Welcome to Venice, the city of love, bridges and Carnival. One of the most popular destinations for lovers from all over the world, Venice is not only romanticism, but also art, mystery and magic. The other side of the coin? The beauty of the Serenissima attracts Italian and foreign tourists all year round, so keep in mind that there are queues for the main attractions and high prices.
But don't lose your heart! Between gondola rides and walks through the streets, here are some tips on what to see in Venice and useful tips to spend a romantic and relaxing weekend.
- When to go to Venice
- Carnival of Venice: A unique show, but...
- St. Mark's Square, the fulcrum of Venice
- Basilica of San Marco
- Tickets for the Basilica of St Mark's Square
- Museum, Golden Pall and Treasure
- How long does the visit to the Basilica last?
- Ascent to the Bell Tower of St Mark's Square
- Doge's Palace of Venice
- Museums of St. Mark's Square Ticket
- Museum Pass Ticket
- Special Routes of the Doge's Palace
- How long does the visit to the Doge's Palace last?
- La Fenice Theatre
- Tickets for La Fenice di Venezia
- How long does the visit to the Theatre last?
- What to do in Venice: From the Grand Canal to the Bridge of Sighs
- Gondola ride on the Grand Canal: How much does a ride cost?
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection
- Bridge of Sighs, Rialto Bridge, Accademia Bridge
- Venice and surroundings: Murano, Burano and Torcello
- Murano and the art of glass
- Among the colors of Burano
- Visiting Venice with children
- What to eat in Venice
- Where to sleep in Venice
- How to get around Venice
When to go to Venice
Spring is definitely the best time to visit Venice, quieter and cheaper than summer when the city is overcrowded with tourists, prices rise and heat is stronger. If you want to live an unforgettable experience, go there on the occasion of a key event like Carnival.
Carnival of Venice: A unique show, but...
Venice Carnival is one of the most suggestive events in the world, something unique and involving. A festive atmosphere in the city, a riot of colourful masks, parades, re-enactments and the unmissable "Flight of the Angel", the show that lights up the Carnival in St. Mark's Square. An experience to be lived on one condition only: consider the crowds in every corner, difficulties in travel and costs well above average.
- If you have in mind a romantic and quiet weekend in Venice visiting the city calmly, definitely avoid the Carnival period.
St. Mark's Square, the fulcrum of Venice
Piazza San Marco represents the history of Venice, definitely the first stop to be included in your travel program.
One of the most beautiful and famous squares in the world, with characteristic cafés and tables all around. Watch out: sitting at the tables of the bars in the square has very exorbitant costs, if you want to have a coffee at reasonable prices order it at the counter.
- So much confusion during rush hours. To enjoy the best of St. Mark's Square go in the morning or early evening when there are not too many tourists.
In St Mark's Square you will find the main monuments of Venice such as the Basilica, the Doge's Palace and the Clock Tower (you can visit it inside but beautiful to see even just from the outside, especially when the statues of the Moors beat the hours with a hammer).
How to get to St. Mark's Square
You can reach St. Mark's Square easily on foot by walking through the picturesque streets of Venice (definitely recommended). Alternatively, you can take the special vaporettos from the Santa Lucia train station or from Piazzale Roma (Lines 1 and 2).
Basilica of San Marco
The Basilica of San Marco is the most important attraction in Venice, a must to visit it even if you are just passing by.
A masterpiece of Byzantine art, a magnificent work in which different styles coexist and amazing mosaics of gigantic dimensions.
Tickets for the Basilica of St Mark's Square
Admission to St Mark's Basilica is free, but the line is frightening, especially in the late morning; for a few euros you should definitely book your ticket with access from a privileged line and save yourself at least an hour in the queue.
If you don't have a ticket and have to queue up, bring an umbrella. There is no roofing, queuing time is very long and there is a risk of getting soaked on rainy days or suffering from the hot sun waiting to enter.
Inside the Basilica is absolutely forbidden to bring backpacks, suitcases and bulky bags (to be left free of charge at the luggage room). It is also forbidden to take pictures and videos and a decent clothing is required.
Admission is free for children under 5 years of age and for visitors with disabilities and in wheelchairs.
Museum, Golden Pall and Treasure
Wonderful outside but even more so inside; the Basilica also offers other visits for a fee, really not to be missed (we guarantee that all are definitely worth it).
First of all, the Museum of San Marco, which can be reached through a steep staircase (or by elevator, ideal for the elderly or people with limited mobility); in the Museum you will find the original representation of the famous horses in gold and silver bronze, but the top is the beautiful terrace with panoramic view of the most beautiful square in Venice and the gardens inside. Absolutely recommended are also the Sepulchre of St. Mark with the Treasure of the Basilica and the massive golden altarpiece, rich in engravings and precious stones.
