Image by Italy-based illustrator Marianna Tomaselli

The Insider Guide to Venice

The Floating City, the City of Water, the City of Canals – Venice, Italy is known by many names. And while you may already be familiar with the picturesque gondola rides through Venice’s waterways and the towering St. Mark’s Basilica, they’re always must-dos for anyone visiting the city.

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Andiamo! The Main Attractions

Think you’re ready for a visit to La Serenissima? Your trip is sure to be centered around Venice’s Grand Canal, the city’s aquatic equivalent of Main Street. You’ll be zipping up and down the channel in one of the city’s vaporetti, or water buses, or you can rent a gondola or water taxi for-hire. From here you’ll land at some of Venice’s top spots, many in the San Marco sestiere (one of the city’s six sestieri, or neighborhoods). A common starting point for tours in the area is the Piazza San Marco, the largest square in Venice, which houses the Basilica di San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale, or Doge’s Palace. Head back up the Rio del Palazzo behind the palace to snap a pic under the Bridge of Sighs, where, as many tourists are told, lovers will “sigh” as they kiss under the magic bridge. The reality, unfortunately, is a bit darker – it’s the bridge heading straight into the palace’s dungeons! Across the Rio dei Barcaroli, from the other side of St. Mark’s Square, you’ll land at the Teatro La Fenice, the renowned Rococo style opera house. From there you can cross the Grand Canal to check out the Gallerie dell'Accademia, a museum filled with classic Venetian art, or sail over to San Giorgio Maggiore, a quaint island known for its 16th century Benedictine church designed by renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. While the city is known for its unique form of public transportation, you’ll want to see some parts of the city on foot, too – There are four bridges that cross the Grand Canal, and we recommend making time for the Ponte di Rialto, the most famous, and the Ponte della Costituzione, the newest. This centuries-old city has plenty of stories to tell, and while the artwork can be beautiful, the history isn’t always a pretty picture. Make time to head up to the Cannaregio sestiere, which housed the Jewish Ghetto. Thought to be the oldest ghetto in the world, this neighbourhood now has a small Jewish population and is dotted with kosher shops, restaurants and the Jewish Museum of Venice. Want to see all this in Venice, and more? Read on for our insider tips.

Neighborhoods in Venice