Are you planning on traveling to Venice but are unsure how to survive there as a vegan? Italy is famous for its Pizza, ham and Latte Macchiatos, so your doubts about its vegan-friendliness are justified. However, I just spent 4 days in Venice and have discovered some hidden gems (I am talking Pizza with vegan cheese!) and have a few tips and tricks for you how to enjoy yourself as a vegan in Venice!
How to be vegan in Venice
Travelling as a vegan can sometimes be stressful. Most hotels do not offer many or any vegan breakfast options and supermarkets might not stock the same products as they do in your home country. However, with a bit of preparation and some research you will not go hungry and can enjoy some local cuisines whilst living that #crueltyfree lifestyle. The options might not be as obvious, but it is definitely possible to be vegan in Venice.
In this post I will share some stories from our trip to Venice (and bombard you with some pretty pictures whilst I am at it) and give some tips and places that are essential for any vegan in Venice.
Day 1: checking out the area
Our plane to Venice arrived in the late morning. We had a bit of a delay as Edd had left his phone on the airplane and we needed to retrieve it. This was rather funny to me (at least after we had gotten the phone back) because Edd never forgets ANYTHING. Obviously I teased him about this for the next few days. After the phone drama we bought tickets for the boat that travels between Venice and the Marco Polo airport. The ride to the San Marco Square, where our hotel was located was nearly two hours and it was such a beautiful way to arrive. We froze our butts off, as it was SO COLD but the views were wonderful.
We went to check into our hotel and I had a snack (because I am always hungry). I had brought some fruit with me that I ate and then we put on all the clothes we could find in our suitcases to fend ourselves against the cold. Edd had written out the names of some vegan and vegetarian restaurants he found on Happy Cow. Happy Cow is an app that lists restaurants and shops that offer vegan and vegetarian options and it is a must-have for when you are travelling or visiting a new city. We then went out to explore and find the place we wanted to go to for dinner.
One thing that we realised very quickly is that it is very easy to get lost in Venice. So it took us a while until we found “Le Spighe“. However, we discovered that it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. By that point we were pretty hungry. We re-grouped and decided to go to a Pizzeria at the seafront. It was really fun as we were sitting outside surrounded by heaters. The waiter spoke really good English and I was able to order a Pizza with no cheese and it was really delicious. So even, if you end up going to a standard restaurant it is till possible to eat vegan in Venice.
On our way home we stopped off at a Coop, which is a chain of shops you can find in a lot of places in Venice. We picked up some snacks, wine and soya milk to be ready for the next days.
Day 2: Art, History, Books and healthy vegan food
On our second day we got up super early to beat the queues at the Doge’s Palace. We had breakfast at our hotel which was just the standard continental breakfast. They served cornflakes and fruit salad and I also ate some toast with jam. The soy milk definitely came in handy as they only served cow’s milk.
If you ever go to Venice, I’d definitely recommend visiting Doge’s Palace. I think it was one of my favourite parts of the trip. The architectures is super beautiful and you learn a bit about the rich history of Venice and you can walk through these huge rooms filled with paintings and sculptures. Awe-inspiring for sure.
Next, we went to visit the “Libreria Aqua Alta”. There is a sign out front claiming that it is the most beautiful bookshop in the world. It definitely is a very quirky place and worth a visit but due to its popularity it was a bit overcrowded and the endless stacks of books (in boats, bathtubs, on chairs, the floor…) did not seem to be ordered according to any system. It seemed more like a display of books than a bookshop but it was definitely a cool place.
For lunch we grabbed some bread and bananas from a Coop and I dipped my bread into some vegan cream cheese that I had brought with me from the UK. This was definitely a good idea – the shops did not sell any vegan cheese or other spreads and I could not even find hummus. However, in addition to the supermarkets there are many fruit and vegetable stands around, so you could tie yourself over with some fruit until dinner time, which is a healthy and cost-saving option.
Our next stop was the famous Rialto Bridge. We had lots of fun taking pictures and watching other people poke each other with their selfie sticks. From here we wandered into some less crowded places which was lovely. We stopped off at a little Christmas market for some mulled wine and then, once again, made our way to “Le Spighe”.
This place was amazing. The lady who runs it was so friendly to us and explained that she offers a different menu each day which includes a soup, a plate with a combination of some healthy carbs, fats and protein and a dessert. Her philosophy is to serve meals that are full of nutrients and combine all major food groups. We ordered all three courses: we started with a Kale soup, then had a plate filled with fried potatoes that were seasoned with smoked paprika, marinated tofu and lots of fresh vegetables. For desert we had some banana muffins fresh out the oven. All the ingredients were organic and bought from farmers nearby. Despite the high quality of the food the prices were (compared to other places in Venice) quite low. (For both our meals including drinks we paid 40 euros.) If you want food that is healthy and vegan in Venice, this is the place to go!
Day 3: Coffee, Gilmore Girls and Pizza
On the morning of our third day we braved the queues to visit the Basilica di San Marco. This church is huge with lots of intricate decorations, golden ceilings, statues and we were even able to witness a service being held. Afterwards we climbed (only joking, we took the lift) up St. Mark’s Campanile, which is the bell tower located in San Marco Square. We had some wonderful views but the winds were even icier then on the ground so we quickly made our way back down and went to find a lovely coffee shop called “Puppa”. This is not a vegan cafe but still worth checking out as they sell a cup of espresso for 1€! (In many other places we paid 5€…)
Next we walked a bit further into the heart of the city to visit the Jewish Ghetto. This is an area where Jews were compelled to live in the Venetian Republic. Today there are still some Jewish shops and a museum where you can learn more about the history of Jews in Venice. Part of the museum is an old synagogue which was really interesting to visit.
After some more walking around we felt pretty tired and by the early evening we found ourselves back in our hotel. To my delight I was able to convince Edd to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls with me and the most wonderful thing happened: he absolutely loved it! If you have ever watched Gilmore Girls you know that there is a lot of food featuring in each episode. This left us with a massive craving for some cheesy pizza. We hopped on the Happy Cow App (I am not sponsored by them by the way) and we found a place that does Pizza with vegan cheese.
Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of my pizza (I was too hungry) but it was delicious. Probably not the healthiest option but it was nice to have some proper Italian food! So if you find yourself in Venice, definitely go visit the Pizzaria L’Angelo – it is not a long walk from San Marco Square and quite cheap as well. This is definitely a must-visit for any vegan in Venice.
Day 4: Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
On our last day we walked to the opposite lying part of the island. Here we visited the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. This building was especially impressive from the outside. Its roofs slightly oriental looking and it’s big steps and marble walls. As a little good-bye present the sun made an appearance. We walked along the water feeling warm (!) which was beyond lovely.
As I had loved the pizza so much the night before we went back to the Pizzeria and bought some vegan sandwiches. We ate them whilst walking around a bit more and taking in our surroundings one last time.
Eventually it was time for us to collect our suitcases and get on the boat to the airport. We got some nice window seats and could wave good-bye to this magical city one last time.