Venice: a luxurious kingdom by the sea

How to best spend your time and money in the crown jewel of Veneto

The Veneto region of Italy, and the country as a whole, is crawling with UNESCO heritage sites, but none draw throngs of tourists quite like Venice. With its sprawling, labyrinthine structure, gorgeous architecture, its place holding one of the world's biggest collections of modern art, and its unique construction around the Laguna Veneta, it's no wonder Venice is renowned the world over for its beauty.

Venice is not to be seen in one day; most of the city's daily visitors, which amounted to a good 27 million people in 2016, come for day trips, and leave to hotels in the mainland or to cruise ships. This is a rookie mistake, especially for those who truly want to get to know the city, which has so much more to offer than gondola rides and good food. Don't be that tourist the locals hate—tour Venice like you know what you're doing.

Here are some tips on how to best enjoy everything this shining city has to offer.

Stay in the city

E.R. Pulgar

Venice boasts a wide variety of hotels for every taste, from ultra-lux temples of opulence like the Boscolo Venezia, which features a lagoon-facing view, to more low-key hotels like the B&B Sandra, which has several locales strewn across the lagoon depending on where you would like to stay. For the more adventurous, or for those who want a more local flavor, Airbnbs or apartment services offer much better prices than most hotels—search well, and you may even end up with a balcony overlooking the lagoon for half the price. Either way, time and money you would have wasted commuting to and from the island can be put to much better use.

Shop at Ponte di Rialto

E.R. Pulgar

The iconic Ponte di Rialto, designed by Antonio da Ponte, is known for its beautiful arch, and for the multitude of shops at its center. Despite being cramped with tourists, this is the perfect place to get all your souvenir shopping out of the way while simultaneously experiencing one of the world's architectural marvels, and one of the most iconic parts of the city.

Get lost in the labyrinth, day or night

E.R. Pulgar

The real shops—where you'll find Carnivale masks, Venetian glass, and so much more—are hidden inside the winding alleyways of Venice, waiting to be discovered in little streets and uninhabited corners. Wander the streets, lined with art and music, and you'll be sure to find a new cafe, a bookstore, or an out-of-the-way museum. Even if you plot a course somewhere specific, know that you will get lost. Embrace that, and another side of Venice opens up. Don't be afraid to do this at night either; Venice is one of the safest cities in Europe, and its best-kept secrets reveal themselves in the wee hours of the morning.

Cut loose and dine at Piazza San Marco

E.R. Pulgar

Undoubtedly the most famous landmark of the city besides the city itself, the Piazza San Marco—known simply as La Piazza––is towered over by the Basilica San Marco. As ostentatious outside as it is inside, those who aren't afraid of heights will find the Campanile of the basilica a point of interest. The square is never dull, constantly ringing with the chatter of visitors and locals alike, as well as buzzing with music and activity. Go to any of the nearby restaurants, and take in the square as night descends over the Venetian cityscape.

Splurge on a gondola

E.R. Pulgar

The best way to travel the city's canals is probably by water taxi or, if you're lucky enough to befriend a local, by small boat––that said, what could possibly be more iconic or exemplary of Venice than the iconic image of two lovers floating lazily along in a gondola, serenaded by an oarsman's O sole mio? Maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but you'll want to pay the 80 euro to take a nighttime ride through the city, lit only by lamplights and the rising moon. It's a splurge, we know, but the privacy and length of time you'll get on the gondola is much more intimate than the brief canal crossing you would get with a traghetto, a short gondola ride which won't do justice to the entire experience. If you can afford it, there's no better way to truly experience the mystical beauty that can only be found in this city.

For more information on Venetian bookings and travel tips, visit Lonely Planet.

Subscribe now

Related Posts
SPONSORED

Taking Control Of Your Finances Has Never Been Easier With Truebill

See Exactly Where You Dollars Are Going With Truebill

Personal finance is extremely complicated. But we don't really like to admit it. There's this weird expectation that once you're thrown out into the real world, you're required to know every little thing about finance. Where does that stigma even come from? I never took a single finance class in school, nor was I ever given the option.

