Venice is special. It’s a perfect romantic honeymoon destination. If you haven’t been, you have to go. I feel like you have to see it at least once. When I was planning our honeymoon, I kept thinking I might leave it off so we could focus on other cities, but I really couldn’t imagine not spending part of our honeymoon in Venice.
It rained most of the time we were there, which was a little bit of a downer just because I hate having cold and wet feet… but we didn’t let it get us down until the last night when we just retreated to our hotel and ordered room service.
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Our European Honeymoon Itinerary
- 4 nights in romantic Rome (Flew into FCO via LHR)
- 3 nights in fabulous Florence, with a dedicated post about our fantastic honeymoon stay at the St. Regis Florence!
- 3 nights in Venice – the last stop on our Italian honeymoon itinerary!
- 4 nights in picture-perfect Paris, with a Paris honeymoon photo session.
- 2 nights roadtripping through Ireland (We flew in and out of DUB but didn’t see the city at all)
If you are in the middle of planning your honeymoon in Italy, I detailed our itinerary. Throughout this post, you will find updates from subsequent trips and links to more recent posts. I’m always updating my blog to make other people’s trips better!
I like pairing the more popular Italian cities with smaller towns to get the best of both worlds (and find better food). That said, my husband had not ever been to Europe, so it made sense for us to hit the “big 3” in Italy – even though I had been to all these cities previously.
I chose places I loved and places that I knew Tom would want to visit for our honeymoon. I do think you could spend your entire honeymoon in Italy. We’ve spent long weekends in Venice and Paris but we’ve also spent 2 and 3 weeks in Italy and Europe in the past. You should design a trip that works for you and your interests as a couple.
Venice Travel Trips for Your Honeymoon
Let’s just be clear: Venice can be maddening. At times, with the cruise ship and day trip crowds, it can feel like the least romantic place in the world. But, when everyone leaves and it’s just you and the lamplit canals, it’s the most romantic city in the world. After 7+ trips to Venice in 5 years, Tom and I have put together a few expert tips to get the most out of your visit and enjoy your honeymoon in Venice.
Be Okay Getting Lost in Venice
You need to be okay with getting lost in Venice. Put the phone away and enjoy wandering. I’ve been to Venice so many times in the past 5 years and I have a pretty good sense of the city. That said, I still can’t always tell you where I have found things, so if you’re too type A, you might need to learn to let go a little. (I’ve also learned to take photos of shops that I want to find later.) You can always get to the main squares and bridges of Venice (San Marco, Accademia, and Rialto) by following the yellow rectangular signs.
Staring at the map on your phone results in missing the beauty of Venice. Look up. You won’t ever be truly lost but following maps or hoping to rely on street names is futile. Embrace it.
Beat the Crowds in Venice
We pull double duty on our trips to Venice. This means that we get out early in the morning to enjoy the sunrise or experience San Marco or Rialto without a crowd. We stay out until around noon before heading back to our hotel to rest during the heat of the day. We go out again around 5:00 and enjoy the city for as long as our feet will allow. This has worked really well at keeping the romance alive when we go to such a touristy destination. (We loved it so much, we spent our 4th anniversary in Venice!)
Travel Tips for Getting Around Venice
Regardless of how you arrive and where you stay in Venice, you’ll need to get to your hotel. We did pay for a water taxi to get to the JW Marriott on our honeymoon. We haven’t done that since. Always learn from your mistakes in Italy. The best way to have the greatest flexibility when your feet get tired is to purchase a Vaporetto pass for the duration of your stay. Individual rides are 7.50 euro each. That adds up quickly.
Bonus: You can DIY your own boat tour of the Grand Canal. Download the app, plug in your headphones, and board the #1 waterbus. We’ve done it in the early morning, middle of the day, and at blue hour. Early morning is the least crowded and guarantees you a seat. Blue hour is perfect for romance in Venice as you watch the lights turn on along the canal.
Romantic Hotels in Venice for Your Honeymoon
Venice hotels are expensive. They are worth it though. Stay in Venice. Don’t stay outside of Venice and commute in. You’ll miss the magic. It’s really not the same. I’ve included a couple of different hotels that we’ve tried in this post. All of these are great honeymoon hotels in Venice, though admittedly I like some more than others. Similar to my honeymoon in Florence recommendations, I’ve included hotels at a few different price points. When you are determining what area to stay in Venice, your budget will dictate many of your choices. Hotels near San Marco and along the Grand Canal are more expensive.
JW Marriott Venice
For our honeymoon in Venice, we stayed at the JW Marriott Resort & Spa, which is on its own island. It’s in the middle of the Venetian lagoon and pretty isolated. The Hilton Molino Stucky is similar in the fact that it is across the lagoon, but it’s way more connected to Venice than the JW Marriott because it is easily reached by waterbus or Hilton shuttle. The Hyatt Centric in Murano is probably the best choice if you want to stay on one of the islands of Venice though. We’ve stayed on Murano four times and have really enjoyed it.
