Historical pieces of evidence suggest that refugees founded Venice. When Germanic tribes ravaged northern Italy in the 5th century, many mainlanders escaped to this difficult-to-access area on the Adriatic Sea.
Over the centuries, the refugee community grew into the most powerful trading port in the Mediterranean. At its peak, Venice counted 3.000 trade ships and 300 navy vessels. After Napoleon's fall, it became part of the Austrian Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, but after the uprising in 1848, the city reached its independence once again. Shortly after, in 1866, Venice was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. 1932 saw the opening of the motor and rail bridge between Venice and the mainland, which led this city to come out on top as a tourist destination.
It is hard to navigate around the city, but don't let that put you off, as this is part of Venice's charm. Leave the other tourists at St Mark's square and the Rialto Bridge and explore the maze-like little neighbourhoods instead. The most interesting areas and islands are Cannaregio, San Polo/Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, San Marco and Castello.
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Venice is the only city of its type in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage site representing a cultural absolute, demanding preservation and transmission to future generations. The whole city is a unique sight in itself, and to enjoy its exceptional beauty, the best way to explore it is on foot.
To help you make the most out of your visit to the city, our travel experts have created a list of the top-rated tourist attractions and fun activities you simply cannot miss in Venice, Italy:
Venice has a large variety of restaurants, and as usual with Italian cities, the best dining experience can be enjoyed at a simple neighbourhood trattoria off the tourist rabble.
The city boasts many culinary specialities, like bigoli in anchovy sauce or castraure — tiny artichokes with Parmesan shavings and olive oil.
Make sure to always look at the bottom of the menu to see if a service fee is added to your bill. "Service included" or "12% added/charged" means that another 12% of the total cost will be added to your bill. "Non-cover" means no service fee will be included in the price and there will be no additional charge.
Here's a list of the best places to eat in Venice, Italy:
Coffee is as important as pasta for the Italians. And as the place where it all began–coffee was introduced to Europe through the port of Venice–it is no surprise the city is full of cafes.
If you want to act like a local, there are some unwritten rules you should keep in mind when ordering your coffee.
- Cappuccino or any other kind of coffee based on milk should only be drunk in the morning.
- When ordering an espresso, do not use the word espresso, which is actually just a technical phrase. Ask the barista for simply "un caffè".
- And last but not least, when ordering "un caffè", you do not usually sit down, you simply stand at the bar and enjoy your cup of coffee.
With that being said, here's a list of the best cafes in Venice, Italy:
Bacaro (plural bacari) is the term Venetians use for bars. Traditional establishments featuring simple furniture and serving ombre (small glasses of wine) along with ciccheti (small appetizers).
Venice has many good bars, primarily in the Dorsoduro district, but it is not a party scene city. Youngsters and party-seekers often hop over to Venice's modern sister city, Mestre, on the mainland. In summer, they prefer to travel to the seaside town of Jesolo, where they can enjoy tanning and swimming.
Below is a list of the best bars in Venice, Italy:
Walking through the labyrinth of streets in Venice, you will come across many interesting shops that are certainly worth a visit. From traditional markets selling local specialities like prosciutto and a variety of Italian cheeses to shops selling Venetian treasures like gondolier's hats and colourful glass items made on the island of Murano.
If you are after high fashion shops, they are located at Via XXII Marzo and neighbouring streets. Via XXII Marzo stretches from St. Mark's Square towards Academia, and it's one of the main streets for luxury shopping in Venice, where you will find renowned brands like Prada, Valentino, Etro, Chanel, and Gucci. There is also a designer outlet located about 40km from Venice.
Here's a list of the best places for shopping in Venice, Italy:
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Venice and enjoy sightseeing is mid-spring, particularly the first half of May when the cold winter gives way to sunny days and comfortably warm temperatures. With less boat traffic on the canals and calm waters, this season is best for relaxing on a Gondola ride.
If you want to avoid the stress of the high tourist season, December through February may do the trick with quiet and peaceful local areas. Low season also provides for discounted accommodation rates. Moreover, the famous Venetian Carnival takes place annually in February, which gives visitors the chance to join in on the festivities and try on a traditional ornate mask.
