15 experiences you don't want to miss in Venice (2023)

Venice has no equals in all of Europe. In this city floating on a lagoon, streets are canals and crossings are bridges.

Everything, from churches to palaces, speaks of more than a thousand years of history in which the Pearl of the Adriatic dominated the seas and grew wealthy on commerce.

On top of that, there are world-famous art exhibitions, romantic gondolas, and mouth-watering aperitivos. No wonder Venice regularly tops the list of Italy's best places to visit. To help you plan your time in Venice, here are some of the city's top things to do.

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1. Ride a gondola or vaporetto

There are no cars or buses in Venice – to get around the city, you have to go on the water. Taking a ride in a gondola is not cheap – you'd be hard pressed to find a tour for less than €80 – but you are paying for an iconic Venice experience. Alternatively, get that water-level perspective of the city on a vaporetto ride, with a single ticket costing €7.50.

Planning Tip:If you expect to ride the vaporetto more than once, consider buying a day pass.

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2. Wonder at the treasures in St Mark’s Basilica

Spend some time admiringBasilica di San Marco. Known as the "golden church" because of the priceless treasure it contains and immediately recognizable from its unique facade, the Basilica is a centuries-old testament to Venice’s power and long history. St Mark's Square, surrounded by elegant buildings and leading directly onto the water, is equally iconic – as is the Campanile, one of the tallest in all of Italy.

3. Immerse yourself in art at the Biennale

As the name suggests, the Biennale exhibition of art happens once every two years, sprawling from the Giardini della Biennale (with its thirty pavilions, each belonging to a different country and hosting that country's entries to the exhibition) to some of the rooms inside the Arsenale, which used to churn out the ships that guaranteed Venice’s dominion over the seas.

Planning Tip:It's rightfully considered one of the most important events in the contemporary art world, but if your visit doesn’t coincide with one of the Biennale years, fear not, because you can still visit both the Giardini and the Arsenale.

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4. Join the euphoria of Carnevale

Venice is the Carnevale and the Carnevale is Venice. The city fills up with extravagant masks, colorful fabrics, and general euphoria. There’s no fixed date for Carnevale since it depends on Easter and Lent, but it usually happens in February. Despite the sometimes grey weather, it's one of the best time to visit Venice.

Planning Tip:Find a spot in St Mark’s Square for one of the main Carnevale events, the Volo dell’Angelo, where a performer hangs on a zipline and swings down from the Campanile over the Square and the gathered crowd .

5. Relax on Venice's beaches

It might not immediately come to mind but Venice is home to some beautiful beaches – the beaches on the isle of Pellestrinaare easily reachable by ferry from the city and are the perfect location for a full immersion in nature.

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Of course, the most famous beach of the Venice area remains the Lido with its chic glamor and its dolce vita vibe. If you plan your visit for the first days of September, you might be lucky enough to catch movie stars on their way to the Venice Film Festival.

6. Watch Venice race in the regattas

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a canal-filled city is often the stage for animated regattas. The main one is the Regata Storica, which happens on the first Sunday of each September. Then there’s the Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare, which takes place in Venice every four years usually in June – Venice races against the other three old maritime republics, Genoa, Amalfi and Pisa.And in May, more than a thousand people join the Vogalonga, a sailing event open to professionals and amateurs alike. Seeing a regatta is a wonderful, free Venetian experienceso it pays to try and time your visit to catch one.

Planning Tip:The republics take turns hosting the annual Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare, so you need to plan ahead to ensure your visit aligns with Venice's celebration.

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7. Visit Burano and Murano

Buranoand Murano are two of the most famous islands of the lagoon, smaller cities within the city, and they’re definitely worth a visit if you can set aside one afternoon to take the vaporetto and reach them (it will take you around 40 minutes to get to Murano and an hour or so to Burano).

Both of them are known for their centuries-old artisanal traditions, which continue to be jewels in the crown of Venetian commerce. Take time to marvel at the master glassblowers bringing incredible creations to life on Murano and the intricately designed lace that has been the pride of Burano for centuries.

8. Drink in a bacaro

The bacaro is a typical Venetian bar where you can order a huge variety of wines and some tiny local snacks to accompany them – something that might remind you of Spanish tapas. People typically go to a bacaro for an aperitivo (a pre-meal drink),or as a way to start a night out, and your only challenge is deciding which one to pick from the many choices that dot Venice’s streets.

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9. Shop local at Rialto Market

Venice’s most famous market is the one located around the central Rialto bridge. Divided into two sections, one dedicated to fruits and vegetables and the other to fish and seafood, the Rialto Market is both a tourist attraction and a staple of daily life for Venetians. The same area gets populated by myriad Christmas markets during the holidays.

