VENICE TRAVEL GUIDE

Venice is a city of grandeur and inexplicable beauty. It’s a place where marble palaces and gothic palazzi are linked by beguiling bridges and winding canals. All surrounded by the blue waters of the lagoon which sparkles in the sunlight. Venice exudes a creative and vibrant personality that has been enchanting visitors for years.

As the gondolas saunter along the waterways and the palatial domes frame the views, it’s easy to get swept up in the romance of this Italian city. Although a popular destination with starry eyed lovers, Venice is not just for couples. Solo travellers will adore the bustling neighbourhoods and charming Italian hospitality. While groups of friends or family can be immersed in the social scene, exchanging bellini-fuelled conversation over some decadent Venetian cuisine.

While Venice may be one of the best cities in Italy to visit, its beauty comes with a price. That price is the sheer volume of tourists who descend on the narrow streets of the floating city. Despite the mass convergence of visitors, it doesn’t detract from the uncompromising beauty of the city. There are still hidden corners of magic to be discovered – you just need to let yourself get lost to find them.

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How to get to Venice

There are several options for getting to Venice, depending on where you are travelling from. The two best options are by plane or train, although neither of these options will take you directly into the heart of Venice. For that you’ll need to travel on the water.

Top tip: Given the limited modes of transport to the city centre, it pays to pack light. You’ll need to carry your luggage on and off boats, as well as by foot if you’re not dropped right in front of your hotel. It therefore follows that packing light will save you a fair bit of stress and sweat!

Beautiful Venice
Hotel Metropole Venice balcony

How to get around Venice

Unlike many European cities, getting around Venice is limited to just two options: by foot or by water. Venice is the largest pedestrian city in the world but it’s still compact enough to get everywhere on foot easily enough. Aside from being a pretty healthy way of getting around, it’s also the best way to take in all the sights and really soak up the Venetian atmosphere.

If you travel by water then there are several modes of transport:

Top tip: You’ll need more time than you think to get from A to B. WHen you combine hordes of tourists with narrow streets and bridges, it actually becomes quite difficult to move around. Especially when people pause to snap photos along the way (guilty!). It’s inevitable but just make sure you factor it into your planning.

Best time to visit Venice

Whatever time you choose to travel to Venice, you’re sure to have an unforgettable trip. But due to weather issues and overcrowding, you may want to plan the time of your visit carefully.  Late spring and the autumn months are the best times to visit Venice.

Spring

With average temperatures between 13°C and 22°C during springtime, what better time to explore the winding streets of Venice? You’ll be able to enjoy the sunshine without overheating, and walk to all the spectacular landmarks you’re desperate to see. Aim for late spring to make the most of the nicer weather. Try to avoid travelling during any school holidays to minimise the crowds.

Summer

The Venetian Lagoon that encloses Venice is simply stunning in summertime, and the summer sun makes this vibrant city even more colourful. While you can’t swim in the canals or the lagoon, there’s plenty of beaches nearby where you can kick back, relax, and enjoy the hot weather. However, be warned that summer is when Venice is overrun with tourists. Plus, it can actually get a bit smelly in summer!

Autumn

As the leaves begin to fall and the temperature cools, Venice in autumn is a great option for travellers who prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle of summer holidaying. You’ll still see all the spectacular sights and experience the culture, but you’ll be a little cooler and more comfortable. The crowds will have thinned out from the summer months too, especially if you visit in October or November.

Winter

What could be more magical than seeing the floating city covered in snow and frost? You’ll only get this chance by travelling to Venice in winter and braving the colder temperatures. Take a break from the cold to appreciate all the amazing artwork displayed in the city. Just bear in mind that the flooding season runs from November to March. It’s not often that the city becomes completely flooded though, so you should be just fine.

Venice highlights

St Mark’s Square

The Piazza San Marco – St Mark’s Square – is the only square in Venice to boast piazza in its name, with the others being campos or piazzales. This is testament to its scale and splendour, which is well documented in photos and tales of the historic square. In fact, St Mark’s Square was described by Napoleon as ‘the world’s most beautiful drawing room’, showcasing the very best that Venice has to offer. 

The square itself is filled with architectural design to excite even the most seasoned traveller. St Mark’s Campanile towers above the skyline, while Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) exhibits the very best of gothic architecture. Or marvel at St Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) and the lofty clock tower (Torre dell’Orologio). 

Just beware that if you fancy stopping for a coffee in this iconic square, you’ll need deep pockets. Some will consider the experience to be worth every penny, while others would rather grab a coffee in a more authentic spot away from the tourists.

Grand Canal

The Grand Canal flows between St Mark’s Basilica and Santa Chiara to split the city in two. Lined by spectacular gothic and renaissance buildings on either side, the winding channel offers a fantastic way to glimpse the grand architecture of Venice. 

Take a journey along the Grand Canal to appreciate all that Venice has to offer. You can ride along the canal from one end to another using Venice’s floating public transport system, the vaporetto. Smaller motor boats also journey along the Grand Canal, providing informative tours of Venice’s best-known tourist attractions.

