Top Attractions and Things to do in Venice (Italy)
We have compiled a useful guide for you focusing mostly on Venice points of interest and other exciting attractions that may interest you.
So, if you’re wondering, this beautiful city located in the Venetian lagoon, Venice in Italy looks magical with its lovely canals, traditional gondolas, quaint bridges, and historic buildings. The canals are a way of life here that link you to all the exciting things to do in Venice.
As you ride along the Grand Canal, you can see historic buildings such as the Doge’s Palace and pass underneath the beautiful Rialto Bridge. Riding on a gondola along the canals gives you a unique experience of life along these waterways.
One of the most amazing things to see in Venice is the grandeur of the St Mark’s Basilica on St Mark’s Square. Equally stunning is the Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in San Polo.
A trip to the city also enables art lovers to see some fabulous works of art, both classic and modern, at various galleries. If you wish to experience local life, walk along the neighborhoods of Venice in places such as Cannaregio. You can also make island visits to Torcello, Burano, and Murano.
Unlike many other cities of Italy, Venice is distinct in its significance. The attractions in Venice are of both historical and biblical importance. Being the capital of Northern Italy, Venice is composed of 117 small islands interconnected through bridges and a mesh of canals.
Venice is one of the largest cities in Veneto with a population of 250,000. With all the top tourist attractions in Venice, it’s tough to figure out what to visit, but we are going to help you through that.
Venice was considered as a stronghold of finance and military power for the Romans during the middle ages and the Italian Renaissance. The city has seen a lot of artistic and cultural development. Therefore, you can easily find the best attractions in Venice.
Today, it not only stands as an economic hub for Italy but Venice tourism is a pleasure to the tourists ‘In Real’. Places like St. Marks’s Basilica and the Grand Canal can give you memories that can be cherished throughout the life.
Here’s a list of what to do in Venice for a memorable time in the city. So, let’s have a look at Venice tourist attractions:
Table of Contents
- 1 Experiences and top things to do in Venice
- 2 Top Landmarks and attractions in Venice
- 2.1 Canal Grande (Grand Canal)
- 2.2 Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica)
- 2.3 Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)
- 2.4 Doge’s Palace
- 2.5 Scuola Grande di San Rocco
- 2.6 Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)
- 2.7 Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
- 2.8 Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
- 2.9 Teatro La Fenice
- 2.10 Cannaregio
- 2.11 Gallerie dell’Accademia
- 2.12 Bridge of Sighs
- 2.13 San Marco Campanile
- 2.14 San Giorgio Maggiore
- 2.15 Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta
- 3 Practical information and Venice travel tips
- 4 Where to stay in Venice?
- 5 Short on time? Go sightseeing in Venice on a tour!
- 6 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Experiences and top things to do in Venice
If there’s one thing that is a must do in Venice for most tourists, it is a gondola ride along the canals of the city. It’s incredibly serene and magical to watch the gondolier navigate the waters, and see the fabulous sights.
Gondolas are much more expensive than a vaporetto at €80 for around 35 to 40 minutes, but since it seats six people, you can share the fare with your co-passengers. Night rides cost more.
While some gondola drivers overcharge, you can negotiate a better deal for a shorter duration ride. If you don’t mind spending, hire a gondolier who is willing to sing (at an additional cost) as you ride along.
There are various points from where you can get on board a gondola. Ride along the busy Grand Canal or head to the smaller canals to experience an old-world charm.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Venice is also home to a beautiful selection of modern art at the Peggy Guggenheim museum. If you are looking for unique art activities in Venice, this one should make it your list. The collection is on display inside the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni where American art collector Peggy Guggenheim lived.
Immerse yourself in the fantastic 20th-century artworks including those by Picasso, Pollock, Magritte, Calder, Miro, and Dalí.
There is a captivating sculpture garden as well. You can also stop by the gift shop and the café while you are here. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is for those who love modern art and even for those who don’t!
Torcello, Burano and Murano Islands
Do you wish to know what to do in Venice apart from sightseeing at the historic center? Well, you can take a trip to the islands of Torcello, Burano, and Murano. Located close to each other, these islands offer a different experience.
The origins of Venetian civilization can be traced to Torcello Island. Although it is now mostly deserted with very few residents, there are some interesting places here such as the seventh-century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and the Church of Santa Fosca.
In Burano, you can see houses in different colors situated next to each other that look very appealing. This island is well-known for its lace and lace products so you can buy something if you fancy lace. Therefore making this beautiful island one of the main Venice tourist places.