- These extra visits are not included in the entrance ticket to the Basilica and should be purchased separately directly on site. For your convenience, you can take combined tickets online that offer multiple experiences in a single ticket.
How long does the visit to the Basilica last?
The free visit to the Basilica takes approximately 10/15 minutes. If you have chosen an itinerary that also includes the museum, the treasure and other sections, consider at least 1 hour.
Ascent to the Bell Tower of St Mark's Square
A visit to the Basilica can be combined with a climb to the Bell Tower, the symbol of the city for the Venetians who call it "El paròn de casa", the landlord. The top is reached by lift and the view of St. Mark's Square is truly a spectacle.
Even the line for the Bell Tower is dreadful and if you are in a hurry you should take the ticket that makes you skip the queue and choose the time slot. The priority access ticket costs about 15€ and is separate from the ticket for the Basilica.
- Access without a queue is only valid from April 1 to November 2. In the rest of the year the queues to enter the Basilica and the Bell Tower are really reduced and there is no need for priority entry tickets.
- For both the Basilica and the Bell Tower, vouchers are accepted in paper or electronic format to be shown on smartphones or tablets.
Doge's Palace of Venice
An experience that will leave you very pleased.
The Doge's Palace, the ancient seat of the Doge and the state judiciary, is the greatest historical testimony of the Venetian Republic: a "must see" not to be missed for those visiting Venice, you will be amazed!
An inestimable jewel in St Mark's Square, which encloses at the same time the sumptuous environments of the Doges, the inauspicious prisons and the possibility of crossing the Bridge of Sighs.
You can choose between different types of tickets to visit the Doge's Palace, each with a different route. The ticket does not include the audio guide (you can only buy it at the ticket office at a cost of € 5 per person).
Each area of the Palace contains a piece of history, it is worth visiting with the audio guide.
In high season the queue to enter the Doge's Palace of Venice lasts even more than an hour. No stress if you take your tickets online.
- Keep in mind that even if you buy the ticket in advance, you do a minimum of queue for checking bags and the passage to metal detectors.
Museums of St. Mark's Square Ticket
The entrance ticket for the Museums of St. Mark's Square costs just over 20 € and includes a tour through the halls of the Doge's Palace, the Correr Museum, the National Archaeological Museum and the Monumental Halls of the Marciana National Library. The pass is valid for 3 months from the date of purchase and allows only one entry into each museum.
Museum Pass Ticket
The Museum Pass is a cumulative ticket that allows you to enter the Museums of St. Mark's Square and the other Civic Museums of Venice (such as Carlo Goldoni's House or the Glass Museum in Murano). This type of ticket costs about 25€.
- The Museum Pass is valid for 6 months from the date of purchase and allows only one entry into each museum.
Special Routes of the Doge's Palace
The rooms of the standard route are exceptional but probably the real gem of the Doge's Palace are the Special Routes: you can choose between the tour "Secret Itineraries" (highly recommended) or "The Hidden Treasures of the Dog". Both experiences are 5 stars thanks to the stories of the guide who will revive the intrigues of life at the palace of the Serenissima.
- Each tour lasts about 1:15h and starts only in the morning. The ticket also includes a visit to the interior of the Doge's Palace (without an escort).
- Both "Special Routes" are not suitable for claustrophobic people, visitors in wheelchairs and under 6 years: the ancient prisons of the palace and the secret rooms are developed in narrow spaces and with steep stairs, a level of accessibility significantly reduced for those with mobility difficulties.
How long does the visit to the Doge's Palace last?
For the standard visit to the Doge's Palace (i.e. the classic one without Special Routes) it takes on average a couple of hours. If you have also booked extra tours, you should allow at least 3 hours.
According to many visitors, the most beautiful area of the Doge's Palace is the Great Council Hall. On the wall of the room you will find the painting of "Paradise", a giant canvas of over 7 meters signed by Tintoretto that bears witness to the greatness of the Serenissima.
- The route also includes the "Bridge of Sighs" ("Ponte dei Sospiri"), one of the most evocative attractions in Venice.
La Fenice Theatre
Even if you are not a theatre fan, it is well worth taking a half hour to visit La Fenice, the famous temple of music in Venice. Rebuilt after the terrible fire of 1996, the Teatro la Fenice is a real gem that exudes history and elegance; the program of events is among the most famous in the world and for opera lovers to enjoy a live show in this theatre is a fabulous experience.
Tickets for La Fenice di Venezia
The theatre can be visited every day and the queue to enter is generally short and very smooth. The ticket costs about 10 € and includes the audio guide in English (subject to availability) and the entrance to the exhibition dedicated to Maria Callas. It may happen that the audioguides in English will not available.
