One of the most magical cities in the world is Venice. This waterlogged city is known for its water canals that function as the main transportation method. The city is a collection of over 117 islands that are connected by the canals. Venice is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Venice was also an important city in terms of its cultural contribution, particularly during the Middle Ages and the Italian renaissance. It was also a financial, military, and political stronghold during the same time. Even today, you will find edifices that were a result of this golden era of Venice’s history. Here is a comprehensive list of the best things to do in Venice, Italy.
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Sunset View on Ponte Rialto
Basilica Di Santa Maria Della Salute
Considered to be the heart of the city, this square is the only true piazza in all of Venice. It is an extremely popular tourist spot and is a great place for you to start your tour of the city and one of the best things to do in Venice, Italy. Ornate buildings line the piazza on all sides with beautiful archways forming some great places for you to take pictures. The square is home to cafes, vendors, pigeons, and many tourists. Plan your visit so that you are at the pizza either early in the morning or late in the evening if you want to avoid the throngs of tourists. The cafes in the pizza are much more expensive than the alternatives just a few streets away. However, if you want to enjoy the experience of sitting at a café in a piazza, then you can get a coffee and people watch. You can also pick up traditional souvenirs like a carnival mask or a gondola hat from the local vendors. The square is open throughout the day, and you can visit whenever you want to.
Sunset View on Ponte Rialto
The Ponte Rialto was the only bridge that connected the districts of San Marco and San Polo. Spanning across the Grand Canal, the bridge was built in the 16th century by Antonio da Ponte who beat great designers like Michelangelo and Palladio to get the commission. Initially, the bridge was built in wood, but it collapsed during the construction. Antonio then built it in stone, and the bridge has continued to stand the test of time. Currently, four other bridges cross the Grand Canal, but the Ponte Rialto remains the most beautiful things to do in Venice, Italy. The beautiful archways frame the stunning views of the canal and the adjacent buildings. Watch the sunset from this vantage point or opt for a water bus to enjoy both sights. The bridge is an iconic site of Venice and can get very crowded during the day.
St. Mark’s Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the most popular things to do in Venice, Italy. The church was built in honor of St. Mark, whose remains were smuggled from Egypt. The basilica is a beautiful and ornate building and is an amalgamation of several different styles of architecture. Opened in 1091, this church has stood the test of time and continues to be just as popular. The basilica is located off St. Mark’s Square, making it a strong contender for one of the first items on your itinerary. The church opens around 9 in the morning to around 5 in the evening though this depends on the time in the year. To avoid the crowds, plan to visit the church as soon as it opens. The main church itself is free to visit though you will have to pay an entrance fee for the museum. Make sure you wear clothes that are appropriate for praying. You will not be allowed to carry a backpack into the church, and you will not be able to take photographs inside.
This church is a testament to architecture and the city’s devotion to the spiritual realm. In the early 1600s, Vienna was in the throws of a plague epidemic, and more than 80,000 of her citizens had succumbed to this disease. A pledge was made to Madonna to intervene for which the city would erect a church in her name. The city held good on its promise, and the result was the Salute Basilica. It is located at the entrance of the Grand Canal, and it is one of the most striking things to do in Venice, Italy. Made entirely of white stone with architectural influences from the Greco-Roman temples and Jewish Kabbalah designs, the church is not something you should miss. The inside of the church is just as spectacular as the outside and is flooded with light from the glass panes at the base of the dome. It also features an ornate baroque altar with a statue of the Madonna of Good Health, which dates back to the 12th century. The admission to the church is free though you have to pay an entrance fee for the sacristy, which features many beautiful Titan art pieces.
Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs might not be the largest bridge in Venice but is nevertheless a popular tourist attraction. It connects the Doge’s Palace to the dungeons. Convicts would be sentenced in the courts of the palace and would be led to the dungeons where they would be imprisoned for life. Legend has it that the bridge got its name because the convicts would get one last look at Venice from the bridge and sigh in disappointment and longing. You can visit the bridge through the Doge’s Palace and get a beautiful view of the city and enjoy the gondolas moving below. Alternatively, you can see the bridge while on a gondola where it is said that if lovers share a kiss under the bridge, they will live a life of bliss. Be sure to carry your camera to catch the view as you enjoy the most picturesque things to do in Venice, Italy. You can also sketch the bridge and capture its unique architectural design.
St. Mark’s Campanile
The St. Mark’s Campanile, or Campanile di San Marco in Italian, is a bell tower built in the 20th century. The tower follows the design of the original 16th-century tower, which collapsed in 1902. The tower was used as a watchtower and was also a stage for tight rope walkers who enthralled the doges and the crowds with their feats during the Flight of Angel's celebrations. Galileo Galilee also used the tower to present the telescope. In current times, the tower is used as a viewpoint from which one can enjoy the stunning vistas of Venice. The tower is located on one end of the St. Mark’s Square, allowing you to visit both at the same time. The tower charges visitors an entrance fee and is still a very popular thing to do in Venice, Italy. You can skip the long lines by booking your tickets online and paying a slightly higher fee. Try to visit the tower early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and you will be able to enjoy the views for longer. Do check the official website for updated opening and closing times, which depends on the weather and other maintenance periods.
