Why go? With its picturesque canals, old-school Italian buildings, and cobblestone streets — perfect for strolling hand in hand with your new wife — Venice has long been one of the most romantic cities in the world. Plus, it’s on everyone’s bucket list.
Best ideas: Take in the historic sights and attractions along Piazza San Marco before feasting on delicious delicacies alongside the locals. If the tourist crowds are getting to you, do a day trip to the nearby islands of Burano or Murano. Go where the tourists aren’t going — or at least when they’re least likely to be around.
Good to know: Yes, there are going to be tourists here when you are, too many, but there’s a reason everybody comes to Venice. Embrace it and you’ll enjoy your time in this charming Italian city.
Mention a forthcoming trip to Venice and some people will scowl. “It’s ruined,” they’ll proclaim. “There are too many tourists now! It’s sinking!” Sure, there are downsides to Venice and most of them have to do with the magnitude of tourists who have seemingly taken over the city, annoying selfie sticks in tow. But Venice might be the one place where the hordes simply don’t matter because you’re just so completely in awe of your surroundings. After all, you’re in a mysterious floating city — a one-time maritime empire at the crossroads of trade that was built on over 100 islands in the middle of a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea.
All the buildings around you are architectural marvels, as beautifully preserved as they were hundreds of years ago, and you can see them up close while gliding across the Grand Canal in a banana-shaped gondola — yeah, it’s a pricey move, but if your honeymoon isn’t an excuse to indulge, then what milestone is? In Venice, you’ll feel like you’re roaming through a gold-colored dream where nothing bad can happen. No tourist or sweeping high tide can destroy those moments.
In This Article
Traveling & Getting Around in Venice
Summer in Venice is unbearably hot and packed, so mid-Spring or early fall are your best bets. As an alternative, winter can be pleasant because there are fewer people to contend with, but the city is cold and gray. If you relish a boisterous party and secretly desire slapping on one of those elaborate made-in-Venice masks, come for the pre-Lent Carnevale festivities in February. Art buffs will want their visit to revolve around the sprawling Venice Biennale.
From the states, the majority of year-round flights require a stop in a European hub like Rome, Paris, or Amsterdam. From Venice’s Marco Polo Airport, a water taxi will take you to San Marco Square (there are other stops as well) in about an hour for $17 (15 euros). Most hotels, however, are eager to have a private water taxi — naturally far more expensive than the ho-hum public option — waiting to whisk you quickly back to the property so they can greet you with smiles and bubbly. Once you’re in Venice, plan on getting around the city by hopping on and off the scenic vaporetto and doing lots and lots of walking.
Honeymooning in Venice: Pros & Cons
- Venice’s beauty alone is reason to come here — that miraculous mix of water, color, churches, and museums.
- That Venice is devoid of cars only heightens the intensity because it is a city where you can truly let go and lose track of time, weaving your way through its maze of alleys and canals, emerging onto a piazza where you might be compelled to stop and listen to a violin serenade or join the Aperol Spritz-sipping revelers on an outdoor terrace.
- Venice is a city you want to get lost in, where you’re glad Google Maps often leads you to a dead-end that forces you to start the journey all over again.
- The abundance of tourists that everyone keeps growling about hasn’t only made navigating the city difficult — the stampede has also led to considerably spiked prices.
- With all those people streaming in and out, restaurants, cafes, and bars know they can get away with charging top dollar for what is frequently not-so-great food and drink.
- Dining in Venice requires great savvy if you don’t want be hoodwinked.
Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square)Piazza San Marco, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Few are the visitors to Venice who don’t want to see Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square); you will certainly want to. This is where you’ll find St. Mark’s Basilica and it’s worth-the-queue Byzantine mosaics. One caveat: This is also where you’ll find the most tourists. (Photo by rinascefoto)
DorsoduroDorsoduro, 30100 Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
Much of your time in Venice will likely take place in Dorsoduro. The Gallerie dell’Accademia is here, but luckily after that heady art tour there are relaxed bars to hang out in the lively student-filled Campo Santa Margherita, about 10 minutes away. (Photo by zxcv.amore)
CannareggioCannaregio, 30121 Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
One of the most picturesque areas is Cannareggio, home to the Church of Madonna dell’Orto and the stunning Venetian-Gothic Ca’ d’Oro. But it’s mostly alluring because you can spot rarely-seen locals here, partaking in everyday activities like buying bread and popping into wine bars. There’s a similar chilled-out aura in Castello, the sestiere most closely associated with the Arsenale, where all those art aficionados flock to the Biennale. The restaurant-lined Via Giuseppe Garibaldi also has an alluringly unvarnished neighborhood feel. (Photo by namle3110)
Best Attractions & Activities in Venice
The Peggy Guggenheim CollectionDorsoduro, 701-704, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
In what was once socialite-art collector Peggy Guggenheim’s old house is now the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a shrine to European and American art culled from the first half of the 20th century. There are temporary exhibitions, as well as a permanent collection filled with pieces from the likes of Kandinsky, Magritte, and Pollock. Plop down into the café afterward and discuss what you saw over wine. (Photo courtesy of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection)
Palazzo GrassiCampo San Samuele, 3231, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
There are countless palaces in Venice where you can go gawk at art all day long if you fancy. One to not miss is Palazzo Grassi, which, along with Punta della Dogana, comprise the city’s two contemporary art museums of the Pinault Collection. The juxtaposition of the usually bold art on display against the backdrop of the circa-1700s Palazzo Grassi is pretty trippy. (Photo courtesy of Palazzo Grassi)
Teatro La FeniceCampo San Fantin, 1965, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
If you harbor dreams of seeing an opera, Venice is the place to do so. Teatro La Fenice, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, opened in 1792 and once hosted premieres of big-time composers like Rossini and Verdi. Sadly, the building has succumbed to fire several times, most recently in 1996, but after re-opening in 2003 with an onslaught of gold, velvet, frescoes, and cherubs, it feels just like the 19th-century again. (Photo courtesy of Teatro La Fenice)
Caffè FlorianPiazza San Marco, 57, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Caffè Florian claims to be the oldest café in Europe, and it’s also the reason you should consider staying a while in Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). Florian turns out a sublime hot chocolate that tastes all the better because of its regal neo-Baroque atmosphere. (Photo courtesy of Caffè Florian)
Rialto Market (Mercato di Rialto)Campiello de la Pescaria, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy
Obviously you’re going to walk over the Rialto Bridge (several times) while you’re in Venice, so on one of these excursions, pop into the Rialto Market. Mornings are best to see it at its most animated, with locals sizing up vegetables, fruits, and fish. One boon to shacking up in an Airbnb at least part of the time: you can can whip up your own snug, candle-lit dinner for two with goods snagged at the market. (Photo by Sergey Galyonkin)
Gritti PalaceCampo Santa Maria del Giglio, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Gazing upon the Grand Canal never gets old. One place to revel in it is at the 15th-century Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel by Marriott. Just off the elegant Bar Longhi is Riva Lounge, an al fresco retreat resembling a sleek 1960s-style Italian yacht. With spritz in hand, this is where you want to be seated come sunset. (Photo courtesy of Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel)
