Venice City Breaks | Venice Short Break Holiday Guide | Venice City Guide


The name is derived from the ancient tribe of Veneti that inhabited the region in Roman times. Its strategic position on a lagoon at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea gave Venice economic and defensive advantages over its trading rivals. As a vast sea empire, it was a staging post for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, and was a very important commercial centre for all goods especially silk, grain and spices coming from the Far East from the 13th to the 17th century. The Republic of Venice was a major maritime army during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, extending through to the 18th century; the Venetian Arsenal was the envy of all Europe. After the discovery of the New World, its riches, and the rise of Portugal and Spain, Venice lost power and focused instead on agriculture and industry, notably armoury. Venice played an important role in several artistic movements, especially the Renaissance, and in the development of symphonic and operatic music.

During the 18th century, Venice greatly influenced art, architecture, literature and music; this rich heritage is evident today, making it one of the top destinations for city breaks in Italy. Venice has been the setting for numerous films, novels, plays, and poems including Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, Fellini's Casanova and The Italian Job. Medieval Venice was known as the 'Republic of Music' and the city became one of the most influential musical centres in 16th century Europe for its unique Venetian polychoral style, later becoming famous for the colossal scores of Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli. Venice was the home of many significant Baroque composers such as Vivaldi. In interior design, Venice arguably produced the most unique and refined Rococo designs and its beautiful girandole mirrors, colourful glass chandeliers, lacquerwork and Chinoiserie were craved throughout Europe. Venetian glass and lace are still made today on the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello that lie beyond the six Sistieri.

Must-see attractions
Your Italian city breaks would be incomplete without seeing St Mark's Basilica, St Mark's Square, Doge's Palace, Accademia Gallery, The Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge. These top sights are iconic and simply breathtaking. The Lido is also a popular luxury destination, attracting thousands of celebrities every year.

Annual events
In the 1980s, the Carnival of Venice was revived and the city has become a major centre of international conferences and festivals such as the prestigious Venice Biennale and the Venice Film Festival.

This is a unique floating city built on an archipelago of 118 marshy islands in the shallow Venetian lagoon, linked by 177 canals and 354 bridges. Buildings are supported by wooden posts. As a tidal city, the occasional extreme high or low tides cause difficulties for the residents. The historic city centre is divided into six Sestieri: Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Marco, San Polo and Santa Croce; all are linked by the Grand Canal.

Venice has a rich and diverse architectural style. Elegant palaces peer over the ancient maze of narrow streets and the labyrinth of canals, all creating the unique style of this city. Venetian Gothic architecture is a combination of the Gothic lancet arch with Byzantine and Arab influences; the primary examples are the Doge's Palace and the Ca' d'Oro. Notable Renaissance and Baroque buildings include the Ca'Pesaro and the Ca'Rezzonico. The Venetian Arsenal features some 8th century Byzantine architecture but was primarily built in 1320. The main Porta Magna gate was possibly the first Classical revival structure built in Venice, in 1460, and the two Greek lions were added in 1687.

The canals serve the function of roads and all forms of transport are on water or on foot. You can travel around Venice via gondola, public waterbuses, private boats, foot passenger ferries. There are extensive footpaths and bridges throughout the city. A railway causeway brings regional and national trains into Venice itself. The nearest airport is the Marco Polo International Airport. There is a car and bus terminal at the Ponte della Liberta bridge.

Useful external links

Key facts
  • Founded 1,500 years ago
  • 118 islands linked by some 200 canals and over 350 bridges
  • Considered the world's most beautiful city
Tourist attractions
  • St Mark's Basilica
  • St Mark's Square
  • Doge's Palace
  • Accademia Gallery
  • The Grand Canal
  • Rialto Bridge
  • St John & Paul's Church
  • Murano Island
  • Jewish Ghetto of Venice
  • Santa Margherita district


  • Both continental and mediterranean climate
  • Cool winters
  • Warm and damp summers