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Home > Italy > 14 Reasons Why You Should Visit Venice

14 Reasons Why You Should Visit Venice

By Dymphe / January 9, 2023

There are lots of reasons why you should visit Venice . This beautiful Italian city has something to offer for everyone!

It was a dream for me to travel to Venice. And when I got there, it definitely didn't disappoint me. It was actually even better than I expected it to be.

Venice is a unique city in Italy . It's a great place to experience Italian culture. But there are many things that make the city more special.

The city of Venice has so many amazing things. From beautiful views to history to food, Venice has it all!

There are countless reasons to visit Venice. Whether you love architecture, history, beautiful spots, or food, there's one for you. For that reason, I made this list so you know exactly why you should visit Venice!

1. It looks gorgeous

Venice is one of the most beautiful places in the world. This is one of the most important reasons why you should visit Venice.

The city is so charming! Everywhere you look, it's beautiful. There are many canals in Venice, which is a reason why it's so pretty. The beautiful teal color of the canals is amazing.

There are also lots of lovely bridges in the city. Seeing them and walking there is amazing. The bridges are very cute. This is definitely one of the best reasons to visit Venice.

Canal in Venice

Furthermore, the houses in Venice have beautiful colors.

One of the most gorgeous places in Venice is the Rialto Bridge. It's a white bridge that crosses the Grand Canal. The view from this bridge is also very nice. It's one of the most famous bridges in Venice.

St Mark's Square is another wonderful place in Venice. It looks very pretty and it's one of the most popular spots in the city.

A busy place in Venice

2. You can ride a gondola in Venice

One of the reasons to visit Venice is that you can do gondola rides! Venice is very famous because of the amazing gondolas. Riding a gondola is also one of the most romantic things to do in the city.

Two gondolas on a canal in Venice

When you’re in a gondola, you have a very beautiful view of Venice. Venice is always pretty, but from the water, it’s even better!

You can find gondolas everywhere in the city. They are on all canals. Also, there are many places where you can get on a gondola.

It's definitely great to do a gondola ride with your partner or your friends. But it can be a bit expensive. For that reason, you can consider sharing a gondola with other people. Then you can split the price! Either way, doing a gondola ride when you are one day in Venice is a great idea!

A view of a gondola in Venice

3. There are great museums

For those who love museums, visiting Venice is a dream! There are so many amazing museums in the city which is also one of the reasons why you should visit Venice.

One of the best museums is Ca' d'Oro. This is a very old palace in Venice that's there since 1430. Nowadays, it's an interesting museum!

You can find here beautiful artworks. Giorgio Franchetti collected many of the artworks. But here are also artworks that Italy added. For example, there are paintings and sculptures.

Besides art, the museum also has a wonderful view of Venice. This is so impressive to see!

A view of a canal from Ca' d'Oro

Another great museum in Venice is Gallerie dell'Accademia . If you love paintings, this is also one of the good reasons to visit Venice. There, you can find Venetian paintings from before the 19th century.

For example, there are paintings from Leonardo da Vinci, Bellini, Giambono, and Titian. 

4. Venice is very photogenic

If you love photography, this is one of the most important reasons why you should visit Venice. Venice is the perfect city to visit if you want to take great photos!

Many people will agree with me if I say Venice belongs to the most photogenic places in the world!

The Grand Canal in Venice

Everywhere you look, you can find photo spots in Venice ! For example, the Rialto Bridge is very photogenic. And all canals in Venice are great for pictures.

If you want to do a very romantic photoshoot, then Venice is the place to visit! You can book a photographer and get amazing pictures with your partner. This is a very fun experience and you'll end up with great photos.

But Venice is also the place to go to with a tripod. Or with your friends to take amazing pictures of each other.

So if you love photography, this is the most important one of the reasons to visit Venice!

View the Grand Canal and buildings in Venice

5. The food is amazing

Do you love delicious food? Then go to Venice! Venetian cuisine has a very long history. The cuisine is different from other places in Italy which is one of the reasons why you should visit Venice.

There are so many great restaurants in Venice . Many of them don't only offer delicious food. They also have a wonderful view or a pretty interior!

A lovely restaurant in Venice is Pizzeria La Perla. A family owns this place for a very long time. You can find this in the center of the city and it looks very cute from the inside.

Furthermore, another very nice restaurant is Ristorante La Porta D'Acqua. The thing I love most about this place is that there are large windows. There's a wonderful view of the Grand Canal.

Restaurants in Venice

6. It's fun to get lost in Venice

You have to get lost in Venice when you're in the city. It's definitely one of the best things you can do.

Getting lost may not sound like an amazing experience. Many people already got lost in some other cities when they were traveling. And most of the time, getting lost is not fun at all. But in Venice, it is.

There are so many wonderful little streets. Exploring the city without knowing where to go makes Venice so charming. Whichever way you're going, you'll keep stumbling upon the cutest spots. There are endless gorgeous views, canals, gondolas, and buildings.

This is definitely one of the most important reasons why you should visit Venice. Getting lost in Venice is unlike getting lost anywhere else in the world.

Several gondolas in Venice

7. There are great quiet places

Another one of the reasons to visit Venice is that there are also quiet places. Venice is almost always very busy. It is one of the most popular destinations for tourists.

If I say Venice, many people will think about this famous busy Italian city. But when you're in Venice, you can find so many quiet places!

The busiest place is the area around St Mark's Square. If you walk away from the busy center in Venice, it gets quieter.

But you don't have to get away from the center to find a quiet place. For example, the pier behind hotel San Moise is always very quiet! This is such a romantic place to spend some time.

Girl in a quiet place in Venice

In a quiet place, you can enjoy Venice even more. Buy a pizza to take away and enjoy the city!

8. The weather

The weather is also one of the reasons to visit Venice. In summer, it's very sunny in Venice. For that reason, it's an amazing summer destination. 

So if you're looking for a summer getaway, this is one of the best reasons why you should visit Venice!

Besides that, it's also great to visit Venice in spring. The weather is pleasant then. Furthermore, visiting Venice in spring has many other advantages. Venice is less busy in spring if you compare it to summer. And besides that, it's also more affordable to go there in that season! 

A bridge and a canal

9. The history of Venice

It's so interesting to learn about the history of Venice! If you love history, this is one of the best reasons to visit Venice.

Saint Mark's Basilica

You can find several places to learn about history. For example, the bridge of sights is an interesting bridge to see. It's one of the famous bridges in Venice.

Very long ago, convicts walked on this bridge. Here, they saw their last view of the city before they went to Prison. It's very interesting to realize that when seeing the bridge.

Furthermore, the Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal. The construction of it began in 1173.

But people rebuilt it several times after that. The construction of the Rialto Bridge that you can see nowadays started in 1588.

The Rialto Bridge

And there are many other spots in the city where you can learn about history!

10. The architecture

It’s amazing to see the architecture in the city! In Venice, you can see many examples of Venetian Gothic architecture. This is an architectural style based on Italian Gothic architecture. 

If you like architecture, then this is definitely one of the reasons why you should visit Venice. 

There are so many buildings you have to see in the city. 

For example, Doge's Palace is an amazing palace in Venice to see. Here, you can admire the Venetian Gothic style. The architecture is wonderful. And besides that, it's also one of the most famous landmarks in Venice. 

Doge's Palace

Ca' d'Oro, which I mentioned before, is also a building you have to see. This is also a place where you can see Venetian Gothic architecture. The building looks incredible and it has many pretty details. 

Ca' d'Oro from the inside

11. It's close to other Italian places

Another one of the reasons to visit Venice is that it's close to many amazing Italian places. This means that you can also visit other cities in Italy!

For example, you can get to Milan by high-speed train in 3 hours. Here, you can see the Milan Cathedral. 

A large cathedral

You can also go to Bologna. The journey will take 1.5 hours. In Bologna, you can see the oldest university in the world that's still in use. This is so impressive to see! And the city is very beautiful.

Moreover, Florence is only 2 hours and 15 minutes by high-speed train. This is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Here, you can see many amazing things.

For example, you can find the Duomo in Florence. It’s a beautiful building to see from the inside and the outside. And you can see the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

A bridge and water

In short, there are enough wonderful cities near Venice! Thus you can do great day trips from there. 

12. Venice is car-free

Venice is a very unique Italian city. One of the things that make the city so unique is that it's car-free! You can find no cars on the islands of Venice at all. This belongs to the most important reasons why you should visit Venice!

As there are no cars in Venice, the city is very peaceful. It feels a bit as if you're going back in time! This is a great experience.

Quiet street in Venice

But as there are no cars, you need another way of transportation!

That's why there is a waterbus. This is one of the ways to get around Venice.

And there are also water taxis! But keep in mind, water taxis are not very affordable.

Even though there are water taxis and there's a water bus, the best way to get around is on foot. Walking in the streets of Venice is a very fun thing to do. And it's also fast.

A bridge and colorful buildings in Venice

14. There are many movie locations

Venice is a place that appears in many movies. You definitely saw a movie already in which you can see Venice!

One of the most well-known movies of all time is James Bond. Three James Bond movies take place in Venice. The latest one was Casino Royale with Daniel Craig as James Bond. In this last movie, you can see many famous landmarks of Venice.

For example, the Rialto Bridge, the Campanile of San Marco, and Piazza San Marco all appear in the movie.

The Rialto Bridge

Another famous movie is The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. This movie takes place at the train station in Venice, and also at many lesser-known places in Venice.

If you want to go to the places that appear in these movies, I recommend watching the movies before your trip. That way you will definitely recognize some places when you are in the city.

13. There are amazing events

There are lots of events taking place in Venice. These are great to attend and make your experience better if you happen to visit at that time.

The most famous event in Venice is the Venice Carnival. This is an annual event that lasts two weeks.

There is a lot to do and see during the Venice Carnival. For example, there are colorful parades and spectacular costumes everywhere. And the festival is famous for its masks.

Furthermore, there are lots of live performances throughout the city.

Another interesting activity to do is to go to a masquerade ball! You need an invitation to get to these events. But sometimes you can also buy a ticket. This is a unique experience in Venice.

Girl looking at a canal in Venice

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Is Venice worth visiting: 10 Reasons you should visit Venice

  • David Angel

Is Venice worth visiting – with soaring costs and so much overcrowding? Find out in our guide here.

Is Venice worth visiting? Emphatically, absolutely, it’s a resounding yes from us. But for some of you, it’s not that simple.

You may be planning long-haul trip to Italy or Europe, and trying to decide whether to include Venice in a long itinerary. Or perhaps you’re contemplating a city break in Venice from elsewhere in Europe.

We’re all aware of the uniqueness of the city, built on a series of muddy islands. Likewise we know about the staggering beauty of the city. I’ve been lucky to have visited Venice around 15 times, an immense privilege. I’d urge any of you to do the same if possible.

Venice is worth seeing, but it comes at a cost. It is swamped with visitors for much of the year, with the main thoroughfares and sights clogged with crowds. It’s believed that over 20 million visit each year, and the city is too small to cope.

You also pay a premium – a massive one – to stay in Venice, or even just eat there. These are a pretty strong deterrent to visiting Venice for many.

In this article I’ll look at the pros and cons of visiting Venice.  When looking at the reasons some choose not to visit Venice, I’ll also suggest ways to work around these concerns and problems.

Table of Contents

Why Visit Venice Italy

A unique experience – a city on the water.

Image of a vaporetto or waterbus on the Grand Canal in Venice

I remember every moment of the first time I set foot in Venice. I stepped out of Santa Lucia station, to see traffic buzzing by along the Grand Canal in both directions.

Bulky vaporetti – waterbuses – took most of the burden of passengers. Sleek wooden watertaxis slipped in between gaps in the traffic. And a few gondoliers guided their elegant long black boats towards the side canals.

image of a canal in the dorsoduro district of venice italy

Across the Grand Canal, the large green dome of San Simeone Piccolo faced towards the elaborate Baroque façade of the Scalzi Church.

This was one of the biggest thrills of my travelling life, comparable to seeing Big Ben in London or the Arc de Triomphe in Paris for the first time. I was in my late twenties when I saw this, but felt the same excitement as I did as a child.

And this is just the back end of Venice, the part the vast majority skips. Just wait until you see the rest of it.

Trip on the Grand Canal

Image of waterbuses or vaporetti on the Grand Canal at Rialto Venice Italy

The Grand Canal Venice is the most beautiful street in the world. It’s lined with amazing medieval palaces like the ornate Ca’ d’Oro, some of the most famous landmarks in Italy like the Rialto Bridge, and some of the finest churches in Venice like Santa Maria della Salute.

Gondola Ride Optional

imaghe of gondolas reflected in water Venioce Italy

It took me until something like my twelfth visit to finally indulge in a gondola ride in Venice. It’s not for everyone, especially with a €80 euro (for 40 minutes) price tag.  It took until my in-laws came over from Australia for me to finally go for a gondola ride.

image of gondolier in venice italy

It turned out that I loved every moment of it. It’s a magical way to see Venice. We opted for a glide around the back canals of the Castello district, away from the main sights. There is beauty in every canal and street corner there, and the gondola is a wonderful way to appreciate and experience it.

Venice Is Great For Families

image of a canal in castello venice italy

A huge part of travelling is experiencing something new, and that’s just what Venice is for kids. It’s a whole new adventure, seeing a city on the water and wondering how on earth it all came about. Take them in the low season or away from the crowds and you may well have set them on a life-long love affair with the place.  

Venice Architecture

image of sculpture on doges palace and st mark campanile venice italy

Venetian architecture is often astounding. Stand in the Piazzetta – next to St Mark’s Square – and marvel at the Byzantine-influenced domes of St Mark’s Basilica, the Venetian Gothic of the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) and the Renaissance palace housing the Libreria Sansoviniana.

And just across the water, the Palladian church of San Giorgio Maggiore, with its Neoclassical influences, is one of the most captivating reasons to visit Venice.

Venice Churches

Image of Santa Maria della Salute and Grand Canal in summer Venice Italy

Another of the best reasons to visit La Serenissima is to visit some of the sublime churches in Venice . The extraordinary St Mark’s Basilica is one of the most beautiful churches in Europe – not to mention overcrowded and poorly managed.

Image of Madonna dell'Orto church, Cannaregio, Venice

Yet there are so many stunning Venetian churches to seek out, it’s just a question of knowing where to look. San Giorgio Maggiore and Santa Maria della Salute are breathtaking, and both within sight of the San Marco waterfront.

Further afield, the likes of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Madonna dell’Orto – at opposite ends of the large sestiere of Cannaregio – are exquisite for different reasons. 

Art in Venice

image of paolo Veronese's ceiling of the sala del collegio in the doges palace venice

Venice is also swamped with art treasures, much of them produced by artists from the city and around.

Titian and Tintoretto are two of the giants of Venetian art, and you can see their work at many venues across the city, including churches and museums. We particularly recommend the Galleria dell’Accademia and Scuola Grande di San Rocco – the later containing an amazing series of works by Tintoretto.

The Doge’s Palace is also worth braving the crowds for Paolo Veronese’s series of paintings in the Sala del Collegio.

Getting Lost In Venice

Image of a sestiere sign in Venice

One of the most enjoyable things to do in Venice is getting lost there.  I’ve always loved wandering the city, sometimes not quite knowing where I am or where I’m going to end up.

It’s a wonderful way to discover the city, and you find so many places you don’t expect. I found Campo San Rocco, one of the finest Venice squares , this way. And I also stumbled across the canal-side pizzeria on Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio around 25 years ago. I still haven’t managed to get a table, but one of these days….

Burano and Venice Lagoon

Best things to do Venice Image of restaurant and canal on island of Burano

The Venetian lagoon is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe . The low-lying flat muddy islands weren’t ideal places to live, but they were defensible, hence their settlement.

The vast lagoon has plenty more islands to visit than those comprising the city of Venice. Murano is famous for its glass-blowing factories, and the fishing village of Burano is one of the most beautiful villages in Europe .

You can see Burano from a distance as you approach from Venice. Its wonky church tower leans a few degrees out of the perpendicular, a guiding landmark as you pass through the channels marked by wooden piles of logs tied together.

There are enough things to do in Burano to spend a full day there, especially if you add an hour or so in nearby Torcello. It’s one of the easiest day trips from Venice , and the main reason most people visit is to see the extraordinary painted houses of the village. No shades of grey here – it’s bright, vivid and uplifting to see, even on a cloudy winter’s day.

Is Venice Worth Visiting – Reasons Not To Go

High costs – venice can be very expensive.

image of venice from st mark's campanile with domes of basiliaca in foreground

For much of the year, Venice is a budget-buster.  You feel the euros draining out of your pocket from the moment you step out of the station.

A single journey on a vaporetto, or waterbus, down the Grand Canal will set you back an eye-watering €9.50 (£8 or $10.50) – but a day ticket would be better value.

But accommodation in Venice is usually the budget-breaker. In high season some of it is ridiculously  overpriced. A tiny room not much bigger than a large cupboard can set you back well over €200 a night.