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10. Tour the museums

Venice has no shortage of museums and treasures to amaze you with – you can wander the rich rooms of the Ducale Palace, the center of the Serenissima’s power, or the book-lined halls of the Marciana Library. If you prefer art to architecture, though, your only struggle will be to pick which collection you want to visit most – from the Renaissance and Neoclassical pieces of the Gallerie dell’Accademia or the modern art of the Ca’ Pesaro, Palazzo Grassi and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. And for more insights into the history and culture of Venice, then you can check out Ca’ Rezzonico and Museo Correr.

11. Watch fireworks at Festa del Redentore

The Carnevale isn’t the only celebration animating the streets of Venice. On the third Sunday of July the city lights up for the Festa del Redentore, which commemorates the end of the plague that ravaged the city in the 16th century. The canals come to life with spectacular fireworks, which concentrate around the island of Giudecca.

Planning Tip:It's a breathtaking spectacle wherever you are, but try to snag a viewing spot right on the waterfront for the ultimate experience.

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12. Admire the city's famous bridges

Venice is filled with bridges and you’ll definitely stumble upon more than a few as you walk around, but there are a couple you need to seek out, like the Rialto Bridge towering over the Grand Canal, yet another of Venice’s world-famous symbols. Then there’s the Bridge of Sighs, just behind St Mark’s Basilica, where prisoners of the Serenissima sighed mourning their freedom as they were led into Venice’s fearsome prisons.

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But you might also want to stray off the most-beaten path and seek out the Ponte del Chiodo. This is the only remaining bridge in Venice without a balustrade and a testament to the city’s past, when most bridges looked like this. While you explore on foot, try and check out some of Venice's best– and lesser-known– neighborhoods.

13. Take in the views from the Libreria Acqua Alta

When high tides (acqua alta)cause parts of the city to flood, walkways are installed so that people can keep moving around. Strolling along these raised paths is a unique Venice experience, and you may catch this lagoon phenomenon if you're there in autumn.

Either way, take some time to visit the bookshop that shares its name – the Libreria Acqua Alta is a joy for both eyes and Instagram feeds, with books stacked in bathtubs and gondolas to protect them from a possible flood, and a book staircase that allows you to reach a particularly beautiful belvedere over the canals.

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14. Watch a show at La Fenice

La Fenice, officially Gran Teatro La Fenice, is Venice’s main theater, rich with history as well as musical legacy. Not only has it been graced by many premieres from the great names of opera, like Verdi, Rossini and Donizetti, it has also played a symbolic and still crucial part in the Unification of Italy and in Venice’s struggle against Austrian domination.

Planning Tip:If you love classical music and opera, look into getting a ticket to one of the shows.

15. Go shopping

If you want to indulge in some retail therapy while you’re in Venice, you can head to Calle Larga XXII Marzo, the high-end street of the city, lined with luxury boutiques and flagship stores. Or you can choose the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which used to be the palace-warehouse of German merchants during the days of the Serenissima and is now one of Venice’s main malls.

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Planning Tip:The Fondaco has a beautiful terrace that everyone can access free of charge – you have to prebook your time slot as space on the terrace is limited, but the view over the Canal Grande makes it worth the effort.


What should you not miss in Venice? ›

The Top 10 things do not miss in Venice
  • Get to the top of the Saint Mark's Bell Tower at sunset... or >>> ...
  • Visit the Basilica of Saint Mark's. ...
  • Visit the iconic Doge's Palace, Palazzo Ducale. ...
  • Get lost in Venice. ...
  • Choose the right place for a Spritz. ...
  • Walk to the Zattere. ...
  • Reach the Rooftop of the new Fondaco dei Tedeschi.

What should you not do in Venice? ›

  • Don't Ride the Gondolas. ...
  • Don't Limit Yourself to Just the Island of Venice. ...
  • Don't Expect (free) Public Washrooms. ...
  • Don't Bring Heavy Luggage. ...
  • Don't Stress About Getting Lost. ...
  • Don't Visit on the Weekends or in Summer. ...
  • Don't Eat in St. ...
  • Don't Dine using a 'Tourist Menu'
Oct 24, 2018

What are the 3 things that Venice is famous or known for? ›

Venice, known also as the “City of Canals,” “The Floating City,” and “Serenissima,” is arguably one of Italy's most picturesque cities. With its winding canals, striking architecture, and beautiful bridges, Venice is a popular destination for travel.

What is the most beautiful part of Venice? ›

Canale Grande or Grand Canal is the most important icon of Venice- lined with gorgeous and vibrant looking palaces and castles on both sides. The canal is one of the best places to visit in Venice and meanders through the city in a zigzag way with a few breathtaking bridges built over it.

