Venice! It might be sinking, it might be crowded with tourists, and it might be confusing to navigate, but it’s splendid. It’s a city that must be seen to be believed.
Why Visit Venice
There are so many reasons to visit this charming city. Here are just a few:
- It’s like going back in time: Most of the buildings in Venice date back to the 13th and 18th centuries. A trip to Venice will feel like you have become a time traveler and stepped back in time. As you walk through Venice, you’ll be walking through its history.
- It holds hidden gems of Europe: Don’t just stick to the popular tourist spots of Venice. Go off the beaten track, and get lost down the hidden paths and winding streets. You’ll find that you see so much more of the city that way. If you do get lost, just ask a friendly local who will be happy to point you in the right direction.
- The cafe and bar culture: Coffee is everything in Italy. In Venice, you will find many locals standing at the bar drinking their morning coffee and munching on a sweet pastry. In the evening, enjoy a drink or two in the many bars. You can find them by the canals, waterfront, or even down the many winding streets.
- Italian food: As you may know, Italians take food seriously. Venice is famous for its seafood. Indulge in fresh fish that will more than like have been caught locally that day. And don’t forget the amazing Italian pizza!
- Immerse yourself in the culture: As with most of Italy, Venice is jam-packed full of culture. The architecture is stunning, from palaces paved with marble and mosaics to the fantastic bridges and sculptures. You can also see the amazing art that is housed in spectacular galleries situated across the city.
Here are the top five attractions you must see in Venice, Italy.
5.) Rialto Bridge
There are only four bridges that cross the Grand Canal. The one that gets the most attention, press, and photo ops are the Rialto, and rightly so. It’s gorgeous, it’s old, and you can easily spend an hour walking across, exploring the shops and gazing out over the Grand Canal.
The Rialto Bridge is one of the most well-known sights in Venice. Unfortunately, every other tourist in Venice will have the same idea, so expect the Rialto to be crowded.
The bridge is famously known as the ‘Lover’s Bridge’ making it one of the most romantic vacation spots in Europe.
4.) Gallerie dell’Accademia
The Accademia is the preeminent art museum in Venice.
The focus is on — can you guess? — Venetian and Renaissance art. Giorgione’s The Tempest is one of the highlights. There are also pieces by Titian, Tintoretto, and others. Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is part of the collection, but it is not always on display. If you’re there at the right time, you might be lucky enough to see it.
Top Tip: During high tourist season, be prepared to wait an hour or longer in line. However, if you arrive at 8.15am opening, you’ll have a few hours to look around before the crowds arrive.
3.) Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)
There’s one word to describe the Doge’s Palace: opulence. Think of a room filled with priceless treasures and ceilings and walls that drip with gold, and you’re on the right track.
You will be able to explore the chambers used by the Doge of Venice, see armor, artifacts, and paintings by Tintoretto and other Venetian masters, and cross the Bridge of Sighs to see the stark old prison (this tended to be a one-way trip for prisoners).
The bridge isn’t as impressive from the interior as it is from the outside, but you’ll understand why prisoners would have cherished their last glimpses of the outside world.
The promenade on the second floor provides beautiful views of the Grand Canal. It’s one of the few places from which you’ll be able to get a perfect look at the Lion of Venice, which guards the entrance to St. Mark’s Square, on its pillar.
Top Tip: Italy uses different outlets and electric currents. Get a travel adapter to keep your phone and camera charged so you’ll be ready to take amazing pictures of places like the Doge’s Palace.
2.) Gondola Ride
You’ll have no trouble finding a gondolier to hire to take you on a ride around town. Yes, they are expensive. The current fixed rate is 80 euros for 40 minutes, although that fare does cover up to six passengers. Don’t get scammed by tour operators or gondoliers trying to charge far more than that!
The locals don’t usually travel this way, although you’ll see them on traghetti that cross the Grand Canal. However, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in Venice. But please don’t literally immerse yourself; the water in the canals is unpleasant because it still serves as an integral part of Venice’s sewer system.
Traveling down the hectic Grand Canal in a little wooden boat is exciting, but once the gondolier leaves the main drag and starts traveling the narrower, smaller canals where it’s quiet save for the waves, and you see laundry hanging to dry, apartments, shops and other signs of everyday Venetians going about their business — you will be charmed and seduced.
1.) Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica)
St. Mark’s is a marvel of Byzantine splendor. The church dates from the 11th century but has been modified and augmented over the years. The tiles on the mosaics in the domes are real gold, and the relics and reliefs scattered around the building would fill an entire Art History course.
Hearing a choir sing at a crowded mass at St. Mark’s is beautiful, regardless of one’s religious beliefs.
Have you been to any or even all of these Venice attractions? If you haven’t as of yet had the pleasure of visiting these must-see Venice attractions, add them to your travel list ASAP!