Venice is a city in the North-Eastern region of Italy, also known as the city of water, which consists of hundreds of small islands joined together by over 400 bridges to create one large city. Venice is a traveler’s dream with the colorful streets, the beautiful architecture, and the many things to do, see, and experience are only a few reasons to love Venice.
Take a Gondola Ride Through the Canals
Yes its touristy, but there is really nothing like taking a gondola ride through the beautiful canals of Venice. To be able to see the city from the water is an experience like none other.
Gondola trips start at €80 for 30 minutes. If you want to add an additional 20-minutes that will cost €40. After 7 pm, the rate jumps to €100 for 30 minutes, with an additional 20 minutes costing €50. If you want to bring this cost down, you can share the gondola ride with up to six people and split the cost.
St. Mark’s Square
St. Mark’s Square is in the heart of Venice, it connects you to many shops and restaurants as well as it is a hub for several historical places, such as St. Mark’s Basilica. and Doge’s palace.
A good way to enjoy St. Mark’s Square is to visit early in the day. Visiting early allows you to beat the main crowds, so you might have to sacrifice some sleep and arrive before or right after sunrise. The best is to head to the water’s edge, to take photos of the empty blue gondolas floating in the water with the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in the background. Once finished taking pictures of all the beautiful architecture, be sure to walk around and explore the shops around the square.
St. Mark’s Basilica
As the most famous cathedral in Venice, St. Mark’s Basilica is definitely worth visiting. Located in St. Mark’s Square, visiting the cathedral on your own is free, however, keep in mind there are often long lines.
The church is a mix of influences, having been built in the 11th century before being embellished over and over again through the course of centuries. Today it’s known for its breathtaking gold-leaf mosaics and beautiful domed ceilings. Be sure to visit the basilica’s museum and the outdoor terrace as it has great views of the public square.
San Marco Campanile
St. Mark’s Campanile is easy to recognize as it is a massive 323 ft bell tower that looms over its surroundings. Galileo used the bell tower as a location to study the skies and in 1609 he demonstrated his telescope to the Lords of the city.
Once inside the bell tower, there is an elevator that takes you to the top providing you with unforgettable views of the Venitian Lagoon and Santa Maria Della Salute as well as all the other magical parts of Venice
The elevator ride to the top costs €8 EURO, or €13 EURO to skip the line (buy tickets here).
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Doge’s Palace holds an extensive collection from items pertaining to Venice’s government leaders and felons, stunning Renaissance art, and Venetian Gothic architecture. Located next to St. Mark’s Basilica, the Palace was was home to Venice’s doges and was the center point for the city government from mid-14th century through the end of the 18th century. The Great Council Hall houses one of the world’s largest canvas oil paintings, Tintoretto’s Paradiso.
There are many amazing pieces within the walls of the Doge’s palace, my personal favorite was admiring the amazing ceiling paintings and wall murals by Renaissance masters. The city’s jail, known as Palazzo Delle Prignioni is connected by the Bridge of Sighs, visitors can cross the bridge into the prison and visit the inmates’ cells that provide a unique experience. Doge’s Palace is full of history, art, and architecture and is one of my favorite memories of our trip to Venice.
This museum is extremely popular so if you plan to visit be sure to book in advance to avoid the massive lines in the heat. Booking directly through the museums’ website is the best way to ensure a good price, many tour operators charge can be overpriced.
If your like us and want to visit more than one museum while you’re in Venice then the Museum Pass is for you! For the price of £30, the pass allows you access to some of the most popular museums in Venice.
Visit The Island of Murano
Murano Island is famous for its glass-blowing tradition and is a popular day trip from Venice. You can wander along and visit the different glass factories and watch the artists at work. Some factories have paid demonstrations, while others will allow you to go in and watch the artists working in the hope that you will then purchase an item from their shop.
Outside of the glass factories, you can wander the canal to looking at the shops or enjoy a delicious lunch. One of the best things to do in Murano is to go to the central square known as Campo Santo Stefano, and you can’t miss it as its one of the largest squares on the island. Another thing you do not was to miss is the Basilica di Santa Maria e San Donato, one of the oldest churches in Venice and renowned for its beautiful mosaic floor tiles. Legend is that the bones behind the altar belong to a dragon slain by Saint Donatus.
To reach the island it is best to take a Vaporetto to the Fondamente Nove stop and transfer to line 12. The area where you board is just beyond the Donà Bridge. If you stay on the boat, it will take you to Burano. You can easily see both Murano and Burano in a single day.
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Ponte Di Rialto Bridge
The Rialto bridge is another of Venice’s iconic landmarks. Walk it, admire it from a restaurant along the canal or take a Vaporetto water bus to get a glimpse from the water, there many ways to experience the bridge.
Shops line the bridge, their original intent was to help fund the building of the bridge however now, it is to serve the long line of tourists who want souvenirs from Venice. The best way to shop is to get their right when the open to better avoid the large crowds.
Libreria Acqua Alta
One of the most unique places in Venice to explore is the Libreria dell’acqua Alta (the High water bookshop). The bookshop is located off Campo Santa Maria Formosa, in Venice city center, and is a treasure for anyone interested in quirky spaces and shops.
The bookshop is known for its unique way of housing its collection of books, they are kept in various things such as bathtubs or even Venetian gondolas. The shop designs its set up this way to takes into account the fact that it opens up onto a canal and therefore gets easily flooded with the high tide.
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Get lost in Venice
The best thing to do in Venice in my opinion is to just walk and get lost within the city. It really is the best way to see and explore the real Venice. Don’t be afraid to get lost, you will find your way back to a landmark and around each corner in Venice is something new to see and explore.
Go exploring, cross bridges to the different islands within the city, stop in small shops, admire the balconies with beautiful decorations, step into a church and bask at all the history and art within its walls. Enjoy Venice’s famous Aperol Spritz along the canal or try all the amazing restaurants it has to offer.