I looked up the best way to manage money online and was greeted with a slew of Microsoft Excel tutorials. Is this really the best way to do this? I mused over the different chapters on formulas but felt like I was reading a different language.

I didn't have time to learn a brand new software, but I still needed a way to stay on-top of my finances. I knew there had to be an easier way (and obviously there was).

While on the phone with my cousin, I mentioned the difficulties I experienced while trying to manage my finances. Since we're both in our twenties, I knew that she'd be able to relate, but I never expected to receive such helpful advice. She mentioned an app called Truebill, which she described as "the best way to take control of your money."

After quickly looking through the app's features, I knew this was the tool I was looking for. Truebill offers everything, including subscription canceling, bill negotiation, pay advances, and more! The entire app is designed to optimize your spending and stay on top of your financial life.

Here's everything you need to know:

How Does It Work?

Truebill is the tried and true way to manage your personal finances. In fact, Truebill provides the most transparent view I've ever had into my finances. It works by aggregating all of your account information into a centralized location, then provides actionable insights you can take to organize your finances, lower your spending, and save yourself time. Once you connect your accounts, you're good to go!

What Features Does Truebill Offer?

Truebill offers a range of services, including on-demand credit reports and pay advances, but I found the subscription cancellation and bill negotiation features to be the most useful.

Every little subscription and bill is neatly organized, letting you know exactly what you're currently paying for. Not only did Truebill help me cut out $40 a month from unnecessary subscriptions (with a click of a button), they even helped me negotiate my electric bill, giving me 20% back in the process.

Is It Easy To Use?

While spreadsheets are great in a lot of ways, they sure aren't fun to use. In fact, most personal finance assistants aren't very accessible. All of these apps boast incredibly complicated interfaces that are impossible to navigate.

Luckily, Truebill's interface is seamless and easy to understand. Upon opening the app, you'll see an overview of your spending, your current subscriptions, as well as a budget planner and bill tracker. It's all neatly outlined to let you take the best steps possible to optimizing your spending habits.

Is It Secure?

Absolutely! Truebill uses bank-level security with 256-bit SSL encryption. It is one of the most secure encryption methods and is used in most modern encryption algorithms and technologies. This encryption also allows read-only access, meaning that, if there are any breaches, your account will be safe from hackers.

Is It Affordable?

Yes, it's free! There are a ton of features available upon download, but if you're looking to unlock the full potential of Truebill, you may want to consider their premium version. In fact, Truebill allows users to choose their own price for their premium service. Users report that the small monthly cost is easily offset by the savings they accumulate from using the premium service.

Why Do I Need This?

Everyone could use some help in managing their finances. There's no reason to struggle with something so complicated, especially when there is a service that can do it for you. Your time is important and Truebill values that.

I can think of dozens of things I'd rather spend my time doing each day than monitoring my finances and budgeting. So why do I love Truebill so much? It's simple. I wouldn't be able to live my best life without it.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.

Offer Expires In

Destinations

How to Visit New Orleans During a Pandemic

What can you do when you're wearing a mask and social distancing? Plenty.

Ask most people what they conjure when they hear the words "New Orleans," and they'll come up with the usual suspects: Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, young drunk people, costumes and beads and debauchery.

Oh, and there will probably be some great food in there, too: those weird French doughnuts covered in powdered sugar; some sort of thick dark soup called something-or-other; and "what's the difference again between jambalaya and gumbo?"

Regardless of whether people have actually made a trip down to the Big Easy or not, they'll have some preconceived notions about the city–and we residents say that's fine. It's cool. Sometime, maybe, you'll see more than the inside of a Hurricane drink cup.

But here's the thing. Not only is a visit to New Orleans in autumn the perfect time to check out America's most unique city, but it's an ideal getaway in the middle of these COVID days. The weather breaks in the Gulf South in October. While Minneapolis dips into the twenties, New Orleans luxuriates in the balmy 70s in the day, inky sweet nights in the 60s.

What can you do when you're wearing a mask and social distancing? Plenty. It will be a slower and more gentle visit than one to Bourbon Street, but if you feel absolutely compelled to walk the French Quarter, go for it. While you're nearby, visit the art galleries in the Central Business District. The gallery owners and artists would appreciate your business. And wherever you land for a place to lay your head—all hotels and local temp rentals are beyond clean and ready—you should head out for a bit of nightlife. Yes, even in these COVID times.

