The best time to visit Venice

In March you’ll get reduced room rates and fewer tourists


March is the best month to visit Venice, with the lowest number of tourists and the best room rates – even at the newly reopened and restored 15th century Gritti Palace, former residence of Andrea Gritti, Doge of Venice in the early 16th century. The Gritti is Venice’s finest, most luxurious hotel, with a cookery and wine school onsite – and, currently, 20-30 per cent discounts.

Wrap your senses in gilding, original Venetian mirrors and chandeliers, restored 16th century antiques and stuccoes and unique terrazzo Veneziano, marble floors composed of different colours. The overall look is purely Venetian – if decoration on every surface and Murano glass fittings can ever be described as pure. This intimate 82-room five-star hotel (including 21 suites) has well-reviewed terrace restaurants on the most splendid stretch of the Grand Canal and is within short walking distance of St Mark’s. From the terrace you can see Santa Maria della Salute, one of the many churches you should visit, and the Guggenheim Museum, once home to Peggy Guggenheim and now housing part of her 20th century art collection.

When you arrive at Venice Marco Polo airport, take a water taxi straight to Harry’s Bar at the Hotel Cipriani. You’ll feel like Bond. And the view! Order a Bellini and think of Hemingway. To get about, take vaporetti – water buses – everywhere and ignore the overpriced gondolas.

The view of the ochre-hued palaces along the water cannot be expressed in photographs or even Turner watercolours. Venice is a living museum with a maze of twisting streets and hushed, paved squares that are notoriously tricky to navigate. Best advice: book a hotel you can easily find, near a water bus stop.

Venice is the home of seafood risotto, but otherwise isn’t known for its cuisine. But you can eat cheaply, with huge shareable platters of seafood antipasti for under €20, and you practically stumble on the sort of small restaurants that relieved travellers describe as “little gems”. Stay away from the tourist traps around the Rialto bridge and Piazza San Marco if you want to leave with your shirt, and do a little research before you go.

The Gritti Palace, Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, Venice, Italy,