Here it goes, our first post about our international travels! We have planned and prepped for an international trip for so long and now it’s here. Here’s how we spent our first few days of travel getting lost in Venice:
Looking for our recommendations and tips for Venice instead? Click here!
Arrival in Venice – Airports and Ferries
On our first day of travel, we flew from Detroit to New York. At JFK Airport there was a vending machine for fresh vegan friendly foods which made Sam really happy. We got a Thai noodle dish in honor of us originally planning to be in Thailand at this time. Then waited for our 8hr flight to Venice.
The plane was so empty and many people went and took up an empty row to lay down, how smart?! We ended up doing the same and Ty took the row behind our assigned seats.
The vegetarian meal on the flight was cornmeal and split peas topped with artichoke hearts, a small cucumber tomato salad, and some fruit. I know that doesn’t sound completely appetizing but it was warm, filling, and actually tasted pretty good. After we ate, we got comfortable and slept most of the flight, on and off.
We landed in Venice around 10:30 am, grabbed our backpacks, and headed to the water ferries. We stopped at a kiosk near baggage claim to get our tickets and walked outside to wait for the ferry. The ferry ride was about 45 minutes to our stop!
Tip: We bought our tickets at the Alilaguna kiosk near baggage claim but there’s a desk with a person available to help right down at the dock if you aren’t sure which line you need!
Although we were early, we stopped in to see if we could at least drop off our bags and luckily our room was ready! We got to our room, dropped our bags, and took some deep breaths. We were here, in Italy. It was real now.By this time it was around 2pm and we wanted to take advantage of the nice weather so we freshened up and headed out to explore the city. We wandered around and ended up getting lost for most of the afternoon.
For dinner, we got a vegan pizza and found some steps in a nearby square to sit, eat, and people watch. Not a bad way to end our first day of travel!
Food Recommendation: Pizzeria L’Angelo – Lots of options, including 5 vegan options + budget friendly and plenty for the two of us.
Our First Full Day of Travel in Venice – Tours + Burano
We woke up and went to a cafe/bakery (like we did every morning here) and got a TINY coffee and a croissant.
Every cafe we tried had soy or other nondairy milks and at Goppion Caffetteria they had their vegan croissants marked. So yummy!!
We didn’t have wifi outside the hotel, or data on our phones yet, so we were really hoping we made it to the right place for our first tour (we were)! On the tour, we learned about the history of the Venetian Empire, how the city was built, present-day Venice, and recommendations for places to see and things to do while we were there.
Fun Fact: When the Venetians realized it was the rats spreading the plague they brought cats to the island and built water dishes into the wells for them (third picture). And, according to our guide, it was illegal to feed the cats back then because they needed to be hungry to hunt the rats! We only saw a few stray cats during our whole time in Venice, but I wonder if they are related to the original cat settlers…
Recommendation: The Free Walking Tour. It was a great start to our time in Venice. We booked “tickets” online in advance but it was free (tips are expected). Our tour guide was super friendly and provided a ton of information, thank you Lu!
Burano – Island of Color
After our tour, we got pasta to go for lunch. With this being the only day without rain in the forecast, we decided to catch a vaporetto to Burano, a small nearby island full of color. After rushing to get to the docks, we almost missed it because we weren’t sure how to buy tickets. Luckily, someone heard us freaking out and helped us out.
Tip: To get to Burano, head to the F. te Nove station and get a ticket for Line 12. Make sure you stop at the ticket booth, there are not tickets at every dock. The vaporetto to Burano took about 45 minutes each way.
When we got there it started to sprinkle… so much for “no rain” in the forecast. Thankfully, it didn’t rain hard and what little rain there was seemed to clear the streets. It felt like we had most of the place to ourselves! The houses are all different colors. It’s honestly such a sweet and charming place!
Besides the colors, Burano is known for lace making. We bought a small piece as a souvenir and got to see the woman hand stitching some lace upstairs. We walked around some other shops and grabbed a bite to eat.
That night we had our Ghosts and Legends tour. Our tour guide was from the UK and he was hilarious. He told us about a few historical murders and some legends of Venice. One was actually spooky and made Sam nervous for the walk back in the dark. However, there was a sweet one about a fisherman who fell in love with a mermaid, so not all were scary. We found this tour on Airbnb here!
Exploring the city of Venice
The next morning we woke up early, got coffee and a croissant, then headed to the Rialto Market. Apparently, this is a popular site to see (but it was smaller than we expected). Besides the fish stands (that had a strong odor), there were a few produce stands and one flower stand. Ty thought the history behind it was interesting, but it didn’t blow us away.
Later, we explored the Dorsoduro district and visited the St Giorgio Church. We had to take the vaporetto because this church has its own little island. Behind the church was a free glass art exhibit. When we went, the exhibit had different rooms for different types of animals and their habitats which was pretty cool. It was also free, so if you go to see the church, stop by the glass exhibit too!
Must do: Get a ticket for the rooftop view at Fondaco Dei Tedeschi
We had a 12:15pm ticket for a rooftop terrace view back in Venice so we caught the vaporetto back and made our way to it. The terrace is on the 6th floor of an expensive department store (like a Macy’s but fancier) and it was free! However, your ticket allows for 15 minutes so we had to be there by a certain time. The view was absolutely stunning and the sky cleared up just in time so that it was blue around the clouds. We’re so glad we did this because the view was wonderful!!
Sad story: That night we TRIED to go to the only fully vegan restaurant in all of Venice. It was a 45 minute walk from our accommodation and didn’t open until 7. When we got there found out they were only letting in people with reservations because of the rainy forecast. Sam was SO bummed, but from now on will be checking to see if reservations are required at any place we are dying to go to. Lesson learned.
Last day and laundry
On our last day in Venice, the weather forecast finally caught up to us.
We got up early to explore and went to St. Mark’s Square to enjoy it before the boats of tourists came. It is really interesting to see without the masses of people and vendors of cheesy Venice souvenirs. We also visited San Francesco della Vigna, it was so quiet and peaceful.
Then, the rain came and it got cold so we headed back to our room to wait it out. When the weather got better we headed out for a late lunch and found Pasta Fagioli at a restaurant recommended by our tour guide the first day. The soup is naturally vegan so that was a plus! However, compared to how Sam’s Aunt Mary Lou makes it back home…we were disappointed. Oh well, it was filling and alright for the budget I guess.
But on a positive note:
On our walk back we saw a gelato shop with a vegan option behind the glass. Can’t pass up vegan gelato, so we went in, only to find out they had FIVE vegan options. Okay, definitely made up for the soup. Sam had a scoop of Raspberry Gelato with chocolate chunks and a scoop of Dark Chocolate. YUM! Ty’s looked good too but it wasn’t vegan so it doesn’t need further explanation.
Food Recommendation: Vegan and regular Gelato from SUSO – SO Good
Later that evening we went to the laundromat nearby and paid way to much for a small load of laundry. We didn’t even need to do laundry but we had tried to wash some socks and underwear in the sink the day before and they hadn’t dried so we figured “why not?” 13 euro. 13 euro is why not… we should have just blow-dried our socks. We won’t be doing laundry until it’s absolutely necessary this time. While we waited for the clothes to dry, Ty went and got pizza. Same pizza as the first night because we knew it was good and didn’t feel like stressing about finding a good vegan meal for our cold night in. We packed our stuff and prepared for traveling to our next location!