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Things to do in Venice

Things to do in  Venice

Welcome to Venice

Built on more than 100 islands and devoid of cars, Venice is a walker’s paradise. Even when crowds reach their maximum, a stroll down the Floating City’s winding passageways reveals the city’s abundant charm. The architectural splendor of Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica in Piazza San Marco reign supreme, while the Grand Canal splits the city in two like a lightning bolt. Glide beneath Rialto Bridge during a sunset gondola ride, admire brightly colored buildings on the water’s edge, plan a visit to the glassblowing factories on the island of Murano, and flock to the craggy peaks of the UNESCO-listed Dolomites on a day trip.

Top 10 attractions in Venice

#1

St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)

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Basilica di San Marco (St Mark's Cathedral) is magnificent. It is both a wonderful architectural flurry of Gothic, Byzantine, Romanesque and Renaissance styles declaring the wealth of Venice over centuries, and a spiritual place of worship. Its domes and turrets, and gold mosaic stand out over the square and over Venice, and four ancient classical horses top the entrance, taken from Constantinople (Istanbul) when Venice sacked that city around 1200. Inside the church is dazzling. The church was begun in 828 when the body of St Mark was returned to Venice, smuggled by merchants from its resting place in Alexandria, Egypt. An angel had told St Mark his final resting place would be Venice (which did not even exist at the time) and the Venetian leaders were keen to make it happen. Over the years, churches were built, burnt, rebuilt and expanded resulting in the incredible building we see today.More
#2

Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

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Until 1797, the Doges ruled the Venetian Empire and the Palazzo Ducale was where they ruled from. It was one of the first things those arriving in Venice saw as their ships sailed through the lagoon and landed at Saint Mark's Square. The Doges lived here and the government offices were also in this building. Justice was meted out here and the Golden Book, listing all the important families of Venice, was housed here. No one whose family was not in the Golden Book would ever be made Doge. It was an extremely political process ruling Venice and residents could accuse others of wrong doing by anonymously slipping a note into the Mouth of Truth. Inside the palace is wonderful art (paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese), majestic staircases, the Doge's apartments, the government chambers, the prison cells and the Bridge of Sighs. Outside, along the piazzetta, each column is different.More
#3

St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco)

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St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) is filled with centuries of history and is still the symbolic heart of Venice; it has even been referred to as the drawing room of Europe. With the grand St Mark's Church at one end, the Campanile bell tower rising in the middle and the elegant colonnaded arcade of famous cafes on three sides, it is a wonderful place to be - and the hundreds of pigeons think so too. Sit and have coffee (you'll only be able to afford one) and watch the whole world pass by while a tuxedoed band plays. Then plunge north into the narrow streets full of shops leading towards the Rialto Bridge, or west into the city's pocket of high fashion designer stores finishing with an extremely expensive Bellini at Harry's Bar, the place that invented the peach/champagne drink. Alternately, head out of San Marco to the east and stroll the waterfront on the Riva.More
#4

Grand Canal

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The Grand Canal is the main street of Venice. Lined with beautiful, if aging, palazzo, you can hop aboard a gondola and imagine a time when these boats were the main means of transport (once there was 10,000 now there are 400). The impressive palazzo, homes to all the wealthy families, had highly decorated exteriors with colorful paintings and mosaics. These days they tend to have faded to one color but many still have the ornate, oriental facades influenced by the merchant trading with the East which made Venice rich. Only a few bridges cross the Grand Canal: the Accademia Bridge, the Rialto Bridge and the bridge near the station at Ferrovia. Stand on these and watch boats pass by filled with fruit and vegetables, slabs of soft drink, building materials etc because Venice is still a city without cars and everything the city needs has to be transported by water or handcart.More
#5

