15 Best Things To Do In Venice

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Venice, one of the world’s oldest tourist and cultural centers, is an island city in Northeast Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. With its beautiful cityscapes, uniqueness, and rich artistic cultural heritage, Venice is built on 117 small islands interconnected by a series of waterways and canals. Venice is also much talked about for its architectural grandeur and attracts more than 20 million tourists every year. The lagoon and part of the ‘Queen of the Adriatic’, as called by many, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Venice saw a huge growth in the economy, trade as well as an artistic movement during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period, which made it a leader in Europe. 

Home to the world-renowned Grand Canal thoroughfare and the stunning St. Mark’s Basilica, this city is unique for its priceless art and historical heritage. With its romantic gondola rides, spending time along the meandering canals, and enjoying romantic evenings, Venice should definitely get a place in your holiday bucket-list

Here is a list of the Best Things To Do while in Venice:

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One of the most breathtaking examples of Italian architecture and the most famous church of Venice, St. Mark’s Basilica was completed in 1092 and has thereafter stood as the perfect testimony of art and grandeur. It stands out for its magnificent Italo-Byzantine architectural style, luminous mosaics, polished stone panels, and beautiful ornate designs, especially on the front facade. The Byzantine work of art is beautifully reflected in the inner side of the domed ceiling. Located in the Piazza San Marco, it sits comfortably in the heart of Venice as you get easy accessibility to many other sites from here.

2. St. Mark’s Square

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The most renowned public square or piazza of Venice, it is a vast paved and arcaded square defined by the church of St. Marks on its eastern end. Just opposite to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, this square located on the Grand Canal is an important hub for tourists as it is lined with several other important ornate works of art and architecture which includes St. Mark’s Campanile, the Doge’s Palace and Torre dell’ Orologio. The northern and southern wings of the square are framed by two important buildings which now houses elegant cafes and restaurants with open-air tables and fashionable high-end shops. The piazza is the best place to start ticking off your must-visit list in Venice.

3. Canale Grande

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One of the major water traffic corridors of Venice, this huge river-like canal is the largest of the hundreds that intersect Venice and connects the numerous islands around. The Grand Canal runs throughout the entire stretch of Venice from one side to another, making a meandering turn in the center of the city. Take an easy stroll along the wide banks of the canal and witness over 170 exquisite monuments and buildings that date back to as early as the 13th century or marvel at the amazing waterway network and gondolas that run through the city. The canal has only four bridges spanning the entire width at different places and it is always better a view from cruising the waters rather than walking the bridge.

4. Ponte di Rialto

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Of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal of Venice, the Ponte di Rialto is the oldest and most popular one. Bridging the two popular neighborhood districts of San Marco and San Polo, this stone structure was originally a wooden bridge that collapsed under the weight of increasing crowds in 1524. The present stone bridge began its construction in 1588, and now, standing as a perfectly symmetrical 24-foot arch, is one of the architectural icons of Venice. Watch the swaying gondolas, vaporettos, and ferries travel up and down the Grand Canal from this spot or shop from the numerous curio shops that line this bridge selling pretty souvenirs and jewelry.

5. Gallerie dell’Accademia

The Gallerie dell’Accademia is a museum gallery of Venice housing some exquisite artworks from the pre-19th century of notable artists such as Bellini, Canaletto, and Titian. Situated opposite to the Ponte dell’Accademia on the Grand Canal, this museum was earlier a convent that was converted to a museum in the mid to late 1700s. For art lovers of the Renaissance period, this is the place to behold some of the masterpieces of Venetian painting. It includes the most famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man of Leonardo da Vinci which portrays the perfect symmetry of human figures and also the prestigious work of other famed artists like the Resurrection by Tintoretto, Virgin and the Child by Titian and Battle of Lepanto by Veronese.

6. Venice Lido

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The Venice Lido is a 7-mile-long barrier island located between the Adriatic Sea and the beautiful city of Venice. With its 20,400 inhabitants, it developed as a seaside tourist destination in the 19th century with its heavenly beach dotted with grand villas, fine dining restaurants, hotels, and shops. It is also home to the oldest and one of the famous film festivals in the world, The Venice International Film Festival. It is worth visiting if you want a relaxed and serene break in the tranquilities of the beach, away from the hustle and bustle of central Venice or the busy streets and waterways surrounding the Grand Canal.

7. Doge’s Palace

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Built in Venetian-Gothic style, this masterpiece of sculptural decoration boasts of artworks from renowned painters. Situated at St. Mark’s Square and with a view of the Grand Canal, this is one of the finest buildings of Venice along with St. Mark’s Basilica and the Campanile. The facade in front of the well-embellished palace comprises a beautiful arched design made of white stones that form a diamond-like pattern on its walls. Equally impressive is the palace’s interior with its series of extraordinarily decorated rooms that reflect fine original detailing, exquisite artwork, and well ornate furniture. A visit to this breathtaking palace of the erstwhile rulers of Venice – the Doge – is a must and it is advisable to take out time and relish the beauty of artwork both exterior and the interiors in detail to truly appreciate this gem of Venice.

