Sooner or later the moment for a trip to Venice arrives for everyone in life.
Many cities have tried to claim their name from the resemblance of some sort of feature – the Venice of the north, the Venice of Asia, Little Venice in London – but they are nowhere near comparable.
Let’s find out more about the city of canals and bridges so you can learn what things to do in Venice during your stay without missing out on all the good bits.
Things to do in Venice 2023
Are you looking to visit the majestic Piazza San Marco and the romantic Rialto Bridge or discover lesser-known districts and corners of Venice?
I believe that a mix of popular landmarks and off-the-beaten-path sights and experiences is the best way to make the most out of your visit to Venice.
Is Venice worth visiting?
There are so many reasons to visit Venice. Where do I start?
First of all, don’t be thrown off by the small size of the city, the number of things to do in Venice is surprisingly high.
UPDATE: I decided to publish a dedicated page which covers 7 reasons to visit Venice that you can take a look at if you are still not 100% convinced.
How many days in Venice?
One day in the city is not enough to fill you up on all the wonders that the lagoon city had to offer. As I said, there are a lot of things to do in Venice.
I suggest spending 2 days in Venice (minimum). The best option is to spend 4 or 5 days. This would give you the peace of mind of not having to rush into visiting as much as possible in a very short time.
By spending at least 3 days in Venice, you can arrange your itinerary in a way that will allow you to avoid the busiest times of the day to visit tourist attractions such as the Basilica di San Marco or the nearby Campanile.
Additionally, you’ll have plenty of time to visit the non-touristic districts of Venice and enjoy the beauty of empty streets in the evening, when most of the day-trippers leave.
With 4 or 5 days in Venice, you’ll also have time to visit other islands in the lagoon as well as other cities in Veneto, in most cases, only less than one and a half away by train or car from Venice.
As you will see on the map below there is plenty of things to keep you busy.
If you only have one day in Venice you may want to select the most interesting things for you and/or see my itinerary that details each step of the way for you.
15 Things to do in Venice
So now it’s time to dive into this guide, and finally, find out the top things to do in Venice during your stay in the beautiful city of bridges and canals.
Accademia Bridge and Galleries
The Accademia Bridge is one of the four bridges that span the Canal Grande in Venice. From here, you can enjoy a lovely view on the Canal Grande on a sunny and clear day and spot the Basilica of San Marco too!
For art lovers, don’t forget to include in your itinerary the Accademia Galleries, a prestigious art museum that exhibits the most important collection of Venetian paintings in the world, with a focus on its heyday (from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century).
Another great wonder of Venice is Palazzo Ducale, which is the palace of the Doge, back in the thriving Serenissima Republic days.
It represents one of the greatest examples of Venetian Gothic architecture you can spot in the city, and it’s home to an inestimable valuable artistic heritage. Visiting the Palazzo Ducale is one of the best ways to learn more about Venice’s history during its glorious days.
The palace is characterised by three wings, the most ornated one is the Renaissance wing, which stands out for its elaborate decorations, and for the monumental Scala dei Giganti, which once represented the entrance of honor.
Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is one of the most famous bridges of Venice, after Rialto. Behind its elegant face, the bridge hides a painful story.
Today couples in love are taking pictures in front of it, thinking that the ‘sighs’ that gave the bridge its name are the ones of lovers exchanging their promises.
As a matter of fact, the Bridge of Sighs name is a reminiscence of the sighs of condemned people by the Serenissima court who were led across this bridge to their cells.
The story tells that when crossing the bridge, they were taking their very last look at the beautiful Venetian lagoon, before their final sentence.
Do a Food and Wine Tour
There’s no better way to explore the Venetian food scene than joining a food and wine tour with locals!
Take a look at this food and wine tour (with cicchetti tastings) to feel like a real Venetian, gathering with friends and family, surrounded by ‘cicchetti’, tapas-style savoury snacks, and a glass of wine.
During the tour, you’ll learn about traditional food and wines in Venice, sample different types of ‘cicchetti’, and discover the best taverns where locals go.
Visit Caffè Florian
Caffè Florian is a historical bar and the oldest one in Italy and in the world. It dates back to the year 1720 when the owner Floriano Francesconi inaugurated the new place in town.
Located in Piazza San Marco, under the Procuratie Nuove porticoes, it’s still a real institution in Venice and everyone knows it.