Murano

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Murano is one of 118 islands in the lagoon of Venice, famous for its glass factories. This is where the unique colored glass of Venice is made, in family-owned factories. Once located in the main city of Venice, they caused too many fires and were exiled to Murano in 1291 - that's how long the industry has been going. It takes ten years to master the art of making proper Venetian glass. It's such a specialized art that in centuries past glass-makers were forbidden to leave Venice, and if they looked likely to betray industry secrets they were killed! These days the handmade glass is expensive and the industry is dying out - you are enthusiastically encouraged to purchase when you visit. Murano is home to 4,000 people. In its heyday it had 30,000 residents and the rich Venetians built their summer houses with lush gardens on the island. In fact, Murano had Italy's first botanical gardens.More
#6

Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)

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Rialto Bridge or Ponte di Rialto was the city's first bridge over the Grand Canal. Connecting the highest points on the lagoon islands settlement, the first bridge was built in 1180 and this more solid marble one in 1588-92. The bridge is an elegant arch with steps and shops, a mass of water traffic passing underneath, and huge numbers of tourists and Venetians heading across it. The area around the bridge was, and still is, full of important city functions. Nearby are the city's markets: the fresh produce and the fish market. They have been there for 700 years. This area was also where the first banks were established, where the traders who made Venice rich set sail from and sold their goods on return, where courts met, prisoners were held and punished, and new laws were declared.More
#7

Bridge of Sighs

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Built in 1602, the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) connected the interrogation rooms in the Doges Palace with the prison cells. It got its name from the fact that prisoners passing across it sighed for their lost freedom and their final view of Venice through the barred windows. The prison cells were small, dank and often a final stop before death. You can see them on a tour of the Palazzo Ducale (Doges Palace). Designed by Antoni Contino whose uncle designed the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs is covered-in, with bars on the windows, made of white limestone. From the outside it is lovely, from the inside not so pretty.More
#8

Venice Islands

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Of the several islands in the Venetian Lagoon, the 3 main ones are Burano, Murano and Torcello. Though small, each island has developed its own name and fame separate from Venice. The people of Burano are known internationally for their lace industry. Murano's inhabitants have a reputation as artisans as well, producing world-famous glassware. Torcello was the first of Venice's Islands to be populated, making it home to some of the areas oldest buildings and finest cathedrals.More
#9

Marco Polo's Home (Casa di Marco Polo)

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The Venetian building that was once the supposed home of famous explorer Marco Polo and his family is now easily missable to passers-by. The nearby square is known as the Corte Seconda del Milion, pointing to the title of Marco Polo's travel memoirs—Il Milione. Located near the San Giovanni Crisostomo Church and just behind the Teatro Malibran, the building is not open to the public, but there is a small marble plaque on the wall commemorating the site's significance.More
#10

Venice Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo

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Venice is home to many important churches, including the huge Basilica of Saints Giovanni and Paolo (John and Paul). Known as “San Zanipolo” in Venetian, this Basilica was the setting for every Venetian doge’s funeral from the 15th century on, and is the burial site for 25 of those doges. Santi Giovanni e Paolo was built in the 14th century on land donated by a 13th century doge. The church is enormous - one of Italy’s biggest - and contains artwork by notable Italian artists as well as several tombs. Because the church also holds a piece of a saint - in this case, one of the feet of St. Catherine of Siena - it rises to the level of “Basilica.” Artists whose work appears in Santi Giovanni e Paolo include Bellini, Veronese, and two generations of Lombardo sculptors. Not only does a painting by Bellini hang in the church, Bellini himself is also buried inside. Other tombs in the church include 25 Venetian doges and the 3rd Baron of Windsor, who died in Venice in 1574.More

Trip ideas

Sightseeing on a Budget in Venice

Sightseeing on a Budget in Venice

Top Parks and Gardens in Venice

Top Parks and Gardens in Venice

How to Experience Venice Carnival

How to Experience Venice Carnival

Top activities in Venice

Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade

Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade

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2374
From
US$46.49
Venice Walking Tour and Gondola Ride

Venice Walking Tour and Gondola Ride

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2793
From
US$55.06
Venice Marco Polo Airport Private Arrival Transfer

Venice Marco Polo Airport Private Arrival Transfer

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487
From
US$287.18
per group

