Italy. The name conjures up thoughts of gondolas, fountains, artwork
This seemingly floating
consists of 121 small islands linked together by 435
bridges spanning 160 canals that when explored reveal different and
sometimes unexpected sights at every turn. And whatever you imagined
the city of Venice to look like, once you get there it is more lovely
than all the photos, films and adverts you have seen.
sinking city has stopped sinking, and these days the canals are
relatively clean. They are a hive of activity with gondolas ferrying
tourists, water taxis ferrying the more well-heeled Venetians, and
service boats such as the vaporettas who ply the larger canals picking
But because there are no
roads here you will also find boats that are used to pick up the city's
rubbish, boats used as
ambulances for the sick, and barges bringing supplies to the shops,
markets and restaurants.
Venice is a beautiful
city which can be visited all year around.
It's a city
to admire and one to get lost in. And if you don't get lost, you really
haven't been adventurous enough! Every time we go to Venice Italy we
invariably stray off the planned route, but each time the diversion has
been rewarding in some way; a small church, hidden artwork, a great
restaurant of an unexpected sight.
A gondola tied up on a jetty on
the Grand Canal, VeniceItaly
Travel Facts for Venice Italy
So that you don't get too lost in Venice get to know the signs on the
walls that come in handy. A calle
is a street. However, a street that runs beside a canal is known as a fondamenta
A canal is called a rio.
Things to See and Do in Venice Italy
Deciding what to do and
see is going to be really hard but here are a
Basilica di San Marco is a stunning building. Piazza
is a great place to spend time soaking up the atmosphere and music.
Club, just off Santa Margherita, is a must for fans. The Peggy
Collection exhibits modern art and is a sharp contrast to
that abounds in Venice.
For those who are able, take in an opera during
stay. Even if you don't understand a word the show is worth it.
Here is an overview of what to see in Venice, with links to the
districts with more travel information on each.
Top 11 Venice Sightseeing Attractions for the First
1)Accademia Gallery - museum
gallery of pre-19th century art 2)Basilica di San Marco
- words cannot describe the beauty of this church 3)Campanile of San Marco
(Bell Tower) 4)Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo
- burial place of famous Venetians and Doges 5)Frari Church - a gem
of a church and well worth a visit 6)Murano, Burano and Torcello for glass,
lace and colorful houses 7)Palazzo Ducale -
palace of the Venetian Doges 8)Piazza San Marco -
for pigeons and atmosphere 9) Rialto Bridge
- a symbol of Venice 10) San Giorgio Maggiore
- 16th century Benedictine church visible on an island 11) Scuola di San Rocco
- dedicated to the works of Tintoretto
The 6 Districts of Venice Italy
Venice is divided into 6 districts,
each has its own character, charm and unique qualities. These
districts do not
include the much visited islands of Murano
for its famous glass, or Burano
colorfully painted houses and lace, the Lido for the beaches
probably the least visited islands by tourists; Giudecca and San
Map of the 6
Districts of Venice Italy
Cannaregio Castello Dorsoduro San
Map courtesy of Giovanni Fasano
wrapped up during winter in Venice
Overview of the 6 Districts of Venice Italy
is the northern most district that links the island of Venice with the
mainland. It is also here where one of the world's first first Jewish
ghetto was built. It is an area of peeling facades but it is also an
area considered off the beaten track for most tourists and therefore an
ideal spot to explore and meet local working-class Venetians.
San Geremia Church in Cannareggio
Venice Italy with one of the oldest bell towers in Venice in the
lies east of the San Marco district. It is mixture of
sophistication and simplistic charm as it is where you will find
elegant villas and expensive hotels lining the upmarket and best known
waterfront the Riva
degli Schiavoni. But it is also where you can visit
the quaint fishing
village of San Pietro.
is the largest area of firm land making up Venice. This then explains
its name, which literally means "Hard Back". The eastern
section of Dorsoduro is the most picturesque where you can also visit
the Academia Gallery housing the world's finest collection of Venetian
artists as well as a boatyard where gondolas are repaired. This is an
area of well-heeled Venetians and expatriates alike.
