How to Do the Venice Biennale

Herwig Kopp / NORmALUM

Essential things to know before heading to one of the art world's buzziest events.

From May 28 to November 27, lovers of architecture will flock to Venice to visit the Biennale (or the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, as it’s officially called). Including everything from installations to research projects, the Biennale is an event at which big names and first-year students alike mingle and exchange ideas. The main attractions are the Giardini—a public park with a central pavilion and 29 national ones, each with an individual show—and the Arsenale, a former shipyard transformed into a giant exhibition hall.

Book hotels early

Especially if you aim to stay at one of the three Biennale favorites: the Bauer, the Danieli, or the Gritti Palace hotel. Resist the more remote resort hotels that will increase your back-and-forth commute.

Take your time

The Giardini alone can take an entire day. Think of it as if you’re visiting 30 mini-museums. Add to that a visit to the Arsenale; it’s ten minutes away by foot but can take half a day to explore.

There’s (much) more

Among the other must-sees are the shows at the Fondazione Prada and the François Pinault Foundation. The latter occupies two locales: the stunning Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana.

Bring sturdy shoes

Even with a water taxi, you’ll have to cover long distances by foot.