As soon as you arrive in Venice buy an ACTV travel card. Available for one day, three days or seven, it allows unlimited use of the water-bus network - essential if you want to see the hotspots.
The Basilica di San Marco
Clad in lustrous mosaics and crammed with precious objects, the Basilica di San Marco is the most exotic of Europe's cathedrals. Get there early, as it's the city's number one sight and attracts enormous crowds.
The Gallerie dell'Accademia
The Accademia gallery gives you a crash-course in Venetian painting from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Featuring Titian, all the Bellini clan, Tintoretto, Veronese and the Tiepolos, it's Venice's top museum by far.
After San Marco, the Frari is the one Venetian church you have to visit. A colossal brick hulk, it houses a batch of the city's best pictures, and a great range of monuments.
Hidden in a tiny alley by the Rialto market, Do Mori is an utterly genuine bar. No tables, no seats - just good wine, delicious snacks and as friendly a welcome as you'll find in Venice.
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco
Next to the Frari stands the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, a mind-blowing showcase for the art of Tintoretto. A highlight of the fifty-picture cycle is the enormous and overwhelmingly intense Crucifixion.
Venetian nightlife is notoriously tepid, but Paradiso Perduto - a bar-cum-restaurant-cum-music venue - is generally the liveliest joint in town. Turn up around 10pm, when the local students should be out in force.
The Island of San Pietro
For a taste of authentic Venice take a stroll up Via Garibaldi to the island of San Pietro, once the ecclesiastical centre of Venice, nowadays a backwater district where the chief activity is the repairing of boats.
Torcello in its fourteenth-century prime was home to 20,000 people. Today the population is about 100, but Venice's first cathedral is still there, and the place is steeped in the charisma of its past.
San Giorgio Maggiore
One of Venice's immediately recognizable landmarks, San Giorgio Maggiore is a perfect Palladian church, and its bell tower gives the finest bird's-eye view of the city.
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