Venice is completely different from any other cities in the world. The city was built on a lagoon and surrounded by the salty Mediterranean Sea. It is not an easy game to build and develop a city on water. However, Venice went beyond all reasons to be the most visited places not only in Italy, but also on a global scale. This blog will showcase my list for Top 10 best things to do in Venice, Italy. Keep in mind that this blog is only a list not a ranking (or chart).
Besides the list for best things to do in Venice, there will be ways to find things to do and some travel tips.
How to find best thing to do in Venice
Being a top tourist destination, it is not difficult to make up your wishlist for things to do in Venice. Here are some ways to find things to do in Venice:
- Google: Search for the most recommended places.
- Tripadvisor: Read reviews for tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants.
- Instagram: Search for posts which check-in in Venice and use hashtags related to Venice.
- Pinterest: Pin some ideas for your upcoming trips.
Since Venice and its attractions are so popular, my priority was for less touristy spots including Scala Contarini del Bovolo, San Giorgio Maggiore, Church of Santa Maria Assunta…
1. Discover the canals
Beautiful canals that run through every corner of the city as if streets are the most characteristic aspects of Venice.
Venice has a total of 150 canals that range from tiny, quiet “side canals” to the busy Grand Canal (a former river) and the Giudecca canal (which accommodates large ships).
As the city grew, residents constructed buildings, sidewalks, and seawalls along the canals.That’s the reason why each canal had different scenery along the way.
And it is such a joy to explore every canal of Venice since you don’t know what to appear next. So make sure to keep your phone on always to capture every single moment on the way.
2. Take the gondola ride
Taking the gondola ranks among one of the most dreamed-about experiences in Venice. The dream is free but you have to pay for what you dream for. It will take you 80€ for a 30-minute ride and some extra charge for add-on services (sing, play an instrument,…).
Keep in mind that in a 30-minute journey, it is impossible to go around Venice with a wooden boat. As a result, each gondola ride will follow a route.
The route will depend on where you start. I did a little research and found out that the one starting from the Grand Canal is the most scenic. So I took the Gondola right next to San silvestro vaporetto stop.
I didn’t book the gondola in advance as we went in a group of four. If you don’t have enough people, don’t mind sharing a gondola with other guests (and waiting for enough people filled in the gondola might be tiresome).
The voyage lasts for 20 minutes which is 5- 10 minutes shorter than advertisements. And there is no commentary at all, so it feels like watching a movie without subtitles. I feel a little bit disappointed. So it is recommended to book on an online platform where you have the right to review. You can see some options here.
3. See Venice in panoramic mode at San Giorgio Maggiore’s basilica
San Giorgio Maggiore is a 16th-century Benedictine church located on the island facing San Marco Square. This place is not on anyone’s list when it comes to Venice.
So why I set aside all other tourist destinations to visit San Giorgio Maggiore. It is all about the “view”. From the top of the basilica, you can get magnificent and unobstructed views overlooking the main islands.
It will be a great idea to spend some time here rather than joining the crowd to reach St Mark’s Campanile. Moreover, the view from St Mark’s Campanile is blocked by wrought iron fencing. If you are still reluctant to make a visit to San Giorgio Maggiore, see my photos below.
4. Have a colorful trip to Burano island
Most visitors to Venice spend their time on the main island and don’t venture anywhere else. In fact, Venice is made up of more than one island. And Burano is one that is worth visiting besides the main islands.
Burano has become one of the most visited spots in Venice for its colorful houses. Each house owns a color in the painting palettes.
The story behind these colors dated back a long time ago. When fishermen returned from the sea, they couldn’t find their home through the fog. So they started painting their houses with one color to easily recognize from far away.
A visit to Burano island will offer you a chance to pop your Instagram feed up. Make sure to dress in white to make yourself stand out in every photo.
5. See Venice when no one is around
It is common to see an overcrowded Venice especially during summer months. And sometimes being overcrowded is not a good thing.
So is there any time when you barely see anyone in Venice. The answer is yes and you can see it even during peak travel season (July and August).
If you wish to see a not so familiar Venice, do it early in the morning, right at dusk. I visited Rialto Bridge at 5:30 am and there was no one there at all during that time.
All you can see is Sleeping Venice waiting for the kiss from the prince. And I wish the prince would have come a bit later, so I will have more time to admire the one-of-a-kind beauty of Venice.
6. Sunset at Ponte dell’Accademia
Ponte dell’Accademia is another beautiful architecture spanning the Grand Canal. And the bridge is popular for its magnificent views towards Santa Maria della Salute. And it’s not all about the views… but the romantic vibes.
