Elected the world’s most beautiful city in 2016, Venice consists of 118 small islands connected by canals and bridges and situated in the Venetian Lagoon. But visitors who’ll choose Venice for their 2019 / 2020 holidays will find it’s not just water the city is submerged in, but culture and history too.
Risen to popularity as a commercial centre in the 13th century and a fashion centre in the 14th, it became home to Tintoretto, Titian Vivaldi, and Monteverdi. Venice's contributions to European culture have touched a wide variety of fields throughout the years—artistic, architectural, musical, commercial, and theatrical, and its beauty has been celebrated in works such as The Merchant of Venice, Volpone, and Candide.
At a glance
- Time Zone: GMT +
- Average flight time: 2h 45m
When to go
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The first stop, once arrived in Venice, is St Mark’s Square. Also known as “the drawing room of Europe,” St Mark’s Square’s most important sight is its church, St Mark’s Cathedral—a luxuriously decorated building occupied by gold ground mosaics. Though decorations have changed over time, its marble columns, marble arches, and statues, have remained largely unchanged throughout the centuries, as have its famous 8000 square meters of golden mosaic displaying the history of the relics of Saint Mark.
From St Mark's Cathedral it’s easy to reach the Doge’s Palace. Once the residence of the Doge of Venice, the Doge’s Palace is one of the most characteristic monuments in Venice. Constructed in 1340, it overlooks the lagoon and has been converted into a visitable museum since 1923.
In the north-side of St Mark’s Square sits The Clock Tower, a 15th century building visitable through pre-booked tours. The inside stairs leading to the terrace showcase the clock’s mechanism which was last altered in 2006, five hundred years after the tower’s completion.
Venice’s food culture is a major point of interest for tourists. Between dinners, coffee breaks, cicchetti, and aperitivi, Venetians always find the time to line up at one of their favourite spots. Some of Venice’s best-known restaurants aren’t just places to sit down and have a drink, but historical places in their own right!
Caffè Florian, in Piazza San Marco, is an example of 19th century decor that distinguishes itself not just for its architecture and delicious food but for having been the best place to have a literary debate during the Austrian occupation, and a favourite spot of Lord Byron.
For coffee enthusiasts, Caffè del Doge is an essential stop. A coffeehouse on the Rialto, il Caffè del Doge offers teas, pastries, desserts, and fresh fruit juices, along with an extensive menu of coffee blends—from exotic flavours like Guatemalan Huehuetenango to house blends like “Doge Rosso.” At the end of your break, you can even purchase whole or ground beans to take home!
For a classy meal, El Sbarlefo is a tasteful wine bar and restaurant, where contemporary decor and jazz music offer the best experience for anyone wishing to savour fresh seafood, fine wine, Italian cuisine—and the ubiquitous Venetian snack “cicchetti”!
In fact, Cicchetti are a must-try when you are Venice. As the typical Venetian small snacks, they are eaten with fingers and toothpicks and usually include tiny sandwiches, olives, vegetables, halved hard boiled eggs, seafood or meat and vegetable, all laid on top of a slice of bread or polenta. Sometimes you even get very small servings of typical full-course plates—so they’re the best way to taste a great variety of local food at a very reasonable price!
Families looking for a bit of entertainment during their 2018 holidays in Venice will be offered a wealth of activities ranging from festivals, carnivals, and tours.
A family trip to Venice could be the perfect opportunity to witness the annual Venice carnival, a two-week long festival popular for the intricacy and beauty of its masks. Venetian mask-makers hand-craft their works with feathers, leather, porcelain, gold-leaf, and gems.
Tourists heading to Venice in July will find that the city comes to light during the Festival of the Holy Redeemer: preparations begin in the morning with garlands and festoons thrown over boats and rooftops as people prepare themselves for the night. At sundown, fireworks can be admired while having dinner on boats.
For a chance to combine history with adventure, try one of Venice's ghost tours, a 90-minute walking tour through hidden streets and ancient cemeteries interspersed with ghost stories, local myths, and legends from the past that will delight children and adults alike.
