square than in the morning before everybody is awake. To reward your effort, treat yourself to a Venetian breakfast at Pasticceria Rosa Salva nearby.
A plethora of activities awaits you for this wonderful day. From our personal experience, it is not advisable to try and visit the San Marco Basilica and the Doge’s Palace on your own. Such an undertaking will take too much of your time and energy, as these attractions are invariably overcrowded. You could take a tour with Walks of Italy, depending on your interests. Our favorites are the Legendary Venice or the Welcome to Venice tours.
You might consider spending only your morning in San Marco and heading to one of the islands in the afternoon. We had the loveliest of times on a half-day tour of the Venetian Islands Murano, Burano, and Torcello. For a more relaxed experience, we recommend taking the Vaporetto line no. 12 to Buranoand enjoying a fresh seafood lunch at Trattoria Al Gatto Nero before browsing the island for home-made lace and beautiful pictures with the colored houses.
If at all possible, indulge in a gondola ride along the Canale Grande on the evening of your second day. Some of the best spots to watch stunningly romantic sunsets are at Rialto Bridge, Fondamenta Delle Zattere and Accademia Bridge.
If this is the end of your weekend break in Venice, it is definitely a memorable one. If you have one more night to spend in la Serenissima (either upon arrival – e.g. on a Friday evening – or before departure – e.g. on a Sunday evening), we humbly advise looking for a good concert to book. Our favorite location is, of course, the Teatro La Fenice, but the lagoon city can amaze you with original concert and live music venues.
Still in need of additional help/suggestions/ideas? How about you contact us and we will set up a personalized, unique romantic getaway for you in Venice! Many people have done it before and we have not disappointed.