No other city quite captures the essence of 'magical' as does Venice

Venice needs no introduction. One of the world's most famous and instantly recognizable places, this city of 270,000 inhabitants was once a key economic and political player on the European scene, and this legacy may be seen in its gorgeous churches and sumptuous residences ('palazzi'). The city is served by a 14 hour flight from Cape Town or Johannesburg (depending on connection times). The best time to book airplane tickets for a Venice-bound holiday is generally thought to be in the Spring or Autumn, when the city is less crowded and the weather a little less humid. For the most competitive prices for fares to the city, it's well worth taking a look at Air France's promotions page.
The city is one hour behind South African time, and Italy is of course a Eurozone and Schengen Area member. For information about travel documentation and customs formalities , see the 'regulations' section in the Air France website.

Venice is unique in many ways and first-time visitors often fail to realize beforehand that the city is an entirely car-free zone. Composed of an archipelago of 117 islands, the principal means of transport is naturally by water, mostly on Vaporetti (waterbuses) rather than on the notoriously expensive gondolas. The city is compact enough to be explored on foot too. Many visitors head straight to the Doges' Palace, Saint Mark's Basilica and the Accademia art gallery, but this city's charm resides just as much in its lesser-explored nooks and crannies. Churches such as Santa Maria dei Miracoli and San Nicolò dei Mendicoli are architectural gems in their own right, whilst the Peggy Guggenheim Museum houses an outstanding collection of modern art. Works by Max Ernst, Dali, Picasso and Kandinsky all feature. The Jewish museum is a reminder that Venice is still home to a Jewish community to this day. Our word 'ghetto' actually comes from the Venetian word for a slag heap ('ghèto') from an iron foundry which was originally located on the site of what was to become the world's first Jewish ghetto.

Travel to Venice's smaller islands for a fresh perspective on the city

The large majority of tourists never leave the main administrative districts ('sestieri') of Cannaregio, Castello, San Marco, Dorsoduro, San Polo and Santa Croce during their stay. However, Venice's other islands contain architectural and historical gems that it's definitely worth making a special journey to see. Murano, for example, is famous as a centre for glass-making, with houses dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. Burano is known for its gaily-coloured buildings and Torcello is home to Santa Maria dell'Assunta, a 7th century church with beautiful mosaics. Likewise, although the city's best known festival by far is the Carnival of Venice, why not join the locals and enjoy the fireworks extravaganza and other celebrations marking the Festa del Redentore on the third Sunday in July?
As you'd expect, Venice is a great place to enjoy top-quality seafood and fish, but Venetian culinary specialities also extend to dishes such as calf's liver on a bed of onions, pan del pescatore (biscuits made from almonds and pistachios) and milk pudding ('rosada'). Perhaps the city's most iconic delicacy is risotto alle seppie (made with black cuttlefish ink).
Other practical information that will help you plan your trip to Venice is available from the Air France website .

Your holiday to Venice made easy, with the help of our selection of travel websites

Take the stress out of planning your trip to Venice with these handy websites: