Of all the cities in the world, only Paris comes remotely close to matching Venice in terms of sheer beauty and romance. You've seen it in photos and films, but there's no substitute for the real thing - the glittering Grand Canal, gondolas gliding down watery alleyways, elegant palaces emerging straight from the sea. Cruising in and out of Venice will give you a breathtaking view you won't soon forget. Venice has accumulated great wealth and produced some of Europe's most important artistic and cultural treasures. What remains of its greatness - the crumbling palaces, the sumptuous art in its museums and churches, the fantastic ritual of Carnival - make Venice a living tribute to the past. Apart from a series of charming squares, such as the famous Piazza San Marco, Venice is mostly composed of a series of narrow canals and streets spread over more than 100 islands. These tangled passages are an attraction among themselves. There are few cities where what you have to do is simply get lost, especially if you want to escape the tourist hordes blocking the main arteries around St Mark's and the Rialto Bridge. So if your cruise leaves from Venice either on the outward or the return leg, arm yourself with comfortable shoes and start getting lost on foot, letting your curiosity take you away, trying to avoid the very expensive vaporettos. Take a map with you because you will need it to find the main artery. If you have time, don't miss Murano and Burano to visit the world-famous blown glass and lace factories.