Venice Italy is the jewel in the crown of any visit to the Veneto. This page shares those “Venetian gems” my husband and I have discovered in our ten years in Italy including the six must see sights.
Actually, I'm Italian and my family is from the Veneto so I knew all about Venice before. My husband (not Italian) is another story!
First I suggest a visit to our Pictures of Venice Italy page for an idea of just how wonderful the city is. If you get lost then visit and bookmark our maps of Venice page – the geography of Venice isn't always easy.
Let me start with the “must see” tourist attractions. Sometimes these are so crowded and overrun with tourists that they can be a little unpleasant but most are worth the effort.
Try to visit during the times of year when Venice is less crowded – further down the page I suggest the best months.
The good news is that most of the main sights are within walking distance of each other so a couple of days is enough to see them all. If time is limited don't waste hours standing in line.
How to avoid the lines and see the essentials in a day? Click here for the answer.
The top six sights of Venice Italy, many of which are in my video up top, are...
Two other Venice attractions that are often considered as "must see" sights are the Saint Marks Bell Tower (Campanile di San Marco) and the Academia Bridge.
In my opinion the bridge can be crossed off the "things to do in Venice" list as an overrated nonentity.
The bell tower is definitely worth the trip to the top but if there is a long wait which, particularly during the summer months, is normally the case then don’t bother.
Venice is an elegant city and you surely deserve to feel as special here as the city itself. Make those Venetian dreams come true, simply stay at one of the wonderfully elegant hotels that best epitomize the history and style of the city.
If you are on a tighter budget then my advice is to stay in one of the outer sestriere (suburbs).
Best Luxury Hotel in Venice
Venice is full of splendid luxury hotels. Hotels like the Cipriani, the Danieli and the Venice Metropole Hotel. I once rated the Cipriani and Danieli to be the best hotels in Venice. Now I prefer the Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa - a very special place indeed with far friendlier service and a place to enjoy the luxury we all deserve.
Best 3 and 4 Star Hotels in Venice
A really superb hotel, with very reasonable rates is the Foscari Palace Hotel (click to read more). The hotel is in Cannaregio, right on the Grand Canal and a short walk to all the main tourist attractions. The fact that you get to spend your stay in Venice in a 16th century palace is just the cherry on top.
For an even cheaper hotel you could try the Hotel Abbazia which is also in Cannaregio. The Abbazia offers great rates, is well located and well run.
By far the best way of getting around Venice is on foot. Venice is not a big city and even if you aren’t much of a walker you should have no trouble making it.
Walking is really the only way you can discover the secret places of Venice.
Walking tours of Venice can be done independently though some very good organized walks are available.
Want to do it yourself? Then my advice is to just get completely lost. Venice is the perfect city to do this. You'll be amazed at how many interesting places you discover.
Little Known Venice
These are the places I love. They are far less crowded and filled with authentically colorful Venetian life. I often just sit quietly soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of this the real Venice.
My favourite spots, ranging from the Hebrew Ghetto through to Dorsoduro, can be seen here.
Try to avoid July and August. The climate in Venice Italy is often hot and humid while the city is overcrowded.
November through February can be cold and the damp can get into your bones but apart from the high water in November I love Venice in winter. When Venice is misty or covered with snow, it really does feel magical. You can walk down nearly empty alleyways or alongside canals and feel transported back to another age – quite wonderful.
Visiting during the Venice Carnival
A great occasion to make a trip Venice is during the Venice Carnival in February (read more here).The city gets very full for this and you need to book months beforehand but it is well worth it.
The atmosphere is second to none and this together with the Ivrea carnival is my favourite Italian festa. The gorgeous Venice Carnival masks worn for the occasion are an art form of their own.
If you don’t feel like dealing with the cold winter Venice weather, or the crowds of summer, then May/June and late September to October are good months.
Visit our Venice restaurant guide for the places my family and I eat at.
This is where you have to be careful. Few places are easier to get ripped off in than Venice Italy and prices can be ridiculously inflated.
Avoid buying anything at all in St Marks Square. Most of the Venice Murano glass items (view our guide to buying Murano glass here) and the Venetian carnival masks you find in St Marks cost double and many of them are of poor quality. Once you see the real thing you will easily spot a cheap imitation a mile away.
For more tips on Venice Carnival and buying carnival masks click here.
Aren't up to doing much walking? Then a good idea is to get the Venice Card.
They come in three options of 12 hours, 48 hours and 7 days and allow you unlimited use of public transportation in Venice and free entrance into a whole lot of museums and churches.
Good news for passionate shoppers and I am one of the world champions and it drives my husband pazzo (crazy), is that the card gives you discounts at over 200 shops.
ACTV is the company that runs the public transport water bus service in Venice Italy and if you don’t have a Venice Italy Card then tickets are available in newsagents, bars and tobacconists (tobaccai). Some of the best routes, with great views, are those along the Giudecca canal and on the lagoon.
A Venice Gondola Trip
Do take a ride on a Venice gondola but skip the taxis which are expensive and generally you are better off using public transport.
The gondolas are expensive too but Venice’s gondolas are very romantic and they are an essential and lovely part of the history of Venice.
I always take a trip in order to do my part in ensuring that this wonderful tradition lives on.
Many airline such as Ryanair offer cheap flights to Venice. A lot of the flights are to Venice Treviso airport but the connection is pretty easy. Visit our guide on Getting to Venice for more.
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I would love to hear about your visit to Venice, your experiences in the city, travel tips, favorite things about Venice. Anything you can share would be really appreciated by me and I am sure by other visitors to this site.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Good Day Trips from Venice Italy Not rated yet
My wife and I have booked a week in Venice this September. And I have taken the advice I found on your site on where to stay in the city, having decided …
Beautiful Venice Not rated yet
Venice is one of the most magical, beautiful and lively places I have visited so far! Everything about Venice makes me feel happy; the food, canals, …
Living the Italian way in Venice and Learning Italian in Venice Not rated yet
Every weekday morning throughout the year, if you’re breakfasting in Campo Santa Margherita in Venice, you’ll see several dozen people enter an incongruous …