A trip to northern Italy to discover one of the most popular destinations for Italian tourists. Here's what to do in Jesolo like a local in 7 moves.
Modern, ambitious, and with that nostalgic touch that pays homage to the Dolce Vita vibes that marked its golden age. Jesolo is all this and even more.
It is a city by the sea, but also surrounded by rivers and lagoon, so close to Venice and yet profoundly different, suspended between the classic, relaxed and dancing atmospheres of the Adriatic coast and the sophistication that makes it a modern design city.
Between the 50s and the 60s, it became one of the most popular destinations for Italians on holiday and a meeting place for the jet set. Has it retained its old-world charm?
Here you can discover Jesolo like a local in 7 travel tips.
What to do in Jesolo like a local
It is a city on a human scale, Jesolo. You wander around by bike or on foot with frequent stops: at the bar for a toast with prosecco, at the beach for a dip, or at a restaurant by the sea to taste the local cuisine. Even the culinary delights reflect the city's generous richness in landscape, traditions, and history.
This destination is among the most beloved by Italians for their summer holidays, a great classic that pleases everyone, lazy holidaymakers and travellers eager to discover new places.
Wide Blue Flag beaches are not the only attraction. Between the lagoon and the hinterland, there is a suspended dimension of fragile and reserved beauty to discover at a slow pace, where boats row through the canals, and salt marshes welcome migratory birds before cladding themselves in the soft colours of spring.
To take you to Jesolo like a local, we have relied on a road map marked by the city's main characteristics: fun, active holidays, food, and design. Here are some ideas to enrich your next holiday.
7. Jesolo like a local. Cycling around the lagoon
Sustainable mobility is one of Jesolo's flagships. Want to get around like a local? Do so with a bike through its extensive network of cycle paths. They cross the uniqueness of an area that enjoys a privileged relationship with water, made up of towns and villages reflected between the canals and the sea, and the special nature of the Veneto lagoon.
Cycling enthusiasts will find a wide range of dedicated services, such as the possibility of using bike sharing or staying at the accommodation facilities included in the Jesolo Bike Hotel and Adria Bike Hotel circuits, equipped to offer the essentials for an active holiday on two wheels.
Discover the city's famous squares and streets or explore the countryside and Jesolo pine forest. You can even reach the river-lake area from downtown, which is a spectacular natural sight, especially at sunset.
For those who want to venture further, the villages of the Cavallino Treporti peninsula and the main resorts of the Venice lagoon are within reach.
And if you're looking for a memorable experience, have a look at the destination at number 4: it's perfect for entering the Venetian aura in an informal and less 'over-tourist' atmosphere.
6. Going back to childhood with some extraordinary sand sculptures
An open-air exhibition a stone's throw from the sea, in Piazza Brescia, from June to September. Soak into a world of sand where phantasmagorical shapes come to life. The undisputed mastery of the artists involved in this project, now at its twenty-fifth edition, ensures that each sculpture is meticulously crafted with perfect details.
You'll feel like a child again as you marvel at the bodies, faces, fantastic animals and imaginative structures lining up before your eyes as real-like statues.
Contemporary art is the theme for the 2023 edition, open to the public until 24 September.
Don't miss it to experience the same magic you felt as a child playing with shovels and buckets at the seashore, trying to make improbable castles, bridges, and moats stand up. Although they often collapsed ruinously after a few moments, the joy of it all was undeniable.
Sure, perhaps you could admire the perfect, solid sand sculptures of Jesolo with a hint of envy, but the beauty and poetry of this exhibition will leave you breathless.
5. On the tallest water slide in Europe
A small Caribbean corner, complete with palm trees, fine white sand and pools that simulate swimming in the open sea like at Playa Sisal. Awarded several times as the best water park in Italy, at Caribe Bay in Jesolo, parasols and cabanas are surrounded by a jungle of trees, plants and... water games.
It's an area of over 80,000 square metres inspired by Mexican atmospheres, offering relaxation and fun for all ages.
A unique experience to do? Throw yourself down Europe's highest water slide. You ascend to a height of 42 metres and descend at 100 km per hour in an inflatable boat.