At Murano, explore the island’s beautiful churches, and take a look at its shops with fantastic glassware. You can also see a glassblowing demonstration by an artisan if you wish to.
There are so many things to do in Venice, a destination that is truly different. With this handy Venice city guide, you can chart your itinerary for a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you are looking for a soothing sight away from the fuss of the cities – you should prefer going to Lido. This island acts as a barrier between the Adriatic Sea and Venice having a long stretched exotic beach for people to relax.
This pride of Venice sightseeing is home to almost 20,000 people with a range of local shops, restaurants, and cafes to amuse the visitors. Lido is a real get-away from the busy streets and canals of Venice featuring a calmer life.
Try Cicchetti while you’re in Venice!
Cicchetti or Venitian tapas is a sort of snack you’ll find in Venice! This is a composition of different small snacks you can choose for yourself and this can include meat, fish, and vegetables. Visit one of the small bars in Venice as most of them have a selection of Cicchetti in stalls for you to choose from! Enjoy this with house wines while overlooking the streets of Venice.
Top Landmarks and attractions in Venice
Canal Grande (Grand Canal)
To enjoy the prime attractions and activities in Venice, you can either use water transport on the canals or walk. The Grand Canal is the primary water corridor linked to numerous other smaller water canals.
A ride along the Grand Canal flanked by 13th to 18th-century buildings is a beautiful way to see these palazzos that were once residences of aristocrats and other wealthy people. You can navigate the waters on a vaporetto (waterbus), water taxi or a gondola.
A vaporetto is the cheapest (single ticket – €7.50), and most popular mode of regular transport. Use your ticket or multi-day pass to stop and alight at various points of interest along the way.
That said, going for sightseeing in Venice – Canale Grande is undoubtedly the most significant of all the canals present in Venice and makes itself a core of connection between islands. This supreme canal is so big that looks almost like a river and bends through the center like an ‘S’ shape.
Canale Grande has served as a vital waterway since the setting up of early Roman Empire, and the buildings on its bank also date back to the 13th century. The tourists mostly prefer to travel along the canal that’s why you’ll only notice four brides over it. If you ever wonder to take part in an entertaining Venice activity, get on a ferry and make your way through the water traffic.
Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica)
Located on St Mark’s Square, the 11th-century church contains the remains of St Mark and is impressive due to its architecture, art, and opulence.
Its exterior is striking in appearance while the interiors are breathtaking in its structure, gilded design, and artwork. Beautiful mosaics against gold backgrounds, beautiful domes and the marble floor with lovely patterns are just some of the outstanding features here.
Another highlight is the Pala d’Oro altarpiece made from precious gems. Entry to the basilica is free, but there is a nominal fee for access to certain parts of the church. This beautiful church is on every list of top things to see in Venice.
It is indeed one of Venice’s top sights – St. Marks’s Basilica is easily the most famous building all over Italy. This magnificent piece of architecture has remained as the most important religious building since its creation in the 1920s.
No matter which angle you look this church from, you’ll always find pure perfection. The minute ornate decorative details, the artwork on the facade, beautifully designed sculptures and frescoes and the Italian-Byzantine art creation inside the domed ceiling are a living legend of this cathedral.
The Basilica in Piazza San Marco can be easily reached from the Grand Canal and is without a doubt, the best of Venice’s attractions.
Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)
With various historic structures and one of Venice top attractions, the St. Mark’s Square is one of the notable Venice highlights. You can see the St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and public buildings for high ranking officers of the 16th century here.
Another essential structure towering high on St. Mark’s Square is the Campanile of St Mark’s Basilica known as the bell tower. Almost 99 meters tall, the bell tower contains five bells. Right on top of the tower is a spire with a new weathervane.
You can take an elevator to the top of the tower to enjoy superb views of Venice. There are various restaurants and shops in the vicinity of St Mark’s Square as well. Soak in the atmosphere!
St. Mark’s Square is the perfect place for you to start your Venice tourism.
A place that once housed the highest authority (Doge) of the erstwhile Republic of Venice, the Doge’s Palace is one of the most prominent landmarks in the city.
As you will read in any Venice city guide, this fantastic Venetian Gothic Palace is now a museum open to the public. The Doge’s palace with its waterfront location was constructed between 1340 and 1442.
It consists of various chambers and rooms where the daily administration of the Republic was carried out. They are ornately decorated with frescoes on the walls and ceilings.
A visit to Doge’s Palace is one of the fascinating things to do in Venice especially if you book a Secret Itineraries Tour which gives you access to famous places including the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs).
The bridge connects the interrogation room in the palace to the building that housed the prison.
