10 Reasons to visit Venice

  • By Martijn Mulder
  • 11 Jan, 2016
In the evening ,the Canal Grande is a magical place
In the evening ,the Canal Grande is a magical place
‘Venice! A magnificent city! A city with an irresistible appeal to the educated, because of its history as well as its present charms.’ Though it is a bit of an elitist point of view from which Thomas Mann praises the north-Italian city in his novel ‘Death in Venice’ in 1912, he hits the nail right on the head. Also for the tourist of the 21st century Venice has lost nothing of its fascination. Bond visited this unique city at the northern tip of the Adriatic Sea three times, first in 1963 in From Russia With Love. But at that time only some few snapshots of it were used as a background. No real action took place there. This was totally different in 1979. In Moonraker many of Venice’s beauty spots, the world-famous ones and the hidden ones, were featured excellently. In 2006, EON returned to the beautiful city to film the spectacular finale of their reboot entry Casino Royale. Apart from the Bond-sites you will find a multitude of cultural treasures and pieces of evidence of the city’s glorious past. So take your time to appreciate it properly.
In Venice there are about 15,000 buildings, among them 900 palaces and 105 churches. They are all built upon millions of tree-trunks (10 - 30 feet long), which are driven through the soft material into the solid ground of the lagoon. These buildings spread over more than 120 islands. Some 400 bridges span the 177 canals that separate these islands. The 2-mile-long (3 km) Canal Grande, shaped like a huge question mark, divides the city into two parts of almost equal size. Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world for its celebrated art and architecture. The city has an average of 50,000 tourists a day and in 2006, it was the world's 28th most internationally visited city, with 2.927 million international arrivals that year. It is regarded as one of the world's most beautiful cities.
Because we think Venice is a migical city that deserves to be on everybody's bucket list, we present you with ten, randomly ordered, very good reasons to visit Venice. I'm sure there are plenty of more reasons, but you gotta start somewhere.. so, here goes:

1. The canals

Venice has lots of narrow alleys and walkways for pedestrians, but lacks wider streets, so cars are a rarity in the city. Venice, contrary to most cities, relies almost solely on boat transportation through the many canals. Even the postal service delivers the mail by boat.

2. The movie locations

The canals of Venice featured heavily in James Bond's Moonraker (1979)
The canals of Venice featured heavily in James Bond's Moonraker (1979)
Venice looks like a huge filmset. Around every coner, film buffs might have deja-vu’s, as many films were shot in this city. James Bond’s first ‘visit’ was in 1963, when back projection was used for the final scenes of From Russia With Love. In 1979, Bond returned and took full advantage of the city and its canals in Moonraker. The final visit was in 2006, when Bond sailed into the city together with Vesper, in Casino Royale’s tragic epilogue.

3. More movie locations!

Campo San Barnaba, as seen in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'
Campo San Barnaba, as seen in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'
Other movies shot in Venice are 1971’s Death in Venice, the original 1969’s version of The Italian Job and, one of my personal favorites, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Visit the Campo de San Barnaba and wait for Indy to climb out of the sewer!

4. Double take pigeons!

St. Mark's Square with St. Mark's Basilica and the Campanile Tower
St. Mark's Square with St. Mark's Basilica and the Campanile Tower

Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square, is the principal public square of Venice. Famous for its many (double taking?) pigeons, the square is a tourist favourite, mostly because it is enclosed by famous Venetian landmarks, such as St. Mark’s Basilica and the tall Campanile tower. On the smaller Piazetta extension, you can find the beautiful Doge Palace. The square can be seen in the 1979 Bond film Moonraker , when Bond shows that his gondola has wheels and makes his escape over land.

5. Famous bridges

The Bridge of Sighs, which can also be visited from the inside
The Bridge of Sighs, which can also be visited from the inside
The enclosed Bridge of Sighs ( Ponte dei Sospiri ), constructed in 1600, passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the New Prison ( Prigioni Nuove ) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. Its name comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells. The famous bridge can be seen as a background projection in the final seconds of From Russia With Love .

6. More famous bridges

The Rialto Bridge, one of the city's most famous landmarks
The Rialto Bridge, one of the city's most famous landmarks
The famous Rialto Bridge ( Ponte di Rialto) crossing the Canal Grande was originally a timber bridge, also with shops on both sides. After it collapsed twice (in 1444 and 1524) the present covered stone bridge was designed and construction was completed in 1591. 

7. It beats the look-a-like casino

The Venetian comes close, but fails to capture the essence of Venice
The Venetian comes close, but fails to capture the essence of Venice
The Venetian Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, with 4049 rooms and 3068 suites the second largest hotel in the world, uses uses Venice as its design inspiration. The resort features architectural replicas of various Venetian landmarks, including the Palazzo Ducale, Piazza San Marco, Piazzetta di San Marco, the Lion of Venice Column and the Column of Saint Theodore, St Mark's Campanile, and the Rialto Bridge. Though it comes amazingly close, it doesn’t beat the original though..

