Monday, 25 June 2018

A Day Trip to Venice from Portofelice Camping Village

If you are a regular visitor to the blog, you will have seen that we recently visited the Portofelice Camping Village with Al Fresco Holidays. The holiday park was situated in Eraclea Mare on the Venetian Riviera and was ideally situated for a day trip to Venice.

On arrival we asked at reception for the best way to visit Venice for a day trip. They kindly provided us with a bus timetable and explained that during our stay the buses would only run on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I had a quick look at the weather forecast for the week and we decided on choosing Wednesday for our family day out.

We opted for the Quickly bus and boat service which involves a bus journey to Punta Sabbioni and then a boat across the water to Venice. Tickets needed to be purchased from reception and so I visited the desk on Tuesday evening. However, I was informed on arrival that they were no longer selling tickets that evening as the weather forecast had changed and due to the tickets being non refundable, they asked me to come back the following morning to purchase them before we boarded the bus. Whilst I totally appreciate their reasoning for this and the fact that they are only thinking of their guests, my inner organised self did not like having to purchase the tickets last minute and I was worried that when we returned to buy them in the morning that they would be sold out. Luckily there was no problem and I simply set our alarm ten minutes earlier than planned and joined the short queue at reception on the Wednesday morning.

Our tickets cost a total of 107 euros for 2 adults and 3 children which I thought was reasonable considering that it also included a boat trip. Once we safely had our tickets, we made our way outside of the park, crossed the road and waited at the bus stop on the opposite side. Shortly after our scheduled pick up time, two buses arrived together and we began to board.

The buses were very busy, but we were lucky enough to get five seats together towards the back of the bus. Some guests who got on after us though did have to stand which isn't ideal given that it is an hour long journey to Punta Sabbioni, so I would advise getting to the bus stop early if you want to be one of the first to board. The bus journey itself was very straightforward and it was nice being able to relax and just observe our surroundings as we travelled.

We arrived in Punta Sabbioni just after 10am and it was extremely busy, I would imagine that this is probably peak time for crossings as there were lengthy queues in both the tourist and local entrances. We had to wait around half an hour before a boat arrived, but once on board it was a very pleasant and enjoyable journey across the water. My children enjoyed being able to spot things from a distance and waved at the other boats. Much to my youngest sons delight, a lifelike pirate galleon complete with pirates passed us and Riley could not believe his eyes!

The boat journey took approximately half an hour and we disembarked a short walk away from St Mark's Square. Just like Punta Sabbioni it was extremely busy and we noticed that there were also a large amount of tour groups walking around and taking in the sights. I had done some research beforehand and had planned to visit St Mark's Basilica and The Bell Tower so we began to head in their direction. I had also read about the Bridge of Sighs which connects Doge's Palace to the Jail. It is constructed of white limestone and looks really beautiful and unique.

I wasn't too sure as to whereabouts in Venice this was actually located, though fortunately for us, we passed it as we were walking to St Mark's Square. It would have been hard to miss as there was a large crowd of people all excitedly taking photos.


As we continued to St Mark's Square we took a moment to stop and take everything in. Venice is just so picturesque, but due to it being so busy, it would be easy to focus on making your way through the crowds as opposed to taking in the stunning views.

There were gondolas galore all neatly lined up waiting for passengers and my youngest son Riley found them a bit of a novelty as he had never seen one before. We were very tempted to go for a little journey on one of these, however Riley felt that the seats were too close to the water and so refused to even entertain the idea, which was a little disappointing.


Everywhere we turned there were little narrow streets or waterways and everything looked so beautiful and idyllic. Buildings looked grand and historic and the inquisitive side of me was intrigued as to how much property would even cost to buy in such a magnificent place. A quick look on google gave me the answer I was expecting - Very Expensive! I found a 2 bedroomed apartment a short distance away from St Marks Square that was really small and in need of decoration for an incredible 1.3 million euros!


We continued our journey past Doge's Palace which seemed to be a hive of activity for tour groups. Underneath the arches of the palace also seemed to be a popular place for people to have five minutes rest and get some shade from the sun. We noticed that there was very minimal seating for such a built up area and we thought that there would have been a lot more benches. Visitors were therefore finding any spot they could to have a sit down, which is a shame as there is plenty of space for public seating along the waterfront.


Once we had made our way past Doge's Palace we immediately noticed the absolutely stunning St Mark's Basilica and what an incredible building it is. I had read beforehand about the excessive queues so I had pre-booked Skip the Line tickets and I am so glad we did as the queue was enormous. Usually this attraction is free entry, but Skip the Line tickets cost 3 euros each and are well worth the money to be able to just walk straight in. I was also able to show our tickets on my phone, so this meant that we didn't need to print anything off to take with us, which is always handy when you are travelling and have no access to a printer.


