The Best Things to See and Do in Venice

Considering this city has existed for centuries, there are enough things to see, do and explore for years. From gorgeous churches, palaces, shops, restaurants, artworks, to riding a gondola on the canal, your senses will be overloaded. Here are our top suggestions for things you absolutely must do!
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    Venice is a city of historical significance and immense beauty! This unique city is unlike any other in the world! In fact, this floating marvel actually lies on 117 small islands which are separated by a network of canals and connected by a series of bridges.

    During the Italian Renaissance and Middle Ages, Venice was a powerhouse which saw great artistic and cultural development. This has made Venice one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world!

    Hera are the best things to do and see in Venice:

    1. St. Mark’s Square

    st-mark-square

    St Mark’s Square is the most famous piazza in Venice and named after Saint Mark’s Basilica. Located on the grand canal, sitting opposite the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, the square holds huge importance in Venice and is truly a wonderful place to visit.

    Surrounding the Piazza is a series of stunning ornate buildings with gorgeous arched walkways which frame it perfectly. It is lined by cafes, gorgeous shops and plenty of pigeons. Furthermore the square is home to a lot of other famous buildings including Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Campanile, St Mark’s Basilica and Torre dell’Orologio. It’s the ultimate spot to tick off some of Venice’s most impressive sights.

    Suggested tour: Venice: City Walking Tour

    2. Saint Mark’s Basilica

    st-mark-basilica

    A trip to Venice wouldn’t be complete without seeing Basilica Di San Marco. Built in 1092, this is without a doubt the most famous and renowned building in all of Venice.  It is a fascinating mix of Western and Eastern architectural styles and history, with some of St Mark’s relics, even having been smuggled into Venice from Egypt in the 9th Century. The basilica was even built in their honor.

    Every aspect and detail of this church is ornate and stunning – it looks and feels unlike any other church in Italy. From the sculptures and artwork on the front façade, to the glittering mosaics on the inside, to the beautifully painted frescoes and Byzantine works of art which hang on the doomed ceiling.

    Located in St Mark’s Square, this basilica is easily accessible from the Grand Canal and is one of the best-known surviving examples of Italian Byzantine architecture. Website: basilicasanmarco.it

    Suggested tour: St. Mark’s Basilica: Tour with Terrace Access

    3. Grand Canal

    grand-canal

    Venice literally has hundreds of canals which connect to all of the various islands that make up the city- the largest of which is the Grand Canal. This monumental 4km watery thoroughfare is essentially Venice’s main street.

    The Grand Canal snakes its way throughout the city, past over 170 buildings, dating from as early as the 13th century, many of which are grand palazzos, and under four romantic bridges. Boats glide up and down the canal transporting commuters and goods. A great way to experience it is to go on a gondola, or for those on a budget just ride the Vaporetto.

    Book online: Private Gondola Ride along Canal Grande

    4. Doge’s Palace

    doge-palace

    Palazzo Ducale is one of the most renowned buildings in Venice. This grand mansion was once home to the ruler of Venice, the Doge, back when it was an independent empire. The Doge’s Palace impresses from the outside with its stunning front façade featuring a gorgeous arched design made of white stone, with a series of diamond patterns on the walls.

    Inside the palace is just as impressive, with a series of immensely decorated rooms which all have original details, artwork, furniture and historical relics. A tour is a must and we advise you take some time viewing both the interior and exterior in detail to truly capture a piece of Venice history. Admission is €19. Website: palazzoducale.visitmuve.it

    Suggested tour: Doge’s Palace Skip-the-Line Entry Ticket with Guide Book

    5. Go on a Free Walking Tour

    Going on a walking tour is a great way to learn and explore more about the city you are visiting and Venice is an exceptional city to explore on foot. It is also an excellent way to get your bearings around the city and give you an idea of where you want to revisit. A free walking tour is great to get an overview of the city, but if you want more specialized information or a better-quality guide you will have to pay for a tour.

    Suggested Tour:  Venice Free Walking Tour

    6. Campanile Di San Marco

    campanile-san-marco

    Sitting right next door to Saint Mark’s Basilica, is the tallest structure in Venice, a towering building that stands at a colossal 98.6m high, the Campanile di San Marco. Created as a watch tower in the 9th century, this is quite possibly the most famous landmark of Venice.