Avoiding High Prices In Venice – When To Visit Venice

Snow in Venice Image of gondolas and Santa Maria della Salute covered in snow in Venice in winter

The best way to avoid soaring costs in the floating city is to visit Venice in winter . January is the best time price-wise for visiting Venice, with many Venice hotels slashing their rates. They frequently go as low as 20-25% of their peak rates.  This means that the luxury Venice hotels around San Marco – often charging €500 or more per night – charge as little as €100-150.

If you can only visit Venice during the peak season, there are other options. One is staying on the mainland in Mestre, where most Venetians now live.

Another option is staying a 30-40 minute train journey from Venice in Padua . I did this a couple of times, and was so glad I did. I had plenty of time to see Venice, but also got to discover and fall in love with Padua. It’s one of the best cities to visit in Italy, and one of the most underrated cities in Europe .

It’s also worth checking out our Best Area To Stay In Venice feature for more ideas on places to stay in Venice and nearby.

Overcrowding In Venice

Image of Santa MAria della Salute church and Grand Canal Venice Italy

Venice is horrendously overcrowded in the peak summer season, and very busy in the shoulder seasons. The area around Piazza San Marco and the nearby Molo waterfront is often crammed with visitors, so much so that you can barely move.

But around 15 visits to Venice have taught me that the crowds tend to converge in the same few places every single day. Rialto is another, as are the narrow streets around it and those leading to San Marco. The area around the station is similarly busy.

How To Avoid The Crowds In Venice

Image of the leaning tower of San Giorgio dei Greci church in Venice Italy

You can escape the vast Venice crowds by seeking out Venice off the beaten path . Most of the people visiting Venice aren’t going to spend long there, they want to tick off the same few Venice landmarks like St Mark’s Square and the Bridge of Sighs.

It doesn’t take long to find a very different Venice. Head for somewhere like the Scala Contarini del Bovolo, a hidden palazzo with a stunning external staircase, and you’ll hardly see another soul. Or take a walk to the Castello sestiere, exploring beautiful Venice squares like Campo Santa Maria Formosa and the nearby Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo.

From there, head down the back streets towards San Francesco della Vigna, and the crowds will seem a million miles away.

Poor Restaurants

image of venice from campan ile of san giorgio maggiore church

Yes, many restaurants in Venice are overpriced and the food mediocre. This is especially true around San Marco and Rialto – the same areas the worst of the crowds build up. The ones serving pizza and a broad range of Italian cuisine tend to be the worst.

Good Food and Restaurants In Venice

Image of Locanda Montin hotel sign, Venice

As we mention in our Italy Food Tour article, you’re better off seeking out restaurants serving Venetian cuisine. This consists of seafood such as sarde in saor , a marinated sardine dish, and cicchetti, a range of bar snacks not dissimilar to Spanish tapas.

Other local produce includes vegetables from the lagoon islands and rice. Another of my personal favourites is risotto al nero di seppia , with rice served in black cuttlefish ink.  

I recommend several restaurants and bars serving food around Venice.  Osteria al Squero (in Dorsoduro) is one of the best places for an introduction to the world of cicchetti.  Otherwise take a boat trip along the Zattere to San Basilio, and the excellent Osteria Ca del Vento .   

Alternatively, the best place to eat near San Marco is Le Bistrot de Venise , which serves traditional Venetian classics on Calle dei Fabbri.

Is Venice Worth Visiting FAQs

image of san giorgio maggiore church venice italy

Is Venice A Good Place To Visit?

Venice is a wonderful place to visit – especially when you explore away from the main sights and avoid the huge crowds.  

Is Venice Expensive?

Yes. It’s the most expensive city in Italy, and in high season it can be exorbitantly expensive. However, if you visit at certain times of year, Venice is a lot more affordable.

Is Venice Overrated?

No, I don’t think it is. Overpriced at certain times of year, yes. But this is one of the most beautiful cities in the world

Is Venice Over-touristed?

Yes, sadly, very much so.  It’s often flooded with tourists but it’s worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of them converge on the same few places.

Are there other cities like Venice?

Not really, no.  There are great cities with an abundance of canals like Amsterdam, but it’s nothing like Venice, very different in feel.

Is Venice Worth Visiting – Final Thoughts

image of rialto bridge venice at night

As I said at the beginning of the article, I think Venice is absolutely worth visiting.

The overcrowding and high prices are good reasons to avoid certain parts of Venice at some times of the day. They are also reasons to consider avoiding Venice at certain times of year. But I don’t think they are reasons to avoid Venice altogether. 

Visiting Venice may require a change of plans and a tweak to your itinerary, but I wouldn’t miss it. The wealth of things to see and do in Venice is overwhelming. And I suggest doing whatever you can to see it at least once in your lifetime.

Check out more of our articles on Venice here:

  • Sunrise In Venice – best places to watch the sunrise in Venice
  • Sunset In Venice – best sunset spots in Venice
  • Cannaregio Venice – one of the most overlooked districts in Venice
  • Day Trip To Venice Itinerary – how to spend one day in Venice – and avoid the crowds
  • Weekend In Venice – how to spend the perfect two days in Venice
  • 3 day Venice Itinerary – how to spend a magical 3 days in Venice

Image of David Angel found of Delve into Europe Travel Blog / Website

David Angel is a British photographer, writer and historian. He is a European travel expert with over 30 years’ experience exploring Europe. He has a degree in History from Manchester University, and his work is regularly featured in global media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, The Times, and The Sunday Times.  David is fluent in French and Welsh, and can also converse in Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech and Polish.

venice italy why visit

Is Venice Worth Visiting? 15 Wonderful Reasons to Visit Venice in 2024

  • December 29, 2023
  • by Jenoa Matthes

venice italy why visit

Are you planning a trip to Italy and wondering – is Venice worth visiting? We’re sharing our experience and why we think it is 100% worth a stop on your Italian vacation.

Without a doubt Venice is one of the most visited cities in Italy. Millions of people from all over the world flock to the “City of Canals” to experience one of the most unique destinations in Europe.

Despite its over tourism, the city exudes a sort of magic that has yet to be replicated in our books. There’s nothing like getting lost in the small streets, climbing over a bridge to see a gondola passing through beneath you, as you wander your way through this charming city.

We’ve been to Venice three separate times, and we’re sharing 15 reasons why it’s one of our favorite places to visit in Italy, as well as sharing some things that you may want to know before you go.

Is Venice Worth Visiting?

In case you’re still wondering – YES, Venice is absolutely worth visiting!

From its winding canals, romantic architecture, and endless bridges, the city is often compared to a living painting. In fact, if you look at an old painting of Venice and compare it to today, the only differences you’ll notice are the clothing and the type of boats in the canals.

And while Venice is a popular tourist destination, we seem to fall in love with it more and more every time we visit.

Maybe it’s the charm? Or perhaps the romantic atmosphere? It could be the delicious food scene.

Whatever the reason, Venice is a must-see destination at least once in your life. It’s a place like no other that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

15 Reasons to Visit Venice, Italy

1. unique architecture.

venice italy why visit

Unquestionably, Venice is an architectural feat. The floating city was built on 118 small islands, all connected by a vast network of canals and over 400 bridges. These islands are situated in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, which stretches along the Adriatic coast.

The unique architectural layout of Venice, with its weaving canals and bridges, is what makes it an engineering marvel and an iconic city known worldwide.

As you wander around Venice, you’ll surely notice the stunning Venetian-style buildings that dominate the city’s skyline. For example, The Doge’s Palace in St. Mark’s square features patterned brickwork and marble brickwork.

Equally impressive is the renowned St. Mark’s Basilica, a symbol of Venetian wealth and power. The church has Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic influences with its intricate golden mosaics, five ornate domes, and stunning marble inlays.

As you continue exploring, you’ll encounter the grand palazzos lining the Grand Canal, such as Ca’ Rezzonico , which we highly recommend adding to your itinerary.

2. Romantic Gondola Rides

venice italy why visit

Where else in the world can you ride around the city in a gondola?Taking a gondola ride in Venice offers a unique view of the city as you glide through its canals.

Gondolas in Venice have graced the city’s waterways for over a thousand years.

Originating around the 11th century, gondolas were the primary means of transportation within the city, with over 10,000 in service during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Although their numbers have significantly dwindled to around 400 today, primarily serving the tourism industry, gondolas remain a strong symbol of Venice’s rich maritime history.

The cost of a gondola ride is a bit steep – around €80 for 30 minutes – but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is completely worth it. If you are traveling solo, or as two, we suggest asking if someone would like to join you in order to split the cost.

You’ll find gondola rentals near St. Mark’s Square.

3. Historical Significance

venice italy why visit

Venice has a fascinating and significant history that impacted much of the world.

The city was founded in 5th century AD, and as inhabitants from the mainland sought refuge from barbarian invasions, Venice grew to become an influential maritime power and a vital center of trade between the East and the West during the Middle Ages.

A city built on more than 100 small islands, Venice thrived as a republic known as “La Serenissima” or “The Most Serene Republic of Venice” for over a thousand years.

Its powerful navy, strategic location, and innovative practices such as the introduction of paper money, made it a formidable power during the medieval and Renaissance periods.

To immerse yourself in this rich history, a visit to the Doge’s Palace , once the political and judicial hub of Venice, is a must. Its opulent rooms and grand council chambers provide a glimpse into the republic’s governance and society.

The Correr Museum , on the other hand, offers an engaging collection of art and artifacts that share Venice’s history.

Meanwhile, the Naval Historical Museum showcases Venice’s maritime history with models of ships, naval instruments, and maps.

4. Delicious Italian Cuisine

venice italy why visit

Now, let’s talk about something we all love – Italian food. Like most cities in Italy, Venice is a food lover’s paradise.

Located on a lagoon on the Adriatic Sea, it’s no surprise that seafood takes center stage in Venice. From the freshest catch of the day grilled to perfection to classics like ‘sarde in saor’ – a sweet and sour sardine dish – Venice serves up a seafood feast that’s hard to resist.

Risotto, too, holds a special place in the Venetian kitchen. Slowly cooked, Venetian risotto often features a combination of ingredients. You’ll find anything from seafood to seasonal vegetables, or exotic spices.

Ever tried a creamy, black squid ink risotto? If not, Venice is the place to do it.

Another local favorite are cicchetti. These small appetizers are like open-face sandwiches, and you’ll find them in local wine bars called “bacari.” Think of them as Venice’s version of tapas.

When you enter a bacaro (wine bar), you’ll find a range of cicchetti options, from baccalà mantecato (a creamy codfish spread) on bread to marinated sardines. These bites pair perfectly with Venetian wines, such as Prosecco.

Our favorite spot for Cicchetti is Cantine del Vino già Schiavi , where you can taste a sampling of flavors right along the canal.

venice italy why visit

Of course, we can’t forget about Venice’s sweets. Local pastries like ‘frittelle’, a type of Venetian doughnut, or ‘baicoli’, a biscuit so light and crunchy that it’s hard to stop at one, are a testament to Venice’s enduring love affair with desserts.

Our go-to pastry shop in Venice is Pasticceria Rizzardini , where you can try a variety of local pastries.

5. World-renowned Art and Culture

venice italy why visit

Another reason that makes Venice worth visiting is its world-renowned art scene.

Firstly, one of the biggest contemporary art events in the world is hosted in Venice – the Venice Biennale. This is a prestigious international art exhibition held every two years.

The event is hosted throughout Venice and showcases a wide array of contemporary art forms and architecture. It alternates between the two subjects each year.

Then, there’s the Peggy Guggenheim Collection . This gem is tucked away in an 18th-century palace on the Grand Canal, and houses an impressive collection of 20th-century artwork.

The collection features both European and American art from the first half of the 20th century. From Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali to Jackson Pollock, you can explore her incredible collection of art here.

Lastly, head to the Accademia Galleries to view some Venetian masterpieces dating all the way back to the 14th century.

6. Majestic Canals

venice italy why visit

Experiencing the canals is the most magical part of visiting Venice. The intricate maze of waterways have been the lifeline of the city for centuries.

With approximately 150 canals crisscrossing the city, they serve as the primary mode of transportation, linking various islands that make up Venice.

Among these, the Grand Canal stands out as the most prominent and is the main waterway in Venice. It’s like the city’s bustling high street with vaporettos, water taxis, and of course, gondolas.

The Grand Canal is lined with over 170 majestic buildings mostly from the 13th to 18th centuries.

As you traverse the canals, you’ll also come across many bridges, with the Rialto Bridge being the most iconic and oldest bridge spanning the Grand Canal.

7. Island Hopping to Murano & Burano

venice italy why visit

Island hopping is one of the most popular activities in Venice! Make sure to add an extra day into your Venice itinerary to visit the islands of Murano and Burano.

Murano: Known worldwide for its centuries-old tradition of glass-making, Murano has been the home of Venice’s glass-blowing industry since 1291. As you walk its canals, you’ll come across numerous workshops and showrooms, with artisans crafting everything from delicate glass jewelry to ornate chandeliers. The Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro) is a must-visit to delve into the island’s rich history and witness ancient glass artifacts.

Burano: A photographer’s dream, Burano is famous for its brightly-colored fishermen’s houses that line its canals. Equally renowned is its ancient tradition of lace-making. While the genuine hand-made lace can be a bit pricey, it’s a unique piece of craftsmanship to take home. The Lace Museum (Museo del Merletto) offers an insight into this delicate art form and its history on the island.

Getting There: Both islands are easily accessible by vaporetto (water bus) from Venice. Regular services depart from the Fondamente Nove stop in Venice. It is possible to visit both islands in one day.

8. St. Mark’s Square

venice italy why visit

St. Mark’s Square, or “Piazza San Marco” as it’s known in Italian, stands as the heart and soul of Venice. Historically, this iconic square has been the epicenter of Venetian political, religious, and social life for centuries.

Surrounding the square, you’ll find a collection of stunning buildings. Dominating the scene is the opulent St. Mark’s Basilica with its Byzantine-influenced domes and glittering mosaics.

Adjacent to it is the Campanile (bell tower), of which you can climb to the top and enjoy the most amazing panoramic views of the city. On the other side lies the Doge’s Palace, a gothic masterpiece that once housed the ruler of the Venetian Republic.

While this is one of the most remarkable spots in Venice, it’s also the city’s busiest spot, attracting both locals and tourists in droves. You should be prepared for crowds, especially during peak seasons.

To experience St. Mark’s Square without the crowds, we suggest visiting very early in the morning.

9. Shopping Galore

venice italy why visit

If you love shopping for unique souvenirs or high-end fashion, then you’ll love shopping in Venice. The city is full of artisan shops, boutiques, and markets, each offering a piece of Venice to take back home.

One of the most sought-after items to shop for in Venice are Venetian masks. Numerous ateliers and workshops throughout the city craft these masks, ranging from traditionally ornate to modern, abstract designs.

Of course, if you love glassware, then purchasing a piece of Murano glass is a must. Originating from the nearby island of Murano, the glasswork is known for its vibrant colors and intricate designs.

From elegant vases to delicate jewelry, there are countess pieces to choose from. A little tip – to check for authenticity, look for the “Vetro Artistico Murano” trademark, which certifies the origin and quality of the product.

Venice is also home to a variety of luxury boutiques from both international and Italian high-end brands. Streets like Calle Larga XXII Marzo has many designer shops, such as Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton.

Meanwhile, as you’re wandering around the city, you’ll also discover local businesses offer bespoke clothing, leather goods, and accessories.

10. Famous Festivals

venice italy why visit

Venice has a wide array of annual festivals, each drawing massive local and international attention. The Venice Film Festival, typically held from late August to early September, stands as the world’s oldest film festival, premiering notable international films and boasting the prestigious Golden Lion award.

It’s hosted at the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido island, and avid film enthusiasts should consider booking tickets early.

Meanwhile, February sees the city immerse in the mystique of the Carnival of Venice, where Renaissance-era masked balls and vibrant costumes dominate. It’s an open invitation to wander the streets, getting lost amidst parades and theatrics.

But come the first Sunday of September, the city’s maritime prowess is on display with the Regatta Storica. This historic boat race, graced by a parade of traditionally decked boats and concluded by the men’s Grand Canal gondolino championship, is a testament to Venice’s deep-rooted nautical heritage.

If you’re wanting to visit during the festivals, you should book your accommodations early and be prepared for bustling crowds.

11. Vaporetto Rides

venice italy why visit

Vaporettos are the public “water buses” that transport locals and tourists alike through Venice’s canals. It’s the most affordable way to go sightseeing around the city without the hefty price tag.

One of the best routes? The Grand Canal. Pay for a single ride, and you’ll weave your way past centuries-old palaces and under iconic bridges. Whether it’s watching the sunset over the water or seeing the city lights twinkle at night, the views are breathtaking.

The vaporettos can get really packed during the middle of the day, so it’s best to do this early in the morning or after sunset. We did this in the evening and seeing the city all lit up was one of the most magical experiences.

12. Venetian Sunsets

venice italy why visit

Watching a Venetian sunset is a sight to behold and one of those quiet moments of magic that makes Venice so incredibly special.

