When a $400 flight showed up last year, I couldn’t imagine a more romantic weekend in Venice than our anniversary. Despite its challenges for even the most seasoned traveler, my husband has fallen in love with Venice. It’s certainly always in his top places to go in Italy, if not his list of top European cities. If there’s a way to go to Venice, Tom wants to go.
I think Venice is a place that most people either love or hate. It’s hard to crack, which is why Tom likes it so much. Venice rewards the tourist who goes off the beaten path and is willing to throw out the itinerary. It breaks the tourist who isn’t prepared and doesn’t wear good walking shoes. Venice requires you to go beyond the surface, which can be hard to do if you just follow the tourist crowds. If you need tips for a stress-free trip to Venice, Rob and Chris have some excellent suggestions to share.
I’ve been to Venice (at least) eleven times and I still find it completely fascinating. It’s unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. My breath still catches when I enter St. Mark’s Square after dark. I love finding new canals and squares I haven’t seen before. With multiple trips under our belt (and Valentine’s Day coming up), I thought it would be fun to share all my ideas for a romantic weekend in Venice.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for tours and products I love at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Best Time of Year to Visit Venice
We’ve spent the most time in Venice in April, and I find it to be the perfect time of year. It’s not too hot but you can bring your sundresses. The crowds aren’t *as* bad (but they are still significant). Restaurants are open. It’s nice to sit outside. Prices are reasonable. The same is true in September, but you have to watch the calendar for the Biennale Film Festival. We’ve been caught on that before and it drives prices up considerably if you don’t plan. March can be the perfect shoulder season if you don’t mind the cooler weather. Prices and crowds are still relatively low. It’s fun to be out with the locals in March.
I also really love the days around Christmas in December. We’ve made two trips to Venice for Christmas and it’s been our most authentic Venetian experience. We hardly heard English. The locals were extra jovial (though our favorite restaurant was closed for the season). San Marco’s Christmas lights were magical. The holidays in Venice should not be missed. Christmas in Venice is a neat experience.
Venice Weather and What to Wear
I find the weather in Venice to be relatively temperate. I’ve never been impossibly cold, but I do find that I need to plan for layers. I always pack a pair of waterproof walking shoes, though I tend to get A LOT of use out of my Stuart Weitzman 50/50 boots in the cooler months. In the winter and early Spring, I will add a pair of jeans and my favorite Wolford Augusta leggings. These are best paired with cashmere sweaters or a Marta Scarampi cape. In April and September, I get by with a light all-weather jacket. Most of my spring wardrobe consists of dresses and cardigans. I take my heavy coat for Christmas trips, but I am usually able to leave it unzipped and ditch the cuddleduds.
Best Hotels for a Romantic Weekend in Venice
We’ve made multiple trips and we’ve stayed five different places. I’ve outlined the pros below of each below and made recommendations based on the type of traveler you are. If I had to rank the Venice hotels we’ve stayed at, it’s Hotel Danieli, Palazzo Veneziano tied with the Hyatt Centric Murano, Hilton Molino Stucky, and the JW Marriott for me. All of these hotels are solid options; you can’t go wrong with any of them. You do need to think through what kind of experience you are aiming for though.
For example, we missed early morning and late evening tours on our honeymoon in Venice because the JW shuttle wasn’t running early enough and we didn’t want to pay for a water taxi. That wasn’t an issue when we stayed at the Hotel Danieli, but I realize it can be very expensive. We’ve stayed at the Palazzo Veneziano in Dorsudoro several times; it’s a solid option at a great price point for both couples and families. In late 2021 and March 2022, we stayed at the Hyatt Centric Murano and loved it. It’s a very short vaporetto ride from the main islands of Venice. It pushed us to get off the beaten path even further, and our experiences in Venice got that much better.
Choosing a hotel really does come down to what kind of romantic getaway in Venice you are looking for. I never thought I would stay off the main islands of Venice after some of our other experiences, but I really fell in love with being on Murano at night.
Secluded Hotels in Venice
- Great option if you really want to get away from all the crowds and take it easy
- Most remote hotel we’ve stayed at in Venice (it can be perfect for your honeymoon if you want to slow down)
- Resort-style amenities like a spa, pool, cooking classes, room service, on-site restaurants so you don’t have to leave the island
- Sleek, modern decor
- Hotel shuttle to San Marco (no public transportation option)
- If you want respite from the crowds with easy access to Venice
- Offers some resort-style amenities (spa, rooftop pool and bar, club lounge, and multiple restaurants) but can also enjoy local life on Giudecca island
- More traditional rooms with Venetian chandeliers, windows that open, and beautiful views of the city (Photo above taken from our room. They’ve recently renovated their rooms, so I didn’t think it would be fair to include an old photo. The view won’t change though.)
- Delicious prosciutto and hazelnuts if you have lounge access (I’m easy to please.)
