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Our tour guide gave us a very good review of St Mark's from outside. We went in for a short time which was fine because it was so crowded. The best part of the tour was the walk around the neighborhoods surrounding St Mark's Square where we learned a great deal about what it is like to live in Venice.
Lesson learned. Even though St. Marks Basilica opens at two o'clock on Sunday's I would not recommend scheduling as other church events can be scheduled like Confirmations after you book which close the Basilica to tourists. This was our second trip to Venice and we intentionally scheduled a skip the line tour to avoid waiting as were not able to see the Basilica our first trip. We booked back in March. We were very disappointed when we got to the tour and found out we would not be getting into the Basilica. We were not contacted a head of time to reschedule. The guide went on with the tour of St. Marks square and some back streets that we had seen and walked before.
The title of this tour should be changed to St. Marks Cathedral tour as this is what the tour was about...and very good at it too. Unfortunately we did not tour or discuss the square which has a different history and story. I will use this tour company again as the tour and ease of signing up is easy but would call ahead when possible to confirm the content.
Doing what: Skip the Line: St Mark's Square Highlights Tour
This was a fabulous day of 3 Viator tours purchased as a Venice Super Saver package. All 3 were outstanding. The 9am tour was of the Doge's Palace -- our guide, Steffan, was very interesting and kept things moving along at a perfect pace leading us through the rooms of the Doge's palace including the prison rooms. The 11:30am tour was a fascinating walk mostly off the beaten tourist paths through the lanes, piazzas and across the pedestrian bridges of Venice. Our guide, Rita, was full of knowledge and enthusiasm and we thoroughly enjoyed this tour. One of the highlights was seeing the outside of the hospital ospedale with the water ambulances and a water hearse parked in the canal alongside. It was great getting in to see St. Mark's Basilica without waiting in line but our time touring it was a little too short with so much else to see on the rest of our walking tour. Rita's exuberance was infectious, she enjoyed the questions and dialogue with our group, and she brought Venice to life for everyone. The 3rd tour of the package was a motorboat/water taxi tour into the lagoon and then back around through the Grand Canal for an hour. I forget our tour guide's name but he was very charming and informative, and we enjoyed both the boat ride and his narrative immensely.
We highly recommend this 3-in-1 tour package to enjoy and learn about the history, geography, and life in Venice. The tour guides were all enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and personable. They keep the groups small, about 12 on the walking tours and 8 on the boat tour -- which is great. We met for each tour outside at the Royal Gardens along the waterfront next to St. Mark's Square. There are stairs in the Doge's Palace, and lots of walking and some pedestrian bridges in the walking tour, but one woman in our group with a cane was able to keep up very nicely. In between the 2nd walking and 3rd boat tours we had about 2 1/2 hours for lunch and strolling around on our own. Fantastic day!!
Very interesting and good to 'skip the lines'. The basilica was closed for a service but we could still go inside and up to a viewing balcony area - a very good view of the beautiful gold mosaic ceilings! Then we came out onto a terrace next to the horse statues and had a great view of St Mark's square. Very knowledgeable guide.
Somewhat of a good news, bad news story. The good news is that we had the same guide, Andrea, for both the Doge's Palace and the St Mark's/Walking Tour tours. He was organized, knowlegeable and interesting. The tour of the Doge's Palace was particularly successful. I came away feeling that I had a good grasp of the history and importance of the palace and some appreciation of its artwork. After that, however, things went a bit downhill. The second tour began with a visit to St Mark's cathedral. This was quite disappointing. The cathedral was its usual mob scene but what we got was a visit rather than a tour. Essentially we walked down the right aisle, paused briefly at the front and then exited by the left aisle. This was a shame because tour-participants did not get a good overview of the cathedral. Please note that I am not blaming the guide. I'm sure that he was just following a program that had been laid out for him. I took a similar tour two years ago that devoted much more time to the cathedral and its mosaics, and included time on the balcony overlooking the square and also time to gaze at the original four horses in the cathedral museum. All that we missed out on. After that, the walkabout was pleasant and enjoyable. Late in the afternoon, we had a one-hour ride on the Grand Canal. Once again, this was an up and down experience. We were only six on the boat, which was agreeable, and the guide had some interesting comments about the current state of Venice in decline and buckling under the weight of mass tourism but actual commentary on the sights we were passing was limited. So, overall, not bad, I guess, but there were certainly missed opportunities.
The walking tour covered everything you need to learn about the city of Venice, including some of the locations of the movie Italian Job 2003 version.
St Mark's Basilica tour was good. The history felt a little light, but satisfactory. In addition, we didn't really skip the line. It was early in the morning and we waited about 10-15 min to get in. It wasn't bad, but I don't think it should be advertised as skip-the-line.
Doge's Palace: I missed this because my lunch took a bit longer than needed and the day was too beautiful to pass up having a drink in one of the squares.
Cons: Each tour of the 3 are considered separate. This means that once your first tour is done, you need to go back to the meeting place at the time to start your next tour. Unfortunately, the first guide didn't mention that I needed to go somewhere for the Doge's Palace tour and I missed it. I would have gotten a quick lunch before heading to Doge's Palace for the tour had I known in advance. The guide did ensure that Grand Canal Cruise meeting time and place were marked on my ticket.