If you do not want to take the risk you should buy the ticket online (it costs a few euros more but guarantees instant access to the theatre and the audio guide in several languages).
- Visiting times may change at the last minute for artistic or technical reasons.
- If you visit the Theatre with your family, remember that admission is free for children under 6 years and that you can take advantage of reductions with Family Pass tickets.
How long does the visit to the Theatre last?
The guided tour inside the Fenice does not last long, allow a maximum of one hour. If you visit it faster without an audio guide, it will take you up to 30 minutes to see the stalls, the gallery and the royal stage.
- For a coffee break stop at the drink bar located on the upper floor of the theatre.
How to get to La Fenice Theatre
La Fenice Theatre is located in Campo San Fantin, less than a 5-minute walk from St. Mark's Square. You can also get there by vaporetto from the Santa Lucia train station or from Piazzale Roma (Lines 1 and 2) towards Rialto, San Marco or Lido.
What to do in Venice: From the Grand Canal to the Bridge of Sighs
Why is Venice one of the most romantic cities in the world?
Try to wander aimlessly through its narrow streets, overlook one of its bridges or take a gondola ride and you'll have the answer.
Gondola ride on the Grand Canal: How much does a ride cost?
Say Venice and think of the gondolas that float along the Grand Canal, a ribbon of water that crosses the city.
Needless to say, a gondola ride is the best experience to do in Venice, with exciting views of the Ca' d'oro, the Rialto Bridge, Santa Maria della Salute and the magnificence of St. Mark's Square.
The prices of a gondola ride are a bit high (around 80 € for a 30-minute day tour and 100 € for the night tour); prohibitive costs for those on a small budget, but going with the other half under the Bridge of Sighs while the gondolier entertains you with stories and anecdotes deserves any amount spent.
- A good idea is to book a gondola ride if you are travelling in a group of at least 4-6 people; if you are two couples, for example, the ride costs you € 20 per person, an affordable price.
The boat trip is cheaper and can be a valid alternative to the gondola. Book a tour in the evening, and the Grand Canal will seem like a fairy tale, with lights and street lamps to light up every building and street in Venice.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Overlooking the Grand Canal is the balcony of the splendid Peggy Guggenheim Museum, a museum that is not too big but which houses beautiful collections of temporary and permanent modern art, in which stand out minor paintings by Picasso or the famous "Empire of lights" by Magritte.
The museum takes its name from the American art collector Peggy Guggenheim, the heiress who lost her father in the tragic accident of the Titanic and in 1949 moved to Venice where she exhibited her collection permanently.
- The entrance ticket to the museum costs about 15 € and to visit it calculate an hour or so. The structure also has a bar where you can stop for a break.
- The Peggy Guggenheim collection is one of the main stages of any guided art tour in Venice.
- On Sunday afternoons the Museum organizes Kids Day, with activities for children aged 4 to 10 years.
Bridge of Sighs, Rialto Bridge, Accademia Bridge
The Bridge of Sighs ("Ponte dei sospiri") is perhaps the most legendary place in Venice, the classic background of a souvenir photo of tourists and lovers. You can't go home without a photo of the Bridge of Sighs!
Although romantic, the name of the bridge has nothing to do with lovers: legend says that prisoners, going to the inquisitors, sighed passed under the bridge at the sight of the outside world for one last time.
Finding space for a photo is a difficult task, given the constant influx of people at all hours with phones and cameras. Stand on the opposite deck, arm yourself with patience and wait for your turn to shoot. You can also visit the bridge from the inside by taking a tour of the Doge's Palace, or go under it with a traditional gondola ride.
How to get to the Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is a short walk from Piazza San Marco, direction Lido di Venezia.
In your itinerary of what to see in Venice you must absolutely include also the Rialto Bridge, one of the most elegant in the city with shops along the way. Beautiful especially illuminated in the evening, it leaves you amazed by its majesty and the views it offers visitors. We recommend admiring it first from the canal coming by vaporetto from Santa Lucia and then simply walking on it.
- To get to the top of the bridge you have to climb a few steps. Uncomfortable for those who have motor difficulties or travel with pushchairs, especially for the crowd of people who form.
- Avoid rush hours when the number of tourists is too high. Go there in the morning before 10:30 a.m. or directly at sunset.
How to get to the Rialto Bridge
At the Rialto Bridge you can get there by vaporetto or with a walk, starting from the station, going to the Lista di Spagna and continuing along the Strada Nuova.
For a nice view of the Lagoon, stop also at the Accademia Bridge, which connects Dorsoduro to San Marco. Certainly not the most beautiful bridge in Venice, but a stop not to be missed for the views it offers.
- The Accademia bridge is perfect for those who want to take pictures of the panorama of the Grand Canal and the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute.
