Best Places to Visit in Venice
The ‘floating city’ of Venice, known around the world for its bustling waterways and stunning vistas is a must-see destination on any travel enthusiast’s bucket list. Built on 118 islands in the Venetian Lagoon, the capital of Italy’s Veneto region is an architectural wonderland. As you stroll through the meandering streets, each turn of a corner reveals a new picture-perfect scene that will stay in your memory for a lifetime. With no roads within the city, the canals provide the primary mode of transport so if you want to escape the hustle and bustle (and traffic) of modern city life, Venice is most definitely for you.
Things to do in Venice
By far the best way to experience the city of Venice is by foot and it is a part of the charm of the city that it can be entirely accessed in this way. Begin your tour of Venice by heading to the hive of activity that is Piazza San Marco. From here you can marvel at the architecture of the square before visiting the number of tourist must-sees that surround it.
Standing at 323 feet, the belltower of San Marco watches over the square and boasts incredible views of Venice if you choose to hop in the elevator and venture to the top. Next to the tower is St Marks Basilica; built to contain the body of St Mark, this domed goliath is a feast for the eyes. The 10th-century cathedral is Byzantine in style and was built after the previous building burned down. Inside are vast expanses of golden mosaics depicting religious figures and events and these cover the walls of not only the four arms of the internal layout but also the domes which sit atop.
In terms of its place in the city, it is a relatively new kid on the block having only become Venice’s cathedral in 1807. Up until this time it was the private chapel of the doge: the magistrate and leader of the Republic of Venice. The previous cathedral, San Pietro di Castello, can still be visited and has smaller crowds.
The Doge’s Palace sits between the Basilica and the Grand Canal and is now also a museum. It was constructed to show off the wealth and power of Venice and its architectural intricacies do just that. Explore the elaborately decorated rooms and take a turn around the outside to soak up the opulence of the palace.
If you’d like to take the weight off your feet and tour the city from the water then you can jump aboard a gondola. Be aware that gondola rides can be pricey so you may want to book a tour in advance to ensure the best deal. Or if you’re on a tighter budget then you can take advantage of the water buses which depart from various locations and have timetables posted around the city.
Venice’s Grand Canal (or Canalazzo) is the impressive central waterway that splits the city in two. Whilst it does act as the fastest connector to certain parts of the city, it is itself a beautiful attraction. If you venture there at sunset you will see why countless artists over the years have painted the scene. The golden glow of the sun as it sinks behind the horizon will fill you with wonder and you’ll further understand why Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world.
You may have heard that Venice is sinking and that it must be visited soon before it is lost to history. The truth is that rather than sinking, it is being submerged by rising sea levels. If you’re concerned about Venice disappearing before you see it then have no fear, it is unlikely to disappear within the next century. But on the other hand, why wait?
Other Attractions in Venice
Many people like to experience Venice by journeying to its neighbouring towns. The islands Murano, Burano, and Torcello are all fantastic places to visit and allow a greater knowledge of the archipelago. Did you know that Venice has a smaller sibling? 16 miles south of the city you will find Chioggia, another town floating upon the water. Boasting multiple canals and alleyways of its own, this pretty ‘little Venice’ is also based in the Venetian Lagoon and is a unique excursion to add to your Venice tour.
If you, like many others, believe that the only way to experience somewhere is by sampling the local cuisine then you can certainly take a foodie tour of Venice. Of course, Venice is an Italian city so the stereotypically Italian foods of pasta and pizza will be easy to find but if you want to eat like a true Venetian then you have to sample Cicchetti. These small, savoury side dishes can comprise foods such as grilled prawns and squid, to bread topped with tomatoes, to a selection of meats and cheeses. Most importantly, Cicchetti is washed down with a glass of wine or a drink of your choice. Or if you like to shop for food just like the locals do then make your way to the commercial hub of Venice and the Rialto Market. The rainbow of high-quality fruit and vegetables available will make you want to get in the kitchen and start cooking.
Depending on what time of year you visit Venice there may be a variety of free cultural events for you to attend. If you’re there in February for the two weeks leading to Shrove Tuesday, then you can marvel at the pageantry of the Venice Carnival. Or if you visit in June then look out for Venice Art Night, an evening where galleries, shops, and museums open their doors until late to showcase their creative and artistic credentials.