My favorite part of living in London, aside from the pubs, was the availability of low-cost Europe flights. For less than $100 we flew London to Rome, Rome to Venice, and Venice to London. Of course, you have to contend with RyanAir, which is quite lacking in service, but I think the trade-off is worth it.
Of all the places I visited while living in Europe, Venice was definitely one of my favorites. It is, of course, an incredibly beautiful city, and I loved the quirkiness of the place (no cars, just boats. They even have police, ambulance, and UPS boats). The food was amazing, especially when sitting canal-side, and we couldn’t get enough of the gelato so often had it 2-3 times per day. While we went in the summer, when Venice is crowded with tourists, I did not find it to be completely overwhelming. All we had to do was just turn down a few side streets and we would soon find ourselves in a quiet courtyard away from the mass of tourists. The nights were incredibly peaceful as well. When we arrived in Venice late one evening, the entire city seemed to be deserted, and we had to walk for quite awhile to find something for dinner (thankfully we stumbled upon a pizzeria that was closing and sold us their last two slices and a gyro).
One thing we didn’t do, however, was hire a gondola (the boat in the above photo). They were running over 60 euros for less than an hour (and from what I was told that was one of the cheaper rides). Since that was way over our budget, we stick to riding around the canals on the cheaper, but less charming vaporetti (water buses).