19 Brilliant Things to Do While in Venice

June 14, 2018 by Rem Malloy

Home > Blog > 19 Brilliant Things to Do While in Venice

Venice emulates charm not only in its maze-like canals and traditional Italian architecture, but also in its culture, its simplistic lifestyle and its ability to capture tourists instantly as well as maintain locals’ attention. Only in Venice will you find dark restaurants tucked away practically hidden in the corner of a sleepy alleyway, where the dining experience is unforgettable and equally as memorable to your palate.

Venezia is purely magic; it’s the ultimate city to get lost in. Where no streets exist and the main means of transportation is by boat, where masquerade novelty hangs in the windows of shops and live music lingers around every corner, Venice is whimsical and enchanting, and elusive, too. It’s a city you must visit; there is nowhere else like it.

Step off the Mainland

As soon as you step off of the train that pulls into Venice, you are captured. Venice is a city of immense beauty; it’s unbelievable how much historical significance the small island encapsulates. It’s a city rich in history and is truly fascinating. During the Middle Ages, Venice was home to some of the most important military events such as the Battle of Lepanto and the Crusades.

Also called the “City of Bridges”, Venice has over 400 bridges connecting the canals and making it a truly unique city. Venezia is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea and is the capital of Northern Italy’s Veneto region. With a population of about 250,000, Venice may not be the largest city in the Veneto region, however, it is one of the most visited Italian cities and its importance with tourism is significant to the economy of the entire country.

St. Mark’s Basilica

Easily one of the most historical, beautiful and renowned buildings in Venice, St. Mark’s Basilica is an honorary church dedicated to the patron saint of Venice, St. Mark the evangelist. Formally known as Basilica di San Marco, and often called the Golden Church for its golden color and impressive architecture, the church sits in Piazza San Marco structured with ornate detail, sculptures, artwork and Byzantine works of art on the inside and dome.

Equally breathtaking as it is enormous, the inside of the Basilica is worth seeing for every inch is covered in mosaics. The altar, Pala d’Oro, which is decorated in jewels and gold and has almost two thousand rare gems is a sight in itself and is worth taking the time to see. The church is located in a highly popular area enjoyed by the public and can be easily accessed from the Grand Canal.

St. Mark’s Square

Whilst St. Mark Basilica is the most famous building in Venice; St. Mark’s Square is the most popular piazza. Decorated with many outstanding buildings, the piazza includes St. Mark’s Campanile (the bell tower), the Basilica, Doge’s Palace (a palace once known as being a main landmark in Venice), and Torre dell’Orologio (clock tower). The piazza is a great place to see many landmarks all in one general area and serves as a great opportunity to sit and admire the city.

Gondola Ride

No trip to Venice is complete without a picturesque ride through the island on an iconic gondola. Enjoy a romantic ride for two or pile in with your friends, the gondola ride is a must while you’re in Venice! Although, not cheap, it is sure to give you a once-in-a-lifetime memory and experience.

Kayak Through the Canals

For another excellent (and less crowded) view of Venice, kayak through the canals at your own pace and find relaxation and charm in the quietness of the water. You can hire a guide to take you down the Grand Canal, too for a more exciting, adventurous route. Many tours are available, allowing you to pick the best one for you.

Ponte di Rialto

One of the bridges that spans across the massive Grand Canal, Ponte di Rialto connects San Marco and San Polo districts of the city and is an important pedestrian thoroughfare. Originally a wooden bridge, the structure collapsed in the 15th century and after the destruction an ornate stone bridge was built as the replacement and still stands today. The bridge is a hugely popular tourist attraction and souvenir shops are even situated on the bridge.

Galleria dell’Accademia

Almost every Italian city has at least a museum (or a dozen) and Venice is no different. The Galleria dell’Accademia is a museum highlighting a fine collection of pre-19th century art and features work from artists such as Bellini, Titian and Canaletto. The gallery is the perfect stop in Venice for the Renaissance art-lover.

Rialto Market

One of the best ways to experience a new place and their culture is to participate in their authentic food scene. Visiting the local market is a great way to achieve this! When you walk around the Rialto Market, located in eyes view of the Rialto bridge, you’ll notice lots of fresh fish, produce galore and some new and interesting foods, too. To see it at its best, arrive early and watch the setup of the market. Trolleys of colorful fruit and vegetables arrive to be set up for the day as well as fresh fish and other seafood. The market is a great place to grab a few snacks or grab items for a picnic.

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

Referred to as the second most renowned basilica in Venice, the Basilica di Santa della Salute is known for its impressive architecture and Borque design. The church sits across the Grand Canal and is hard to miss due to its large four statues of the four apostles and gigantic dome. On the inside of the basilica, large amounts of sun pour in due to its hexagonal design. Although the basilica isn’t quite decorated as extensively as others, its beauty is immense and the symmetry is extremely pleasing to the eye.

Bridge of Sighs

It may be a small bridge in Venice, but nonetheless important. Passing over the Rio di Palazzo, the bridge connects the Prigioni Nuove to Doge’s Palace. What makes the Bridge of Sighs such a popular landmark is the legend behind its name. The story goes that prisoners being dragged to jail would let out one last sigh as they took a last glimpse of Venice; considering their punishment and imprisonment. The bridge- now a major tourist attraction is worth taking a glimpse of while visiting St. Mark’s square.

