Things to do in Venice

Mention Venice and the image of beautifully-lit canals and graceful gondoliers come to mind. But this romantic city boasts many more excellent tourist attractions. The Grand Canal (Canalazzo), Venice's main waterway, divides the city with city quarters to the west and east of it. It's the core around which much of the activity in Venice is conducted, surrounded by the elegant facades of the palazzi. A 'must-see' is St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) in the heart of Venice, while the 14th-century Basilica dei Frari, a Gothic Franciscan church, is mostly known for being the resting place of Titian and the Venetian sculptor, Antonio Canova.

Explore the School of St Roch or the Gallerie dell'Accademia, which houses one of Europe's finest art collections from the 14th to 18th centuries. Visit the historic La Fenice Theater or the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, from where the word 'ghetto' derives. Jewish culture is still very active in the ghetto, home to five synagogues as well as various shops and restaurants.

The traditional mode of transport in Venice is by foot or boat, so enjoy the strolls and relaxed boat trips. All visitors to Venice should buy a Venice Card, as it gives you use of the main tourist services, including optional discounted airport transfers, vaporetto services and admission to some museums and attractions.

The Grand Canal (Canalazzo) photo

The Grand Canal (Canalazzo)

The Grand Canal is a hub of activity in Venice, encircled by the elegant facades of the palazzi testifying to the city's past opulence. The best way to explore the architectural sp…

The Grand Canal (Canalazzo)

The Grand Canal is a hub of activity in Venice, encircled by the elegant facades of the palazzi testifying to the city's past opulence. The best way to explore the architectural splendour of these Renaissance buildings is on board a vaporetto. Although a gondola ride along the Grand Canal is glorious, it is often better to explore the smaller waterways by gondola, as the Grand Canal can become crowded and stressful in peak season. Palaces and buildings to look out for include the Ca da Mosto; the House of Gold; and Palazzo Corner-Spinelli and Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, which combine classical and Byzantine elements. Architect Jacopo Sansovino was inspired by Codussi's style and infused this in his creation of the Palazzo Corner (Ca Granda). Another notable Palazzo is the Grimani di San Luca, designed by Michele Sanmicheli. Pedestrian access across the canal is only provided along three bridges situated at the station, Rialto and Academia.

St Mark's Square photo

St Mark's Square

The city's first citadel and church were erected on the Piazza San Marco: the Palazzo Ducale and the Basilica di San Marco, respectively. The latter is a unique juxtaposition of By…

St Mark's Square

The city's first citadel and church were erected on the Piazza San Marco: the Palazzo Ducale and the Basilica di San Marco, respectively. The latter is a unique juxtaposition of Byzantine, western European and Islamic architectural styles. Its most precious relic is the Pala d'Oro, a Venetian-Byzantine gold relief adorned with precious gems. Tourists pay dearly to eat or drink at the elegant cafes that spill onto the Piazza. Designer shops line the streets radiating from the square. There are other worthwhile places such as Museo Correr, the Archaeological Museum and the Museo del Risorgimento, housed within the Procuratie Nuova. Attached to the Procuratie Vecchie is the Torre dell'Orologio, its adjoining archway guiding one through to the Mercerie, Venice's main commercial street stretching to the famous Rialto Bridge.

Rialto Bridge photo

Rialto Bridge

One of Venice's most iconic landmarks, the Rialto Bridge is often described as the heart of the city. It is the oldest bridge spanning the Grand Canal, and is one of only four that…

Rialto Bridge

One of Venice's most iconic landmarks, the Rialto Bridge is often described as the heart of the city. It is the oldest bridge spanning the Grand Canal, and is one of only four that do. The structure standing today is over 400 years old, but still isn't the original structure. Today, the Rialto area still resembles the bustling fruit and vegetable market of former times. If you are visiting Rialto to take pictures of the bridge or explore the area for the first time, it's best to go early in the morning when the throngs of visitors won't disturb you. There are also loads of lovely restaurants and cafes in the area too.

Basilica dei Frari photo

Basilica dei Frari

The Basilica dei Frari was constructed in the 14th century, and is primarily known as the burial place of Titian and the Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova. Titian's tomb in the sout…

Basilica dei Frari

The Basilica dei Frari was constructed in the 14th century, and is primarily known as the burial place of Titian and the Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova. Titian's tomb in the south aisle watches over the large marble pyramid created for Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova. The interior of the church is adorned with a number of famous pieces, such as Donatello's St John the Baptist, Bellini's triptych of the Madonna and Saints and Titian's Assumption of the Virgin. This great Franciscan church is well worth the effort for art lovers and anybody interested in Gothic architecture. The church receives rave reviews and is consistently one of the top rated attractions in Venice according to visitor reviews.