8. Bridge of Sighs

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It is a small enclosed limestone bridge of Venice that passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects Prigioni Nuove and the Doge’s Palace. Though a quaint small bridge, it is highly decorated and one of the most viewed historical landmarks of Venice. The legend goes, as prisoners who were taken from the palace to the prison crossed this bridge and would sigh as they caught the last glimpse of Venice through its windows anticipating their impending imprisonment.

9. Vaporetto Ride through the Grand Canal

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One of the most viable and easily available modes of transport in and around Venice is the Vaporetto or the public waterbus. The other options of rail travel are limited and walking down the streets is restricted within Venice, so the best form to move around in the floating city is this Vaporetto. Not only will you get some breathtaking views but you also get to visit the adjoining islands with the help of multiple rides’ pass, which means you don’t have to buy tickets each time you board a waterbus, thus saving time and money. You will not get a better way to experience the sights and sounds as well as the true spirit of Venice, than by cruising the Grand Canal in this water bus which is a much cheaper alternative than a gondola ride.

10. San Marco Campanile

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Standing at a lofty height of 98.6 m, the Campanile is the tallest structure in Venice. Located in the Piazza San Marco, this bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica, is the most noticeable landmark of Venice. Built in the 9th century as a watchtower, the present-day structure is a reconstructed version of the original one that collapsed in 1902. On several occasions, the Campanile also suffered damage by lightning, earthquakes, and fire. The red brick square shaft is quite simple, above which sits the beautifully ornate dome and pinnacles with its arches and stonework. Right on the top stands the wooden statue of Angel Gabriel. You can appreciate this beauty from the Piazza or simply take the elevator and reach the top to savor the outstanding panoramic view of Venice, the lagoons, and even the distant Alps.

11. San Giorgio Maggiore

One of the smallest islands of Venice that is separated from the main canals of the city, this island is a short Vaporetto ride from across the waters from San Marco station. It is a beautifully quaint and much less crowded island, where you get a fantastic view back over Venice from its towering campanile that is similar but cheaper than the one at St. Marks. The scenic panoramic display of the island and the distant mainland from the bell tower is overwhelming and eye-soothing. Take a walk among the woods or along the harbor watching the anchored boats, visit the famous San Giorgio Monastery and the beautiful Church of San Giorgio – whatever you do, the island is a treat for the five senses.

12. Murano

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Murano, a series of small islands of the Venice district and well-interconnected by bridges and canals, is a world away from the overcrowded touristy Venice. It is just a short Vaporetto ride from the mainland and you reach in the lap of tranquillity far from the madding crowd. It has its own grand canal along with curio shops and restaurants where you can cool your wanderlust feet. It is home to several notable sights like the Basilica di Santa Maria, the Campo Santo Stefano, and the Palazzo da Mula. Furthermore, Murano has a worldwide reputation of glassmaking, crafting everything from contemporary art glass to jewelry to highly decorated chandeliers. If you wish you can spend some time in these factories and see the artisans at work in their environment, and even buy a few souvenirs for your trip.

13. Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta

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Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta detta I Gesuiti, Venice by Dimitris Kamaras, via flickr.comCC BY 2.0

Located in the Cannaregio district of Venice, this is a relatively newer church with its uniqueness reflecting in the incredible art and architecture of the edifice. Also known as I Gesuiti, it was constructed in 1729. Wrapped up in white and greenish-blue marble, the interior is jaw-droppingly beautiful with its intricate art details and paintings which includes works such as the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence by Titian. A huge bronze door stands at the main entrance gate with its beautiful front facade, strong stone columns, and embellished and sculpted statues of all 6 archangels. Get overwhelmed amidst the peace and tranquillity of this beautiful church and take out time to explore every minute artwork detailing frescoes, and gold detail that surrounds the entirety of the church’s ceiling.

14. Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

The Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute, probably the second most famous church in Venice, stands out as a unique architectural wonder with its octagonal structure, two domes, and a pair of picturesque bell towers at the back. Built in 1687 prominently near the entrance to the Grand Canal, it lies opposite to St. Mark’s and stands out notably in the Venice skyline. The exterior facade is embellished with the four statues of the Apostles and is a sharp contrast to the sober interior. The octagonal interior of the church seems huge and gets flooded with light that is filtered through pale-tinted glass. A magnificent edifice, it surely attracts attention due to its strong symmetry and notable artworks.

15. Torcello Island

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This quaint island is an offbeat destination from the usual humdrum of Venice. Located far east of the Venetian Lagoon, Torcello lies comfortably tucked behind Burano and is just 45 minutes away from Venice on a ferry ride. A wonderland for nature lovers, take a leisure stroll among the peaceful surroundings or visit the famous Santa Maria Assunta church which houses some impressive mosaic works or climb up the towering bell tower to grab an exquisite panoramic view. You might also take a walk inside the museum which talks about the history of this chain of islands or take a break in the restaurants and shops.