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grand canal, venice


What could be more romantic than a slow tour of the canals with an Italian gondolier singing traditional Italian songs... or walking across the Bridge of Sighs as the canals reflect the golden orange sunset in the sky...

Venice is perhaps the most beautiful and romantic city in Europe. For many years the Venetian experience included a strange odor coming from the canals, but that is in the past. The clean waters that wash along the ancient buildings are a pleasure to walk along or enjoy from a gondola or vaporetto.

Getting around Venice

Residents of Venice don't travel by car and neither do the tourists. On the streets of Venice there are no vehicles, except occasional bicycles. Once you leave the train or your tour bus, you'll be wandering by foot through the colorful tangle of narrow streets that make Venice so beloved... and so easy to get lost in!

The traghetto ferry traverses the Grand Canal while fairly large passenger boats, called vaporetto, are the main means of transportation. Smaller, private motor boats are the Venetian version of taxis. And then, of course, there are the world famous gondolas!

Venice gondolas
Venice gondolas with St. Mark's Square in the distance.

The gondola, a black, narrow boat propelled by a gondolier with a pole, is mainly used for romantic tours around Venice. Be prepared, however, to cough up about 80 euros for the 45 minute ride (and a bit more if you start your ride at San Marco's Square!)

Venice tourist attractions

The vaporetto and taxis are a great way to see Venice. Most provide open air seating that allows clear views to photograph the scenery. Ferries to other nearby towns and beaches run on regular schedules.

Piazza San Marco or St. Mark's Square is one of the main spots that draws visitors to this city. In Napoleon's time, the Piazza was such a central gathering place for the locals, artists and other travelers that he called it, “Europe’s most elegant salon.”

Aside from the multitude of cameras and tourists, that description is still accurate. Framed by classical architecture and the bay, this is a wonderful spot to sit for a break at the famed Cafe Florian, visit the Basilica of San Marco, or, if you are staying overnight in Venice, enjoy dueling bands as they play in St. Mark's Square after dark.

The Doges Palace (open from 8:30AM to 7PM during the summer with shorter hours during the low season), the Rialto Bridge (Ponte Rialto) and the Bridge of Sighs are also required stops on any tour of Venice.

Don't miss a chance to have a gondolier escort you on the Grand Canal or into the smaller canals that wind through the city. It may be very touristy, but it is an excellent way to relax and enjoy Venice.

Food and drink

The food is not what draws crowds of visitors to Venice, and there is not much variety in restaurant offerings as they're are in Florence or Rome. The tourist menus offers mostly pasta variations that are acceptable, but not special. You'll find several fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Spizzico, as well.

In the city center, Italian sandwiches – panini, are served to customers standing at the counters. Sitting at a table doubles the price, so join the locals and stand while you eat. Another option for later in the day are osteries – wine bars where drinks and appetizers are served.

More about Venice tourism & travel around the Web:

Durant & Cheryl Imboden's Venice for Visitors - From the Europe for Visitors site, this section on Venice provides the in depth 'gotta know' details that you're looking for if you're planning a trip. If you're an armchair traveler, the pictures and descriptions are a great way to tour Venice online.

Italy Guides - Venice - The 360° virtual tours of the sights of Venice are well worth a visit. The controls are a bit sensitive, so don't get seasick as you get used to them.


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