    This Bell Tower has been replicated so many times around the world, there is a replica at Berkeley University and most famously in Las Vegas. So, for many seeing it is the moment they know they have arrived in Venice.

    You are able to climb to the top and see possibly the best panoramic views of Venice. A ticket will set you back €8, the views over Venice are priceless.

    Suggested tour: St. Mark’s Square Private Tour with Bell Tower View

    7. Bridge of Sighs

    bridge-sighs

    This small white fully enclosed limestone bridge is an important landmark and one of the most viewed structures in the city. It received its name from the fact that prisoners used to pause to sigh while crossing it. This was because it was their final glimpse of Venice on their way to prison or execution.

    This ornate Renaissance architecture is as intricate as it is gorgeous. It is only possible to cross it in person while on the Secret Itineraries Tour of the Dodge Palace (€20). Or alternatively you can witness it from the seat of a gondola.

    8. Get wild on a Venetian pub crawl!

    pub-crawl-venice

    An awesome thing to do is a Venice bar crawl. This is one of the most fun tours you can do in Venice. This pub crawl is known as giro d’ombra. Giro means stroll, and ombra means shade, which is actually slang for a glass of wine. Giro d’ombra is actually an ancient tradition and Venetians have been doing it for centuries. Venice was the Las Vegas of its time, and the nightlife is all about socializing with friends over a good drink and some food. This tour is also a great way to make some friends if you are a solo traveler.

    Book now: Venetian Style Carnival Pub Crawl

    9. Teatro La Fenice

    teatro-la-fenice

    This is Venice’s famous opera house, which has recently been restored and is now more fabulous than ever. It is a fantastic place to go and soak up some history and culture. Opulence is an understatement when describing this building. The ornate decorations and gilded boxes which line the walls make for a truly special setting for a show. For €10 you can take a tour of the place.

    Website: teatrolafenice.it

    Book Now: La Teatro La Fenice

    10. Go on a Gondola Ride!

    gondola-ride

    You are in Venice so this is kind of a must! A normal day-time gondola ride goes for around 40 minutes and costs around €80, which can jump to €100 at night. While this is quite expensive, you are in Venice and you have to experience it once! You can basically catch a gondola anywhere on the island, so take note as you walk around.

    It can be a super romantic experience to enjoy with the one you love and a great way to soak up all the gorgeous sites of Venice. We suggest skipping the busy Grand Canal Gondola because it is a much rougher ride and the back canals are so lovely and peaceful!

    Book online: Private Gondola Ride along Canal Grande

    11. Rialto Bridge

    Ponte di Rialto is the most historic bridge over the Grand Canal, the Renaissance-era Rialto Bridge is a majestic beauty which arches gracefully over the waters below. It was the first bridge that was built over the Grand Canal connecting the districts of San Marco and San Polo. The design and the detail of the bridge are stunning and its symmetry perfectly frames the Grand Canal. Its steps are still flanked by covered arcades which housed merchants and are still home to a series of shops.

    Suggested tour: Gondola Ride to Rialto Bridge

    12. Go on a Venice Food Tour!

    Italian food is so much more than just pizza and pasta! Every region has its own specialty and Venice is an absolute dream for gastronomy lovers. Take a good tour of Venice and visit the Rialto Market to marvel at the local produce, sample some Venetian Cicchetti (appetizers)and wash it down with a few spritz’ s

    Suggested Tour: Venice: 2.5-Hour Street Food Tour with a Local Guide or Venice -Food and Wine Tour

    13.Visit the Venice Islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello

    gondola-ride

    Most tourists stick to Venice’s main island, but this is a mistake because so many of Venice’s true gems are located outside the tourist areas. Visit one of the 118 islands on a day trip. The Three main and most popular islands are Burano, which is famous for its lace and colorful houses. Murando, which is famous for its handmade glass products. Torcello which is a relaxing place that has some of the oldest monuments in Venice. All three can easily be reached by boat and are worth visiting.

    Suggested Tour: Venice: Murano, Burano and Torcello Islands Full-Day Trip

    14. Academy Gallery

    academy-gallery

    A trip to the Gallerie dell’Accademia is guaranteed to impress particularly for those who love Renaissance art and iconic masterpieces. This museum hosts a fine collection of pre-19th century art and features works by artists like Canaletto, Titian and Bellini. The building which the gallery is housed in was formerly a convent and transformed to a museum in the late 1700’s.