Address San Polo 3003

Website www.basilicadeifrari.it

Opens Visiting hours of the Basilica on weekdays 9am to 6pm; Sundays from 1pm to 6pm.

Admission

The entrance fee for the visit to the masterpieces of the basilica is €3

School of St Roch photo

School of St Roch

San Rocco is known for the canvases of Jacopo Tintoretto adorning its interior. Tintoretto was commissioned to decorate the School in 1564 and dedicated 23 years to this task. The …

School of St Roch

San Rocco is known for the canvases of Jacopo Tintoretto adorning its interior. Tintoretto was commissioned to decorate the School in 1564 and dedicated 23 years to this task. The paintings are arranged in chronological order that can be followed by beginning on the second floor in the Sala dell'Albergo. Notable among his works are the scenes from the Life of the Virgin and the Crucifixion. The interior is ornate and quite overwhelming in its artistry and you would be hard put to find somebody who doesn't rave about the experience of exploring San Rocco.

Address Campo San Rocco, San Polo 3054

Website www.scuolagrandesanrocco.it

Opens 9.30am to 5.30pm, except on New Year's Day, Easter and Christmas Day

Admission

€10 (with concessions available). Entry to the church is free.

Gallerie Accademia photo

Gallerie Accademia

This famous gallery was established in 1807 to house the artwork removed from Venetian churches and public buildings on Napoleon's orders. It's housed in three old religious buildi…

Gallerie Accademia

This famous gallery was established in 1807 to house the artwork removed from Venetian churches and public buildings on Napoleon's orders. It's housed in three old religious buildings: the Scuola Grande di Santa Maria della Carita, built in 1344; the Church of the Carita; and the Convento della Carita, a monastery from 1561. The gallery's display follows the progression of Venetian art from the 14th to 18th centuries. Notable works in the gallery include Paolo Veneziano's Coronation of Mary, Carpaccio's Crucifixion and Apotheosis, Giovanni Bellini's Madonna with Child between Saints Catherine and Mary Magdalene, Giorgione's Tempest, Lorenzo Lotto's Portrait of a Young Gentleman in His Studio, Paolo Veronese's Feast in the House of Levi, and Tintoretto's Theft of St Mark's Body and Crucifixion.

Address Dorsoduro 1055

Website www.gallerieaccademia.org

Opens Mondays 8.15am to 2pm. Tuesday to Sunday 8.15am to 7.15pm.

Admission

€12, concessions available.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection photo

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is housed in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, becoming one of the most illustrious collections of modern art in Italy. It spans the artistic movements …

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is housed in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, becoming one of the most illustrious collections of modern art in Italy. It spans the artistic movements of Cubism, European Abstraction and Surrealism, with notable works by Kandinsky, Picasso, Rothko, Ernst, Dali, Pollock and many more. Guggenheim built up her collection between 1938 and 1947, and bought the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in 1948, where she lived until her death in 1979. This exciting, prestigious and often bizarre collection is a great departure from the overwhelming amount of Gothic, Byzantine and Renaissance art pervading Venice.

Address Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, 701 Dorsoduro

Website www.guggenheim-venice.it

Opens Open daily 10am to 6pm. Closed Tuesdays.

Admission

€15. Concessions are available

Aqualandia photo

Aqualandia

On the Lido de Jesolo is Aqualandia, an extremely popular water and theme park that has been earning rave reviews from visitors to Italy. Aqualandia is situated on an island near V…

Aqualandia

On the Lido de Jesolo is Aqualandia, an extremely popular water and theme park that has been earning rave reviews from visitors to Italy. Aqualandia is situated on an island near Venice, and just strolling around the place and lounging on the beaches is an adventure. Aqualandia has something like 26 attractions, including one of the highest water slides in the world, a sky-high bungee jumping tower and a huge central pool. There are fun shows and live music acts, as well as restaurants, shops and the popular Vanilla Club for those who want to party. A fun day at a water park is a great treat for children and a nice break from traditional cultural sightseeing.

Address Via Buonarroti 15, Lido de Jesolo

Website www.aqualandia.it

Transport

By car, exit the motorway before reaching Mestre; take the Mestre bypass toward the Marco Polo Airport. Continue along this road to Jesolo and follow the road signs to Lido di Jeselo. Signs to Aqualandia are displayed prominently.

