Planning Your Trip to Venice
When to come
Venice, Italy draws legions of tourists during the peak travel months of May through early October. The 11-day Carnevale di Venezia in February is another time when hotel space and elbow room are in short supply.
To our way of thinking, the best time for a trip to Venice is from late October into April (excluding Carnival, unless you crave crowds and high prices).
Air fares and hotel prices are lowest in winter--which means you can allocate your travel budget over a longer period and give Venice the time it deserves.
How long to visit
Venetophiles may consider this next piece of advice to be sacrilege, but here it is:
If you're pressed for time, you can grasp the essence of Venice in a single day. A vaporetto ride up the Grand Canal, an hour in the Piazza San Marco and St. Mark's Basilica, and an afternoon spent exploring the city's campi and calli are better than skipping Venice altogether.
Still, it's much nicer to spend a few days in Venice--or, preferably, a week or longer.
For one thing, opening times (especially out of season) can make it difficult to visit more than a sampling of museums and churches in a day or two.
There's also a lot to see beyond the usual tourist attractions: e.g., the islands of the lagoon, the ancient Jewish Ghetto, and the bridges, canals, back streets, and shops of neighborhoods that hurried and harried tourists never see. Many sights won't cost you a penny (See our Top 11 Free Sights article for suggestions).
Where to stay
Venice has hundreds of hotels, B&BS, hostels, and vacation rentals. However, most are relatively small by mainland standards, and it can be difficult to find a room during high season or on holiday weekends, so it pays to book early.
How to arrive
Don't drive to Venice unless you have to. Parking is expensive, and finding a spot in a garage or outdoor lot can be a nuisance in high season.
Train service to Venice is frequent. Just be sure that you're booked to Venice's Santa Lucia station, not the mainland station of Venezia-Mestre (unless you're intending to stay in Mestre and commute by train to the city center.)
Major airlines connect London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and other European gateways to Venice's Marco Polo Airport. (Ryanair and several other budget airlilnes fly to Treviso.) The aerial view of the lagoon and nearby Dolomites is spectacular on a clear day, and the Alilaguna airport boat ride into the city is a great way to approach Venice for the first time.
If you're planning your first trip to the city, start with Introducing Venice: an orientation for first-time visitors. Also see our Top 11 Tourist Mistakes in Venice (and how to avoid them).
Finally, if you're a pet aficionado, take a moment to look at our dog blog, "Maggie in Venice: The adventures of a Bearded Collie in Italy."