Top 20 things to do in Venice

Here are the top 20 best things to do in Venice

Top 20 things to do in Venice

Venice has always been a peculiar city. This town, built on islands and wooden pules on the water, draws millions of tourists every year. The buildings that seem like they are on top of the water, the canals that go between them, and to top this with beautiful Italian architecture? No wonder so many people are amazed by this place. The city itself is an attraction, but if you are looking for parts of the city or other attractions, then here is a list of the top 20 things to do in Venice while you are in Italy.

  1. St. Mark’s Basilica
    Perhaps one of the most recognizable parts of Venice, the St. Mark’s Basilica is a Roman Catholic cathedral built in Venice, and the largest of the churches there. For a long while it was the chapel of the Doge, but became the cathedral of the city in the beginning of the 19th century. Due to its wealth and the gold designs both outside and inside, it has been nicknamed Chiesa d’Oro (Church of Gold) by the locals. It’s a must-see for both religious and non-religious people, and high on the list of things to do in Venice.
2. Piazza San Marco
The Piazza San Marco, also known as St. Mark’s Square, is the largest and most famous square in Venice. The square is located just infront of the St. Mark’s Basilica, and is popular among tourists and citizens alike. The square is surrounded by notable buildings, but the square itself is also quite famous for its beauty. Be aware that sometimes the water can rise up to street level here, but it’s usually nothing major.
3. St Mark’s Campanile
The St Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of the St. Mark’s Basilica. It has a simply yet still beautiful design. The tower collapsed during the beginning of the 20th century due to having been renovated, but it was rebuilt ten years later. It’s a very recognizable landmark of Venice nowadays.
4. Procuratie
The Procuratie are three connected buildings that surround the Piazza San Marco. They were built during different parts of history, but all served the purpose as the residence and office of the Procurator of San Marco. It was even used by Napoleon for a while, and it was during his occupation that the last one was finished. The Procuratie today houses very old cafés, a museum and some other attractions.
5. Caffè Florian
The Caffè Florian is probably the oldest coffee house in the world that continuously kept operating, since it was founded in 1720. It’s found at the Procuratie, and has been frequently visited by many famous people, including Goethe, Casanova, Byron and Charles Dickens, among others. It is open even today, and it’s a must-see for its beautiful design. One of the halls of the café has paintings of ten notable Venetians, like Marco Polo.
6. St. Mark’s Clocktower
St. Mark’s Clocktower is also located at the Piazza San Marco, next to the eastern wing of the Procuratie. While it might not be as famous as the Big Ben or the Prague astronomical clock, it’s still quite popular as a tourist attraction. The blue and gold face of the clock is just as beautiful as the others, especially with its zodiac design for the hours. Visitors can also check out the clock mechanism inside the building as part of a guided tour.
7. Museo Correr
The Museo Correr is a museum located at the place of the Procuratie and has a large collection of Venetian art and artifacts. Apart from paintings and other works of art, it also shows the history of Venice and the life of the royals through many exhibition rooms.
8. Teatro La Fenice
The Teatro La Fenice is one of the most popular and famous opera houses in Italy. The theatre houses many popular ballet, opera and other musical performances throughout the year, and has also been the location for premieres of famous works from people like Verdi, Bellini, Rossini and Donizetti. The name of the opera house, the “Theatre of the Phoenix” is somewhat ironic, as the building was destroyed three times by fire, since its foundation, but it rose again everytime from the ashes, just like a phoenix.
9. Grand Canal
As a city literally built on water, the water-traffic is both important and popular. The Grand Canal is one of the major corridors of water-traffic in Venice. People are highly recommended to not just go there to take a photo of it, but also try out one the many types of transportation there, like water taxis, water buses and of course gondolas. They might not be cheap, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many people, so it should be high on the list of things to do in Venice for everyone. The gondolas are also recommended for couples, since the experience can be quite romantic, especially at night.
10. Rialto Bridge
For a long while, the Rialto Bridge was the only way to cross the Grand Canal. It was made out of wood at first, but it collapsed, so it was later rebuilt with marble. Many thought it would fall again, but it still stands even today, as an engineering and architectural miracle. The bridge is popular among tourists to take a good look at Venice and the Grand Canal, and to take photographs. It is recommended to visit it at least once, and if possible, travel underneath it with a gondola or other vehicle.
11. Gallerie dell’Accademia
Originally an academy, the Gallerie dell’Accademia was turned into an art gallery by Napoleon. The museum now houses a large amount of Italian, especially Venetian works of art. Those who love art from the Renaissance era should definitely pay a visit to this place. Artists whose works are on display here include Veronese, Belline and Leonardo da Vinci, among many others. One of the most notable art here is the Vitruvian Man by da Vinci.
12. Ponte dell’Accademia
The Ponte dell’Accademia is a bridge near the museum, and is one of the few along the Rialto Bridge that allow crossing of the Grand Canal. It has been demolished and rebuilt a few times, each time a bit different. Even today there are talks of rebuilding it with a stronger structure. The bridge is quite popular for couples, as this is one of the bridges in the world where people like to put padlocks, or “love locks” with their names on it as a sign of their love. Local authorities don’t approve of this though, and usually remove them.
13. Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
The Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is a gothic-style church in Venice. Its exterior is must less extravagant compared to the St. Mark’s Basilica, because they wanted to symbolize a life of poverty. The inside is more spectacular though, with works of art from Bellini and Vivarini. Funeral monuments can also be found here dedicated to some notable people.
14. San Giorgio Maggiore
San Giorgio Maggiore is an island near Venice that is best known for its Benedictine church of the same name. Its view on the sea also inspired a painting by Monet. The Teatro Verde, an open-air theatre can also be found here.
15. Venetian Arsenal
The Venetian Arsenal was the center of the naval industry of Italy. It was used as a shipyard for hundreds of years and later as an armory, but today it is mostly empty, but can be visited by tourists.
16. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a museum dedicated to modern art, especially from cubism, surrealism and abstract expressionism. Notable artists whose works are on display here include Picasso and Dalí. A sculpture garden with a statue of Peggy can also be found here.
17. Jewish Ghetto
The Jewish Ghetto of Venice is considered one the oldest ones. People were locked up at the district during the night, and were refrained from leaving. Today, the area is just like any other, and a Jewish museum and synagogues are available for people to visit.

18. Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs was used to transport prisoners from the Doge’s Palace to the prison. It is said to be named after the sighs they made as they took a final look at the outside world through the windows of the enclosed bridge. Today, it is merely a tourist attraction, and lovers are supposedly granted eternal bliss if they kiss under it in a gondola.

19. Murano
Murano is an island in Venice that is most famous for its glass works. If you are interested in beautiful glass works and the process they are made with, you should check out the Glass Museum in Murano, dedicated to the art of glass-making.
20. Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace was the seat of power in Venice for a long time, and the official residence of the Doge of Venice. It served as a palace of justice, and many affairs were dealt with here. Today it is a museum, and one of the most recognizable landmarks in Venice. It’s beautiful both inside and outside, and worth visiting for everyone.
If you want to see other romantic places in the world, check out this collection of them. Or if you want to see another town without regular roads, see this page.