Venice, the gondolas, the bridge of sighs, its famous carnival, and spectacular monuments in every corner. Some adore it and those who find it too touristy, but one thing is certain: Venice is a city that remains a mystery to many and continues to fascinate visitors who flock to its small streets and unique canals every year.
If you have never been to Venice, we invite you to give it a chance and discover it or, if you already know it, to go back and try some of the experiences and activities that we present in this list of the best things to do and see in Venice.
Things to Do in Venice
Taking a Gondola Ride
One of the best ways to experience Venice is to get lost in its alleys, calli, wander, and be carried away by magic.
In Venice you won’t find cars, the streets are mainly made of water, and you can move around the city either on foot or by boat.
One thing to do in Venice is travel by public transport, which is not streetcars or buses, but waterbuses. Take one and visit the lagoon along the canals. It can be a great activity and an alternative tour.
If you want to live the Venetian charm to the fullest, a gondola ride is a must! But where are the gondolas? In Venice, there are many stations or places where boats are docked with their respective gondoliers. Each one has different prices and itineraries, so you have to choose the one that suits you best!
Be careful, though; it is a highly romantic experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories.
One of the first things that come to mind when you think of Venice is its famous carnival. This event attracts tourists from all over the world every year, who flock to admire the beautiful masks that roam the city’s streets. The history of the carnival is ancient. It is traced back as an official event in 1296, but it is in the eighteenth century that it acquires international fame!
Among the most famous masks, we can meet the Bauta (exclusive of Venice) composed of black cloak and white mask and the Moretta or Servetta Muta, exclusively female, made of black velvet and held up with the help of an internal button inserted between the teeth.
These are just two of the many masks of the time, some of which, like the Buta, can still be admired today.
So what are you waiting for? If you want to try some of them, you can go to Ca’ Macana’s atelier and put on the most beautiful mask and the most striking dress to go down to the square and participate in the most famous Carnival in the world.
Visit St. Mark’s Square
Napoleon defined Piazza San Marco as the “most elegant drawing room in Europe.” It is the only real square in Venice and is one of the most important monumental squares in Europe. Its beauty is given by the monuments and buildings that make it up, such as the Basilica of San Marco and its Bell Tower, the Marciana Library, the Doge’s Palace, the Procuratie, the Clock Tower, and the Royal Palace.
The square shape is trapezoidal, is 170 meters long, and is divided into three sectors: the Piazza, Piazzetta San Marco, and Piazzetta dei leoncini, named for the two crouching lions.
If you visit St. Mark’s Square, you can’t miss a tour of the ancient Basilica where you can admire wonderful Byzantine mosaics and, finally, we absolutely recommend a visit to the top of the bell tower. A good 98.6 m high, St. Mark’s Campanile dominates the entire square and the lagoon. Not to be missed, it will give you a breathtaking view.
Visit Teatro La Fenice
Gran Teatro la Fenice in Venice is one of the most beautiful theaters in Italy and one of the most prestigious in the world. Loaded with history, on its stage have been represented the premieres of numerous works by artists who have marked the history of music, such as Giuseppe Verdi or Gioachino Rossini. In addition, the theater can be visited inside and hosts a permanent exhibition dedicated to Maria Callas and her Venetian period.
So, if you are a music lover and passionate about opera, don’t miss the chance to attend a live performance in one of the most important theaters in the world.
The theater is located in Campo San Fantin, in the Sestiere of San Marco.
Venice Art Galleries
One of the things to see in Venice is certainly the art galleries. Discover the incredible collection of Peggy Guggenheim, one of the most prestigious European and Italian museums that collect works by artists such as Picasso, Magritte, and Max Ernst. The museum also hosts numerous additional events and exhibitions.
To learn more about Venetian painting, visit the Accademia Galleries, the most important museum in the world for the painting of this genre, which collects works from the period between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. Inside you can find artists such as Bellini, Giorgione, Mantegna, Tiziano, Tintoretto, Veronese and Tiepolo.
If you like oriental art, however, don’t miss the Oriental Art Museum of Venice. The collection contains many art objects collected by Henry of Bourbon, who, between 1887 and 1889, visited Asia for a long period.
These are just some of the museums and art galleries offered by the city of Venice; discover them all!
Visit the islands of Murano and Burano
When visiting Venice, a stop on the islands of Murano and Burano is a must!
Just a forty-minute Vaporetto ride from the city, you’ll find the island of Burano, a picturesque village known for its typical brightly colored houses and beautiful handmade lace.
During your visit to the island, make a stop at the lace museum to discover this ancient tradition; you can also buy them in the craft stores—a precious souvenir to take home.
In addition to Burano, when visiting Venice, a trip to Murano is a must! The island of Murano is famous worldwide for the “Murano Glass,” its long tradition in glassmaking is an institution; it takes the opportunity to visit the Glass Museum of Murano, located in the Palace of the Bishops, Torcello.
The structure of the island is similar to that of Venice, consisting of 9 small islands joined together by bridges and has a Grand Canal. In Murano, besides the Glass Museum, it is possible to visit the furnaces and the church of San Donato…
Take a Tour of the Doge’s Palace.
One of the most famous characters of Venice is certainly Casanova, the most famous womanizer in Italian history, known throughout the world for his unbridled life as a seducer and libertine.
One of the most famous events was his arrest by the Venetian inquisitors with the probable charge of libertinism.
He was imprisoned in the cells located in the attic of the Doge’s Palace, the ancient seat of the Doge and one of the symbols of the city, whose architecture resembles the Byzantine one. These prisons were called Piombi, do not miss the chance to visit the places from which Casanova made his daring escape to escape imprisonment.
During your stay in Venice, take the opportunity to explore the flavors of the Veneto, take a tour of the Rialto market, where you can find the best products in the region. In addition, places to stop and eat abound in Venice: for a sweet and tasty break, stop and taste the apple fritters and delicious desserts of Pasticceria Tonolo, an institution in the city. If you’re more of a savory person, treat yourself to an aperitif in bars like Lele’s Bacareto by ordering a glass of wine (it will cost about 1€) and a board of cheeses and cold cuts.
If you want to try the Spritz, the iconic drink of Venice, we suggest you try it in one of the boat bars you can find in Fondamenta Ormesini.