Top 20+ Things To Do In Venice, Italy
Venice is a stunning Italian city that is jam-packed with culture, history, and beauty. This quaint island holds a rich religious history, ancient architecture, and 150 beautiful canals. The combination of all these aspects supplies Venice with a charm unmatched by other cities. It’s like stepping into a new magical world that offers the perfect Italian experience. With plenty of things to do in Venice, it should be on any Italy itinerary!
Venice is among Positano and Sorrento as one of the topmost photogenic cities in Italy! Therefore, it’s a great travel destination for influencers and bloggers as there’s an endless amount of photo opportunities. However, even if you are not a blogger, this is still a stunning travel destination that will leave you touched by its awe-inducing beauty.
Whether you are in Venice for one day or a week, there are so many things to do in Venice that you are going to have to make the hard decision on what you want to do most. No matter what you end up doing your Venice experience is sure to be amazing and something you will never forget.
Without further ado, here are 20 things to do in Venice!
Visit Beautiful St. Marks Basilica
St. Marks Basilica is by far the most famous and most frequented building in Venice. The Basilica’s exterior is absolutely stunning and is a mind-blowing piece of architecture. What makes it even more amazing is that it was built in 1092 and both the interior and exterior are in beautiful condition.
The exterior of the Basilica shows stunning details, sculptures, and even hand-painted artwork. While the interior is an artistic masterpiece that showcases Renaissance paneling, a plethora of real marble and breathtaking gold-painted mosaics covering the walls and ceilings that depict the legends of the apostles.
In the Northern Italy region, St. Marks Basilica is one of the most important religious buildings standing. The religious importance and marvelous architecture make it a very important historical and religious symbol of Venice. Therefore, seeing it and going inside is something every visitor should do. It can get really busy, especially in the summer months, so we highly recommend to get the skip the line tickets for St. Mark’s Basilica.
View the amazing architecture at St. Marks Square
St. Mark’s Square is Venice’s most famous and visited piazza. It is located a short distance from the Grand Canal and holds some of the most important and significant buildings in Venice. The whole piazza is surrounded by spectacular, historic buildings that are truly amazing to view.
There are several important buildings in St. Mark’s Square that surround the whole piazza, such as St. Marks Basilica, Torre dell’ Orologio, Doge’s Palace and St. Marks Campanile. All these buildings are ornate and striking to look at.
Due to its prime location and various important buildings around it, St. Mark’s Square is a great place to start your Venice adventures by seeing some impressive sights right away.
Visit the Grand Canal
As previously mentioned, Venice is full of canals and there are 150 canals in total. But, none of these compare to the largest and most beautiful canal, called the Canale Grande. This canal divides the city in two and is wide enough to be a river. It is the main transportation canal of the city and is always bustling with gondolas, water taxis, and boats.
Pastel-colored buildings dating back to the 13th century line the canal on both sides offering postcard-perfect views. Walking along the canal and watching the Venetian water traffic is a very interesting thing to do in Venice.
You can also pick a restaurant along the canal and sit and eat there while watching. It is almost like watching a romantic film.
Stand on Ponte di Rialto
The Grand Canal is bridged at four points, but there is one bridge that outshines the rest. This is Ponte di Rialto or Rialto Bridge. Ponte di Rialto is the most iconic bridge in Venice and walking across it and taking a photo is one of the most quintessential things to do in Venice.
It is an impressive ornate stone bridge that has amazing detail and stunning design. I suggest you take some photos on the bridge with the grand canal spread behind you, as well as photos of the bridge!
Ponte di Rialto is a very popular tourist attraction so if you want photos without a ton of people in them, I suggest you head here early in the morning.
See the Oldest Building in Venice: Torcello Cathedral
Torcello Cathedral is a basilica church that was built in 639 AD! It is famous for its extended history and iconic decorations that have been withstanding for hundreds of years.
Relax at the Beach
When you think of Venice you rarely think of beaches, however, Venice has one beach that offers a nice escape from the busy city. The Venice Lido is a great place to go to relax and enjoy a little bit of quiet time because the city center of Venice can get extremely busy and overwhelming.
Venice Beach is located on an island just a short distance from Venice city center and offers 11km of sandy beach to lay out on and relax. The lido also offers various shops, restaurants, and hotels! It is almost like a whole other getaway within your Venice getaway.
