DO: Venice Carnival, 15 February - 4 March

At first glance, it might look like the city has thrown a huge, liberated fetish party. But the annual, mardi gras style Venice Carnival is a centuries-old institution, which cloaks the city in mystery every February. It harks back to 18th century glamour and opulence, with the masks at the centre of it. Grab a mask from one of the city's many shops and try to sneak into one of the decadent carnival balls. Or, just hang around the canals.

EAT: PG's Restaurant, Ramo Grassi

Our number one rule for choosing a restaurant: avoid any with pictures of the food outside, as we guarantee it won't end well. Don't be sucked in by those awful pizzerias in Piazza San Marco or by the Grand Canal – instead head to Philip Starck-designed restaurant PG, inside the Palazinna G Hotel. Tradition rules the roost here. Think simple Venetian food using local ingredients (hopefully not from the canals themselves) with a far east twist.

STAY: Luna Hotel Baglioni, rooms from €280 a night

If you're not by a canal in Venice, you're doing it all wrong – especially during the luxurious carnival. The stunning Luna Baglioni hotel, close to the main square Piazza San Marco, is housed in an old Venetian building and opens out onto the water, so you can arrive in a gondola (or a dinghy). Book early if you're coming to carnival: this is about as Venetian as it's ever going to get, folks.