So, where’s the best spot to soak in this spectacle? Well, there’s no shortage of options. The Rialto Bridge is a classic choice. Perched over the Grand Canal, it offers a fantastic view of the sun setting behind the city’s stunning architecture.

Alternatively, take a leisurely stroll along the Zattere promenade in Dorsoduro. Here, you can watch the sun slowly set over the Giudecca Canal, with a gelato in hand, of course.

And if you’re up for something a little different, why not experience a sunset from the water? Take an evening gondola ride or hop on a vaporetto for a floating sunset experience.

We’ve taken both a gondola ride and a vaporetto ride at sunset and highly recommend doing both.

13. Music & Opera Scene

venice italy why visit

Venice’s music and opera scene is as rich and vibrant as the city itself.

Teatro La Fenice , the city’s famous opera house, is a must-visit. The name translates to “The Phoenix,” and true to its name, it has risen from the ashes of numerous fires to continue hosting world-class performances.

Its plush red velvet interiors and golden accents provide a grand backdrop for a night of music, drama, and spectacle. Attending an opera here is like stepping back in time and witnessing a piece of Venetian history.

The city also hosts numerous music festivals throughout the year, catering to a wide range of tastes. From early music performances to contemporary concerts, there’s always something happening in Venice.

14. Wine Tasting

venice italy why visit

Wine tasting in Venice is one of the best gastro-centric activities to do in the city.

The Veneto region, of which Venice is the capital, is a popular wine producing area in Italy. It’s renowned for its top-notch varieties. So naturally, a trip to Venice wouldn’t be complete without indulging in some wine-tasting adventures.

From bubbly Prosecco to robust Amarone, the variety here is as diverse as it is delicious. You’ll find charming wine bars all of the city, offering a curated selection of regional wines.

For a more immersive adventure, consider joining a wine tour. These tours often take you beyond the city and into the vineyards of Veneto. You’ll visit wineries, stroll through vineyards, and of course, sample a wide variety of wines.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the winemaking process and discover some of the region’s best-kept secrets.

Join this 6-hour Prosecco wine tour from Venice and enjoy two tastings out in the countryside.

15. The Lido

venice italy why visit

The Lido might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Venice, but let me tell you, it’s a hidden gem that’s worth discovering. This island is a serene escape from the bustling city center, offering a blend of Venetian culture, nature, and history that’s entirely its own.

With its sandy beaches, Art Nouveau villas, and quaint streets lined with cafes, you could easily spend an entire day exploring the island.

Head over to the public beaches for a relaxing day by the Adriatic Sea, or go cycling along the island’s scenic paths – it’s one of the few places in Venice where you can actually ride a bike!

Visiting Lido gives you a chance to experience a different side of Venice. It’s a place where you can take a leisurely pace, bask in nature, and get a glimpse into the city’s quieter, local life. So, when you’re planning your Venetian adventure, don’t forget to add a day trip to Lido to your itinerary. Trust us, you won’t regret it!

Getting to Lido from central Venice is quite straightforward. You’ll need to catch a Vaporetto (public water bus), which operates regularly between various points in Venice and Lido.

5 Things to Know Before you Go: Tips for Visiting Venice

1. crowds and overtourism.

venice italy why visit

Is Venice worth visiting with all of the crowds? While there’s plenty to love about Venice, there’s also a less glamorous side to it – overtourism.

Yes, Venice, being the beauty that it is, draws crowds like a magnet. And during peak seasons – summer months and times of major festivals like the Carnival – the city can feel a tad too crowded.

The narrow alleyways, the Venice canals, the iconic spots like St. Mark’s Square – they all bear the brunt of this tourist influx. And honestly, it can be a bit overwhelming.

You might find yourself jostling for space on a vaporetto, waiting in long queues for a gondola ride, or simply trying to navigate through a sea of people in the city’s popular areas.

With all the crowds, you might be thinking, is Venice worth visiting? Don’t let the crowds discourage you. Venice, with all its charm and allure, is still worth experiencing. It’s all about planning smartly.

Visit during the shoulder seasons , venture into lesser-known neighborhoods, and wake up early to beat the crowds.

Remember, the real magic of Venice often lies off the beaten path. So, brace yourself for the crowds, but don’t let them keep you from the wonder that is Venice.

2. High Costs

venice italy why visit

Venice can be quite pricey. Whether it’s accommodation, food, or attractions, you might find that prices here are a notch higher than in other Italian cities. And it’s not surprising, considering Venice is one of the most sought-after destinations in the world.

Let’s start with accommodation. With the city’s limited space and high demand, hotel prices can be quite steep, especially if you’re eyeing a room with that coveted canal view.

If you’re looking for somewhere more affordable to stay, we suggest looking at hotels in Mestre on the mainland. It’s just a couple minute train ride from Venice and is a lot cheaper than the hotels on the islands.

Activities like gondola rides and entry to top attractions like the Doge’s Palace come with a significant price tag. And when you add up all these costs, your Venice trip can turn out to be a bit of a splurge.

But don’t let this deter you. With some smart planning and budgeting, you can navigate Venice’s high costs. Look for offbeat accommodations, enjoy meals at local bacari (wine bars), and prioritize your must-see attractions. Venice might be expensive, but the experiences it offers are truly priceless.

3. Accessibility Challenges

venice italy why visit

Venice’s unique layout does present certain challenges, particularly for those with mobility issues. The city is essentially a maze of narrow alleys, bridges, and canals. And while that’s part of its charm, it can make accessibility a bit of a hurdle.

Consider the bridges, for example. Venice has over 400 bridges, and most of them have steps. For someone with a wheelchair or a stroller, crossing these bridges can be quite a task. Likewise, the narrow, often crowded streets and the occasional high tide (a phenomenon called ‘aqua alta’) could also pose challenges.

Also, while vaporettos (water buses) are a popular mode of transport in Venice, not all of them are wheelchair-friendly. The same goes for many historic buildings and attractions that may not have modern accessibility features.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. Venice has been taking steps to improve accessibility, from installing ramps on some bridges to offering accessible gondola rides.

If you are staying a hotel in Venice, we suggest contacting the hotel ahead of time to see if they can arrange a boat with accessibility options.

4. Flooding in the streets

venice italy why visit

Flooding in Venice is a major issue , especially during high-tide. When we visited Venice in March, the city was completely flooded on our first night. All of our shoes, socks, and pants were soaked.

While this is unfortunately a reality for the city, don’t let this deter you from visiting. Flooding usually happens between late autumn and early spring, with November and December being the most affected months.

During this period, famous spots like St. Mark’s Square often find themselves under water, sometimes several times a day.

You can usually avoid flooding if you visit during the summer, or just plan ahead. Pack some waterproof footwear, or avoid walking around during the flooding.

But don’t worry too much – the flooding is usually predictable and lasts only a few hours. And let’s be honest, it just adds to your overall experience in Venice!

5. Tourist Trap Areas

venice italy why visit

As much as we love Venice, it’s no secret that certain parts of the city have become quite the tourist traps. These areas, often the most famous ones, can feel a bit too commercialized and might not offer the most authentic Venetian experience.

Let’s talk about St. Mark’s Square, for instance. While it’s undoubtedly a must-see spot, the cafes and restaurants lining the square are notoriously overpriced.

Same goes for the Rialto Bridge area. While it’s bustling with energy and offers great views of the Grand Canal, the surrounding shops and eateries often cater more to tourists than to locals.

The thing is, Venice is much more than these touristy hotspots. It’s in the quiet alleyways, the lesser-known neighborhoods like Cannaregio or Castello, and the local bacari where you’ll find the real, authentic Venice.

These are the places where Venetians live, eat, and hang out – and they offer a glimpse into the city that’s not just about gondolas and gelatos.

So, while you shouldn’t skip the famous landmarks, do venture beyond them. Dodge the tourist traps, mingle with the locals, and discover the Venice that’s not on every postcard. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Best time to Visit Venice?

venice italy why visit

The ideal time to visit Venice depends on what you want to see and do.

If you want decent weather and fewer crowds, the shoulder seasons—spring (March to May) and early fall (October to November)—are optimal. During these times, you’ll avoid overwhelming summer crowds.

Speaking of summer, it boasts the best weather, sunny and vibrant, but it also brings with it the most tourists.

If you’re keen on immersing yourself in Venice’s rich cultural festivities like the Venice Film Festival or the Carnival of Venice, then, of course, you’ll want to plan your trip around those times.

We’ve visited Venice in March, September, and November and by far the busiest time was September; however, the other months were also crowded. No matter what time of the year you go, expect crowds.

How many days in Venice is enough?

venice italy why visit

To cover the primary attractions such as St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace, and a gondola ride, a single day in Venice will suffice.

However, for a more comprehensive experience of the city, including its hidden alleys, palaces, and island hopping, we recommend spending 2-3 days in Venice.

While all of the central attractions are located near each other, spending a bit more time in Venice will allow you to have a more local experience.

Suggested Venice 1, 2, & 3 day itineraries

venice italy why visit

Here is a 1, 2, & 3 day itinerary for Venice based on our experience visiting the city. This will help to give you an idea of what you can accomplish within these time frames, and to help you decide if Venice is worth visiting.

Day 1 in Venice

  • Morning: St Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace
  • Afternoon: Eat some cicchetti for lunch and then visit the Rialto Bridge & Market, Gondola Ride, Santa Maria della Salute
  • Evening: Dine in a traditional Venetian restaurant, wander around the canals in the evening, or take a Vaporetto ride around the Grand Canal

Day 2 in Venice

  • Morning: Visit Murano island and watch a glass-making demonstration
  • Afternoon: Visit Burano island and wander around the colorful houses
  • Evening: Attend a Vivaldi concert or opera after dinner

Day 3 in Venice

  • Morning: Explore the Jewish Ghetto and visit either Ca’ Rezzonico or Gallerie dell’Accademia (Art museums)
  • Afternoon: Explore the Dorsoduro district and visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
  • Evening: Relax along the Zattere promenade and enjoy a Venetian sunset.

Visiting Venice Frequently Asked Questions

venice italy why visit

Is Venice too touristy?

Indeed, Venice is one of the most-visited cities in Italy, leading to concerns of overtourism. However, despite the crowds, the city’s timeless charm, unparalleled architecture, and unique canal networks make it an unmissable destination. We suggest venturing outside of the main sights to experience a more authentic version of Venice.

Is Venice walkable in a day?

Yes, Venice’s compact nature means most of its must-see attractions are walkable in a day. However, while you can cover the highlights of Venice in a day, you might miss out on the hidden gems and quaint corners that add to the city’s charm. To truly immerse yourself, it’s worth spending more time exploring the outer islands and lesser-known parts of the city.

Why is Venice so expensive?

Venice is an expensive city primarily because it’s a top tourist destination in the world, leading to inflated prices for goods and services. Budget travelers can consider options like staying in Mestre, just outside Venice, to cut down on accommodation expenses.

Is Venice or Florence better?

Both Venice and Florence are exceptional in their own right. Venice offers incredible architecture, romantic canals, and unique travel experiences. While Florence is a haven for Renaissance art and history enthusiasts. If you have the time, we recommend visiting both cities, even just for a day or two.

More Information for your Italy Trip

BOLOGNA:  If you’re planning to visit the capital of Emilia Romagna during your trip, check out our guide on the  25 Best Things to do in Bologna  and our  Bologna Food Guide.  You may also like our article on the  Best Gelato Shops in Bologna  and a step-by-step guide to walking the  Portico San Luca  (the longest portico in the world)!

RAVENNA:  Visit the stunning 5th century Byzantine Mosaics in Ravenna, and read all about this incredible on our  20 Best Things to do in Ravenna  post.

PARMA:  Make sure to stop by Parma on your trip to Emilia Romagna. Check our our guide on the  20 Best Things to do in Parma  to help you plan your time in this wonderful city. Alternatively, you can reference our  One Day in Parma  guide if you plan to do a day trip to the city.

ITALY TRAVEL PLANNING GUIDE Italy Travel Insurance  – Should you get travel insurance for Italy? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out  Safety Wing  to find the best plan for you. Italy Rental Cars  – Is it safe to rent a car in Italy? Yes! We’ve rented a car in Italy too many times to count, and it’s definitely the most convenient way to get around the countryside. We rented our car through  Discover Cars  (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling. Italy Phone Plans –  If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Italy, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used  Airalo  during our trip to Italy, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. It’s easy to download and you can even top up via the app if needed. Italy Hotels –  Wondering where to book your accommodations for Italy? We’ve been reserving all of our hotels through  Booking  for years. Their messaging tool makes it easy to communicate with the hotels, and there are endless options to choose from.

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24 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Venice

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers Updated Dec 22, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

In a city as filled with tourist attractions as Venice, it's hard to know where to begin. Perhaps the best way is to simply get lost for a few hours wandering through its enchanting little streets and passageways, strolling beside its canals, and finding its secret corners.

At every turn, you'll see something worth remembering with a photo. No matter where this exploration takes you, it's easy to find your way back to Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal. Most of the best sights you'll want to visit lie around these two landmarks.

Venice is divided into six sestieri, neighborhoods that have distinctly different characters. San Marco is the central one, surrounded on three sides by a great loop in the Grand Canal. Across Rialto Bridge is the artisans' neighborhood of San Polo, and across the Grand Canal to the south is stylish Dorsoduro, with its prestigious art museums and lively squares.

At the outer edges are Santa Croce, Castello, and Cannaregio, home of the original Ghetto. Beyond the six sestieri – neighborhoods – of the city itself, you'll want to hop aboard a vaporetto to its islands: Lido, Murano, Burano, and Torcello. A fourth island, San Giorgio Maggiore, is worth visiting for the beautiful views of San Marco and Venice from the tower of its church.

To plan your stay so you won't miss any of the best places to visit, use this list of the top attractions and things to do in Venice.

1. St. Mark's Basilica

2. piazza san marco (st. mark's square), 3. palazzo ducale (doge's palace) and bridge of sighs, 4. canale grande (grand canal), 5. ponte di rialto (rialto bridge) and san polo, 6. torre dell'orologio (clock tower), 7. campanile, 8. santa maria della salute, 9. scuola grande di san rocco, 10. teatro la fenice, 11. ca' d'oro, 12. murano and burano, 13. peggy guggenheim collection, 14. explore the ghetto and museo ebraico di venezia, 15. santa maria gloriosa dei frari, 16. gallerie dell'accademia (fine arts museum), 17. santa maria dei miracoli, 18. palazzo rezzonico, 19. torcello island, 21. hear classical music in a church, 22. contarini del bovolo palace, 23. ca' pesaro and galleria d'arte moderna, 24. the arsenal and the museum of naval history, where to stay in venice for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to venice, venice, italy - climate chart, more things to see and do.

St. Mark's Basilica

Certainly Venice's best-known church, and one of the most easily recognized in the world, St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) was originally the Doge's private chapel, decorated with Byzantine art treasures that are part of the booty brought back by Venetian ships after the fall of Constantinople.

The gold-backed mosaic pictures above the doorways on the façade only hint at the mosaic artistry inside, where 4,240 square meters of gold mosaics cover the domes and walls. These set a distinctly Byzantine tone to its soaring interior, but you'll find treasures from other periods, including later mosaics designed by Titian and Tintoretto - names you'll encounter all over the city.

The magnificent golden altarpiece, the Pala d'Oro , one of the finest in Europe, was begun by early 12th-century artists, and centuries later, adorned with nearly 2,000 gems and precious stones. If you can tear your eyes from this, the mosaic domes, and the multitude of richly decorated altars, glance down at the floor, a masterpiece of marble inlay. And take time to see the gold reliquaries and icons in the Treasury.

  • Read More: Exploring St. Mark's Basilica in Venice: A Visitor's Guide

St. Mark's Square

The vast expanse of Venice's largest square is brought together and made to seem almost intimate by the elegant uniformity of its architecture on three sides. But more than its architectural grace, St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) is loved as Venice's living room, the place everybody gathers, strolls, drinks coffee, stops to chat, meets friends and tour guides, or just passes through on the way to work or play.

Three sides are framed in arcades, beneath which are fashionable shops and even more fashionable cafés. The open end is bookmarked by the erratic, exotic curves, swirls, mosaics, and lacy stone filigree of St. Mark's Basilica .

Above it towers the brick shaft of the campanile. For overviews of this busy piazza, you can go to its top or to the top of the Torre dell'Orologio , where a pair of "Moors" strikes the hour.

Author's Tip: Don't be tempted to sit on the steps around the piazza to eat a take-away sandwich. Or throw the crumbs to the pigeons. Both are illegal.

  • Read More: St. Mark's Square, Venice: 12 Top Attractions, Tours & Nearby Hotels

Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) and Bridge of Sighs

Visitors arriving in Venice once stepped ashore under the façade of this extraordinary palace. They couldn't have failed to be impressed, both by its size and the finesse of its architecture.

