Venice (Italy)

guide featuring 360 degree images, maps, photos, video, hotels and transport.

Venice is a unique place for visitors because it's a pedestrian only city with no vehicles and just boats for transport. You will probably get lost walking around Venice because the passages don't follow any sort of pattern, but that's just part of the experience! We stayed at a hotel near the train station then walked the main streets to the Rialto Bridge and then to Saint Mark's Square (see the blue "Walk" path on the map).

After you have taken a look around Venice, I highly recommend a visit to the nearby islands. You can take a tour or explore them at your own pace like we did by catching the public boat bus (Vaporetti) which is also the cheapest option. I worked out that for the best value and time to see everything was to buy a 12 hour Tourist Travel Card (ACTV vaporetto pass) for $16 (Euro) each. We went north in the morning at 9am from Venice to Murano and then Burano. That afternoon we went back south to Venice then over to San Giorgio Maggiore and then returned to Venice for dinner. You can even catch another Vaporetti to get back home along the Grand Canal before your 12 hours expire at 9pm.

Gondolas are the symbol of Venice and it's no coincidence they are designed to reflect this. There used to be so many in the 16th century that all the colours made it look chaotic so they passed a law that they all must be black. The emblem on the front is a heavy metal to counterbalance the gondalier on the back. The F shape at the top represents the Doge's cap and Rialto Bridge, the six bars facing foward are the districts of Venice and the one backward is for the island just south called Giudecca.

I took these photos, 360° images and videos while on holiday with my wife for a few days in May 2012. Refer to my customised Venice Google map for where we saw the main points of interest.

This is part of a 6 week adventure that my wife and I took in the middle of 2012 that includes:

Venice video

  about 5 minutes, full HD available (1080p) which is best viewed in full screen.

Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark's Square)

[4-7 on the map]
This is the most important and popular area of Venice with many impressive landmarks. Places to see include Saint Mark's Basilica, Doge's Palace and Saint Mark's Campanile (bell tower).

San Giorgio Maggiore

[15 on the map]
This island just south of the main islands of Venice has one of the best views of Venice from the San Giorgio Monastery Bell Tower. Catch a bus boat (Vaporetti) from Piazza San Marco to get there.

Basilica of St Mary of Health

[12 on the map]
Santa Maria della Salute in Italian or most people refer to it as just the Salute, is located at the entrance to the Grand Canal. It was completed in 1681 as a deliverance from the 1630 plague that killed one third of all people in Venice.

Grand Canal

[near 12 on the map]
The biggest canal running through the middle of Venice with bus boats (Vaporetti), taxi boats, gondolas and every other boat you can imagine.

Rialto Bridge

[3 on the map]
This architectural feature of Venice is the oldest bridge crossing the Grand Canal. The first version was built in 1181 but the current stone bridge has lasted since 1591. It has rows of shops through the middle and two sets of steps on either side. You get some of the most iconic views of Venice over the Grand Canal.


[17-19 on the map]
This series of islands 1.5km north of Venice is famous for glass making. In 1291 the glass makers were forced out of Venice to Murano due to the risk of fire. Some of the world's most famous glass brands and factories are located here. You can visit Murano Glass Museum and demonstrations of glass being made in one of the many factories in a tour or just self-guided like we did by catching a bus boat (Vaporetti) here.


[20 & 21 on the map]
Famous for the bright coloured buildings and lace, Burano is located 7km north of Venice. You can get to these four closely linked islands by bus boat (Vaporetti). It is believed that the houses were originally painted in bright colours so that the fisherman could see where to return. The colours actually go by a specific system that is controlled by the government. The island has a famous history of lace making (there is a lace museum) but doesn't produce so much now because it is very time consuming, making it expensive.

Big boats

[near 15 on the map]
These floating cities always look so dramatically massive against the relatively low-rise buildings of Venice. You often notice large groups of people walking around Venice with the same clothes (kinda like a uniform) that are branded from these ships. There are usually several ocean liners docked at the same time and they frequently come and go, maintaining the high tourist count in Venice.



If you are arriving in Venice by train, note that there are two stations. The first station is Venezia Mestre which is for the Venice mainland. The second station is on the famous Venice island which is called Venezia Santa Lucia.

The best way to travel around Italy (and Europe) is by train because they are very fast, frequent, safe, reliable, cheap and the stations are in the middle of the city. I prefer to book the routes individually (point to point ticket) instead of buying a pass (like Eurail or Swiss pass) because it's usually cheaper unless you are frequently travelling long distances which I don't do anyway because I want to spend more time enjoying the location than travelling to and from it. The catch with a Eurail pass is that you still need to book and pay extra for a seat reservation, whereas buying just a normal point to point ticket includes the reservation, saving time and confusion. I always buy first class tickets too because they aren't much more expensive than the normal ticket, they usually include more seating space and I feel a little more safer considering that the train company gives a little more attention to first class passengers.

The main concern was for the storage and security of our luggage, having heard too many stories about bags being stolen. Many trains have a rack above the seats (so it's safe) that can easily hold a large suitcase (like those allowed for checked luggage on planes). My bag (35cm [14in] x 45cm [18in] x 70cm [27.5in]) was just below the maximum size limit for planes which was fine on all the trains during our holiday through Europe. It weighed about 19kg and you must lift your bag up on to these high racks which was fine for a tall, strong, dashing, handsome, sexy and modest young man like me, otherwise you will probably need another passenger to help you. Some trains only have storage at the end of each carriage which makes it easier to get in and out but also makes it easier for someone to steal your bags too. We took a wire cable bike combination lock to attach our bags to the rack in these cases but only used it twice and both times it probably wasn't really necessary, but gives you peace of mind so you don't need to worry about it. We also used small combination padlocks on the zippers. Having locks on your bags can draw attention because being so secure then there is probably something valuable in it worth stealing, but most criminals are just opportunistic and simply take the next bag that is easier to remove.

