Venice and its attractions are unique. Nowhere else in the world will you find a floating city built in a lagoon with 150 canals, 100 squares, and as many as 400 bridges. In Venice, everything is done by boat, and you won’t come across a single car. This ultra-romantic city may be crowded, but there’s definitely a good reason for it. Truly, around every corner, there is something beautiful to discover. Here, we share our tips for the most beautiful attractions in Venice!
What to do in Venice?
Venice boasts numerous amazing attractions, but you mainly come here for the city itself, with its beautiful alleys, canals, and romantic spots. Make your visit more than just a checklist-style city trip; instead, immerse yourself in the city in your own way. Of course, there are a few things you shouldn’t miss, and we’ve listed them below.
Tip: During the day, especially in the high season, Venice can get very crowded. Want to avoid the crowds as much as possible? Get up early as the early morning is the most beautiful time to experience Venice. Then, when it gets busy in the afternoon, you can relax on a terrace and reminisce about the morning full of impressions.
The Piazza San Marco and Its Famous Attractions
Piazza San Marco is the heart of Venice and one of the most beautiful squares in the world. The square is home to the fairytale-like Basilica di San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, the 98.5-meter (3232 feet) high bell tower, the picturesque porticoes, and the Torre dell’Orologio with its magnificent astronomical clock. Here, you’ll find a large number of Venice’s major attractions all in one place. The Basilica di San Marco and the Doge’s Palace are the two most remarkable architectural wonders of Venice, and they are definitely worth a visit. With this enjoyable tour, you can visit both places and learn all about Venice’s fascinating history. The admission fees are included in the price, and it’s important to cover your shoulders and knees.
Capture a Photo of the Bridge of Sighs
Just around the corner from Piazza San Marco, you can find the Bridge of Sighs. The covered bridge got its name because in the past, prisoners would walk across it from the Doge’s Palace to the dark dungeons of the prison. Through the small windows, they would have their last view of daylight. The name refers to the sighs uttered on the way to the prison. The bridge and the canal between the Doge’s Palace and the prison provide a beautiful view that you can see well from Ponte della Paglia.
Tip: Most people take a photo from this bridge, but you can also go beneath the bridge to capture an original photo from there. It’s even more beautiful when a gondolier passes by!
Watch the Sunset from Rialto Bridge
The Grand Canal is the lifeline of Venice, and the Rialto Bridge is the oldest and most famous bridge spanning this canal. The best way to admire the bridge’s beauty is from a distance, but during sunset, you’ll want to be standing on the bridge itself. With the soft lighting, you can overlook the wide canal filled with gondoliers and the colorful facades of the canal houses.
Enjoy a Spritz and Experience the Aperitivo Culture
A typical Italian tradition is the aperitivo. In Italy, dinner is often enjoyed late around 8 or 9 p.m. To relax and stimulate the appetite after a day of work, many Italians have an alcoholic drink with a small snack starting around 6 p.m. It’s called an aperitivo. It should not be confused with an appetizer because you can easily have an aperitivo at one place and then have dinner elsewhere later. Each region has its own traditional aperitivo, and in Venice, it usually comes with the world-famous drink of the region: the bright orange spritz. This drink typically consists of wine or prosecco, sparkling water, and Aperol. In Venice, you’ll see people drinking it all day long.
Explore the Canals of Venice with a Gondola Ride
When in Venice, a gondola ride is a must. The first gondolas appeared in Venice in the year 1094. Several hundred years later, there were as many as 10,000 gondolas in Venice, used for transporting practically everything. Nowadays, there are only around 400 gondolas left, primarily used for romantic rides through the city’s narrow canals. A gondola ride is not cheap, costing $90 for 30 minutes. You can find gondoliers all over Venice offering rides. If you find $90 too expensive, you can also book a shared gondola ride. You’ll share the boat with another couple, but it will be $35 cheaper.
Take a Trip to Burano and Murano
Island hopping in Venice? Yes, it’s a great idea! You can visit the neighboring islands of Burano and Murano by boat. The picturesque Burano is probably the most colorful village in Italy, while Murano is world-famous for its skilled glassblowers. We only visited Burano, and although it feels a bit like an amusement park due to its popularity, it is incredibly beautiful and a pleasant place to eat, drink, and take beautiful photos. There are tours to the islands, but you can also take the boat on your own. If you go on your own, you can decide how long you want to stay. You can use Google Maps’ route planner to see which boat to take, its departure time, and from which stop. If you prefer a tour where everything is organized, then this boat tour is recommended.
Tip: If you’re going on your own, most people visit the islands in the morning or early afternoon. If you go in the late afternoon, it will be much quieter. Keep in mind that the boat ride takes about 40 minutes.
See or Climb the Spiral Staircase of Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
In Venice, there’s something beautiful to discover everywhere, but some places are particularly special due to their rich architecture. On the exterior wall of Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, there’s an impressive 28-meter (92-feet)-high spiral staircase with 80 steps. You can climb the tower for $8, but since the tower is not much taller than the surrounding buildings, we didn’t find it worth the money. You can walk past it for free and admire the tower.