If they were received inside by the Doges, the impression would only strengthen as they entered through the Porta della Carta, a perfect example of Venetian Gothic at its height, and ascended the monumental Scala dei Giganti and the gold-vaulted Scala d'Oro to be received in what many consider to be the palace's most beautiful chamber, Sala del Collegio.

Even jaded 21st-century travelers gasp in awe at the palace's grandeur and lavish decoration. You'll see works by all the Venetian greats, including Tintoretto, whose Paradise is the largest oil painting in the world.

Not open on public tours but included on private tours is a walk across the Bridge of Sighs to the dark cells of the Prigioni - the prisons from which Casanova made his famous escape. The best view - and the postcard classic - of the Bridge of Sighs is from the Ponte della Paglia , on the Riva degli Schiavoni behind the Doge's Palace.

Lines for admission to the Doge's Palace are often long, but you can avoid these, and see sections of the palace not open to general visitors, with a Skip the Line: Doge's Palace Ticket and Tour . A local guide will take you past the lines and explain the history and art in each of the dazzling rooms before leading you across the Bridge of Sighs and into the notorious prison.

  • Read More: Exploring the Doge's Palace in Venice: A Visitor's Guide

Canale Grande (Grand Canal)

Sweeping through the heart of Venice in a giant reverse S curve, the Grand Canal is the principal boulevard through the city, connecting Piazza San Marco , Rialto Bridge, and the arrival points of the rail station and bridge from the mainland.

Only four bridges cross its 3.8-kilometer length, but stripped-down gondolas called traghetti shuttle back and forth at several points between bridges. The Grand Canal was the address of choice for anyone who claimed any influence in Venice. Palaces of all the leading families open onto the canal, their showy Venetian Gothic and Early Renaissance facades facing the water, by which visitors arrived.

These grand palaces – or at least their facades – are well preserved today, and a trip along the canal by vaporetto, Venice's floating public transport system, is the best way to see them. Or you can see the palaces at a more leisurely speed on a Venice Grand Canal Small Group 1-Hour Boat Tour , which also includes some of the smaller canals. And, of course, a ride along the Grand Canal in a gondola is one of the most romantic things to do in Venice at night.

  • Read More: Exploring the Grand Canal in Venice: Top Attractions

Rialto Bridge

Once the only bridge across the Grand Canal , Rialto Bridge marks the spot of the island's first settlement, called Rivus Altus (high bank). Built in 1588, some 150 years after the collapse of a previous wooden bridge, this stone arch supports two busy streets and a double set of shops.

Along with serving as a busy crossing point midway along the canal, it is a favorite vantage point for tourists taking - or posing for - photos, and for watching the assortment of boats always passing under it.

The church of San Bartolomeo , close to the San Marco end of the bridge, was the church of the German merchants who lived and worked in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (German Commodity Exchange) bordering the canal here. It has an excellent altarpiece, The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew , by Palma the Younger. The former exchange is now a popular place to go shopping.

On the other side of Rialto Bridge is the busy food market, where Venetians and chefs shop for fresh produce and seafood. In the narrow streets of San Polo, beyond the market, are artisans' shops and mask-making studios, one of the best places for shopping in Venice . You'll also find places to eat that are not so filled with tourists as those nearer San Marco.

Author's tip: If you're visiting Venice with children , look for the carnival mask and costume studios in San Polo. Masks are inexpensive souvenirs of their trip to Venice.

Torre dell'Orologio (Clock Tower)

To one side of the basilica, facing onto Piazza San Marco, is one of Venice's most familiar icons, a clock tower surmounted by a pair of bronze Moors that strike the large bell each hour. The face of the clock shows phases of the moon and the zodiac in gilt on a blue background, and above the clock is a small balcony and a statue of the Virgin.

Above that, the winged Lion of St. Mark and a mosaic of gold stars against a blue background were added in 1755 by Giorgio Massari. The tower itself is from the 15 th century and typical of Venetian Renaissance architecture. Through an arched gateway at its base runs one of Venice's busiest streets, the narrow Calle Mercerei.

If you're in Venice during Ascension Week or at Epiphany, as the Moors strike each hour, you can see the Three Kings led past the Madonna by an angel. You can climb the tower for a closer look at the clockwork.

The Campanile on St. Mark's Square

Standing like a giant exclamation point above the expanse of Piazza San Marco, the Campanile is not the first to stand here. The original one, erected as a lighthouse in 1153, collapsed dramatically into the piazza in 1902, and was rebuilt on a firmer footing. Also rebuilt was the Loggetta at its base, a small marble loggia completed in 1540, where members of the Great Council assembled before meeting in the sessions.

In the loggia at the base, you can see Sansovino's four bronze masterpieces between the columns, all of which were rescued from the rubble after the collapse. The Campanile has a grimmer side to its history: in the Middle Ages, prisoners, including renegade priests, were hoisted halfway up the outside in cages, where they hung suspended for weeks.

Today, the Campanile is a popular attraction for the views from the platform on top, which extends across the city and lagoon to the Adriatic (try to go early or late in the day, as lines for the lift can be very long).

Santa Maria della Salute

One of the most photographed churches in Venice, Santa Maria della Salute has a postcard setting, rising at the tip of a peninsula across from the Doge's Palace.

The monumental Baroque church was built as thanks for the end of the plague of 1630. But the fragile land wouldn't support its tremendous weight, so its architect, Baldassare Longhena, had more than a million timbers driven into the floor of the lagoon before he could erect the church.

The vaporetto landing is right in front of the church, and the highlight of its interior – apart from the magnificent dome – is the Sacristy, where you'll find paintings that include Tintoretto's Marriage at Cana .

Scuola Grande di San Rocco

This impressive white marble Scuola Grande di San Rocco was built between 1515 and 1560 to house a charitable society dedicated to San Rocco. Soon after its completion, the great 16th-century Venetian artist Tintoretto won the competition to paint a central panel for the ceiling of the Sala dell'Albergo by entering the building and putting his painting in its intended place before the judging, much to the irritation of his rival artists.

He later decorated its walls and ceilings with a complete cycle of paintings, which are considered to be the artist's masterpiece. The earliest works, in the Sala dell'Albergo, date to 1564 and 1576 and include The Glorification of St. Roch, Christ before Pilate, the Ecce Homo, and the most powerful of all, The Crucifixion . Those in the upper hall depict New Testament scenes, painted between 1575 and 1581.

The lighting is not good, and the paintings themselves are dark, but you can still appreciate Tintoretto's innovations in the use of light and color. You can see the ceilings more easily with one of the mirrors that are provided. More works by Tintoretto are in the chancel of the adjacent church of San Rocco.

Address: Campo San Rocco, San Polo, Venice

Teatro La Fenice

The name La Fenice (The Phoenix), chosen at the constriction in 1792, proved prophetic, as like the mythical phoenix, it has risen from the ashes. The theater has been destroyed by fire three times, the last one, in 1996, leaving only the outer walls standing. Each time, it has been rebuilt, and continues to be one of the world's great opera houses.

Throughout its history, but particularly in the 19th century, La Fenice saw the premiers of many of the most famous Italian operas, including those of Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi, and today schedules performances of opera, ballet, and musical concerts.

Even after its reopening in 2003 with somewhat expanded seating, La Fenice is still a comparatively small opera house, so tickets are very hard to get, especially for major performances. You can take a tour of the spectacular Rococo interior, however, using an audio guide; these self-guided tours last about 45 minutes and include the public areas of the theater.

Ca' d'Oro

The delicate marble filigree by Bartolomeo Bon seems too lace-like to be carved of stone, and you can only imagine the impression this façade must have made covered in its original paint and gold. Along with the Porta della Carta in the Palazzo Ducale , also created by Bartolomeo Bon, The Ca' d'Oro is considered the most perfect example of Venetian Gothic.

You can admire the interior, too, as this palazzo is now an art museum, restored to provide both a setting for the art works and a look at the way wealthy Venetians lived in the 15th and 16th centuries. The connoisseur responsible for saving the palace, Baron Giorgio Franchetti, gave his art collection to the state in 1922, with works by Titian, Mantegna, Van Dyck, Tullio Lombardo, and Bernini.

Glassblowing in Murano

A trip to Venice wouldn't be complete without hopping aboard a vaporetto for the ride across the lagoon to Murano, home of Venice's fabled glass workers. They were sent here in the 13th century in hope of decreasing the risk of fire from one of the glass furnaces sweeping through Venice's tightly compacted center.

Or so they claimed. Just as likely, it was to keep the secrets of glassblowing a Venetian monopoly. This was no small matter to the Venetians, whose Council of Ten decreed in 1454: "If a glassblower takes his skill to another country to the detriment of the Republic he shall be ordered to return; should be refuse, his nearest relatives shall be thrown into prison so that his sense of family duty may induce him to return; should he persist in his disobedience secret measures shall be taken to eliminate him wherever he may be." It was a lot easier to keep track of them if they were confined to an island.

The canal sides today are lined by glass showrooms and studios, showing everything from cheap imported trinkets to exquisite works of art. Inside the 17th-century Palazzo Giustinian is the Glass Museum , with one of the largest and most important collections of Venetian glass from the time of the Romans to the 20th century.

But it's not all glass: The church of Santi Maria e Donato combines Veneto-Byzantine and Early Romanesque features, a result of its various stages of building between the seventh and 12th centuries. Notice especially the columns of Greek marble with Veneto-Byzantine capitals, the 12th-century mosaic floor with animal figures, and the St. Donato above the first altar on the left. Dated 1310, it is the earliest example of Venetian painting.

The 14th-century San Pietro Martire contains several splendid Venetian paintings: Bellini's Madonna in Majesty with St. Mark and the Doge Agostino Barbarigo and his Assumption of the Virgin , along with St. Jerome in the Wilderness and St. Agatha in Prison by Paolo Veronese.

It's a quick hop to the next island, Burano, a fishing village of brilliantly painted houses, known historically for its lace making. The Scuola dei Merletti (lace school) and its small museum will help you distinguish the real thing from the cheap imports you'll find in most shops.

The slender campanile of the 16 th -century church of San Martino leans at an alarming angle, made all the more dramatic by its height.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

The personal art collections of heiress Peggy Guggenheim are housed in her former home alongside the Grand Canal, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. Although most of Italy's great art museums are filled with masters of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Peggy Guggenheim concentrates on American and European art from the first half of the 20th century.

The low building, with its spare, white interior, is a fitting venue for these bold and often dramatic works, which represent Cubist, Futurist, Abstract Expressionist, Surrealist, and avant-garde schools of painting and sculpture.

The permanent collection includes works by Picasso, Dali, Braque , Léger , Mondrian , Kandinsky , Klee, Ernst , Magritte , and Pollock , and frequent exhibitions bring in works from other major artists. In the museum's sculpture gardens are works by Calder , Holzer , Caro , Judd , and Hepworth .

Address: 704 Dorsoduro, Venice

Jewish Ghetto in Venice

The Venetians called the foundry here geto , and in 1516 it was decreed that all Jews in the city would live on this islet, the origin of the word "ghetto." Residents could only leave in the daytime, and the gates were locked and guarded at night.

This part of the Cannaregio sestiere still has distinct Jewish presence, with synagogues and the Museo Ebraico di Venezia (Jewish Museum) with artifacts of Jewish life here from the 17 th and later centuries. Facing the Ghetto Nuovo Square, a touching memorial of bronze panels, created in 1980 by artist Arbit Blatas, remembers the victims of the deportation during the Nazi occupation of the city in 1943.

Address: Museo Ebraico di Venezia, Campo del Ghetto Nuovo, Cannaregio

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

This Gothic church was begun by the Franciscans about 1340 and finished with the completion of the facade, interior, and two chapels in the middle of the 15th century. Its impressive 14th-century campanile is the second highest in the city.

Although the interior is in keeping with the simple unadorned style of Franciscan churches, it contains a wealth of artistic treasures. In the right transept is an important wood statue of St. John the Baptist by Florentine sculptor Donatello, done in 1451 (first chapel to the right of the sanctuary).

In the sacristy is a triptych Madonna and Child Enthroned with Four Saints by Giovanni Bellini. In the left transept, the statue of St. John the Baptist on the stoup of the Cappella Cornaro was created by the sculptor and master-builder Jacopo Sansovino

The Monks' Choir is an outstanding example of the wood-carving of Marco Cozzi, with reliefs of saints and Venetian scenes. And the sanctuary contains the tomb of two Doges by Antonio Rizzo, and over the high altar is Titian's Assunta , painted between 1516 and 1518. The Mausoleum of Titian in the south aisle was a gift from Ferdinand I of Austria, when he was King of Lombardy Veneto.

You can't help noticing the pyramidal mausoleum made by the students of the sculptor Antonio Canova in the north aisle, and opposite, the large monument to Titian, also by students of Canova. Beside the Cappella Emiliani, which has a fine mid-15th-century polyptych with marble figures, is Madonna di Ca' Pesaro , completed in 1526 and one of Titian's most important works.

Address: Campo dei Frari, I-30100 Venice

Venice - Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari - Floor plan map

Called " The Accademia " for short, this museum on the Grand Canal has the most important and comprehensive collection of 15th-18th-century Venetian painting in existence. Much of the collection was assembled from monasteries and churches that were closed and from the clearing of palaces of noble families, now displayed in the former Monastery of Santa Maria della Carità.

Some of the galleries, such as the first one, which contains Venetian Gothic Painting, have richly carved and gilded 15th-century ceilings. Works are arranged chronologically, so you can not only trace the evolution of styles, but can compare the works of contemporaries.

Highlights of the 15th- and 16th-century paintings are St. George by Andrea Mantegna, St Jerome and a Donor by Piero della Francesca, Madonna and Saints by Giovanni Bellini, Portrait of Christ by Vittore Carpaccio, and Madonna under the Orange Tree by Cima da Conegliano.

St. John the Baptist and a magnificent Pietà by Titian, Tintoretto's Cain and Abel and The Miracle of St. Mark, Paolo Veronese's Marriage of St. Catherine and Supper in the House of Levi , St. Ursula by Vittore Carpaccio, and several works by Giambattista Tiepolo are also worth special notice.

Venice - Galleria dell'Accademia - Floor plan map

After the vast grandeur of St. Mark's and the soaring expanse of Frari, little Santa Maria dei Miracoli is like a fresh breeze, a masterpiece of Early Renaissance architecture by Pietro Lombardo. This jewel box of pastel inlaid marble was built from 1481 to 1489 to enshrine a miraculous picture of the Virgin.

Unlike Venice's other churches, whose facades are embellished with architectural flourishes and statues, Lombardo used painstakingly matched colored marble to create delicate patterns of rosettes, circles, octagons, and crosses on the facade. The method continues inside, which heightens the effect of the golden domed ceiling rising above gray and coral marble walls.

The nave is separated from the chancel by an exquisite Early Renaissance balustrade decorated with figures. It's no wonder that this is Venetians' favorite place to be married, as its interior is one of the most beautiful in the city.

Address: Campo dei Miracoli, Venice

Palazzo Rezzonico

Just as Ca' d'Oro lets you glimpse into the life of the late Middle Ages, Palazzo Rezzonico gives a vivid picture of life here in the Baroque and Rococo periods, in the 18th century. Designed and begun by Venice's master of Baroque architecture, Baldassare Longhena, the palace was completed nearly 100 years later in 1750 by Giorgio Massari.

The furnishings and collections complete the picture painted by the building, including its interior decoration of silk wall coverings, elegant finish details, and Flemish tapestries. The costume collection highlights the importance of silk production in Venice from the late Middle Ages through the 18th century, when it was a major competitor with Lyon, France.

Rigid technical regulations were enforced, resulting in some of the most beautiful silk fabrics ever made. So important was silk that even in times of war with the Turks, battle lines parted for the silk-laden ships to pass through.

The museum details the importance of luxury goods, particularly clothing and fashion, for the Venetian economy in the 18th century, when brocades embellished with gold and silver thread produced here were treasured throughout Europe and the New World.

Torcello Island

Venice began on this outer island of Torcello, founded here as early as the seventh century, and by the 12th century, it was a flourishing commercial town. Of its palaces, churches, shipyards, and docks, only two churches and a handful of houses remain, dotted over the large island.

You can get some idea of the importance of Torcello from its cathedral, dedicated in 639 to Santa Maria Assunta . It is considered the best remaining example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture. It was reconstructed in 834 and 1008, and the portico and two lateral apses were added in the ninth century; much of the building dates from the 11th century. The mosaics lining the interior are outstanding.

The oldest of these are in the chapel to the right of the high altar, where 11th-century angels carrying a medallion with the Lamb of God show a strong Byzantine influence. The Fathers of the Church ; Gregory, Martin, Ambrose, and Augustine; were added later, along with Christ in Majesty between two Archangels .

The 12th-century mosaics in the main apse and the Virgin and Child above a frieze of the Twelve Apostles surrounded by flowers are all on a gold background. The west wall is covered in tiers of a Byzantine mosaic of the Last Judgment from the late 12th or early 13th century.

