Grand marble palaces rise from the banks of myriad canals and a labyrinth of narrow, stone-paved streets in this European city.

You want to build a city where? Venice must have seemed like an impossible dream at first, something Elon Musk would be laughed out of a boardroom for saying today. While this city is no colony on Mars, it might as well have been when the city was founded (it’s so old, there’s no accurate record of exactly when). From a camp of refugees escaping the Romans to a city sprawling across 118 tiny islands, Venice brought the impossible to life.

If you’re wondering what to do in Venice today, put on a good pair of walking shoes and start hoofing it. No cars are allowed on the narrow cobblestone streets in the city center, and you’ll want to slow to a stroll while taking in Venetian architecture and marble palaces soaring up from gondola-filled canals anyway.

Speaking of gondolas, renting one (and being serenaded by its captain) is one of the most romantic things to do in Venice. There are also water taxis. Either can take you to Venice’s most sought-after attractions, such as Doge’s Palace and the Bell Tower of St. Mark. Climb to the top of the latter for gorgeous views of the city and the lagoon it calls home.

In a city known for cultural innovations such as baroque music, eyeglasses, and platform shoes, it’s amazing how much of the city hasn’t changed. Many of its buildings have stood watch for hundreds of years, providing a stunning backdrop to everything that goes on beneath their shadows.

But you don’t have to imagine what Venice looks like. Our Venice vacation packages make the dream of visiting this impossible city a reality—all without tugging too hard on the purse strings. Blaze your own trail—er, canal—through Venice.