Headed to Venice? Scouring the internet to get a good list of the best things to do in Venice? From romantic gondola rides to a colorful and artistic festival, here’s a roundup of the top, can’t-miss and most wondrous things to do in Venice.
Praised for its scenic winding streets, fabulous gondolas and historic canals, Venice is a splendidly enchanting city that will sweep you off your feet in a lot of different ways. Billed as one of the most gorgeous and interesting places in the world, this Italian sanctuary flaunts a fascinating character, romantic charm and a ton of sights that will put into a state of pure bliss. What’s more, Venice has a plethora of culinary treats and staples that guarantee to satiate your taste buds and gastronomic urges.
Not sure what to do in Venice? Then, make sure to check out this incredible list of things to do in Venice.
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1. Enter Basilica di San Marco (Saint Mark’s Basilica)
Saint Mark’s Basilica, one of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Venice, is a grand and elaborate church that sits on the famous piazza with the same name. Crafted from a variety of architectural styles, the opulence of this tabernacle shines from nearly each corner, from the eye-catching mosaics to the quartet of bronze horses that patrol its entrance. And if you take a close look at the center gable of the church, you’ll see a statue of Saint Mark along the emblem of Venice – a mighty lion with wings.
2. Slip on a colorful mask, and join the Venice Carnival
Famous for its elaborate masks, the Carnevale (Venice Carnival) is a vibrant and fun festival of colors and tailored artistry. Celebrated 40 days before Easter, this annual festival sloughs off the winter gloom, and bursts into life. During the festival, the world’s most magical city fills with a glut of masked revelers preening, dancing, philandering and posing, in a relatively surreal re-invention of Venice’s great tradition.
3. Enjoy lovely views of Venice at the Bell tower of Saint Mark
Make your way to Bell tower of Saint Mark (Campanile di San Marco) and be wowed by its intricate and stunning architecture. Afterwards, head to the top of the tower and enjoy great views of Venice and its lagoon.
4. Ride a Vaporetto on the Grand Canal
For an unforgettable experience in Venice, take a water bus ride (or also known as Vaporetto) down the Grand Canal, before the sun sets. Although it is one of the more expensive things to do in Venice, riding a Vaporetto is nonetheless a picturesque trip with countless of priceless sights. As you cruise down this highly photographed 2-mile-long canal, you’ll get to feast your eyes on striking scenes of soft seaside sunlight, amazing architecture and a parade of Venetian watercraft.
5. Take a Gondola Ride
Some travelers would say that the city’s gondolas are a little pricey and a tourist trap, but so are a lot of cool and fun things in this planet. Deemed as one of most popular things to do in Venice, a gondola ride can add a sense of romance to your trip, especially if you take it around dusk. And if you think the price for the ride seems too high, try to bargain the price down. Better yet, look for other travelers whom you can split the cost of the ride.
6. Hop on a traghetto
Think Venice’s gondola rides are too pricey? A cheaper no-frill alternative to cross the globally celebrated Grand Canal is to ride a traghetto – which basically is a gondola that has seen better days.
7. Get overlooking views of the city without the crowds
The San Giorgio Maggiore, one the most underrated places to visit in Venice, offers arguably the most sweeping lookout over Venice. While flocks of travelers queue for hours at Bell tower of Saint Mark, you can whizz up in this church in just a few minutes. As far as I’m concerned, this is Venice’s equivalent of going to New York’s Rockefeller Center rather than the Empire State. Trust me, a visit here should be included in your Europe trip planner as well as list of things to do in Venice.
8. Cross the Rialto Bridge
Of all the bridges that cross the picturesque Grand Canal, the 16th century Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) is by far the most popular, and for a good reason. The great and notable Michelangelo was one of the folks who vied for an opportunity to design the walkway, but the honor went to the Venetian engineer and architect Antonio da Ponte, who wonderfully came up with a majestic stone arch. From the bridge, watch the gondolas on the Grand Canal, and swing by the souvenir shops on either side.
9. Be mesmerized by Venice’s contemporary art scene
Drop by Punta della Dogana, and treat your eyes to a wonderful collection of art featuring works from contemporary giants like Rachel Whiteread, jean Tinguely, Jeff Koons and Dan Flavin. Alternatively, you can hit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and lay eyes on its magnificent contemporary pieces from 20th century masters.
10. Kayaking in Venice
Paddling the secret canals of Venice lets you explore the city from a perspective that a lot of people will never see, which is why should include kayaking to your list of things to do in Venice. Not only will a kayaking tour in Venice take you to the city’s quietest and most unexplored waterways, but it will lead you to the Grand Canal as well.
11. Take in the lovely views in Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco, or also known as Saint Mark’s Square, is deemed by many as the heart of Venice. As the city’s largest square, Saint Mark’s Square is the one and only “piazza” in Venice. All the other squares in the city are campielli or campis. Lining the beautiful square are a number of restaurants as well as multiple historic sites like Doge’s Palace and Saint Mark’s Basilica, making it in ideal spot for wine sipping and leisurely people-watching.
