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.
Festivals and events
Carnevale Venice hosts to the world's most famous masked ball in February, the pre-Lenten Carnevale, which runs for ten days up until Shrove Tuesday. This tradition dates from the Middle Ages and ended with Napoleon's invasion of 1797, before it was revived in the 1970s to pay homage to the style, swagger and prosperity of the one-time republic. Focused around San Marco, the event is hugely popular with tourists, who come to marvel at the lavish costumes, street entertainment and organised festival events.
Venice International Film Festival The prestigious Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica della Biennale di Venezia - better known as the Venice International Film Festival - is one of the city's main cultural events, taking place from late late August into early September. Founded in 1932, this is the world's oldest film festival and part of the Big Three alongside Cannes and Berlin. The action centres around the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido.
Regata Storica Each year, on the first Sunday of September, tens of thousands of people line the waterways to watch Venice's Historical Regatta. The festivities consist of a costumed gondola procession, recreating the entrance of Queen Catherine of Cyprus following her abdication in 1489, plus competitive racing on the water. The Regata Storica features four race classifications, according to the type of craft and age of the boat, with the Campioni su Gondolini sprint on the Grand Canal the main highlight.