    The most famous piece is the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci which shows the ideal proportions of a man. Other notable works include the Resurrection by Tintoretto, or the Battle of Lepanto by Veronese. Admission is €12. Website: gallerieaccademia.org

    Suggested Tour:  Private Accademia Gallery and Dorsoduro Tour.

    15. Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

    santa-maria-salute

    The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is for sure the second most renowned church in Venice, sitting on the opposite side of the Grand Canal to St Marks. It stands like a sentry at the entrance to the Grand Canal, this beautiful basilica was built by Venetians to thank the Virgin Mary for saving them from the plague.

    Completed in 1687 with a Baroque design it is another wonderous example of truly unique architecture. This majestic stone structure stuns from the outside taking center stage on the Grand Canal, the exterior is decorated with four statues of the apostles and the main dome towers above the skyline. It may not be as ornate as other churches but its symmetry is very pleasing to the eye. The interior gives an impression of being a great space and its hexagonal design allows light to pour in.

    16. Watch a Classical Music Concert

    Visiting Venice is like stepping back in time and experiencing what it was like to live in a bygone era. A popular thing to do in Venice is to take a musical journey back to the Baroque Period. This is a wonderful experience for music lovers, where you can experience Venice’s music scene in a 17th century church that is full of beauty and history.

    Highly recommended: Classical Music Concert at Church of San Vidal

    17. Murano

    Murano is an island within the Venice district. Murano is not as crowded as the other main streets of Venice but has wonderful charm. It is filled with numerous sights and sounds like the Palazzo Da Mula, the Campo Santo Stefano and the Basilica dei Santa Maria. Furthermore, Murano is famous for its glass blowing and you can even see live demonstrations at the various factories which are established there.

    Suggested Tour: Murano: Glass Factory Experience with Tour and Demonstration

    18. Ca’ Rezzonico

    ca-rezzonico

    Offering a glimpse into the decadent and glamorous life back in 18th Century Venice, this pristine palazzo is located directly on the Grand Canal. This palazzo essentially serves as a wonderful time capsule of this era. The former residence-turned museum is covered in marble, frescoes, gold and is home to many art pieces from the 18th century. It is truly a time capsule of this era. It’s the perfect place to experience what it would have been like to be a Venetian nobleman. Admission is €10. Website: carezzonico.visitmuve.it

    19. Take a mask-making workshop

    mask-making-workshop

    Venice is famous for its masks and they have played a very important role in

    the history and cultural heritage of the city. Venetian Masks are the hallmark of

    the Venice Carnival.  All traditional Venetian masks are still made from paper mâché and then elaborately decorated with fur, fabric, gems, or feathers. The genuine Venice Masks are all made by local artisans using traditional materials and techniques. Join a workshop and paint or make your own mask, learning ancient techniques.

    Book Now: Create Your Own Carnival Mask Workshop

    20. Eat Cicchetti

    eat-cicchetti

    One of the most enjoyable things you can do on holidays is to indulge in the delicious local cuisine! These are essentially like Spanish tapas. They are bite-sized morsels, which can be consumed throughout the day, usually late afternoon or early evening. You can order cicchetti everywhere, in bars or cafes and you must accompany it with a delicious Veneto wine. Most importantly cicchetti are a great way to sample a wide variety of the local cuisine and a good way to save money on food.

    Check out a Foodie’s Guide to Venice here.

    Book Now: Yummy Cooking Class in Venice

    21. Attend Venice Carnival!

    attend-venice-carnival

    Venice Carnival is one of the most famous carnival celebrations in the world. Every year 3 million people descend upon this floating city to soak up the iconic scenery, admire the extravagant costumes and masks, and be part of an electric atmosphere.

    There is no other place in the world that celebrates carnival like Venice, and everyone must experience it at least once in their lifetime!

    Suggested Reading: Read our Essential Guide to Venice Carnival!

    22. The Jewish Ghetto

    Ghetto Ebraico di Venezia was the world’s first ghetto. This is a small district of Venice where back in the 16th Century the Jewish residents of the city moved in. Today, you can learn all about the history of this district through tours and try traditional Jewish foods in the area that still retains a different feel to the rest of the city.

