Top Must Do's in Venice, Italy
Venice is one of the worlds most unique cities. Now I know why everyone says it must be visited at least once in your lifetime. An enchanting city that somehow transports you back in time with its old buildings and the same canal system merchants used back in the day to travel through the city. There's more to Venice than meets the eye.
Here are our top favorite things to do while in Venice:
Everyone says the Gondola rides are a must when in Venice. In our humble opinion, these are a tourist trap! The Gondola rides range in price from €80-100 for 40 minutes depending on time of day (night rides are more expensive). It might work out great for you if you are sharing with friends or family. Since it was only two of us, we found another option to still get a small taste of the Gondola experience. This was through a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal. This gondola like ferry is used to transport passengers from one side of the Grand Canal to the other. The Traghetto Crossing we used is located near Lorenzo Quinn’s Statue by the Ca’Sagredo Hotel. It is said there are a total of 8 Traghetto Crossings on the Grand Canal. This gondola like ferry, normally takes up to 6 passengers at the time to the other side of the Grand Canal. We were lucky and there was only us and another couple. They were doing the same thing we were, so for the 4-5 minute ride it took to get us across the Grand Canal, we snapped pictures of each other the entire time. You can do this as many times as you’d like since the price is only €2 per person to cross to the other side.
BASILICA DI SAN MARCO (ST. MARK'S BASILICA)
One of the most famous buildings in Venice is this gold plated Basilica. It's even more beautiful from the inside! It is located right in St. Mark's Square. Don't let the long lines discourage you from visiting this Italian-Byzantine architectural gem!
Backpacks are not allowed in the Basilica. By Calle Spadaria, next to the Basilica, you will find a place that stores backpacks. If you have trouble finding it, just ask around and anyone will be able to guide you to the place. Bring a backpack even if it's empty, and get a ticket that allows you to skip the line. Best of all, it's free and it will keep you from standing in line!
Be aware that you cannot enter the Basilica in shorts or showing your shoulders. Cover up or bring a scarf. They do provide paper shawls for €0.50 in case you forget to bring a scarf.
ST. MARK'S SQUARE
St. Mark's Square is the home of St Mark's Basilica and Torre dell' Orologio. People gather on this square to eat, drink, shop, meet friends and much more! This square is lively at all times of the day and night. At night however, you can grab a few beers from any local shop, sit out near the square and people watch while listening to the live music playing from the nearby restaurants.
The Grand Canal is the principal boulevard through the city. It passes from one side of Venice to the other and it goes through the center of the city in a backwards S shape. This has been an important waterway in the city for years. The Grand Canal is gorgeous at sunset, so don't forget to snap a few pictures as you walk over the Rialto Bridge or any of the other three bridges that cross this canal.
This bridge is the oldest bridge in Venice and one of the four that cross the Grand Canal. The Rialto Bridge is normally swarming with tourists taking pictures of the passing gondolas on the Grand Canal. It has some great views of Venice. The detail of this bridge is beautiful. You can also take advantage of the shops on the bridge that sell anywhere from souvenirs to jewelry and more!
BRIDGE OF SIGHS
You can find this bridge passing over the Rio di Palazzo, connecting Prigioni Nuove to Doge's Palace. It is said that criminals were taken from the Palace over the bridge, in which they would take one last look at Venice and their last sigh before heading to prison. Be aware, this bridge is a tourist hot spot (like much of Venice), chances are it might get very full at times. Head down to the area under the arches closer to the water, either on the left or right hand side for better pictures.
This promenade is lined with bars, cafes, restaurants and ice cream shops. It is a great place to sit along this promenade and enjoy the view.
LORENZO QUINN'S SCULPTURE: SUPPORT
One of our favorite sculptures was created by Lorenzo Quinn to highlight the threat of climate change in Venice. This sculpture features two giant hands reaching out of the Grand Canal in front of the Ca' Sagredo Hotel. For only €2 per person, you can cross over via a Traghetto to get a closer look at the statue. This picture was taken from the Traghetto Crossing.
T FONDACO DEI TEDESCHI DEPARTMENT STORE
For the most beautiful view of the entire city, head to this departments' store terrace in which you will be wow'ed into falling in love with Venice. Walk into the store and head to the elevator and take it to the top floor. There might be a small line, but it goes by very fast since everyone has a limited amount of time (about 10 min) to be in the terrace. So come prepared with your camera ready to snap away! Do take a second to take it all in and admire this astonishing view.
LIBRERIA ALTA ACQUA (LIBRARY OF HIGH WATER)
This is a very interesting place to visit. Although we wouldn't consider ourselves bookworms, we were advised this bookshop was not to be missed. In this picturesque bookstore you will find a gondola full of books. Don’t forget to go all the way to the back of the library to get some pictures of the stairs made out of books!
CASTELLO AND CANARREGIO
A few other neighborhoods off the beaten track we enjoyed were Castello and Canarregio. Here you can stroll around and get away from the touristy side of Venice.
PONTE DE CHIODO
This bridge is one of the last two oldest bridges with no hand rails left in Venice. This is how the bridges use to be built in Venice ages ago. It is a one of a kind bridge off the beaten track. This bridge is located in Cannaregio. Worth a visit if you are in the Canarregio neighborhood.
Our favorite was Suso Gelateria, some of the best gelato we’ve had in all of Venice.
We would love to hear of any other top must do's we might have missed in Venice! Don't be shy! Share them below!
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