Fly on Delta direct from New York (JFK). The eight-hour flight offers free red wine, which will prepare you for what’s to come. delta.com
Eat everything. From pizza to pasta carbonara to lasagna, there is no bad food in Venice. Go outside your comfort zone and try rice with squid ink or maybe the catch of the day, which is served whole (eyes and all). Trattorias are around every corner, but be sure to try Trattoria Sempione, which is perfectly situated on a wonderful canal in Venice on Ponte Dei Bareteri (you can also take the perfect gondola ride from outside this restaurant’s front door). Just beware of cover charges and not-so-free bread.
Stay at the Hilton Molino Stucky on Venice’s underline, Guidecca island. Finding your hotel through the cobblestone maze that is Venice after a long flight just isn’t fun. The Hilton is perfectly perched about 3 minutes off the southern coast of Venice and offers ferries every 30 minutes that take you right to the island’s highlights. molinostuckyhilton.com
Ride a gondola, of course. Hold out for the right starting point. Starting on smaller canals gets you longer rides for less money, and you still get to see all the highlights — the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, Marco Polo’s house, Vivaldi’s house, etc. A ride can be as low as 50 Euros.
Hike to the top of the Capanille in San Marco Square. At almost 100 meters tall, this bell tower was finished in 1514 and rebuilt in 1912 after it collapsed. The best part? You can see all of Venice from the top.
Listen to dueling orchestras in the middle of San Marco Square on a romantic Italian night. Outdoor cafes, like the beautiful Gran Cafe Chioggia, charge to sit and listen, but it’s well worth it.
Go in mid-March before Easter brings high season. It’s the end of winter so temps are in the mid 50s, but the amount of walking you do will keep you warm.
Transfer to the Venezia Santa Lucia Train Station on the western part of the island on the local water bus service, the ACTV. These “buses” come and go without any hesitation — you’ve been warned! raileurope.com
Learn more at turismovenezia.it.