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Things to do in Venice

Eat like a local in the city's bàcaris

For those hungry after a day of punting, the re-warmed pizzas of San Marco Square will only disappoint. Try the city's bàcaris (wine bars) instead. Join local foodie Monica Cesarato's (www.monicacesarato.com) three-hour tour of a warren of side streets and canals to uncover the city's very best cichèttis (tapas) and aperol spritz (traditional aperitif cocktail).

Gondola like a local around Giudecca

Take to the waters like a local by rowing in mascarete (small gondolas), canoes and sailboats at the Canottieri Giudecca boating club (tel: +39 41 528 7409; www.canottierigiudecca.com) on Giudecca. Visitors can pay the monthly rather than annual subscription fee. The straw boaters and striped t-shirts are not compulsory.

Hide your face for the city's most exclusive party

A festival of decadence and disguise, Venice Carnevale (www.carnevale.venezia.it) is celebrated across the city with revellers donning bright 18th century costume. Dress up and join in; the Grand Masquerade Ball is the festival's most extravagant party but don't forget: without a mask you're not getting in.

Sip wine with a certified sommelier

Venice and Veneto Gourmet (www.venicevenetogourmet.com) run wine tasting courses at Venice palazzo or in a villa at the Lido; the charming, well-informed Sara Cossiga, an art historian and certified sommelier, teaches at both and can help you differentiate between a full-bodied red and a velvety one.

Watch an opera by local boy Vivaldi

It may have a modest facade but the Teatro La Fenice (www.teatrolafenice.it), one of the world's most renowned opera venues, has an achingly ornate interior, as the tours demonstrate. The venue hosts ballets and concerts but the operas should not be missed, especially those by Venice's hometown composer, Vivaldi.

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Featured Hotels

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JW Marriott Venice Resort and Spa

With the largest spa in Venice, this resort on a private island boasts a complimentary shuttle service to St Mark’s Square, 250 contemporary rooms and suites designed by architect Matteo Thun. This is an exclusive getaway set in acres of private garden with a rooftop pool overlooking the lagoon.

Ca Maria Adele

Just minutes from the Salute Vaporetto stop, this lush boutique hotel has Old World Venetian charm. Its beamed ceilings meet lavish furnishings as part of its eastern theme. In the evening, it's possible to have drinks on the terrace while listening to opera music.

Hotel Santa Lucia

This cheap hotel might not win any awards, but it's trim and well run and enjoys a handy location a few minutes walk from Santa Lucia train station. The rooms all have TVs and are cleaned daily; some also have their own bathrooms. Breakfast is served on the small garden terrace outside.

Hotel ai Mori d'Oriente

The 55 rooms in this 15th-century palace are designed in unique oriental style, but the elegance and grandeur of Venice is still clear. The hotel caters for breakfast but doesn’t have a restaurant, however staff will make suggestions and there is a small, intimate bar for a late night drink.

Hotel Henry

This family-run hotel is far from the grandeur of its 5-star canal-side cousins, but what it lacks in luxury, it makes up for in friendly and welcoming service. One of the best cheap hotels in Venice, visitors can expect staff on hand 24 hours a day, and reasonable room facilities including free Wi-Fi access.

Hotel Saturnia and International

Situated on one of Venice’s smartest shopping streets, this sophisticated hotel is very good value. Run by the same family since 1908, you will get a friendly welcome, a good-sized room with elegant antique furniture and a plentiful breakfast. The suntrap roof terrace is an excellent retreat.