venice2Venice is a city known for romance, but even if you’re travelling on Venice vacations with friends or on your own, it’s difficult not to fall in love with this splendid city. There are dozens of attractions to explore – from the museums and Basilicas to the restaurants and bars. But before you get started on any of that, your first port of call after you’ve jumped off your flight to Venice should be the Grand Canal. This truly stunning stretch of water epitomises what this Italian city is all about – style, substance and some seriously grand architecture.

Mode of transport

TripAdvisor helpfully defines the Grand Canal as a ‘city walk sightseeing’ activity, but unless you happen to be the messiah, there won’t be much walking here – many of the buildings emerge straight from the water without pavement. Water taxis are perhaps the cheapest and best method to observe the stunning constructions. Make sure you get a window seat. Failing that, if you’re feeling romantic, hail a gondola and set off with your loved one in your arms, but beware – these have prices upwards of 80 euros so visit a cash point first.

The Canatasso, as the locals call it, cuts directly through the centre of this floating metropolis in a misshapen ‘S’ shape, passing some of the most stunning (rep) architecture Venice has to offer. You’ll find plenty of Venetian-Byzantine houses, characterised by their flamboyant gothic designs, which suggest the designer may have got a bit carried away with the pillars and columns.

Visiting in September

If you’re lucky to be visiting Venice in late August or early September, you might witness the Historical Regatta. This boating contest will leave you speechless. Thousands of people head to the banks or floating stands to witness the procession and then the race afterwards. If you’re still undecided about when you’re actually going,
 book your flight to Venice in time for the first Sunday of September in order to witness this jaw-dropping event.

Sights to see

Even on an ordinary day at the Grand Canal, there’s more than enough to see. Start at the top and work your way along, spotting each and every one of the Canal’s 170 bridges, some of which date from as early as the 13th century. In particular, see if you can spot (rep) the Rialto Bridge, the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo – and one of the oldest structures on the Grand Canal.

As for the buildings themselves, there are far too many palaces and local landmarks to name here, although highlights include the Renaissance-style Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, the Scarpagnino-inspired Palazzo dei Dieci Savi and the gothic Palazzo Pisani Moretta.

Apres surf

Once you’re done sailing graciously down the river, it’s time for a spot of lunch. Disembark in the heart of Venice and you’ll find dozens of venues purveying cheap traditional Italian food. Many of these will be packed during lunch hour but if you scour the back streets, you’ll find a plethora of great locations away from the most popular tourist areas. A spare table and a pizza are all that is needed to make your day on the Grand Canal complete.