Here are some recommendations for Venice, plus photos from our recent trip! If you want to see how we flew to Italy and stayed in Italy for free, check out these links for that information, plus more!
- How we booked our flights to Italy entirely on points and miles
- How we booked our hotels in Italy entirely on points and miles
- Getting around Italy/transportation logistics
- Packing everything in a carry on
- How to stay connected while traveling without paying ridiculous data roaming charges
- Recommendations and photos
- 8 options for Venice hotels on points
- Amalfi Coast/Positano/Capri
Venice really is as pretty as it looks in pictures. But better!
You can’t go to Venice without seeing it from a gondola!
Gondolas are a staple in Venice and it is definitely something to look into if it’s in your budget. Venice is such a unique city and it was neat to see it from the canals!
How to book a gondola in Venice
We were able to just walk up to a gondolier who was sitting outside of our hotel. He was happy to take us right then! But remember, we were in Venice at the end of high season. If you plan on being there during high season, you may need to book ahead of time either at a tour office or through your hotel. You can also book specific gondola tours such as a gondola ride that includes dinner, a champagne and sunset ride, or even a ride with a serenade! Of course, these are going to cost more.
How much is a gondola ride in Venice?
The cost of our gondola was about 180 Euros per hour or 90 Euros for 30 minutes. This is per gondola, not per person. This was the same price we were told by our hotel, so it seems that it is a standard price. I know that’s expensive but since we did not pay for flights or hotels, we were okay with that! We actually ended up extending our ride for an extra 30 minutes.
Places to Eat in Venice
Honestly, we did not make many restaurant plans in advance for this trip. But it turns out that we did not really need to because we found plenty of good food! Here are a few recommendations:
- Tuttinpiedi – our friend found this place on TripAdvisor (thanks to ExpressoWifi for the mobile wifi hotspot!) while we were walking around near St. Mark’s square. We were wanting some pasta and this place was #12 on TripAdvisor for all of Venice! All of the pasta is homemade and everything is cooked to order, so you know it’s fresh! It was very good and very inexpensive.
- Rosa Rossa – we actually found this place while we were walking around during the day. We noticed it from the street and it looked like a romantic setting so we went in to check it out. We decided that we would come back for dinner that night. All of the food was great, but the lasagna was probably the best I’ve ever had! I suggest getting reservations as they were having to turn people away, even for the waiting list.
- Anywhere in St. Mark’s square where you can get wine and dessert and listen to live music in the evening!
- Pizza (obviously!) from just about anywhere. Maybe it’s because of the views but pizza always tastes better in Italy!
Where to Stay in Venice:
I am all about staying at nice hotels, and we did manage to stay in a 4 star hotel in a great location for free, but let’s be honest. Venice is such a beautiful city that you probably will not be spending too much time in your hotel room. Keep that in mind if you’re thinking about using points to book your Venice hotel. I wasn’t fired up about using points such as Starwood Starpoints to book hotels in Venice. Many of the hotels that are available on points in Venice are high-end properties. A high-end property usually equals a higher redemption chart category. Higher category means more points. Click here to read about hotels in Venice that you can book with points.
Our Hotel: Hotel American Dinesen
Hotel American Dinesen is a 4 star hotel in a convenient location. Other than rides from the airport and to the train station, we were able to walk everywhere from the hotel. Our room was really cute. Small, but cute and updated. Breakfast was included in our rate, and it was actually a pretty good breakfast buffet. We enjoyed this hotel and I think it was a fair price.
One thing worth noting is that we arrived to Venice very early in the day. As in 10am. Usually check-in is not until 3 or 4. I always assume that the room will not be available if I arrive at a hotel early. I just plan to have the hotel hold our bags so that we can still enjoy ourselves in the city while waiting for our room. To our pleasant surprise, our room at Hotel American Dinesen was ready even though we arrived extremely early! This was nice because we were able to shower and freshen up after our long flight.
How we stayed at Hotel American Dinesen for free
We used the Chase Ultimate Rewards booking portal to book our hotel with points. You can read more about that in my post about our hotels in Italy.
We stayed for 2 nights at a rate of ~26,000 per night including taxes. The cash value of 1 night is ~$390. So we used a little under 52,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for our two nights worth ~$790. 26,000 points may seem like a lot, but Ultimate Rewards are easy to earn because of category bonuses and shopping portals. I prefer to use Ultimate Rewards and save my Starpoints, which are tougher to earn!
More Photos from Venice
Visit Venice (and don’t pay for your flight or hotel!). Take a gondola ride, eat all the food, drink all the wine, and enjoy the scenery! Don’t forget to follow on Facebook and Instagram @themilesgenie and as always, contact me with your questions!