Overall, the package covers the highlights of main island of Venice in 1 day. If you're there for a bit longer, you can also check out the St Mark's Campanile, do a Gondola ride, and check out Murano/Burano/Lido.
Really interesting, we saw so much of the 'real' Venice, lots of small squares, deserted passages and empty canals, as well as the main, and much busier, main areas.
After spending more than an hour in St. Mark's Square, waiting for the clock to strike the hour, our guide found the Basilica was not going to be open. She tried an alternate way to get in, which took another 15 minutes. Finally she led us on the walking tour, which wasn't very interesting. We saw where she had studied when she went to school, We felt we had wasted both time and money.
4 of us missed the Doge's Palace tour. When we checked in for the morning walking tour, we were told to be back at 3 PM for the Grand Canal Tour. We thought that the Doge Palace would be included with the morning's tour guide, but she dropped us off at the Realli Bridge and told us to return in the afternoon for the boat tour. St. Mark's Square had been flooded in the AM, so we thought maybe access to the Palace had been blocked. It wasn't until we talked with others on the boat tour that we realized we'd missed the 1 PM Doge Palace altogether. We tried to take the Viator receipt to the Doge Palace but they would not honor it and we were out of time. Plus for 4 of us, we were out the 4 x 18 72 euros. The morning tour had been rushed and our tour guide did not hold the sign up very high so sometimes we were scrambling to find her. The Grand Canal Tour was great and really tied the whole city together.
Our guide for everything except the Grand Canal Boat Ride was, Barbara, and she was fantastic! She was a wealth of knowledge. The meeting point for the tour was very easy to find once we made our way to Saint Mark's Square. We were SO glad we chose the Skip the Line option because the lines to both Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica were ridiculously crazy long!!! The inside of the Doge's Palace was beautiful, and Barbara did a great job explaining the history of the Doge's as well as the architecture and the artwork inside.We were very happy to see that she was going to be our guide for St. Mark's Basilica and our walking tour. The inside of the basilica is breathtaking, and again Barbara did a fabulous job of explaining the history of and art within. The walking tour was fun, we got to see a lot of Venice without worrying about getting lost. We learned about gondoliers and the symbolism in the construction of the gondolas, the Rialto Bridge, and so much more. We had plenty of free time to wander around between the walking tour and the Grand Canal Boat Tour which was very interesting as well. I highly recommend this tour for the skip the line benefit, but also for the wealth of information shared by our guide that we would not have otherwise learned.
Seemed a bit too quick on Doge's Palace and pretty long on basilica tour except it was not long in basilica but going around the streets of the St Mark's square.
Our guide Barbara was absolutely fantastic. She gave us a great insight into the buildings in and around St Marks Square. She had the whole group laughing at her quirky discriptions and details of Venice. Inside the Basillica was totally breath taking.
The tour started promptly with helpful organisers arriving well before the starting time of 9.a.m.Tour of the Doges Palace was excellent, finishing before 11a.m. and the next tour of St Marks Basilica starting at 2p.m.Rather a long break in between and an early start . The tour of St Marks however,was extremely disappointing. Although we received a very good lecture on the exterior of the Basilica, the time spent inside was extremely short, less than 10 minutes. Although there are rules about large groups not stopping for too long,which is understandable, we did not visit the Pala D'Oro, with its magnificent jewelled altarpiece and the sacristy door with the relief of Titian's head,or the upper floor where the original bronze horses that used to be over the door of St Marks are now sited. Also the upper floor provides excellent views of both St Mark's Square the lagoon , and beyond. There are beautiful mosaics/paintings e.g.Mary's family tree and a chance to see the church from upstairs --I know this because I was so disappointed that I went back the next day and paid my 5 Euro for the upper floor and 2 Euro for the Pala D'oro this part of the tour is NOT recommended-- do it yourself ! The subsequent walking tour was informative , scenic and very enjoyable. The highlight was the 1 hour ride in the water taxi entitled Cruise of the Grand Canal--GC we did so much more and saw a lot of Venice and the lagoon as well as the GC We had to arrive at 1.45 with the taxi ride finishing at 5.30 p.m and no breaks --on a hot day which necessitated drinking water, this was unacceptable in order to arrive at 1.45 I had to leave the hotel at 1.25 p.m. and 4 hours without a comfort break really spoiled the trip We should have been given a 10 minute break to visit the public loos near the Royal gardens where the water taxi ride started . This trip needs to be better organised --possibly less of a break in the morning, and a comfort break built in to the afternoon schedule.
My rating for these tours is average and that has more to do with the sites themselves than the tour guides who were both very knowledgeable and engaging. Both the palace and the basilica are hot and overcrowded places to visit so it can be hard to listen to your guide with your radio earpiece while avoiding other large tours elbowing in narrow spaces and taking pictures all at the same time. The ceilings are the most impressive of both locations but overall I wasn't super impressed but glad I can check these iconic spots near St. Mark's Square off the list. It is important to mention that this was the only tour I have yet booked through Viator where the local tour affiliate did not have my name listed for the morning tour another couple who booked through Viator had the same issue. They added us to the list after seeing our vouchers but had it been a limited size tour, it could've been a bigger issue. The 3 hour gap in-between the two tours can be easily spent using your Doge's Palace ticket as entry to the other museums in the main square along with killing time by enjoying a leisurely lunch and people watching on the square. Overall I'm glad I did it but I would suggest you don't have high expectations as Venice in general is more about the atmosphere of the canals and bridges than any of the interior spaces.
