Venice, Italy, known for its stunning architecture and intricate canal system, is a city that captivates the imagination and offers endless opportunities for exploration and adventure.
If you’re planning a trip to this enchanting destination, here are ten must-do activities to add to your itinerary:
Take a Gondola Ride
No visit to Venice would be complete without embarking on a gondola ride. Glide along the picturesque canals, passing under charming bridges, and soak in the romantic atmosphere of this iconic mode of transportation.
Gondola rides can be notoriously expensive (with the Gondoliers earning as much as $150,000 a year), but there’s a few tips to get a more affordable ride:
- Check out sites such as Groupon: during our visit we booked a shared gondola using a voucher on Groupon and paid around €20 each, far less than the usual €80-€120!
- Pay €2 to cross the canal: the Traghetto is used to cross the Grand Canal in Venice and will just cost you a couple euros.
- Visit Libreria Acqua Alta: this famous bookshop actually has a gondola tied up outside which you’re welcome to sit on and take photos for free!
Visit St. Mark’s Square
As the heart of Venice, St. Mark’s Square is a vibrant and bustling hub filled with historical landmarks. Explore the magnificent St. Mark’s Basilica, adorned with intricate mosaics and ornate architecture, and admire the impressive Doge’s Palace (see below), once the seat of power in Venice.
Here you’ll see many cute cafes and restaurants but these will all, sadly, be overpriced tourist traps. Instead, try to head off the beaten path and find a restaurant with ‘Trattoria’ or ‘Osteria’ in the name for some genuine local food.traveller tip
Tour the Doge’s Palace
Step back in time and immerse yourself in the opulent world of the Doge’s Palace. Discover its lavish interior, adorned with magnificent artwork, grand halls, and intricate details.
Explore the Venetian Islands
Venture beyond the main island of Venice and take a boat tour to the nearby islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. Each island boasts its own distinct character and charm. Visit Murano to witness the art of glassmaking, explore the colourful houses of Burano, and discover the historical treasures of Torcello.
While you can explore these islands using the ferry system of Venice, you may prefer to take a day tour that comes with a local tour guide and some other bonuses:
Indulge in Gelato
As you wander through the narrow streets of Venice, you of course have to treat yourself to some authentic Italian gelato.
If you’re looking for places to go to, check out this article on The Culture Trip for recommendations! Alternatively, try out a food tour to combine this and a load of other goodies (like Cicchetti, which we’ll talk about later).
If you’re both a coffee and an ice cream lover be sure to try affogato (literally translates to ‘drowned’) for the best of both worldsTraveller tip
Wander Through the Jewish Quarter
Located in the Cannaregio district, the Jewish Quarter offers a captivating glimpse into the city’s history. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, Venice’s Jewish population resided in this area, characterised by taller buildings that accommodated the large number of people.
The Jewish Museum of Venice provides an insight into the rich history and culture of the Jewish community, housing a remarkable collection of Jewish textiles and goldsmith works spanning centuries. The Ghetto also boasts five synagogues, each playing a vital role in the religious and cultural life of the Jewish community.
Visit Libreria Acqua Alta
Book lovers shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Libreria Acqua Alta, a renowned bookstore that holds a unique charm.
Inside, you’ll find books showcased in myriad of ways: nestled within bathtubs, boats, a full-size gondola, and a load of other of imaginative objects.
This unique arrangement serves a purpose beyond mere aesthetics – it safeguards both old and new books from the city’s frequent flooding!
This popular bookshop has a gondola parked outside on the canal that you can sit on and take photos in. To find it, when you enter the shop turn to the room on the right and circle the room until you find a small doorway that leads out onto the canal.TRAVELLER TIP
To truly experience the local culinary culture, indulge in cicchetti. Similar to Spanish tapas, these small snacks are served in bars and osterias throughout Venice.
Savour the flavours of Venetian cuisine by sampling a variety of delicious bites paired with a glass of local wine.
Visit the Rialto Bridge
An iconic landmark in Venice, the Rialto Bridge is a must-visit. Cross this historic bridge, which spans the Grand Canal, and take in the panoramic views of the city’s bustling waterways and charming architecture.
The Rialto bridge is one of just four bridges in the world to have shops across its full span on both sides. The others being located in Florence, Bath and Germany.
Enjoy an Aperol Spritz
Did you know that Aperol was invented in Venice?
End your day like a true Venetian by relaxing with an Aperol Spritz, a refreshing cocktail synonymous with the city. Sip this vibrant orange-hued drink while indulging in aperitivo, a pre-dinner ritual of enjoying small bites and drinks.
Where to stay in Venice
How to get around
Venice’s comprehensive public transport system, managed by the ACTV (Venice’s municipal public transport system), includes the vaporetto service, which is essentially a water bus!
To save a bit of cash I’d recommend buying a pass for the duration of your time in Venice. These are available for one day (€25), two days (€35), three days (€45), or seven days (€65), providing unlimited travel during the respective timeframes. These can be purchased at the vaporetto stops.
Now as I’m sure you’ve realised Venice is car free, so you need a way in from the airport! There’s a couple of options here:
- Take the train – regular trains depart into the city, from the station you can take a range of water busses or taxis to your hotel
- Take a water taxi – book a stress free transfer and enter the city in classic Venice style