Venice Travel Guide

Explore Venice

There’s nowhere else like Venice in the world. A city of marble palaces, Baroque churches, stone bridges and narrow alleyways all built on a lagoon. Canals and waterways snake through the city, in between 13th century palazzos, art galleries and romantic waterfront taverns.

Gondolas ply the waters alongside vaporetti (public water boats). Getting lost amidst the labyrinth of narrow alleys and piazzas (squares) is just part of the fun. Be warned though: Venice will be sure to steal your heart!


Top Things to Do

Grand Canal

For a city on water, canals are as important as roads are to any other city. The 3.8km-long Grand Canal is a major waterway in historical Venice, with thousands of vaporetti and gondolas criss-crossing it each day. The banks of the Grand Canal are flanked by over 170 buildings, most of which are 13th century palazzos that flaunt the richness of the Venetians.

Piazza San Marco

This is Venice’s main public square, where locals and tourists alike convene especially in the evenings to sip some Prosecco bubbly and watch the sun set over the water. It’s rumored that Napoleon referred to Piazza San Marco as “the drawing room of Europe”.

St. Mark’s Basilica and Bell Tower

Known affectionately as the Chiesa d’Oro (Church of gold), this church is best known for its opulent design, gold mosaics and symbol of Venetian wealth. Since 1807, it has been the city’s Cathedral and the seat of the Patriarch of Venice. In front of the basilica stands the 98.6meter-tall bell tower, capped by a pyramidal spire. You can actually climb up to the top of the bell tower for the best view in town.

Rialto Bridge

An architectural icon of Venice, the Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal. Completed in 1591, the stone bridge has defied its critics to withstand the test of time despite its audacious design. Today, it’s easily the most photogenic spot in the city.

Burano

An island located in the Venetian lagoon, Burano makes for a good day trip and gives interesting insights to life beyond the historic centre. With a small population of just 3,000, the small town is famous for its brightly painted houses, which usually belong to artists.

Where to Eat and Drink

If the magic of Venice’s canals aren’t enough to charm you, its food will. Venetians are extremely proud of their cuisine and rightfully so. Distinctively different from typical Italian fare, Venetian food is an intoxicating mix of fresh seafood and spices. In Venice, you’ll never run out of cicheti (snacks) , canal side bistros and regal restaurants boasting big gardens.


RECOMMENDED PLACES TO EAT

Quanto Basta

This certified halal fast-food shop serves up pizza and kebab fast and easy, without long lines or high prices. Located in the Cannaregio neighborhood of Venice, it’s located near the main train station and is a great spot for a quick bite.

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Locanda Cipriani

A fixture in Venice’s dining scene, this charming restaurant-cum-hotel has over 80 years of history, having hosted many famous personalities including Ernest Hemingway and Queen Elizabeth. Found on Torcello Island, the restaurant impresses with its simple and rustic Italian menu.

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Ristorante Fiaschetteria Toscana

Those in search of traditional, age-old Venetian food would love this cozy tavern run by the Busatto family since 1956. 50 years later, it continues to serve up local favorites using home-grown produce. Its wine list of over 600 wines is also well worth trying.

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Recommended Places to Stay

Gritti Palace

There’s no better location in Venice to stay at: Perched right on the water, the Gritti Palace offers the ultimate in luxury and opulence. After a meticulous restoration, the 15th century Palazzo has been transformed into one of the best hotels in the city.

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Carnival Palace Hotel

Overlooking the Cannaregio Canal in historic Venice, this four-star boutique hotel is sophisticated and modern, quite unlike most other high-end hotels in the city.

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Hotel Metropole

Another classic, Venetian-style hotel located within walking distance from Piazza San Marco, this hotel is known for its impressive collection of over 2,000 antique pieces.

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Venice Certosa Hotel

Those with a tight budget may not be able to stay right on the water, but there are plenty of options beyond that. This budget hotel is located on a lagoon island just 15 minutes away from San Marco by public boat.

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Best Time to Go

For a popular tourist destination like Venice, it’s best to avoid the peak season, which falls in summer (from June to August). During those months, the population of Venice almost doubles and it becomes too crowded to explore the historical area without being overwhelmed. The lethal combination of high temperatures (27-30°C) and high humidity can be oppressive, particularly so in crowded streets.

Winter time in Venice can be rather cold, with temperatures dipping to -1°C in the evenings. Flooding also occurs quite often in November and December, so pack a pair of rain boots for acqua alta (high water). During low season in January and February, some restaurants and hotels will often close, though most of the museums and other tourist destinations remain open.

The best time to visit Venice is in spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) when temperatures are pleasant at around 18 to 22°C. It’s not as crowded and hotel rates are still not too high.

The Carnival of Venice (Carnevale di Venezia) is the biggest festival held in Venice, and it’s a great time to witness locals dressed in Victorian costumes and elaborate masks. The Carnival takes place on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras), usually sometime in February or March. Another major event is the Historical Regatta (“Regata Storica”), a boating competition that takes place along the Grand Canal every September.


Getting There

Many airlines fly from Saudi Arabia to Venice, including Air France, Lufthansa, Etihad, and Qatar Airways. There are no any direct flights. Most flights have one stopover and each journey takes at least 9 hours.

Getting from Airport to City
  • By Boat

    Water transfer by Alilaguna is the cheapest and most convenient way to get from the Marco Polo Airport to the historical center of Venice. The dock is a 10-minute walk from the Arrivals hall and the journey takes around an hour. A single fare costs €8.

  • By Bus

    There are two public bus options to the city centre: ACTV local bus service No. 5 or ATVO direct coaches. Both take you to Piazzale Roma in 20 to 25 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. Piazzale Roma is the end of the road in historic Venice as the remainder of the city is pedestrianized. A single fare costs €8 on both lines.

  • By Taxi

    Taxis are easily available outside of the Arrivals Hall. The journey takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes and the fare is around €20 to 25 each way. You can also take a water taxi, which is exclusive but not cheap, at around €100-150 on average.



Extra tips
  • In Venice, Italian is the official language. English is quite commonly spoken especially in hotels, restaurants and tourist offices.

  • The currency in Italy is the Euro (EUR). The current exchange rate is 1 SAR to 0.24 EUR (€).

  • The outlets in Italy supply electricity between 220 and 240 volts.

  • Italy uses a two or three prong symmetrical plug, though newer installations typically accept more types.