Long before George Clooney married his fiancée Amal Alamuddin in the magical city of Venice, in a wedding exclusively covered by HELLO! magazine, Italy's Floating City has been a firm favourite with the stars.
A-listers such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and most recently Nicole Scherzinger have all touched down in the historic hot spot. Not to mention Hollywood's finest who disembark for the annual Venice Film Festival every August and September.
When HELLO! Online visited through Booking.com in July, the city cast its spell on us, just as it does with millions of tourists each year.
Venice is made up of 118 small islands linked by canals and bridges
Made up of 118 small islands linked by canals and bridges, it was easy to see how Venice has an island for each type of traveller.
Hop from one place to the next using the passenger ferry boat or a private water taxi, and if you're aged between six and 29, the Rolling Venice card is ideal for a spontaneous weekend break. Costing approximately £20, the card offers unlimited travel between Venice and its enchanting islands.
Find a hotel with the Booking.com app, either before your trip or, for the more spontaneous, when you land. The app pulls up a detailed map of your surrounding area and lists nearby hotels. With two taps, we had secured a four-star hotel, without the hassle of a deposit.
Read on to find out which island would suit you...
Burano island is a few minutes' water ride away
Venice island: for the culture vulture...
There are few places in the world as magical and distinctive as Venice. The city should be your first port of call and the main base from which you begin exploring. Around every canal bend there will be a floating majestic palace, a church or cathedral to stop by, an impressive art museum or a square filled with alfresco dining options – it really is a culture vulture's paradise.
Start at the Basilica di San Marco and admire the glittering mosaics and golden domes inside; St Mark's bones are said to be laid here and it took 800 years to build the religious monument to house them. Next, head to the pink-painted Palazzo Ducale nearby where Casanova was kept prisoner for his misdeeds. Visitors can see the attic prison from which he escaped, as well as the other chambers that were used by Venice's government for nearly seven centuries.
A gondola ride costs from £55 or upwards for an hour
Art lovers won't know where to look first in the Gallerie dell'Accademia, which houses eight centuries worth of masterpieces by Carpaccio, Tintoretto, Titian and Veronese to name a few. The museum takes prime position and overlooks the Grand Canal waterfront, and in the same area of Dorsoduro, modern art seekers can take pleasure in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. This more contemporary museum showcases surrealist, abstract and futurist art including works by Peggy's ex-husband Max Ernst and Jackson Pollock, Picasso, Dalí and Miró.
Walking on foot is the best way to see Venice's main sights and discover hidden gems for yourself, but taking a ride in a gondola is another must. For £55 or upwards a gondolier will weave you in and out of canals and under bridges, including the famed Rialto Bridge, which may seem steep but worth it if you're in a group.
Venice is a maze of small streets and plazas, but when HELLO! Online visited, we relied on the Apple Watch to guide us from one sight to the next, and point us back to the hotel when we got lost! The slick gadget proved the perfect accessory, connecting to the GPS system on our phones to map out our routes, while also telling us how many kilometres we'd walked.
Every turn is a photographer's dream on the island of Burano
Burano island: for the shutterbug...
Venice certainly has competition in nearby Burano for beauty. The small island is famed for its colourful houses, which range from bright blue to caution red to canary yellow. Every turn is a photographer's dream and the chance to capture the local way of life. Fresh laundry hangs from windows, potted plants line front doors and windows are protected with wooden shutters.
Picturesque Burano is also known for its lace, which is handmade and sold in abundance in boutiques or also showcased by the lacemakers themselves at the Museo del Merletto. Foodies will also appreciate the traditional buranelli biscuits, which are S-shaped and have a light lemon hint to them.
Pick up some world-famous glass from artisans in Murano
Murano island: for the shopper...
Apart from stocking up on lace, biscuits and Venetian masks, shoppers will find it hard to resist the exquisite Murano glass. Since the tenth century, artisans have been honing their craft on the island and nowadays tourists can take home souvenirs in the form of glass paper weights, bottle stoppers, bowls, plates and even chandeliers.
Take a tour of one of the museum-factories, such as the Museo del Vetro, to see the glass-making process from start to finish. Orders can be shipped around the world but if you've only got hand luggage, jewellery or small glass figurines of animals and the like could be an option. While the island is less colourful than its neighbouring Burano, quaint Murano can cast its own spell on visitors.
Venice Lido is perfect for the fly-and-flop brigade
Lido island: for the sun-seeker...
Not many people know that Venice has a beach. Lido, a 15-minute water ride away, is popular with locals but has also found its way onto the tourist trail thanks to the annual Venice Film Festival, which has been running since 1932. Every year in August or September, screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi and in other venues nearby.
As for the rest of the summer, locals flock to the island's sandy beach to sunbathe, relax in one of the blue-and-white cabins on the shore or bathe in the calm sea that is perfect for children. Small bars and restaurants line the beach and get crowds up and dancing with their pumping music, while the main street also has a string of alfresco restaurants and gelaterias. Lido may not have the whitest sand but it'll do for the fly-and-flop traveller, who, after days of sightseeing will want to pair their city break with a little beach time and soak up that other side of Venice.
The Floating City was where George and Amal Clooney famously married last year
HELLO! Online planned a trip to Venice using Booking.com's "Booking now" app. The online travel website has found that nearly half of their customers use smart phones to book a hotel, within just 48 hours of a stay. As spontaneous travel is on the rise, the business created their "Booking now" app, which is available on Android and iOS, for customers to find and secure last-minute accommodation abroad in just two clicks.