Things to do in Venice

Things to do in  Venice

Don’t miss the gondola

Built on more than 100 islands and devoid of cars, Venice is a walker’s paradise. Even when crowds reach their maximum, a stroll down the Floating City’s winding passageways reveals the city’s abundant charm. The architectural splendor of Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica in Piazza San Marco reign supreme, while the Grand Canal splits the city in two like a lightning bolt. Glide beneath Rialto Bridge during a sunset gondola ride, admire brightly colored buildings on the water’s edge, plan a visit to the glassblowing factories on the island of Murano, and flock to the craggy peaks of the UNESCO-listed Dolomites on a day trip.

Top 15 attractions in Venice

St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)

The crown jewel of Venice, St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) is an ornate cathedral that blends elements of Gothic, Byzantine, Romanesque, and Renaissance architecture. Topped by soaring domes and replete with astonishing golden mosaics, the church is so opulent it is known as the Chiesa d’Oro, or the Golden Church.More

Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

The powerful Doges ruled the Venetian Empire from the Gothic fantasy palace that is Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) until 1797. The site was one of the first things those arriving in Venice saw as their ships sailed through the lagoon and landed at St Mark's Square, and the doges ruled with an iron fist—justice was often meted out here. Today, the site is one of the most well-known attractions in Italy.More

Grand Canal

Venice is a city built on water, and the Grand Canal (Canale Grande) is its bustling main street. Lined with sumptuous Venetian palaces and crowded with gondolas, water taxis, and vaporetti (public ferries), this thoroughfare is a feast for the senses. The Grand Canal winds its way through the central neighborhoods of Venice from the Santa Lucia train station to St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), passing under the iconic Rialto Bridge along the way, and functions as the scenic main artery for transporting both people and goods around the City of Canals.More

St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco)

St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), often referred to as “the drawing room of Europe,” is one of the most famous squares in Italy. The geographic and cultural heart of Venice—with St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace at one end, the campanile towering above, and the colonnaded arcade topped by the Procuratie palaces lining three sides—this elegant piazza is also steeped in history. Settle in at one of the many coveted café tables and watch tourists (and pigeons) pose for photos while you sip a Bellini and soak in the square’s Renaissance splendor.More

Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)

The Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) was the first to span Venice’s Grand Canal (Canal Grande) between its two highest points above sea level. The original 12th-century wooden bridge was replaced in 1592 by a stone structure resting on wooden pilings—a bold design by Antonio da Ponte featuring a single central arch over the water that allow ships to pass. Today, the bridge is among Italy’s most famous, carrying an endless stream of tourists and locals across the canal while countless gondolas and vaporetto water buses pass beneath.More

Venice Islands

Venice comprises more than 100 islands, but “the Venice Islands” refer to the three most famous outlying islands in the Venetian lagoon: Murano, Burano, and Torcello. Murano, just north of Venice proper, has been the center of Venice’s famous glass-making industry since 1291. Farther north, Burano has quiet canals lined with brightly painted fishermen’s houses and is home to Venice’s traditional lace artisans. The neighboring island of Torcello was first settled in 452.More


Of Venice’s 100-plus outlying islands, the group that forms Murano is the most famous. This tight cluster of small islands has been the center of the Floating City’s historic glassmaking industry since 1291, when the city center’s glass factories were forcibly moved across the lagoon—just north of Venice proper—after a number of devastating fires. Today, travelers visit Murano to see how expertly trained artisans blow glass into exquisite stemware, chandeliers, vases, and sculptures. Those particularly interested in the history of glassmaking should stop by the Museo del Vetro, which traces the art back to ancient Egypt.More


Venice is made up of a group of islands that is crowded with opulent churches and sumptuous palaces. The humble island of Burano, though, in the outer reaches of the Venetian lagoon, shows a completely different side of the city, with its jumble of technicolor fishers’ houses and a long tradition of lace-making.More

Bridge of Sighs

As poignant as it is beautiful, Venice’s 17th-century, white-limestone Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) spans the narrow Rio di Palazzo canal between the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) and the New Prisons just opposite. It’s one of the most famous bridges in the Floating City.More

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

With its ornate facade and towering dome, the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is one of the most beautiful sights along Venice’s Grand Canal. Known simply as La Salute, the church dominates the mouth of the canal and its steps seem to rise directly from the water, inviting visitors to explore its soaring interior.More

La Fenice Opera House (Teatro La Fenice)

Of the many historic opera houses in Italy, few are more legendary than Venice’s Teatro La Fenice. Opened in 1792, the theater quickly became a major venue for opera and ballet. Today you can view the sumptuous 19th-century-style interiors during a musical or dance performance, or join a guided tour of the theater.More

Rialto Fish Market (Mercato di Rialto)

To get a glimpse into authentic Venice, a visit to the city’s historic outdoor Rialto Fish Market (Mercato di Rialto) is a must. Venetians have been purchasing their fish and seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, and other foods at the Rialto Market since 1097, making it one of the most long-lived aspects of daily life in the Floating City.More

Campo Santa Maria Formosa

Tucked away from the crowded piazzas of Venice, Campo Santa Maria Formosa is a charming little square in the Castello district. With a handful of cafés, a co-op market, and local shops, Campo Santa Maria Formosa offers a nice reprieve from the tourist hustle of Venice and allows a glimpse into local life.More

