Venice for groups
Date Posted: 21/10/2015
Marble palaces, secret passages and winding waterways – why would anyone say no? Here’s a breakdown of the Italian island city, with some handy hints to help you enjoy a hassle-free holiday.
Caffé Quadri: Like a Merchant Ivory film set, Caffé Quadri serves up a big slice of Venetian history, combining a view of St Mark’s Square with palatial furnishings. Yes you can splash out a small fortune dining here, but the real experience is just enjoying a drink at its tables outside on the square and enjoying live classical music, with the strings echoing evocatively around the landmark square.
Doges’ Palace: This mind-blowing, elaborate power hub of the Venetian Doges, who once held sway over much of the Adriatic, demands attention on the waterfront. It is arguably Venice’s most dramatic building, which is saying something. A guided group tour is the best way to unearth its colourful history and explore all its nooks and crannies.
Gondola ride: A gondola ride is a cliché, but it is also a sublime experience as your group eases serenely along the canals with a singer completing the experience. Prices are standardised these days with the latest rates printed at gondola stations. Alternatively for €1.50 you can hop across the Grand Canal on a traghetto public gondola.
Pictured: people exploring the city by foot; one of several ways to get a good look at all Venice has to offer.
Food and drink
Venice could never be said to be a budget destination and some of its restaurants definitely suffer from just catering for the passing tourist trade so it is essential to choose wisely. Heading off the main St Mark’s to Santa Lucia Station tourist drag reaps rewards.
Locals and savvy visitors head for osterias, cosy bars that offer chicchetti (little snacks) to go with their drinks; ideal for lunch or a light dinner.
Seafood landed in Venice includes shellfish and white fish. Follow the locals and ask for the catch of the day, which the best places will bring out for you to inspect.
Best for groups
Arrive in Venice in style aboard the Orient Express. The ‘King of Trains’ eases your group in a swish of luxury via Paris and through the Alps to emerge on the banks of the Grand Canal.
A bespoke walking tour is the ideal way to really get under the skin of a city with so many layers. The Roman Guy offers both set and bespoke small group tours that can explore unusual sides of the city like the workshops that still craft the city’s famous gondolas.
One of Venice’s real charms is its epic, world famous churches, which come replete with paintings by all the Italian masters. They are expensive to visit on their own, but groups can take advantage of the Chorus Pass for excellent value access.
Live like a local
Savvy locals slip away from Venice proper on a vaporetto in search of the quieter lagoon islands. Murano is famous for its glassblowers and it’s where you can pick up a unique souvenir that isn’t made in China. Burano is a picture postcard gem with its prettily painted houses. Mazzorbo is home to Venissa, a bijou winery that uses a long lost local grape and has both a Michelin star restaurant and a less formal osteria.
Pictured: The Aman Hotel, boasting views across the rooftops of Venice.
Where to stay?
The Aman Grand Canal: This palatial new abode in a waterfront palazzo has immediately become the city’s most glamorous hotel, ideal for small groups on a once in a lifetime trip.
The Hilton Molino Stuccy: One of the better value Venice hotels, this one sits on the island of Guidecca. A major plus is the shuttle boat service that offers a free scenic cruise across the water when you head out.
Marina di Venezia: The comfortable mobile homes here are ideal for groups with any children in tow as there is a waterpark on site. There is a beach too, handy in summer when the mercury rises. A number of vaporetto water buses connect to central Venice.
Currency: The Euro.
Flight time from London-Venice: 1 hour 30 minutes.
Best time to go: Spring and autumn offer cooler temperatures and a chance to escape some of the summer crowds.
For further information visit www.comune.venezia.it.