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Venice City Breaks

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Venice - the most beautiful city of them all?

Is there anywhere else in Europe that arouses the polar opposite reactions of Venice? 'The most beautiful of them all!' 'So overrated!' 'Too many tourists.' 'Shocking prices.' 'Like being in a movie.'

The reality is; Venice is crowded, Venice is expensive (if you just follow the other tourists). Venetian restaurants are a rip off. But... Venice is a magical place that you just absolutely must see before you make that final boarding call. Venice is bewitching, it has a beauty you can't describe, an enchanting way of getting under your skin with its magnificent buildings, tiny bridges and amazing canals, glorious gallerias and its gondolas. 

Do your research on Venice before getting there. There are cheap places to stay; it is the perfect place for romantic weekend breaks, and you can find good, budget friendly places to eat.

The truth is, Venice will impress the heck out of your partner! Short breaks in Europe are all about the experience, the excitement... and the brag factor, and Venice has that in spades.

Take a break; enjoy Venice for what it is - one of the most popular destinations on earth because of its setting, its beauty and its iconic status in the world's travel consciousness.

Eating out in Venice - cheap, expensive and everything in between

The locals have to eat somewhere - and that's the general rule for eating out in Venice; follow the locals! If you see waiters spruiking the restaurant outside, run. If you're in a popular part of town and are too tired to walk further afield, accept the fact that nothing is good value.

The budget options - casual dining is a fun experience in Venice - you just have to do a little bit of searching. Osteria alle Botteghe on Calle dell Botteghe, San Marco is cheap, tasty and filling. There's a good selection of pastas and pizza and the Venetian version of tapas. Arca on Calle San Pantalon, Dorsoduro, is reasonable value, excellent in fact, when you consider the reputation it has for providing locals with the best pizza in town for many years. For real value, pop into any of the osterias that dot the streets, they all sell cichetti (tapas) such as clams and crab claws. Wash it down with a cold Peroni and life is all good.

Mid-price options - finding good traditional Italian fare in Venice is a struggle if you believe the guidebooks, but it's not true.  Just stay away from Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle and Piazza San Marco! You'll find good nosh at Trattoria all'Antica Mola on Fondamenta degli Ormesini, Cannareggio. Grab a table on the canal; and settle in for lunch as it's meant to be! In the mood for something a little different? Try Gam Gam on Fondmenta di Cannaregio. It does a fine line in kosher Israeli food at a reasonable price.

Splurge - it's easy to pay a lot of money in Venice for not a lot. If you've read the Inspector Brunetti mysteries by Donna Leon you'll recognise Antiche Carampane on Rio Terà della Carampane, San Polo. Known for it's exquisite fish dishes, the restaurant provides a good argument against the Venetian cuisine knockers. Its first-class stuff. If it was up to us, we'd go straight for the desserts; chocolate mousse, panna cotta, and sweet wine with biscotti.

What to wear, when to go

Venice boasts a relatively warm, subtropical climate. The winters are cool with temps getting as low as zero but generally hovering between 5-8C. Summers are long and warm with temps getting as high as 28C. Proximity to the sea means it gets a little rain, but generally there is no wet season per se. Autumn and spring are pleasant with temps in the high teens.

Venice - "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man".

What to do and where to start! Venice makes life very difficult by simply having far too much to choose from. St Mark's Square? The Grand Canal, the magnificent palaces, churches and museums? If you're here on one of your weekend breaks in Europe, you'll just have to bite the bullet and choose. Here's a little help:

Grand Canal - as much of a cliché as it is, you have to cruise the Grand Canal. This is Venice's great claim to fame and the city's main thoroughfare.  As you glide past baroque palaces and magnificent Renaissance buildings you realize how important the Grand Canal is to Venice. Take the tour on Vaporetto No 1 and gorge on the sheer beauty of all that you see. You can purchase a Vaporetto pass and tour Venice at will. Take your time (the boats never leave on time anyway) and just enjoy the experience.

Campanile di San Marco - see Venice from on high with a climb to the top of the lighthouse. There's a lift for easy access. The view is of Venice across the lagoon and all the way to the Italian Alps.

St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) - the perfect place for people-watching in Venice. Hundreds of pigeons make their presence felt and all you need to do is wander around and find a place to sit. You can kill several birds with one stone, so to speak, and take in the Doge's Palace and the Basilica di San Marco which are on every tourist's hit list.

La Laguna - get out on the water if you can and enjoy a distant view of Venice. You don't have to take a special tour; purchase a Vaporetto Pass and take a scheduled boat out to Murano, famous for its glass blowing. Hop on the next boat to visit Burano, and then continue to one of the other islands or back to Venice as you see fit. An all day, full tour for next to nothing!

The must see - check out the real Venice; a neighbourhood called Cannagregio off the Grand Canal but on the vaporetto line that goes out to Murano. It's a place to just wander round, a little quieter than the main drag yet full of the buildings, bridges, shops and galleries that draw so many visitors to Venice. The shops and restaurants don't maintain the same touristy prices and the locals are friendly. You won't find tourist tat here, but a more real Venice

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