Heading to the beach offers a tranquil environment and a very unique Venice experience that not many know about.
Be awed at Doge’s Palace
Doge’s Palace is another ornate building located in St. Marks Square. The exterior of the building, once again, showcases architectural brilliance with its white stone and diamond-patterned walls.
The interior of the palace is decked out in stunning detail, original furniture and breathtaking artwork. Consider taking a tour of the interior. There is so much to see and experience that will make you appreciate the beauty it encompasses. Again, this is one of the top sights in Venice, so a skip the line ticket for Doge’s Palace is recommended. If you want to do St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace, you can get a combo ticket that is cheaper.
Have a Drink at the Gritty Palace
The Gritty Palace is the best place in Venice to get a drink with a view. From the outdoor terrace, there is a stunning view of the stunning Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute and the atmosphere is amazing.
Reflect at Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is a small white bridge with history. It is situated at the back of Doge’s Palace and bridges the old prison and interrogation chambers to the new prison across the canal. It is one of the more famous Venice structures due to its historic story and importance, and it is quite aesthetically beautiful from the outside.
The Bridge of Sighs is the bridge Venetian prisoners used to walk across after their sentencing to go to prison. Legend says the criminals who walked this bridge would get one final glance at Venice and sigh before starting their punishment.
Taking a look at this iconic and historic bridge is a must.
Be Entertained at Teatro La Fenice
This is a world-famous opera house located right in Venice. It has a very complex history and its stunning décor and details will transport you back in time. A night here is perfect for a romantic evening date night that you will never forget.
Shift your gaze upwards to San Marco Campanile
San Marco Campanile is the tallest structure in Venice, standing at 325 feet (99 meters) tall. You can admire this huge masterpiece from many angles around St. Mark’s Square.
This structure has had a hard history of damages; fire, lightning, and most notably earthquakes. Although the original tower collapsed several times, its beautiful angelic platforms continued to rise again.
The exterior of the tower is made of simple red bricks, but the special thing about it is that you are able to go to the top! From the top, you get an amazing panoramic view of the city of Venice that you will not find anywhere else.
Embark on a Food and Wine Tour
Italy is known for its amazing food and wine, therefore, taking a food and wine tour is the best way to taste and experience this to the fullest. There are plenty to choose from and this is a great way to immerse yourself in Venetian cultures and culinary traditions.
And what better way to explore the taste of city than with a food tour? This 2.5 hour food tour with a local Venetian will make your tastebuds tingle.
Roam the Venetian Streets
Walking around the various streets, hidden canals and little alleyways is the best way to see Venice. There is something new to see around every corner and a different beautiful view down every street.
Roaming the streets of Venice is best when there are few people around. Venice is a very popular tourist destination, therefore, at around 12 PM the tiny streets and canals are packed with people. Exploring the streets before they become packed and Venice feels like a zoo is ideal and makes it feel like Venice is your own little playground.
I urge you to take some time and explore without any direction. Some of the best areas I stumbled upon were by accident. Also, be ready to take a lot of photos! There seems to be a new Instagrammable spot every 100 feet (30 meters).
Visit the Markets of Venice
There is nothing that makes you less like a tourist and more like a local than shopping at a market when in Venice. We are aware of only three major Venice Markets on the main island. Be sure to get up early to visit and buy your picnic lunch for the day.
The Rialto is the main area in Venice where markets are held, Tuesday through to Saturday there are spectacular food markets, with fruit and vegetable stalls spreading from the west of the Rialto Bridge and the Pescheria.
A large and popular fish market that is held between Campo delle Beccarie and the Grand Canal has an enormous selection of fresh fish and seafood.
At Via Garibaldi in the Castello district, you will find another lively food market on weekday mornings. Popular with both tourists and locals alike, this market offers plenty of fresh produce.
Go on a Journey to Murano and Burano
Within the Venice district, there are many other small islands in addition to Venice that are amazing to see. One of these is Murano. The small island that is full of colorful houses, blue canals, and has all the charm of Venice but without the huge crowds.
This is a great place to escape to in the afternoon when Venice is packed with people. Much like Venice, Murano has various beautiful sights and buildings to see that are full of history. Further, Murano is renowned for its glassmaking and you can see live demonstrations of it all over the city.