But a good wander away from the usual traps will give you a much better understanding of the city. And in most places, you can even take off your mask.

Ride The Streetcar

Sure, this is a bit of a touristy thing to do, but in autumn–in a pandemic, no less–it's infinitely safer and more beautiful than riding in an Uber. The streetcars are nearly always empty at the end of their lines. They have real wooden seats and open windows, and except for a short stint after Katrina, they have been in service since they were very first installed to travel the neutral grounds, the grassy medians of our boulevards.

The last stop in the Carrollton streetcar line will land you at The New Orleans Art Museum. Don't go in it–not to start, at least. Your time might well be better spent walking the adjacent sculpture garden, newly expanded, free, and with that invaluable open-air factor. To round the bend and take your first look at "Karma" is to experience something much bigger than your average landscape painting, although the Rodin sculptures put up their dukes too.

Go for Barbecue and Snowballs

You can just walk down lovely Carrollton Boulevard, traipse beneath the ancient live oak trees and past the stately old homes for a couple blocks until you arrive at Blue Oak BBQ. Your nose will guide you. Again, considering COVID restrictions, you can't get better than Blue Oak's huge outdoor dining areas, multiple shaded and tented spots with plenty of room to properly socially distance. Their staff is as friendly in their masks as it comes, and the food? The ribs are luscious, arguably the best BBQ in the city, but their Happy Hour specials make for the perfect fit after a walk-around in the sculpture garden.

Save room for dessert just across the road. Head to Pandora's Sno-balls. There's a walk-up window, and you only need to stay the requisite six feet away from the other eager patrons lined up at this iconic locale. Flavor recommendations are unnecessary, because every one is divine. Choose your own, but if you want to act like a local, try the wedding cake or pink lady. Shaved ice is a far cry away from a typical snow cone, and you might well be spoiled for life with the soft texture and New Orleans' unique flavors.

Bacchanal in the Ninth Ward

Yes, the word is out about Bacchanal. It's no longer a secret. But it's still a destination worth experiencing, in no small part because it does a much much better job of representing New Orleans than some daiquiri hut with neon green icy drinks. Bacchanal has a massive outdoor seating area, extraordinary wine selections, and incredible nibbles. They support local musicians, and you'll find live music here that will always knock your socks off. You can't visit New Orleans without hearing music, and Bacchanal is a great place to start.

​Find the River

New Orleans river

Of course you can find the river by walking across the street from the Cathedral in the French Quarter. You can stand and watch its roiling waters, but it's not so easy to experience the majesty of one of America's grandest rivers watching shoulder-to-shoulder with others in their masks in a pandemic. Consider a couple of other options: Go to one of two places—both of which are local secrets, so you're going to have to do a little research. Head across the industrial canal and into Holy Cross. Take a right at the first opportunity and drive straight towards the Mississippi River. Try it at sunset. Park and walk up onto the levee. You will not be disappointed. It will tell you everything about this old and wise city that words can't say.

Visit The Fly

The Fly Orleans

Across the literal way and around the bend of the big loop of river, you can find The Fly. A local favorite hangout, it's adjacent to the zoo. Don't go into the zoo either—at least not right away. Save it for another day when the pandemic has abated. Bring lemonade or a couple locally brewed beers to The Fly and make sure to clean up before you leave. Take a seat at one of many spots with a clear view. Consider what it means to see water passing that originates in a tiny creek in Minnesota. Melted snow, tributary waters, it all ends up right here. Watch passing tankers from Russia, tugboats pushing flats of one thing or another, sip your beverage, and enjoy the fresh autumn air.

The River Shack

Follow the wobbly straight line of River Road upriver. You'll probably drive past The River Shack the first time. Just double-back. The place has been around longer than most of us, its exterior old signage now preserved for its historical treat. Try their gumbo. You won't be disappointed. You can sit outside, of course, but you can also take a gander at the dozens and dozens of framed photos on the walls that bring context to the locale.