In addition to the filling plates off spaghetti carbonara and intricate architecture, visitors will be met with flocks of pigeons, tourist and vendors who are selling a variety of souvenirs. If you want to pick up a carnival mask or gondola hat during your trip, Piazza San Marco is great place in Venice to find them.
12. Tour Teatro La Fenice
Teatro La Fenice is not just one of the most renowned opera houses in Italy, but it also is a resilient building that survived a couple of big fires throughout the course of its lifetime. Visitors and locals alike joke at the theater’s name (it means Theater of the Phoenix in English), and how it coincides with its not-so fortunate history. And Like a mighty Phoenix that rises from the ashes, Teatro La Fenice lives on, and even thrives.
While it has been re-purposed, it has majestically retained a charming Old World feel, thanks to its intricately-designed and decadent gold interiors outfitted with ritzy velvet chairs. With its sophisticated stetting, Teatro La Fenice indeed has the ideal setting to take in the visual and auditory pleasure of quintessential Italian opera. There are tons of music, ballet and dance performances scheduled on this venue throughout the year. If you have a tight travel itinerary, you can explore this theater through a day tour.
13. Visit the Museo della Musica
One of the best things to do in Venice, for music lovers, is to pay a visit to the Museo della Musica. Located in San Maurizio’s church, this small treasure trove is dedicated to violin making – an art to which Venice was really known for.
14. Visit Doge’s Palace
Doge’s Palace – the former palace of justice and seat of government – is a breathtaking palace built in Gothic Venetian style. Opened as a museum in 1923, this spectacular treasury not only houses a dazzling array of exhibits and artifacts, but it also displays marvelous marble floors, lavish ceiling and incredible staircases. For me, it is a fun way to learn more about the city’s history, and is truly one of the best things to do in Venice.
15. Art overload
Are you an art lover who’s looking for memorable things to do in Venice? Venice is truly a precious and extraordinary art repository. From the Middle Ages to the 18thcentury, some of the highest caliber artists in history have left their mark all over Venice. And works by the grand masters of Venice like Tiepolo, Canaletto and Titian can still be viewed on site today. As you visit Venice, you’ll get a chance to catch sight of the epic masterpiece of Tintoretto at Scuola Grande di San Rocco, the glorious “Assumption” of Titian at I Frari, and the monumental frescos of Tiepolo at Ca Rezzonico and Pieta.
16. Snap photographs of San Giacomo di Rialto
Built in 421, San Giacomo di Rialto is probably the oldest church in the city, and is recognized for its towering clock as well as the beautiful gold accents and red pillars around it.
17. Take a day trip to Verona
Forget Venice’s amorous canals for a day, and discover Verona – a nearby historic city best known as the setting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Verona is delightful town full of art works and interesting monuments, such as Juliet’s House, and the spectacular and enormous Roman amphitheater Arena.
18. Eat gelato at Boutique del Gelato
No list of things to do in Venice is complete without the gelato. And there’s no better place in the city to enjoy luscious gelato than Boutique del Gelato in Salizzada San Lio. But, take note that you need to be a little patient because there is always a big crowd waiting to be served there.
19. Indulge on authentic Venetian dishes
Are you a foodie who’s on the lookout for mouthwatering things to do in Venice? Then, stuff your face with the city’s finest polpette at Ca d’Oro, and savor a smorgasbord of traditional Venetian dishes like oca in Antica Adelaide.
20. Eat seafood delicacies that you have never seen before
Venice has a wide variety of odd yet delectable seafood treats that you may have never tried before, such as canoce (mantis shrimps), garusoli (sea snails), and granseola (spider crab).
21. Jog at Sant’Elena Gardens
Want to lose a few extra calories during your trip to Venice? Go for a jog at Sant’Elena Gardens, and enjoy awesome views over San George Island and the lagoon.
22. Visit Venice’s glass island
Murano, one of the best places to visit in Venice, is a lovely island that has been fabricating glass for more than 700 years. Their craftsmanship is nothing short of amazing, and their glass comes in myriad of forms, including beads, glassware, lampshades, paperweights and glass jewelry.
23. Learn the art of Venetian mask decorating
Ever wondered how the Venetians grandly design and decorate their masks? One of the must-try things to do in Venice, for art connoisseurs, is to learn the art of Venetian mask decorating at Ca’ Macana. Here, there are specialized artisans who are going to teach you all the secrets to their traditional mask embellishing techniques.
24. Visit Burano Island
Known for its lacework, the laid-back Burano Island is dotted with brightly-colored homes that would make great photo opportunities. Plus, it has a few sites worth visiting like the Church of San Martino, making a layover to this island a must-include entry to your list of things to do in Venice.
25. Get lost
Ditch your map and Europe trip planner for a day in Venice! Getting lost is, in my book, the best way to experience this striking labyrinth of a city. With over 300 bridges, a hundred canals and plenty of glorious buildings, Venice is best explored and discovered on foot. Whether you’re a photography junkie or a casual sightseer, walking is indeed one of the best things to do in Venice.
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