    The world’s first ghetto, this small district of Venice is where the Jewish residents of the city moved back in the 16th Century. Today, you can learn about the history of this district through tours and try traditional Jewish foods in an area that still retains a different feel to the rest of Venice.

    Suggested Tour: Venice – Jewish Ghetto 2-Hour Walking Tour

    23. Venice Romantic Sunset Tour by Typical Venetian Boat

    romantic-sunset-tour

    For the lovers out there, we highly recommend taking this romantic sunset cruise where you get to climb aboard a typical Venetian boat, and literally sail into the sunset. Along the way you can drink in incredible views of Venice’s icons. Sip prosecco and watch the painterly light of the sky change into different colors that are reflected on the water. The Venice sunset has been inspiring artists for centuries.

    Book Now: Venice Romantic Sunset Tour by Typical Venetian Boat

    24. The Church of Santa Maria Assunta

    Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta is a stunning church situated in the Cannaregio region of Venice. The church has a gorgeous front façade featuring ornate sculpted statues of religious figures, several stone columns and numerous intricate details. The main entrance is a huge bronze door. It was completed in 1729 and while it is one of the newer churches in Venice, it is still an important icon of the city. Inside also contains a number of impressive artworks like Martyrdom of St. Lawrence by Titian. Frescos, artwork and gold detail cover the ceiling and beautiful motif artworks line the columns and walls.

    25. Basilica Di Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari

    santa-maria-dei-frari

    This is actually the biggest church in Venice, and honestly one of the most interesting. It is a bit of a hidden gem, set in the heart of Sestiere of San Polo. The church glorifies the image of St Mary in the heavens. The most interesting feature of this church is the impressive display of art works. Among the amazing art collection is the “assunta”, Titian’s Assumption, which is an oil painting that is seven metres tall. Another is the “Trittico dei Frai” by Giovanni Bellni, as well as the sculpture of Antonio Casova which he built with his own hands. Admission is €3. Website: basilicadeifrari.it

    26. Watch a Traveling Opera in a Historic Palace on Grand Canal

    Watch an opera performance in a historic building on the Grand Canal to get a new view on Italian opera. Each portion of the event takes place in a separate hall of the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto, one of the most intriguing Venetian palaces.

    Book Now: Traveling Opera in a Historic Palace on Grand Canal

    27. Visit the Peggy Guggenheim

    The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of Europe’s major museums devoted to modern art, located on Venice’s Grand Canal. Peggy Guggenheim’s personal collection of 20th-century art, which includes masterpieces spanning in style from Cubism and Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism, is at the heart of the museum’s assets.

    Website: www.guggenheim-venice.it/

    Book Now: Skip-the-line ticket to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

    28. Murano Glassblowing & Burano Lacemaking Boat Tour

    murano-glassblowing

    Experience the enchantment of Murano glass blowing and Burano lace making. Visit the island of Murano, which was a center for glassmaking during the Middle Ages, via boat. The secrets of this craft were once closely guarded on this island, but you can see how they were made. Watch skilled glassblowers transform molten glass into works of art at one of the top glassblowing workshops. Visit the little maritime village of Burano to see people weaving handcrafted lace in a centuries-old tradition. 

    Book Now: Murano Glassblowing & Burano Lacemaking Tour by Boat

    29. Relax on Venice’s beaches

    Most people don’t realise but Venice is actually home to some magnificent beaches — the beaches on the isle of Pellestrina can easily be accessed by ferry from the city and are the perfect spot for an escape. Lido, with its sleek splendor and dolce vita attitude, is the most famous beach in the Venice. You might be lucky enough to catch movie stars on their way to the Venice Film Festival if you come during the first few days of September.

    Book now: Reach the beaches of Lido with a direct speed boat service from the mainland.

    30. Scuola Grande di San Rocco

    scuola-grande-di-san-rocco

    The Scuola Grande di San Rocco building houses several magnificent artworks and is a popular location for art enthusiasts visiting Venice. The Scuola Grande di San Rocco was founded in 1478 and is utilized for religious and humanitarian reasons. The works of numerous painters, including Tintoretto, the famed Renaissance painter, are among the key features here. His Old Testament-inspired paintings grace the ceilings, while New Testament motifs adorn the walls.

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