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Fast Facts

Distance & Driving times
Within Italy
Rome to Venice: 535km 5.40hrs
Bolzano to Venice: 270km 3.10hrs
Milan to Venice: 276km 3.15hrs
Austria
Innsbruck to Venice: 319km 4.15hrs
Germany
Munich to Venice: 478km 6.20hrs
Closest Airport: Marco Polo
Closest Railway Station: Santa Lucia
 
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Venice Tourism Information
 

About Venice

Venice has probably inspired more writers and travelers through the centuries than any other city in the world. Venice is truly a unique destination with its abundance of art treasures, historical buildings, 400 bridges and 150 canals criss crossing the city.

The famous historical centre (centro storico) of Venice is located in the Venetian Lagoon on 118 islands approximately four kilometres from the mainland. It is divided into 6 districts known as 'sestieri':

The municipal area of Venice also encompasses the mainland areas of Mestre and Porto Marghera (connected to the lagoon city by road and rail bridges) and the islands of Burano, Cavallino, Lido, Malamocco, Murano, San Michele and Torcello.

Traditional historic buildings overlook many small squares known as campi and campielli which are all linked by either the network of narrow streets called calli, or by the canals. The names of the streets and squares have usually taken from an event in the city’s history. The street names are written on small white squares and placed on the outside of the buildings. These plaques are known as "nizioleti" (tissues).

In autumn the tide often rises so high that water flows over the banks of the canals, flooding the city. Although a problem for the local Venetians it is an exciting and unique experience for tourists. To see the Piazza San Marco flooded by a still lake of water is a memorable souvenir of Venice and one that has been captured several times by famous photographers along with images of St Marks Square .

Venice's gondolas are one of the cities most famous icons. This traditional Venetian boat has a long history are still made today in the Squero (boatyard) at San Trovaso by master craftsmen using ancient techniques.

Venice has a long list attractions that make it one of the most famous tourist cities of the world. It is also famous for its traditional crafts such as glass-blowing at Murano and lace making at Burano.

Venice is also renown for its famous people including:

  • the artists Canaletto, Vittore Carpaccio, G. Battista, Tiepolo, Tintoretto
  • the explorer Marco Polo
  • the musician Antonio Vivaldi
  • and the world famous lover Giacomo Casanova

Just a few minutes from the historical centre of Venice and well serviced by water buses there are kilometres of open beaches. Cavallino beach is just a few minutes away from Venice. It is the largest beach resort in Europe offering with 15 kilometres of beaches and many different campsites and holiday villages between Venice's north lagoon and the Adriatic.

History of Venice

The history of Venice can be dated back to the fifth and sixth centuries. It is believed that the Venetian islands became inhabited when the nearby mainland residences fled to the lagoon to escape the the Barbarian invasions. These people built rafts of various sizes, supported by strong wooden poles. The rafts were then connected to each other with wooden walkways and houses, buildings and monuments built on top of them.

Once the Venetian population had grown to become large enough to become a city, it was annexed to the Byzantine Empire, although still maintaining its own independence.

In 697, Venice's first Doge, Paolo Lucio Anafesto, transformed Venice into an important trading centre for shipping in the Mediterranean and the Orient. During the Crusades, Venice expanded to include the Aegean islands, the Peleponese, Crete and a part of Constantinople. The city eventually reached its peak in the fifteenth century.

In 828 the body (minus the head) of St Mark the Evangelist was stolen from Alexandria and brought to Venice. Initially the body was buried in a small chapel in the Doges Palace, and later (1094) a church was built to house the remains. This church, eventually evolved into St Mark’s Basilica. St Marks body was returned to Egypt in 1968. The Basilica is one of Venice's most important monuments.

The commercial and political decline of the Republic of Venice began with the fall of Constantinople and the discovery of America. Venice lost its independence following the conquest of the area by Napoleon. In 1797 Venice was handed over to Austria with the signing of the Treaty of Campoformio.

Following the Napoleonic period (1805-14) and the events of the Risorgimento (the 1848 uprising against the Austrians), Venice was finally reunited with the Kingdom of Italy in 1866.

Places to visit

Basilica dei Frari
This basilica is famous for being Titians burial place as well as housing several paintings by Titian, Donatello and Bellini.

Basilica dell Salute
In the 17th Century Venice was struck by plague. This Basilica was promised by the faithful to end the plague. This beautiful church contains some wonderful art pieces.

Burano
The island of Burano is world famous for its lace. The island has a lace museum and wonderful lace shops.

Campanile
The Campanile is the tallest structure in Venice. From the top it offers a good view of the Piazza, St. Mark's and the Doge's Palace.

Doge’s Palace
Also known as Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) it was Venice's centre of power until the Venetian Republic ended in the 18th century. Construction began on the palace in the 10th century then it was rebuilt and finalised in the 14th century. In the 16th century a fire destroyed many of the historic decorations.

Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum includes the personal collection of Guggenheim as well as European and American art from the first half of the 20th century. The museum is located in Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand Canal, Peggy Guggenheim's former home.

Murano
This island is located just north of Venice and is famous for its glass blowing and arts. The Museo del Vetro (the Glass Museum) is well worth visiting if you are interested in glass.