One of the more unique things to do in Venice, Italy, the Glass Museum in Venice covers the history and journey of Murano glass with the oldest artifacts dating back to the 1st and 2nd century AD. Venice has had a long and profitable history with glassmaking. This history is covered in the museum in a chronological sequence. The museum is located in the Vescovi Palace of Torcello, which was sold to the city in 1840. The museum was established in 1861, and the expanding collection slowly took over the entire building. You can visit the museum after 10:30 am though the closing time depends on the time of year. You can buy the ticket for the museum at the location or online and also get an audio guide for an extra charge. There are different types of guides and itineraries available which include guides for children, adults, and families. You can also participate in a workshop held at the museum or tour the entire estate and learn more about its history.
Today, handmade lace is a dying art. However, Venice was once the epicenter of intricately detailed and expertly crafted lace. Venetian lace was once one of the most coveted items and was traded to many parts of the world. The museum is located on Burano Island. The museum is split into four major displays, which covers the history and journey of lace and its relationship with the city. From the 16th century to the 20th, the museum shows how Venetian lace went through several periods of popularity and how it was adapted to suit the fashions of the time. The lace industry was threatened during World War Two when cheap lace was imported from Asia. This led to the fall in demand for handcrafted lace, which took longer to produce. To preserve the tradition, the city of Venice started to promote lace-making as a historic cultural asset.
Visitors to the museum can also watch a group of women working away at making lace, which is one of the fascinating things to do in Venice, Italy. You will be astounded at the level of detailing and the amount of time it takes to make even a small piece of lace. The museum charges an entry fee, and you will not be allowed to carry backpacks or bags inside. However, the museum offers free lockers for you to stow away your belongings securely.
The Grande Canal is what you would call the main road. This large canal is almost like a river and bisects the city of Venice. The S-shaped canal is one of the most popular things to do in Venice, Italy, and is certainly one of the most photographed. It has a high volume of traffic, which isn’t surprising considering how many tourists and locals flock to it. You can enjoy the Grande Canal by hiring your gondola though this can prove to be very expensive. A cheaper option is to hop onto a waterbus even if it isn’t an intimate experience. You can buy a City Pass for the waterbus since single rides work out to be more expensive. We would also recommend that you walk along the canal and enjoy the architecture of the buildings along the way. Some of these buildings date back to the 13th century and are truly a sight to behold. The Grande Canal has only four bridges since most people prefer to use the waterway. You should plan your visit such that you can catch the sunset over the water and make a memory of a lifetime.
The Gallerie dell’Accademia is a beautiful museum that showcases Renaissance art from some of the biggest artists, making it one of the artsiest things to do in Venice, Italy. The museum is housed in a building that used to be a convent and was converted into its current objective by Napoleon. The museum is located on the Grand Canal, and you must visit if you are interested in historical art. It houses artwork from some of the biggest artists, including Bellini, Canaletto, and Titian. However, the most well-known artwork housed at the museum is probably the Vitruvian Man by Da Vinci. The museum charges an entry fee of around 12 Euros and opens from 8 in the morning to 4 in the evening though it is open for a shorter time on Mondays. Do check the website for its opening times before planning your visit. You can also buy the tickets for the museum online which allows you to skip any lines.
Relax in Venice Lido
If you are overwhelmed by the throngs of tourists and want a break from admiring the architecture of Venice, then head to the Venice Lido Island. The island lies between the city of Venice and the Adriatic Sea and is home to around 20,000 inhabitants. The main reason you must add a visit to the island on your list of things to do in Venice, Italy, is its long beach where you can spend a day relaxing. You can either bring a packed lunch and have a picnic on the beach or catch a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants on the island. The island is largely residential though it has many shops and hotels as well. If you are visiting in September, then you can attend the Venice Film Festival which is held annually. Reaching the island is not a problem since it is part of the route of the waterbus. Be sure to check with any lifeguards before attempting to wade out into the water on your own.
San Giorgio Maggiore
The San Giorgio Maggiore Island is one of the few islands of Venice that is not connected to the city by its water canals. It is a short ride from the Venice Basin, and you can reach it by the waterbus, or you could use a private water taxi, which might be expensive. The island has a picturesque and quaint harbor. San Giorgio Maggiore Island is home to a beautiful church and monastery. You can also climb the campanile for stunning views of Venice on one side and the open Adriatic Sea on the other. Be sure to catch the waterbus early even if there aren’t too many tourists here as you can enjoy the hold day in a quiet spot in Venice. Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch outdoors as you enjoy one of the most laidback things to do in Venice, Italy.
Venice holds a special place in the hearts of those who have visited her. With this dreamy waterways, beautiful architecture, and rich history, the city continues to be one of the most visited places in the world. However, the city is in danger of sinking and is also threatened by climate change. Do be mindful of your footprint on this city and join in the effort to conserve this wondrous city.