Venice is hot and muggy in summer, and cold in winter. The best time to go is April or May… you’ll get mild spring weather, and miss the worst of the summer crowds. June through August is “high tourist season” in Venice — it seems like half the world is trying to squeeze itself into the small city during these months, and the situation is not helped by the hot and humid weather. After August, the weather is cooler but the crowds subside somewhat – so September and October are also good times to plan a trip to Venice.
If you like festivals, Carnevale is the Venetian answer to Mardi Gras. However, the Carnevale that exists today is a commercial revival of an event that natives actually stopped celebrating in 1797. Other festivals include the Venice Biennale, a modern art exhibition that happens in April, during odd-numbered years only. The Venice Film Festival is an annual event that happens in late August.
You can do Venice in a day if you like…but you really shouldn’t! Why rush? Stick around for a few days or even a week to sample all that this city has to offer. To pique your interest, check out a leisurely morning in Venice. Yes, this could be you!
If you are arriving in Venice, Italy by plane, the Marco Polo Airport is about 13 km away. From the airport, you can proceed to Venice by either land or water. The most cost-efficient option is simply to take a bus. ATVO buses leave from the airport and will drop you off at the Piazzalle Roma in Venice. If you want to go by water, there is a hydrofoil connecting the airport to Venice and surrounding islands. Speedboats called water taxis are also available, but they are significantly more of a drain on your budget.
There are two modes of transportation in Venice – walking and floating. The city is relatively small, so traveling by foot is not a problem. However, it’s easy to get lost. If and when this happens to you, just keep walking and enjoy the experience… you’ll get to see more of what real life is like in Venice that way!
There are several options for water travel in Venice. Your best bet for most transportation needs is the vaporetto, or water bus. You can buy a travel pass to save on ticket costs. Gondolas are expensive and cheesy. They are fine for a one-time photo-op after you’ve had a few glasses of wine, but not really a viable means of everyday transportation. Water taxis are also expensive, but less embarrassing than a gondola ride. The exception to the “no gondola rule” is a commuter gondola called a traghetto that ferries people across the Grand Canal.
Where to stay
Historic Venice is divided up into 6 neighborhoods. Of these, lodging in San Marco tends to be the most expensive, but is also the most convenient to the Piazza San Marco. Dorsoduro is primarily residential, but has some hotels that offer better pricing, and are still close to the action. You can also rent an apartment-for longer stays, this is often cheaper than getting a hotel room. San Polo is an excellent neighborhood to stay in if you can-it’s charming and medieval, and convenient to all sorts of shopping, including Venice’s famous fish market. Santa Croce has good bars and pizzerias. Canareggio is the quietest neighborhood, and one of the most picturesque-if you need a retreat from the crowds, this is it. Castello also has some excellent places to stay – if you avoid the border with the Piazza San Marco, that is.
Another option is to stay on the Lido, an island just outside of Venice. There’s a beach, restaurants and nightlife, and the city itself is only a short vaporetto ride away.
What to do
- Basilica di San Marco – Venice’s main cathedral is a feast for the eyes, richly decorated with a Byzantine feel.
- Gallerie dell’Accademia – The best of Venetian art, with work by Giorgone, Titian, and Veronese.
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection – Need a break from Renaissance art? Check out this superb modern art collection, with pieces from Dali, Picasso and others.
- Doge’s Palace – Tour the former headquarters of the Venetian republic-you’ll get a sense of the grandeur and pageantry that characterized old Venice at the height of its power.
And above all? Savor the experience, and have fun in Venice!