If you wish to immerse in those romantic vibes, be in Ponte dell’Accademia during sunset as it will be exactly like a romantic movie.
Key locks hanging across the bridge, freelance artists playing instruments and couples kissing each other makes the whole area filled with love. The experience would be “out-of-this-world” if there were no vendors pestering tourists.
7. Walk “leisurely” on Rialto Bridge
Among the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge (or Ponte di Rialto) is the oldest and definitely the most famous one. This is the reason why the area surrounding Rialto Bridge is packed with tourists.
So it is recommended to enjoy the bridge and the surrounding area early in the morning. It will be a great chance to capture the “not so familiar” images of Venice and Rialto Bridge. The bridge returned to its original look with barely no people on or nearby.
And I love Rialto Bridge during this time since it is easy to walk leisurely without hitting other people and to capture the best moments of the city.
8. Dine in a canal-side restaurant
Dining in a canal-side restaurant is always on my wishlist for things to do in Venice. And it is not difficult to find a canal-side restaurant along the way.
I bumped into Ristorante di Raffaele on the way back to my apartment. Yes, the restaurant was exactly the same as I imagined. And then we skipped the sightseeing to have dinner at around 5:30 (a bit earlier than usual).
Keep in mind that dining out in Venice is not cheap at all. And a canal-side dining experience may cost you double the price of an alley-way restaurant. Moreover, it is recommended to dine during off-peak hours to avoid the crowd.
9. Lost in nowhere
The joy of Venice is getting lost, no matter how far you go. Missing the ferry to Burano allows us to explore the area nearby F.te Nove.
At first, I thought that there was nothing much to see in this area and was reluctant to leave the vaporetto stop area. However, it turned out to be a “hidden gem”.
As this area is less crowded and touristy than other areas in Venice, you can find the most normal things from Venetian’s life, namely colorful outdoor clotheslines, windows with flower boxes, anchored row boats. It was such a pity that we couldn’t have more time in this area.
10. Visit San Marco Square early at the morning
Piazza San Marco is Venice’s main public square and contains its most famous buildings such as St Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and Campanile.
Home to Venice’s major sights, Napoleon called San Marco Square “the world’s most beautiful drawing room”. And there is no doubt that this is the most crowded place in the whole city.
Although San Macro topped every blogger list for top things to do in Venice, I found it too touristy. All you can see is large crowds either queuing for famous sights or taking photos.
It is recommended to pay San Marco a visit early in the morning when tourists haven’t dominated the whole square. And you can understand why Napoleon praised the beauty of San Marco.
Still can’t decide what to do in Venice, you can find some honorable mentions below:
Honorable Mentions 1: Scala Contarini del Bovolo
Scala Contarini del Bovolo is a weird building located in the middle of nowhere in Venice’s main islands. The building characterizes itself for its multi-arch spiral staircase which was commissioned by Pietro Contarini in the 15th century.
There is nothing much to see inside but amazing views towards St Mark’s Campanile and the nearby area. However, you won’t need to compete for the views with anyone since Scala Contarini del Bovolo is not easy to reach (the place shown on Google Maps is not exactly).
Honorable Mentions 2: Marvel at Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri)
Called the Ponte dei Sospiri by locals, this iconic bridge was actually an enclosed passageway connecting the Doge’s Palace to the historic prison across the canal. It was named for the “sighs” of the prisoners who passed over it.
No one can deny its beauty. However, I think this place is too touristy as it is common to see large crowds standing in front of the bridge. And the crowd won’t last until the end of the day.
If you wish to marvel at this beautiful architecture, better take the gondola which sails down the canal than waiting for the crowd.
Summary: Best things to do in Venice Italy
Venice travel tips
– Venice is a masterpiece, not a resort town where you can wear bikinis or swim shorts roaming around. So please respect Venice, dress appropriately (you can see the signs for “not to do things in Venice” along the way).
– There are strict rules for garbage recycling in Venice. If you don’t follow the recycling guides, a fine of 500€ will be charged to your account.
– Buy yourself a Venezia Card to enjoy unlimited use of public transport. Believe me this pass will save you a lot of money.
– It is recommended to book your accommodation along the Grand Canal where the vaporetto route operated. I booked an apartment near San Silvestro stop which is convenience to reach any place of the city.
Venice is out of this world. I had been “floating” 3 days after the trip and I couldn’t bear to go back to the ground.
This is recommendation for best things to do in Venice Italy. If you need any further information, kindly see other posts in my Traveling to Italy below:
- Lake Como Travel Guides and Tips
- Rome Travel Guides and Best places to visit
- Top 10 best things to do in Rome
– MUST-USE WEBSITE TO PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP –