Venice - perhaps the most extraordinary city in the world - can be painfully busy, not an ideal scenario when you’re wanting a romantic break for two. For a stress-free getaway try to avoid going at the peak tourist season (between June and September) and instead go for early spring. Spring is by far the most beautiful season to visit Venice; you’ll experience the city in transformation as it shakes off the winter chill, blossom dangles over the canals and the vibrancy of the season brightens up the city. Venice canals — Photo courtesy of australiaphotos.co.uk
Explore off the beaten track
Venice is seeped in mystery and romance, but you won’t find it standing underneath the Torre dell’Orologio. Pack a map and set off together to explore the labyrinth of back streets that hide behind the main squares, what you find will change your experience of the city. It’s off the beaten track that you will stumble upon hauntingly beautiful empty churches, spot tired workman taking naps in their moored gondolas, cross tiny rustic bridges over the narrowest of canals and can catch a glimpse of the quiet Venice that has inspired playwrights, poets and, of course, lovers for centuries.
If music be the food of love…
If Venice had a soundtrack it would have to be the music played by the orchestra at Caffe Florian in St Mark’s Square. Despite the hefty price tag, having a macchiato whilst sitting on the terrace at Caffee Florian and enjoying the romantic classical pieces is a wonderful way to spend a lazy late afternoon together.Cafe Florian in St Mark's Square — Photo courtesy of Son of Groucho
Venice by night
Although beautiful by day, after dark is when you can really feel the magic of Venice. For a Venetian sunset experience boat across to Guidecca island and relax up in the Hilton’s Sky Lounge bar; this sophisticated spot boasts breathtaking panoramic views across Venice and the southern lagoon, plus serves up the best vintage champagne cocktails in the city. Sunset in Venice — Photo courtesy of Alastair Rae
As dusk falls upon the canals it is time to take that gondola ride, in the evening it should cost you no more than €100 for just under an hour. Despite being slightly more pricey post 7pm, it is far superior to take a gondola ride in the evening when the streets are blissfully silent, the canals less busy and people aren’t taking photographs and interrupting your moment. Pack a picnic and a bottle of local prosecco and as you’re floating down the dimly lit back street canals you may feel that you are the only two people in Venice… there’s nothing quite like it.
Eat like royalty
The lagoon city is famed for its seafood – there is a lot more in those canals than just gondolas it would seem. If you’re looking for the real deal then avoid any restaurant that offers a tourist menu and venture to those local gems near the Rialto fish market. Al Pescador is picturesque with candlelit tables in secluded courtyard along the canal. Seafood in Venice — Photo courtesy of Jay Galvin
If you’re after privacy, book in to Cip’s Club at the Cipriani Hotel where you can dine on a floating platform on the water and enjoy the chef’s fresh seafood and sommelier chosen fine wines. Al Covo, in the less-discovered Castello area, has got to be the most intimate restaurant in Venice and is perfect for a special occasion. Let the Italian-American owners take control and spoil you; they’ll show you Venetian food as it is meant to be.
When you’re in Venice you feel like you’re in another world. It may be the perfect city for romance but jealous types be warned: by the end of the visit you must be prepared to share your lover’s heart with this beautiful city.