The Jewish Museum of VeniceCampo di Ghetto Nuovo, 2902/b, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy
Venice has a long and interesting Jewish history, which you can learn about first-hand with a stroll through the ghetto, a one-time foundry in Cannaregio where the Jewish population was clustered between the 16th and 19th centuries. Learn more at the Jewish Museum of Venice, arrange a synagogue tour, then drop by Rosso Banco, purported to be the world’s first pawn shop. (Photo courtesy of the Jewish Museum of Venice)
Day Trip to MuranoMurano, 30141 Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
Escape to one of Venice’s islands for the afternoon. Murano is renowned for glass-making — yes, that activity is also a hit with the tourists — but it’s still nice to see the centuries-old craft come to life at places like Museo del Vetro, Massimiliano Schiavon Art Team, and Mazzega Glass Factory (Photo of Murano by marollaguedes)
Best Hotels in Venice
The St. Regis VeniceS. Marco, 2159, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
A prime location right on the Grand Canal is one of the draws to the brand-new St. Regis Venice, a revamp of the late 19th-century Grand Hotel Britannia. So is the fact that you’ll be sleeping in a Monet-inspired room in one of five historic Venetian palaces. The St. Regis essentially doubles as a museum, what with Banksy, Yayoi Kusama, and Jeff Koons pieces in the Arts Bar. Effervescent cocktails plucked from the roving Spritz Trolley only sweeten the deal. Deluxe rooms average $589 (535 euros) a night. (Photo courtesy of The St. Regis Venice)
Belmond Hotel CiprianiGiudecca, 10, 30133 Venezia VE, Italy
One of the grandes dames of Venice, Belmond Hotel Cipriani has been going strong for more than 60 years. Its location on Giudecca — the amorous island where Casanova used to rendezvous with the ladies — is part of the appeal, as are its rooms, bedecked with Murano glass chandeliers and Fortuny fabrics. When you’re tired of the Venice tourist route, simply find bliss here in the hotel’s swimming pool and George Clooney-approved Bellini. Note that this property closes in winter; double rooms with a lagoon view and balcony average $1,000 (908 euros) a night. (Photo courtesy of Belmond Hotel Cipriani)
Ca Maria AdeleSestiere Dorsoduro, 111, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
There are only 12 rooms in Ca Maria Adele and each one of them is sexy, appointed with dramatic chandeliers and flocked wallpaper that are emblematic of old Venice. But even in the over-the-top red-and-gold Doge’s Room, the vibe is modern-day stylish. Between the Berber-inspired terrace and suite treats like a chromotherapy whirlpool, Ca Maria Adele, though planted in busy Dorsoduro, is a true urban hideaway. A three-night stay in a double annex room averages $1,542 (1,400 euros). (Photo courtesy of Ca Maria Adele)
Splendid VeniceSan Marco Mercerie, 760, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Part of the Starhotel Collezione, Splendid Venice has sophisticated rooms done up in silk and marble. If and when you choose to leave them, you don’t have to go far to find stellar seafood. Le Maschere, on the ground floor, is where you can have fresh seafood tartare in a courtyard best described as, well, splendid. But you might want to miss breakfast, because the hotel is a quick jaunt from the crema-filled cornettos at Rosa Salva bakery. Superior rooms average $311 (282.50 euros) a night. (Photo courtesy of Splendid Venice)
Ca' PisaniRio Terrà Foscarini, 979A, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
You’ll be seeing Venice’s historic side all day long, so if you’d rather not sleep amid the same ambience, consider Ca’ Pisani, a former 14th-century palace converted into an Art Deco shrine flaunting geometric patterns, bamboo floors, and beds from the 1930s and ‘40s. A four-night stay in a Decò superior room averages $990 (899 euros). (Photo courtesy of Ca’ Pisani)
Casa BuranoSan Martino Sinistro 506 Isola di, 30142 Venezia VE, Italy
A get-away-from-it-all feeling can be found on Burano, the island best known for its rainbow-hued homes and lace-making heritage. Stay at Casa Burano, a decidedly contemporary hotel from the folks behind Venissa wine that features Italian design brands like Fontana Arte, Arclinea, and Moroso in its rooms. Superior rooms average $121 (110 euros) a night. (Photo courtesy of Casa Burano)
Best Restaurants & Bars in Venice
Antico FornoRuga Rialto, 973, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