Dorsoduro Venice, Italy showing
the bridge leading onto Campo Barnaba
Marco is one of the first
places visited by tourists as they head for the Palazzo Ducale
in St. Marks Square. There are many wonderful
squares, restaurants and bars, including the birthplace of the
certainly one of my favorite drinks, Harry's
The highly decorated entrance to
San Marco Basilica, St. Mark's Square.
5) San Polo
curves into the bend of the Grand
Canal. This is another well-visited
area but unfortunately many beautiful backstreet canals,
like the one below, are often overlooked by busy tourists who head for
the Grand Canal to take pictures of the more famous Rialto
If there is just one more church that you
should visit after the Basilica of San Marco it is the Frari Church in San Polo.
A Franciscan church filled with artworks by Titian
A shrine to works by Tintoretto
can be seen at the Scuola
Grande di San Rocco.
A quiet canal in the district of
San Polo, Venice Italy
6) Santa Croce is
least known of all the districts, which is a shame really as it has a
lot to offer and a great place to explore without the hordes of
tourists. It consists of a maze of narrow alleyways lined with tall
houses and Venetians going about their daily life undisturbed by
Festivals in Venice Italy
Special occasions in
Venice are celebrated in style and are well worth
attending if you can.
The Sensa Feast-day
is held in May each year. Head down towards the Piazza San Marco and
witness the pomp and ceremony. The mayor of Venice and various other
secular and religious dignitaries dressed up in Medieval garb, with
trumpets blaring forth, they sail from St. Mark's Square in gondolas to
the Port of San Nicolo where a ring is thrown into the waters to
demonstrate the importance of the sea and a symbolic marriage to the
sea with Venice. In previous times a gold ring used to be used, but I
doubt that this is still the case today.
Feast-day is an historical Venetian festival held on the
3rd Saturday and Sunday in July as a thanks to saving the city from the
great plague. It is a celebration that has been celebrated every year
On the Saturday night St. Mark's Basin and the Giudecca Canal
starts filling up at dusk with boats decorated with balloons, and
colorful lanterns. The boats are then moored together and a
sumptuous supper is served of traditional Venetian dishes. After
supper, at about 11:30 the sky is lit up with a spectacular firework
display that lasts about 30 minutes.
On the Sunday afternoon various boat races are held and at night mass
is held at the Redentore Church on the island of Giudecca.
The Historical Regatta is
around the 4th of September. This regatta is the opening ceremony to
the annual rowing calendar. The Regatta Storica takes over
the Grand Canal with many 16th century styled boats with gondoliers
ferrying the Doge, the Doge's wife and other important Venetian
officials up the canal. After the main procession there are 4
categories of boat races that take place much to the delight of the
crowds egging them on.
Here is a Travel Video of
Regatta Storica, Venice Italy
March is the time for
the other internationally famous
which adds costumes and masks to what is already one of the
romantic cities in the world.
More then 3 million tourists come to
Venice every year to see the Venetian Carnevale which takes place 40
days before Easter and ends on Shrove Tuesday the day before Ash
One of the most important events of the festivities is the contest for
the best mask which takes place over the last weekend of the festival.
Here is a Travel Video on the Carnevale Venice Italy
There are others and details can easily
on the Internet. One of the best websites for this is Timeout
Shopping in Venice Italy
Prepare to be impressed
on a trip to Murano. This island has a long-standing
tradition of glass blowing and is world renowned for the quality. When
the display of intricately hand-blown and engraved glassware you will
understand the skill and patience needed. Don't be put off by the
trying to get it home. The factories ship their wares around the world
happy to help.
Things to do in Venice Italy with Kids: Making Venetian
The highly decorated
entrance to La Macana Mask Shop
The best place to buy Venetian masks is at a shop called Ca'Macana.
They are one of the few places remaining that make their masks by hand,
following a tradition spanning 800 years.
Not only that, but it is also a
great place to take the kids as they have a
room where children can paint their own carnival masks. If you have the
time, you could also take a mini-course on making a paper-mache mask.
This paper mache course takes 2.5 hours and can be taught in English,
Italian or French. You will also be given a short history of the masks
and the importance of them in the past and present.
