Built on more than 100 islands in the Venetian lagoon, Venice (“Venezia” in Italian) is known for its rich and unique culture. Often referred to as the “City of Water,” the city is best known for the beauty of the canals that surround it, which are as common in Venice as the streets are in New York City. Although the city tends to be associated with romantic getaways, there is much more to Venice than romance, including historic architecture, fine dining, and cultural festivals. Here are some tips for planning your trip to Venice.
Transportation to Venice
Connected to the mainland by the Ponte della Liberta, or Liberty Bridge, Venice is easily accessible by train, bus, car, or boat. If you’re flying into Italy and don’t plan on visiting any other cities, Venice International Airport is about 16 miles from the lagoon. If Venice is just a stopover on your Italy vacation, or if you’re coming from elsewhere in Europe, a direct train ride to the heart of Venice may be your best option. Arriving at Stazione Ferroviaria Santa Lucia, national and international trains take visitors to the historic center, where they can take a water taxi to their hotel.
In Venice – How to get around the city
Once you’ve reached the historic district, you’ll be surprised that even though there are no cars, getting around the city is relatively simple. While most tourists prefer to walk and take in all the sites, water transportation is the most popular way to get around the city quickly and serves as an adventure in itself. The most common means of travel on the water are the water bus and water taxi, public boats that run constantly throughout the day and can be boarded with a ticket. Those planning to stay for longer periods of time can purchase Cartavenezia cards, which offer convenience and a discounted travel fare. If it’s romance and authenticity you’re looking for, traditional Venetian gondolas are available, but expect to pay a pretty high price.
When to go to Venice
Although the city can be captivating every day of the year, most tourists flock to Venice between June and September, when they can take advantage of the warm summer days. If large crowds aren’t your style, I suggest you plan your trip in the off-season, when airfare and hotel accommodation prices are rock bottom. While the weather in the winter may not be as bright and warm as it is in the summer months, the fog is certainly bearable and sharing the city with only locals makes the slight chill worth it.
For those looking to immerse themselves in the rich culture of Venice, the Carnivale di Venezia, held in February, is a must-see. A popular festival among Roman Catholics, Carnivale is an 11-day celebration comparable to Mardi Gras, held before Lent each winter. The popular festival is characterized by parades, commedia dell’arte, balls, concerts, masked events, and elaborate costumes.
Where to stay in Venice
While some visitors to Italy prefer to see Venice in a day or two, longer stays are actually better for enjoying all the city has to offer. From 5-star hotels to budget hostels ideal for backpackers and students, there are plenty of places to stay in the city’s six boroughs. The most popular district, San Marco, is a great place to stay if you want to be in the heart of the city and close to the main attractions, although since Venice is so small, you’re unlikely to have to walk far. no matter where you stay. Those looking for a bit more privacy should head to Castello, while Dorsoduro and San Polo are ideal for creative souls who want to be surrounded by the city’s residential artists and writers. If you plan to venture out of the city during your stay, Santa Croce is close to the train station and is home to a public garage, making transportation to and from the mainland a breeze.