Venice, northern Italy’s incredibly romantic “City of Water” with 177 canals and 400 bridges, still remains afloat.
Ride a water taxi or romantic gondola through the extraordinary Grand Canal, one of Venice’s major transportation corridors. Capture stunning views around every turn in this incredibly photogenic city.
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Originally settled around 400 AD as a trading post in northern Italy, Venice remains a mecca for shoppers and art lovers across the globe. Its myriad canals divide the city into 118 separate islands.
Experience history in the Piazza San Marco, with its crowning jewel, St. Mark’s Basilica. Climb the Campanile bell tower for expansive views of beautiful red tile roofs and the city’s intricate network of canals.
Here, it’s easy to imagine yourself living in the days of the Renaissance when artists such as Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Bellini, and Bassano called this timeless city home. Anyone with a passion for art, architecture, cuisine or culture will find that the Queen of the Adriatic remains a sight to be seen.
What To Do
Tour this magical city at night and discover the hidden side of Venice by moonlight.
Sail along the Grand Canal aboard a gondola.
Visit St. Mark’s Square, with its impressive Basilica. Tour the Doge’s Palace, one of the city’s significant landmarks, which once served as the seat of government and the Doge’s residence and is presently a museum.
Take a vaporetto (water bus) across the lagoon to the islands of Venice for an authentic flavor of the city’s cultural heritage.
What To See
Discover why Napoleon, Shakespeare, and Hollywood all fell under the spell of this glorious city. Uncover scenes from James Bond and Indiana Jones movies. Drink a toast to Venice in Ernest Hemingway’s former haunt, Harry’s Bar. See the house where Othello’s real-life Desdemona lived before an Italian writer named Giraldi Cinthio and the Bard immortalized her tale.
Shopping is one of the most pleasant pastimes of any Venice vacation. You’ll find beautiful Murano glass jewelry and objets d’art, hand blown by artisans on the neighboring island of the same name, throughout the city.
Papier-mache Venetian masks, symbolic of the city’s most enduring traditions, are favorite souvenirs. These emblems of the famous Venetian Carnival, held annually in February, have been worn in The City of Masks throughout its colorful history.
In Venice, you’ll also find a wide selection of delicate Burano lace in the small shops along the Grand Canal, and in the le Mercerie section running north between Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge.
The boutiques along Calle Larga XXII Marzo provide the perfect venue for window shopping and purchasing upscale designer clothing.
Take a twilight gondola cruise down the canals, and watch the city float by to the melody of a sweet serenade.
Attend an opera or concert at the world-famous Teatro La Fenice, which hosted the premieres of numerous legendary operas including Verdi’s La Traviata.
Listen to jazz and blues in one of the city’s many sultry jazz bars. If you vacation in July, enjoy the annual Venezia Jazz Festival at the Teatro La Fenice and Piazza San Marco.
Venice with Kids
Feed hundreds of hungry pigeons in St. Marks Square for the perfect family photo opportunity.
Explore some of the tiny islands dotting the Venice lagoons.
Introduce your kids to opera at the famous Teatro La Fenice. Shopping for colorful masks throughout this remarkable city should put a smile on any kid’s face.
Off the Beaten Path
Visit the islands dotting the Venice lagoon, such as Murano (glassware), Burano (lace) or Torcello, where you can tour its unique Basilica. Enjoy an extensive Murano Glass and Burano lacemaking tour. Or take a vaporetto to the rural island of Sant'Erasmo to see where the area’s fresh fruit and vegetables are harvested.
Food and Drink
Venice offers a vast selection of culinary delights, such as black squid ink risotto and classic baccalà mantecato, salt cod in olive oil served with toasted polenta or grilled bread.
Fritole, sweet pastry fritters, are especially popular during Carnevale.
Pasta is a must on any Venice vacation. Try bigoli, thick whole-wheat strands topped with a mixture of salt-cured fish, such as sardines or anchovies, and onions.
If you’re in Venice in the spring, be sure to try Moleche, small green crabs, which are a seasonal delicacy. And sarde in saor, marinated fried sardines have been a favorite ever since Venetian sailors first conceived of the dish during the middle ages.
Drink a toast to this city by the sea with a Bellini. Italy’s favorite cocktail was created in 1948 by the head bartender and owner of Harry’s Bar, Giuseppe Cipriani, who mixed sparkling white wine with pureed peaches.
When to Go
The best times to visit this magnificent city are in late spring and early summer. Venice is busiest in June and during September and October. Summer in Venice gets hot and muggy. There are fewer crowds mid-March through May, another good time to vacation. Wintertime transforms Venice into a pristine wonderland, occasionally cloaking the city in fog or snow.