Scuola Grande Dei Carmini

A fun daytime activity, the Scuola Grande Dei Carmini is unlike any other school you’ve been to. It’s a school of devotion and charity dedicated to S. Maria del Monte Carmelo. The internal rooms have original antique furniture, important oil paintings and carved wooden razors. This school is even more special because of the nine exquisite Tiepolo paintings of the Virigin Mary. You can grab a hand-held mirror from the entrance and get a really good look at them without the effort of craning your neck.

The Peggy Guggenheim Museum

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is among the most important museums in Italy for European and American art for the first half of the 20th century. Another special aspect of this museum is the location. Located in the former home of Peggy Guggenheim, Pallazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand Canal, the museum showcases Peggy’s personal collection, masterpieces from Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof collection as well as a sculpture garden and rotates temporary exhibits. The inspiration behind Peggy’s work is that of Picasso and abstract expressionist, Pollock.

Doge’s Palace

Sitting in St. Mark’s Square with a view of the Grand Canal, Doge’s Palace is an attraction you won’t want to miss while visiting Venice. The ornate palace is truly stunning. The front façade features a beautiful arched design made with white stone and has diamond patterns on the walls. The palace emulates beauty and extravagance both on the outside as well as the inside. Immensely decorated rooms and original details, furniture and artwork fill the inside of the palace offering a truly beautiful glimpse into the past. Tours are available and it’s advised to spend time both on the exterior as well as the interior of the palace to fully appreciate the attraction that captures a piece of Venice’s history.

Venice Carnival

Known all around the world for its contagious fun and quirkiness, the Venice Carnival is a once-in-a-lifetime event you must try and attend! Everybody is dressed in outfits, costumes and masks celebrating the annual Christian tradition of Lent, following the forty days before Easter. The carnival began when the people of Venice danced around San Marco Square after a victory for the Venice Republic against the Patriarch of Aquileia in 1162. Every year, millions of visitors from around the world come to celebrate the Carnival and participate in the excitement.

The Island of Murano

The island of Murano is renowned for its traditional glass making. During the late medieval and Renaissance period, Murano was known to be the world’s leading center for glass manufacturing. The importance that the glass making provided for the economic stability of the region was immense. Workers who tried to leave the island and use their knowledge elsewhere in Europe were penalized because authorities worried their skill would be taught to competition.

Over time the skills and technique were adopted elsewhere and between the 16th and 18th centuries, glass manufacturing became popular across Europe and began to arrive in the Far East. It wasn’t until the 20th century that Murano claimed its importance back and became an important world production area again. The skill and tradition of the glass making is still very much present today on the island and there are many tours and museums of the skill being taught. Buying the perfect glassware souvenir to take home can be challenging will all the options, but taking your time will lead you to the perfect piece.

The Island of Burano

The island of Burano is like a postcard. The picturesque island is known for its brightly-colored and unique fishermen’s houses as well as its delicious seafood. With houses painted in robust purples and charming yellows, highlighter pink and dreamy blues, its hard not to smile on this cheery island. The pop-of-color homes do have some rhyme and reason to them; legend has it, fishermen painted their houses with bright colors in order to see them while they were out fishing.

Today, if you wish to paint your home you must send in a letter to the government and they will give you a list of colors you can paint with. Another expertise of the island is lace making. Women have been doing it on the island since the 1400s. Lace shops exist all over the island presently and purchasing lace is a must when visiting Burano.

Torcello Island

Torcello island is a quiet, green island. Originally, it was the first island people inhabited after leaving the mainland. Now, very few residents live there and it’s largely a nature reserve. The primary attraction on Torcello is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which dates back to the 7th century and has stunning Byzantine mosaics from the 11th and 12th centuries. Worth noting is the large throne that’s made of stone, sitting outside of the Cathedral. Local legend has it that if you sit on the stone you’ll one day return to Torcello.

San Giorgio Maggiore

This is one of the smaller separate islands that isn’t connected by the main canals in Venice. You can easily get to San Giorgio Maggiore by water taxi because of its proximity from the Grand Canal. On the island, you will be undoubtedly wowed by the beauty that it has. San Giorgio Monastery, the church of San Giorgio Maggiore and the campanile (very similar to the one in St. Mark’s Square) are all sights on the island worth spending time at. The monastery and church offer significant history and an abundant amount of beauty, while the Campanile offers a fantastic view from the top. You can see Venice from a whole new perspective.

Venice Lido

Although Venice is small, it is very populated. If you’re craving a spot for relaxation, away from the crowds the Venice Lido is the spot for you. With a stretch of long, beautiful beach, the Lido is a separate island creating a barrier between Venice and the Adriatic Sea. With only about 20,000 inhabitants, the Lido provides a much more laid-back atmosphere. The local shops, residential areas and hotels are a great escape.

Traveling to Venice is great for so many reasons. It’s a place unlike anywhere else in the world. When you visit, you can easily see all the tourist monuments and sights, as well as enjoy sitting down with a gelato and watching the world pass by. Not only are there many options for you to see and do in Venice, but it’s also a great place to visit because you are so close to other interesting islands. Going for day trips and seeing even more of Italy (by boat) is spectacular. The water taxi system in Venice is extremely helpful and it’s advised you take it while you’re traveling in Venice. Taking a water taxi is an experience in of itself and it’s a great way to meet locals and find out about neighboring areas of the Adriatic Sea. 

When you travel to Venice, the unexpected is marvelous. You don’t know exactly where you’ll end up as you mosey your way through the canals; however, it’s guaranteed to be the trip of a lifetime including extravagant beauty, charm and whimsy. Contact us for your next trip to Venice so we can customize a vacation specific to your taste.

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