Doges Palace is one of the top attractions in Venice alongside the Basilica and Campanile. This palace faces the Grand Canal located on St. Mark’s Square. The arched facade is merely astonishing, featuring the white stones and a diamond pattern for its grand ornate design.
The interior of this palace is as fascinating as the exterior with fully decorated rooms containing original furniture and artwork from the old times.
Guided tours of this Palace are also available, and it is highly advised to spend more time in this Venice attraction and learn about its history.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco
One of the famous destinations for art lovers when they visit Venice, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco building contains several exquisite paintings.
A building used for religious and charitable purposes, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco came into existence in 1478. The lovely building has two levels – the Sala Terra (lower hall) and the Sala Superiore (upper chamber).
Among the major highlights here are the works of various artists especially Tintoretto, the famous Renaissance painter. His paintings inspired by the Old Testament adorn the ceilings while the walls are covered with New Testament themes. You can also visit the Church of San Rocco situated near the building.
Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)
At one point in time, there was only one bridge on the Grand Canal – the Ponte di Rialto or Rialto Bridge. Initially built as a floating bridge in the 12th century near the Rialto market, it was later reconstructed using stone in 1591.
The design style of the bridge is that of two elevated ramps on either side that join together at the center in a portico. You can spot tourists strolling along the shops on the ramps or taking in the beautiful views of the canal.
You can also see the bridge as you approach and pass underneath it on a gondola. While there are more bridges on the canal today, the Rialto Bridge remains a Venice must-see experience.
The most iconic and famous bridge of Venice spans over the Grand Canal and presents a beautiful sight to the viewers. Ponte di Rialto connects the San Polo and San Marco districts of Venice.
Not only an excellent walkway for the pedestrians, but the bridge is also one of the top sights in Venice. Looking at the history of this bridge which was wooden originally has been restored as an ornate Stone Bridge after it collapsed in 1524. The perfected symmetry of this bridge over the Grand Canal gets it into the list of tourist places in Venice.
Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
Possibly the second main attraction of Venice, Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute stands opposite to St. Mark’s Square on the Grand Canal. The completion of this Basilica as a minor of Roman Catholic Church was completed in 1687.
This astounding church features a Baroque design with four statue apostles on its exterior while the central dome tower on top of it almost touches the skyline.
Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
This church located in San Polo has an imposing presence and is stunning in its simplicity. Dedicated to the Assumption, work on the church was finished in 1338.
Its brick-built structure in the Italian Gothic style gives it an attractive appearance from the outside. From inside, the church looks massive and spacious. Various works of art from famous Venetian painters provide the Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari a beautiful look.
Among the most impressive paintings are the Assumption of the Virgin and Pesaro Madonna, both by Titian. This well-known artist is also buried here. Other notable works include those by Bellini and Vivarini. Near the basilica, you can also see its tall bell tower.
Teatro La Fenice
A spectacular opera house, Teatro La Fenice is a significant landmark that has witnessed the works of the most prominent Italian music composers.
If you want to know what to see in Venice that is related to music, this is it. The name ‘Fenice’ which means Phoenix is an appropriate name for the theatre as it has risen from the ashes after being destroyed by fire on more than one occasion.
Once you enter the opera house, you will travel back in time when you see the opulent design. Take in the entire set with the marvelously crafted golden interiors and luxurious seating. The icing on the cake is if you come here during the primary opera season from July to September in time to enjoy the music.
A trip to Venice becomes even better when you experience local life by taking a walk through some delightful places. One such area of interest is the Cannaregio district.
A busy city, the Grand Canal part of Cannaregio consists of interesting sites such as the Ca d’Oro Palace, an art gallery. Once you venture further, you will enter quiet neighborhoods.
Visit the world’s first Jewish Ghetto that existed from 1516 for more than 250 years. Walk along the narrow alleys with buildings and take a tour of the oldest synagogues here.
Other interesting places in Cannaregio include the Church of Madonna dell’Orto and the Santa Maria dei Miracoli church made of marble. As you walk along, you might also stumble upon shops with artisans and delightful restaurants.
If you are looking for something different, head to the nearby Island of San Michele which is now a cemetery.
Located on the Grand canal opposite to the Ponte dell’Accademia – Gallerie dell’Accademia is one of Venice main attractions. This gallery holds the artwork and sculptures from the pre-19th century and features the paintings of artists like Titian, Canaletto, and Bellini.
This gallery is highly recommended to visitors that are interested in Renaissance Art. Among the sublime masterpieces, Vitruvian Man by Da Vinci is no doubt the best one here. Resurrection, Virgin, and Child by Titian are also noteworthy paintings here.