Another course that can be done at Ca'Macana
for families is similar to the one above but as it is targeted for
families the time is reduced to a 2 hour session, the history
session is kept to a minimum according to the age of the children, and
the family can paint two masks rather than one.
There are other options available, including a 1 hour tour of the
workshop. See Ca'Macana
for further details.
this picture, but cannot remember which district I was in at the time.
Things to do in Venice Italy: Tours
If in doubt, a good way
to get a feel for the city is to take one of the many walking
tours of Venice. This way you can make sure you catch all the
highlights and pick
where you really want to go back to. Venice Italy has a reputation as
but there are quite a few free places to visit and sights where you do
Contrary to popular belief, you can easily get around the city by
walking and/ or vaporetto. If you want to try something different there
are "ghost walking tours"
and "a photographer's tour"
which are sure to
interesting and memorable addition to your stay.
Try and find some of
and restaurants that hide in the back alleys, they are less crowded and
than the more touristy ones. For some history, Harry's
Bar is a must.
The gondola is synonymous with
Food Markets in Venice Italy
A Food Market at the foot of the
love visiting local markets, particularly food markets where you can
see fruit and vegetables that you may not have seen before. The first
time I saw chicory from Treviso was in a Venetian market near
The market here is a great market for fruit, vegetables and
fresh fish too, and there are some strange creatures lurking around the
Mediterranean waters by the looks of things!
Buying food from
the markets can not only be a great people-watching experience if you
want to observe the locals, but it also is a good way to save money for
meals. Buy your cheese, cold meats, salads and fruit here and very soon
you will have a meal without breaking the bank that you would have
spent at some fancy restaurant.
Hotels in Venice are notoriously
expensive and their peak and shoulder seasons last a lot longer than
other places around Italy that are not major tourist cities and towns.
However, having said that, you can get a hotel room with or without a
canal view a lot cheaper in the winter months. Sometimes as much as 50%
or more cheaper.
The only down side to exploring Venice in the
winter is the possibility of rain, or even snow, however, you virtually
have Venice to yourself to explore and the locals reclaim their city
once more after the busy tourist season.
There is a wide variety of
hotel accommodation in Venice Italy from luxury hotels to budget
hotels, guest houses and even accommodation on board a permanently
based boat which offers excellent prices for a night's booking.
have divided up the hotels in Venice according to both budget as well
as district. Remember, however, that in general the more off the center
of the tourist spots the cheaper your hotel accommodation will be.
How to Get to Venice Italy by Car, Bus or Bike
from Piazzale Roma:
you find yourself in Piazzale
Roma it is probably because you have come
to Venice either by bus,
car or bike. It is a huge
parking area on the
mainland linking Venice with a causeway.
Here you will
find 3 parking areas:
Garage San Marco
Travel Tip for Visiting Venice Italy by Car or Bike
Avoid the crowds
and head for the island
of Tronchetto, a large car park that the locals use to
visit Venice and also very close to the Piazzale Roma.
Another solution which I think is even better still is to park the car
on the mainland at either Mestre or Marghera.
Take either the train or
bus from here to Piazzale
Roma or Santa
Luca Railway station.
Buying Tickets for the Water Taxi at Piazzale Roma
At Piazzale Roma you will need to
buy your tickets for the water taxi. Head for the Hellovenezia Office,
near the bridge. You won't be able to miss it in the summer as it will
be the office with long lines of tourists all waiting to buy their
A Travel Italy
Grapevine Travel Tip:
Head into the
middle of the square to the newsagent. It is a kiosk with magazines and
newspapers outside, and above the winter, is a sign in blue
saying "Biglietti and
Ticket". Visit our
basic Italian phrases
page to help you out in purchasing your tickets, but here they are very
used to foreign visitors and you should find that they speak fairly
Cut the queues and buy your ticket like a local. You can also buy tickets here for getting
back to the airport.
However, if you want to buy a visitors Tourist Card for Venice
you will have to queue up at the Hellovenezia
Office. Buy the tourist card here for however
you are in Venice.
