Venice is one of those fairytale cities that a huge number of people dream of visiting. In my opinion, despite being a massive tourist magnet and often a bit too crowded, Venice still does live up to the hype, and that’s mostly because as a canal city it’s pretty unique. Like Paris or London or Berlin, I consider Venice a city that everyone should try out at least once. Venice is featured in our best cities to visit in Europe post. Here is my list of the top ten things to do in Venice.
Piazza San Marco/St Mark’s Square
Arguably the most photographed Venice attraction, and certainly the place with the highest concentration of pigeons!, St Mark’s Square is a must-see. Venetian authorities have been trying to crack down on inappropriate tourist behaviour in recent years (no bare chests, no feeding the pigeons) to make it a more glamorous place, but it’s still a mix of every kind of tourist imaginable and a crowded one at that. Just the same, you can’t miss it.
San Marco Piazza at dusk by Rmonty119
Basilica San Marco/St Mark’s Basilica
While you’re there, check out St Mark’s Basilica as well, as another must-see Venice sight. If you want to go inside, the queue can sometimes be interminably long, so plan ahead (you can book online to cut down waiting time). It’s a simply beautiful church inside, plus you can get good views over Venice from the roof.
Basilica San Marco by alag_pl
Next door to the Basilica is Doge’s Palace, an impressive Gothic building dating back to the 1300s which used to house the city administration. These days it’s full of priceless artwork and has the special feature of the Bridge of Sighs – touring Doge’s Palace is the only way to have a chance to walk over this famous bridge.
Courtyard view of Doge’s Palace by Szilveszter Farkas
Campanile di San Marco/Bell Tower of St Mark’s
The Campanile is by far the best place to go for views over Venice – not being a city full of tall buildings, opportunities like this are rare. The tower is not the original as the first one collapsed, but I think it’s more about the view than what you’re climbing, anyway!
View from Campanile di San Marco by HarshLight
Rialto Bridge and Accademia Bridge
Hop in the #1 vaporetto (you don’t need a canal tour – just utilise Venice’s public transport) down the Grand Canal and you’ll get great views of some of the most famous Venetian bridges like the Rialto Bridge and Accademia Bridge. There’s also heaps of shopping to be done in the Rialto Bridge area. You could book a water taxi in Venice to get around the attractions.
Glass-blowing on Murano
Venetian glass is definitely one of the most popular souvenirs to take away from Venice, and seeing how its made is one of the most popular tourist outings. On the island of Murano there are numerous large and small glass factories, most of which are adept at providing tourists with demonstrations of glass-blowing techniques (and then doing a good job of selling you the finished products!). Try to find a less crowded factory, but it really is interesting to see these masters in action.
Glass blowing on Murano by LunaMoth116
Britt-Arnhild also has an interesting tip about a glass-blower on the mainland side of Venice who sounds worth checking out, too.
Stroll around Burano
Like a small companion island to Murano, the lesser-known Burano is the next stop and is well worth a visit. Its houses and cottages are colourfully painted and it’s great to take a stroll around Burano with your camera at the ready. There are also some small shops with interesting gifts and the island is famous for its lace-making.
Colourful houses on Burano by o_palsson
I know that riding in a gondola is an absolutely touristy thing to do; I know it’s usually not too cheap. I knocked it before I actually jumped in a gondola too. But afterwards, I can only say that it’s a quintessential Venice experience that is easy to enjoy (as long as you don’t dwell on the cost!). Why not book a gondola in Venice in advance to enjoy the views from the canals?
Gondola ride by Nell brown
Peggy Guggenheim Museum
I floated past the Guggenheim Museum on a boat but never had the chance to get inside this Venice attraction. It’s home to a sculpture garden plus art from Picasso, Pollock and Dali among many others.
Collection entrance by isapisa
Another island and a short ferry ride from Venice, Lido is famous for its annual film festival but it also a relaxing place to visit during your Venice trip, for a meal or a stroll or to hang out at the beach.
Lido beach by mlsj1_99
Guides to Other Cities in Italy
Our Europe city guides cover these Italian cities: