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Italy - Po Delta and Venice

Fascinating birding in one of Europe's most important National Parks, followed by a fantastic few days in Venice.

2025 Dates
  • 03 Apr - 10 Apr 2025
Duration8 Days
2025 Price
£2695 pp
£445 single supplement. Deposit £400
Max Group Size6 per guide, max group size 12 clients.

This is a unique holiday, combining enjoyable birding in the Po Delta area with a three-night visit to Venice, around 120km to the northeast.

The Po Delta is one of Europe’s most important national parks. The landscape is flat and wet, so waterbirds predominate, though in early spring passage migrants including raptors and passerines give an interesting dimension. Key birds include Pygmy Cormorant, Marsh Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, Slender-billed and Mediterranean Gull, Black-necked Grebe, Montagu's Harrier and more. We also hope to take a gentle boat trip into the calm, shallow waters of the Adriatic Sea, where waders, gulls, terns and more can be seen from a unique perspective.

After four nights in the Po Delta area we transfer to Venice (just two hours away), and spend three nights in this wonderful city, where you have the opportunity to explore at leisure. Your Guide will help you get the most from your visit, advising how to visit the many museums and tourist sites, and arrange tickets for evening entertainment. A three-day waterbus ticket with unlimited travel is included in your holiday package, an invaluable asset as you explore 'la serenissima'. We also arrive and depart via waterbus, perhaps Europe's most romantic airport transfer!

Our hotel in the Po Delta is an exceptional 'agritourismo' experience, and the cuisine here is superb. Dinners, breakfast and lunches in the field are delightful; you may get a little carried away! We also use a high quality hotel in Venice, very well appointed and ideally located for navigating the city. Both places are long-standing friends of Heatherlea, and offer a warm welcome and exceptional service.

A unique two-centre experience combining absorbing birding with a great city break!


Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office! Read more about our Pre-flight Service here!

Days 1 to 4: Thurs 3 Apr - Sun 6 Apr 2025      Arrival and the Po Delta 
After relaxing in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we fly London to Bologna a short transfer from our first hotel. Birds of this vast wetland include Black-necked Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Purple, Night and Squacco Heron, Great White, Cattle and Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Ferruginous Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Little Bittern, Marsh Harrier, many waders perhaps including Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Wood Sandpiper, Avocet, Kentish Plover, Little Stint and Whimbrel, Caspian and Gull-billed Tern, Mediterranean and Slender-billed Gull, Cetti’s, Fan-tailed, Great Reed and Sedge Warbler, Firecrest, Penduline Tit, Spanish Sparrow and Serin. Just as rewarding will be our hunt for migrants, which might include Saker Falcon, Montagu's Harrier, Black Kite, White Stork, Hoopoe and several races of Yellow Wagtail. Nightingale, Cetti's Warbler, Great Reed Warbler and many other small passerines should be heard and seen.

Other excitement in previous holidays include an Adder swallowing a large Marsh Frog before our eyes, good views of Coypu and time spent identifying several races of Yellow Wagtail on passage to more northerly breeding grounds. We usually record 15-20 species of butterfly, perhaps including European and Scarce Swallowtails, Mallow Skipper, and Eastern Dappled White among others.

On this part of the holiday we hope to be joined by our friend and top local birder Menotti Passarella. 'What Menotti doesn't know about the birds ............ of the Po Delta isn't worth knowing' Bob Scott, 'Where to go birdwatching in the Po Delta'. We are always guaranteed fascinating birding with Menotti, and often gain access to places not normally open to the public. We may also take a boat trip out into the shallow Adriatic lagoon to see breeding Slender-billed Gull, depending upon availability. 

Our exceptional hotel in the Po Delta region is a major element of our holiday experience. A beautiful building set in acres of open fields and tended gardens, everyone who has been here has loved this delightful venue. Breakfasts are expansive and luxurious, picnic lunches are included for our three days in the field, and evening meals are superb. A real treat, and very much a taste of rural Italy, we spend four nights at Villa Belfiore.

Day 5 to Day 8: Mon 7 Apr - Wed 9 Apr   Venice      
Venice is only 120 km away, and we transfer by road in around two hours. With three nights here, you have plenty of time to explore. On arrival we take the waterbus from the airport, approaching Venice across the lagoon, and arriving close to St Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace, very close to our hotel. After a short break, your Guide will lead an 'orientation walk', taking in San Marco with its spellbinding Basilica, and the Doge's Palace with its poignant Bridge of Sighs. Your 72-hour waterbus ticket is a real asset, entitling you to unlimited travel up and down the Grand Canal by vaporetto, round the outside of the city, across the lagoon to the Lido, or to the glass blowing factories and shops of Murano. This is a great way to see Venice and also to give your feet a rest! You can visit the Peggy Guggenheim, Accademia or Modern Art museums, or just enjoy the feel of the city as you wander through ancient, narrow streets past shops bursting with Murano Glass, carnival masks, and artists’ supplies.

We use a very good hotel in a central part of the city, convenient for major locations and waterbuses, yet quiet and secluded, away from the tourist bustle. We can recommend good eating places, local bars where limoncello is served, and will encourage you to visit the finest ice-cream shops in Venice!