We were one of the first guests after the hotel opened in 2015. Truth be told, the JW Marriott Venice can be difficult to recommend, especially for a first trip to Venice. Do I think it makes sense for a honeymoon in Venice? Yes, especially if you’re the kind of people who want to spend your honeymoon on a secluded resort. Would I stay there again for my honeymoon in Venice? Probably not. I like being able to wander the city in the evenings. The Hotel Danieli and Palazzo Veneziano are two more centrally located hotels in Venice. I loved the old-world style of Danieli, and Palazzo Veneziano had some nice amenities for a romantic stay in Venice, like a jacuzzi tub.
That being said, the JW Venice is GREAT in a lot of ways and not so great in a few ways. (I want to attribute it to new hotel pains.) For what it’s worth, I’m titanium with Marriott, so I do have high expectations for the property. I do feel like this is one of those hotels where they don’t expect you to come back more than once, so maybe they don’t put as much care into their stays as some other destinations. (Little do they know how many times we’ve been to Venice since our honeymoon!)
- Luca from the front desk was AMAZING. He was hilarious, good spirited, and really tried hard to make us comfortable.
- The shuttles ran frequently throughout the day. We never had to wait for the shuttle to San Marco. If you’re worried about the location, it’s not too limiting unless you want to stay out really late or get up really early. There is not a vaporetto stop on the island though.
- The platinum arrival gift options were awesome and they let you pick your items and time of arrival. We opted for the local meats and wine and really enjoyed it.
- The island is beautiful and quiet. We didn’t really get to enjoy it because of the rain, but the waiting area for the boat is covered and they have complimentary umbrellas for guests.
- Our room was downgraded on the day of arrival between 10:00am and our 3:00pm. No one apologized or mentioned it.
- The person who checked us in was not very friendly and the credit card machine was down, so I had to find time to go down and have them preauthorize my card. Not a big issue, but it was a hassle to find a time when they weren’t too busy and we weren’t trying to get somewhere.
- Despite the hotel being new construction, you can hear EVERYTHING in these rooms. It took me awhile to figure out that I kept hearing the water draining from the room above us. The shower in the bathroom also leaked all over the bathroom.
- On a rainy night, we tried to eat in one of the hotel restaurants. They basically told us it was too bad and they were too full. There was no attempt to accommodate us or steer us to other options. Room service was not good.
- The day we were leaving, we asked for the hotel to handle booking our transportation to the airport. They told us to be downstairs at 12:15. At 12:15 a taxi arrived, but they put another family in it. We kept waiting, waiting, waiting and when my husband asked, they said someone was coming. Finally, at 1:00, after asking more than a couple people, we finally got into a taxi. The worst part was that no one seemed concerned. We, however, did not know how far the airport was (it’s a pretty good schlep!) and were very worried about missing our flight.
Other Romantic Hotels in Venice for a Honeymoon
If you want the traditional Venetian experience, book the Hotel Danieli. We were upgraded to a beautiful lagoon view room with a large terrace as a Marriott platinum. The rich furnishings and decor were step back in time to the mysterious romance of Venice. I loved the red silk curtains, the marble bathrooms, and the view of the Grand Canal.
The hotel sent up snacks and a bottle of wine for our arrival gift. It was the perfect way to enjoy a Venetian sunset. We found ourselves picking up groceries for a picnic on our balcony almost every evening.
Tom loved the restaurant that overlooked the lagoon. (I never made it up early enough for breakfast.) I found the location to be convenient to staying out late in Piazza San Marco. This would be my first choice hotel for a romantic trip to Venice and is, without a doubt, one of the most romantic hotels in Venice.
I’d like to book another lagoon view room for Rendentore or New Year’s Eve in Venice.
If you are looking for a more moderately-priced hotel for your Venice honeymoon, look no further than Palazzo Veneziano. We’ve stayed here more frequently than anywhere else in Venice. The location is removed from the crowds of San Marco and it’s near my favorite art galleries and restaurants in Venice. What’s not to love? I think Dorsoduro is one of the best sestiere to stay in Venice, honestly.
Palazzo Veneziano has several different room categories with various amenities. The standard rooms are pretty small but the furniture fits the room very well. On our 4th anniversary, we were upgraded to a bi-level suite with a jacuzzi tub. Some rooms have walk-in showers while others have traditional tub-shower combinations. The marble bathrooms are beautiful.
Rooms that overlook the canals are quieter than the ones that face the interior of the hotel.
Most room rates come with free breakfast. (I perfected an almond torte recipe because of this hotel. Delicious!) There is also a small bar on site.
I love the staff at the Veneziano. They tend to be pretty warm and very helpful.
