Venice Travel Guide
Venice Travel Guide
One of the most romantic and unique travel destinations in the world, Venice's fame is perennial and well-deserved; the watery city is full of treasures and surprises and is guaranteed to delight visitors:
Floating on its blue lagoon with an almost dream-like quality, Venice is just as romantic and beautiful as it looks in travelogues and movies. Visitors who realises their ambition of a holiday in the city will certainly not be disappointed. The charming piazzas and singing gondoliers, idiosyncratic buildings and crumbling palaces are all there to be seen, admired and photographed for posterity. Venice's art galleries, museums and churches house some of the masterpieces of European art and the difficulty for tourists is choosing what to see when so many treasures are accessible. A Venice holiday may be crowded and expensive, but it will also surpass all expectations.
Best time to visit Venice
The busiest tourist seasons in Venice are between spring and autumn (April to October), over Christmas, and during the popular Carnival in February. However, these may not be the best times to travel to Venice if you don't enjoy crowds of sightseers. Winter, between December and February, is a good option for a Venice holiday because although it is cool and wet, the sights are more easily enjoyed and accommodation is cheaper. Read more on Venice's Climate and Weather.
What to see in Venice
- Marvel at the elegant architecture of Venice's picture-perfect Grand Canal.
- See the breathtaking interior of the School of St Roch, covered in the art of Tintoretto.
- Enjoy a dose of modern art from the world-renowned Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
- Admire the views of Venice from the 9th-century Campanile di San Marco.
What to do in Venice
- Enjoy a sophisticated meal in one of the many restaurants off St Mark's Square.
- Wander across the iconic Rialto Bridge, and explore the markets in the area.
- Take a Gondola Ride through the picturesque, narrow canals of the city.
- Stroll through the Gallerie dell'Accademia to see one of Europe's finest art collections.
The islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello have been incorporated into Venice to some extent and all three offer some interesting attractions for visitors. For a break from traditional sightseeing, or as a treat for the kids, Aqualandia water park, also very close to the city, is a blast. Further afield, the historic city of Padua is a charming destination. Both Milan and Florence are within reach.
The Venice Marco Polo Airport is the most common entry point for visitors and is conveniently located five miles (8km) north of Venice. It is possible to get to the city from the airport by bus, boat, taxi or train. Get more information on Airports in Venice.
Did you know?
- From the 14th century to the 16th century Venice's Republic was the most powerful force in the Mediterranean region.
- Venice has 177 canals and more than 400 bridges.
- Despite the ingenious building methods which have kept Venice afloat for centuries, the city is slowly sinking.
Venice © Pedro Szekely
Venice is unique, its elegant buildings and palaces peering over an ancient maze of narrow streets and labyrinth of canals. Tourists here wake up to the morning calls of gondoliers before venturing out to lose themselves among the twists and turns of this famously romantic haven.
The city rests on one of 117 islands distributed throughout the Venetian lagoon. The aptly named Grand Canal splits the city, running from the Santa Lucia railway station past the famous Rialto Bridge to piazza San Marco, home to the cathedral of Basilica di San Marco, adorned with endless mosaics that sparkle at sunset.
The historic centre is divided into six quarters (sestieri): San Marco, Dorsoduro, San Polo, Santa Croce, Cannaregio and Castello. Countless waterways wind their way through the city. While some choose to pick their way over the more than 400 bridges, by far the most popular way to get around is to cruise the waterways onboard vaporetti boats, or on an iconic gondola.
Known for its inventive cuisine, lavish spreads of cicheti (Venetian tapas) can be found in bars around the city, while canal-side bistros offer spectacular fine dining experiences. Venice's penchant for outlandish fashion gave the world eyeglasses, dresses without corsets, and platform shoes, and the annual carnivale festival is renowned for the elaborate masks on display.
Venice extends beyond its six sestieri to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. These are known for glass and lace-making respectively, and Torcello is noted for the magnificent Byzantine Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta that rests on its soil. Trips by boat to the islands provide a pleasant escape from the busier historic quarters.