City, sovereign state, tourist hub, living museum... whatever your impression of Venice, this place continues to defy all logic.
This audacious medieval masterpiece, perilously perched in the Adriatic lagoon, boasts some of the world's finest art and architecture. The City of Love almost sinks under the weight of its incredible past, yet stands tall as a fascinating window into a bygone age.
Arriving at Venice Marco Polo Airport
You can fly directly from London City Airport to Venice Marco Polo Airport in little over two hours, with flights operating seasonally between March and November. The airport lies on the mainland, just outside the small city of Tessera about nine miles (14km) northeast of Venice. The busy terminal opened in 2002, with the ground floor used for arrivals and first floor for departures.
If you're taking the train into Venice, get the shuttle bus to the nearest mainline railway station, Venice Mestre. From here it's a 10-minute ride across the causeway into Venice Saint Lucia. Services also operate from the airport to Piazzale Roma at the island gateway, from where you can access other destinations via the city's water bus network. If you're not pressed for time, this can be your first opportunity to explore the Venetian Lagoon.
St Mark's Basilica St Mark's Basilica is one of the world's iconic cathedrals. The 8,000sq m masterpiece dates to the 10th century, when the existing design --with its Byzantine domes, marble-clad walls and Greek cross layout - was drawn up. Notable for its beautiful façade mosaics, the structure is a stunning sight at all times of the day. Either join a tour or enter freely to attend mass through the north-facing Porta dei Fiori.
Doge's Palace For many centuries, the Doge's Palace served as the main residence for the ruler of the Republic of Venice. The building features Gothic, Renaissance and Mannerist wings, which were constructed between 1340 and 1565. The palace was converted to a museum in 1923, giving visitors a first opportunity to view its dazzling interior.
Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge The bustling Grand Canal, which stretches over two miles (3.8km) from Santa Lucia railway station to St Mark's Square, is Venice's major thoroughfare. The busy waterway winds its way through the city, linking the main tourist hub in the south with onward transport connections. You can explore the canal by water bus or gondola, taking in sights including the famous Rialto Bridge, which connects the sestieri of San Marco and San Polo.
Murano and Burano Out in the lagoon, to the northeast of the city, the pretty islands of Murano and Burano offer unique curiosities. Murano, the closer of the two to Venice, has a centuries-old glass-making tradition, which you can explore at its notable museum, craft centres and shops selling local wares. Burano is famed for its kaleidoscopic fishermen's houses and the perilously leaning Chiesa di San Martino bell tower.