Along with the exquisitely detailed marble carvings on the rood screen, notice the 11th-century mosaic floor and the pulpit, which was assembled in the 13th century from earlier fragments.

Adjoining the cathedral is the little 11th-century church of Santa Fosca , on a pure Byzantine central plan with a portico. Your admission ticket includes the interesting little historical museum with artifacts from antiquity to the 16th century.

Alberoni Beach, Lido, Venice

The long (12-kilometer) strip of sand that separates the Venetian lagoon from the Adriatic Sea was Europe's first real beach resort, and in its heyday, at the turn of the 20th century, was Europe's most fashionable watering hole for royalty and the day's celebs. Today, the grand hotels where they reposed still welcome guests and still own the beautiful fine-sand beaches, although for a price you can share them with hotel guests.

Public beaches are at the north end of the island, near the church of San Nicolo, where relics of St. Nicholas are revered. After considerable controversy between Venice and Bari, which also claims the saint's relics, it has been established by an anatomical expert that both have an equal claim; about half the skeleton, including the skull, is in Bari and the other half in Lido. The cloisters are lovely, and in the church are paintings by both Palma the Elder and Younger.

You can tour Lido on foot or a bicycle rented near the landing stage where the 10-minute Motonave or longer vaporetto ride from St. Mark's deposits you. The island is filled with Art Nouveau villas and hotels; to see the villas, wander along some of the side streets. In August and September, the Lido is the venue for the International Film Festival, held in the Palazzo del Cinema.

Lido Di Venezia map - Tourist attractions

Two churches in Venice are venues for concerts of classical music , both featuring the works of Venetian composer and virtuoso violinist, Antonio Vivaldi. One of these churches, Santa Maria della Pietà , was Vivaldi's own, where he taught and composed the music for major church feasts. Near Saint Mark's Square, it is a beautiful mid-18 th -century church.

The other church where you can hear concerts is San Vidal church, in Campo Santo Stefano, not far from the Academia bridge. Along with the concerts, the church is notable for its magnificent main altarpiece, San Vidal on Horseback with Eight Saints, painted in 1514 by Vittore Carpaccio. Concerts in both these venues feature "The Four Seasons" and other works by Vivaldi. 123

Contarini del Bovolo Palace

During the 15 th -century renovations of an earlier Gothic building near Campo Manin, a unique spiraling staircase was added to the outside, creating one of the city's most unusual places to visit. The staircase spirals upward, encased by a balustrade and a series of graceful arches that give it an almost delicate air. The building became known as the Contarini del Bovolo Palace , referring to the Venetian word for snail.

Alongside the round tower, a series of 5 layered loggias decreasing in height with each level provides access to the building's five stories. You can see the exterior from the courtyard, or climb the tower for views from the roofed terrace at the top.

Address: San Marco, Campo Manin

Galleria d'Arte Moderno and Museo d'Arte Orientale inside the Ca' Pesaro

The impressive façade of Ca' Pesaro overlooking the Grand Canal, was inspired by the Sansovino Library that stands across from the Doge's Palace, built a century earlier. The lavish Venetian Late Baroque interior contrasts sharply with the art displayed there, for the palazzo now houses the Galleria d'Arte Moderna.

One of Italy's finest collections of modern art, it contains works by important 19th- and 20th-century painters and sculptors including Gustav Klimt, Marc Chagall, and Auguste Rodin. Highlights include decorative arts of the 20 th century such as works in glass made by Carlo Scarpa in the 1930s and 1940s and rare furniture pieces by the cabinetmaker Carlo Bugatti.

The Museo d'Arte Orientale occupies the third floor of the palace, with collections of fine and applied arts from Asia. Highlights are the Chinese vases and Japanese enamels, porcelains, and armor of the Edo period.

Ca'Pesaro is reached by Vaparetto from the San Stae stop, at the church of Sant'Eustachio, more commonly known as San Stae. Step inside the church to see paintings by early 18th-century artists, including Tiepolo and Pellegrini.

Address: Santa Croce, Venice

The Arsenal and the Museum of Naval History

The Arsenal, the shipyard of the Venetian Republic, was the largest and busiest in the world until the end of the 17th century. From its founding in 1104, it was continuously expanded, until in its heyday, it employed as many as 16,000 workers.

Closely guarded to preserve the secret production methods that enabled it to build a fully sea-ready ship in a single day, the Arsenal was accessible by one land and one sea approach only. So tight was its security that the Republic managed to keep its art of shipbuilding secret until about 1550.

At its imposing land entrance is a Renaissance-style triumphal arch guarded by lions brought from Greece as booty after the reconquest of the Peloponnese in the 17th century. Of the two lions on the left, the larger one stood guard over the port of Piraeus, while its fellow stood on the road from Athens to Eleusis.

Adjacent to the shipyard is the Museum of Naval History , displaying impressive booty brought back from the numerous maritime wars of the Republic, along with fascinating collections that include votive paintings made on wood panels in thanks for rescues at sea. These charming pictures are interesting for their depiction of sea life, not so much for their artistic finesse.

Models and artifacts relate to shipbuilding, the types of vessels afloat in the period that Venice was a sea power, and the Republic's strongholds throughout the Adriatic. A large model of the legendary ship of state Bucintoro , the Doge's sumptuous official galley, is especially interesting.

Address: Riva degli Schiavoni, Castello, Venice

While it's nice to stay close to St. Mark's Square, or between there and the Rialto, it's not essential for sightseeing. Attractions are all fairly close, and you'll have to walk between them anyway. Just as important is how close the hotel is to a Vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal. In addition to hotels near San Marco and San Zaccaria stops, consider those near Salute and Academia stops in Dorsoduro. Here are some highly rated and convenient hotels in Venice:

Luxury Hotels :

  • Only a few steps from the Salute stop and one stop from St. Mark's, Ca' Maria Adele is a lush island of serenity near the Guggenheim Collection, with antiques-furnished rooms and superb guest services.
  • The Gritti Palace, A Luxury Collection Hotel was once the home of a Venetian Doge, and its large, sumptuously appointed rooms (some with balconies) overlook the Grand Canal or a quiet piazza close to St. Mark's.
  • Set on a small canal less than two minutes' walk from Piazza San Marco, Bauer Palazzo could hardly have a more convenient location for tourists. Opulent appointments include marble floors and Murano glass chandeliers; guest rooms and the rooftop terrace overlook views of the Grand Canal and other landmarks.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • Elegant and luxurious Hotel Ai Cavalieri di Venezia is also a walk from the Rialto stop, but well located near attractions.
  • Londra Palace could hardly be better located, a three-minute walk from St. Mark's at the San Zaccaria stop, with balconies overlooking the lagoon; breakfast is included.
  • The large rooms at NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci overlook the Grand Canal, at the San Angelo vaporetto stop.

Budget Hotels:

  • In a quiet neighborhood of Santa Croce, a short walk from a Vaporetto stop, about 20 minutes from Rialto and close to a good choice of restaurants, Hotel Tiziano has comfortable rooms and includes breakfast.
  • Rio Venezia Hotel is just behind St. Mark's, a block off the Grand Canal.
  • Also just steps from St. Mark's, Hotel Orion is on the shortest route to Rialto.

Exploring the Islands:

  • A highlight for most travelers is a visit to the islands of Murano and Burano. The easiest way to explore these islands is on a five-hour guided Murano Glass and Burano Lace Tour from Venice , which includes motorboat transport to the islands, with visits to a glassblowing factory on Murano and lace makers on Burano.

Sightseeing and Gondola Rides :

  • Venice is a little bit of a maze, and if you have limited time, taking a guided tour is a good idea. The Venice Walking Tour and Gondola Ride includes the best of both worlds, with an opportunity to learn the history of the sites as you wander the city and then relax and enjoy the scenery on a gondola ride.
  • Alternatively, to just soak up some of the ambience, skip the walking piece and see the sites from the water on a 35-minute shared gondola ride while being serenaded on the Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade .
  • A third option, the Venice Super Saver: Skip-the Line Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica Tours, Venice Walking Tour and Grand Canal Cruise offers priority admission to the two must-see sights with the longest lines, a guided walking tour that takes you to some of Venice's secret sights, and a water-taxi cruise along the Grand Canal.

Good to Know

  • Beginning in 2025, day visitors will be charged an access tax of between €6 and €10, depending on the season and expected tourist numbers. Visitors staying overnight in Venice already pay a lodging tax of €1 to €5 per person per night for the first 5 nights.
  • If you plan to use the Vaporetto, either on the Grand Canal or to visit the islands of Murano, Burano, Lido and Torcello, ACTV transit passes are a good value. Single fares are €9.50, and a full-day pass is €25, less than the cost of three single rides. Multiple day passes save even more: 2 days for €25, 3 days for €45 and €65 for an entire week.
  • While Venetians are quite tolerant of the masses of tourists that pour in every day, the city has some rules for visitor behavior. While these are not uniformly enforced, recent violations have resulted in steep fines. Some that you should be aware of include prohibitions on picnicking in a public place, buying from street vendors, lying down on a public bench, putting padlocks on bridges, and leaning against store fronts.

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Where to Go near Venice : After you've visited the city's top tourist attractions, you may want to explore some of the beautiful nearby towns. Only 20 kilometers away is pretty Treviso , enclosed by walls and with its own waterside villas. Padua , with its famous shrine of St. Anthony, is easy to reach by train or by a cruise along the historic Brenta Canal. Stop along the way at Villa Pisani, one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy .

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Places to Visit from Venice: North of Treviso are the soaring Dolomites, with some of the top ski resorts in Italy but with plenty of things to do in all seasons. Along the Adriatic to the east is Trieste , where Italian blends with Hapsburg architecture reminiscent of Vienna. Following the Adriatic coast south, you'll reach Ravenna , with its magnificent Byzantine mosaics.

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10 Reason why you should visit Venice, Italy

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40+ Venice Travel Tips for First Timers & Must Knows Before You Go

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The iconic city of Venice, Italy is one of those few destinations that requires no introduction. Famed the world over for its dreamy gondola-filled canals, this historic city (built over 100 islands) is the stuff of pure bucket list dreams, with a legion of obsessed fans all over the world.

And I get the obsession. Venice and I go way back. It’s the first city I ever visited in Europe, the first city where I ever missed a flight, and coincidentally where my boyfriend formally asked me to be his girlfriend… on Valentine’s Day, no less!

So believe me when I say I take it personally when people call Venice overrated.

I mean… can it be crowded and smelly in the summer? Yes. Can some restaurants and shops be wildly overpriced? Absolutely… but it’s still one of the most magical places in the world, so long as you do it right.

And after many repeat visits over the past decade, I think I’ve gotten a grasp on how to do Venice properly.

So, in this post, I’ll be sharing all my best Venice travel tips for first time visitors to help ensure you love this city as much as I’ve grown to. (Boyfriends sold separately)

Read on for my top Venice must-knows before you go.

venice italy why visit

Save this list of Venice Travel Tips for Later!

You’ll be very glad you did.

1. Venice in Italian is Venezia

First off, let’s get one thing straight: the glorious city known to us as Venice is actually known in Italian as Venezia.

This is the name you’ll see at train stations, bus stations, and scrawled across a staggering amount of souvenir shop hats.

SO, remember: Venice is Venezia, and they are not in fact two different places (a blunder that’s more common than you think!)

venice italy why visit

2. Learn some basic Italian before you go

On a similar note, I do think it’s important to learn some basic Italian before you go. 

Venice gets its fair share of rude tourists so locals often appreciate when you make the effort and knowing some basics can go a long way, like…

  • Hello (in the morning/afternoon):  Buongiorno (Bwon-JOOR-no) 
  • Hello (in the evening):  Buonasera (Bwon-ah-SAY-ruh)
  • Thank you:  Grazie (GRAHT-see-eh)

venice italy why visit

3. Stay overnight in Venice rather than do a day trip

Because of how pricey accommodation can be, many people opt to visit Venice as a day trip. 4 in 5 visitors in fact, according to some sources .

And if you’re considering that as an option, please picture me with a pouty face, stomping around and insisting you don’t.

Truthfully, 2-3 nights minimum is needed to get a feel for all that Venice has to offer, plus (even more crucially) staying in Venice overnight allows you to soak in the sights both early in the morning and late at night when crowds are at their lowest. In a city as busy as Venice, this bonus is invaluable!

Plus as of spring 2024, Venice will begin a trial of their controversial €5 entry fee for day trippers. So, save your money and your sanity – stay overnight! I promise it’s worth every penny.

venice italy why visit

4. Avoid visiting Venice during peak periods

Now, In terms of when to visit, the bad news is Venice doesn’t really have much of a quiet season at all.

That said, there are definitely aggressive peak seasons that I’d advise you avoid – namely summer, Easter & Carnival… unless your idea of a good time is waddling through narrow streets with a mosh pit of tourist-strangers .

Winter (outside of Carnival) is generally when you’ll find the least crowds in Venice.

Unfortunately though, this season brings more potential for rain, gloom, and floods, so to be safe, Spring and Fall are probably better times to go.

venice italy why visit

5. There are two airports close to Venice you can fly into

In terms of arriving in Venice, there is of course the Venice Marco Polo Airport which less than 5 miles away from the city centre, but there’s also the much smaller Treviso Airport which is about 25 miles away, and services budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air. 

For that reason, you can often find cheap flights that fly into this airport from other European countries, so it may be worth looking into if you’re visiting multiple countries on your trip.

venice italy why visit

6. Know that there’s many options for getting to Venice from Marco Polo Airport

From Marco Polo Airport, the quickest way to get into central Venice is booking a private water taxi, which comes at a hefty price tag starting at 120 euro minimum. For larger groups though, this might be worth it, especially because it only takes 30 minutes to get into the historic centre.

NOTE: If you want the airport water taxi experience for a cheaper price, you can also book individual slots here on a water taxi that you’ll then share with others.

Another much cheaper but slower option is to take the Alilaguna water bus, or vaporetto which has three potential routes that go to central Venice for only 15 euro… but takes over an hour.

And the final option is to take either a bus or a taxi which is slightly cheaper. It’s important to note though that the closest you can get to the historic centre on wheels is Piazzale Roma , and from there you’ll either need to finish the journey on foot or hop on a water bus or taxi anyway, so it’s probably not the best option unless you’re staying super close to there.

In any case, I would ask your accommodation the best way to get there and they’ll be able to advise.

venice italy why visit

7. Know there’s many options for getting to Venice from Treviso Airport

From Treviso Airport, while there are some buses and shuttles you can book, again the closest you can get to the historic centre will be Piazzale Roma. So, bear in mind you’ll need a plan to get from there to your accommodation!

In any case, if you don’t mind transferring, the cheapest option from Treviso is actually a combination of a bus and then train into Venice.

venice italy why visit

8. Beware of the two ‘Venezia’ train stations

On that note, apart from flying, an easy way to arrive in Venice is by taking the train. Venice is superbly well connected to the rest of Bella Italia through the Italian rail network which has an impressive 2000+ stations to choose from.

If you do take the train though, beware of a common tourist mistake that many first time visitors fall into: there are actually two stations that begin with Venezia – Venezia Santa Lucia and Venezia Mestre.

Venezia Santa Lucia is the central train station in Venice’s historic centre, right by the Grand Canal. In most cases, this is the one you’ll want to go to.

venice italy why visit

Venezia Mestre on the other hand is located on the mainland and is where you’ll find a lot of admin buildings… but also locals, because (surprise!) it’s much cheaper to live there.

Odds are, unless you’re staying in Mestre, you won’t have much reason to disembark at Venezia Mestre Station , so make sure you’re looking out for Venezia Santa Lucia Station, and you don’t accidentally get off early.

venice italy why visit

9. Remember you can’t drive in Venice

Now, the last option for arriving in Venice is by car but again, remember: no cars are allowed in Venice’s historic centre. It’s part of what makes this city so aggressively charming.

SO, if you drive to Venice, you will need to leave the vehicle at a pricey parking lot on the outskirts of the city during your stay. So, it’s not really an option I’d recommend unless Venice is just part of a big road trip you’re doing that includes other destinations.

venice italy why visit

10. Know the pros and cons of staying in historic Venice vs. on the mainland

Now let’s chat about where to stay.

When choosing accommodation, the two main areas to consider in Venice proper are either the historic centre or Mestre (the mainland bit where options tend to be cheaper).

venice italy why visit

If budget allows, staying in the historic centre is ideal because then you can easily explore Venice before and after the day trip crowds. It’s also much dreamier to be staying in the city, and is the option I’d recommend to any first timer.

… If you really can’t resist a hotel deal in Mestre though, don’t fret – you’re only a short train/boat ride away from Venice proper.

venice italy why visit

11. Understand the pros and cons of Venice’s different neighbourhoods

Alright – now it’s time to get our bearings with Venice’s historic centre, which is actually more fun than in most cities, because this magical city happens to be shaped like an actual fish.

… Oh yes. What a plaice.