For an extra special take on this infamous Venice landmark, take to the waters at night. See the magic of Venice after dark, as the city lights up and reflects off the canals.

Burano Island

Burano is an island located in the Venetian lagoon, famed for its bold and eccentric style. Peruse Burano’s rainbow streets by foot or water for the perfect Instagram opportunity and some fabulous photos!

Be sure to call in to see the island’s most famed property, Bepi’s House (La Casa di Bepi Suà). You’ll be greeted with bright and vivid colours coupled with striking and bold shapes. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to live in, but it’s definitely a must-see for anyone travelling to Venice. 

While the other popular Venetian island of Murano is known for its glassmaking, Burano is known for its lace making. To learn more about this fascinating trade, head to Museo Merletto. If this doesn’t take your fancy then be sure to visit the adorable artisan shops along the canals.

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Frequently asked questions

How long to spend in Venice?

Venice is a city that deserves at least 2-3 days to explore. A day trip will not do the city justice, so aim to stay for a minimum of two nights if you can. A longer stay will enable you to enjoy the city at a slower pace, which you’ll be grateful for when you’re battling your way through the tourists!

Do I need to pre-book attractions in Venice?

Yes, I highly recommend pre-booking any of the major tourist attractions in Venice, such as Doge’s Palace. You can still visit without a booking. But you will likely have to wait in painfully long queues, especially if you’re travelling during the peak summer months. You can book either a guided tour or a ‘skip the line’ ticket.

Are there any beaches near Venice?

Many are surprised to hear that Venice has a beach. Lido is one of Venice’s islands and has an 8 mile stretch of sandy beach. So if the sun is shining, the temperature hot, and you fancy a relaxing break, then head to Lido. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sound of the Adriatic waves. 

Is Venice a good destination for solo travellers?

Despite its reputation as an unwaveringly romantic destination, Venice is one of my favourite European cities for solo travel. Perhaps it’s the lack of public transport or the small, compact feel, but it feels wonderfully safe. Plus, Italian hospitality is always on point, making any independent travellers feel very welcomed.

Is Venice expensive?

Yes, Venice is an expensive city. It’s understandable given the sheer volume of tourists it draws in every day of the year. Avoid dining out in the tourist areas and head off the beaten track. Not only will it be cheaper, but you’ll get a more authentic Venetian dining experience.

How many Michelin star restaurants in Venice?

There are six Michelin star restaurants in Venice. The Glam Enrico Bartolini restaurant has an impressive two Michelin stars. Zanze XVI, Wistèria, Quadri, Oro Restaurant and Local each have one coveted star.

Are there Christmas Markets in Venice?

A number of the piazza in Venice play host to Christmas markets each year. Wander the charming wooden cabins serving all kinds of local goods and food. Some of the Christmas markets have ice rinks to really get you in the festive mood. The main Christmas markets in Venice take place at Campo Santo Stefano, Campo S. Bartolomeo, Campo San Salvador, Campo Manin and Camp San Luca.

Luxury accommodation picks

With its opulent architecture and palatial buildings, it’s no surprise that there are a number of luxury hotels in Venice. Whether you prefer classic or contemporary, big or boutique, here are some of the best places to stay in Venice.

Gritti Palace Bedroom Suite

THE GRITTI PALACE

A wonderfully opulent five-star hotel located right by the Grand Canal.

Belmond Suite Venice

HOTEL CIPRIANI

An elegant hotel overlooking the lagoon with state-of-the-art amenities.

Hotel Danieli Venice

HOTEL DANIELI

Housed in a palatial Italian building with a waterfront terrace and fine dining.

Hotel Metropole

HOTEL METROPOLE

A luxury hotel with a big personality, where Italian style meets Asian influences.

Venice bars

Venice is awash with inviting places to enjoy a tipple or two. From lavish cocktail bars with waterfront views of the lagoon to tiny wine bars that are packed with locals, here are a few of the best bars in Venice.

Cantine del Vino Già Schiavi

ENOTECA SCHIAVI

A tiny but legendary bar with a lively but laid-back atmosphere.

Il Mercante Bar Venice

IL MERCANTE

This is the place in Venice for exceptional custom-made cocktails.

Bar Longhi Gritti Palace

BAR LONGHI

A grand bar with a waterfront terrace that oozes class and opulence.

Harrys Bar Hotel

HARRY’S BAR

An iconic world-famous institution and birthplace of the bellini.

Venice landmarks

Whether you’re after breathtaking Gothic architecture or quaint islands, Venice is awash with remarkable landmarks and attractions. Here is my pick of the best things to see in Venice.

Beautiful Grand Canal Venice

GRAND CANAL

The infamous canal in the heart of Venice that’s buzzing with activity.

Doges Palace Jessie

DOGE’S PALACE

A masterpiece of Gothic architecture housing impressive art.

Ponte di Rialto

PONTE DI RIALTO

One of the most renowned and stunning bridges in Venice.

Burano

BURANO ISLAND

Famed for its colourful buildings, it’s worth the short trip.

Venice travel inspiration

Planning a trip to Venice? Have a read of these Venice travel articles to help you plan your visit.

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