Recent reviews from experiences in Venice

star-5
A fun evening tour
Guy_K, Nov. 2020
Eat, drink and repeat: Wine tasting tour in Venice
Defs very thorough and nice to see a little selection the smaller, rustic places in Venice
star-4
Fun experience
peter_w, Sep. 2020
Venice Ghost and Legends Walking Tour
good chance to see and learn about Venice of the beaten track a fun tour involving some ghost and macabre stories good way to spend the evening for believers and non believers .
star-4
Relaxing ride.
Brian_T, Sep. 2020
Private Gondola Ride by Night in Venice
It was pretty to see Venice from the water at night.
star-5
Venice at night
Brian_C, Sep. 2020
Private Tour: Venice Grand Canal Evening Boat Tour
We would recommend this for anyone who would like to see Venice during the sunset.
star-5
Walking Tour
Sally, Sep. 2020
Venice Sightseeing Walking Tour with a Local Guide
Gave us great recommendations for various things to see and do.
star-5
Well worth the time and money
SHARON_C, Dec. 2020
Private Three Hours Venice Photo Walk :
We chose to go at 7AM and had the unusual and wonderful experience of being able to see the sights with very few other people around.
star-5
Great introduction to Venice for first time visitors.
MariPasu, Oct. 2020
Best of Venice Tour with St Mark’s Basilica and Grand Canal Boat tour
The tour gave us a great introduction to the city on our first day in Venice and it helped us choose what to visit in the following days.
star-5
Like a real fairytale
Elke, Oct. 2020
The Real Hidden Venice
We will definitely come back to visit Luca's uncle in Murano where he is producing very beautiful chandeliers.
star-5
Highly reommended!
Petra_E, Sep. 2020
Venice Sunset Cruise by Typical Venetian Boat
If you want to see Venice from outside the beaten tracks and have a really great time get onboard.
star-5
Great Virtual Guided Tour of Venice
Joseph_F, Aug. 2020
Withlocals Venetian Curiosities Room Virtual Experience
We hope to be able to visit one day.
star-5
Highlight of our stay
KatieandTim, Aug. 2020
Real Venetian Kayak - Venice Tour
You MUST take this tour whilst in Venice as it’s by far the best way to see the city - far more interesting and much better value for money than the gondolas.
star-5
Fabulous!
Louise_C, Aug. 2020
Murano, Burano and Torcello Half-Day Sightseeing Tour
Definitely worth doing as you get to see a snippet of the three islands.
star-5
Excellent - worth every penny
Louise_D, Aug. 2020
Rialto Market Food and Wine Lunchtime Tour of Venice
Very relaxed, small groups and you get some history off the beaten track and get to see what the locals experience.
star-5
The islands of Venice - Murano & Burano
Tommy, Aug. 2020
Murano & Burano Islands Half Day Guided Tour by Private Boat
A fabulous way to see the islands surrounding Venice.
star-5
Worth the $
Diana_M, Aug. 2020
Murano & Burano Islands Half Day Guided Tour by Private Boat
It was an appetizer to two small towns I would love to visit again.
star-5
Amazing experience
Michael_T, Feb. 2020
Private gondola ride off the beaten path in Venice
The trip was really nice and there weren't many other gondolas in our path as well which was surprising considering it was summer.
star-4
Interesting trip
Tom, Feb. 2020
Murano, Burano and Torcello Half-Day Sightseeing Tour
Pleasant sailing with some commentary from English speaking guide and spending around 45 minutes in each island.
star-4
The whole thing was great - there were no highs or lows.
Howard_M, Feb. 2020
Legendary Venice St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace Group or Private Tour
These are the two essential locations to visit in Venice.
star-5
Best Way to Know Venice
Sunflower216, Feb. 2020
Venice Super-Saver: Doge’s Palace, Walking Tour & Grand Canal Boat Tour
He made us fall in love with Venice even more.
star-4
Reasonably priced
paigegillott1, Feb. 2020
Shared gondola ride from San Marco
Me and my partner were not seated next to each other therefore no real opportunity for a photo together but we enjoyed our ride down some back streets in Venice gave us the opportunity to see things we never would have by foot.

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