Venice is technically made up of more than 100 small islands, and we ventured out to explore a couple on our second afternoon. Our first visit was to San Giorgio Maggiore, just across the lagoon from the historic city center. Exploring the church and its grounds is free, but we did pay a few euros to ride the elevator to the top of the bell tower. I suggest skipping the long lines at the St. Mark's bell tower in favor of San Giorgio Maggiore's quiet atmosphere and panoramic views of Venice.
From there, we made our way to Isola di San Michele, an island that has been used as Venice's cemetery since the 1800s. A bit macabre, perhaps, but it provided a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city center and offered a unique glimpse into Venetian traditions and history.