Ride in a Gondola
Riding in a Gondola is the most quintessential Venice activity there is. Therefore, this is one of the top things to do in Venice and it is totally worth it. The rides usually last about an hour and they bring you wherever you prefer, whether it is main canals or side canals.
Riding in a gondola is the best way to see the city and immerse yourself in Venetian traditions. Back in the day, gondolas were the main form of transportation and there were over 10,000 gondolas in the canals at a time, today there are only around 500.
This is a one of a kind experience that shouldn’t be skipped!
Check out Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
The Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute is the second most famous church in Venice and sits on the opposite side of the grand canal from St. Marks. It is an amazing structure and beautiful piece of architecture made with white stone and full of details. The exterior of this basilica is widely photographed and painted due to its astonishing beauty.
Enter the Beautiful Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta
Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta is a stunning church located in Venice’s Cannaregio region. Its interior is full of wonderful stone columns, ornate sculptures, gold details, artwork, frescos, and intricate details.
It was constructed in 1729, so it is quite a bit younger than Venice’s many other churches, but it still holds religious significance within the area.
Go to a Carnevale Festival Shop
Every February Venice hosts a tradition Carnival celebration where over 3 million people dress up in masks and parade around the city. Although this celebration only takes place in February there are some stores that sell the eccentric masks year-round.
Wander into one of these stores and take a look at all the crazy masks available. This is also a great souvenir to bring home that is very typical for Venice.
Venture to Castello
Castello is a quieter area of Venice that offers some peace compared to the center of the city. Here you will find beautiful canals, restaurants, and shops. The restaurants and shops are often a lot cheaper than the ones in the center of Venice which is great if you are on a budget.
Admire the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
One of the world’s most important collections of 20th-century art is displayed in the Palazzo Veneiri dei Leoni, overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. The palazzo was the home of Marguerite (Peggy) Guggenheim and is now the home of the Peggy Guggenhein Collection, a museum much loved by admirers of abstract art.
Peggy Guggenheim was born in 1898 to great wealth, and when she turned 21, she inherited a small fortune. (Her father, Benjamin Guggenheim, went down with the Titanic in 1912.) Peggy traveled from New York to Paris and there befriended avant-garde artists in Montmartre and began collecting their works. Many of her purchases were created by artists who later became known as the greatest painters and sculptors of the 20th century.
Peggy opened galleries in London and France, and after World War II moved to Venice. There she lived in the 18th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal and continued collecting and lending pieces to museums. When she died in 1979, her collection went to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and in 1980 her former home opened to the public.
Anyone visiting Venice should be sure to see the Guggenheim Collection. It is superb, with masterpieces of Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, and Surrealism. A few of the artists shown are Picasso, Braque, Calder, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Duchamp, Klee, Pollock, and Léger. In addition to art from Peggy’s personal collection, there are pieces that were given to the foundation after her death. Some are on long-term loan, such as the Gianni Mattioli Collection of Italian Futurist works.
In Peggy’s former bedroom, you’ll see the “bedhead” designed for her by Alexander Calder. It’s a sculpture with entwined fish, insects, and plants, all in silver. There’s also a photograph of Peggy sitting on the bed, holding one of her beloved dogs.
The outdoor spaces are also filled with notable artworks. One sculpture that always gets attention is “The Angel of the City,” a man on a horse facing the Grand Canal. The rider is nude, with a large (and removable) phallus. Legend says that Peggy would order the phallus removed when she knew that nuns would be coming by in their gondola.
Peggy is buried in the garden of the palazzo; beside her grave is a plaque commemorating her dogs. In the “New Wing” there’s a museum shop and a good terrace café. The Guggenheim Collection is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Tuesdays and December 25.
Enjoy Fresh Italian Food
Everyone loves Italian food, and fresh Italian food straight from the source is even better. Therefore, while in Venice it is imperative to take some rests along your journey and enjoy some fresh pizza or pasta with a glass of red wine.
It’s important to take a step back and soak in your environment, and the best way to do this in Venice is with delicious Italian food.
Discover the best restaurants and local dishes on this 2.5 hour food tour with a local Venetian.
20 Things To Do In Venice, Italy was written by Samantha Karen, the founder of the travel blog Sam Sees World. She is a millennial traveler on a mission to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to travel this wondrous world. Also, follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.