The tourist cards are valid for 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours, 48
hours, 72 hours, or 7 days, depending on which version you buy. The
last time we were in Venice we were only there for 5 days, bought the 7
day card and still saved heaps!
Save on travel.
The water taxis are expensive and you
will end up paying 6x more than what the locals pay to
catch the taxis if you don't by the tourist card.
thing that you have to remember is to tag on and tag off with your card
when you get onto the water taxi and off it. We forgot to do this the
first time, but you do get the hang of it when you travel on the water
buses or taxis regularly.
For a detailed map of the water taxi routes in Venice, see the map
Things to do in Venice: Traveling on a Gondola
The gondola is very expensive.
How expensive? Well for a maximum of 6 people at a time, for 20 minutes
it will cost Euros 40. For 40 minutes it will cost you Euros 80. If you
take the gondola between 7 and 8 in the evening prices go up once again
and a 40 minute trip along the canals will cost Euros 100. (Prices 2012)
Traveling in Venice on the Traghetto
For many of us, traveling up and down the Grand Canal in a gondola, no
matter how romantic, can just be out of our price bracket. However,
there is a cheaper way to still travel on the Grand Canal with your own
gondolier and that is with a traghetto.
It is a ferry service that runs from fixed points along the Grand Canal
- look for the signs - and is a service that runs from one
side of the canal over to the other breadth ways. People are expected
to stand as you are taken over, although if you smile sweetly and say,
"Posso" and indicate that you wish to sit, they will allow you to do so
if the gondola is empty.
The last time we used the Traghetto it cost us about 50 cents each for
the novelty and it was a fun way of getting across to the other side.
Pay the gondolier as you get onto the boat.
run between the following points:
1. Fondamenta S. Lucia (in front of the railroad station) – Fondamenta
San Simeón Piccolo
2. San Marcuola – Fóndaco dei Turchi (by the Natural History Museum)
3. Santa Sofia (near Ca’ D’Oro) – Pescaria (fish market)
4. Riva del Carbòn – Fondamente del Vin
5. Sant’ Angelo – San Tomà
6. San Samuele – Ca’ Rezzónico
7. Campo del Traghetto – Calle Lanza (near the Salute Church)
The Traghetto about to
Getting to Venice Italy by Plane
The nearest airport is
the Marco Polo airport at Tessera about 5 miles north of the city, on
the mainland. It is served by domestic and international Alitalia
flights, including services from London, Amsterdam, Brussels,
Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Vienna and Zurich. British Airways, Emirates
Air, Qatar Air, Air France, Lufthansa, and US Airways also
fly into Marco Polo, among others.
You can get to Piazzale Roma from the Marco Polo airport by either taxi
or bus. The blue ATVO buses
make the 25 minute non-stop trip from the airport and when you get to
Piazzale Roma take a water taxi to your hotel.
Travel Italy Grapevine Travel Tip
Before you arrive in Venice, find out the location of your hotel and
know exactly how to get there. Depending on its location, the water
taxi will only take you to the various designated landings or stations,
and your hotel may end up being some distance from your hotel.
If you arrive at night, and I can tell you from personal
experience, even though we knew where we were going
as the hotel was located just behind Ca'D' Oro every alleyway looks the
same in the dark and some hotel signs are not well placed. You could
end up walking around in circles in the dark, or worse, walking way off
Be prepared to find your way on your own, or if you are going to be
arriving in the dark it would be best to call the hotel ahead of times
for clear instructions on how to find it or ask for a porter to meet
you at the water taxi landing.
All official porters in Venice Italy wear badges, blue smocks and
There is a set fee per piece of luggage that they will carry, and this
fee increases over holidays and at night. You can get a porter from
either Santa Lucia Train Station or the Piazzale Roma to your hotel if
need be. However, there are not that many porters around, especially
during the summer.
If you need to cross the bridge near the train station then you will
have some issues with your luggage particularly if you are not strong,
young or are carrying heavy suitcases. The bridge is high and all
steps, although there are some wide landing areas where you can catch
your breath. If you are carrying luggage that is light and easy to
carry then you won't have any problems.
Detailed Street Travel Map of Venice Italy including water