Action & Adventure
The most adventurous visitors will have several options at their disposal in Venice. St Mark's beauty and landscape can be admired from above by choosing one of the panoramic tours. You can explore the less visible parts of Venice with one of the walk tours that will guide you through narrow passageways, hidden bridges, and meandering canals. Or you can book a tour of the Dolomites, one of Europe's most fascinating mountain ranges, and walk around lakes and mountains, snapping photos at altitudes of nearly 2400m.
More competitive athletes will be excited to know that Venice hosts its own marathon which awards a monetary prize to the winner and includes minor side events like non-competitive family runs and night trails.
Make sure to visit during the carnival to catch a glimpse of the swirl of street parties, dances, music, jugglers and fire-eaters that will be on display through the Venetian streets throughout the carnival!
If you’re looking to enjoy a day at the beach during your holiday in Venice, you will find themselves with a number of options at your disposal. By hopping on a ferry, you’ll reach the cheap, quiet, and relaxing Alberoni, ideal for families and tourists wanting to spend some time away from the crowd sin the Venetian centre.
About an hour away from Venice is Rosolina beach, an 8km long expanse of sand usually quiet and uncrowded and accessible by bus from the Marco Polo Airport.
For a unique beach experience head for Albarella beach. Sitting on a private island surrounded by nature, Albarella beach offers clean, shallow waters, a variety of play areas with children-friendly activities, and outdoors thrills for every age. With its variety of excursions and entertainments, it is a particular favourite among children and families.
Nightlife in Venice kicks off with an aperitif consisting of a small glass of wine and some cicchetti, before heading off to one of the local haunts.
The most famous Venetian nightclub is Molocinque. Classy and friendly, Molocinque was once an Art Deco theatre, and is now home to a dozen different bars and four themed pavilions, each offering different kinds of music. Dinner menu and late-night menu are both available.
If you’re visiting during the summer, Aurora Beach is an essential spot. Music, lights, drinks, and outdoors beds and cabanas make it a lovely spot both during daytime, when the atmosphere is mellower and the crowd comes here to lounge and enjoy a light lunch, and during the nighttime, when the more energetic crowd is joined by local DJs.
People wanting to make sure they’re allowed to dance all-night can head for Piccolo Mondo, one of the few Venetian discos where life kicks off after midnight and doesn’t end until the wee hours of the morning.
But if your ideal night is spent listening to jazz music and sipping fine wine at candlelit tables alongside a laid-back, well-dressed crowd, consider heading off to the Jazz Club. Doors open at 7pm and live jazz music starts at 9.
With its reputation for being one of the most romantic cities in the world, it's no surprise that Venice is a favourite destination among couples. Head off to the Grand Canal for a ride on a vaporetto or take a 40-minute gondola tour through the lesser-known canals! Singing and serenading are available on request.
For an unforgettable night of beauty and musical entertainment towards the end of June, make sure to check out the Jazz Festival, where international and local musicians perform in different venues throughout the city.
Most of Venice's artistic heritage is visible by simply strolling through the city streets, where gothic architecture combines with Byzantine and Ottoman influences to give birth to the original style the city is best known for, the Venetian Gothic.
Alongside its reputation for being a major fashion and shopping centre, Venice has also earned itself the name of Glass Island through its centuries-old production of exquisitely ornate and colourful glass-work.
Modern art lovers will be delighted to know that it's not just ancient art history in Venice. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, an exhibition of works by 20th-century masters, is one of the most visited attraction in the city, complemented by the works of contemporary artists on display at Punta della Dogana. And if you can, don’t miss the Venice Biennale! First inaugurated in the 19th century, it’s the world's most prestigious visual art exhibition which hosts 120 artists from 51 different countries and 86 national participants.
Music lovers, meanwhile, will find that the contributions to music that have earned Venice the name of the Republic of Music are still ongoing today with the opera seasons, chamber music concerts, and ballets regularly held at La Fenice and at Teatro Malibran.