Welcome to this guide that looks at some of the best places to visit in Venice.
Venice welcomes millions of visitors every year and some of them admit feeling overwhelmed by all the things to see and do.
It’s not that straightforward to understand how to plan your time in the city with one of the highest density of attractions per square metre in the world!
Keep reading this post to learn popular landmarks and lesser known gems worth including in your Venetian itinerary to make your stay here one to remember.
Places to visit in Venice in 1 day
There are so many places to visit in Venice that I believe not even a whole month would be quite enough to cover them all! That’s why it’s imperative to know how to maximise your limited time and plan to visit attractions of your interest.
When visiting Venice for the first time, remember to outline an itinerary that prioritises what you would really like to visit, rather than what everybody else is visiting!
Is Venice overrated?
No, I don’t think Venice is overrated if you know what’s worth visiting and when. But why do some people believe that Venice is an overrated destination?
Are you feeling overwhelmed by your upcoming Venice trip? I can help! I can share some personalised advice for your trip during a 45 minute call or even take a step further and design an itinerary that suits your needs and travelling style.
The most visited place in Venice
The most visited place in Venice is without any doubt St. Mark’s Square. Piazza San Marco is one of the most beautiful squares in the world and one of the must-see attractions in Venice for first time visitors.
When you get to St. Mark’s Square you can simply go for a stroll around it, admire the beauty of iconic landmarks facing it, like St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Campanile or visit the oldest coffee shop in the world: Caffè Florian.
Yes, it’s all in one place! In this guide you won’t find a section about St. Mark’s Square because I believe that even if St. Mark’s Square is stunning and worth visiting, the real beauty of this city is further away from where most tourists are.
What is the best way to get around Venice?
In my opinion, the best way to get around Venice is on foot. Venice is a car-free city and it’s made up to be explored on foot.
Walking around Venice is the ideal way to take in all its beauty, stopping along the way to take pictures of bridges and canals and find little corners of your liking.
You can also get from one place to the other by taking advantage of Venice’s waterways. Hop on a vaporetto (water bus) or one of the many famous Venice water taxi rides and get wherever you want around the city and the Venetian lagoon.
Map of the best places to visit in Venice in 1 day
You can check out here and download this practical map of the best places in Venice I recommend visiting that you can add to your phone.
On this map you can find a few suggestions consisting of places to eat in Venice, a bookshop and some off-the-radar neighbourhoods you can visit.
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Best places to visit in Venice
With no further ado, let’s get into this guide of the best places to visit in Venice (from my point of view) and that I’m sure, you won’t regret adding to your itinerary!
Not far from the famous Rialto Bridge, you can find the Rialto Market, one of the oldest markets in Italy. During the glorious Serenissima Republic days of Venice (697-1797), this market was the commercial beating heart of the city (and it still is, but as a meeting spot for many locals!).
Here Venetian merchants back from their travels to other world regions, used to sell exotic products like spices from the Middle East, but even fabrics, precious metals and perfumes.
Today you can still visit the fruit and vegetable market based in Campo de la Pescaria, where there are numerous bars and bacari where you can have aperitivo with the Venetian cicchetti if you are feeling peckish. You can also visit the fish market that takes place under the Loggia della Pescaria from 7.30am to midday.
Libreria Acqua Alta
The book store Acqua Alta was founded in 2004 by Luigi Frizzo who had the fantastic idea to create something that nobody has ever seen before.
The one-of-a-kind bookshop counts on a large collection of new and second-hand books stored inside gondolas, kayaks and even tubs. Acqua alta means ‘high water’ and when there’s a very high tide in Venice, the shop gets flooded.
You can easily spend half an hour sneaking around its narrow alleyways, checking books and prints. The book staircase is the highlight loved by thousands of visitors that want to take pictures on top of it.
The book store is not far from St. Mark’s Square, which makes it a great place to visit in Venice, nor far from the main attractions. At the bookstore you can find some lovely souvenirs to take at home like vintage postcards, large prints and books about Venice.
The Jewish Ghetto is the oldest ghetto in the world and it’s one of the best places to visit in Venice, far from the tourist crowds. If you like history and the idea of adding a less popular attraction to your itinerary, then visit the Jewish Ghetto.
You can spend your time visiting the 5 synagogues and the Jewish Museum, you can eat in some of the best kosher restaurants, and wander around its streets full of photo and art galleries.
Take your time to fully immerse yourself in Jewish history and culinary tradition by trying the lovely pastries from the locally-owned bakery Panificio Giovanni Volpe.
Other things to visit around the ghetto are: the Banco Rosso, a moneylender counter and the Scala Matta, a very steep external wooden staircase built in the 18th century which connected two buildings due to the lack of internal stairs.
The Girani artisanal coffee roaster is the oldest coffee roaster still operating in Venice. The art of roasting has been handed down for three generations since 1928 and when I visited their shop I could really tell that they have a strong passion and love for coffee.
Caffè Girani is a family business that preserves the coffee culture in Venice and the high quality of Italian espresso. Back in the 50s, the Girani family used to deliver the best coffee blends to luxury 5 star hotels in Venice like the Hotel Bauer.
When you visit the small coffee roaster shop, you can choose among a wide selection of coffee blends based on your taste, and ask advice to a Girani’s family member still working here. They will be happy to share more details about each blend and a bit of the family’s history.
