Where to go
Things to do in Venice
Venice is unlike any other place in the world. A city floating on a lagoon, its shimmering canals, glorious, marbled palaces and resplendent churches packed with artistic masterpieces will simply take your breath away. Relatively untouched since its glory days as a financial centre and maritime power in the 14th century, wandering down an empty street at night is like stepping back in time. For those not sure where to start their exploration of this fairy-tale-like city, we’ve got you covered. From the awe-inspiring Doge’s Palace to the exquisitely mosaicked Basilica di San Marco, lulling gondola rides and feasts of cicchetti (delicious small local dishes), we show you the best the city has to offer. Top six things to do in Venice 1. Discover the Doge’s Palace The seat of Venetian political power, this waterfront palace is a Gothic masterpiece in white stone and pink marble. It served as both the residence of the Doge and the administrative centre. Highlights include lavish council rooms, Tintoretto’s swirling Paradise and a 24-carat gilded stucco staircase. 2. Stroll around St Mark’s Square This historic square captures the wealth, beauty and architectural splendour of Venice’s past. Admire famed buildings such as the Basilica di San Marco with its intricate mosaics and marble, along with the arcaded Procuratie Vecchie and Procuratie Nuove. Arrive very early or very late to escape the crowds. 3. Go on a gondola ride A gondola ride along the picturesque canals will give you a stunning vantage point on the city. Formerly a mode of transport for the Venetian upper class, now you too can glide down the main canal and hidden waterways (many of which can’t be accessed by foot), while soaking in the unique atmosphere of Venice. 4. Savour cicchetti (local snacks) Don’t leave Venice without stepping into a bacaro (wine bar) and indulging in some cicchetti, the city’s most famous snack. Like the Venetian version of tapas, these are small dishes to be enjoyed at the bar with a glass of ombra (wine) and include everything from polpette (meatballs) to open sandwiches. 5. A night at La Fenice opera Opened in 1792, La Fenice has a long and intriguing history. Not only was it mysteriously set ablaze more than once, but it also premiered the works of several renowned composers, from Verdi to Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini. Discover its magic over a heart-rending opera or glimpse its inner workings on a tour.6. Boat trip to Burano and MuranoThere’s more to the lagoon than just Venice. Of the dozen or so inhabited islands, two that are well worth an excursion are Burano and Murano. Each has its own special character. Burano is famed for its pastel-coloured canal-side houses while Murano-made glassware has been highly prized since the Middle Ages.Planning your Venice visit When to go? Venice’s timeless beauty can be enjoyed all through the year, depending on what you’re looking for. Get a jump on those off-season crowds by coming in spring, but keep in mind the trade-off will be the certainty of good weather. Summer instead is the city’s peak season and guarantees warm weather, along with higher rates and bigger crowds. September to November is best for those looking to see the city without so many tourists, although you’ll have to watch out for the acqua alta (high tide). Winter gets quite chilly; sights tend to close earlier but it also can be blissfully quiet. That is, except when Carnival comes round, the tourists stream in and the whole city celebrates. How many days should you spend? Around three days will be enough to see all the city’s main attractions and also include some of the neighbouring islands, such as Murano or Burano. That said, if you’re looking to enjoy a more local experience, four to five days will give you the chance to wander down some hidden lanes, feast on seafood and soak up the gentle pace of life. How to get there? The closest airport is named after the famed Venetian explorer, Marco Polo. From there it’s a scenic ride by water taxi (from €110) or water shuttle (€22) to central Venice. You can also get there by bus, which is the fastest (20 minutes) and cheapest (€8) option. By taxi it costs around €40. Otherwise, you can also fly into Treviso airport, which is used mostly by low-budget airlines. Situated to the north of Venice, it’s an hour-long bus ride (€12 one way) to Piazzale Roma. Taxis cost €80. How to move around the city? It may seem daunting at first getting around this city of winding streets, bridges and canals, but it’s relatively easy once you get the hang of it. Vaporetti are the small passenger ferries that are the city’s main form of public transport. A single ride costs €7.50. If you’re staying for longer or are planning on moving around a lot, it might be worth your while investing in a pass; options go from one to seven days and cost €20-60. The ACTV also runs buses that run on the mainland and in Lido. Gondola rides instead are quite pricey (from €80) and are more of an ‘experience’ than a form of transport. Where to shop? Escape the many souvenir shops and you’ll find that while Venice is by no means one of Italy’s shopping mecca’s, it still manages to hold its own. T Fondaco dei Tedeschi by DFS is its most recently hyped locale. A shopping centre in a historic building from the 1500s, the building alone is worth a visit, while sweeping views can be enjoyed from the roof. Le Mercerie instead is the city’s classic shopping destination, made up of a warren’s den of streets boasting mostly luxury brands. On Salizada San Moisè, you’ll also find high-end brands, many of which hail from Italy, such as Versace, Miu Miu and Etro. Those looking for something a bit more niche will enjoy exploring the San Samuele area, with its galleries, craft and textile stores and independent boutiques.