- Hotel shuttles to Dorsoduro (my favorite sestieri) and San Marco but easy access to vaperetto stops as well for early morning and late night adventures in Venice
Romantic Hotels in the Middle of Venice
- Ideal for the traveler who wants to get up early and stay out late in St. Mark’s Square (close to a vaporetto stop, too)
- The ultimate traditional Venetian experience – you’re basically staying as close to the Doges Palace as you can get
- Some rooms offer an incredible view of the Grand Canal (ours did)!
- Old world luxury that is understated romance – I loved the billowing red curtains and turn down service
- Concierge service to help with local recommendations on any and everything
- Beautiful lobby bar for unwinding and terrace dining with unparalleled views
- Ideal for the traveler who wants to stay “on the island” away from the crowds
- Quiet location in Dorsoduro sestieri close to all the best art experiences in Venice (near vaporetto stop and a large grocery store!)
- New, modern rooms with every modern luxury (including jacuzzi tubs) but Venetian details in the finishings
- Relaxing courtyard for breakfast, lobby bar for nightcaps, and outdoor space for relaxing or working
- This is one of the most affordable hotels we’ve stayed in Venice – without compromising any quality
- The almond torte they serve at breakfast… which maybe shouldn’t be a reason to book a hotel, but it is for me!
Staying on Murano in Venice
Hyatt Centric Murano Island (Photos coming soon!)
- Perfect for the traveler who has been to Venice a few times and wants to try something new.
- Beautiful spacious rooms with easy access to the mainland. (As Hyatt Globalists, we were upgraded to duplex suites on both stays
- Hotel provides Very Venetian experiences that you can book. We LOVED the Spritz Masterclass.
- Vaporetto stop right outside of the hotel. You can be on the “main island” in about 10 minutes.
- Hotel provides free airport transportation on demand, which is a luxe way to arrive at this gorgeous hotel.
Travel Tips for a Weekend in Venice
Get the Most out of Your Time in Venice
Venice is crowded. If you stay in San Marco or near Rialto, you’ll be exhausted from all the people by the end of the day. One of the ways we figured out how to beat the tourist crush is by bookending our days.
We get up early to experience cities as they are waking up (without the crowds), rest during the middle of the day (avoiding both the heat and the crush of daytrippers), and head out in the early evening and stay out late. This works especially well in Venice when the crowds are at their height in the middle of the day.
Buy a Vaporetto Pass
If you’re coming in via train (or airport bus), go ahead and buy a vaporetto pass for the duration of your stay. Single tickets for the vaperetto are 7.50 euro and good for 75 minutes in one direction. This adds up quickly when traveling as a couple, so grab day passes instead. It’s less expensive than a water taxi to get to your hotel and it gives you the greatest flexibility.
If you don’t want to rest during the middle of the day, you could take a vaporetto to Murano or Burano to get away from the (some of the) crowds. If you want to rest your feet, you can cruise down the Grand Canal on your own DIY guided tour of Venice. I suggest grabbing a seat outside and doing this in the early morning or in the evening (or both!) for maximum magic in Venice.
The vaporetto pass has been our best buy because we never hesitate on doing things. It allows us to just hop on a boat whenever we are ready and we are never too far from where we want to go.
Romantic Things to Do in Venice
There is no shortage of activities in Venice. You could fill your weekend in Venice with everything from cicchetti bar hopping, to visiting churches, to museum visits, to glass shopping and walking tours on everything from Venetian history to mask making. As I said above, we’ve made eleven trips to Venice, and we haven’t seen it all.
Take a Gondola Ride
Whether it’s in the early morning or late at night, a gondola ride is a must do in Venice. I was definitely in the “this is too expensive and definitely cheesy” category, but when we took an early morning gondola ride on our honeymoon, I was hooked by the still beauty of the city in the soft morning light. On a later trip, we ended up grabbing one of the last gondoliers of the night for a moonlit ride around the smaller canals. It was extremely romantic and a great way to end the evening.
If a gondola rid still seems too expensive, I recommend this Venice walking tour that includes a gondola ride. We opted for a late afternoon tour and boarded our gondola just in time for blue hour. Even though it was a shared ride, it was still magical. It’s one of those “only in Venice” experiences, and it would be a shame to miss it. Think about it this way: a gondola is the only way to see Venice the way it was designed to be seen.
Roam the Canals at Night
Blue hour is romantic, particularly if you can find a spot on the Academia Bridge or walk down the Zattere promenade (or even venture through the Dorsuduro canals). Seeing the last rays of sunlight disappear sets the stage for evening in Venice.
With the crowds gone, you can stroll through piazzas holding hands. You can find a cicchetti bar on a beautiful canal and enjoy apertivo like a local. You can see the stars on clear evenings. You will feel like you have the city to yourself.
The city is incredibly safe after dark, but if you don’t feel like navigating it for yourself, we really loved this night walking tour of Venice. We were the only ones on it, so our tour guide took us to the areas he thought we would enjoy the most.
Romantic balconies and tiny alleyways? I’m in.