How to book European train tickets:

  1. Go to Rail Europe to search and buy your tickets. Enter your departure and arrival cities to find out if it is possible to catch a train between them. If you get no results for your search it is usually because many trains only allow bookings up to 3 months in advance or even less so just try example dates in the next couple of weeks instead.
  2. To do a cross check and find more detailed information, the best train website I have found is the Swiss SBB train site that has European train details and not just Switzerland. I had a look at other websites like Trenitalia (Italian trains) but they tend to be too difficult to use mainly because the translation into English isn't too good.
I chose to use Rail Europe because it is locally based to me (currency, office, etc) so it's easy to understand with no language problems, it's a single place to buy all your tickets and they do all the communication with the European railways to get the correct tickets. After you order your train tickets on their website, they post you the official paper tickets in the mail. Only trains like Eurostar (eg. London to Paris) use electronic tickets that you can print at home, but for trains in places such as Italy, only the paper tickets are valid so don't lose them!


This is the best way that I know of to find a hotel on the internet. I used this method for every place we stayed at for our entire six week holiday in Europe/UK/Singapore and it worked very well. The basic steps are:
  1. Decide how much you want to pay each night. We budgeted an average of $200 a night for our whole six week Europe/UK/Singapore trip to get quite nice 4 or sometimes 5 star hotels. FYI: Our hotel in Venice was the most expensive (from supply and demand I guess) but the worst condition (old, no lifts, but clean) and Berlin was one the cheapest but best (5 star, middle of city and even had a giant aquarium in the middle!).
  2. Decide on your location. I usually choose the closest hotel to a major transport hub (like a train station) within my budget.
  3. Decide on check-in and check-out dates. Most hotels in Europe/UK seem to have a check-out time of midday and check-in at 2pm. When travelling between cities on a train (like in Europe) I usually booked the train that departs around midday and arrives around 2pm so I check straight in and know my luggage is safely in my room and not have to come back for the rest of the day. It gets dark around 10pm in June so there is plenty of sightseeing time left in the day.
  4. Find a hotel with high ratings and good reviews from people who have actually stayed there.
  5. Book it preferably at least a few months in advance to get cheap prices.

How to actually do it:
  1. See the currently available hotels in Venice (Cannaregio which is the island, not the main land). This searches 100+ hotel booking websites at once to find the best price which is why I think it's the best.
  2. Refine your search using as much detail as you can. For example, make up some check in and out dates for a couple of days in a few months time and select 4 stars.
  3. Now click the Show Map link in the top right. I really like this feature because I can instantly see where the closest hotels are to where I want to be. Hover your mouse over the icon to see the hotel name, star rating and price.
  4. Just above the map link in the top right, change the drop down box to your local currency if it didn't do that automatically.
  5. Click on "Sort by: Guest Rating". Scroll down the list of hotels looking at their average rating given by people who actually stayed there and compare that to the price. Naturally the more expensive places usually have higher ratings so the trick is to find a high rating place with a low price.
  6. My priority is actually location so I sort it by Distance, then look for the highest rating, then see if it's in my price range.
  7. Now click on a hotel to see the details about it such as photos, features and most importantly the reviews. Sometimes you come across some amazing features such as the "DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Tower of London" actually had a big screen Apple computer with free internet that also works as a TV. We ended up booking this place because this feature made it stand out from the crowd and the room was great.
  8. I like to read people's reviews for their very honest opinions, especially the negative ones because you can find out if the problems are really important or not and if everyone keeps complaining about the same thing. To do this, scroll down to the bottom of the web page and click on a link that says something like "Read all reviews from" then when that website appears, click on the Reviews tab.
  9. After looking through a few hotels and their reviews you can try clicking on the Book Now button but don't worry, you don't actually book anything yet. This shows you a list of all the websites that are selling rooms for this hotel ordered from lowest to highest price so you know you can get the lowest price possible which is why I said in step 1 that this is the best way to find and book hotels on the internet.
  10. Click the Go button to transfer to that website to actually make the booking. I personally don't necessarily select the website with the lowest price. I prefer to book on websites that I am more familiar with such as so I have more confidence in knowing it will actually work properly and can group all my bookings together more easily, especially if the price is only an extra few dollars per night. My ultimate preference is to book with the hotel's own website which is what I did with the DoubleTree hotel (the Hilton website) only because their price matched the best price of and it was a low price too.
I wasn't too sure if my bookings were really passed through to the hotels or not with some strange booking websites I had never heard of before, so I was a bit skeptical. But sure enough, every single one of the 14 hotels I booked on our 6 week holiday through Europe/UK/Singapore had no problems at all and acknowledged my reservation every time.

Compare hotel prices and find the best deal -

About the photos
I've been a keen photographer for over 10 years and have been creating 360° panoramic images for about that long too. I've sold some individually, for web sites, a couple of weddings and projects for clients where I work as a visualisation artist. All the panoramas on this page were taken handheld because you are not allowed to use tripods in most of the places I visited so you may find some strange gaps where the photos are stitched together because of this. The camera used for all of these photos is a Canon 5D MkIII digital SLR with a 24-105mm L series lens. This camera works great in low light situations, has a full frame sensor to get wide angle shots and produces super sharp photos. Unfortuantely it is very big, heavy and expensive so I made the decision to choose quality over comfort. A camera store assistant once told me: A man invited a lady over to his place one night to show her his photos. She said, "Gee, they're great photos. You must have a great camera." She invited the man to her place for dinner the next night and after the meal he said "Gee, that was a great meal. You must have a great oven."

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