Museo Correr
Located in the Napoleon wing of the Piazza San Marco, the Museo Correr, contains a large collection of Venetian art and artifacts from medieval and Renaissance times.

Piazza San Marco
The Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark's Square) is the main meeting place in Venice. St. Mark’s Cathedral, the Doge’s Palace, the Campanile, as well as several museums are located in Piazza San Marco.

St. Mark's Basilica
Built to house the remains of St. Mark, one of the two patron saints of Venice, the Saint's tomb is the focal point of the Cathedral which is an example of both Byzantine and Romanesque architecture. The impressive cathedral is accessed via large arched doorways and four bronze horses. There are various chapels as well as the Sanctuary, the Treasury and the Museum. Pala d'Oro, one of the worlds most precious altar screens, is housed in the Basilica. The screen is covered in more than 3000 precious stones and enamel icons inlaid in gold.

The Bridge of Sighs
This bridge, connects the Palace to the Prison and supposedly got its name from the sighs of the prisoners heading to prison.

The Grand Canal / Canalazzo
This 2 mile long famous waterway is lined with impressive palaces. The canal winds through Venice connecting major tourist attractions. It has only three bridges crossing it: the Accademia Bridge, the Ponte dei Scalzi at the train station and the Rialto Bridge.

The Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
Construction commenced in 1588 and was completed in 1591. The bridge is surrounded by the commercial centre of Venice. Until 1854 it was the only way to cross the Grand Canal until the Accademia Bridge was built.

Events & Festivals

La Biennale di Venezia
The Venice Biennale has been one of the most prestigious cultural events in the world for over a century. It has promoted new artistic trends since its foundation in 1895. Some of its festivals include: International Film Festival, International Art Exhibition, International Architecture Exhibition, Festivals of Contemporary Music, Theatre and Dance.

Carnival of Venice
The Venice Carnival is famous around the world and dates back to 1094. It involving the entire city with its combination of pageantry, folk drama, feasting, street dancing, masquerades and parades. The major celebrations are held towards the end of February.

Venice Marathon
This is an annual event and is one of the worlds most fascinating for marathon enthusiasts. The course is run over 42.195km along the banks of the River Brenta over the Liberty Bridge to Venice and through St. Marks Square to the finish in the Rive dei Sette Martiri Square.

Food and wine

Venice offers a wide range of venues to relax and enjoy a good coffee or glass of wine along with fine dining. There are elegant coffee shops in Piazza San Marco, or try one of the Venetian “bacari” local wine bars.

There are historical venues such as the Caffè Florian, which is situated under the portico of the new Procuratie and is considered to be one of the icons of Venice. It opened in 1720, and has played host to many famous guests such as Lord Byron, Foscolo, Dickens, Proust, D’Annunzio and Eleonora Duse, Rousseau, Stravinsky, Modiglioni.

In1931, Giuseppe Cipriani opened Harry’s Bar in a small warehouse, near Piazza San Marco. It soon became one of the most famous restaurants in the world and has been a famous location for many and politicians and monarchs.

The “bacari” are typical Venetian wine bars. They have wooden tables and benches and offer “cicchetti” (a local form of tapas).

In the Fondamenta della Misericordia you will find ethnic restaurants, bars and historical night clubs such as “Paradiso Perduto”.

Getting Around

The secret to discovering the romance and beauty of Venice is to walk. At first Venice may appear to be a labyrinth of canals and lanes but it is really quite easy to get around.

The numerous water buses and motor-boats move people quickly around Venice via the canals and they provide passengers a wonderful view of the historical buildings that stand alongside the Canals. An interesting way to cross the Grand Canal from one side to the other is by using the gondola ferry. It is cheap and very picturesque. These ferries can be found at various points on the Grand Canal.

Getting there

By air
There are numerous flights daily arriving at Marco Polo Airport. From the airport you can access Venice's historical centre in the following ways:

Car taxis: it takes 15 minutes to get to Piazzale Roma

Private Water taxis: this takes approximately 30 minutes.

Bus ATVO: a direct connection from the airport to Piazzale Roma and takes about 20 minutes. Buses leave every half an hour.

Bus ACTV: this is a public transport bus (Line 5) connecting the airport to Piazzale Roma and takes approximately half an hour.

Public ACTV water taxi service: It links the airport to some of the most important areas of Venice.

By car
It is easy to reach Venice by car using the following motorway and road connections:

A4 from Trieste and from Turin,
A27 from Belluno,
A13 from Bologna,
SS.309 Romea from the Adriatic Coast,
SS.14 from Trieste,
SS.13 from Treviso,
SS.11 from Padua.

By train
Venice's Train Station is Santa Lucia. You can get to Santa Lucia using Eurostar trains, Intercities and Interregional and local trains. From the station it is easy to reach the city centre by walking down the Strada Nuova or by taking the water bus from one of the jetties that are opposite the station.

By ship
From the port it is easy to reach the very heart of Venice, Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square), using the Alilaguna water buses.

Accommodation

Venice has a wide range of accommodation from 5 star to backpackers including hotels and romantic bed and breakfasts.

More information

More information available from the Venice Tourist Board
http://www.turismovenezia.it

Useful Links To Shops, Services and other things in Venice

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