What should I be careful of in Venice? ›

9 Things *Not* To Do In Venice
  • Do NOT go to Harry's Bar. ...
  • Do NOT touch the canals. ...
  • Do NOT get in the gondola. ...
  • Do NOT bother with Murano and Borano. ...
  • Do NOT get attached to the idea of breakfast as you know it. ...
  • Do NOT arrive by cruise ship. ...
  • Do NOT visit in the summer. ...
  • Do NOT bring a roll-aboard.

What food is Venice famous for? ›

Many of Venezia's traditional dishes are fish-based. Bigoli in salsa (pasta in an anchovy sauce), risotto al nero di seppia (risotto cooked with cuttlefish ink) and sarde in saor (sardines preserved in a sweet and sour marinade) are amongst the most famous dishes from the province.

Why not order pizza in Venice? ›

5) Order pizza

It sounds counterintuitive, but Venice isn't really the best place to enjoy this Italian favourite. Restaurants here don't have wood-fired pizza ovens – they were banned for fire safety concerns – so you may not find the same great pizza as you would elsewhere in Italy.

Is there a dress code in Venice? ›

Venetians like to dress up and you will feel more comfortable in smart casual dress.

What should I avoid in Italy? ›

10 things you should never do in Italy
  • Don't overtip. ...
  • Don't order a cappuccino after 11am. ...
  • Don't put cheese on a pasta that contains fish or seafood. ...
  • Don't cut your spaghetti with a knife and fork, ever. ...
  • Don't order the Fettuccine Alfredo. ...
  • Don't wear shorts, tank top or flip-flops when visiting a church.
Jan 28, 2019

What is unique to Venice? ›

There are a few things Venice is famous for: its grand palazzi, the bridges, canals, and the Gondolas. But there's something in Venice that is more elusive than any of these. It's the Banksy graffiti that's found around the city.

What is the motto of Venice? ›

Venice was on its knees. But at the sight of such devastation, its inhabitants did not lose heart, on the contrary, they rolled up their sleeves and, to take courage, they would affectionately pat each other on the back and utter the traditional motto 'duri i banchi! ' (i.e. hold fast).

How much is a gondola ride in Venice? ›

Standard gondola rides in Venice have a fixed cost of 80 euros for a private 25-30 minutes tour. At night, however, the cost of a gondola ride is 120 euros for a private 25-30 minutes tour. If you desire to stay longer, tell the gondolier and ask for the price before the start of the tour.

Can you walk all of Venice in a day? ›

To help you plan your sightseeing, we've listed our ideal itineraries for Venice, whether you're going for one day, two days, three days, or more. Venice is small. You can walk across it, from head to tail, in about an hour. Nearly all of your sightseeing is within a 20-minute walk of the Rialto Bridge or St.

Which part of Venice is the most popular? ›

San Marco Is The Most Popular And Touristy

It's the neighborhood of Venice where iconic sights like St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs are located. It's no wonder, then, that San Marco is known as the tourist heart of Venice.

Is a gondola ride worth it in Venice? ›

Yes, a gondola ride in Venice is absolutely worth it! While it is not cheap and it can feel a bit touristy, it's a real bucket-list experience that you really have to do when visiting Venice. Furthermore, going on a gondola allows you to explore places that you wouldn't see otherwise.

Are there any unsafe areas in Venice? ›

Neighborhoods to avoid in Venice

Santa Croce. Castello East part.

What are the main problems in Venice? ›

Venice is at risk of succumbing to its sinking foundations and rising sea levels. To avert disaster, the city is making changes. Venice is a stunning oddity. It is a city built atop around 120 islands, crisscrossed by 177 canals, and is best explored – when on foot at least – via the use of its 391 bridges.

What is the best thing to buy in Venice Italy? ›

Top 15 Things to Buy in Venice
  1. Murano Glass. ...
  2. Authentic Venetian Wooden Puzzles. ...
  3. Burano Lace. ...
  4. Venetian Masks. ...
  5. Door Knockers. ...
  6. Leather Handbags. ...
  7. Paper Products. ...
  8. Gondolier's Hat.

What is a typical breakfast in Venice? ›

Giavedoni's idea of a typical Venetian breakfast is as simple as the meal itself; “An espresso and a croissant!”. No fuss, nothing elaborate, and neither is the method of consuming it, which Giavedoni describes succinctly as “standing up at their favorite coffee shop”.

What drink is Venice known for? ›

Aperol Spritz is the city's signature drink, dating back to the Spritz Veneziano of the 1920s. Served with a splash of sparkling Prosecco straight from the Veneto wine region, this orange-hued cocktail remains one of the most popular drinks in Italy.

What time do people eat dinner in Venice? ›

The Typical Italian Dinner

Italian dinner or la cena, usually from 8:00 to 10:00pm, is another time that Italians enjoy sitting down together and socializing. Dinner can be much later than 10:00pm, especially if eating out or dining at a friend's house.