There are several rules when visiting St Mark's Basilica which are no bags allowed, no filming or photography and also that shoulders and knees must be covered at all times. The boys in my family all wore over the knee shorts and my daughter and I wore lightweight trousers, though my daughter brought some shorts along with her to change into afterwards.

Due to the no photography rule, I don't have any pictures of the inside but I can honestly tell you that it is amazing inside and a must see place to visit when in Venice. You can also pay extra once inside to enter other areas of St Mark's Basilica including the balcony which overlooks the square, however we opted not to do this. At the exit there was a lovely little shop that sold numerous items at really reasonable prices. My children all attend a catholic primary school and so they purchased some presents for their teachers here, as well as a gift for their head of religious studies which I thought was very thoughtful of them.


The weather was extremely hot and so all the children were eager to cool down with some delicious Italian ice cream. We visited a nearby restaurant that also had an ice cream parlour at the entrance and purchased some lovely flavours. We noticed that a lot of the ice cream parlours operate a two scoop minimum policy, so Riley and I shared two scoops in a tub as it would have been too much for him on his own. We then found some steps to sit on in the square whilst we ate and took in the view of the Basilica and the Bell Tower. It had originally been our intention to climb to the top of the Bell Tower, however when you are stood at the bottom of it, it is definitely much taller than how it appears in photographs. As both Ben and I are scared of heights we decided to observe it from the ground instead and set about exploring the narrow streets surrounding the square.


Some of the shops sold such beautiful items and it was enjoyable just window shopping and viewing the products on sale. However, everything seemed very expensive including the use of the nearby public toilets! When the kids wanted to make a quick loo break it cost us 1.50 euros each. I even had to pay just to accompany Riley as I didn't want him to go on his own regardless of whether I was using them or not. Luckily I had brought plenty of change with us, so although costly it wasn't really a problem.

Before we knew it several hours had already passed and we were conscious that we only had a couple more hours until our return boat trip back to Punta Sabbioni. We therefore decided to stop exploring the narrow streets in case we became lost and make our way back to the waterfront. On the way we found a lovely little cafe that sold freshly made ciabatta sandwiches so we purchased some of these to eat along the way. We had originally planned to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, but due to how busy everywhere was, we wouldn't have made it in time, so we had to settle with a light lunch instead.


We took a slow stroll along the waterfront, which gave us the opportunity to appreciate everything that was around us. We managed to find some steps to sit on whilst we ate our sandwiches and this gave us a lovely view of the passing gondolas. It was strange to be aware of how busy it was behind us, yet so peaceful in front. Certainly one of my most favourite lunch spots yet!


As we continued along the waterfront, the children enjoyed looking at some of the street stalls. A lot of these generally sold the same souvenirs, but the kids enjoyed browsing whilst also trying to bargain with the sellers for a good price. Emma managed to purchase a t-shirt and hat for 15 euros which should have been 20 euros originally and Riley bought a hat for 5 euros instead of 8. Ben was tempted by the football shirts, but ultimately decided to save his money to buy something he had seen in the shop at the campsite.


After taking in more of the views, we returned back to our boat station where we caught a slightly earlier boat back to Punta Sabbioni to wait for our return bus. As it had been so busy earlier in the morning, I didn't want to risk missing the boat back due to queues, so we felt that by leaving a bit sooner, this would be a safer option. This actually worked out extremely well as on arrival in Punta Sabbioni we found it to be extremely quiet and quite the contrast to our morning experience. This meant that we had plenty of time to sit outside one of the cafes and enjoy a refreshing cold drink and some snacks.

Once the bus arrived, it was an hour journey back to the campsite. Again it was full, but we all managed to get seats, although we were separated this time and Riley had to sit on my knee. A couple of families did decide to take a taxi back to the campsite as opposed to waiting for the bus and there is a large taxi office just opposite the boarding area. If you wanted to use a taxi instead, this would cost you in the region of 80 euros one way. Having already paid 107 euros for the bus & boat, we were quite happy to stick with this option.


Overall we had an absolutely wonderful day in Venice, it was very busy and did feel very crowded at times, but it is definitely a city worth experiencing. I would suggest taking advantage of the skip the line entry tickets for the most popular attractions as although it will cost you slightly more, it definitely beats lengthy queues, which in the heat of the summer can be very uncomfortable. I would also recommend sensible shoes such as trainers or pumps. I opted for sandals that matched my flowery trousers as I had completely underestimated the amount of walking we would do and subsequently my feet were really hurting by the time we caught the boat back. Lastly if you get the chance to visit, make sure you take the time to just simply stop and take everything in around you. It is truly a beautiful city and there is so much to see, so don't just follow the crowd, find a quiet spot and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

*Disclaimer: This review is based on our own experience and any prices quoted or details provided are subject to change. Opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise. This post contains an affiliate link.

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