Sat within a shallow lagoon between the mouths of Po and Piave rivers, Venice is formed of 118 islands formed by some 170 canals connected by over 400 bridges. The entire city is considered a World Heritage Site, an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building may contain works by some of the Europe’s greatest artists.
As a city state independent from the mainland, liberal Venice accrued great wealth through maritime trade, becoming the heart of a Mediterranean empire and a centre for European art and culture from the Middle Ages through to the Renaissance. Great natives as varied as Casanova, Marco Polo, Palladio, Titian, Canaletto, Giovanni Bellini and Vivaldi hint at Venice’s unique and far reaching influence.
Elegantly decaying since this zenith, sinking gradually into the marsh, visitors have been sculling down Venice’s canals and getting lost amongst its winding alleyways since the time of the 18th-century Grand Tour. Iconic attractions on the main Rialto islands are evocative by name alone – Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace, Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Grand Canal – a unique collection of brooding Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque architecture.
Away from the crowds, other islands are where traditional Venetian culture still runs deep. From Burano’s pastel coloured houses, Mazzorbo’s secluded vineyards, Murano’s artisanal glassware and Lido’s famously exclusive beach, it’s worth investing a little extra time to really experience the city.
If you’re looking for something truly special, why not hop on the beautiful art deco Belmond Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and travel in style across the Alps, from London to Venice.
Colourful, enchanting and picturesque, Venice is the perfect place to lose yourself in the romantic Italian culture. Wander the endless tiny streets, or take a boat trip to the islands. You will know why Monet couldn’t help painting it.
What to do
- Visit St. Mark's Basilica
- Stroll around the Piazza San Marco
- Take a gondola along the Grand Canal
- Take a trip out to the enchanting islands of Murano and Burano
When to go
Venice is good to visit year-round, but is particularly pleasant in late spring and early summer, as well as during September and October when the weather is still warm but there are fewer crowds.