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World's Most Beautiful Canal Cities

Venice

We’d be remiss not to acknowledge the nonno (grandfather) of all canal cities. Novelist Thomas Mann declared it somewhere between “a fairy tale and a tourist trap.” Yes, the canals can smell funky at times—winter, mainly—and the crowds can make it one of the world’s least romantic places, but you can be among a tourist herd, turn a corner, and find yourself alone in a magical corner. There’s no denying Venice’s continued magnetism.

How to Do It Right: Base yourself on the island of Giudecca and try the new hop-on, hop-off Vaporetto dell’Arte tours, with stops by more than 20 cultural institutions. If you just can’t quit the gondola idea, take a gondolier class with Art Viva.

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