Venice: What to do & See

You will find a long to-do list in most Italian cities. And you won’t even get through half of it. If you want to wander aimlessly through Venice and see whatever sights you like, I’d give you permission. Venice can be a place where you don’t have to plan.

If you’re anything like I, you won’t be able just to let it go. Even if you spend most of your time wandering, there are some places that you should not miss. It is small so you can see a lot in a few days. By the way, I recommend spending at least one night in Venice. Day trips are not enough.

This list is intended to help you get started with your Venice trip planning. It’s not comprehensive. I enjoy seeing a few places that aren’t as well-known as the usual ones when I travel. Sometimes, it’s because I enjoy knowing that my itinerary is different from everyone else’s. Sometimes, it’s because I get a better picture of a place by visiting offbeat attractions. It’s not just one or the other in Venice.

My Venice travel guide will help you plan your trip.

Venice’s Top Attractions

  • Getting Lost – I mean it. Get rid of the map. It is pretty useless. It’s not possible to get lost. These are islands. If you come across a dead end at any canal, just turn around. There are many signs that will point you back to “S.” Marco” or Rialto.
  • St. St. It stands out among other Italian churches because of its onion domes. Also, it houses the remains Venice’s patron saint Mark.
  • St. St. It’s still a great line. There are a few very expensive cafes on the square with stellar views and dueling orchestras.
  • Campanile The original basilica’s bell-tower collapsed in 1902 and the current one was rebuilt in 1912. The stairs can be climbed or you can take the elevator up to the top.
  • Palazzo Ducale– Located next to St. Mark’s Basilica, is the Palazzo Ducale. This palace was where the dukes from the Venetian Empire lived for many centuries. A guided tour of Palazzo Ducale includes the Bridge of Sighs as well as the prisons of the palace.
  • Rialto Bridge — One of four bridges that span the Grand Canal. The Rialto is also the oldest. The central walkway is lined with shops.
  • San Giorgio Maggiore This Palladian 16th-century church occupies most of the real property on the small island with the same name at the Giudecca Island.
  • Il Redentore The Church of the Most Holy Redeemer – Another Palladian 16th-century design, this one was built to thank God in the end for the massive plague outbreak that hit Venice. An annual festival is held in honor of the church to remind everyone that they are grateful.
  • Santa Maria della Salute This 17th-century church was built to give thanks to God for another plague outbreak. However, this one does not have an annual festival. It is a compact, ornate confection made of white with a dome that is white-tiled.
  • Clock Tower– On the side of St. Mark’s Basilica is a 15th century clock tower featuring animatronic figures.
  • La Fenice Venice’s historical opera house La Fenice was destroyed by fire three times, with the most recent occurring in 1996. Each time, it was completely rebuilt.
  • Accademia Gallery – The collection at the Accademia Gallery, Venice, is dedicated to Venetian art before 19th century. It also has Leonardo da Vinci’s famous sketch of “Vitruvian Man”.
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection The modern art collection is housed in Peggy Guggenheim’s former residence and includes works by Picasso, Dali Miro, Ernst Kandinsky, Magritte. Pollock, and Mondrian.
  • Murano This is the island that’s close to the central Venetian Islands and home to the city’s famous glass-blowing craftsmen.
  • Burano — Slightly further in the Venetian Lagoon are Burano’s claims of fame: lace-making, and brightly-painted homes.

Guided Tours of Venice

Venice’s Most Strange Attractions

  • Bovolo Staircase Built outside a Venetian Palazzo, the Bovolo Staircase offers a unique view of the city from a spiral staircase.
  • Hidden Synagogues The historic Jewish Ghetto of Venice, built in the 16th century and enclosed, houses synagogues you can’t see outside. Because Jews were not allowed to openly practice their faith, each synagogue is hidden unless you are inside. A guided tour can take you to a few of these synagogues.
  • Marco Polo’s House– Marco Polo, the famous explorer, is said to have written his autobiography in this house. It is extremely difficult to find and is not open to the public. However, a plaque placed by the city is very official.
  • The Rialto Hunchback Near the Rialto Bridge is a set stone steps. Below the statue of a man, the platform at the top of each step appears to be held up by him. For small crimes, the hunchback was the final line of punishment. The victim would run naked through Venice from St. Mark’s Square to Rialto Bridge and then kiss the hunchback.
  • The Old Woman With the Mortar A plaque is located near St. Mark’s Square. It depicts a woman dropping a mortar stone from her windowsill. This plaque commemorates an incident that occurred in the early 14th-century, when a group of people plotted to overthrow government officials. It is not clear if she intentionally threw it or accidentally dropped it while trying to eavesdrop, but it is known that the mortar killed her ringleader and ended the rebellion.
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