Venice is like no other city on earth. The boat transfer from the mainland is like a time machine, transporting you to a mysterious, achingly beautiful, Renaissance masterpiece.
The city is located in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea and is built on more than 100 small islands linked by 150 canals and 400 bridges.
Venice is an all year round destination where lovers can wrap up warm and stroll the labyrinth of alleyways, anonymously floating between masquerade balls or delight in the painters light during spring and summer.
Travellers beware, there is a small price to pay during the hotter, more humid months when the canals can kick up a pungent smell and hoards of tourists and mosquitos flock to the city.
Best Hotels Venice
The most famous hotel in Venice, the 5-star Hotel Cipriani, located on the island of Giudecca, has played host to the world’s elite for decades. The Cipriani has plenty of outdoor spaces to enjoy and is just a few minutes away from Piazza San Marco by private launch.
Rooms will set you back upwards of £550 per night, but it’s money well spent.
Do I need to say more than the Clooney’s chose to spend their wedding night here? Sold.
Located on the Grand Canal, the Aman Canale Grande is a 16th century Palazzo draped in chandeliers and original frescoes.
The Rialto Bridge is only a short walk away, and St Mark’s Square is equally accessible.
Rooms start at around £800 per night.
The Gritti Palace was commissioned in 1525 and was the official residence of the Vatican’s ambassadors to Venice. The hotel has a wonderful, old world charm and is perfectly located on the Grand Canal just a stone’s throw from St Mark’s Square.
Take lunch on the terrace at The Club del Doge restaurant and watch the world go by.
A double room will set you back around £450 per night.
Ideally located for easy access to St Mark’s Square, The Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs, the 5 star Danieli Hotel is a Venice institution and a film producers favourite given the number of pictures in which it has featured.
Another Venetian hotel with an epic terrace for cocktails and unbridled views Venice day and night.
Rooms start at just over £200 per night.
Part of the Leading Hotels of the World group, the San Clemente Palace Kempinski sits on its own private island with views of Giudecca and San Marco.
The perfect setting to get away from it all, the hotel has beautiful gardens to relax in, an excellent outdoor pool and an onsite spa.
Rooms start at around £500 per night.
!6th Century converted convent with a 450 square metre spa on Giudecca Island, opposite St Mark’s basin.
Rooms contain tapestries and paintings, and there are luxurious gardens to lounge around in lazily between spa treatments.
Rooms will set you back around £200 per night.
11 luxurious self-catered condos located adjacent to the Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa. Rooms offer stunning views of St Mark’s basin and the Palladio’s lush gardens.
An apartment will cost you north of £1,200 per night.
Great little boutique hotel located in the heart of Venice’s art quarter. There is a nice blend of rustic and contemporary decor and a laid back atmosphere.
Nice service touches such as personal shoppers and in-room massages on demand.
Rooms will set you back around £200 per night.
Best Restaurants Venice
This small, informal restaurant is a favourite of the local Venetians and serves up simple but delectable fish dishes using only the freshest local produce. The wine list is top drawer too.
At an average cost of 50 Euro per head, you can’t go wrong here. Book the second sitting for a more leisurely dinner.
Pizzeria just around the corner from St Mark’s Square. This restaurant is notable as it is owned by Gianni Bonaccorsi who also runs the Michelin star Il Ridotto, over the road.
Michelin star restaurant located on St Mark’s Square. The decor is low lit and opulent, complete with Murano glass chandeliers.
The food is traditional Viennese fare and certainly not pretentious.
If you are looking for a proposal venue then you could do a lot worse than bagging one of the two tables overlooking the square.
This is cracking little restaurant; stone throw from the Rialto. Dishes are refined without being too fancy. The outdoor seating is a nice option when the weather is dry.
This cute Osteria serves up fresh local produce, can be found close to the Rialto bridge and has been frequented by celebrities and dignitaries such as the Italian Prime Minister. Enough said.
Another Venice institution, Locanda Cipriani, located on the tiny lagoon island of Torcello, serves up classics such as beef carpaccio and fillet of John Dory. A table in the garden on a fine day is a must.
The restaurant has played host to film stars, artists, musicians and other A-List celebs over the years.
Another favourite among VIPs, this trattoria specialises in seafood dishes and is close to the Rialto Bridge.
L’Alcova makes the list due to its great location and tables overlooking the Grand Canal. The food is pretty decent too!
You will do well to find a better spot for a sunset meal than at La Terrazza restaurant in the Danieli Hotel. Overlooking the Venice lagoon, Grand Canal and St Mark’s Basin, this is the perfect place for a romantic meal, washed down with a Bellini or three.
Best Bars Venice
This is where I proposed to Gemma (luckily she said yes!). Have a Bellini and smell the history.
Trendy lounge bar that attracts well healed Venetians, artists and the jet set. Elton John and Christina Aguilera have been known to pop in.
Great bar for grape lovers to explore the wines of Veneto.
Things to do Venice
Venice is a great place to stroll around and explore, away from the major tourist spots. Its a pretty small place so you will always end up back where you started, and if you don’t just hitch a ride in a gondola.
The city is a living museum so you don’t have to join a 3 hour queue to immerse yourself in the history
Below are the tourist sites not to miss.
Piazza San Marco – you can’t go to Venice without taking in St Mark’s Square. It’s crazy, but there is a buzz about St Mark’s and the square is a great place to sit down for a coffee and indulge in a good old spot of people watching.
Saint Mark’s Basilica – if you can be bothered to queue (it’s a long one!) the
iconic cathedral is a wonder to see once inside.
Grand Canal – park yourself up in a decent restaurant and watch the world go by (by gondola).
Rialto Bridge and Bridge of Sighs – the romance wears off fairly quickly due to the throng of tourists, but these are bucket list landmarks and easy to find so you may as well tick them off!
Doge’s Palace – the Ornate Gothic palace hosts exhibitions worth a visit and provides guided armoury and prison tours
How to get there
You can fly from a number of London airports, with a hist of budget airlines, direct to Marco Polo airport. British airways fly from Gatwick and Heathrow.