Bridge of Sighs
One of the most iconic landmark and included in Venice’s points of interest – Bridge of Sighs connects the Doge’s Palace to the Prigioni Nuove spanning over Rio Di Palazzo.
Although it’s a small bridge in the vast scheme of Venice – it still has a great historical significance. It is said that when the criminals were taken from the palace to the execution sites or confinements, they would make one last view of Venice from this Bridge as in the earlier times.
San Marco Campanile
San Marco Campanile is one of the Venice’s attractions that dominates the entire city. This colossal structure is considered as the tallest building of Venice standing at a high of 98.6m. This tower was originally constructed in the 9th century as a watchtower. In 1902, it collapsed and was reconstructed for tourism purposes.
Since then, it has stood through a lot of earthquakes, fire, and even lightning twice. The main shaft features a red brick simple design, but the pinnacle and bell housing are highlighted with a myriad of stone-design and arches. Take an elevator to the top and marvel at Venice’s tourism in light of the panoramic view.
San Giorgio Maggiore
San Giorgio Maggiore is a small separate island connected to the Grand Canal of Venice. Near to the Venice Basin, you can take a water taxi or Vaporetto to reach this top destination in Venice.
Some notable highlights on this island are the monastery and church of San Giorgio Maggiore along with the massive campanile. Tourists can stroll through the harbor or even climb the campanile to have a look at Venice’s attractions from a fair distance.
Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta
Also called as I Gesuiti, The Church of Santa Maria Assunta is a classy building and a top sight of Venice. This church featuring stone columns on its facade is situated on the Cannaregio region of Venice.
This church was constructed in 1729 and holds essential additions of artworks like Martyrdom of St. Lawrence by Titian. Inside you’ll find the perfectly embellished sculptures of religious figures and the never-ending glorious details on its walls. A vast Bronze Door at the entrance doubles merely the beauty of this place.
Practical information and Venice travel tips
Why should you visit Venice?
Beautiful Venice is another most visited destination in Italy where you can explore the city on a gondola. Many lovely canals in a lagoon are the main attractions in Venice. Every year many travelers around the world come to visit the local life, historic landmarks of Venice. They enjoy the gondola ride along the Grand Canal. There are also 118 islands in Venice. Many art galleries are there to explore the art and culture of Venice in Italy. There are many restaurants where you can taste many traditional fish-focused dishes. And don’t miss the gondola ride to get the ultimate fun during your trip to Venice.
When is the best time to visit Venice?
- Summer (May to August)
- Summer is the highest season and you can expect big tourist crowds around this time of the year
- Expect humid weather that can be up to 30°C
- Autumn (September to November)
- The best time to visit Venice, you can expect fewer tourists from European countries during this time
- The weather is starting to get colder at nights
- Towards the end of autumn and the beginning of winter starts to be a bit rainier
- Winter (December to February)
- Winter in Venice is so bad, windy and rainy. The temperature rarely goes down below 0°C
- There are lesser crowds as this is the low season for this city
- You can witness Carnival, many parties happening during this time in Venice
- Spring (March to April)
- This is also the best time to visit Venice as the weather starts to be warmer
- Trees are starting to bloom and there’s more sunshine
- You can witness Carnival
Do you need a visa for Venice?
Italy is part of the Schengen area and citizens of EU group of countries can freely enter while citizens of USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia can enter the country just with their passports and stay for 90 days. You can check our complete guide on how to get a Schengen visa and as well to see if you’re eligible to enter the country with just your passports or if you’ll need to apply for a visa prior entry.
Where to book your flights to Venice?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you need an insurance?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need a travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Where to stay in Venice?
PalazzinaG is a 5-star design hotel and located on the Grand Canal in Venice. All rooms and suites are very elegant and well decorated. The hotel offers all luxurious facilities. This hotel is also pet-friendly and comes with lovely canal views. Venice Marco Polo Airport is 16 km away from PalazzinaG Hotel.
JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa
JW Marriott Venice is a luxury 5-star resort located on the private island in the Venetian lagoon. The hotel offers all luxurious facilities. All rooms and suites are very well decorated. Here you’ll also get the complimentary boat shuttle service. This hotel is also pet-friendly and comes with breathtaking views of the lagoon.
Hotel Danieli is a luxury collection hotel in Venice and features luxurious rooms and suites. The hotel located in the center of Venice. All popular and interesting attractions, cafes, museums are close to the hotel. Grand Canal is just 1.3 km away from the hotel.
Short on time? Go sightseeing in Venice on a tour!
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