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.
San Marco The best-known of Venice's six sestieri, San Marco is the beating heart of the city. St Mark's Square, known locally as simply 'la Piazza', is both the focal point of the district and Venice's main tourism hub. The 'drawing room of Europe' is dominated by the magnificent St Mark's Basilica at its eastern end, with other iconic buildings including the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), the Campanile and the clocktower. Crowds are inevitable in the main square, particularly when queuing for the main attractions, but the architectural majesty means it's worth joining them.
Dorsoduro The neighbouring district of Dorsoduro, which lies across the Grand Canal from San Marco, is sometimes referred to as the real Venice. Museums, galleries and spectacular churches abound in this quieter part of town, which is lower on crowds and costs, but not necessarily beauty. The Campo San Barnaba square and Cà Rezzonico palace are key destinations, while art-lovers should check out the Gallerie dell'Accademia or Peggy Guggenheim Collection. A short vaporetto ride across the lagoon to Giudecca gives access to the attractive le Zitelle and il Redentore churches, and contemporary Junghans Theatre.
Castello Stretching from Rialto in the west to the Arsenale and Giardini gardens in the east, Castello is the largest of the six neighbourhoods. Stroll around green spaces and quiet squares before getting to grips with Venetian naval industry at Porta Magna. The Church of San Pietro di Castello and the Scuola di San Marco are Middle Ages icons, while the lively shops and cafés of Via Garibaldi are worth examining.
- Time Zone: Central European Time (GMT +1) and Central European Summer Time (GMT +2)
- Population: City 55,000 approx.; Province of Venice 264,579 (2014)
- Language: Italian; Venetian spoken locally
- Currency: Euro
- Voltage: 230V; Europlug adapter needed