Padua (Padova) photo

Padua (Padova)

Padua is often tragically overlooked due to its close proximity to Venice. The fabulous architecture of the old town, dating back as far as 1,000 AD, is a magnificent backdrop for …

Padua (Padova)

Padua is often tragically overlooked due to its close proximity to Venice. The fabulous architecture of the old town, dating back as far as 1,000 AD, is a magnificent backdrop for its deep wealth of culture. The main attraction is the cathedral dedicated to St Anthony, its high altar is decorated with bronzes by Donatello, who is also responsible for the proud equestrian statue (il Gattamelata) in the Piazza del Santo. Padua also has picturesque canals, a number of markets and many impressive churches filled with beautiful frescoes. It also boasts Europe's oldest botanical garden, established in 1545, and a fun and festive nightlife, thanks to its youthful university population.

Bell Tower (Campanile di San Marco) photo

Bell Tower (Campanile di San Marco)

Originally built in the 9th century, this 318 feet (97m) bell tower is the highest structure in Venice, offering visitors breathtaking views of the cupolas of St Mark's, the lagoon…

Bell Tower (Campanile di San Marco)

Originally built in the 9th century, this 318 feet (97m) bell tower is the highest structure in Venice, offering visitors breathtaking views of the cupolas of St Mark's, the lagoon and neighbouring islands, as well as church domes and red rooftops. When the air is clear, one can even spot snow-capped peaks of the distant Dolomite Mountains. Once a lighthouse to assist navigation on the lagoon, the tower collapsed unexpectedly in 1902 but was rebuilt exactly as before, even rescuing one of the five historical bells that are still in use today. Each bell was rung for a different purpose, such as war, the death of a doge or religious holidays.

Address San Marco, Piazza San Marco

Website www.visit-venice-italy.com/bell-tower-venice-italy/bell-tower-saint-mark-venice-opening-hours-visit-price.htm

Opens Open November to April from 7am to 3.45pm; and in July to September from 9am to 9pm.

Admission

€8 (adults)

Murano photo

Murano

The Venetian Islands of Murano are joined by several bridges, making for a great trip for the whole family and the perfect place to seek out special Venetian souvenirs. In 1291, al…

Murano

The Venetian Islands of Murano are joined by several bridges, making for a great trip for the whole family and the perfect place to seek out special Venetian souvenirs. In 1291, all the glass makers in Venice were sent to the islands for fear of fires starting in the wooden buildings of the city, meaning Murano has been a centre of glass crafts ever since. Visitors can enjoy watching the local art of glass-blowing, developed over centuries in the place that made Venetian glass so famous and sought-after. Murano is a picturesque mini-Venice with its own Grand Canal, boasting colourful old buildings and great restaurants. There are also some interesting churches to visit: the Basilica dei Santa Maria e San Donato has stunning 12th-century mosaics; and the Church of Saint Peter the Martyr houses two artworks by Bellini.

Address Isola di Murano, Venice

Transport

Via vaporetto: line 41, 42 or DM from Fondamente Nuove; or 71 and 72 from San Zaccaria or Piazzale Roma

Po Delta Natural Park photo

Po Delta Natural Park

A flatland along the Adriatic Coast, the vast Po Delta is one of the most stunning natural landscapes in Italy. It's divided into two regional parks: the Emilia-Romagna and Veneto.…

Po Delta Natural Park

A flatland along the Adriatic Coast, the vast Po Delta is one of the most stunning natural landscapes in Italy. It's divided into two regional parks: the Emilia-Romagna and Veneto. The latter, easily accessible from Venice, encompasses woodlands, extensive farmlands, marshes, lagoons, beaches and rivers, as well as historical monuments and even cities. Visitors to the Po Delta Natural Park can enjoy a day exploring the great outdoors. Discover the park by bike, boat, canoe, horseback or on foot. Tours are also available for those who want to visit the more protected areas of the park, and avid fisherman can enjoy the lagoons, where bream, bass and grey mullet are plentiful. There are great bird-watching opportunities here too, so pack your binoculars. There are many areas to camp and wonderful walking trails.

Address Ca' Vendramin

Website www.parcodeltapo.org

Gondola Rides photo

Gondola Rides

Surely one of Italy's most iconic images is that of gondolas being oared through the narrow canals of Venice by stripe-shirted, serenading gondoliers. These flat-bottomed boats are…

Gondola Rides

Surely one of Italy's most iconic images is that of gondolas being oared through the narrow canals of Venice by stripe-shirted, serenading gondoliers. These flat-bottomed boats are unique to the canals and waterways of Venice, meaning it's an obligatory tourist activity. Although expensive, a gondola ride in Venice is sure to leave you with a warm and lasting memory of your vacation in Italy. Tourists are encouraged to make the most of the investment by taking a trip down the back canals of Venice and not the Grand Canal, as it's too crowded and impersonal. Pick an ornately-carved gondola, with a comfortable seat and blankets if it's cold.

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