Romantic Things to Do in Venice
If this is your first trip to Venice, you absolutely should see the “big sites.” I also recommend booking at least one walking tour of Venice where you can further explore one of the sestieri of Venice.
If you want to DIY your own walking tours, this Frommer’s guide to walking tours is one of our favorites. The Venice day by day guide is great for creating an itinerary specific to your individual interests, and I love the Top 10 Venice neighborhood guide, too.
Basilica of San Marco
Everything is mosaic. Everything is gold. You can’t even imagine how beautiful this church is until you see it… and and even then, the sheer beauty of the gold mosaics are astounding. Just go. The line moves really quickly and it’s free. Worth it. Rick Steves has a self guided walking tour in his book, you can download and audio version for free. If you happen to spend Christmas in Venice, you can experience Christmas Eve mass at the Basilica. It’s downright incredible.
If you want a next level experience, there are a few after hours tours of St. Mark’s basilica. This is high on my list to try, even though I don’t think anything can compete with experiencing it on Christmas Eve.
For a couple of euro, you can take stairs to the top of the Basilica, walk onto the front roof, and see the horses of St. Mark’s. The views over San Marco are stunning. (I prefer this to the Bell Tower view.)
Take a Gondola Ride
I booked a joint Venice walking tour and gondola ride. We did this on the first evening of our honeymoon in Venice, and it was fantastic! The tour introduced us to the Dorsoduro neighborhood of Venice and ended with a twilight shared gondola ride through the Grand Canal. It’s not the most romantic way to do a gondola ride, but it can be an economically viable one if you are on a budget. Personally, I think sunset and/or blue hour is the optimal time for your first gondola ride in Venice. We’ve taken a few gondola rides at night. I definitely recommend this – after you’ve done one during the day. The city becomes so much more romantic after dark.
After our small group gondola ride, I asked my husband to take me on a private gondola ride. Despite having been to Venice twice, I had never taken a gondola. It was definitely special to share that experience with Tom on our honeymoon! It’s a great way to see the city and the smaller canals from a different perspective. Our gondolier was very knowledgeable about the city and its history.
Don’t Forget: Kiss under the Rialto Bridge… it’s tradition!
Visit the Peggy Guggenheim Museum
I love the Nasher Sculpture Garden at the Peggy Guggenheim because it’s the Nasher. (Hi, I’m from Dallas and the Nasher Sculpture Center is my favorite museum in Dallas.)
The Guggenheim is gorgeous with one of the best views of the Grand Canal.
We purchased the audio guide. It was definitely worth it and we both learned a lot about modern art. I would not have gotten as much out of the museum without it.
Doges Palace and the Bridge of Sighs
I have always admired the exterior of the Doges Palace. You should definitely see it (along with the Bridge of Sighs). If you’re pressed for time, I think you can skip the inside… though it is quite grand. The guided tour of the Doges Palace will teach you a lot about Venetian history, but I did find the museum and content a little bit dry in its delivery. However, Tom always asks to go back. He loves it. Everyone has their thing, and I prefer the architecture of the Doges Palace to the exhibits.
Visit Murano and Burano and Torcello
If you are looking for the ultimate Murano glass souvenir, I recommend taking a trip out to the island of Murano. Not only are the glass blowing demonstration really cool, but you will also be able to find some of the more authentic pieces of Murano glass. This boat tour of the Venice islands is a pretty efficient use of time and money. You’ll have free time at all three islands, Murano, Burano, and Torcello. Our tour guide recommends negotiating for your Murano glass (mark ups of 20-30%).
Pro Tip: I recommend springing for the audio guide for the church on Torcello. I think it is the highlight of the three island boat tour.
Wine Tasting in Venice
I love taking advantage of local wine tastings in Italy, and the wines of the Veneto are no exception. If you can’t spend a couple of nights at Villa Cordevigo or another wine resort, I have an option for you! I recommend this wine tasting in Venice.
This canal-side cicchetti bar offers numerous wines from the Veneto region, and if you aren’t sure what to try, the owner will make recommendations. At our tasting, we tried a rainbow of wine, as well salami, cheese, and vegetables.
While the owner doesn’t usually set bottles to take away, he share where he sources his cheese. Aliani Casa Del Parmigiano is the best cheese shop in Venice, and it carries a lot of fresh, regional products.
Have a Drink in Piazza San Marco
I think cafe culture is something that is often overlooked in Venice. Whether you do this during the day or the evening is up to you, but we think it’s a splurge that is worth it. We’ve done this a few times and it is always worth it. We prefer Caffe Florian, which is one of the oldest cafes in Venice. Your beverage will be served with appropriate snacks or you can order a dessert. I haven’t been disappointed by wine, beer, Select Spritz, or even the gelato. In the winter, it is a great place to warm up. I highly recommend the Casanova, which is a mint hot chocolate.