Walk across the Ponte dell’Accademia
Another bridge? Yes, another bridge that is worth visiting. As you may have read in the introduction, Venice has about 400 bridges. Just like the Rialto Bridge, from here you can overlook the Grand Canal, and it’s a popular spot to capture that typical view of Venice. Take your time to stand and watch as various boats and their cargoes pass by. In Venice, transportation is done by boat or handcart, so you’ll see some extraordinary things. An ambulance boat, a yellow-red DHL boat full of packages, or the greengrocer with a load of fresh produce.
Get a Unique Souvenir at Libreria Acqua Alta
A visit to the unique bookstore Libreria Acqua Alta is a must when you’re in Venice. It’s a creative place with many charming corners that you often see on social media. The store is home to 5 cats that peacefully sleep among the books, maps, and posters. During high tide (Acqua Alta), the store is partially submerged, which is why it got its name. If you’re looking for an original souvenir, you can surely find something interesting here. Try to avoid weekends and afternoons when it tends to be crowded and you can’t explore at your leisure.
Experience Local Life in Castello
If you want to escape the crowds and enjoy a nice cappuccino in a local square, head to Castello, the largest district in Venice. The deeper you walk into the district, the fewer tourists you’ll encounter. Especially in the morning, it’s delightful there! It’s just as beautiful as the city center but more relaxed. A beautiful spot for a photo is Ponte Dei Conzafelzi and the bridge that overlooks it, Ponte Minich.
Discover the Most Beautiful Photo Spots
Capturing beautiful photos in Venice is not difficult. Not only the famous attractions are photogenic, but also the narrow streets, charming squares, and canal houses with their colorful facades. In this article, you’ve already read many tips for beautiful photo spots, but we have a few extra recommendations for places worth visiting while you’re nearby. So, if you want to guarantee a beautiful photo, you can save the following locations:
- The pier near Hotel San Moisé
- Santa Maria Zobenigo
- Bridge without a name
- These gondolas in the early morning
Extra Tip: Pre-book the Bus Transfer from the Airport
Are you flying to Venice? It’s convenient to arrange your transfer from the airport to the city in advance. This way, your journey or city trip can start relaxed and hassle-free. The nearest airport is San Marco Airport, and unless you’re flying with Ryanair, this is likely where you’ll arrive. There is a bus service between the city center and San Marco Airport, which takes about 20 minutes. The cost is $9 per person, and you can book it here.
The Best Restaurants in Venice
Italy is known for its delicious cuisine. However, when it comes to breakfast, the locals seem to opt for a croissant with a cappuccino. The only restaurant we found where you can have a healthy and good breakfast is Niki Bar. Here, you can enjoy a hearty avocado toast, muesli with yogurt, or a tasty omelet at a reasonable price.
If you’re looking for a quick slice of pizza in the afternoon, Farini is highly recommended. And for affordable yet delicious fresh pasta, make sure to visit Aldo Pasta. If you’re a fan of flavors from Morocco, Greece, and the Middle East, reserve a table by the water at Frary’s and indulge in dishes like couscous, moussaka, or biryani. Of course, Italian cuisine shouldn’t be missed for dinner, and for that, we recommend Hostaria Osottoosopra. It’s wise to make a reservation for the last two restaurants.
Where to Stay in Venice?
It’s no surprise that hotels in Venice can be quite pricey. It’s highly recommended to stay within Venice itself and not outside the city. While hotels in Venice can be expensive, you’re likely to visit only once in your lifetime, and staying within the city allows you to fully enjoy the experience. The center of Venice is the San Marco Square, and staying around this area is very enjoyable. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can stay a bit further away from San Marco Square. In that case, you can simply take a water taxi and reach the bustling center of Venice in no time! Often, the neighborhoods outside the busy center are also charming and more peaceful. You’ll find many restaurants and cafes there, so you don’t always have to go to the crowded center for meals. The prices of hotels around the busy center are often more affordable. The decor may be slightly kitschy, but it adds to the authentic Italian ambiance. Read on for our three favorite hotels in different price ranges and neighborhoods.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Venice
Do you want to stay near the San Marco Square? Hotel Rio is a lovely place to stay in Venice. It’s located just 200 meters (656 feet) from the San Marco Square, and although the rooms aren’t large, they have everything you need. You won’t pay the high prices you’ll find in most other hotels in this area, and the rooms are modernly furnished. As soon as you step out of the hotel, you’ll be surrounded by terraces and numerous attractions of Venice. Another option, Mascaron Ridente, is located a bit further from the crowded center, making it very reasonably priced. It’s situated in a quiet location in a lively neighborhood. You’ll find good restaurants and cafes nearby, so you won’t have to walk far for dining options. You’ll stay in a comfortable room, and some rooms offer amazing views of the canal. For the best budget option in Venice, choose Casa Accademia. The rooms are basic but provide everything you need for a comfortable stay during your city trip. A big plus is the rooftop terrace, where you can relax after a day of exploring Venice!
Tip: The hotel options in Venice are vast, so it’s essential to book as early as possible because the best and affordable hotels are often fully booked well in advance.