From its meandering waterways to its rambling streets, there’s plenty of charm to be found in the city of Venice. While a trip to this Italian city conjures up images of singing gondoliers and an excessive amount of ice cream, there’s plenty more to see. Welcome to a city crammed full with culture, from historic sites to classic architecture. Watch the world go by in vast open squares, be immersed in a contemporary art scene or linger over a chilled glass of prosecco in a street-side café.
Venice holds plenty in store for shopping fans. Designer boutiques are dotted around the city streets alongside stores selling high-quality leather goods, clothes and shoes. If you’re seeking souvenirs, the street markets are well worth a visit too. Browse antiques, local handicrafts, jewellery and even fresh produce – or just enjoy the atmosphere of the most vibrant parts of Venice.
If you’re looking for a stylish place to stay, San Marco should be top of the list. You won’t be short of restaurants and shops to explore. San Marco is also the musical heart of the city, home to the La Fenice Opera House – well worth a visit during your stay.
Enjoy the most of Venice’s quieter side here away from the city's busier streets. While it might not be as charming as other areas, there a number of hotels designed for budget travellers and they’re all within easy reach of the city’s train station, making it an ideal home base.
The largest area in Venice, this neighbourhood is a destination worth exploring. In the west, you’ll uncover some of the best tourist sites and also be among the finest art, architecture and monuments.
A popular tourist hotspot, San Polo has plenty to keep you occupied. With iconic sites such as the Rialto Bridge as well as several churches, there’s more than enough to see. Linger over a drink at the side of the canal, or check out the many shops.
Climb aboard a gondola
A visit to Venice is incomplete without a trip aboard a gondola. Take a punt down one of the world’s most iconic waterways and don’t forget your camera for all those photo-worthy views you’ll no doubt experience.
Devour delicious seafood
Famed as the lagoon city, it’s no surprise that seafood features highly on the menus of Venice’s many restaurants. You’ll catch a glimpse of shrimp, spider crabs and much more in some of the city’s stalls before sampling them in one of the street-side eateries.
Get a great perspective on the city
There are many places to capture Venice’s beautiful views, but none greater than the Campanile. The tallest building in the city was rebuilt in 1902 after it imploded. Today it serves as the best place to see Venice in all its splendour. On a clear day, you can even see as far as the Dolomites.
Venice’s wine culture is world famous. Its neighbouring regions include the likes of Soave and Prosecco, which means that you’ll find vineyard-fresh bottles to quench your thirst. Take a wine tour during your stay to indulge in top-quality vintages. You’ll be able to visit authentic wine bars called bacari, tucked into Venice’s tiny alleyways. These pair regional wine with delicious cicchetti - bar snacks that are Venice’s answer to the bite-sized tapas of Spain. Typical nibbles include olives, deep-fried cheesy goodies, and mini toasts with everything from marinated seafood to paté. From rustic reds to sleek organic bottles of white, you’ll be guided by an expert tour guide every step of the way.
Climb the Campanile
St. Mark’s Basilica is a highlight of any trip to Venice. Don’t miss the chance to climb St. Mark’s Campanile or bell tower. It originally dates back to the 12th century, though was rebuilt in the 16th century with a new belfry and statue of the Archangel Gabriel. Climb to the top and you’ll be in good company, walking in the footsteps of visitors like Galileo studying the skies centuries ago. Today, it offers panoramic views of the city and neighbouring islands like San Giorgio and Murano.
Venice springs to life with colourful festivals throughout the year, but none tops the drama and intrigue of the Carnevale. Visitors and locals alike enjoy two weeks of costumed parties, music and feasting just before Lent. It’s customary to wear masks, which make a one-of-a-kind souvenir to bring back home with you. Head to St Mark’s Square at any time during the Carnevale, and you’ll be treated to an eyeful of surreal costumes and parades. At night, the city’s bars and nightclubs are teeming with partygoers ready to dance until dawn.
Sightseeing in Venice
Venice is a city crammed with culture and you won’t be short of things to see and experience on your getaway. Alluring architecture can be found in St. Marks Basilica and Palazzo Grimani, both dating back to the 9th century. There are a number of museums to visit in the city, as well as many art galleries. Head to the Peggy Guggenheim collection to get your fill of contemporary art, or step back in time at the Museo Correr, an exhibit documenting Venice’s history of art and culture.
Away from the galleries is where you’ll find one of Venice’s most popular attractions. The Grand Canal is a sprawling 2-mile stretch through the city, set amongst waterfront restaurants and charming cafes. While a romantic ride on a gondola is the ultimate way to experience it, you can make the most of these views by taking a water taxi – and spend the money you’ve saved on an ice-cream or two.
Cuisine in Venice
Italy is famed for its cuisine, and Venice is no different. There are a number of dishes that belong on your must-try list – from hearty local cuisine to decadent desserts. With their passion for seafood, a favourite among locals is the squid ink risotto or pasta. Served with fresh seafood and garnished with spring onion, this dish is authentically Venetian and well worth a try.
To indulge your sweet tooth, Venice is the perfect place to try tiramisu. Rumoured to have originated from the city, this dessert made up of sponge cake, marsala wine and mascarpone cheese is a real treat. For after-dinner drinks, linger over Venice’s favourite – a chilled glass of prosecco.
Restaurants in Venice
With so many restaurants in Venice, it can be hard to choose. For fine dining, aim for a ristorante. If you’d rather something a little lighter and more authentically Italian, head to one of the city’s trattorias for hearty home-cooked dishes.
Venice is also home to many pasticceries, shops selling sweet pastries and cakes. It is an Italian tradition that locals take small trays of desserts and cakes to parties, so you’ll no doubt find plenty of outlets that deal in dainty sweet treats. In Venice, patisseries also double up as a small bar, where you can enjoy coffee and cake.
Whether you’re looking for a break jam-packed with culture or a sightseeing trip, you’re sure to enjoy Venice. From historical attractions to art galleries, shops to restaurants, Venice has it all. Enjoy street-side markets, devour delicious dessert or cruise the Grand Canal – there’s more than enough to keep you occupied.
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