Venice is a city like no other. With its historic buildings and delightful canals, it remains one of Italy’s most popular attractions. Built on over a hundred small wood pilings it has been a popular destination since the Middle Ages. It is a city that is full of historical sites and overflowing with shops and restaurants. There are no roads in Venice, just footpaths and waterways, and even the most familiar of visitors get lost amidst the maze-like network of bridges, alleys, and canals. Much of the charm in Venice lies in accepting this fact, and wandering around on foot. There are endless exciting things to do in Venice; here we have picked a few popular one’s for you. Make sure your Venice tour package includes all of them.
1. Explore Piazza San Marco
One of the most important things to do in Venice is to visit this iconic place, the Piazza San Marco (or St Mark’s Square), which is surrounded by many historic buildings and landmarks. Here you can find:
- The Basilica San Marco (St Mark’s Basilica), which is an impressive golden basilica built in the 9th century, and is covered in stunning Byzantine mosaics.
- The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), the lavishly adorned palace which housed the Doges of Venice.
- The Campanile bell tower, which is the tallest building in Venice and offers a birds-eye view of the city.
- The Ponte di Sospiri (the famous Bridge of Sighs) which connects the New Prison to Doge’s interrogation rooms where prisoners once received their sentence.
There are also lots of cafés and restaurants dotted around the edge of the square, making it the perfect place for people to watch and have some delicious Italian food. While this famous square is often packed with tourists, you can head here in the evenings or at night to have a quieter stroll.
2. Ride Through The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal or Canale Grande is one of the main waterways of Venice. Running through the city’s centre, from the railway station to Piazza San Marco, it is lined with beautiful palaces, churches, hotels, and other renaissance buildings on either side. The Grand Canal is more like a river that passes from one side of Venice to the other which is bridged at four different points. Exploring the canal on one of Venice’s water taxis or on a traditional Venetian gondola are the a few places to visit in Venice. You can also consider walking if you have time.
3. Check Out The Iconic Masterpieces At Gallerie Dell’Accademia
The Gallerie Dell’Accademia is Venice’s top art museum that is sure to transport you back in time to Renaissance Venice. It is filled with pre-19th-century works of art by Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, and Canaletto, among others making it one of the must places to visit in Venice. The museum is spread across three buildings which also house the Accademia di Belle Arti. Both were opened by Napoleon when he closed churches all over Venice and took their artwork.
4. Walk Down The Rialto Bridge
In the very heart of Venice lies the famous Rialto Bridge which is the oldest bridge across the canal. It was built and designed by Antonio da Ponte and his nephew which is considered an architectural and engineering achievement of the Renaissance. Nearby is the vibrant Rialto Market where vendors sell fresh seafood and produce, as well as Italian classics like leather goods and cashmere. There are also a series of shops on either side of the bridge that sell souvenirs, jewelleries and much more. Undoubtedly one of the most famous and popular tourist attractions in Venice that you cannot miss!
5. Panoramic Views From San Giorgio Maggiore
For more panoramic views of the city, head to San Giorgio Maggiore. One of the many islands of Venice, it is most famous for its Palladian church – the Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore. The three floors of the church contain various paintings by Tintoretto. Dedicated to St George, it dates back to 829 and is now the headquarters of the Cini Foundation Arts Centre. The belltower has picturesque views of the entire lagoon. Maggiore is one of the most photographed places of Venice as from here one can get a magnificent view of the main island. One of the top recommended places to visit in Venice, you have to go up the top of Basilica’s Campanile to get a breathtaking view of Venice.
6. Wander Around The Jewish District
The Jewish Ghetto in Venice is the first ghetto ever designated to house Jewish people. This ghetto is located in the heart of Venice and this campo, or plaza, is the open area with homes and businesses surrounding the campo. It is fall and the trees show the changes from summer. One of Venice’s most fascinating neighborhoods is Il Ghetto. Once home to the segregated Jewish community, it was established in 1516 and is said to be the world’s first ghetto. Today, it is a quiet area full of small cafes, delicious bakeries, numerous synagogues and a small museum, definitely one of the top things to do in Venice.
7. Unique Octagonal Design Santa Maria della Salute
Don’t miss the large Baroque church – Santa Maria della Salute that stands on a narrow strip of land (Punta della Dogana) between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal. It dates back to 1631 and has a unique octagonal design. In the interior of the church you will find lots of works by the famous painter Titian. One cannot miss the centerpiece, the church’s great altar. The altar is sculpted with images of the Virgin and Child saving Venice from the plague epidemic of 1630. The church is in an octagonal space with six chapels radiating from the beautiful ceramic tiling.
8. Dig Into Some Mouthwatering Venetian Food
There are plenty of average and amazing restaurants in Venice. The best way to explore food in Venice is to take a food tour and try the local food. One of the top things to do in Venice is to eat while standing in wine bars or bacari. Just keep in mind to avoid eating at restaurants close to St Mark’s Square as the food here is very highly priced to trap the tourists. Venetian food stands out even amongst all the other delicious regional Italian cuisines. It is known for its high-quality seafood (often sourced from the lagoon itself). Don’t miss the Baccalà Mantecato, a mousse made with dried, salted cod blended with garlic, parsley, potatoes and cream.
