Venice is a city in north-eastern Italy and has good transport connections by both air and road (last part to Venice city itself is usually by boat!). The city has been described by Time Magazine as 'undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man'. An opinion I would be inclined to share.
Here we can do little except outline the main highlights - an entire set of encyclopedias would not be enough to cover every important historical monument in detail.
More importantly, we should convey the great beauty of the city of venice! The pleasure of simply strolling the streets, walking alongside the canals and pausing in a cafe is perhaps unequalled by any other city in the world!
The monuments which are most-visited are the Basilica di San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale. The Basilica di San Marco (Saint Marks basilica) is the great cathedral in Venice in the Byzantine architectural style - it is also the most famous and recognisable among the churches in the city, along with the other buildings that line the water-fronting Saint Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) in the centre of Venice.
Away from Saint Mark's Square along the Grand Canal the Rialto Bridge is another very great architectural highlight.
Venice is of course famous throughout the world for its romantic canals lined with magnificent palaces. The city is built on an archipelago of 118 islands and 177 canals in a shallow lagoon. About 400 bridges connect the islands where the city is built. Even though it is already urban, Venice is a car-free place. This becomes unique in the 21st century where truck and motorcars abound. Other city transport is also usually on boats that travel along the main canals through the city.
There are many other notable tourist spots in Venice scattered around the piazzas, canals and alleys with many palazzo, museums, churches and bridges to discover.
Despite the relatively small size of central Venice it is easy to become a little disorientated and lose your way in the complex web of back alleys and canals that can very easily trick you into walking around in circles. Don't worry though! You won't come to any harm, you will see parts of the city you might have otherwise missed, and sooner or later your narrow alley will suddenly emerge in front of one of the great landmarks of the city.
Venice at night
Wondering what you can do after sunset in Venice' Compared to most major cities Venice is a relatively quiet town in the early evenings - the preferred activity is simply to take an evening stroll through the city streets. Much more romantic if you are with a date rather than hungry children! Locals and visitors sit in piazzas sipping coffee or a glass of wine as the sun sets in the horizon.
Classical music has been a tradition in the city. There is always a concert going on somewhere in the town. Several churches also host classical music concerts from prestigious local and international artists.
In Venice, there are no late night hang-outs or gigs although a few places have opened in the student-orientated Dorsoduro in the last couple of years. Here, the Campo Santa Margherita has recently become the place where Venice's young and vibrant gather. It is the seat of a few trendy cafés and sophisticated bars.
Another area that draws in the younger, livelier crowds is in Cannaregio, alongside the Fondamenta della Misericordia. Other popular haunts among the locals include Campo San Bartolomeo at the foot of the Rialto Bridge and nearby Campo San Luca.
Since there are not much clubs and wild late-night bars, most young people tend to head out of the city to Mestre where there's more space and less restriction on noise, while some of the locals travel to Jesolo or nearby Padua on the weekend for a big night out.
Because the young people are heading elsewhere to party, especially during the weekends, the city maintains its tranquil romantic atmosphere leaving us older folk to stroll the streets undisturbed.
The Venice carnival is held between the 9th and 20th of February. Great if you can watch, even better if you can become involved in some way.
Gondolas in Venice
Ever dreamed of riding in a gondola' Go and visit Venice! The gondola is the classical Venetian boat as seen on many films, postcards and tourist brochures.
A gondola ride really is a great way to experience the city of Venice, and they are also used for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies. Many visitors will want to experience a gondola ride but fares are not surprisingly quite expensive and many tourists on tight budget might find the prices demanded by the gondoleros to be prohibitive.
See details and prices at getting around Venice: gondolas, traghetti and vaporetti
Food and drink in Venice
Venetian cuisine is essentially fish-based and many of the restaurants serve fish. If youre not a fish lover, tasty risottos are a safe option to order in a Venetian restaurant. Liver and onion, or 'fegato alla veneziana', and rice and peas ('risi e bisi') are also Venetian specialties. You can also taste 'cichetti' which is a type of delicious bar snack.
As a drink wine is very much the staple of the Venetians. The Venato region produces more white wine than red from the hilltops of Soave. Venetians, who love a glass of sparkling wine, 'spumante', with their seafood would likely recommend this.
An alternative to Venices costly restaurants is the citys bacari (a sort of Italian tapas bar) for some cicchetti, or choice light bites.
Selected places to visit near Venice, Italy
See the Venice-Veneto guide for more travel ideas...