St. Mark's Clock Tower (Torre dell'Orologio)

Sitting high above St. Mark’s Square and visible from the Grand Canal, the remarkable clock in St. Mark’s Clock Tower (Torre dell'Orologio) has served as Venice’s official timepiece for more than 500 years. Touring this historic symbol of the city is a highlight of any visit, not least for the sweeping views from the top of the tower.More

Marco Polo's Home (Casa di Marco Polo)

In a quiet corner of Venice ,the Venetian palace (palazzo) believed to be explorer Marco Polo’s former residence is easy to miss. Stop by Corte Seconda del Milion, a square named for Marco Polo's travel memoirs, Il Milione, to honor Italy's most famous adventurer while visiting the Floating City.More

Trip ideas

A Spooky City Guide to Venice

A Spooky City Guide to Venice

Top activities in Venice

Skip-the-Line: Doge's Palace & St. Mark's Basilica Fully Guided Tour
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Murano & Burano Islands Guided Small-Group Tour by Private Boat
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Best Of Venice: Saint Mark's Basilica, Doges Palace with Guide and Gondola Ride
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Venice in A Day: St Mark's Basilica, Doge's Palace & Gondola Ride
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4 Hour Exclusive Boat Tour to Murano, Burano and Torcello
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St Marks, Doges Palace, with Murano and Burano & Gondola Ride
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The Real Hidden Venice

The Real Hidden Venice

Venice Skip the line St Mark's Basilica tour
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

All about Venice

When to visit

Venice is a year-round destination and especially lovely during the mild winter and early spring—the gray, foggy days and bursts of sunshine, with mist rising from the canals, make for an atmospheric visit. If you can, avoid high summer, when the tiny island overfills with tourists, and many people claim the lagoon takes on a rather unpleasant odor. Art aficionados, meanwhile, should time their stay with the Venice Biennale, held once every two years in summer and fall.

Getting around

Travelers have two options for getting around car-free Venice: by boat or by foot. A network of small passenger ferries roam down the Grand Canal and to nearby Lido and Murano, as well as further afield. While the island is small, you can easily find yourself walking 45 minutes to an hour from one end to the other, so the boats are a great option for longer distances. You can purchase single day and 72-hour passes.

Traveler tips

Many people come to Venice with long lists of things to do, from stops at the Doge’s Palace and Saint Mark’s Basilica to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. But, there’s nothing more Venetian than the aperitivo hour. Make the most of this pre-dinner drink and snack time by grabbing some small plates (cicchetti) at one of the bustling bars that line the canals of Cannaregio, Venice’s northernmost district. Most importantly, don't rush; this is an experience to savor.


A local’s pocket guide to Venice

Alvise Fornasier

One of those rare born-and-raised Venetians, Alvise now lives in London but retains an (entirely unbiased) love for his native city.

The first thing you should do in Venice is...

get lost in the districts of Santa Croce, Cannaregio, Castello, and Dorsoduro where you can experience the most authentic side of the city.

A perfect Saturday in Venice...

starts with breakfast in a café, is followed by lunch in the famous bacari where you can try Venetian tapas (cicheti), and ends with dinner at La Porta d’Acqua.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Ducal Palace, where you can discover the history, art, and culture of Venice all in one place.

To discover the "real" Venice...

visit the Cannaregio district. It’s the best spot to experience true local life and food.

For the best view of the city...

head to the rooftop of Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Rialto. Not only is it free, the views over the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge are incredible.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking that Venice is expensive. In non-touristic areas, even just a 10-minute walk from Rialto or San Marco, you can get an espresso for €1 ($1) and a Spritz for €2.50 ($2.50).

People Also Ask

What is Venice best known for?

Picture Venice and one thing immediately comes to mind: its legendary canals. The Floating City was built more than 1,000 years ago directly in the waters of the Venetian lagoon, and its vast network of canals is still used today to move people and goods through the city.

Can you do Venice in 3 days?

Yes. Tour St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and Bridge of Sighs on the first day. Then, get lost in Venice’s warren of canals and lanes and cruise along the Grand Canal under the Rialto Bridge. On the third day, visit the islands of Murano and Burano.

Why is Venice a popular tourist attraction?

There is truly no other city on earth like Venice. Its vast network of canals, spanned by hundreds of pretty footbridges and lined with opulent historic palaces, is irresistibly picturesque. Add lavish Carnevale celebrations, a storied glass industry, and iconic gondolas and you have a captivating vacation.

What there is to do in Venice?

Visitors to Venice make a beeline for St. Mark’s Square to admire the cathedral, Doge’s Palace, and Bridge of Sighs. A Grand Canal cruise past the Rialto Bridge is another must, as is a boat trip across the lagoon to the glassblowing island of Murano and colorful Burano.

What can couples do in Venice?

Venice is one of the most romantic destinations in Italy, especially when seen by gondola while gliding along the quiet canals. The city is especially lovely after sunset, a great time to take an after-hours tour of St. Mark’s Basilica or visit bacàro wine bars to sample traditional cichetti appetizers.

What should you not miss in Venice?

No visit to Venice is complete without a stroll through St. Mark’s Square to marvel at the cathedral and Doge’s Palace. While there, climb the bell tower to take in the City of Canals from above and splurge on a Bellini cocktail at one of the historic cafes lining the square.

Frequently Asked Questions