Hi there, it’s Annie! I work on the Marketing team here at QuirkyAccom.com. I hope you’ve all had a lovely Summer. I’m lucky enough to go on a family holiday most years. This year we visited a well-known holiday destination; Venice in Italy, as well as Lake Bled in Slovenia, a less popular destination.
We flew into Venice Treviso airport, which is slightly further away than the Marco Polo airport, however, flights are usually much cheaper. As soon as we arrived in the city centre, I fell in love. The place is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been; The architecture, the narrow windy streets, the overall vibe of the city. We hopped on the waterbus and travelled to our hotel. I will keep my accounts of Venice short and sweet, as there are so many travel blogs and advice pages on this city floating around the internet.
Here are my top ten tips/must-do's:
1. Buy a waterbus ticket in advance. Each journey is around 8 euros, and the waterbus ticket for 3 days is around 22 euros (for under 29-year-olds). They are called Venezia Unica tickets and can be purchased on the website (https://www.veneziaunica.it/en/e-commerce/services) You can also add discounted museum and tours onto this pass.
2. You will do lots and lots and lots of walking. Even if you’re not planning to, as it is inevitable that you will get lost. It’s all part of the fun of it though, and we found some of our favourite little areas by wandering around and getting lost. Wear trainers/comfy shoes!
3. Don’t be put off my scary long queues. The one for the Doge’s Palace was really long, but if you buy your tickets in advance online it’s cut almost in half. And it’s worth it!
4. Make the most of the reasonably priced Aperol Spritz! The best ones we had were the ones where the bar had a branded plaque up, which meant they’d been credited by Aperol for knowing how to make one properly. Alternatively, if you find them a bit bitter, go for the Hugo! A sweeter version with elderflower and mint.
5. There are a lot of Venice travel app’s, and the best one I found was Venice Travel Guide Online by Gonzalo Juarez. I wouldn’t say it’s life-changing, but there is basic history about all the major landmarks, and you can pop your headphones in and listen to an audio version. I spent £1 more on a more in-depth version of the Doge’s Palace which saved me spending £5 on the audio guide you can rent in the Palace.
6. We ate well, however, it is expensive and we had some not so great meals. The first restaurant we ate in was called Il Calice in the San Marco area, and this was by far our best meal. I would also recommend stopping off at the “Pasta to Go/Pasta in a Box” places if you get stuck, as they are cheap, made with fresh pasta and really yummy.
7. Watch out for service charge/cover charge! There are a lot of places (normally right in tourist hot spots) that charge around 15% service charge, and then a 2€-4€ cover charge, which in one place was per person (so x4 for 4 people) and in one of the places it was per every single thing we ordered. However, a lot of places don’t charge these, and normally advertise it when they don’t.
8. Squeeze in a trip to Murano or Burano (or both)! They’re only about 30-40 mins away on the waterbus and included in your normal Venezia Unica pass. Murano is famous for its glass, and Burano is famous for its multi-coloured houses, as you can see below.
9. Don’t take a rose from anyone. In the evenings, there are men on every single corner that give you a rose “for free”, however, they will then follow you and pester you until you pay them. They will try and force them into your hands, into your pockets, your bag etc.
10. Finally, try the gelato! The best one we had was somewhere called La Boutique Del Gelato. We went three times!
On our fourth day, we boarded the train to Trieste, where we stayed for one night, picked up a hire care and crossed the border into Slovenia.
We were in Lake Bled for 5 days and planned to use it as a base as well to visit more places in Slovenia. However, we ended up staying there the whole time as there was a lot more to do and see than we thought. We ended up filling up the days just in and around the area.
I was so surprised by the number of young people that were visiting. There were a lot of young, active families, and a lot of people passing through whilst interrailing too. For this bit, I will split it into our days.
So, the lake is obviously the main attraction of Bled. The picturesque forests surrounding it, as well as the Island with the church in the middle of the lake, make for a fairytale-like landscape. We looped the whole lake on the first day, which is only has a ratio of 6 km. We chose to do this by foot, although many people had bikes or rollerblades. There were also the options of a little tourist train or horse-drawn carriage.
We did the loop slowly, stopping off for a few grapefruit shandys on the way!
We booked the Emerald River Adventure Trip with the 3Glav Adventures Tour Group, who in our experience, was amazing! It was the four of us and four other people on the trip, and the guide was very friendly and knowledgeable. The tour consisted of a few hikes around the local mountain ranges, as well as visiting some historic landmarks. We also went white water rafting which was so much fun. We ended the day with a unique train journey that you boarded in your car. You weren’t confined to a carriage and you could have all the windows and doors open, which proved for an exhilarating ride.
On the 3rd day, we walked halfway around the lake, to a spot we’d visited on the first day. We went swimming, sunbathed and relaxed. The lake is very clean and not too busy, proving for a really relaxing experience.
We booked another adventure with 3Glav, this time, we opted for canyoning! This was less of a full day, with an all round trip of 4 hours. I highly recommend canyoning for anybody who is looking for an adrenaline rush and to be pushed out of their comfort zone. It's an exhilarating and different way to immerse yourself into nature. Unfortunately, the water levels were lower than ideal as there had not been as much rain as normal, so I would recommend checking the water levels in the area before you go.
My favourite part of canyoning was the abseiling. The guides were so great and made you feel really comfortable.
On our final day, we jumped in a rowing boat and headed off to Bled Island, located right in the middle of the lake. It is small but worth wandering around. There was actually a wedding on in the church on the island, which was a lovely little touch. We jumped off the docking bays there to have a swim in the lake, as were a lot of people. Rowing boat seemed to be the most relaxing and one of the most economically-friendly ways to reach the island, however, you could get a communal boat that was rowed for you, a kayak, a paddle board, or some people even opted to swim!
Overall, Venice was as beautiful as I expected (and nowhere near as smelly as everybody made out!), and Slovenia surpassed all our expectations. I highly recommend both locations. If you want to make your trip a quirky one, check out these hotel suggestions:
Thanks for reading!