Anyways, this historic centre of Venice is divided into six districts known as sestieri , arranged fishily like so:

venice italy why visit

If money is no object, staying in the belly of the fish is going to put you in close proximity to most major sights, with San Polo and San Marco being the priciest and busiest neighbourhoods.

Dorsoduro (bottom belly, I guess) is also a great choice, with some more affordable options and some quieter pockets as well.

venice italy why visit

If your goal is avoiding crowds though, the tail of the fish, Castello , is the largest of the sestieri and also the quietest, relatively speaking. 

And in terms of transport links, the most convenient areas are Cannaregio , the head of the fish which is home to Santa Lucia train station and Santa Croce, the fish nostrils, which is home to the transport hub Piazzale Roma… but of course, the vibes here may not feel as classic historic Venice as many visitors want.

NOTE: Some visitors may choose to stay at another island in the Venetian lagoon for a quieter and more affordable experience, but again, I’d really recommend staying in historic Venice for your first trip just to make the most of your time there.

Overall, there are lots of pros and cons to all these sestieri . If you’re stuck on finding the best place for you, check out my guide to finding the best accommodation every time to help narrow down your choices.

venice italy why visit

12. Pack light

Out of all the Venice travel tips I’m sharing in this post, packing light is possibly the most important.

I get it – maybe you want to bring a bunch of ballgowns for the most epic photoshoot of your life… or maybe you need space to hoard magnets. Either way, you might need to rethink how much you bring.

Not only do water taxis and boats have restrictions on how much luggage you can bring on board, you’re almost always guaranteed to end up carrying your bags on your own at some point, whether to get up on a bridge, on or off boats, etc.

So, don’t bring any bags you can’t reasonably carry yourself.

venice italy why visit

13. There are many options for navigating Venice via boat

By now, you should realize there’s only two ways to really get around Venice: on foot or on water.

In terms of water transportation, the cheapest option is to go by Vaporetto , which are like public water buses. One way tickets are quite steep at €9.50, so I’d advise buying a TravelCard that includes unlimited travel for set time periods like 24h, 48h, 72h or a week.

You can also book a Motoscafo or private water taxi that will cost significantly more, with trips within the city often going for 70 euro or more.

Of course there’s the world famous gondolas too, but do note that these are more for sightseeing than actual transportation, so we’ll discuss them later.

venice italy why visit

14. Don’t be too reliant on GPS in Venice

For shorter distances, the better way to get around Venice is (in my opinion) on foot.

One important thing to note however is that GPS services like Google Maps don’t work very well in Venice, with the blue dot often very confused as to where you really are amidst the city’s sea of centuries-old buildings.

So, if you’re highly Google Maps-dependent like me, it’s time to practice some old school navigation skills. Plan your route with landmarks and street names! Take note of your route as you go! Leave a trail of breadcrumbs! (But don’t.. because Venetian pigeons are scary)

In any case, remember to not rely on Google Maps, and plan your routes accordingly. Having a backup offline map downloaded or a paper map is also probably a good idea.

venice italy why visit

15. Add additional time buffers and assume you’ll get lost

Another silly but helpful Venice navigation tip?

Just assume you’ll get lost. Honestly. Because you will!

And if you assume it’ll happen, then you’ll ensure you have extra time buffers between booked activities, thereby minimizing stress and saving the family vacation. Yay!

venice italy why visit

16. Get your bearings by using Venice’s unique street signs

When trying to find your way around, your best friend in Venice (besides me, of course) will be the city’s unique street signs, known as nizioleti , which are beautifully painted on the walls of buildings.

… The trouble? Nizioleti can be deceptively confusing, because Venice has many unique terms for streets and places that aren’t familiar to most visitors.

So, here’s a quick crash course!

The most common word you’ll see is Calle which refers to a typical street. Some variations of this you might see include:

  • Calle Larga , which means wide street and
  • Calleta, which means a narrow street

In any case, this term generally applies to streets that have buildings on both sides. 

venice italy why visit

This is in contrast to a Fondamenta which is a canalside street that has a building on one side and a canal on the other.

Similarly, a Riva is a street that has buildings on one side and then a larger expanse of water on the other side.

venice italy why visit

Ramo is a small side street that often leads to a dead end and Sotoportego are unique passageways that go under buildings.

venice italy why visit

And you’ll also see other terms used for street that don’t really have as much to do with the physical properties of the street itself, but rather makes reference to its history, like…

  • Salizada for instance is a word used for some of the city’s most historically important streets, and therefore the ones that were paved with cobblestones first
  • Rio Tera refer to streets that used to be canals before they were filled to make streets, and
  • Ruga are streets that used to be filled with compacted soil so your shoes wouldn’t get dirty

venice italy why visit

There’s also Campo which refers to a typical Venetian square. Unlike other places in Italy where the word piazza tends to be used for Square, Venice has only one Piazza, Piazza San Marco or Saint Mark’s Square.

venice italy why visit

The word Ponte means bridge, and you’ll see this one a lot because Venice has hundreds.

And lastly, the word used for most Venetian waterways is actually Rio, whereas Canal is reserved only for the big ones like the Grand Canal.

venice italy why visit

To get your bearings, you can look for signs with a red frame and lettering, which usually have an arrow pointing you in the general direction of famous landmarks. There are also some special yellow ones as well that do the same job.

The word “per” in these cases translates to “for” so, this way FOR Rialto Bridge.

venice italy why visit

17. Book big must-do attractions in advance

Now, let’s move onto Venice attraction tips!

As I mentioned before, no matter when you go to Venice, it’ll be busy, so if you have your heart set on any attractions, pre-booking is essential. You can do so online at a variety of places, like here:

  • (Recommended!) Venice Passes & Bundles
  • Doge’s Palace
  • St Mark’s Basilica
  • St Mark’s Bell Tower
  • Classic Gondola Ride

For timed attractions, I would advise booking either the first possible time slot or the final one if your goal is to minimize crowds.

For untimed attractions, I would aim to either be there when it opens or just before it closes, because the middle of the day is almost always going to be the busiest time.

venice italy why visit

18. Book a sunrise tour

If your goal is to experience Venice like you own the place, walking around at sunrise is pretty much the only way to do it.

I booked a summer sunrise tour of Venice years ago and still think it’s one of the best things I ever did in the city. Getting to see all of Venice’s main squares and canals void of people was absolutely priceless.

And while sadly, the tour I took doesn’t seem to be offered anymore, there’s still a few alternatives, like this one that that includes breakfast.

venice italy why visit

19. Or book an after-hours tour

On the other hand, if you’re more of a night owl than an early bird, you can also look into after hour tours for certain attractions which get you entry after they close to the general public.

Here’s one for instance that gets you into St Mark’s Basilica after hours.

venice italy why visit

20. Choose the right sightseeing pass for Venice

Now if you’re hoping to save money during your visit in Venice, one thing to consider is getting a sightseeing pass ( you can browse some options here ).

Confusingly, Venice has several and the best choice for you will depend on which specific attractions you’ll see and how long you’re going to be in the city.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most popular options:

  • Venice Pass : Probably the best deal for most 1st timers because it includes a lot of attractions like St Mark’s Basilica, Doges’ Palace and also a gondola ride, plus many other attractions.
  • Venice Discovery Pass : Includes key attractions plus public transport on Vaporetto boats, including to and from the airport.
  • Venezia Unica City Pass: Includes Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs and Armory, plus extra churches and museums

Overall, if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, one of these passes would probably be worth it.

To choose which one, I would write down my top must-do activities and the duration of my stay, then see which pass fits those needs best.

venice italy why visit

21. Go beyond the main popular attractions in Venice

Of course, like in many major cities, some of the most charming parts of Venice can be found beyond the most famous sights.

In Venice, some wonderful gems to explore include…

  • Liberia Acqua Alta : One of the world’s most beautiful bookstores which has a really cool section in the back with displays made of ruined books. This isn’t so much a secret anymore but it’s still very cool!
  • Free rooftop terrace at Fondaco dei Tedeschi : Beautiful and free views that you have to book in advance here

… As well as plenty of museums that many visitors miss, so be sure to do a bit of extra research to find cool hidden gems!

venice italy why visit

22. Remember: Gondola prices are fixed

Now, let’s move onto gondola tips for Venice. The first thing to keep in mind is that prices for gondolas are actually fixed, so there’s no room for negotiation.

According to the official City of Venice regulations, gondolas can fit up to 5 adults at once and as of October 2023 cost a fixed rate of €80 for a 30 minute ride during the day, and €100 at night.

NOTE: If you don’t mind sharing with strangers, a more budget-friendly way to get a gondola ride may be booking a seat for yourself like through here .

venice italy why visit

23. Gondolas take different routes so choose wisely

Now, while gondolas all cost the same, it’s important to note that they don’t take the exact same routes, so be sure to ask the gondolier beforehand where they go, and try to make sure it’s a combination of both smaller canals and also the big iconic must-sees.

BONUS TIP: Be sure to also vet the vibe of your gondolier, because that can make a huge difference in your experience. The last thing you want is a grumpy gondolier that seems to despise everything about you…

Venice by Christina Guan

24. Try to time your gondola ride for the morning

Especially if you’re visiting in the summer, I would time your gondola ride for the morning because…

  • a) It’s the least busy time
  • b) It’ll be less hot (there’s no shade on these gondolas!)
  • c) Morning is when gondoliers will likely be in their best moods

venice italy why visit

25. Consider boarding your gondola in a quieter part of town

Of course, you can expect that line-ups for gondolas around the Grand Canal area will be the worst, so if you don’t mind visiting quieter less “famous” canals, then I’d advise starting your gondola ride elsewhere for a more peaceful experience overall.

venice italy why visit

26. Board a Traghetto for a budget-friendly boat ride

Now, if gondolas feel overly pricey, then there’s still another way you can get a boat ride experience in Venice for a fraction of the cost. 

Enter the almighty Traghetto!

These boats whisk locals and tourists alike across the Grand Canal for the low, low price of €2. That’s right, you could literally ride the Traghetto back and forth forty times for the price of one scenic gondola…

Now, is it the same experience? Obviously not. A Traghetto ride is fairly short, and involves a larger less opulent boat. But for the price of a bottle of water? It’s not a bad budget hack at all.

venice italy why visit

27. Consider booking a rowing lesson instead of a gondola ride

Lastly on the boat front (because wow, I didn’t realize I had this many boat-related Venice tips), consider booking a lesson with Row Venice if you’re hoping to get out on the water in a non-touristy fashion.

This unique (non-profit) company offers rowing lessons and tours that allow you to traverse Venice’s iconic waterways in a way that most tourists never get to experience – with you in control!

The cost is on par with a regular day time gondola ride, except the lessons last 90 minutes so you’re on the water for the triple the time. Definitely worth looking into if you’re looking for unique things to do in Venice.

venice italy why visit

28. Avoid dining in St Mark’s Square

Alright, now it’s time to tackle Venice food tips!

First off – as enticing as they look, do avoid the fancy restaurants in St Mark’s Square.

While the views and vibes are immaculate (with someone playing the Godfather theme on the accordion at all times, it seems), the restaurants here are well known tourist traps with inflated prices and often poor food quality.

If you do want to enjoy the atmosphere though, maybe opt for a coffee or drink instead, then eat elsewhere.

venice italy why visit

29. Dine far away from major tourist attractions

On a similar note, I would try to dine as far away as possible from major tourist attractions for the same reason.

Most of the time, these restaurants cater to tourists and don’t prioritize good service or quality since you probably won’t come back anyway.

I find that quality and prices tend to improve dramatically once you find yourself outside of the main tourist hotspots, so be sure to shop around and when in doubt, look at reviews.

venice italy why visit

30. Only go to restaurants with prices

Another important Venice must-know? Always make sure prices are on clear display before you commit to a restaurant.

Over the years, there have been many headlines like this one about Venetian restaurants overcharging tourists for meals… and getting away with it. So don’t let that be you!

A common trick is they charge pricey items like seafood by weight, so pay special attention to that.

venice italy why visit

31. Look out for ‘Venezia Autentica’ restaurants/businesses

If you’re stuck and need a quick frame of reference, there’s an organization known as Venezia Autentica that aims to support and highlight authentic local businesses that are run responsibly.

So when in doubt, you can always look out for their stickers or browse their website for ideas.

venice italy why visit

32. Try Venetian dishes while in Venice

Now another important Venice food tip is to try traditional Venetian cuisine over stereotypical “Italian foods” like pizza or pasta. 

I know that sounds blasphemous, but hear me out: wood fire pizza ovens are for the most part banned in Venice, so good pizza is in pretty short supply… plus Venetian cuisine doesn’t tend to focus much on pasta.

Instead, try some local dishes, like for instance…

Cichetti: These are little bite-sized dishes you can eat with your hands or a toothpick, usually for €1-3 each. They come in a huge variety so they’re great for tasting lots of local flavours in one go and are common when you go to a Bacaro which are cozy traditional Venetian taverns.

venice italy why visit

A popular dish commonly seen at a Bacaro is Sarde in Saor (Sardayn Sour) which are fried sardines served with vinegar and onion.

venice italy why visit

Venetians are also big on risotto, with a soupier iteration known as Risi e bisi which is rice and peas, that is very popular.

venice italy why visit

… Also very popular is polenta, which is paired with a variety of dishes like small lagoon shrimp (like in Polenta e shcie ) and liver (like in Fegato alla veneziana ).

venice italy why visit

And if you feel you may combust without pasta on this trip (no judgement), try Bigoli which is a classic Venetian pasta that’s like thick spaghetti, often served as Bigoli in salsa which means with an onion and fish sauce.

venice italy why visit

33. Bring a refillable bottle because there’s free water fountains

If you have a free second between inhaling all those delicious Venetian classics, another important must-know is to stay hydrated.

Luckily, staying hydrated in Venice is free!

All over the city, you’ll find many free drinking fountains offering clean and drinkable water, so bring a refillable bottle and take advantage.

venice italy why visit

34. Read up on more general Italy food and drink tips

There are many more general food tips I could tell you about Italy, but then we’d be here forever.

SO I’d recommend reading my full Italy travel tips post for more info on things like coffee etiquette, the structure of a typical Italian menu, and many more delicious secrets.

venice italy why visit

35. Take note of English/Italian names of landmarks and places

Now once you arrive in Venice, there are a few things you must know.

Firstly – keep in mind that the Italian and English names of places are often used interchangeably, so it’s helpful to remember that these are indeed the same places, for instance…

  • Piazza San Marco = St Mark’s Square
  • Palazzo Ducale = Doge’s Palace
  • Ponte di Rialto = Rialto Bridge

venice italy why visit

36. Be prepared to pay for public toilets 

Public toilets in Venice can often cost as much as €1.50, so if you’re a total cheapskate like me, remember to use the toilet whenever you have an opportunity to so like at the hotel, at a restaurant or at museums.

Also be sure to keep coins on you so you can pay for these public toilets when needed.

venice italy why visit

37. Beware of pickpockets 

Unfortunately, Venice is a very popular city with many potential easy targets for pickpockets, so you’ll encounter a fair few in busy areas.

So, be vigilant and make sure you keep a hand and eye on your belongings.

… And read my full guide on how to avoid pickpockets in Europe for more guidance!

38. Don’t feed the pigeons 

Besides selfie sticks and sunburns, the most common thing you’ll see in St Mark’s Square is pigeons. And lots of ’em.

More than likely, you may also witness a tourist feeding and taking photos with said pigeons. Please refrain from doing this as it’s a banned and fineable offense … which also happens to be fairly gross.

venice italy why visit

39. Don’t swim in or touch canal water

Speaking of gross, another Venice must know is that you should never under any circumstance touch the canal water or try to swim in it.

Not only is the water really dirty and often laced with sewage, it’s (also) a fineable offense of a few hundred euro.

venice italy why visit

40. Look for artisan shops to support

Another important Venice tip? When shopping for souvenirs, do go to small artisan shops rather than buy cheap copies from typical souvenir stalls.

Anywhere really close to big touristy squares or attractions are likely to have mass produced goods that aren’t of great quality. So, make sure you shop around for goods that are handmade – they’ll definitely last longer!

venice italy why visit

41. Don’t be tempted by the fake designer goods 

On a similar note, you may see some people in Venice selling fake designer bags on the street.

Not only are these (of course) low quality copies, it’s also illegal in Italy to buy counterfeit goods, so beware of that.

NOTE: These salespeople can be very persistent, so the best course of action is to simply not engage at all.

venice italy why visit

42. Don’t randomly stop to take photos and block the way

This can be very frustrating for everyone involved, so just be mindful that you’re not the only person in Venice and you should get out of the way if you want to stop for photos.

venice italy why visit

43. Do a day trip to the nearby islands in the Venetian lagoon

Lastly, if you have time, make sure you explore more of the Venetian Lagoon besides just Venice!

Burano for instance is this gorgeous rainbow island that is honestly one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been to. You can learn more about the best things to do in Burano in my full guide, or read my Venice to Burano guide for guidance.

