From its inauspicious beginnings of people fleeing to the islands to escape Germanic invasions (and eventually deciding just to stay and build a city), to becoming a center of commercial and military power in Europe during the middle ages, Venice has a fascinating history. It also is an amazing sight to see. Nowhere else is there such a large and functional city completely dependant on people getting around by foot or boat.
These two facts combine to make it a popular destination for tourists from all around the world. A third commonly assumed factor in the cities popularity is its beauty. That is a misconception. Venice may be the only city in the world where run down and deteriorating is mistaken for beauty.
That being said, the city is definitely worth a trip for the experience if not the beauty. But traveler, beware! The city lives up to the reputation of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.” You will be required to give your pound of flesh. You might be able to talk a Gondolier down to a mere $120 for a ride, but if that is too expensive for you, you can still ride the “buses” for a mere $11 an hour, or $21 for a whole day ticket. Prices apply to everyone 4 years old and up, and there are no family rates. You might want to pack a picnic lunch as well. It is much more romantic than paying for lunch. Even McDonalds costs twice as much as on the mainland.
If you ever get the chance to see Venice take it. Find a place to stay about an hour away and ride the train in for a day and then get out. Simply exploring the city for a few hours on foot is the experience of a lifetime.