Looking for something even more adrenaline-pumping? Climb at 60 metres and try bungee jumping: the tower's height is a European record, too.
4. Visiting Chioggia, a hidden little Venice
It's not exactly around the corner, but if you're thinking of a day trip, then you can't miss this destination that The New York Times has listed as one of the sustainable destinations to watch out for an escape valve to overtourism.
Just a short distance from Venice, Chioggia exudes the same aristocratic city-on-water charm as its most famous (almost) twin. It will come as a surprise to those less familiar with the extraordinary richness of the areas surrounding the Veneto superstar, but it is a certainty for the many locals who have been preferring this intricate, ancient city over its bustling and magnificent neighbour for years.
Here, lagoon atmospheres reach the highest levels of travel romance, and prices are far more affordable than in La Serenissima.
The stroll through the calli is a continuous encounter of precious architecture, bridges that gracefully stretch across the canals, towering bell towers that rise proudly into the sky, vibrant 'bragozzi' boats that make their way to the port, and colourful and picturesque views. A must-visit to get your fill of noisy and informal atmospheres in a landscape full of grace and poetry.
3. Shopping on Europe's longest shopping street
Venture down the 13-kilometre stretch from Piazza Marconi to Via dei Mille, and you'll find an endless array of shops and boutiques that is sure to awaken the shopaholic Rebecca Bloomwood hidden within.
The bustling atmosphere of this district, known as the most extensive pedestrian area in Europe, is sure to enchant anyone who decides to explore its vibrant, fashionable streets.
The beautiful Adriatic charm of this area is undeniable, with breathtaking views of Venice and the Venetian countryside silhouetted on the horizon and mingling with the fresh sea air. After all, it's not only a paradise for Sophie Kinsella's best-seller character.
It's the perfect spot to indulge in some retail therapy during the day or to take a leisurely stroll while window-shopping. And once the sun sets, be sure to come back for a delicious ice cream or drink with friends.
2. Eating by the sea
Here, you can truly have fun. While seated at a table with a breathtaking view of the sea, you can embark on a culinary journey through the flavours and wines of the eastern Veneto region. This experience will delight both your taste buds and eyes. This, too, is living Jesolo like a local.
Indulge in a perfect aperitivo with a glass of sparkling prosecco from the hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, the UNESCO World Heritage Site just an hour's drive away. With your feet buried in the warm sand, you can explore the most authentic flavours of this city. Jesolo is a little world apart, where each area boasts its own unique identity and stories, even when it comes to food.
Around the port of Cortellazzo, you can order pescadero with cuttlefish, eels and fried octopus, crustaceans and molluscs.
Between the Sile and Piave rivers, it's time to sample river cuisine that pays homage to the rich local catch: eels, carp, pike.
There are those dishes inspired by rural tradition, where the raw materials come from Jesolo's gardens and farms.
And the menus where the nature of the valleys comes into play. In this case, dishes are mainly based on game and fish.
An absolutely must-try? A comforting portion of broéto, the iconic Veneto fish soup served with a classic slice of polenta.
1. Discovering Jesolo's futuristic buildings
A city that is reinventing itself year after year thanks (also) to the buildings that redesign its urban spaces. This dedication to architecture has put Jesolo among those destinations in the world where design is a hallmark, if not a raison d'être. And one of the reasons why it is worth visiting.
Over the past few decades, the urban seafront has become increasingly stylish and trendy. Today, it boasts a dynamic itinerary of buildings designed by the world's most influential and sought-after architects, creating an ever-changing landscape that's always brimming with new and exciting possibilities.
Highlights include the Podium, a residential complex that almost seems to float in the air, or the glass, marble and aluminium towers that soar in Piazza Drago. In the evening, their spires light up like the brightest stars of Ursa Major, Alioth, and Mizar, which are also the names of these edifices.
The Alma Resort and Palms residence, the Design District, and the Melville Tower are also noteworthy for their unique geometries.
Meet them all as you travel through the city in an itinerary that reveals how Jesolo has reinvented itself without losing its identity to become the "city beach" of the future with a focus on experimentation and eco-sustainability.