Travelling during COVID: an (almost) empty Venice
We travelled to Venice in August 2020, the summer that COVID-19 “stole” from us. We had heard that popular tourist cities around Europe, such as Venice, were completely empty and it seemed simply too good to be true. We decided that we had to go, as this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We quickly booked 3 days in Venice – you won’t need much more than that, as Venice is a rather small city. Venice was not completely empty as it was in June and July (from what we saw on other people’s Instagram stories), but it was still quite empty. It was really nice to be able to explore this historic city without the 30 million tourists that usually visits Venice. You can check out my Instagram highlight to see our full experience in videos - and of course find more photos in my feed :-)
If you choose to travel during COVID only travel to countries that are open to you and is living up to your home country's restrictions! Always check up on the restrictions of where you are travelling, as you in many cases need to show a negative COVID test or fill out some health forms. Remember to stay safe and travel responsibly.
We of course researched in terms of travelling to Italy, and it said online that we had to fill out a health form that we had to show at the airport. We both did it, but I don't know if it was because we landed really late, but we never showed the health forms or even our passports to anyone (as you normally don't have to in Europe).
From Venice Marco Polo Airport, which is on the mainland, it’s easy to get out to the Venice island. You can either take a train with Treno Italia, a cab or a water bus, which is called Vaporetti. Once you’re in Venice it’s easiest to walk around or to take the Vaporetti - but they cost 8€ for a single ticket.
Where to stay in Venice
We had booked a cute Bed and Breakfast through Airbnb (B&B Best Vacations Venice) in the area called San Polo, which is the most central part of Venice and close to the famous Rialto Bridge and the Rialto Mercato. We wanted to be able to walk to the most popular spots in just a short amount of time.
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Other areas we considered staying in Cannaregio (La Ghetto) and Castello, because we had heard that they were lively and trending – however a bit out of the city centre (even though nothing is really far in Venice).
Where to eat in Venice
Venice is quite touristy, so finding really great places to eat can be bit challenging – but just avoid places with photos of the food in the menu and you should be kind of safe. As usual I had researched a lot before going, but we also found some good places simply by walking around. In Venice they eat a lot of seafood, as there’s shortage of that on the islands – we did not mind at all.
Something you HAVE to eat when in Venice
- is Cicchetti! It’s Venezian style tapas, so it’s just small pieces or dishes you choose yourself. By the Italians it’s often eaten as an afterwork thing, where they pop by their local bar to have a few cicchettis with a glass of wine or an Aperol Spritz. Definitely a habit I can get behind! The cicchetti in Venice is often seafood, so I hope you like seafood - if you don't, I promise you it's really good!
Cantina Do Mori
The first place we got Cicchetti in was Cantina Do Mori and it was amazing! Super cute and local - and cheap! Both the wine and Cicchetti was amazing.
Address: Calle Do Mori, 429, 30125 Venezia
Osteria Alla Staffa
I found this place from another blog, which said it had some of the best and cheapest pasta in Venice - so naturally we had to check it out. It completely lived up to our expectations!
It was a small local place on a quiet street, but the restaurant itself was quite busy. We passed it one night but they told us they are always fulled booked, so go by and book a table for another day. We chose to have our last meal here and it was amazing!
Address: Calle Ospedaletto, 6398, 30122 Venezia
If you're looking for something more fancy or fine dining, Regina Sconta is it! We came across it by accident, saw they had truffle pasta on the menu and went in. We also got some fish carpaccio for starter and it was amazing!
Address: Calle Regina, 2259/A, 30135 Venezia
Ai Do Archi
This place was another fortunate passing, were we ended up getting a cozy table outside, where you sit next to a cathedral. The food was really really good - it was by far some of the best seafood pasta we had in Venice (and we had a lot)!
Address: Barbaria de le Tole, 6359, 30122 Venezia
Un Mondo Divino
Un Mondo Divino was by far the best place we found for Cicchetti! The man behind the bar was so nice and friendly, all the locals were hanging out here and everyone were talking and saying hi to each other. We really loved sitting there getting a glass of wine and being part of real Italian culture in this small wine bar.
Address: Fondamenta Trapolin, 5984A, 30121 Venezia
Enoteca al Volto
Another great little local spot for Cicchetti is Enoteca al Volto. It's located just around the corner from the Rialto Bridge, but it's still somewhat quiet and really nice. Pop by here for a quick glass or wine or a few Chicchetti.
Address: Calle Cavalli, 4081, 30124 Venezia
Antico Forno is quite legendary and is mentioned in every blog post or guide about Venice, so of course we had to go try it out. They make something they call "pizzaccia", which is a mix between a focaccia and a pizza - close to what most of us simply would call a deep pan pizza. It's still different though and the quality of it is really good! There's always people and it's kind of a must try if you're in Venice.
