The Dream City
You'll find cities claiming to be "the Venice of the North," "the Venice of Africa," "the Venice of the East"...
Any city crossed by canals or with colorful buildings sitting on the water's edge wants to be associated with the
image of the world's most beautiful city. But the beauty of Italy's Venice is unrivalled and the entire city is one work of art.
It's also one of only a few cities in the world that can be described as truly unique, where main "streets" are canals, there are
no cars or traffic jams, and the mixture of Renaissance, Byzantine, Gothic, and Baroque architecture leaves anyone wondering if
this magical cityscape is real at all.
The fairytale or theatrical atmosphere is then enhanced by the carnival mask shops, romantic gondola rides, and colorful palazzos.
Everywhere you turn is a postcard image of this unequalled urban masterpiece.
Nothing quite prepares you for Venice, even after seeing it a million times in tourist brochures, guidebooks, or films.
You'll fall in love at first sight and will stand in awe of its architecture, piazzas, and canal views until the very
last minute before you leave. You'll have the designer shops, sophisticated bars, classy restaurants, galleries,
and other tempting attractions to go indoors, but nothing can prevent you from going back to standing by a canal admiring
the most spectacular city ever created, over and over again.
Whether you're going for a weekend or a week, these are the things you must see and do in the city:
Top Sights and Attractions
Look for the hotel or hostel that best matches your budget, type of trip or personality. Here you can guarantee a room but you do NOT pay anything at the time of booking. Payments are only made at the hotel and there are no booking fees.
Most hotels allow cancellations with no penalty if done up to 24 or 48 hours in advance. You'll see that information at the time of booking and again in the confirmation email.
After an obligatory stop at the classic, palatial cafés in and around Piazza San Marco, avoid the city's many touristy restaurants and find the ones serving some fine regional cuisine or more ambitious contemporary menus. Venice is a city where you really need to look for a more outstanding dining experience, usually found on the backstreets away from the grand canal.
Window-shop down Calle Larga XXII Marzo west of Piazza San Marco for all the big-name fashion labels you expect to find in any Italian city.
Other upscale shops line the streets collectively known as the Mercerie, but note that prices in Venice are generally higher than
in Rome or Florence. The best buys in the city are its crafts, especially glassware from Murano, lace from Burano, and the famous papier-mâché masks. There are so many shops selling those crafts, that many are of mass-produced low quality and very likely even made in China. To make sure it's an authentic Venetian item, look at the price. If it's an astronomical amount, it's likely to be the real thing. You'll need to take some time to look around and find the truly original pieces, with a trip to Murano being the best idea if you're really serious about special glassware.
You also can't leave Venice without visiting the bustling Rialto Market, taking place every morning from Monday to Saturday by the Rialto Bridge. You'll find Venetians buying their fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and a variety of cheeses.
Airport and Transportation