Venice Holidays

A dreamy Italian city

Grand squares, churches and palaces set across 118 islands with no roads, just canals connected by more than 400 bridges – Venice is simply exquisite. Poised elegantly in the shallows of the Venetian Lagoon, there’s nowhere quite like it. A major artistic and political centre in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Venice today is still an enthralling place that sets the imagination on fire.

On Venice holidays you can spend days just swooning over its ornate bridges, elegant archways and gilded domes. Romance is just about everywhere you look, from its pretty squares and canals to its beautiful art collections. A real visual feast, just wandering and taking in the sensational architecture of the Rialto Bridge, St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the vistas of the Grand Canal, is a wonderful experience.

That’s not to say that city breaks to Venice are just for architecture fans – both the ancient city’s narrow streets and Venice’s outer islands are full of offbeat attractions. There are contemporary art festivals and scores of talented artisans, such as gondola makers, keeping age-old traditions alive. And, best of all, on holidays to Venice you can even have a go yourself – there are opportunities to try glass blowing, mask painting or a paper-making class. That’s before even mentioning the city’s excellent restaurants, bustling fish markets and world-class ‘gelaterias’. Venice has it all, and each new discovery will draw you deeper into its opulent, enchanting world.

All resorts in Venice

Three tips for a top trip

Take the vaporetti
When you get tired of walking, hop on a ‘vaporetti’ water bus to tour the harbour or visit some of the more far-flung islands – they’re inexpensive and efficient.
See the sights at night
Enjoy Venice’s legendary views when they’re floodlit – somehow attractions like the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge look even prettier and more romantic than they do by day.
Come for Carnevale
You can buy a souvenir mask at any time of year, but why not visit during February’s Mardi Gras carnival – with mask-painting workshops and a city-wide masquerade.

Best attractions to see in Venice

Murano Glass

Venetian glass has been produced on Murano since the 13th century, and its colourful curlicues are world-famous. Explore its history and see glass-blowing demonstrations at the museum.

St Mark’s Square

The principal public square of Venice is the place to people-watch. Have a coffee, buy some corn to feed the pigeons and bask in its beauty and character.

Squero di San Trovaso

This ancient boatyard is one of the few still making gondolas, Venice’s signature pleasure craft. Watch the craftsmen from outside, or arrange a group tour.

Your Venice questions, answered

The cooler months are less crowded, though you might want to coincide with a festival – the winter Biennale, February Carnevale or September’s Venice Film Festival.

Venice has no natural beaches but there are some lidos where you can stretch out on a deckchair and catch some sun. However, they become packed quickly during the peak summer season. You'll probably struggle to find a comfortable spot. Venice Beach is a 20-minute drive from the city. It's clean and well-organised. But again, it does attract huge summer crowds. If you're searching for a relaxing beach day away from the tourist traps, take the 35-minute drive to Caorle. It's a quiet and pleasant seaside town with a golden sand beach.

Italy’s answer to tapas – ‘cichetti’ – is authentically Venetian and traditionally served from dedicated ‘bàcari’ (cichetti bars). Have one as a snack or order several to make a meal.

Seek out the tiny boutiques selling exquisite handmade paper and notebooks – Venice has an ancient paper-making tradition, and these marbled treasures will stand out in any collection.

Venice is one of the world's most iconic holiday destinations. This historic and breathtaking city is famous for its museums, art galleries, ornate architecture, and grand palaces that housed the Venetian elite who ruled this part of Europe for hundreds of years. Venice is also Europe's only major city without any roads. Instead, you travel on an intricate network of canals weaving through the city. Honeymooners should seal their gondola trip with a kiss beneath the Bridge of Sighs. Local legend says a kiss under the bridge at sunset promises eternal love and happiness.

The San Marco neighbourhood puts you right in the middle of the action. Many of the city's most popular sites are within walking distance, including the Doge's Palace and Rialto Bridge. If you pay a little extra, you'll see them from your balcony window. The Dorsoduro district is close enough to central Venice for tourists but offers some peace and quiet at the end of a long day of sightseeing. Cannaregio is a residential neighbourhood with a handful of guest houses. It's ideal if you're looking for an authentic Venice experience.

Venice stands on 100 small islands. Most of it is walkable. Take a map, though it won't make any difference, you'll still get lost. Water buses and boats are the main forms of transport. The system can be a little confusing initially, but it doesn't take long to figure it out. And there are lots of helpful tour guides and information points. Water taxis are one of the best ways to travel. These large wooden boats carry up to eight people and can pick you up next to your hotel. Alternatively, you won't have to walk far until you see a line of taxis waiting for customers.

Most restaurants will include a 10% service charge. Tipping any extra is entirely optional, although it's customary to leave a little more for good service. This will help you enjoy a similar experience if you decide to come back. Tipping taxis drivers, bartenders, baristas, and hotel staff is up to you. Tipping is not a big part of Italian or Venetian culture. So you should never feel pressured into leaving anything extra. At the same time, service employees won’t be offended if you give a large tip for exceptional service.

Parents with children and teenagers old enough to appreciate Venice's beauty will have a memorable trip to this iconic city. It's the perfect destination if you have older children interested in art and history. They'll get to see paintings by the great masters and magnificent palaces where rulers plotted out power games against their rivals. But, with its limited public transport network and water taxis, getting around the city with toddlers and babies can become something of a struggle. And pushing prams around the narrow streets or cathedrals means you might miss out on the true Venice experience.