Address: Ruga Rialto, 973, 30125 Venezia
I Tre Mercanti
I Tre Mercanti is not a restaurant but a gourmet supermarket in Venice. This is where we found the best Tiramisu in Venice - and trust me, we ordered it everywhere we ate! They have different kinds - we tried the Nutella and the regular one. We also bought some pasta to take home, and they also sell different kinds of truffles, oils, pates, wines and many other things.
Il Doge is a legendary ice cream place in Venice and many will say that it's by far the best gelato you can find in Venice - and it really is by far some of the best I've ever tried, so don't miss it!
Address: Calle Traghetto Vecchio, 2016, 30125 Venezia
What to see and do in Venice
Venice is home to many popular tourist sights and attractions. I have been to Venice twice before and usually all of them results in hour-long queues and a literal ocean of people. To experience Venice without the insane crowds was nothing short of amazing.
The Rialto Bridge
The first MUST see when going to Venice is the famous Rialto Bridge or Ponte de Rialto in Italian. It’s located right in the middle of Venice and is one of the few bridges that crosses the Grand Canal, so you’re bound to cross it at some point.
Saint Marco Square
Another famous spot in Venice is the big Saint Marco Square, which is probably one of the places in Venice you see most photos from when you see photos of the 30 million tourists that visits Venice every year.
The most famous canal in Venice is of course Canal Grande, which is the big canal going through the city. Besides Canal Grande there is a total of 177 canals in Venice and it's so magical to walk around and just explore them all.
Take a Gondola ride
One of the absolute MUST DOS and for many probably a bucket list thing is to take a Gondola ride in Venice! It's not only one of the most romantic things to do, but you also get a very unique Venezian experience.
It's quite expensive though - starting at 80€ for 40 minutes. You can't haggle the price, as it's a price that's been set by The City of Venice to ensure equal pay and lower competition for a better experience. You can find Gondolas and Gondoliers all over the city, but there's bigger "Gondola Stations" along Canal Grande and the bigger tourist spots, such as Saint Marco Square.
Libreria Acqua Alta
This will no doubt be the coolest bookstore you'll ever visit! Roughly translated Libreria Acqua Alta means "Library of High Water", and you can see where some of the books and the store has been ruined by the high tide from time to time. There's cats and books of all colours and sized everywhere, and in the very back you can find a staircase made entirely out of books!
The surrounding islands Burano and Murano
If you have time, I can really suggest taking a half or whole day trip out to the surrounding islands Burano and Murano. You can take the Vaporetti there and Murano is only a short 15 minute ferry ride away, while Burano is 1 hour away - but so worth it. Murano is mainly known for the mouth blown glass and Burano is known for lace, but mainly for their coloured houses.
We just took a half day trip to Burano, which was perfectly fine. We found some of the best food there - way better than in Venice! I can recommend you eating at Restaurant SUZO - Brian still claims he got the best olives of his life there. (Address: Str. di Corte Comare, 25, 30142 Venezia)
In Burano you should see the Coloured Houses, Bepi's House (the most colourful house in Burano), and the leaning church tower of Capella di Santa Barbara.
The best photo spots in Venice
The Rialto Bridge
One of the most iconic photo spots in Venice that you might’ve seen on Instagram a few times (or a lot) is the Rialto Bridge. The best spot you find just to the side of the bridge if you walk along the water from Restaurant Naranzaria. You can see it when you’re standing on the bridge and you look on the Northern side of it. The best time is to go in the morning to avoid other people, as I’ve heard there can be quite the queue to this photo spot (at least during normal travel times).
Saint Marco Square
One of my favourite photo spots was the Saint Marco Square. We came to take photos at 7:30 AM while the sun was rising, and it made the whole square look absolutely magical. You can easily take photos all around the square, but my favourite spot was just to the right of the church next to one of the pretty Venezian lamp posts.
Burrano’s coloured houses
If you decide to take a trip out to Burrano, you kind of have to get a photo of the beautiful coloured houses, that I mentioned earlier. There’s plenty of opportunities and spots to take photos by the canals, but a great view is on the three bridges that combine three channels. It is also the most touristed spot on the island, so you might have to wait a bit on an open spot if you don’t want other people in the spot.
The “secret” bridge
The spot is a bit secret – and at the same time one of the most posted spots on Instagram. I was still considering not sharing it to keep it secret, but I hate when other bloggers posts from a spot and then won’t tell where it is, so here we go. This little wooden platform/bridge is located right behind (or actually in front) of the Hotel San Moise. Simply go to the hotel on the map and it is right there.
That was all for my tips for Venice and how it was travelling there during COVID!
I'm still so happy that we chose to go to Venice of all places during COVID, as it was truly a once in a lifetime experience to not have to share the small streets with 30 million other tourists, which is the number of tourists Venice normally gets every year.
Let me know if you liked it or if you visit any of the places! :-)