Very informative tour of main church in St. Mark's square. The exploration of the old town away from the bustle of the main square was very interesting and gave a good insight into the real Venice. The guide was friendly and knowledgeable.
The Doge's Palace part of the tour was excellent. Francesca, our guide was so knowledgable and made the history come alive. The Palace was simply stunning. A definite highlight of our trip. The next part of the tour included St Mark's Brascillica and a walking tour of the city. We were disappointed by the way we were rushed through the Brascillica with virtually no explanation of what we were seeing. It was Easter weekend and very busy but we definitely needed more time there. That was a shame as we would have loved to learn more. The walking tour took us down all sorts of back walkways to out of the way squares. Our guide gave a good background of what it was like to actually live in Venice. But by the end we were absolutely exhausted and the tour stopped being fun long before the end. We were left near the Rialto Bridge but had to find our own way back to the start point which was really difficult as we had little clue of where we were. We were so very tired by this point that we couldn't raise the enthusiasm to explore the Rialto and just wanted to return to our hotel. The final part of the tour, the late afternoon Grand Canal boat trip was excellent. Our guide was knowledgeable and informative and the trip was well worth going on. On reflection, we did too much in one day, it would have been better split over two days.
Our guide Iffygenia was amazing! She was able to bring the architecture to life for us! My Mother is 80years old and we needed to cut out certIn aspects to help her to manage but finishing up in St Mark's square for a coffee was right up our street and we ended up staying most of the afternoon!
This day really irked me. We did the full day tour and the morning tour we had a gentleman who was pretty fantastic. He did a great job telling us about the doges palace and really providing us with a wealth of information. So why did I give this a 1 star? Well, the afternoon portion we had a lady guide who was a real venetian. Well, she was to take us to St. Mark's Basilica. Now when I think of Venice, aside from the canals, I think of St. Mark's square and St. Marks Basilica. She literally took us in and out of the Basilica in under 20 minutes. She then wanted to take us towards the Rialto but I was pretty upset and my wife and I ended our tour there. I mean we literally did not do or see anything of value in the beautiful basilica. We did not go to see the tomb of St. Mark, you do not have anything really explained to you. It was more like we walked in, took pictures, and walked out. You do not get access to the museum, thats extra. You do not go up to the top outside area of the basilica. You do nothing. Meanwhile, there are mosaics with scenes all over the place and a ton of history there. If I were a Venetian, I would exhibit more pride in something so unique and incredible and would want to share that with the people I am guiding around. I hear other members of the tour complaining about the same thing when my wife and I decided to leave the tour. Such a shame. I bet the guy from the morning would have been great. The second half was the biggest waste of money for my entire time in Europe.
My father and I booked the whole day tour, including the boat tour of the Grand Canal. Our morning tour began with meeting a fantastic Italian guide named Christina. Christina had perfect English and she and her team were very prompt with meeting us at the designated, well-described and easy to find location on the waterfront. We began our walking tour while the super-friendly Christina gave our small group a great lesson in Venetian history, followed by a very descriptive guided walk through St. Mark's square and finally though St. Mark's cathedral. Every superlative applies to the quality of the tour - the pacing was perfect, the stories and history were woven in such a way that made the time fly by and kept the group's complete attention.
We had a couple of hours break after the morning tour which allowed us to grab a bite to eat and wander around Venice a bit on our own. We were delighted to see that Christina would also be conducting our afternoon tour. The afternoon tour was focused on the Doge's palace, Prison, and Bridge of Sighs. The palace was incredible in its artwork, but the guide's historical background of the themes and meanings turned the place from a nice place to look at amazing art to an amazing history and art lesson.
The afternoon tour ended with a great walk through some smaller passages and sections of Venice that are interesting but rather out of the way. We had some great photo opportunities and a plenty of time for Christina to answer our questions. My Dad and I were both so glad we booked a tour - sure, we could have seen the same places on our own, or with a tour book or audio guide, but we would have only gotten about 10 of the information that we learned from our guide. She highlights all the important historical significance and added so much value to the locations. I would recommend this 100 - Do it! It's the only way to really learn and enjoy the amazing history of Venice!
Afternoon boat tour different guide was great
Michelle was wonderful... great tour even in the rain and flooded square (actually pretty neat to be there when it is flooeded).
Ella Jean W USA
We enjoyed our tour. Only negative would be that on the walking tour it ended in the middle of a neighborhood and we had to find our way back to St. Mark's Square where we started on our own through narrow walkways that were like a maze.
Very informative tour. Our guide Stephano was excellent. The best part of the tour was when we got out of the crowded area of St.Mark's Square in to the quieter streets of Venice.
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