One of the most beautiful cities on earth, La Serenissima is an atmospheric maze in which to lose yourself. With most of its buildings right on the water’s edge, Venice hides all the snap-happy sightseers well; drift along the canals by gondola and float back in time as you admire Byzantine, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Give the film-familiar Piazza San Marco a chance to sink in, then follow the locals off the main drags to the best restaurants, hidden churches and lively markets. With so many palazzi and piazze to discover, Venezia is a place for early nights and misty mornings spent wandering charming, traffic-free alleys: it’s the romance capital of the world.
And, if it's in-depth exploring you're after:
See our Italian itineraries
When to go
August is hot, sticky and full of tourists. Autumn can be lovely. February is great if you’re going to the ball for carnival, but trying to find a hotel room in that month is no picnic.
PlanesMarco Polo (www.veniceairport.com) and Treviso airports (www.trevisoairport.com) serve Venice. From Marco Polo take the public ferry or travel into the centre in style aboard a speedboat (this will set you back around €100 each). From Treviso it’s a 25-minute taxi journey (€70); or hop on a ATVO Eurobus for €5; it takes 80 mins.
BoatsVenice’s vaporettos provide an inexpensive way to get from A to B (www.actv.it). They all take the same route; the difference is how many stops they make, which can take some time. If you want to arrive at your hotel in style, book a water taxi or vintage speedboat: try Venice Water Taxi (www.venicewatertaxi.com).
TrainsVenice is well connected to other Italian cities – Padua, Vicenza and Treviso are all within easy reach. You can also travel overnight from London via Paris to Venice on the train; see www.eurostar.com and www.italiarail.com for details. Santa Lucia station is on the Grand Canal, so jump on a water taxi or the Grand Canal water bus.
AutomobilesAvoid taking a car; you have to park on the mainland and get a train or water taxi.
TaxisUse public water buses (€6.50 a journey, or €14 for a 12-hour travelcard); they all take the same route – the difference is how many stops they make. You can hail or call for a water taxi, but they can be pricey.
Venice has been a byword for romance ever since its first gondolier picked up his oar and if there were ever a hotel that came with a rose between its teeth, it would be Ca Maria Adele, tucked away in Dorsoduro. This extra-special stay gradually unfolds like a well-kept secret: arriving on its private jetty is swoon-worthy enough, but Sala dei Mori – one of the hotel’s five concept rooms – continues the sexy and opulent theme. Its sultry, Moorish-themed interior includes dark glass chandeliers, rich fabrics and black flocked wallpapers: unashamedly sensuous.
Start your camera-worthy jaunt with three nights at the classical Ca Maria Adele in Venice's serene art quarter. With its ornate frescoes, Murano chandeliers and rich drapery, it feels like you've stepped through time into a Doge's palazzo – the perfect home base for exploring the mysterious Floating City, naturally.
Worth getting out of bed for
– Test your luck with a Bond-like evening at the Venice casino
– Sip Bellinis at the floating Cip's Club
– Cruise the Grand Canal in a gondola