If you are paying attention to such trivial things, you’ll eventually
hear of many cities that have a nickname claiming they are the “Venice
of” something. These can be found in almost every corner of the world,
and a bit of research has demonstrated that some are much closer to the
real thing than others. In fact, some of them have such a flimsy case
that the real Venice should probably get a lawsuit going.

Even though some of them are really pretty close, it seems in order to
call your city the “Venice of” something you must meet the following
strict qualifications:

  1. Your town must have at least one canal or slow-moving river

So let’s start by taking a quick visit to the real thing, and then we’ll compare and contrast all the fakes out there.

Venice, Italy — The Venice of Italy


The Venice that started the whole “The Venice of…” craze, it’s
easily one of the most beautiful and romantic cities on earth, and it’s
an excellent place to visit if you are a fan of crowds of other
tourists wondering why this place is so damn crowded. But seriously, if
you follow the advice of the pros, you’ll spend at least one night here
and discover that the early mornings and evenings are amazing and easy
to deal with.

Suzhou, China - Venice of the East (Chinese version)


This city of over 6 million in the suburbs of Shanghai is on a lake and
also near the mouth of the mighty Yangtze River, and evidently many
centuries ago it had an extensive canal network, which earned it the
nickname “Venice of the East.” Most of those canals have since been
paved back over, but enough still exist that they are a tourist
attraction, and from certain angles this place actually does look just
a bit like the Venice of Italy.

Alappuzha, India — Venice of the East (Indian version)


With over 2 million residents (this is India, after all) this is one of
the largest cities on this list. Its canals somehow seemed unusual
enough to earn it the title “Venice of the East” around 100 years ago,
in spite of the fact that the canals themselves appear to be the only
similarity, and even that might be stretching it.

Bangkok, Thailand

— Venice of the East (Thailand version)


With its position on the Chao Phraya River basin, Bangkok actually has
quite a bit in common with the real Venice. Its extensive canal network
is actually not used for in-city shipping as much as it used to be, but
the city is also said to be slowly sinking itself into the swamp. Many
visitors will get to spend some quality time on the canals, as tours of
the various “floating markets” in the area are a very popular novelty.

Basra, Iraq — Venice of the Middle East


Evidently, the canals that flow through this second-largest city in
Iraq that sits near the Persian Gulf are at the mercy of the tides, so
the nickname of “Venice of the Middle East” is only valid during parts
of the day. We can excuse the city for not resembling Italy much,
especially since any gondoliers that might have been here before have,
up until very recently, been replaced by the British military.

Amsterdam, Netherlands — Venice of the North (Dutch version)


One of several cities sometimes called “Venice of the North,” Amsterdam
actually has more canals and bridges than the Italian city (and
Hamburg, Germany has more bridges than both of those combined), so this
is not some phony nickname that stretches the imagination. Amsterdam is
also extremely well known for its network of gorgeous waterways, and
some of the nicest are those in the Red Light District (pictured), which is the oldest part of the city.

St. Petersburg, Russia — Venice of the North (Russian version)


This on-again, off-again capital of Russia sits on the Baltic Sea, and
in the early 18th Century the city planners began digging a series of
canals to help move goods around. Most of these canals remain, and the
hundreds of bridges crossing over them definitely do make the Venice
association believable.

vc — Venice of Ireland


This small town of around 2,300 people in County Kildare that sits on
the N7 road that connects Dublin and Cork is sometimes known as the
“Venice of Ireland,” which does seem to be a bit of a stretch. A
confusing passage on the Monasterevin city website
says, “An aqueduct built in 1826 carries the Grand Canal over the River
Barrow. Monasterevin is noted for its unusually high number of
bridges,” so it sounds like the combination of a ‘Grand Canal’ and some
bridges were all it took to adopt its own Venice nickname, in spite of
the small size and look of the place.

Nantes, France — Venice of the West


The 6th largest city in France is the largest in the Brittany region in
the far west, so the fact that it has a canal network helped earn it
the nickname “Venice of the West.” The current description on its
Wikipedia page says the name is, “owing to its position on the river
delta of the Loire, the Erdre, and the Sèvre (whose tributaries were
infilled in the early 20th century).” Sounds like a perfect match!

Sète, France — Venice of Languedoc


“Languedoc,” (in case you didn’t know either) is the region in southern
France that borders Spain and the Mediterranean Sea, so being known as
the “Venice of Languedoc” may not sound like a big deal, but it turns
out this city of around 40,000 actually resembles Venice, Italy more
than probably any other on this list. The Canal du Midi spills into the
sea here after its 240km journey from Bordeaux, and the whole town is
filled with small waterways that actually look somewhat like the real

Puerto de Mogán, Canary Islands — Venice of the Canaries


In one of the more dubious claims on this list, this city in the Canary
Islands (owned and operated by Spain) features what the most recent
Wikipedia editor calls “Canal-like channels linking the marina to the
fishing harbour.” This seems to set the bar pretty low, but still it is
sometimes called “Little Venice” or “Venice of the Canaries.”

Recife, Brazil — Venice of Brazil


Lately it’s become more famous for its many shark attacks just off the
coast, but this nearly-500-year-old city on the Eastern tip of the
continent is also sometimes known as the “Brazilian Venice” due to the
number of rivers and bridges in town. While it may be the closest thing
Brazil has to the famous Italian city, this one does seem to stretch
the moniker a bit. In our book, just having rivers and bridges doesn’t
cut it, but we don’t get a say in these things.

Ft. Lauderdale, USA — Venice of America (East Coast)


This touristy city just north of Miami used to be mostly known as a
cheesy Spring Break destination, but its 165 miles of canals just
behind the beach definitely do qualify it for its nickname “Venice of
America.” One major difference is the Italian waterways are used for
shipping goods while these are mainly used so more people can park
yachts in front of their houses and then get them out into the ocean.

San Antonio, USA — Venice of the Southwest


This huge city in Texas has a section called the River Walk, which is a
series of canals just off the San Antonio River, and is said to be the
number one tourist attraction in the state. It has at least a few
bridges that appear to be inspired by Venice, Italy, so obviously its
worthy of being known as the “Venice of the Southwest” by at least some

Venice, California — Venice of America (West Coast)


This is one of two actual ‘fake’ Venices on this list, since it was
built in 1905 to copy the canal system (to some degree) of the Italian
city it was named after. Over the following decades the city boomed and
then fell into disarray, and the stagnant water in the remaining canals
became something of a health hazard. But the canal area that sits a few
blocks from the beach was cleaned up and revitalized, and it’s quite
nice to look at today, even though it’s so out of the way that most
people don’t even know it’s still there in this form.

Venetian Resort — Venice of Las Vegas



Since the vast majority of Americans don’t even have a passport, much
less enough money for a flight to Italy, the Las Vegas Sands
Corporation decided to grant a public service to under-traveled
Americans by imploding the Sands Hotel
and building a 5-star hotel in its place that has a kitchy and
over-the-top Venice theme. You can now take a gondola ride through its
indoor-outdoor canal system, and be piling prime rib onto your buffet
plate less than 10 minutes later. Take that, Italy! The Venetian in Las
Vegas has been such a success that it’s spawned an imitator, in the
name of a similar Venetian hotel in Macau (owned by the same company)
that features the world’s largest casino.