Why is there no pineapple on pizza in Italy? ›

Italians eat pineapple with other fruit, so putting pineapple over pizza is like putting it into an hamburger, it's against our concept of this dish. The Italian chef Massimo Bottura says that you can't argue with an Italian about 3 things: Football, his grandmother's cuisine, and the pope.

Is it OK to wear jeans in Italy? ›

Are jeans appropriate to wear in Italy? While Europeans tend to dress up more than Americans, you still can wear jeans in Italy. However, avoid acid wash and extremely distressed denim and opt for medium-dark blues and blacks. Black skinny jeans always look chic in Europe!

What is the best month to go to Venice? ›

Venice's best travel months (also its busiest and most expensive) are April, May, June, September, and October. Summer in Venice is more temperate (high 70s and 80s) than in Italy's scorching inland cities.

Do tourists wear shorts in Italy? ›

Also, apparently, some cathedrals will not let you enter wearing shorts. I am here to tell you, that this is incorrect. You can wear shorts in Italy and look perfectly normal.

What is considered rude to Italians? ›

It is improper to put one's hands on one's lap, or to stretch one's arms while at the table. Resting one's elbows on the table is also considered to be poor manners. Do not leave the table until everyone has finished eating. Drinking beverages other than water or wine with a meal is quite uncommon.

Why is it rude to ask for cheese in Italy? ›

Don't ask for cheese

Many chefs will serve up your food exactly how they believe it should be eaten, and will likely take offence if you think it needs something extra. You especially should avoid adding cheese to dishes that are made with seafood. It's sacrilegious.

How not to look like an American in Italy? ›

Here are some tips for acting like a local in Italy, according to Steve.
  • Dress Nicely. Europeans tend to dress much less casually than we do in the States. ...
  • Don't Call During Pisolino. ...
  • Italians Don't Wait In Line. ...
  • Familiarize Yourself With Campanilismo.
Jul 22, 2021

What should you not miss when visiting Italy? ›

Let's dive in!
  • Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The Ponte Vecchio is one of Florence's most famous romantic destinations and is not to be missed when visiting the city. ...
  • The Colosseum. ...
  • The Canals of Venice. ...
  • Ragusa. ...
  • Lake Garda. ...
  • Cinque Terre. ...
  • Pompeii. ...
  • Tuscany.
Sep 2, 2022

How much does a gondola ride cost in Venice? ›

Standard gondola rides in Venice have a fixed cost of 80 euros for a private 25-30 minutes tour. At night, however, the cost of a gondola ride is 120 euros for a private 25-30 minutes tour. If you desire to stay longer, tell the gondolier and ask for the price before the start of the tour.

How many days do u need in Venice? ›

Ideally, you should spend between 2 and 4 days in Venice. With 2 full days in Venice, you will have just enough time to explore the highlights, eat some delicious food, stroll the canals, and learn a bit about Venice's unique culture and history.

Should I carry my passport with me in Italy? ›

According to the law DLGS N. 286 of July 25th, 1998, it is mandatory that you always carry an international identification document (your passport) whenever you are in Italy, BUT, it doesn't have to be the original document, it can be a copy.

What should you not talk about in Italy? ›

Avoid making generalised comments about Italian crime, corruption, the Mafia or Italy's involvement in World War II.

Do you tip gondoliers in Venice? ›

In relation to tipping your gondolier, if the service is good, a tip is obviously appreciated. Also, if you're taking a gondola ride in a group of more than four, a tip is usually expected. Think of it like a service charge in a restaurant. And just for reference, around the 10% mark is the norm.

How much do you tip in Venice? ›

Restaurant Tipping in Venice

Waiters and waitresses are salaried in Venice. When a service charge is included in the bill, there's no need to leave a tip. But, if you are more than satisfied with the service, you may want to leave 5%-10%. If a service charge is not added to your bill, leave a tip of 12% or so.

How much do you tip a gondolier Venetian? ›

(While not required or even expected, if your gondolier does the full 35 minutes and entertains you en route, a 5–10 percent tip is appreciated; if he's surly or rushes through the trip, skip it.)

Can I drink the tap water in Venice? ›

The public health authority, the environmental protection agency and the public local water service perform thousands of analyses and describes it as safe and fit to drink. Venice water is considered among the best in Italy.

What is the famous thing of Venice? ›

Known as the 'City of Canals' there are many things Venice is famous for including its beautiful bridges, gondola rides, atmospheric streets and carnival celebrations. Built over 118 islands, Venice and its lagoon is one of the most unique cities in the world.

What is the most famous shopping street in Venice? ›

Le Mercerie (or Marzarie in Venetian dialect) is the main shopping area in Venice, centrally located between Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square. Here you'll find streets lined with shops and stalls selling souvenirs, clothing, jewellery and art.


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