Avoid taking a car; you have to park on the mainland and get a train or watertaxi.
Marco Polo (www.veniceairport.com) and Treviso airports (www.trevisoairport.com) serve Venice. From Marco Polo, take the public ferry or travel into the centre in style aboard a speedboat (this will set you back around €100 each). From Treviso, it's a 25-minute taxi journey (€70); or hop on a ATVO Eurobus for €5; it takes 80 mins.
Venice is well connected to other Italian cities - Padua, Vicenza and Treviso are all within easy reach. You can also travel overnight from London via Paris to Venice on the train; see www.eurostar.com and www.italiarail.com for details. Santa Lucia station is on the Grand Canal, so jump on a water taxi or the Grand Canal water bus.
Country code for Italy: 39. Venice: 041.
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann; The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan; A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich.
Do go / Don't Go
August is hot, sticky and full of tourists. Autumn can be lovely. February is great if you're going to the ball for carnival, but trying to find a hotel room in that month is no picnic.
Venetian cooks exploit the fruits of the sea to produce oceanic dishes as intriguing as Venice itself: risotto nero, stained black with cuttlefish ink; silky marinated sardines and hearty fish soup. Recipes often include ingredients recalling the city's merchant days (pine nuts, raisins and pomegranate) and produce from the mountains to the north. Other regional stars include fegato alla Veneziana (calf's liver and onions), raddichio from Treviso, asparagus and fiery grappa from Bassano, and of course, Veneto wines, especially pinot grigio, merlot, valpolicella and sparkling prosecco. Venice also has a version of tapas - cicchetti, little savoury mouthfuls best enjoyed around midday with a thimbleful of wine.
Use public water buses (€6.50 a journey, or €14 for a 12-hour travelcard); they all take the same route - the difference is how many stops they make. You can hail or call for a water taxi, but they can be pricey.
In restaurants, service is generally included in bills, so Venetians will just round the amount up a few euros, or leave a handful of coins. If you really want to, add five to 10 per cent extra.
Comfortable shoes; mosquito repellent in summer; bubble wrap for protecting fragile purchases such as Murano glass.
Venice is packed full of churches, museums and galleries, with the famous Accademia (+39 041 522 2247; www.gallerieaccademia.org), Basilica di San Marco and Doges' Palace (+39 041 271 5911; www.museiciviciveneziani.it) being top of every tourist's hit list. We love the International Gallery of Modern Art at Ca' Pesaro (San Stae waterbus stop; +39 041 721 127) and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Dorsoduro (+39 041 240 5411; www.guggenheim-venice.it).
Visit the town of Asolo, among the cypress-covered Dolomite hills, or the island of Torcello, the site of the original main square. Venice has a beach: you can hire cabanas for the day, but they're not cheap.
You'll find all the designer labels around San Marco, and especially on Calle Larga 22 Marzo. Boutiques and gift shops line the streets between Piazza San Marco and the Rialto. Don't buy masks in the tourist area: in Dorsoduro is Ca'Macana on Calle delle Botteghe (+39 041 277 6142), which made the masks for Eyes Wide Shut. For something different, buy a forcole, the wooden oar rest from a gondola; Saverio Pastor's workshop is on Fondamenta Soranzo in Dorsoduro (+39 041 522 5699; www.forcole.com). For Murano glass, try to get to the workshops on the island of the same name; the same goes for Burano lace.
Piazza San Marco, aka St Mark's Square, is the heart of the city; get a 360-degree sunset-enhanced panorama from the top of the Campanile di San Marco (www.basilicasanmarco.it).
Get a taste of what it feels like to be on a gondola for next to nothing: look for the yellow 'Traghetto' signs and follow them to the water. It's a (short) shuttle gondola service that costs just 50c. If you want one to yourself, the average price is €100 an hour - more if they sing.
February Venice Carnival for masked-ball mayhem (www.carnivalofvenice.com; www.carnevale.venezia.it). June The Venice Biennale, an art-world extravaganza held every two years. July Fiesta del Redentore: flamboyant fireworks commemorating the end of the 16th-century plague. September The Regatta Storica boat race, with magnificent gondolas and gondoliers in full regalia. Venice Film Festival - celebs and celluloid on the sands of the Lido.