It's nothing new to say that New Orleans is steeped in history. But that's sort of the point these days, to "go back" and experience a place that's stood the test of time. We have carved out a place unique to this country. Find the unbeaten path and walk our cobbled lanes. There is wide-open breathing room in a beautiful autumn in one of America's oldest cities.

Amanda Boyden is an American author and recipient of Nerve.com's Henry Miller Award for Best Literary Sex Scene in Pretty Little Dirty. Her latest work, I Got the Dog: A Memoir of Rising was released on September 15th, 2020 and is available for purchase here.


7. Low Prices (vs. other Airbnb lodging options and flexible cancellation policy)

Before I found out about Getaway, I thought, gosh. Travel can be expensive, even with everything that is going on. Cabin rentals on Airbnb are so pricey, not to mention their no exceptions cancellation policy—which is totally a turn-off. Even the discounted all-inclusive lodging vacation I've been daydreaming about was out of the picture with my work schedule, sigh.

I was almost at my wits end, then, my friend Kiara brought up this cool new Getaway experience she recently got back from at a beautiful tiny cabin outpost nestled nearby in Hill Country, Wimberley, Texas for $99 a night! I immediately told my boyfriend, and we decided why not go ahead and try it for the weekend!

6. Facilities and Amenities (What's included)

So we went online to Getaway's website and chose the Cabin for Two, which actually had everything we wanted for a weekend escape in nature—giant windows with beautiful views and great amenities including: a comfy queen bed that sleeps two, warm shower, bath products, AC and heat, plus a mini-kitchen stocked with cooking supplies and light meal provisions available for less than $10 each. And, with self-check-in and check-out, booking was as simple and easy! That next weekend we set off into the auburn sunset, next stop—Getaway Hill County!

When we got to our tiny hand-crafted hideaway we instantly fell in love.

5. The Blue Hole Experience

The next morning after my boyfriend cooked us breakfast (yes, he's house-trained), our first stop was the Blue Hole Park Trail Loop with one of the most beautiful natural swimming holes in Texas. We made sure to make a reservation in advanced, and boy can I still smell the oak, cypress and cedar trees surrounding the crystal blue water and canopied trails, I didn't hesitate for a second and jumped in body-first. After a dip, we spent the rest of the afternoon in leisure completing the 1.6-mile hike around the Blue Hole Trail, can you say unplug and unwind, I couldn't recommend visiting this magical place enough.

4. The Wimberley Valley Driftwood Estates Winery Experience

Later in the evening, we headed to the Driftwood Estates Winery which had a great wine varietal, and the winery hostesses were very friendly and helpful in explaining the various wines. The building garden areas and facilities were set perfectly on lush rolling acres of surrounding vineyards with the cutest donkeys and little ponies—and the passing burros, longhorns, double decker English buses which added to the atmosphere, just perfect. Plan your to make a reservation in advanced and soak up the experience of tasting and exploring, a must-go winery!

3. The Wimberly Zipline Adventures Experience

After a sound sleep under the moon and stars, we woke up the next morning with one thing on our mind, the last and final stop on our Getaway weekend-adventure (and arguably most favorite) which included soaring over 10-miles of breathtaking views of Wimberley Valley creeks and canyons, absolutely a thrilling and unforgettable experience. Another must-go, you'll learn about the local ecosystem of plants and wildlife, local history, and other interesting Wimberley area facts. By the end of our tour, I was bursting with adrenaline and excitement. We had so much fun, and I must say I can't wait for our next weekend escape!

2. Disconnect to Reconnect

We got back home late after a late dinner following the ziplining, we were so exhausted but honestly I would not trade a great experience for anything else in the world. It's nice to disconnect from the daily grind and reconnect with nature. I was so happy with my stay and how clean and cozy the cabins were. If you haven't had the chance to Getaway, then what are you waiting for!

1. Experience Your First Getaway

If you're looking for a safe, clean, and rejuvenating place to both relax and have an adventure, whether with your partner or friends, I'd highly recommend Getaway.

Plan Your Escape With Getaway! Book One Month In Advance And Take $20 Off Your Fall Adventure With The Code FALL20!