"You desire to embrace it, to caress it; and finally a soft sense of possession grows up and your visit becomes a perpetual love affair." - Henry James

Cars? Nope. Roads? Not even. How is it possible? Have you entered a time machine? A movie set? A flooded preview of a post-globally warmed civilization? Welcome to magical Venice. A city of the renaissance that still manages to embrace all that is modern (molto trendissimo!). From favorite son Marco Polo, Venice inherits its international spirit and thirst for all the best the world has to offer. But other local hero Casanova inspires Venice's true passions: food and wine, art and culture, and of course, romance. So beware, Venice is a relentless seductress, and you the visitor will be the helplessly enthralled victim.

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One of the world's most romantic destinations, Venice always hosts the famous but the annual film festival regularly brings out the A-list. Recent celeb visits include the Beckhams, Brangelina, Charlize, Sandra Bullock, Spielberg and Elton John.


Venice, above all, is a walking city. There is the option of a romantic gondola ride of course, and the city's vaporetto boats provide an excellent mass transit system, but it's only by foot that you'll discover the true Venice: tiny alleys, charming squares, and ubiquitous cafes, restaurants, and galleries. Meander through Venice's six neighborhoods, called "sestieri," but you'll never really get lost: signs to major destinations and landmarks are everywhere. A perfect day: ride a water taxi, jump off anywhere enticing, take in a museum, catch a concert in an ancient church, dine at a café on the canals. Want more structure on your journey? Listen to Italyguides free podcast before you head out.


Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's square). The most romantic square in the world, where 700 years of history comes alive. Surrounded by the Doge's Palace, the magnificent Basilica, and the campanile bell tower--each worth touring, exploring, wandering and letting imagination run wild. The campanile offers the best view in the city. But perhaps the real joy of San Marco is merely lounging around in the square, people watching, soaking in its beauty and fending off the pigeons.
Guggenheim Collection. An intimate museum with fantastic assembly of European and American modern masters—many of whom the collector dated.
Campo Santa Margherita, one of the largest squares in Venice, may be the social heart of the city. Popular with locals, its cafés and shops are open much later than most of Venice.
Lido. A long and narrow island 20 minutes from the city (take water taxi 1 or 51), Lido has two things the rest of Venice lacks: cars and beaches. Lido is modern and ritzy, with a charm all its own. Its major draws: magnificent wide beaches, great night life, and the annual August/September Venice Film Festival.
Rialto Bridge. The shops and markets on and around the grand Rialto are certainly kitschy but great fun to stroll through.
Jewish Ghetto—the world's first. A large square that is historically significant but tellingly its synagogues are fairly hidden.
Need further incentive? Time your trip with the Biennale, the biannual celebration of the most cutting edge art in the world.
Or come to Carnival. What Mardi Gras is to New Orleans, Carnival is to Venice. For 12 days leading up to Lent, half a million people attends costume balls, marches, concerts, plays, street performances, fashion shows, and lots of crazy parties.


A three-day vaporetto pass is easily worth the 25 euros (even if the operators rarely check for tickets.) Take the #1 water taxi at night and discover Venice at is most mysterious, eerie, and beautiful. There's always some church hosting a concert (Vivaldi half the time). Check the Guest of Venice guide for the most updated listings of what's going on in town.


ULTRA: Luxrest Venice. Live like a Venetian. Rent one of the coolest apartments in town.
Hotel Cipriani. A dream resort. On the island of Guidecca, just across from San Marco.
Hotel Danieli. On San Marco. Live like royalty in a true Renaissance Palace.
LUXE: The Charming Houses. 3 hotels, DD724, DD694, iQs, all as hip as it gets.
Ca' Pisani. Small, modern, beautiful design hotel.
Palazzo Sant' Angelo. Ultimate room with a view, right over the Grand Canal.
MODERATE: La Villeggiatura. Only six, charming very large rooms.
Ca' Morosini. Lovely hotel, right on San Marco.
Oltre Il Giardino. Mahler's widow's former home. Off the canal, very romantic.
BUDGET: Ca' della Corte. Charming b&b in a 16th mansion.
Palazzo Odoni. Lovely, romantic, Gothic hotel.
Hotel Villa Parco. Great deal. Near beaches of Lido.


First the basics: A trattoria and osteria are for casual meals, while a ristorante takes itself a bit more seriously. All will provide excellent meals but most Venetians snack on cichetti (small appetizers) before lunch or dinner, standing up at a bar, with a glass or two of ombra (vino). This is the Venetian version of fast food. A typical cichetto might be a square of mortadella, or a piece of salted cod. For more formal meals, make a reservation and be on time.

Cantina Do Mori. A chicetti institution. Still a favorite.
Il Cantinone già Schiave. Artists with chicetti and panini.
Enoteca la Mascareta. Great wine bar and chicetteria.
Pizza al Volo You're in Italy. Why cheat yourself of the best pizza in town?
L'Osteria di Santa Marina. A beloved favorite with Venetians. Ask for wine suggestions.
Lineadombra One of the best modern restaurants in Venice.
Alle Testiere. Creative, delicious seafood and a great value.
Da Fiore. Intimate. Authentic. An experience.
Osteria da Rioba. Reserve a table aside the canal.
Avogaria. Hip, trendy spot. Go with the scampi.
Cipriani. Gaze across the lagoon in one of the world's best hotel restaurants.
Bacaro Lounge. Great for late night dining and live Jazz.


Venice is known for its famed Bellini (peach juice and champagne) that was invented by Harry's Bar in Venice, former haunt of Hemingway. But most locals prefer the less hyped and cheaper Spritz made from prosecco and Campari.
Our favorite bars all offer music, ambience, and perhaps most importantly, are open late:
Torino@Notte, Caffe Rosso, Caffe Florian, Ruga Rialto.


Before you go, get inspired for your trip by our favorite movies set in Venice: The Comfort of Strangers, Dangerous Beauty, Casanova (2005), The Talented Mr. Ripley, Blume in Love, Summertime, Don't Look Now, Death in Venice, Everyone Says I love You.


Fly to Venice nonstop from NY on Delta or Alitalia. From the West coast, American, British Air, and Air France arrive in Venice with one stop.


Escape to bliss in Venice at the lowest possible prices. Contact us and we'll show you how.