Given its location, close to the Rialto Bridge, you wouldn’t expect Antico Forno, a no-frills pizza stop, to be good. But the pizza they’ve been making since 2001 is delicious and ideal for when you want a quick, cheap, satisfying bite before tackling another action-packed sightseeing session. Antico Forno’s specialty is thick focaccia-style pies, but the light, crispy slices covered in tomato sauce, mozzarella fior di latte, and Calabra salami, or eggplant, ricotta, sun-dried tomato, and basil, are equally satiating. (Photo courtesy of Antico Forno)
Osteria Al PortegoCalle de la Malvasia, 6014, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy
Really, every day in Venice should be celebrated with a between-meals aperitivo and cicchetti — those small, addictive Italian snacks that put American happy hour to shame — in convivial tapas bars known as bacari. One such low-key hangout is Osteria Al Portego, not far from the Rialto Bridge. There are just a few tables, so be prepared to stand up alongside strangers as you sip wine recommended by the welcoming staff and peer at the array of sandwiches behind glass. To fulfill heartier cravings, there’s usually a tray of lasagne in flavors like pumpkin-sausage. (Photo courtesy of Osteria Al Portego)
Al CovoCampiello de la Pescaria, 3698, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy
When it’s time for a proper sit-down lunch or dinner, Al Covo is arguably a perfect restaurant. About a 15-minute walk from the chaos of Piazza San Marco, it’s cozy and friendly, run by a husband and wife for more than 30 years. Regulars keep coming back for linguini strewn with clams and squash blossoms, and simply grilled fish accompanied by polenta. For a splurge, consider the seven-course tasting menu and wine pairing, priced at a generous $120 (109 euros). (Photo courtesy of Al Covo)
Osteria Anise StellatoFondamenta de la Sensa, 3272, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy
Another date-worthy meal awaits at Osteria Anice Stellato, filled with the usual Cannaregio charm. When the weather is nice, you can crack open a bottle of natural wine at one of the canal-side tables, but the rustic dining room is just as lovely a setting for anchovy-laced spaghetti with broccoli rabe, breadcrumbs, and paprika, or an oxtail ragu paccheri sweetened with raisins and cacao. (Photo courtesy of Osteria Anice Stellato)
La ZuccaS. Croce, 1762, 30135 Venezia VE, Italy
Vegetarian visitors to Venice love La Zucca. Although the small, reasonably priced restaurant on a canal —definitely book this one ahead to avoid disappointment—does serve meat dishes, vegetables play a starring role on the menu, translating, say, to pumpkin flan and tagliatelle with artichokes and Pecorino. (Photo courtesy of La Zucca)
Harry's BarCalle Vallaresso, 1323, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
You’d be shelling out a lot of cash to have dinner at Harry’s Bar, and most diners who have succumbed to a meal here will tell you that the signature carpaccio and baked tagliolini with ham are unworthy of its jacked-up prices. What cannot be contested, however, is the history that has unfolded in this joint since opening in 1931. Ernest Hemingway loved the place, and if you skip the formal dinner upstairs to linger at the petite bar, there are still traces of that era to admire. Order a Bellini, the Prosecco-peach concoction Harry’s is famous for. It’s just as good as when founder Giuseppe Cipriani was behind the stick. (Photo courtesy of Harry’s Bar)
Il MercanteFondamenta Frari, 2564, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
For another round of cocktails head to Il Mercante. This glam bar beside Ponte dei Frari is set in an old café from 1870. You can savor a classic like a Martini or refreshing Queen’s Park Swizzle here, but don’t miss one of the signature creations, including Coffee Pitfall, made with Hendrick’s Gin, elderflower, and grapefruit soda amped by green coffee. (Photo courtesy of Il Mercante)
No matter the time of year, there will be tourists. Many of them. As you attempt to make your way down a clogged street at more than a snail’s pace, you will inevitably grow agitated, a feeling that will likely manifest again when you see the barrage of restaurants hawking mediocre fritto misto at exorbitant prices or when you encounter more soulless souvenir shops than quirky boutiques. But that ire is fleeting, because then you remember that you are in Venice — and there is no other city that can compete with its otherworldly magic.