Remember: You’re paying for the experience, not just the beverage. I find the evenings to be the most magical. Where else can you sit on such a beautiful square and listen to an orchestra? If it’s not in your budget, you can certainly stand (or dance!) and enjoy the music. No one will bother you.
Book a Photo Session in Venice
I really cannot recommend destination photo sessions enough. Tom and I don’t have nearly enough photos together when traveling. These photo sessions are some of my favorite souvenirs. We often get amazing recommendations for things to do, places to go, or restaurants to try from photographers, too.
When we returned to Venice for our anniversary, we booked a photo session with Ksenia. Despite an afternoon of rain, the skies eventually cleared and we decided to move forward with the photo session! (I’m so glad we did!) Ksenia was lovely to work with and we enjoyed exploring the canals of Dorsoduro with her. Our couples session ended at Santa Maria della Salute and the photos turned out beautiful.
If Ksenia isn’t available, I follow Alina Indi on instagram and her photos are lovely. (Caution: She might inspire you to have your wedding in Venice!) I get a lot of questions about how I find photographers when we are traveling. Instagram is a great place to do that. There are times when I look at photography tours on Viator but searching destination related wedding photography hashtags is often more effective in finding amazing photographers.
Where to Eat in Venice
Good food is hard to find in Venice. I’ve been the victim of more bad meals in Venice than anywhere else in Italy. (Don’t get dal Moro’ed. Despite the Trip Advisor reviews for being one of the best cheap eats in Venice, it’s absolutely a scam.)
Da Gianni Venice
I’ve been coming to this restaurant since 2010. I recommend sitting outside when the weather is nice. You’re in Venice and there are few places, if any, that can replicate this experience. The waitstaff are always impeccably dressed in the evenings, which I find absolutely delightful. I also find them to be very friendly, as long as you are respectful and friendly. We were really excited when they recognized us after a few annual visits. (I almost cried when I found out they weren’t open over the Christmas holidays. The do close for approximately two months in the winter.)
While the menu is long and translated in several languages, this is one place where I will break my own rules for eating in Italy. I really enjoy the pepe verde fileto and the house wine. Tom really enjoys the pizza. Most people rave about their seafood pastas.
This restaurant is impossible to find online. It’s in Dorsoduro and right across from the Hilton at the Zattere stop, so if you stay there, it’s an easy option for dinner. (I’ve stayed at the Hilton Venice twice. It’s a solid option.) You will recognize it by the green and white awning.
After dinner, walk down to Nico for some of the best gelato in Venice. We did a taste test one year. It is definitely my favorite. The bacio (chocolate hazelnut) is perfection and the prices are really cheap for takeaway.
Best Wine Bar in Venice
One of my favorite wine bars in Venice is La Bottiglia. La Bottiglia is a small wine bar on the edge of a canal near the San Polo neighborhood in Venice. They specialize in organic wines and have paninis, as well as meat and cheese platters. Portion sizes are very generous; the staff is always happy to make recommendations.
They have indoor and outdoor dining, and they are open late. The clientele always feels very local, and it stays busy. Prices are extremely reasonable, especially for Venice.
Best Pizza in Venice
One of our tour guides said it perfectly – you don’t come to Venice for pizza. This is because the building codes generally prevent the wood-burning ovens that make Italian pizza so delicious. I love Antico Forno near the Rialto bridge. It’s generally a counter-service restaurant, so don’t expect tables and a lot of space. I recommend buying a slice of the focaccia pizza and enjoying it at the small bar inside.
It is one of my favorite easy meals in Venice. Skip all the fresh pasta to-go places and head here.
Best Time of Year for a Honeymoon in Venice
Our honeymoon in Venice was in April and most of our return trips have been during that time frame. I find it to be the perfect time to visit, though I often need a cardigan or light jacket, especially in the evenings. It doesn’t get too hot or humid during the day. You can enjoy sitting outside for meals or at Caffe Florian. Crowds aren’t as bad as they could be and most shops and restaurants are open. Hotel prices are generally pretty reasonable unless it is a holiday weekend.
September is pretty similar, though you have to watch the calendar for the Biennale Film Festival. Hotels are generally sold out and prices are very high during that time. Check your hotel before you book flights in September.
March is relatively quiet, though it can be a little chilly and gray. I like it because you can experience the city waking up to spring. People are out and about, outside tables are available, and you don’t have to bundle up. Prices are extremely reasonable.
Most recently, we found that we love the days leading up to Christmas in December. To date, it feels like it has been our most authentic Venetian experience. We didn’t see many, if any, tourists (English speaking or otherwise). Locals were extra friendly and kind. Christmas Eve was so quiet that you could hear the bells at midnight mass. The Christmas lights, especially in San Marco, were magical. In my opinion, the Christmas holidays in Venice should not be missed. While the crowds definitely picked up on Christmas day, Christmas Eve was extra special in Venice.