8. Glass blowing

Glass blowing in one of the many glass blowing factories on Murano
Glass blowing in one of the many glass blowing factories on Murano
Venetian glass   is world-renowned for being colourful, elaborate, and skillfully made. It’s made in Venice,   primarily on the island of   Murano , 1,5 kilometres north of the main island. The Murano glass factories all have outlets on the main island, as can be seen in Moonraker. Bond visits Venini Glass, a real life store and museum, located adjacent to St. Mark’s Square.

9. Sinking city

Acqua Alta, or high water, occurs regularly in Venice
Acqua Alta, or high water, occurs regularly in Venice
Venice is a very fragile city. Its many houses, palazzos and cathedrals are built on wooden poles driven into the muddy ground of a lagoon. Careful studies showed the city of Venice is subsiding on average about 1 to 2 millimetres a year (0.04 to 0.08 inches per year). Add that to the global rising sea level and Houston, we have a problem. While a hundred years ago there were about 400 incidents of acqua alta, or high water, when the right mix of tides and winds drives the liquid streets up into homes and shops in the lowers parts of the city, by the 1990s, there were 2,400 incidents. So in other words, you better hurry up and visit the city while it’s still above sea level!

10. The carnival

The Venetian Carnival, famous for it's use of masks
The Venetian Carnival, famous for it's use of masks

The Carnival of Venice ( Carnevale di Venezia ) is an annual festival, world-famous for its elaborate masks. This year it’s held from January 23 to February 9 and should be on everyone’s bucket list. Approximately 3 million visitors come to Venice every year especially for the carnival and if you want to be one of them, you should visit www.carnevale.venezia.it/en/ for more info.

When to visit?

The best time to visit and enjoy Venice, is outside the tourist sigh seasons. During the busy summer season, tourists can outnumber the Venetians by 600 to 1, and this will most certainly influence your experience in a negative way. Try to visit the city in February or March, or later in the year in September or October. It will still be busy, but certainly not as much as during the peak season. Venice can be freezing in winter and hot during the summer, so anything in between should be preferable.
Average temperatures in Venice
Average temperatures in Venice

How to visit?

Venice is served by the Marco Polo International Airport ( Aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo ), named in honor of its most famous citizen. The airport is on the mainland and was rebuilt away from the coast. Public transport from the airport takes you to the Piazzale Roma from where you can hop on to one of the many canal taxis to reach the city centre or your hotel.

Some airlines market Treviso Airport in Treviso as a Venice gateway, but this airport is in fact 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Venice.

Where to stay?

Venice has a whopping 2,000 hotels, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one. Obviously, the closer you want to stay to the centre, the more expensive it gets. Prices range from 17 euros to 1,000 euros per night, so there’s something for every budget.

LOW Budget recommendation:

My personal recommendation would be Hotel Do Pozzi, a romantic and comfortable 3 stars hotel located in the heart of the old town center. Few hotels in Venice can boast such an ideal location, just 5 minutes walking from St Mark's Square and 2 minutes walking from La Fenice Theater.

Thanks to its quiet and relaxing atmosphere, its ideal location, the romantic and quiet campiello just out of the hotel and itsVenetian style rooms, Hotel Do Pozzi in Venice is the ideal solution for a romantic or family holiday and for opera lovers. Close to the main fashion boutiques and designer stores of Venice, it is also perfect for a shopping weekend with your friends on the famous Via XXII Marzo.

The Hotel Do Pozzi has a 8.2 score on Booking.com, a 82% score on Trivago and a VERY GOOD 4,2/5 rating at Expedia. 99% of the visitors recommend this hotel to others. The prices start at 58 euros per night, making it a bargain for such a great location. And just take the somewhat unfortunate abbreviation, which the Hotel DP uses, for granted.. ;-)
Hotel Do Pozzi is a comfortable hotel offering amazing value for money
Hotel Do Pozzi is a comfortable hotel offering amazing value for money
Booking.com

HIGH Budget recommendation:

If you can afford it, you might want to consider booking the Danieli. For more info on this amazing hotel, you can check out our dedicated page for this hotel here . The hotel offers a strong Bond connection (Moonraker was filmed there), a wonderful location and amazing views.

Starting at 310 euros per night, Hotel Danieli is pure luxury in a fully restored palazzo. Overlooking Venice Lagoon, Hotel Danieli is a legendary hotel 200 m from St. Mark's Square. Each room is spacious and finely furnished. The staff provides an unmatchable service. This award-winning Luxury Collection Hotel is comprised of 3 separate buildings, dating back to the 14th, 19th, and 20th centuries, and connected by covered bridges. The nearest water-bus stop is just a 2-minute walk away.

The beautiful marble lobby of the Hotel Danieli shows unmistakable signs of its rich past
The beautiful marble lobby of the Hotel Danieli shows unmistakable signs of its rich past
Booking.com

Conclusion:

There are so many reasons you should visit Venice. Far more than I can mention here of course. I think you should experience it yourself and take your family or loved one to one of the most romantic cities on the planet. And catch an abundance of Bond locations while you’re there!

For a more detailed travel story, you can buy On the tracks of 007 – a field guide to the exotic James Bond locations around the world . It has a full chapter on all the Bond locations in Venice, called ‘Venetian Affair’.

On the tracks of 007

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