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Venice is a beautiful city unlike any other thanks to its old-time charm and beautiful canals. Situated upon the Adriatic Sea, Venice is a popular and romantic destination for tourists from all other. It’s the most popular tourist city in northeast Italy, and it’s easy to see why: one need only tour through its many historic landmarks or ride a gondola down one of its 150 waterways to be captivated by the city. Accommodation in the city is varied: one can find stately luxury Venice hotels as well as bed and breakfasts that match the city’s charm. With midrange Venice hotels and hostels available, any traveler should be able to easily find lodging that fits their budget.
The city was founded during the fall of the Roman Empire as people from the Veneto sought refuge from the invading Barbarians. Located along the water, Venice became an important trading hub in the Middle Ages, and contributed a great deal to art history during the Renaissance period with works by Giovanni Bellini, Jacobo Sansovino and the Lombardo family.
There are several beautiful landmarks spread across Venice’s many small islands. Among the most famous is Ponte di Rialto, a 16th century bridge crossing the Canal Grande, which houses a selection of glass and jewelry shops. The city is peppered with grandiose churches, like Santa Maria della Salute and Basilica di San Marco. I Frari is among the most famous of these, featuring Titian’s famous 1518’s Assumption of the Virgin and Bellini’s Madonna with Child. In addition to these beautiful works, visitors can enjoy the awe-inspiring pyramid mausoleum.
Where to Stay in Venice
Hotels in Venice, Italy run a bit more expensive than others in the country. It shouldn’t be a surprise, since the city is among the most visited in the world. That said, there are many Venice hotels you can catch a deal for. Lower end Venice hotels typically cost anywhere from €35-98 per night. Luxury, 5 star Venice hotels often start at a whopping €303 per night. Even hostels are pricier here, usually starting at €25 per night.
That said, you can stay at some very nice hotels in Venice, Italy on a budget. Hotel Abbazia is a 3 star hotel just beside the Santa Lucia Station and the Tourist Information Center. This is an excellent location, and its rooms are roomy to boot for such a good rate. For a luxury experience without the cost, stop at Hotel Le Isole near St. Mark’s Square. It’s built into a 16th century monastery, serving as one of the most romantic and best hotels in Venice, Italy on a budget.
Considering fancier hotels in Venice? La Villeggiatura is an elegant stay, feauturing opulent 18th-century décor. Its communal breakfast table is the perfect setting to get to know other travelers or the hotel staff. Oltre il Giardin is another beautiful boutique hotel that, as you might guess from the name, overlooks a stunning garden. The rooms are bright and airy, and breakfast is served outside—making this one of the best hotels in Venice for a summer holiday. The island of Gudecca is where you’ll find plenty of other luxury Venice hotels.
Hostels and bed and breakfasts are great Venice hotels for those who don’t have a large budget. Youthvenicepalace San Marco is close to St. Mark’s Square and has cute rooms at an affordable rate. Generator Hostel Venice is another option with great rooms, including its rustic attic suite. Residenza Degli Angeli is a quaint townhouse bed and breakfast that’s highly regarded by guests for handsome rooms and excellent service.
The Most Important Things to See in Venice
There are so many places to see and things to do in Venice—here are some of our favorites. St. Mark’s Square is an important gathering spot for Vanecians, and is bordered by fashionable shops, cafes and arcades. It’s a great place to mingle with locals or relax with friends; other notable sights, like St. Mark’s Basilica and Torre dell’Orologia, loom overhead.
Doge’s Palace is among the most striking buildings in the world, with a grand, exquisite façade and domineering size. The Bridge of Sighs that connects it to the New Prison is a famous feature of the palace. While it’s not open to public tours, you can take a romantic ride under the bridge via canal.
Speaking of canals, one mustn’t leave Venice without rowing down the Grand Canal and passing the Ponte di Rialto. After your cruise, walk across the bridge for some luxury shopping. These shops sell beautiful Murano glass; stop by the Glass Museum to observe other beautiful glassworks that the city is famous for.
Dining in Venice
Venice has delicious food; this is the home of fegato alla veneziana (chopped liver and onions) and fried sardines. The best place to dine is right alongside the Ponte di Rialto, where you’ll find many restaurants with outdoor tables. What better way to eat in Venice than to dine under the canal lights? The surrounding San Polo neighborhood is well-known for having the best hotels in Venice, Italy and some of the best restaurants, too. Stop by All’Arco for a glass of Italian wine and vegetarian-friendly service, or visit La Bottiglia for unfussy, local fare.
A general tip for dining in Venice is that many restaurants offer the choice of standing at a counter to eat versus sitting at a table to be waited on. Beware that the latter option is much more expensive; if you’re dining at a budget, opt to eat at the less-expensive counter.
Shopping in Venice
Mercantilism is in the city’s DNA, so you can bet there’s some amazing shopping to get done in Venice. A popular section of the city for shopping is Le Mercerie, a series of narrow streets dotted with luxury shops. You’ll find plenty of designer label fashion here (as you would expect in Italy) as well as small boutiques. Calle Larga XXII Marzo is another shopping district featuring high fashion and the city’s art market.
Murano glass is one of the city’s most famous exports. It would be a shame not to buy a Murano glass souvenir or tour one of the factories. That said, be sure that you’re getting the real deal. Venini and L’Isola, both in San Marco, are two prominent dealers in authentic Murano glass.
Another favorite export is Venice Carnival masks. These detailed and theatrical masks have a long history; worn during the Venetian carnival and time leading up to Christmas, their creators held a special role in Venetian society. Two trusted shops for Venice masks are Papier Mache Venezia and Calle Lunga S. Maria Formosa in the Castello.
As a romantic, old-world city, Venice is known for more low-key nightlife attractions than you’d find in other cities. You’re more likely to spend a night in a small, relaxed bar than a loud dance club. Bacaro Jazz Bar is a great place to hang out amidst the backdrop of great jazz music. For a bit rowdier of an experience, stop by Venice’s first Irish pub Fiddler’s Elbow, and take a seat in its outdoor beergarden.
Venice Casino is a thrilling way to spend a night if you have the money to spare (it’s also Europe’s first casino). In addition to all the games that you would expect, Venice Casino hosts many events—including gala dinners, live musical performances and even a disco club. Looking for something a bit more highbrow? Attend an opera performance!
Arts and Music Festivals in Venice
Venice is home to one of the biggest art events in the world, the Venice Biennale. The festival is committed to showcasing contemporary art, including visual arts, dance, music, architecture, cinema and theatre. The biennale has inspired other cities across the world to host their own, and features a global community of represented artists.
The Venice International Film Festival is another city event that attracts international attention, offering 11 days of innovative film screenings. It’s a must-see for movie buffs interested in the forefront of contemporary cinema.
If you’re looking to party hard to the most intense electronic music in Europe, book your Venice hotels during the More Festival. This early summer fest features some of the best electronic musicians and DJ’s from around the world, and is a great way to enjoy a high-energy night in contrast to the city’s quiet, romantic atmosphere.
Finally, the city offers a number of notable art museums celebrating the region’s cultural history. Gallerie dell'Accademia, found on the Grand Canal, collects many pre-19th century Venetian masterpieces, including works by Guardi, Bellini, Piazetta, da Vinci and more. Interested in modern art? Swing by the Peggy Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art, featuring prominent works of cubist, surrealist, futurist and abstract art.