I will be travelling to Venice and Trieste in late March/early April for nine days, arriving and departing from Venice. Would you please recommend reasonably priced hotels in both cities that are centrally located? What is the best way to travel between the cities? Please suggest the "must sees" in each city.
The best way to travel from Venice to Trieste is by train - take a Eurostar from Venezia Mestre Station to Trieste Central Station for the approximately two hour journey (about €11 [Dh55] for a one-way ticket). For more information on train timetables and online reservations, visit www.trenitalia.com.
Must-see sights in Venice include San Marco Basilica, the Accademia Gallery and the Rialto bridge, which is connected to the busy pedestrian-and pigeon-filled San Marco square by the main shopping thoroughfare, the Mercerie. Queue under the archway at Bacino Orseleo for a gondola ride - Venice's vaporettos may be its biggest cliché, but there really is no other way to do justice to the canals and the amazing, crumbling architecture with which the city is brimming.
Head to San Polo and Santa Croce for a museum trawl, which should include stops at the International Modern Art Gallery in the imposing Ca' Pesaro, the Oriental Museum and the Museum of Natural History - its centrepiece is an ancient Roman boat recovered from the lagoon.
Find the time to see the islands that dot this main lagoon. Murano, the city's glass-producing centre since the 13th century, is a small cluster of islands connected by old bridges. Glass is sold all over the place but beware of fakes, which are plentiful. Torcello is famous for Santa Fosca, a Byzantine cathedral laid with marble and mosaics. Burano is the farthest of the villages but also the most colourful, with pretty lace stalls (authentic Burano lace is very expensive, although cheaper alternatives abound) and rows of brightly painted houses lining the narrow canals.
If you plan to venture out on long strolls through the city's winding alleys, book a room at Hotel Torino (www.hoteltorino.com; 00 39 041 5205 222), housed in a set of three historic buildings (situated about 15km from Marco Polo airport). Its central location - it lies close to Teatro la Fenice and Piazza San Marco - makes it ideal if you want easy access to the main streets. Double rooms cost from €150 (Dh735) per night, including a city map, breakfast and taxes.
Trieste is a small but pretty port in north-east Italy, bordered by Slovenia and looking out to the Adriatic Sea, and surprisingly overlooked by tourists who head straight for the bigger Italian cities. Trieste lies about 160km from Venice and offers plenty of history and culture: walk through the Old Town and New Town districts for a sense of how the city has transformed; sail down the Canal Grande; climb up the Colle Capitolino hill, home to the Basilica di San Silvestro, for wide views over the city; and stop at Trieste's well-known landmark, Trieste Cathedral, which dominates the Piazza della Cattedrale. Another important site not to be missed is the 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre. Stroll down to Trieste's busy harbour in the evenings to get a feel of the city and to meet its residents.
The recently refurbished Best Western Hotel San Guisto (www.hotelsangiusto.it; 00 40 764 824) offers clean, well-maintained rooms, good service and excellent proximity to must-see places such as Castello di San Guisto, Arco di Riccardo and Palazzo del Municipio. Double rooms cost from €87 (Dh430) per night, including breakfast and taxes.