Birding opportunities in Venice itself are necessarily limited, though if you prefer to keep birding, there are options. With your Final Information Pack we will detail an island location away from the main tourist area, where birding can be very good. On a recent visit we saw displaying Marsh Harrier, Wryneck, Nightingale, Serin, waders including Greenshank, and Mediterranean Gull, Pygmy Cormorant and Black-necked Grebe during the transfer. Three nights at Hotel Bisanzio, Venice.

Day 8:  Thurs 10 Apr - Departure
Depending on flight times we may be able to enjoy a final morning in Venice before we transfer by alilaguna to Marco Polo airport. Perhaps one of Europe's most enjoyable airport transfers!  

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

A few notes about Venice

Venice is a wonderful place, but it helps to have a little knowledge to get the most from your visit. Here are a few things you should know!

  • Get euros before you arrive; currency exchange rates in Venice are very poor.
  • On arrival, we provide tickets for three days unlimited travel on the waterbuses, or vaporetti. Don't travel without your ticket! Our hotel is just two hundred metres from the waterbus stop, away from the busy tourist area around Doge's Palace/Bridge of Sighs.
  • We enter and leave Venice in style via the 'Alilaguna', which takes us across the lagoon on our airport transfer. This service is just two bridges away from our Hotel, again perfectly situated.
  • Located in a quiet and peaceful calle overlooking St Mark's Basin, our Hotel occupies premises once used as a studio by Alessandro Vittoria, one of the most important 16th century Venetian sculptors. Close to the hotel is the Chiesa della Pietà, where for many years Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) one of the greatest composers of the Italian Baroque, taught and played.
  • Once settled, we take an orientation walk featuring many of the treasures of Venice, helping you find your way around a few key places and – most important! – the route back to your Hotel. 
  • Many of the major tourist sights are within a few hundred yards of your Hotel. You are only a few minutes' walk from St Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs.
  • There are many places to eat, from streetside cafes to good osteria, trattoria and restaurants. Your Guide will show you a few good places, but virtually everyone in Venice speaks English, so you should feel safe everywhere.
  • In many cafes and bars it is cheaper to eat or drink standing up rather than sitting down. You will notice many people drinking expresso or eating panaderies whilst standing, (Italians have a sweet tooth!), then it’s ‘ciao’ and away they go.
  • The area immediately around St Mark’s Square (San Marco) is much more expensive than the back streets. It is worth a walk to get away from the throng and appreciate a more traditional place at a realistic price.
  • Your waterbus ticket is a real asset – you can go up and down the Grand Canal, round the outside of the city, across the lagoon to the Lido or visit the glass blowing factories and shops of Murano or for the adventurous: even the small outer isles in the lagoon! This is a great way to see Venice and also to give your feet a rest.
  • If you want to enjoy a concert or anything special, please ask. We can recommend concerts with a strong Vivaldi content, available most nights. Tickets can be bought at your hotel. 

What's included in your holiday price:

  • return scheduled flight from London – Bologna, Venice - London, airport taxes, baggage and hand luggage up to airline ticket-included limit.
  • airport transfers, ground transportation, accommodation and meals as specified.
  • 72-hour waterbus pass in Venice
  • the services of your Heatherlea leader(s), and local birding expert Menotti Passarella.
  • boat trip on the Adriatic to see breeding seabirds at close quarters (subject to availability).
  • transfer to Marco Polo Airport in Venice by Alilaguna, perhaps the best airport transfer in Europe!
  • The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more..

What's not included in your holiday price:

  • travel to and from departure airport before and after holiday, in-flight meal, baggage above airline included limit.
  • meals in Venice with the exception of breakfast. We arrive at Venice Airport around 12 noon, so your first non-inclusive meal will be lunch that day.
  • incidental tips, expenses of a personal nature including drinks and personal insurance.

More holiday information

Accommodation is in excellent hotels with all rooms en suite. Accommodation on full-board basis in Po Delta area, and on B&B basis in Venice.
Food breakfast is a sensational buffet in our Po Delta Hotel. Homemade bread, jams and tarts are included as part of the feast, as well as a choice of meats, cheeses, home-grown fresh fruits, eggs, fruit juice, tea and coffee. Picnic lunches are provided on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and include a variety of excellent local produce (the family owners produce a huge range of jams, condiments, sweetmeats and cakes) plus soft drinks. Evening meals are generally local dishes, with vegetables and aromatic herbs coming from the hotel’s organic garden. The introductory buffet often features up to two dozen home-made vegetable dishes as a sumptuous dinner begins! The food during this part of the trip is exceptional! You can see properties similar to the one we use on this website: www.agriturismo.it/en/

In Venice, breakfast is a good quality buffet with lots of choice. No other meals are included here, though your Guide will recommend eating places to you.
Walking The birding part of this holiday is not strenuous. Leisurely walking, very occasionally over moderately rough terrain, is the only physical requirement. Venice can be hard on the feet, so plan to use your waterbus ticket!
Weather There can be surprising variations in temperature. Direct sunlight can send the thermometer above 25°C, though 15 – 20°C is more usual. Minimum temperatures may be about 10°C during daytime, and winds can be cool. Venice can be wet, though floods are not expected in April.
Insects biting insects may be encountered, depending on the weather. Bring a good repellent just in case.
Group size is restricted to 7 clients maximum.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London. We may be able to offer flight arrangements from another airport and/or quote without flights. If you wish to add an extension either before or after your holiday, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange for you.

Why choose Heatherlea for your birding and wildlife holiday in Europe?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
  • All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).
Tour Details

About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248