Among the celebrities that were hanging out at this bar, there were: Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Lord Byron, and Carlo Goldoni, one of the fathers of modern comedy.
Visit St. Mark’s Square and St. Mark’s Basilica
St. Mark’s Square, in Italian Piazza San Marco, is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. Napoleon used to call it the ‘drawing room of Europe’ for its beauty and unique features, a place where intellectuals used to meet and discuss ideas. That was happening at the Caffè Florian, the historic café in St. Mark’s Square.
This is the only piazza of Venice since the other squares are called ‘campi’. It’s a very old square as it dates back to the year 826. It’s surrounded on three sides by the old and new Procuratie and on one side is occupied by the St. Mark’s Basilica.
The St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica of San Marco) is the religious heart of Venice and one of the symbols of the city. Don’t miss the chance to visit inside of the church decorated by thousands of golden mosaics! There are different parts to visit paying an extra admission fee and with this guided tour you’ll get access to the terrace too.
A Gondola Tour on Grand Canal
A gondola ride through the canals of Venice is on the top list of the things to do in Venice for thousands of tourists.
The Venetian gondola boat is the symbol of the city and an icon of romanticism. This is a traditional boat, used to move around Venice and the lagoon since the earliest days of the city.
Its distinctive features are the black silhouette and sparkling gold and red velvet details. You can get to a gondola all around Venice.
The cost for a 30 minutes day ride is 80 euros (max 5 people) and 100 euro between 7pm and 8am. See this guide to riding a gondola in Venice for more tips.
It doesn’t matter if you have ever visited Venice, because there’s a high chance that you heard or seen (in a picture) at least once the Rialto Bridge, one of the most famous bridges around the world.
The bridge spans the Canal Grande, it’s an architectural marvel that keeps leaving visitors speechless for its size and beauty.
It was built at the end of the sixteenth century, it’s a 7.5 meter long covered bridge. As well as, Piazza San Marco, it’s the real centre of city life.
Do not miss the fruit and vegetable market taking place on the side of the bridge, to get a taste of the authentic side of Venetian life.
Try Local Foods
If at some point you get hungry, forget about the fancy restaurants, those appearing in the review sites or tour guides, and look yourself for a real ‘bacaro’! What is it?
The ‘bacaro’ is the typical Venetian tavern, nothing more than a small bar where food is just an excuse to enjoy a glass of red or white wine.
Don’t get the tavern’s appearance to mislead you, here the freshness and quality of the ingredients it’s the best!
Try ‘Cicchetti’, tapas style savoury food such as the ‘crostini’ of cod or the ‘mozzarella in carrozza’ (fried mozzarella with anchovy) like a real Venetian person!
Fondaco dei Tedeschi rooftop view
When staying in the best hotels with Canal views in Venice some of the most sought-after panoramic viewpoints can be enjoyed from your private terrace.
However, one free activity in Venice you can do is visit the Fondaco dei Tedeschi rooftop terrace where you’ll get fabulous views of the Grand Canal. You can get completely free access to it, spend 15 minutes and admire Venice from the top!
You’ll only have to book your slot on the website. The building was used as warehouse, exhibition centre, customs post and post office during the Serenissima Republic days. Today there’s a multi-level luxury shopping centre, attracting shopping lovers from all around the world all year long.
Campo Santa Margherita + Campo San Barnaba
When in Venice, don’t be afraid to get lost and walk around without a pre-established destination. It’s exactly at that point, that you’ll discover the best side of the city.
You will certainly step your foot in some public squares called ‘campi’. There are two of that you might want to add to your list of things to do in Venice:
Campo Santa Margherita and Campo San Barnaba. Here you can really get a glimpse into the Venetian lifestyle and feel like a real Venetian.
Campo Santa Margherita is the meeting place for university students on their way to class and the best place for an aperitivo with friends. Campo San Barnabais a vibrant square with independent shops and a floating fruit and vegetable market! A boat where you can buy fresh, seasonal fruits and vegs all year round.
A Murano, Burano, and Torcello Boat Trip Tour
Among the things to do in Venice and having more than a day to spend here, I strongly advise getting take a couple of hours to visit three of the most popular islands of the Venetian lagoon: Murano, Burano, and Torcello.
With the Murano, Torcello & Burano islands boat trip, you’ll get the chance to cruise to these picturesque islands.
During your tour, you’ll watch master glassblowers at work in Murano, spend some free time in Torcello, and enjoy the chilled atmosphere of Burano with its colorful houses. Do you know why the houses in Burano all have different colours? Well, I invite you to visit so you can learn all about it during your trip!
Visit the Jewish Ghetto
The Jewish Ghetto is located in the Cannaregio neighbourhood and it’s the oldest ghetto in the world. Many Jewish people were forced to live in this part of the city during the Serenissima Republic days and under Napoleon’s rule.
Today here you can visit five synagogues: the one of the German School, Italian School, Canton School, Levantine School and Ponentina (or Spanish) School. I also recommend visiting the Jewish Museum and wander around the streets of the ghetto or joining this 2-hour walking tour accompanied by a local guide.
There are many shops still owned by Jewish families and restaurants where you can try some traditional kosher dishes. Get some lovely pastries from the bakery shop Giovanni Volpe and have lunch at the restaurant Gam Gam.
Drinking Spritz in Venice is a full-fledged ritual along with ‘andar per bacari’ (go around bacari which are traditional bars). Spritz is prepared with 3 ingredients: Prosecco wine, Aperol and seltz (or sparkling water).
The cost of a glass of Aperol (or Campari Bitter) Spritz is between 2,50-4 euros, anything more than means you’re having the iconic aperitivo in a fancy location.
Here are some places I recommend for a good Spritz in Venice:
- Al Mercà (Campo Bella Vienna, 213)
- Combo (Campo dei Gesuiti, 4878)
- Osteria Ai Pugni (Fondamenta Gherardini, 2836)
- Bacareto da Lele (Fondamenta dei Tolentini, 183)
- Cantina Do Spade (San Polo, 859)
Check out my Spritz map and save it for your trip!:
Walk to Zattere
The Zattere are the foundations connecting San Basilio to Punta della Dogana along the Giudecca canal. For centuries, it’s been the landing place for rafts carrying timber from the mountains.
Today it’s one of the most loved promenade for Venetian people, as not many people are normally walking down this street. You can find many bars and restaurants where you can stop for a coffee, a drink or a meal if you like.
From here, you can admire the Giudecca island and spot the stunning Hilton Molino Stucky Venice, one of the best 5 star hotels in Venice. You can’t miss the chance to visit the Squero San Trovaso, one of the few gondolas’ boatyards left in the city.
Have some Venetian cicchetti at the Osteria San Trovaso, just in front of it. I believe that these are some of the best you can taste along with a glass of wine or beer.
Best Time to Visit Venice
As for the times of the year to visit Venice, spring and autumn are preferable. Visiting Venice during winter time is not advisable.
During winter the temperatures are quite low (they can go down to 0-6 C°), and there’s a higher chance to get there during rainy and foggy days and having to deal with the high tide.
Summer time is a good time but July and August are not the best months to move around the city, because the temperatures are quite high (it can get up to 30-35 C°) and most of the Italian and international tourists are choosing to travel during this time of the year.
I’m sure you don’t want to walk all day long during a very hot day and having to wait on the queue to visit the most tourists landmarks, right?
That’s why Venice in March, April, May or even September and October are the best months to visit, to enjoy milder temperatures and avoid most crowds.
Try to avoid events such as the Carnival or the Venice Film Festival if you don’t want to get stuck. The number of visitors moving around on the streets of Venice will make it difficult to visit all the places in your itinerary. If you’re thinking of travelling to Venice at Christmas or around the new year, see my tips on this blog.
What to Pack for Venice?
Depending on the time of the year you visit Venice, it’s key to know what to pack.
Let’s not forget that in Venice you’ll be walking a lot visiting churches and cathedrals. Let’s take a look at this practical list of things to pack.
I have created a guide that shows you exactly what to wear in Venice which takes into account all the different seasons and activities that you may want to do.
Got travel insurance for Venice?
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Things to do in Venice
Now you should know more about the things to do in Venice and what to not miss during your stay here.
Venice is a city just waiting to be explored by the eye of curious tourists that don’t want to stop at the most famous landmark.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re choosing to spend a short weekend or a whole week, the city of the water offers a plethora of things you can see and experience, and for all tastes too!
Why not see some of these free things to do in Venice that you can do?
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