- Combine a walk on the bridge with a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum (less than 5 minutes on foot) or if you are heading to the Accademia Gallery.
How to get to the Accademia Bridge
The Accamedia Bridge can be reached by vaporetto or comfortably on foot in 15 minutes from Piazzale Roma.
Venice and surroundings: Murano, Burano and Torcello
What to do in Venice on a weekend? If you don't have yet a stop in Murano and Burano on your itinerary, absolutely review your travel programme!
Murano and the art of glass
Characteristic shops and art workshops that will leave you speechless; welcome to the beautiful island of Murano, known throughout the world for the manufacture of glass in all its forms and colours. It's nice to walk around observing the shop windows with precious artefacts and marvellous sculptures.
- Stop in one of the many furnaces to observe the free demonstrations of how glass is worked; if you travel with your family, the children will be enchanted by the skills of the glass masters.
- Prices are very high, but Murano glass earrings and bracelets will be a much appreciated gift.
To see Murano is enough to comfortably 2/3 hours, also considering a stop at the glass museum, definitely recommended.
Among the colors of Burano
Going to Burano is a bit like entering an open-air painting; a small island inhabited by fishermen with pastel-coloured houses and bright colours, famous all over the world for its lace-making.
If you are passionate about photography and color, Burano is the perfect place to visit.
Stop in one of the shops to buy a souvenir and arrive in the square until you reach the bell tower, which recalls the style of the Tower of Pisa.
As in any touristy place, the prices of restaurants in Burano are a bit above the average; it's better to go back to Venice for a bite to eat or to take a packed lunch.
The islet is small, it all turns in an hour and a half, but Burano will please you so much that you almost do not want to leave; dedicate a half day to it, it is worth it!
How to reach Murano and Burano
One of the most comfortable ways to visit Murano and Burano is the guided tour that in half a day takes you to discover these two pearls of the Lagoon. The excursion also includes a visit to Torcello, an island where nature and peace are the masters.
- Torcello offers very little to tourists compared to Murano and Burano, the only major attraction is the Basilica of Santa Maria dell'Assunta.
For an independent visit, we recommend you take the daily ticket for the vaporetto, which allows you to get on and off whenever you want; it costs € 20, starts from Venice (Fondamenta Nove) and stops on each of the three islets. Murano can be reached in about 30 minutes, Burano in just over 45 minutes, Torcello in 50 minutes.
Visiting Venice with children
A recommended destination especially for couples, Venice offers many activities to do even for those who go with children. In addition to Murano, Burano and activities for children in museums, do not spare a ride in a gondola or vaporetto, it will be an indelible memory of the holiday.
- Are you an athletic type? Book a bike ride in Lido Venezia, an educational and fun experience!
Two more tips for a family trip to Venice? The Natural History Museum, near the San Stae vaporetto stop, is a great place to have fun for children with interactive rooms and attractive routes. And then the Naval History Museum, not far from St. Mark's Square, will be much appreciated by your children who will be enchanted by the reconstruction of giant ships and boats of all kinds.
What to eat in Venice
For an authentic culinary experience, get away from the tourist areas and go in search of the bàcari, the typical Venetian taverns. A must in the city but above all an excellent tip for those who want to eat well without spending a fortune. What to try? Obviously risi e bisi (risotto with fresh peas and meat broth), sarde in saor - a recipe that dates back to the times of the Serenissima - polenta and cod mantecato.
- For the sweet-toothed tourists, we absolutely recommend the bussolai, biscuits made with butter, and the fritole, to be tasted in the most ancient Venetian pastry shops.
Where to sleep in Venice
It may seem crazy, but perhaps the ideal solution is to stay in Venice. It is true that Mestre is cheaper, but the savings are not so significant also considering that every day you will have to travel to Venice.
Excluding the peak periods such as Carnival or St Mark's Day, by booking in advance you can find good offers.
Better to focus on the areas of Cannareggio or Dorsoduro, less touristy than San Marco and therefore with more affordable prices.
If you travel in summer and stay at least a week, you might think of staying in Lido, an excellent base for even a few days at sea. If you stay in Venice only for a few days, you should stay in an area closer to the center so you have more time to visit the city.
Are you looking for a hotel in Venice?
- Lowest price guaranteed and customer care in English
How to get around Venice
No bus and metro, just waterborne transport. Ferries, steamers and gondolas are the public transport used to get around Venice, with lines that cover almost every corner of the lagoon and also serve the islands in the vicinity.
The best way to enjoy Venice, however, is to walk through its historic streets, pack a pair of comfortable shoes and venture into the city that once belonged to Giacomo Casanova.
Have you been to Venice before? Then your next destination may be Turin, a perfect city for young travelers!