The capital of Italy’s Veneto region, Venice is one of the most visited cities in the world.
Nothing prepares you for your first image of a city, seemingly floating on water. This dramatic architectural feat has inspired countless writers and romantics across the centuries.
Get lost in the winding back-streets streets, take a ride in a gondola, explore the historic sights or sip wine in one of Venice’s countless cafe’s. The choice is yours.
For gay rights in Italy, please see our Gay Rome City Guide page.
Despite being a very popular tourist destination there are no specifically gay venues in the city center. In fact, the city center does does not have much nightlife at all. The vast majority of restaurants and bars close before midnight.
Venice has one gay sauna (on the mainland).
Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) is situated on the mainland, 4 km north of the city center.
There are three options to get from the airport to your hotel – bus, waterbus and watertaxi.
Venice streets are not luggage friendly. If traveling with large suitcases, we recommend a watertaxi from the airport directly to your hotel.
Aerobus Line 5 takes you to Piazzale Roma, the bus drop off point next to Venice St Lucia train station. The 20 minute trip cost €8 one-way or €15 return.
From Piazzale Roma catch a Waterbus or walk to your hotel. Walking from Piazzale Rome to a hotel near Rialto Bridge will take 30-40 minutes.
By airport waterbus
There are three Alilaguna waterbus routes from the airport to Venice city center.
The Blue, Orange and Red lines have different stops around the city center. This can get you much closer to your hotel than the road bus. It’s usually just a short walk once you get off the boat.
If you are not sure which line to use or stop to get off, just ask at the ticket office at the airport.
The fastest and most expensive way to get to your hotel.
Watertaxis depart from a purpose built dock next to the airport. Transfers to most hotels in central Venice take less than 20 minutes. Prices are around €100 per boat if booked online or up to €140 if you pay at the airport. This is the best option if you have lots of luggage, or in a group or pressed for time.
Venice has two main stations – Venice Mestra (on the mainland) and Venice Santa Lucia.
Unless you are staying on the mainland, get a train to Venice Santa Lucia. The station is located next to the Grand Canal. Depending on the location of your hotel, from here either walk or take a Waterbus.
By cruise ship
As well as being a popular destination for cruise ships, there are ferry services to Slovenia, Croatia and some Greek islands.
Walking is the best way to explore the city as the main sights are close to each other.
The streets are very maze-like and its easy to get lost. A street map is essential and usually offered free at your hotel. Google Maps is great, but it will use up a lot of roaming data.
Venice’s water bus system (Vaporetto) is a 24 hour network that covers both the historic city center and islands within the Venetian Lagoon. A single journeys cost €7.50 for 75 minutes. Day tickets cost €20. Walking can beat the water bus within the city center.
Not really necessary within the city center. Mostly used to get from the airport to your hotel in the city.
A trip in a Gondola is a tourist experience, rather than a means of getting anywhere as you end up back at the point of departure.
In 2017, a 30 minute trip will cost 80 euros per boat.
We suggest hiring a boat near Rialto Bridge. The nearby canals are quieter and you get a chance to see the bridge from the Grand Canal.
Avoid hiring a boat near San Marco Plaza / Doge Place. You will end up in a long line of Gondolas that might as well be tied together and pulled round on a chain!
The streets of Venice are packed with an endless choice of boutique shops. Almost every conceivable clothing and fashion brand is represented here. Most high-end stores and art galleries are located in the streets around St Mark’s Square.
Beyond fashion, the main attraction is glass. Locally manufactured Murano glass has an international reputation for quality and a price to match. Discounts are always available if you ask.
Also worth checking out are the artisan shops selling stunningly beautiful Venetian masks.
For our list of recommended Venice hotels for gay travellers, visit our Gay Venice Hotels page.
Piazza San Marco/St Mark’s Square – the heart of Venice.
St Mark’s Basilica – located on St Mark’s Square, this magnificent church is impressive both inside and outside.
The Doge’s Palace – a breathtaking palace that was the administrative center of the Venetian Republic and home for the Doge (duke) of Venice.
The Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge – Venice’s main artery and most famous scenic bridge.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco – 16th-century art museum behind the impressive Basilica dei Frari church
Ponte dell’ Accademia – Another scene bridge towards the south of the city center.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection – 20th-century European and US art museum.
away from the city center…
Lido – beach resort to relax on. There is a good concentration of bars, restaurants, and shops to relax away from the crowded streets of Venice.
Burano – quieter island where the buildings are brightly coloured. Perfect for a romantic stroll.
We think the best time to visit is in spring (April – May) or fall (late September-October). The weather during these periods is usually comfortable. But most importantly, there are less crowds of people.
Avoid Easter, however, as the crowds are almost as numerous as in August.
Venice gets very hot during summer (June to September), and a bit smelly. This is peak season and the streets will be packed with hordes of people.
Winter can be bitterly cold but the mist and snow is very atmospheric and adds an extra dimension.
Italy is a member of the euro zone. ATM’s (bancomat) are widely available around Venice. If you’re paying with cash, ask for a discount (it’s expected and you should get it).
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