Enjoy a Drink & Dessert at Cafe Florian
One of the perks of staying at the Danieli or Palazzo Veneziano is that you don’t have to concern yourself with shuttle schedules. On our last few trips, we have found ourselves in San Marco late in the evening.
Two of my favorite memories are the nights when we found ourselves dancing on the square under the stars (you can see them in Venice!) and the time when we grabbed wine and dessert and enjoyed the live music.
Whenever I ask my husband what he wants do if we go back to Venice, the music in St. Mark’s Square always makes the list. If you don’t enjoy an Aperol spritz, I find their mint hot chocolate to be just as tasty. Tom finds their beers to be a good buy. Remember – you’re not just paying for a drink, you’re also paying for the music and the overall ambiance. It can make the cost a bit more palatable.
Visit Murano, Burano and Torcello
The midday crowds in San Marco and Rialto can be completely overwhelming. We’ve definitely been known to boat tour to Murano, Burano, and Torcello to get away from the crowds. (We’ve also been known to stay on Murano, which brings its own magic to Venice.)
You can find some beautiful glass souvenirs in Murano, fulfill your love of bright colors and lace in Burano, and see an incredible church on Torcello. (If you’re looking for lace souvenirs, Burano has a lot… but if you’re looking for romantic lace souvenirs for women, I’ve been shopping at Jade Martine in Venice since 2010.)
I think the three island tour is the best deal out there if you are limited on time. It is more efficient than the vaporetto if you’re short on time.
Visit the Peggy Guggenheim Museum & Nasher Sculpture Garden
My favorite museum in Dallas is the Nasher Sculpture Center (specifically the garden and Tending Blue, before Museum Tower ruined it), so it should come as a surprise to no one that I love the Guggenheim and Nasher Sculpture Garden in Venice. (Purchase your tickets to the Peggy Guggenheim museum in advance.) This is a modern art museum. Some of the best views of the Grand Canal are from inside the museum. It’s fun to watch the world go by from the palazzo courtyard. Tom and I did an audio tour together and learned a lot about modern art, as well as the collection. As with most things in Venice, visit early or late in the day to minimize the crowds.
If you’re looking for traditional art by the Venetian masters, head to the Gallerie delle’Accademia. (I’ve yet to find an English tour of the Accademia. If you find one you love, please let me know!)
BONUS: Both of these museums are in my favorite neighborhood, Dorsoduro! Wander in and out of the galleries before or after your visit. One of my favorite splurges (after 11 trips) was purchasing a Giovanni Pulze piece. I found him at the San Gregorio Art Gallery on our honeymoon, obsessed about him for years, and finally bought a piece in 2022. How’s that for self-control?!
Self-Guided Walking Tours of Venice
One thing that gives my husband the greatest joy is when we pop in a headphone splitter and listen to one of these guided audio tours of Venice together. We’ve boarded the #1 vaporetto early in the morning to see the sites, walked through St. Mark’s Basilica together, and even admired the details of St. Mark’s Square. Doing tours together, we can pause to discuss, point things out to each other, and are completely immersed in our own experience, regardless of what people around us are doing or saying. I’ll admit that I was definitely dubious, but it’s one of my favorite things we do. We even listen to them as we’re trying to fall asleep sometimes. It gets us excited for the next adventure.
If audio tours aren’t your thing, I love this great walks of Venice book, the Venice day by day book, and the Top 10 Venice book to create my own walking tours. If you want to book a professional guide, be sure to check out my favorite Venice walking tours post for my top recommendations.
Enjoy the Venice Cicchetti Bar Scene
I’ll admit – since we’ve always stayed near the university – I didn’t think the cicchetti bars were going to be my scene. It took enjoying this wine tasting in Venice to see that there are all types of cicchetti bars and surely, with a little research, I could find a few of our favorites.
- Barcaro Quebrado (Santa Croce) – I love the extensive cicchetti menu, the pasta, and the incredibly friendly staff. You’ll want to go early or make a reservation to get a table.
- La Bottiglia (San Polo) – I had to fight the urge to not go back to this wine bar every night. The meat and cheese platter is an amazing opportunity to try the freshest products in Venice. Prices are incredibly fair.
- Bar Puppa (Cannaregio) – This tiny restaurant is perfect for a drink and a pizza. (They also have pastas.) The cost of your drink includes cicchetti. Prices are very fair.
- Antico Forno (San Polo) – This isn’t a cicchetti bar per se, but it is the most delicious pizza in Venice. Order a slice of the focaccia pizza and enjoy it at the kitchen side bar.
Book a Venice Photography Session
What better way to commemorate a romantic weekend in Venice than with professional pictures?? I think it’s totally obvious by now that one of my favorite travel souvenirs are our portrait sessions. This is my favorite way to capture photos of us together on a trip. It’s easier than a self timer or asking passerby to snap photos and the quality is always good.
We loved hanging out with Ksenia and the pictures turned out absolutely gorgeous. (This is also how I knock out our Christmas cards!) I’m always amazed at how the crowds disappear (even in Florence!) when a professional is behind the camera.