9. Try The Traditional And Modern Flavors Of Gelato
Venice is known for its excellent gelatos, and you can head to the Gelateria Alaska for incredibly inventive flavors like turmeric or orange and arugula. Tasting a real artisanal gelato while on a stroll along a beautiful fondamenta is one of the best things to do in Venice. The Veneto region also makes excellent white wine, and has some of the best vineyards in all of Italy. You could also head to one of the city’s many iconic bohemian coffee shops. An espresso will cost around 7 Euro and you’ll have a small cost of around 5 Euro for a cover charge.
10. Participate In Europe’s Famous Venice Carnival
One of the must to do things in Venice is to take part in the Venice Carnival. This two week carnival is celebrated by almost every city in Italy. Every February around three million people dress up in masquerade costumes and masks. These public celebrations typically include street parties, mask and costume contests, parades, grand ball, markets and much more. During the carnival time, Venice is transformed into an enchanting and spellbinding place, truly a spectacular sight to see! This is that time of the year when the whole city gets into the festive mood to celebrate this fancy extravaganza. For more details on The Venice Carnival 2022 click here.
11. Peggy Guggenheim Museum
This museum houses works by some of the most influential artists of the 20th century and Peggy Guggenheim’s personal collections. Located in the former home of Peggy Guggenheim, an American heiress art collector, this museum is one of the world’s premiere private art collections in Venice’s Dorsoduro district. It features many works by Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and many others. Don’t miss the museum’s sculpture garden, filled with blooming flowers. Best time to visit this place is in the morning before the crowds flock here.
12. Enjoy The Relaxing Lido Beach
If you are looking for a place to get away from the tourist crowd, the Lido beach is a true escape. Located on the western side of Venice, this gorgeous island is the perfect place to spend the day relaxing under the sun and going for a dip in the sea. This place gives you a relaxed and laid back feeling and is much calmer than central Venice attractions. Choose a private or public beach as per your budget to enjoy the sandy cost of Lido.
13. Watch A Movie At The Venice Film Festival
Venice Film Festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. It is a prestigious event that brings some of the most successful directors and actors on the red carpet at Lido di Venezia. Best time to visit the Venice film festival is between August and September. One of the many attractions includes an open air cinema, where you can watch a film screening for free. If you are in Venice during this time do not miss out on one of the biggest film festivals in Europe.
14. Unusual Book Store Of High Water – Libreria Acqua Alta
Acqua Alta (named for the high-tide floods that so regularly affect Venice) is perhaps one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. Piles and piles of books can be seen stacked everywhere, some of them in truly unusual containers such as bathtubs, wagons, and even a gondola. A city that has roads made of water has nothing to fear as they keep all their titles in waterproof basins……interesting right? Recommend you to add this to your list of things to do in Venice.
15. Outer Islands – Murano, Burano, and Torcello
While the central islands contain the more popular squares and other popular attractions of Venice, the outer islands should not be missed. Murano, Burano, and Torcello are among the largest. Murano is famous for its glass-blowing factories, while Burano is known for its exquisite handmade lace and vibrant houses. Torcello is the site of two stunning Byzantine churches, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the Church of Santa Fosca.
Also Read: 5 Ways to Visit Venice on a Budget
The Do’s and Don’ts Of The Venice Trip
With so many activities to do in Venice, it’s important to learn how to move around in the Venice environment. Let’s take a look at a few do’s and don’ts to make your first visit to Venice an experience you’ll treasure for a lifetime.
- Avoid carrying large luggage as navigating Venice’s narrow and crowded streets can be very difficult.
- Take an authorized water taxi from the airport. You can also take a bus to Venice and from there a water bus to your accommodation.
- As wood-burning ovens are banned in Venice, wait until you’re in another part of Italy to indulge in pizzas.
- Don’t spend money on main tourist attractions like San Marco, these areas are very expensive. Instead save your money to spend them a few crosses away.
- Generally the city is very safe but be very cautious about scams and pickpockets.
- As the streets are narrow don’t block the passage with your backpack.
- People in Venice are generally well dressed; never dress with a bare upper body when visiting Churches and other historic places.
- Carry comfortable shoes as Venice is at its beat when explored by feet.
- Validate your tickets before getting on the bus as the fines start at 60 Euros plus ticket cost.
- Plan your Venice Trip for 2 or more days as the longer you’re in town the greater you can explore.
- Don’t feed the pigeons as it is considered illegal to do so.
- No matter how inviting the water looks, never go for a swim in the canals as it is dangerous as well as illegal.
- Eat at places that are crowded with neighborhood people, which make it clear that the place is good.
- Carry a reusable water bottle as every public square has a free water fountain.
- Buy a Venice City Pass and get a discount of 20% -30% off on museums and galleries.
- Last but not the least, stay in your comfort zone and discover the place with a curious and open mind.
Venice is a city of great cultural, uniqueness and immense beauty. For all these reasons Venice is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. Hope we have given you enough reasons to visit Venice. If we have missed any of your favorite things to do in Venice do let us know in the comment box below.
Though it is pricey, a Gondola ride through Venice is absolutely worth it.
The Venice Carnival in St Mark’s square is one of the main highlights in Venice.
The best place to stay in Venice is San Marco as it is home to many of the most important locations in Venice.
A ride through the Grand Canal is something that you cannot miss while in Venice.
Many tourists visit Venice on a day trip during a visit to Italy, it is recommended to spend 2 to 3 days to enjoy all the beauty and excitement the city has to offer.
Like any other tourist destination, crowded places can be dangerous, but overall it is a very safe city.