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The Best Hotels in Venice

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Best Hotels in Venice

The very word "Venice" is one of the most evocative in the language. Immediately thoughts of winding waterways, elegantly dishevelled old buildings, and bobbing gondolas come to mind. Luckily, the real Venice lives up to even the most romantic visitor's preconceptions: there really is no other place like this on Earth, with its magnificent Renaissance, Baroque, and Venetian Gothic architecture, the sweeping splendor of the Grand Canal, and landmarks like the Ca'Rezzonico. Drift along the Grand Canal, poke around the markets, feast on traditional dishes like cuttlefish in its own ink and salt cod whipped up with olive oil and garlic – this is a city break with a difference.

Things to see

St Mark's Square is the heart of Venice, so vast yet curiously intimate-feeling, perhaps because of the crowds it draws, and the many cafes and bars to sit at. It's the best place to relax and people-watch, and you can also look up at famed landmarks such as the winged Lion of Venice on its tall column, the Campanile bell tower, and of course St Mark's Basilica. One of the greatest churches on the planet, bedecked with ornate domes, this Byzantine masterwork is just as staggering on the inside with its gold mosaics and rich artworks. Elsewhere in Venice, seek out the Rialto Bridge, its iconic arches crossing over the Grand Canal, and the Bridge of Sighs, carved from white limestone (it's said that if lovers kiss beneath it at sunset, eternal bliss will be theirs). Then there's the Lido, perhaps the most glamorous part of the city, with sweeping beaches and proud hotels, known the world over as the setting for the Venice Film Festival.

Hotels in Venice

What with its architectural wonders, its unique waterways, and its reputation as a romantic getaway, there is certainly no shortage of hotels in Venice. Many of which can be on the pricey side, it has to be said. Then again, you'll be rewarded with an experience to remember: views over the canals, exquisite on-site restaurants serving up freshly prepared seafood, and modern conveniences like free WiFi. Of course, there are cheap hotels in Venice to be found as well – have a good look around online to compare deals.

Where to stay

The area round St Mark's Square is a magnet for visitors and it's true that if you really want to be immersed in Venice at its most characteristically picturesque, booking a hotel in this area will do the job nicely. That said, it's also worth looking at places in other areas. Cannaregio is just as ravishing, for example, and also happens to be where the old Venetian Jewish ghetto was based – it's a must for history lovers. For proper pampering, though, the Lido is the place to be – staying at one of these hotels will also give you access to the private beaches beloved by Hollywood stars during the Film Festival.

How to get to

There are two main international gateways to Venice. One is Marco Polo Airport, which is only a few miles from the city and has flights to and from a conveniently wide variety of cities across the world. From here you can get to Venice by water taxi or on one of the public boats. Meanwhile, budget airlines fly into Treviso Airport – the only downside being it's slightly further out. You can also get into Venice by train, with Venezia Mestre Station being your last stop on the mainland before pulling into Venezia Santa Lucia amid the gorgeous buildings and waterways of old Venice.

When are the best times to travel to Venice?

Winter may not seem like the most obvious time to visit this realm of rippling waterways, but one big draw of the colder season is the famous Venice Carnival, when lavish masked balls break out across the city, and decadent revellers don Venetian masks and gilded robes. Summer, meanwhile, is the peak tourist season, when the weather’s very hot and the city’s bustling. For sheer comfort, the spring and autumn seasons are a good bet, when there are slightly fewer tourists and hotel rates aren’t quite as expensive as usual.

What are the top must-see attractions in Venice?

Call it a cliché, but you can’t come to Venice and not spend time on the Grand Canal. This is one of the iconic settings of the city, spanned by the 16th-century Rialto Bridge, and lined by shabbily gorgeous historical buildings exemplifying Venetian Gothic and Byzantine architecture. Equally essential is St Mark’s Square, dominated by the domes and golden spires of the mosaic-emblazoned St Mark’s Basilica. It also features the winged Lion of Venice sculpture. Elsewhere, float beneath the carved limestone Bridge of Sighs, a landmark which inspired Lord Byron among others.

What are the best types of food and restaurants in Venice?

Baccala mantecato, a salt cod mousse seasoned with olive oil, is one of the great delicacies of Venice, while black squid ink risotto is a dramatically dark dish which is well worth staining your lips for. Committed foodies should definitely try to explore beyond the tourist-filled centre to discover the traditional bacari eateries which serve up cicheti – small, tapas-like snacks like fried courgette flowers and pork meatballs. The Dorsoduro district, meanwhile, has some great little restaurants catering to locals and savvy visitors alike.

What are the top things to do in Venice?

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of the most renowned bastions of 20th century art in the whole of Europe. Located in the grand palazzo which was once home to the wealthy heiress and art collector, it features masterpieces by giants like Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali. It’s also worth taking a boat out to the island of Murano, whose famous glassware can be admired at the Murano Glass Museum. To soak up the sun, head for the sandy beaches of the Lido, long popular with celebrities and aristocrats.

What are some fun facts about Venice?

Venice was the birthplace of both the legendary lover and adventurer Casanova, and the great composer Vivaldi. Venice is known for the Bellini, that famous cocktail made from sparkling wine and peach puree, but did you know it got its name because its pink colour reminded its creator of a pink toga in a painting by Renaissance artist Giovanni Bellini? Venice was also the first city to serve up beef carpaccio – legend has it, it was spontaneously invented to please a countess who was on a raw meat diet.

What kinds of public transport are there in Venice?

Venice is perhaps the most walkable city on the planet, and even getting lost in its warren of ancient streets is a pleasure. That said, there are times when you’ll want to get somewhere quickly, which is where the vaporetti waterbuses come in handy. The Grand Canal has its own dedicated fleet of traghetti boats, which cross back and forth throughout the day, while die-hard romantics may choose to shell out for a classic, tranquil gondola ride.

Venice Travel Guides & Things To Do

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