Any of these coffee blends has the power to hit your smell and palate with their marked aromas and I also believe it makes a great souvenir to take at home for any coffee lover.
The Cannaregio neighbourhood is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Venice hands down. It’s off-the-tourist-radar and authentic and as such, more relaxed than the San Marco and San Polo districts, where the city’s main attractions are.
You can easily find completely empty calli and small squares, beautiful churches with paintings of famous Venetian artists like the church of Santa Maria dell’Orto and the best eateries and nightlife of the city.
A short itinerary around this neighbourhood should start from Ponte delle Guglie, then stop by the small fish market of Rio Terà San Leonardo and then walk through the Jewish Ghetto.
Then walk along the canal Rio della Misericordia on the Fondamenta dei Ormesini where you can find bacari serving fresh cicchetti as well as traditional Venetian restaurants for different budgets. Travelling with children?
Cannaregio is great for children that can freely run around its streets. You can stop at the coffee shop and bistro Sulla Luna featuring colourful picture books that your little ones will love!
Punta della Dogana
Punta della Dogana is a thin triangular piece of land that divides the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal in the Dorsoduro district.
From this underrated location, you can enjoy a great view of the St. Mark’s basin and see the Doge’s Palace and part of St. Mark’s Square with the two columns of St. Mark and St. Todaro from a different perspective.
In this area you can visit the contemporary art museum Punta della Dogana – Pinault Collection housed in the former customs office of the Serenissima Republic. The museum is named after François Pinault, one of the most important art collectors in the world.
He displays here its incredible art collection and is committed to host temporary art exhibitions. Other Venetian tourist attractions that I recommend visiting around the area are: the beautiful church of Santa Maria della Salute and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, if you’re interested in contemporary art.
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
The Contarini del Bovolo staircase is becoming one of the most popular alternative tourist spots to visit in Venice.
It’s attracting more and more tourists for its unique spiral shape and for the splendid view of Venice’s roofs and church bells you can enjoy from the top of the staircase. The staircase is part of the homonymous palace that belonged to the noble Venetian family Contarini.
The beautiful spiral staircase is one of the most romantic places for couples in Venice to enjoy views of the city thanks to its intimate location. The charming staircase is a much better location to admire the city from above compared to St. Mark’s Campanile.
The staircase is 28 metres high and 80 steps to climb to reach the top. There’s a fun story worth knowing about the palace: Pietro Contarini, the palace’s owner, asked to build a staircase with this particular shape so he could get to his rooms without leaving his horse downstairs.
Osteria Al Squero
The Osteria al Squero is another place I love to go back to, every time I have the chance. Just so you know, an osteria is a traditional restaurant or bar where locals eat Venetian dishes, cicchetti accompanied by the ‘ombra de vin’ (glass of wine) or a glass of Spritz.
This specific osteria is located just in front of a squero which is a gondolas boatyard, where gondolas and other small lagoon boats undergo maintenance. This area of Venice is peaceful, far from the tourist crowds and the osteria overlooks the San Trovaso canal.
Order some cicchetti from the counter and a glass of Prosecco wine or Venetian Spritz and, if the weather permits, stand outside in the street as locals like doing.
You can have your snacks and drinks while enjoying a lovely view of the canal and the squero in front of you.
Only 5 minutes walk from here, you can go on a walk along the Zattere promenade, one of the best sunset spots in Venice.
The most Instagrammable gelato in Venice? There’s no doubt it’s the gelato from the iconic Gelatoteca Suso. You can visit two Suso gelato shops, one near St. Mark’s Square in Calle della Bissa and the other one in Salizada S. Giovanni Grisostomo, 5801 in the Cannaregio district.
This gelato is famous for its artistic look, because pastry techniques are applied to ice cream preparation and for the unique choice of flavours prepared with high quality ingredients that change based on the season.
There are gluten-free and lactose-free ice cream flavours in order to please every clientele’s needs and taste. The gelato shop is the perfect pit stop for a sweet refreshing break to do while you’re visiting Venice.
It’s very popular in the summer with tourists and you can find long queues at the entrance, especially in the afternoon or during the hottest hours of the day.
The Rosticceria Gislon is one of the most loved rotisseries and a place worth visiting in Venice to eat on a budget. It’s located between St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge and it can get quite busy around lunch time.
It’s particularly famous for the Venetian street food called mozzarella in carrozza that you can choose to eat with the anchovy or ham.
You can also taste their fried delicacies and cicchetti like polpette from the counter or take a seat at the tables upstairs to have lunch with a risotto, a pasta dish or other traditional Venetian dishes.
Prices are affordable considering its location, on a busy touristic street connecting the attractions in St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto area.
Another plus point of the Rosticceria Gislon is that it’s just around the corner of Suso so you can have a tasty meal or snack first before a lovely gelato as dessert!
Places to visit in Venice in 1 day
I have said this before and I’ll continue to repeat it: as beautiful as they are, Venice is not solely about St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and the Rialto Bridge.
There are countless places to visit in Venice that are worth the curious traveller’s attention and that are usually more off-the-beaten-path.
From small family-owned coffee roasters, to unusual romantic viewpoints and eateries mainly frequented by locals, Venice is a treasure trove of little lesser-known gems that will most certainly uplift your experience of the city.
If you have time, be sure to read my guide to some of the best day trips from Venice if you want to have even more experiences that are a little more off the beaten track.
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