Centuries of history roll down the maze of canals that flow between the stately squares and grand palazzos that bear testament to a colourful and turbulent history, when this city commanded the Adriatic region as the powerful Venetian Republic.
The richness of its Byzantine past (when it was a pivotal trading centre between Asia and Europe) is evident today in the architectural and artistic treasures built on the wealth which flowed into the city during the Middle Ages.
Arriving by water is the most fitting and memorable way to enter Venice, either on-board the cruise ships which dock here or the sleek water taxis that race across the lagoon from the mainland into a world of Italianite glory.
Step onto the romantic Rialto Bridge and you feel as though you have walked onto the living, breathing stage of a Shakespearean play or witnessed a famous Canaletto masterpiece come to life.
Ahead of you, the Grand Canal bustles in an ever-moving tableau of crowded vaporettos chugging noisily back and forth, interspersed with lines of gently floating gondolas and stylish water taxis.
It is a mesmerising sight, like so many others in this unique city: most notably the grandeur of the famous Piazza San Marco with its distinctive bell tower, and the spectacular facade and extravagant mosaics of St Mark’s Basilica.
Behind it lies the striking Doge’s Palace, a former prison and major city landmark, and the Bridge of Sighs, famous for being the last chance for prisoners to glimpse the outside world before being incarcerated.
There is no shortage of fascinating tourist sites in Venice, but one of the biggest joys is wandering at will and getting hopelessly lost in the narrow back streets off the main thoroughfares.
Not only does this escape the crowds, but you can feel a real sense of history made all the more evocative by the mellifluous tones of singing gondoliers echoing through the sleepy backwaters.
The best buys are beautiful Murano glass jewellery and distinctive Venetian masks, but beware the high prices around St Mark’s Square; the further you walk from here, the more prices drop.