Frequently Asked Questions About Venice (FAQs)
Does Venice smell?
Unlike what you might have read or heard, Venice does not smell. If anything, what you will smell in the city is the saltwater from the canals, just like you would at any seaside destination. However, what can happen on the hottest days of summer is that the low water levels in smaller canals allow for the contact of algae from the lagoon with the atmosphere and its consequent deterioration. But other than that, Venice is not smelly at all.
Is Venice safe for tourists?
Despite being one of the most visited cities in the world, Venice is a fairly safe city for travellers. However, as with most major tourist destinations, pickpocketing is the biggest concern here. So be careful with your belongings around the city's main attractions, such as Piazza San Marco and the Rialto bridge.
Is Venice sinking?
Yes, Venice is progressively sinking. A combination of factors is causing the city to continuously drop in elevation. From the city's inadequate foundations–the ground beneath Venice has slowly compacted over time–to the subduction of the Adriatic tectonic plate beneath the Apennine mountains to the rising sea level caused by global warming. Studies suggest that Venice could be underwater by the year 2100.
In addition, studies have also shown that Venice is gradually tilting slightly to the east.
Venice Marco Polo International Airport
Venice Marco Polo International Airport is situated 7 km north of the city. There is a wide selection of transports from the airport to the city. Choose between buses, taxicabs, and boats.
If you choose a boat, be prepared for a short walk first. The water bus is operated by Alilaguna and the journey takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. There are also motorboats and the price varies from company to company.
A land route to Venice is offered too. The two transport companies ACTV and ATVO have direct buses between the city and the airport. The journey takes approx. 20-25 minutes. Taxis are waiting outside the terminal, and the prices start at €40.
Address: Viale Galileo Galilei, 30, Venice
Phone: +39 041 260 9260
Treviso Airport, sometimes referred to as Venice’s package tour airport, is located 30 km north of Venice. ATVO and Barzi buses depart from/to Venice and the journey takes about 40 minutes. There is a ticket office located at the arrivals hall.
A taxi from the airport to Piazzale Roma in Venice starts at €65.
Address: Treviso Airport
Phone: +39 042 231 511 1
More Information: www.atvo.it / www.barziservice.com
Passport / Visa
Italy can be visited visa-free for up to 90 days by citizens from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, UAE and most countries in America. If you are not sure whether or not you need to apply for a visa, we recommend you to contact the embassy or consulate in your country. In order to enter the Schengen zone, international (non-Schengen) travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their intended trip. Citizens from Schengen countries can travel without a passport, but they must bring with them a valid ID during their stay.
The ACTV operates the ordinary buses together with the bus boats, the so-called vaporettos. Tickets can be purchased at the stations, from newsstands or on board the boats. There are also several travel cards to choose from, but remember that you need to swipe them before boarding.
If you need to cross the Grand Canal you can catch a traghetto, a large gondola leaving from different places between the bridges.
Phone: +39 041 242 4
The taxis in Venice are mainly boats of different sorts. Travelling by gondola is rather expensive and it is better used for sightseeing or special excursions. The boat taxis are slightly cheaper. One of the premier boat taxi operators in Venice is Consorzio Motoscafi Venezia.
Phone: +39 041 240 671 1
Stamps can be purchased from tobacconists that carry either the blue and white "Tabacchi" sign or that are simply marked with a "T". There are a couple of post offices across the city and you find one of them at:
Address: Barbaria de le Tole 6674, Venice
Phone: +39 041 528 624 3
Pharmacies have alternating opening hours during weekends and nights. Addresses of pharmacies on duty at night are posted at every pharmacy. You find one of the local pharmacies called Farmacia Santa Margherita at:
Address: Sestiere Dorsoduro, Venice
Phone: +39 041 522 387 2
Country code: +39
Area code: 041 (also dialled in Venice) If you call to Italy from abroad, you must always dial zero in the area code (do not omit it as is the general practice when making international telephone calls), e.g. +39 041 + the number.
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