There’s also the similarly named Murano, which is well known for its artisan glass production, as well as several more islands with their own draws, so be sure to leave some room in your itinerary for exploring further!

venice italy why visit

I hope you enjoyed those Venice travel tips! 

Let me know in the comments if you have any more Venice must-knows to add. Safe and happy travels! 🙂

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1 thought on “40+ Venice Travel Tips for First Timers & Must Knows Before You Go”

I’ve never been to Venice before, but it’s on my list for next year so I’ve been searching for first timers guides! Some super handy tips in here 🙂

C x Lux Life London

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venice italy why visit

Lara D'Agostino / TripSavvy

There's no place on earth like Venice , Italy. This city built on the waters of the Adriatic Sea is dreamlike with its elaborate architecture, art-filled palaces, a palpable history that dates back over 1,000 years and, of course, its network of picturesque, flood-prone canals.

Venice consists of a tight cluster of islands around the Grand Canal, an iconic waterway plied by gondolas , water taxis, and canal boats. And since there are no cars in the city (or roads for that matter), you must walk or take a boat to see its many sites. But exploring is slow-paced and pleasant—there is never any shortage of attractions and curiosities, from museum hopping to island jaunts, no matter what time of year you come.

People Watch in St. Mark's Square

At the heart of Venice is the ever-bustling St. Mark's Square. Always packed with food-seeking pigeons, sightseers, and cafe-goers alike, the iconic plaza is optimal for kicking back with a caffè and admiring the way Italians (and wide-eyed foreigners) go about their days. Also called Piazza San Marco, this central meeting place is a grand example of Venetian society. Look for an eatery with live music, but beware of cover charges that may be automatically charged to your bill.

Climb to the Top of St. Mark’s Campanile

In St. Mark's Square, St. Mark’s Campanile towers more than 300 feet above the crowd. Many will stop to take a picture of the lofty bell tower, perched majestically beside the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark, never bothering to take the elevator to the top for an unmatched view of Venice from above. The Campanile di San Marco is, indeed, the tallest, most commanding landmark in the city.

Shop for Books at Libreria Acqua Alta

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Libreria Acqua Alta is not your average bookstore. Rather, it's one that looks to be fully equipped for Venice's frequent, relentless flooding. The name itself translates to "Book Store of High Water." Books by the thousands are piled into bathtubs and even a full-sized gondola, creating a quirky, almost comical sight. The book seller offers a slew of vintage titles, plus a couple of resident cats to play with.

Try Venetian Gelato

Gelato is as much a culinary staple of Italy as pizza and pasta, and Venice keeps the frozen dessert flowing in large quantities. Some of the top institutions for it are La Mela Verde ("Green Apple"), offering flavors like ricotta in a cone or ice cream sandwich; Gelateria Nico , located along the Giudecca Canal for a scenic sweet-eating setting; and Venchi , a 19th-century chocolate company.

Escape the Crowds in Castello

Castello is the largest of Venice's six sestieri , and one not often visited by the tourist set. While one side of it borders the buzzy St. Mark’s Square, the other side is delightfully laidback and—believe it or not—quiet. This is where the locals live. An afternoon spent in Castello calls for browsing independent businesses, stumbling into a food market, and mingling with Venetians on locals-only turf.

Tour Palazzo Ducale

Christopher Larson / TripSavvy

During the 1,000-year reign of the Republic of Venice, its headquarters—and the residence of its leader, "Duke" of Venice (or "the Doge")—was at the Palazzo Ducale . Now it's a museum, and you can get a glimpse inside the rooms once occupied by Venice's executive, legislative, and judicial branches. You can even book a Secret Itineraries Tour , which includes access to torture chambers, prisons, and the  Bridge of Sighs . The museum is huge, so allocate several hours to your visit and map out your sights before you head inside.

Attend a Mass at Basilica San Marco

This superb example of Byzantine architecture next to the Palazzo Ducale is dedicated to Venice's patron, the apostle Saint Mark. Attending a traditional Catholic mass at this multi-domed church is a bucket-list experience for those of the faith. But if you're not quite the churchgoing type, book a tour instead and marvel over the treasures inside—glistening Byzantine mosaics, paintings by leading Venetian artists, and more.

Cross the Famous Rialto Bridge

This ornamental stone bridge on the Grand Canal is one of the most famous bridges in Venice . The city's first-built bridge, it leads the way to the famous Rialto Market, where vendors sell fresh-picked produce, freshly caught fish, spices, and more. A stroll over the bridge will put you in the heart of Venice's crowds—of both the tourist and local variety—but the lively atmosphere of the city's commercial and financial hub is one not to be missed.

Visit the Gallerie dell'Accademia di Venezia

Lara D'agostino / TripSavvy

Founded in 1750, the Gallerie dell'Accademia di Venezia was the nesting place for an academy of painters and sculptors. Today, it is the best museum for viewing preserved Venetian art from the 14th to 18th centuries. See works from Renaissance artists like Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto, Titian, and Giambattista. The museum's collection of art encompasses upward of 800 paintings. Buy tickets online and book a private guide for the best experience.

See the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Modern art lovers will enjoy the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, one of the first contemporary art museums in Italy. The museum houses the treasured works of 20th-century leaders in painting such as Pollock, Klee, Mondrian, and de Chirico. Housed in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni—an unfinished 18th-century palace—this museum was once Peggy Guggenheim's lavish residence.  Check the website for seasonal events and to buy tickets online. 

Take a Gondola Ride

For many Venice visitors, taking a gondola ride is an expensive splurge. But it can be quite romantic and memorable to experience quintessential Venice in this way. Pick a gondola service that brings you away from the hustle-bustle of the Grand Canal and, instead, explores the city's network of narrow waterways. Pass under Venice's famous bridges and take in buildings from a different perspective. For a more economical option, book a group ride of up to six people and split the fee. You can also arrange a ride through your hotel, but they may charge a nominal fee on top of the gondola service fare. 

Watch Now: 8 Things to Know Before Taking a Gondola Ride

Attend the venice biennale.

Andrew Latreille / ArcaidImages / Getty Images

The Biennale Art Exposition happens in Venice every other year and lasts from June through November. This tradition, which dates back to 1895, is an essential part of the Venice art scene. Peruse the Giardini Pubblici (the Public Gardens) to see the installments of artists from more than 30 different countries. There is also a biennale exposition of architecture and theatre, which occurs every other even-numbered year. Either way, Biennale always promises a jolt of contemporary in this old-world city.

Learn About Glass Making on Murano

Lauren Breedlove / TripSavvy

In a 13th-century effort to reduce the risk of fires in the city, Venice's glassmakers were ordered to move to the island of Murano. Today, this Venetian outpost is a world-famous destination for colorful, hand-blown glass, from simple trinkets to enormous chandeliers. Take the 4.2 Vaporetto water bus from St. Mark's Square to Murano to attend a glass-blowing demo and watch the art form in action. And don't pass up the Museum of Glass where you'll learn about the history of glassmaking.

Discover Lace Making on Burano

Christopher Larson / TripSavvy

The number 12 Vaporetto from stop Nove A in Cannaregio will connect you to Burano, a Venetian lagoon island known for its handmade lace and brightly colored houses. Historians say the houses are painted technicolor so that fisherman returning home in the fog-filled lagoon can see them through the mist. Also located on the island is the historic Lace Museum ( Museo del Merletto di Burano ) housed in the Burano Lace School, which was operable from 1872 to 1970. Here you can view rare and precious works of lace, from its origins to the present day. 

Wander Ancient Torcello

Now largely abandoned, the island of Torcello once rivaled Venice in population and importance. Today, it's one of the most visited islands of Venice, popular for the Byzantine mosaics in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell'Assunta. You can also stroll walking paths on the island, most of which are included in a nature preserve. Spend the night at the upscale Locanda Cipriani or at the Bed and Breakfast Ca' Torcello. If a stay doesn't suit your itinerary, try combining Torcello with a day trip to Burano. 

Visit Venice's Jewish Ghetto

In ancient times, Venice's Jewish population was forced to live in a segregated area of the city (in fact, the word "ghetto" allegedly originated in Venice ). The two parts of the ghetto, Ghetto Vecchio (the old section) and Ghetto Nuovo (the new section) are both in Cannaregio, about a 25-minute walk from San Marco. Jewish community members still inhabit this quiet area, home to two synagogues and several Kosher restaurants .

Hit the Beach on Lido di Venezia

Take a break from the densely packed crowds of Venice and catch Vaporetto 1 to Lido di Venezia, a lagoon barrier island lined with sandy beaches. There, you'll find shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels that are often less expensive than those in Venice proper. And going to the beach is free, as most of the sand that runs from Gran Viale Santa Maria Santa Elisabetta to the Hotel Excelsior is public. However, if you'd like to beat the crowds, rent a hut from one of Lido's private beach clubs.

Tour the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute

The Basilica Santa Maria della Salute was built in the 17th century and dedicated to Saint Mary for delivering residents from the plague. (The church's nickname is simply Salute , or "health.") It sits on the point in Dorsoduro and can be seen from Piazza San Marco. The place of worship is deemed a remarkable example of Baroque-style architecture and the interior features several Titian works.

Wade Through the Acqua Alta

The Acqua Alta , "high water," is a phenomenon that occurs frequently in Venice during extremely high tides. These tides flood the city's streets and squares, usually during fall, and can be best experienced in Piazza San Marco. The event is typically triggered by lunar cycles, low-pressure systems, or high winds. Venetians take it in stride, and so should you. Just grab some rubber boots sold at souvenir stands and wade around the city.

Explore the Rialto Fish Market

Located in the San Polo sestiere shortly past the Rialto Bridge, this authentic fish market features more varieties of fish and shellfish than you can even imagine. Most fresh catches are delivered each day by fishing boats that ply the lagoon and the adjacent Adriatic Sea. This ancient market also has stalls that sell a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables. The market is open every morning except Sunday.

Based on the original article by Melanie Renzulli

Glass of Venice. "History of Murano Glass." Retrieved April 21, 2021

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There's nowhere like it in the world. A magical (car-free) city that rises out of the water like a fantasy film set. Elegant Renaissance palazzi squeezed between grocery shops and wine bars. Churches hung with Renaissance art masterpieces. A canal view down every street. Gondolas weaving their way between ferries and transport barges. Sunset on the lagoon. Venice is everyone's dream city. — Gillian Price

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Is Venice worth visiting?

Travel Blog Last Updated · Jan 22nd, 2023 [post_author_posts_link] · [post_comments before=""] -->

Tourists enjoying a gondola ride at the Grand Canal in Venice

Table of Contents

Is Venice Worth Visiting?

Many travelers who are planning their dream trip to Europe are asking themselves (and more than ever): is Venice worth visiting?

Venice might be an overcrowded place during special annual occasions, such as the Carnival or the Venice Film Festival…

However, the city on the water is still one of the best Italian escapes in Europe, and we are going to explain exactly why.

Where is Venice?

Venice is the regional capital of Veneto. It’s located in the northeast of Italy, in a unique but strategic position.

Even if Venice is not on the mainland (located on 118 small islands), there are thousands of ways to visit the rest of the region and Italy from here!

From Venice Santa Lucia railway station you can easily get to Milan, Bologna , Florence, Rome , Naples and many other cultural destinations.

This means you can visit Venice, spend a couple of days in the city and then move to your next stop by train!

Not to forget, Venice Marco Polo airport is one of Italy’s major airports with flight connections all around Europe and the rest of the world.

Venice is located on small islands in the Venetian Lagoon of the Adriatic Sea. It’s connected by 435 bridges and in total, there are 176 canals crossing the city! We think this is a good reason to visit Venice alone.

Are there more? … Yes!

These are not the only reasons why it’s worth your time and energy. A trip to Venice can fulfill your dream of an immersive Italian escape.

See some of our reasoning behind why Venice is worth visiting:

5 Reasons to visit Venice, Italy

What other place on the planet can you admire the sunset on the lagoon and where you can take a gondola and cross the Grand Canal looking at ancient Byzantine and Gothic palaces as well as at the Rialto Bridge?

None that we know, but let’s not boast too much! Before we get carried away, let’s explore our 5 reasons why Venice is worth visiting.

The only city on the water in the world

Venice is known for being the only city on the water in the world and that’s the first reason why we believe Venice is worth visiting.

venice itinerary

There are villages and small towns all over the world built on the water, like in China, Mexico, and Senegal, but Venice is definitely the biggest and most beautiful one of all.

Venice lies in the heart of the Venice Lagoon, which extends over a length of 40 kilometers. Only a tiny percentage of the lagoon is constantly covered with water, the rest of it is either islands or “dead lagoon”.

The city itself is on the water, in order to create enough foundation, 25 meter-long oak trunks were stuck in the mud. These constitute the foundation that Venice was and is still built on.

The canals were waterways necessary to move around people and products coming from the mainland and from the Far East back in the glorious Serenissima Republic days.

Locals and visitors today get around Venice with gondolas, water taxis, and “vaporetto”, the local ferry, and get to other islands on the lagoon too.

Perfect destination for wine and food lovers

We all know Italy is famous for food and Venice makes no exception when it comes to Italian cuisine, you can find tasty food everywhere!

Italian Pasta served with wine in a restaurant at Venice, Italy

The motherland of the “Bellini” cocktail and the “bigoli in salsa”, pasta in anchovy sauce, here there’s a vast offer of gastronomic spots and food options for you to choose from.

Venice can satisfy every palate: you can even try the “bacari” tour, the traditional low-profile taverns run by Venetian people to experience the most authentic side of the city.

But also, chic restaurants and clubs scattered around canals, narrow streets, and venues modeled inside magnificent historical landmarks.

Why not stay at the H10 Palazzo Canova for an unforgettable evening?

You’ll be only a few minutes’ walk away from the Rialto Bridge and Market where the best restaurants and ‘bacari’ in Venice are situated.

Eating in Venice is all about high-quality fresh ingredients worked by the wise hands of prestigious chefs and local people.

These are the ones who have extensive knowledge of the traditional dishes and what edible delights the generous Adriatic Sea has to offer.

Ideal city break for art and history lovers

Venice is one of the best city breaks in Europe for art and history lovers. Just by walking around the city, you can see how old the history of Venice is and there are thousands of ways to learn more.

There is not one single place to learn about Venice’s history, but the San Marco Basilica is a good place to understand how the relationship between Venice and Byzantium was.

Depending on how many days in Venice you have, you’ll be able to explore the history as well as current-day events that are happening.

The Doge Palace helps you to get a sense of how was Venice during the Serenissima Republic and the Correr Museum to see how was Venice during the Napoleonic rule.

Many people visit Venice for its remarkable art collections. There is something for all tastes, from Renaissance masters such as Titian and Veronese to modern art from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Lovers of contemporary art can not miss the appointment with the Venice Biennale, which attracts the best artists from all over the world.

Historical events and festivals

Venice is worth visiting because it hosts some of the most important international festivals and a couple of well-known events worldwide.

Many travelers visit the famous Venice Carnival! Its origin dates back to the year 1162 to celebrate a military victory of the city at that time.

The Carnival is celebrated all around the city and many events are going on during the whole Carnival celebrations. It ends the Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) before the start of Lent.

There are still masks and costume makers around the city who want to keep alive the ancient tradition.

The other events not to miss in Venice are:

  • Venice Film Festival, for those passionate about movies and theatre;
  • The Festa del Redentore, the third Sunday of July, is a day to celebrate with fireworks the end of the terrible plague of 1576.
  • A stay at the hotel Al Redentore di Venezia on the Giudecca island where you can comfortably watch the Rendentore fireworks!
  • Venice Biennale, during which you can see artworks sparse all around the city;
  • The Regata Storica, taking place the first Sunday of September to celebrate one of the oldest traditions: the Venetian rowing;

Hidden gems in Venice

Would you agree that the landmarks and events mentioned up to now are great reasons why Venice is worth visiting?

venice bakery

If not, there’s more… Venice has a lot of hidden corners and secret places you shouldn’t miss, especially during an extended stay.

Firstly, do not miss a walk in the Jewish Ghetto and take the off-the-beaten way to reach the Castello district, the less-visited district in Venice where the Arsenale is based.

Check out the Hotel Nuovo Teson to be a few meters away from the Biennale and to enjoy the best bits of the Castello neighborhood.

On your way, you’ll see many local businesses such as bakeries, small book stores, and “osterie”.

We suggest spending money here when you want to taste traditional delicacies, to buy gifts from Italy or local handmade souvenirs.

Some hidden gems you can add to your Venice itinerary include:

  • Scala Contarini del Bovolo
  • Libreria Acqua Alta
  • Gardens and cloisters of San Francesco della Vigna
  • Calle Varisco, the narrowest street in Venice
  • Squero San Trovaso
  • Giudecca island
  • Oratorio dei Crociferi

We said all that to say, yes, we believe that Venice is worth visiting.

Venice is like an open-air museum, and this makes the city a perfect European break for all the art and history lovers out there.

You’ll find delicious food that satisfies all if you take the time to select a traditional restaurant or “bacaro” (always ask a local to avoid mistakes!).

