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Colourful river scene with boats in Venice

Compare the best Venice city breaks

When it comes to city breaks with a difference, look no further than Venice. With its rich history and stunning architecture and the fun and romance of the waterways, this city really does have it all. And of course don't forget bags of Italian style and food to top off the amazing setting.

Why go?

This is one of the world's most iconic cities. It's beautiful and packed with stunning buildings and art. You have to visit at least once....

After your arrival at either Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) or Treviso Sant Angelo Airport (TSF), you'll find that Venice city breaks offer a rich and varied experience. Though it is relatively small and compact, the UNESCO-protected city is made up of 118 islands and 177 canals and has over 400 bridges. Its size means the city is easily explored on foot and all the main attractions are reasonably close to each other.

Don't miss a chance to take a gondola along the Grand Canal, the main thoroughfare of the city. Lined with palaces, historic buildings, romantic bridges and plenty of quirky Italian shops, the Grand Canal can also be seen by guided water bus, or vaporetto. The commentary of the guide will help you to understand its rich history.

Another popular place for those on city breaks in Venice is St Mark's Square. Here you will find three great attractions - St Mark's Cathedral, the Palazzo Ducale - also known as Doges Palace - and the amazing clock tower, Torre dell'Orologio. The Cathedral and Palace are full of stunning mosaics, stained glass and works of art and are best explored with a guide so you can learn about their historical context.

A visit to the Rialto Bridge is definitely a must. Designed by Antonio da Ponte back in 1591, the bridge wasn't expected to last but has now become one of the city's main attractions. There are various shops lining its iconic arches that sell local goods and souvenirs, such as Murano glass.

If you're happy to venture further out, take a vaporetto to the San Giorgio Maggiore church and look back on St Mark's Square from the bell tower. You could also spend a day at the beach at the local Lido de Jesolo. As well as the sea and sand there are plenty of places, including an aquarium and a water park, to keep the kids occupied.

You can reach Venice from the airport either by sea or over land. Regular buses run from outside the arrivals terminal taking between 20 and 35 minutes.

If you prefer, the water buses (alilaguna motoscafi) offer a more direct route into the centre of town and can be boarded just outside the airport. However, this is more expensive than taking the land bus. Alternatively, take a taxi from the arrivals terminal to the outskirts of the city where you can then hop on to one of the water buses.

Getting around on city breaks in Venice is easy. Use public transport. The water bus - vaporetto - service runs the full length of the Grand Canal and also connects to the nearby islands. You can purchase single tickets at the stops or, if you plan touring, buy the more economical weekend or day pass. Or get around on foot. Pedestrians always have right of way in the traffic-free core of Venice, which makes walking tours an absolute breeze.

When to go?

Venice is a year-round destination, with warm summers and cool winters...

Of course, if you prefer the sunshine then plan your trip between May and October. However, many travellers to Venice say spring and autumn are the best times to visit. A trip to the city in winter can be magical with the mists over the water, although always be wary of winter flooding in the city.

What's on?

Venice is very much a city for day-trippers, with quiet relaxed evenings in local bars and restaurants...

However, things really hot up at certain times of the year.

Carnival; February/March: Venice plays host to a number of events throughout the year, with none more exciting than the Carnival. Dating back to the Middle Ages, it is still the world's largest masked ball and features many elaborate costumes. Celebrations take place in various locations.

The Venice Biennale Art Festival; June to November: Held every two years, this festival celebrates all of the arts, from sculpture and dance to music and film.

Venice International Film Festival; August: This renowned festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. So if you are visiting in August you might just spot a few movie stars.

What to do?

If you're looking for even more ways to occupy yourself in Venice, take a look at our recommendations...

Shopping: Head to the Rialto Bridge where tiny gift shops are crammed into the coves of the arches. Jewellers full of intricate Murano glass trinkets sit next to stores selling gift bottles of the lemon liquor limoncello.

Romance: Lord Byron drew his inspiration from the romance of Venice's intimate streets. Walk hand in hand under the marble chambers as you steal a kiss in the shadows of Doge's Palace.

Free & cheap: If the queue for the St Mark's Campanile bell tower is snaking into the square, head for the less expensive tower on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore - the view is arguably just as impressive.

Families: Work your break around the world-famous Venice Carnival where thousands of people don masks and fancy dress to take part in one of Europe's most anticipated annual events. The fun begins two weeks ahead of Ash Wednesday, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display in St Mark's Square.

Active types: Hop aboard a water taxi and cross over to the sand-covered Lido island where Venetians will often make the ten-minute journey to take an impromptu beach holiday right on their doorstep. Swim in the cool Adriatic or rent bikes to have a nosey at the exclusive hotels.