Among one of the most romantic cities on Earth, Venice is the type of place that an embark traveler may feel conflicted about. On one hand, the city and its lagoon are a UNESCO world-heritage site, the only motorized transport is via its innumerable waterways, and the elegant decay of buildings and landmarks up to seventeen-hundred years old continue to convey a near timeless and yet within grasp sense of antiquity. On the other hand, tourists continue to account for figures on a daily basis that rival the number of citizens that live on these 118 tiny islands, leading us to wonder just how much local culture continues to thrive in this "living museum." Furthermore, Venice is an expensive city sometimes saddled by a phenomenon known as "acqua alta" (an irregular flooding of the city that covers many of the city's squares). These drawbacks aside, Venice is the type of place that other world travel destinations have long been weighed against. and rightly so; where else can you sweep languidly along canals lined on both sides by buildings a thousand years old while the sound of automotive traffic is merely an inconvenient memory of the life you're escaping?
As we've previously alluded, cars aren't allowed on the islands of Venice, making your feet a a primary method of finding your next adventure, although the ubiquitous vaporetti (water buses) and gondola are an integral way of seeing the city from its canals, the main thoroughfare of which is the Grand Canal. The most essential itinerary item is the Piazza San Marco, which is home to city's most popular collection of landmarks. Highlights include the Doge's Palace, which allows insight into the administrative workings of the city during its Medieval and Renaissance height and access to the old prison and the tiny Bridge of Sighs; the lovely Saint Mark's Church (Basilica di San Marco), a thousand-year-old Byzantine masterpiece; the 99 meter tall, stand-alone bell tower (Campanile di San Marco); and the Correr Museum, known for its chronicling of Venetian life and art. There are also plenty of other churches, plazas, and other landmarks worth seeing (like the covered Rialto Bridge and its nearby market, which is known as an exceptionally lively social space), something you may explore further on our Venice culture page.
While much of Venice's intrigue may actually be in the very real possibility of getting lost in its various side streets, you may also want to trek out to the nearby beaches and islands for a bit of sunshine and sand. Beaches of note include the Lido di Venezia on the Mediterranean and the large Lido di Jesolo to the north, both of which pack it in during the summer months. Islands like Murano, which is known for its local glassware production and Burano, known for its colorful assortment of houses and lace industry, are interesting day trip destinations. Mestre on the mainland (which actually has a higher population than Venice proper) is a great place for reasonably priced accommodations and transportation via bus or train to the city, while also providing a much more low-key sense of cultural history. Adventures of a greater size and scope are a bit harder to come by from Venice, unless you're willing to travel a few hours north to exhilarating destinations like Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park or the Lake District or hurtle from a plane with outfits like Skydive Thiene or Skydive Venice.
There is no questioning the allure of the beauty and mystique of the city's landmarks, which continue to make Venice the most famous city of islands in the Western world. We've got much more on subjects like nightlife and cuisine, while there are a ton of Venice-based activities, videos, and information if you're seeking further inspiration. If you've never seen Venice, whether in the midst of wild celebrations like Carnival and the Biennale or just to putter around during the off-season, it is a sublime opportunity.