If you’re looking to experience Venice and its festivities, as you can see, there’s quite a lot of choice. Just remember to consult an event calendar you can easily find online.

See our popular 1 day in Venice itinerary and let us know what you think about Venice and why it is worth visiting (in your opinion).

This post contains affiliate links, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase or sign up for a program, we may earn a commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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Art & Design Editor

Canaletto and Monet have immortalised it in oil paint, Giuseppe Cipriani created the Bellini in its honour and it was the backdrop for Henry James’ The Wings of a Dove . Venice is an inspiring, mystical city that’s steeped in history, wonderment and fantasy. Surrounded by water, it’s made up of 177 canals, over 400 bridges and 139 churches. Here, we pick the best things to do in the Italian city fondly know as Queen of the Adriatic .

1. piazza san marco (st mark’s square).

This public square is the perfect spot to take in St Mark’s Basilica in all its Byzantine glory; people watch from one of the many cafés and generally plan your Venice wanderings. Note – it often floods in the square so wellies should definitely be in your suitcase.

venice italy why visit

2. Libreria Acqua Alta

On Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa is this unusual and must-visit bookstore, where encyclopaedias become architectural features like a staircase, and gondolas and bathtubs are used to store and display old and new books.

venice italy why visit

3. Gallerie dell’Accademia

Over on Dorsoduro, just opposite one of the only two bridges crossing the grand canal is the Accademia which houses a rich collection of Venetian masterpieces by Renaissance greats such as Veronese and Tintoretto. They also exhibit temporary displays, like the recent showcase of American painter Philip Guston .

venice italy why visit

4. Fish Market

After you’ve taken in the glorious views of the Grand Canal from Rialto Bridge, be sure to take a few steps down into the Mercato di Rialto to get a glimpse at real Venetian life. Here the teaming fish and vegetable markets trade Tuesday through to Saturday, providing Venetian chefs and housewives alike with delicious produce.

venice italy why visit

1. Palazzo Fortuny

Art Gallery

The Palazzo Fortuny hosts temporary art exhibitions

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6. Venice Biennale

Since 1895 art aficionados and novices alike have been flocking to Venice for the Biennale di Venezia Arte that occurs very two years between May and November. As well as the stunning Giardini that’s filled with international pavilions and the impressive Arsenale, the Biennale also takes over Venetian palazzos and churches that you wouldn’t normally gain access to, making it the ideal time to explore an aspect of Venice that’s usually hidden. In 2018 the Biennale will host the 16th International Architecture Exhibition (May 26 to November 25, 2018) that consider Freespace.

Biennale Arte

7. Punta Della Dogana / Palazzo Grassi

The two impressive Venetian venues of French art collector, Francois Pinault, Punta Della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi are worthy architectural venues to visit in their own right. So the fact they also present an acclaimed exhibition programme, make them must-visit destinations when in the watery city. During the summer of 2017 they were transformed by Damien Hirst’s epic Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable exhibition, which alluded to the discovery of an ancient wreck and its many spoils. In 2018 you can delve into the world of German artist Albert Oehlen (Palazzo Grassi) and how artists take on the role of actor in Dancing With Myself at Punta Della Dogana.

Palazzo Grassi, Campo San Samuele 3231, Venice and Punta Della Dogana, Dorsoduro 2, Venice.

Installation view of Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable at Palazzo Grassi

Make sure you pack your bikini as you wouldn’t want to miss out on the opportunity of taking in the sun’s rays at Venice’s beach. Yes, as unlikely as it seems, Venice boasts a beautiful strip of coast – the Lido – that can turn you’re city trip into a beach getaway.

venice italy why visit

Known for its exquisite glass designs, the island of Murano has more to offer than just hoards of shops flogging an abundance of glass trinkets. Make sure you experience French artist Loris Gréaud’s wondrous installation, The Unplayed Notes Factory in a former Murano glass factory (until November 26, 2017).

Loris Gréaud, The Unplayed Notes Factory, 2017

10. V-A-C Foundation

The Russian foundation opened their first Venetian site in 2017 at Palazzo delle Zattere with a brilliantly diverse group show, Space Force Construction . Here, works by key Soviet artists from the 1920s and 1930s were brought into dialogue with contemporary artists. You could have your political views tested, meander through a pine tree forest and be dwarfed by an immersive Barbara Kruger installation. For 2018 The Electric Comma explores how language has changed and the impact of artificial intelligence.

Palazzo delle Zattere, Dorsoduro 1401, Venice.

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Surrounded), 2017

11. Palazzo Ca’Zenobio degli Armeni

During the Biennale is the perfect time to visit this impressive baroque palazzo in Dorsoduro – skipping both entry fee and the need to book. Unassuming from the outside, after the pretty garden, the building is most notable for its undeniably stunning ballroom with frescoes by French artist Louis Dorigny, mirror and trompe-l’oeil paintings. Palazzo Ca’ Zenobio, Dorsoduro 2596, Venice.

Courtesy Ca Zenobio

12. Fondazione Prada

As well as having spaces in Milan, the fashion house’s art foundation also resides in Venice and is a definite must-visit location, both for appreciating the 18th-century palazzo’s architecture but also for the impressive roster of exhibitions. Coinciding with this year’s Venice Biennale is the brilliantly immersive exhibition The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied (on until November 26, 2017) that brings the brilliant photographic work of Thomas Demand to life in a maze of mise-en-scène settings.

Installation view of The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied, 2017

13. Flooded Crypt of San Zaccaria

Flooding is to be expected in Venice, but the crypt at San Zaccaria has turned the annoyance of unwanted water into a celebratory spectacle.

Entrance via Campo San Zaccaria

venice italy why visit

14. Cini Foundation

Over on San Giorgio Maggiore, the Cini Foundation has multiple buildings with a host of must-see shows from Alighiero Boetti and Ettore Sottsass, to an outdoor sculptural installation by Pae White. Be sure not to miss the Faurschou Foundation’s presentation of Robert Rauschenberg and Warhol that focuses on their ingenious reinterpretation of printmaking as an art form, rather than just an industrial tool.

Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg at the Pergamon Museum, 1983

15. Palazzo Ducale

Overlooking St Mark’s Square is the Doge’s Palace , an impressive gothic wonder that has developed throughout the centuries. Once the seat of government, the city’s courtrooms, the Doge’s apartments and a jail, the palace is a must-see. Alongside the permanent displays, they’re currently presenting a fantastic Bosch exhibition with a virtual reality experience finale where you can step inside the weird worlds of the Flemish painter, as well as presenting work by contemporary British artist, Douglas Gordon (until November 24, 2017) in the cells of the former prison quarter.

venice italy why visit

16. HyperPavilion

Just a short boat ride to the northern side of the Arsenale, is HyperPavilion (on until October 30, 2017), a free group exhibition about the impact digital technology has had on art. Here, in three enormous historic warehouses, you’ll encounter immersive site-specific work ranging from film to sculpture that explore the hybridity of digital and physical worlds.

Lawrence Lek, Geomancer

17. Redentore Festival

Every year, the 400-year-old carnival takes over Venice in a frenzy of masked revellers. Created to celebrate the end of the plague, the Redentore (July 15–16, 2017) turns Venice into a musical bonanza. A 300-metre long pontoon is constructed from Zattere to Giudecca , so you can literally walk on water to the Palladio-designed Il Redentore church which was built by order of the Doge when the plague ceased in 1577. Venetian’s get into full party mode, decorating their terraces, feasting and dressing up in traditional costumes. The celebrations culminate in a giant firework display over the gondola-filled lagoon on Sunday night.

venice italy why visit

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Our immersive trips , led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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Venice entry fee in 2024: all you need to know

venice italy why visit

In spring 2024 , the City of Venice takes a step forward to combat overtourism and move towards a more sustainable and responsible tourism . From 25 April , in fact, there will be a fee for tourist to enter Venice for a trial period that will last until July, in order to support local tourism and preserve the authenticity of the city and its inhabitants by limiting entry on the "black sticker" days of the year.

Here is all the information you need to organise your trip in the best possible way.

How much does the ticket cost and how to pay

20240213161340venezia-a-pagamento-quanto-costa.jpg

Admission to Venice from 25 April will cost €5 per person per day. The fee is the same for everyone and there are currently no reductions. Each ticket is nominal and valid for the entire day , so if you leave the city centre to re-enter during the day you will not need a new ticket, but you will not need to buy one if you enter the city between 4pm and 8.30am.

To purchase the ticket simply go to the official website of the Municipality of Venice and follow the instructions. Once you have made the payment you will be issued with a voucher with a QR-code to take with you and show in case of controls at one of the eight access points.

Venice oentry fee: who has to pay

20240213162006venezia-a-pagamento.jpg

The dates on which you will have to purchase your ticket

202402131626571.jpg

For this trial period, Venice entry fee is limited only to "black-sticker" days , when the overcrowding is greatest.

Here are the days on which you need to purchase an entrance ticket:

- From April 25th to May 5th .

- The remaining weekends of May , namely 11/12, 18/19, 25/26 May.

- All the weekends in June, except the first one , and therefore: 8/9, 15/16, 22/23, 29/30 June.

- The first two weekends of July , i.e. 6/7, 13/14.

This solution implemented by the municipality of Venice is aimed at preserving the heritage and uniqueness of this city , containing daily tourism and making it more sustainable. Moreover, this measure is also intended to give residents some breathing space, allowing them to enjoy their city.

In these "black-sticker" days, the entrance ticket will make the streets and monuments more enjoyable for everyone, but the smartest way to visit Venice remains the Venice Pass , which allows you to skip the queue at the most important attractions and take advantage of discounts and concessions.

Let us all commit to safeguarding Venice's heritage!

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When to visit Venice

Benedetta Geddo

May 15, 2023 • 4 min read

venice italy why visit

Find the perfect time for your visit to Venice with our guide to events in the city through the year © LeoPatrizi / Getty Images

There isn't a true low season in Venice . Not really.

The Serenissima is so unique and so famous that the desire to see it with one’s own eyes knows no seasonal limit. Every time of the year has its pros and cons – as well as different activities and events to enjoy up and down the canals – but there isn’t really a bad time to visit.

From festivals like Carnevale to the quieter winter months, we pick through the best times to visit Venice.

A man wearing a venetian mask in a crowd during the Venice Carnival

May to October hosts the best Venetian festivals

This is when Venice is at its best: with nice weather and sun lasting long past 8pm. The closer to summer it gets, the more tourist numbers and prices rise but the best free things to do in Venice can help you keep within your budget. At the height of summer, the weather crosses the threshold from nice to stiflingly hot – something to be aware of if you’re planning to explore the city on foot .  The crowds arrive for Carnevale (held on Shrove Tuesday) in spring too.

May is almost summer, and the whole city is alive with the knowledge that the warmest months are fast approaching. Events begin to pop up and gather crowds – the chief among all being the Biennale, which has been celebrating visual arts since 1895. June is the start of high season and tourists begin to pour in, especially once schools officially close down for summer break around the middle of the month. If the main tourist spots get too much, consider seeking out one of Venice's less-trafficked neighborhoods .

Even though the weather will begin to feel stifling in July, Venice is still bustling – get yourself a good spot among the other visitors for the Festa del Redentore (third Sunday of July) fireworks. If the crowds really get too much, consider a day trip outside the city . A good way to deal with the sun beating down on your head is to make the most of it while lying down at one of the many beaches of the Lagoon, both in and around Venice . 

September is one of the best months of the year – the heat dwindles, but the weather is still great, and it makes for an excellent set-up to enjoy the last moments of the warm season. Then, come October, fall has arrived. There are some good days, but it’s also when the possibility of acqua alta looms on the horizon. Pack rain boots just in case.

A woman walks through the arcade leading to St Mark's Square, with St Mark's cathedral in the background. Venice, Veneto region, Italy.

Go in March to April for cooler weather

If you thought the city emptied out after the revelries of the Carnevale, think again. With days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, people are again out and about on the bridges and canals. The spring months are the best choice if you want to do plenty of exploration without too much sun beating down on your head (and don’t mind getting caught in the occasional rain shower).

April is the true start of the spring season. Centuries-old celebrations like St Mark’s Day make for quite the photogenic stay. A trip around Easter time will also ensure you see your fair share of the best Venice has to offer , as the days of the Holy Week are always dotted with celebrations and ceremonies – but keep in mind that schools close in Italy for Easter, and there might be a lot of tourists coming in for a weekend trip.

Snow covers Fondamenta della Sensa, the bridge that leads to the historic Jewish quarter.

November to February is the best time for budget travelers

With the exceptions of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the colder months are as empty as they can be in a city like Venice – with school and work in full swing, tourist numbers are much lower than they are in June and July.

A lack of travelers doesn’t mean the city is less lively. The Festa della Madonna della Salute brings the lagoon alive in late November, where stalls line the canals and a candlelit procession crosses a bridge of boats to reach the Salute.

Over Christmas the area around the Rialto Bridge glimmers with lights and markets, but it is in January for the Regata delle Befane – the boat race where participants dress as witches – that visitors will want to find a viewing spot on the infamous Ponte di Rialto.

The costumes continue at the world-famous Carnevale, a riot of color and concealment, the February coming together is the final throes of winter before the mask slips and spring in the city begins to unfurl.

This article was first published Oct 4, 2021 and updated May 15, 2023.

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COMMENTS

  1. 14 Reasons Why You Should Visit Venice

    This is definitely one of the most important reasons why you should visit Venice. Getting lost in Venice is unlike getting lost anywhere else in the world. 7. There are great quiet places. Another one of the reasons to visit Venice is that there are also quiet places. Venice is almost always very busy.

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    From early music performances to contemporary concerts, there's always something happening in Venice. 14. Wine Tasting. Wine tasting in Venice is one of the best gastro-centric activities to do in the city. The Veneto region, of which Venice is the capital, is a popular wine producing area in Italy.

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    11. Get to know glass on Murano. Floating in the lagoon a 10-minute vaporetto ride north of Cannaregio, elegant Murano is a mini Venice with opulent waterfront palazzos, knockout churches, and even its own Grand Canal. It is best known for its glass blowers, as it has been for centuries.

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    10 reasons to visit Venice The old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Built on 118 islands in a lagoon, the city of Venice with its canals, bridges and palaces is one of the ...

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    Here is some basic knowledge for planning your trip to Venice. Best Time to Visit: Since it's near the sea, Venice has mostly mild weather, although there can be rain nearly all year round. Summers are humid, and winters can be foggy and wet. To avoid large crowds, spring and fall are the best seasons to visit.

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    10 Reason why you should visit Venice, Italy . Venice is one of the most beautiful and well-known cities in the world. The Venetian lagoon is a heritage of all humanity and is protected by Unesco. I recommend that you visit it at least once in your life and let yourself be enchanted by its artistic beauties and its landscapes.

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    12. Pack light. Out of all the Venice travel tips I'm sharing in this post, packing light is possibly the most important. I get it - maybe you want to bring a bunch of ballgowns for the most epic photoshoot of your life… or maybe you need space to hoard magnets. Either way, you might need to rethink how much you bring.

  12. The Best Things to Do in Venice, Italy

    Calle della Carità, 1050, 30123VeneziaVE, Italy. Phone +39 041 522 2247. Web Visit website. Founded in 1750, the Gallerie dell'Accademia di Venezia was the nesting place for an academy of painters and sculptors. Today, it is the best museum for viewing preserved Venetian art from the 14th to 18th centuries.

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    Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is one of the world's leading contemporary art institutions. If possible, schedule your visit to coincide with the festival that the organisation stages in the Castello district every two years, which showcases work by Italian and international artists in the fields of art, dance, theatre, music, cinema and architecture.

  16. Venice Itinerary: Where to Go in 1 to 4 Days by Rick Steves

    9:00 Meander from St. Mark's Square to the Rialto Bridge, ideally off the main thoroughfares, and — even better — following our Venice guidebooks ' self-guided "St. Mark's to Rialto Loop Walk" as far as the Rialto Bridge. 10:00 Enjoy the action at the Rialto Bridge and Rialto Market. 11:00 Make your way to the Frari Church via the San Polo ...

  17. Is Venice Worth Visiting? 5 AMAZING Reasons to visit Venice

    Venice is worth visiting because it hosts some of the most important international festivals and a couple of well-known events worldwide. Many travelers visit the famous Venice Carnival! Its origin dates back to the year 1162 to celebrate a military victory of the city at that time. The Carnival is celebrated all around the city and many events ...

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    In spring 2024, the City of Venice takes a step forward to combat overtourism and move towards a more sustainable and responsible tourism.From 25 April, in fact, there will be a fee for tourist to enter Venice for a trial period that will last until July, in order to support local tourism and preserve the authenticity of the city and its inhabitants by limiting entry on the "black sticker ...

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    November to February is the best time for budget travelers. With the exceptions of Christmas and New Year's Eve, the colder months are as empty as they can be in a city like Venice - with school and work in full swing, tourist numbers are much lower than they are in June and July. A lack of travelers doesn't mean the city is less lively.

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