Venice City Break Guide

Photo by Walker

The Daily Telegraph, February 22, 2015

An insider's guide to Venice, featuring the city's best hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, attractions and things to do, including how to travel there and around. By Anne Hanley, Telegraph Travel's Venice expert. Click on the tabs below for the best places to stay, eat, drink and shop, including the best things to do and what to do on a short break.

Why go?

Although there are days when tourists outnumber locals by two to one, Venice never loses its capacity to enchant. Summer brings some of the most daunting crowds, but there's a reason why they come: the sheer loveliness of an exquisite city that seems miraculously built on water. It's important to remember that, even at peak visitor times, you are never more than a bridge and an alley away from a more secluded city, full of secret campi (squares), handsome Gothic palazzi and lively neighbourhood wine bars. In any season, Venice's churches and museums offer antique glories aplenty, but there is also a vibrant contemporary art scene, even away from the Art Biennale.

Late spring and early summer bring some of the most daunting crowds, but there's a reason why they come: the sheer loveliness of this exquisite city bathed in clear light and warmth.Credit:

As summer draws on, the place gets quieter: maybe the thought of clouds or mosquitoes and odorous canals deters visitors in August. It shouldn't: Venice shimmering in its summer haze like the most 'impressionist' work by Tintoretto is a sight to behold...the heat, humidity and some slightly pungent backwaters are a small price to pay.

When to go

At summer’s end, the Venice Film Festival turns the sleepy Lido into a mini Hollywood.

Venice is a unique, magical place 365 days a year. But much of the time you'll be sharing that magic with thousands of other visitors. Numbers peak in summer, despite the heat, humidity and swarms of mosquitoes. Spring and autumn are much more pleasant months. I especially like late autumn (mid-October to mid-November) when, if you're lucky with the weather, it can still be warm enough to eat outside. But my favourite season of all is winter, a time of misty vistas when tourists are few and far between, rooms are cheap and the city is reclaimed by Venetians.

An exception is Carnevale, in the two weeks leading up to Shrove Tuesday (Feb/Mar), which brings in hordes of revellers and sends accommodation prices through the roof. Other regular annual events include the June-November Art Biennale (odd years) and Architecture Biennale (even years), the Film Festival (10 days end of August to early September) and local festivities like the Festa del Redentore on the third weekend in July, when the city and lagoon are lit up by fireworks.

It’s fairly pointless driving to Venice as you will just have to leave your car in the (expensive) car parks of the Piazzale Rome road terminus.Credit: Vladimir Sklyarov, Fotolia Know before you go

Currency: euro. Most cashpoint machines work with international cards, via the Cirrus circuit.

International dialing codes: dial 00 39 041 xxx for Venice numbers from abroad, 041 xxx from inside Italy. Dial 00 to get an international line, followed by the country code.

Time difference: Venice is one hour ahead of GMT/BST

Flight time: London to Venice is around two hours

Emergency services: 112 (Carabinieri); 113 (State Police)

British Embassy in Rome: (00 39 06 4220 0001; ). There is no longer a British consulate in Venice. The Milan consulate (via San Paolo 7) is open 9am-12.30pm, 2-4pm Mon-Fri, or call during office hours on 00 39 02 723 001.

Tourist information

The main tourist office is on the lagoon-facing promenade between the San Marco Giardinetti/Vallaresso waterbus stops and Piazza San Marco (San Marco 2, Palazzina Santi; 00 39 041 522 5150; ; open daily, 10am-6pm). Other branches are at Marco Polo airport, Santa Lucia train station, Piazzale Roma road terminus and the Lido.

Visitor passes

Entrance to the city-owned museums around St Mark's square (Museo Correr, Doge's Palace, Archaeological museum, Marciana library) is via the I Musei di Piazza San Marco multi-ticket which costs €18 (over 65s, students aged 15-25, children 6-14, €11; children 5 and under, free; families of two adults and at least one child aged 6-18 pay €11 each). You can extend this to all city-owned museums with the Museum Pass (€24; over 65s, students aged 15-25, children 6-14, €18; under 5s, free). Musei di Piazza San Marco ticket validity is three months, Museum Pass six months. Both these options are purchasable at the sights themselves or online through . The 15 churches belonging to the Chorus organisation ( ) charge an entrance fee €3 each, but you can cut costs with a Chorus Pass (€12; students up to 29 with ID €8; under 10s, free). All of these passes can be bundled with your VeneziaUnica transport pass and purchased through .


Italians tip very little; 5% is ample, and it’s often enough just to round the bill up to the nearest 5 or 10 euros. If the bill says 'servizio incluso', there's no need to tip at all.

Venice in winter can be a magical place, misty and atmospheric.Credit: Fotolia Local laws and etiquette

Venice is a pedestrian city, and alleyways and bridges are its highways and flyovers – so sitting on a bridge is a bit like parking in the middle of the road.Italians always say hello and goodbye in social situations. A simple “buon giorno” in the morning or “buona sera” in the afternoon or evening goes a long way. “Ciao” is more informal. If somebody says “grazie” , it’s polite to say “prego” in return. If you’re invited to dinner, flowers or chocolates for the hostess are a more usual gift than a bottle of wine.

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The Best Hotels In Venice View All

  • Bauer Villa FVenice, ItalyTelegraph expert rating7

    These 11 luxurious self-catering apartments on the Giudecca island range from striking to jaw-dropping, with spectacular views across the lagoon to St Mark’s. Part of the Bauer hotel group, the 16th-century palazzo has been beautifully restored, preserving painted ceilings, wall frescoes and terrazzo floors. Read expert review

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  • Aman Canal GrandeVenice, ItalyTelegraph expert rating8

    The Clooneys opted to spend their wedding night in this 16th-century Grand Canal-side palazzo, which says it all. Contemporary furnishings mix with sumptuous chandeliers and burnished mirrors in the 24 ultra-luxe suites, including the Alcova suite with its ceiling paintings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Read expert review

    From£812inc. tax

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  • Belmond Hotel Cipriani Giudecca, Venice, ItalyTelegraph expert rating8

    The 95-room Belmond Cipriani is a five-star Venetian classic. It’s also an oasis of breezy elegance, with huge pool, manicured gardens, luxury spa, an Adam Tihany-designed fine-dining restaurant, and the kind of discreet professional service you’d expect in a hotel used to hosting VIPs. Read expert review

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