Venice, the capital of Italy’s Veneto region, is a unique city built on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and connected by over 400 bridges. Nestled in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, this city is renowned for its intricate waterways, historic architecture, and rich cultural heritage.
In 2020, Venice was home to around 258,685 residents, with 51,000 living in the historical island city. Known as “The Floating City” and “City of Canals,” Venice’s UNESCO World Heritage status, artistic movements, and role as a major cultural center make it one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world.
Its challenges include managing excessive tourism and environmental threats, but its charm and allure continue to captivate travelers from around the globe.
Table of Contents
Attractions and Things to do in Venice
1. Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is the main waterway of Venice, winding through the heart of the city. Lined with beautiful buildings that date back to the 13th century, it’s a bustling hub of activity and a must-see for any visitor.
Travel Tip: Consider taking a Vaporetto (water bus) ride along the canal to see the city from a unique perspective. It’s a more affordable option than a private gondola ride.
2. St. Mark’s Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica is a stunning cathedral known for its intricate mosaics and impressive architecture. It’s one of the most iconic symbols of Venetian Gothic architecture.
Travel Tip: Visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Don’t forget to dress modestly, as it’s a place of worship.
3. Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in Venice, offering a picturesque view of the Grand Canal. It’s a popular spot for tourists and a great place to shop for souvenirs.
Travel Tip: The bridge can get crowded, so try visiting during off-peak hours for a more relaxed experience.
4. Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and was the residence of the Doge, the supreme authority of the former Venetian Republic. It’s now a museum offering a glimpse into the city’s history.
Travel Tip: Consider purchasing a combined ticket that includes entry to other nearby attractions, such as the Correr Museum, to save on admission costs.
5. Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is a beautiful enclosed bridge made of white limestone. It’s known for its romantic allure and its connection to the Doge’s Palace and the prison.
Travel Tip: For a romantic experience, take a gondola ride under the bridge, especially during sunset.
6. Murano Island
Murano Island is famous for its glassmaking tradition. Visitors can watch artisans at work and explore shops filled with exquisite glass creations.
Travel Tip: Take a guided tour to learn more about the history of glassmaking and to ensure you’re buying authentic Murano glass.
7. Burano Island
Burano Island is known for its brightly colored fishermen’s houses and its centuries-old lace-making tradition.
Travel Tip: Spend a half-day exploring both Murano and Burano Islands. They are close to each other, and combined tours are often available.
8. Lido Beach
Lido Beach offers a break from the city’s narrow canals and crowded streets. It’s a perfect place to relax and enjoy the Adriatic Sea.
Travel Tip: Visit during the summer months for a refreshing swim, and don’t forget to bring sunscreen.
9. Gallerie dell’Accademia
The Gallerie dell’Accademia is a prominent art museum housing an impressive collection of Venetian art from the 14th to 18th centuries. It’s a must-visit for art enthusiasts.
Travel Tip: Purchase tickets online in advance to skip the line, and consider taking a guided tour to gain deeper insights into the artworks.
10. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a modern art museum located in Peggy Guggenheim’s former home. It features works by Picasso, Kandinsky, and other modern masters.
Travel Tip: Enjoy the sculpture garden and take advantage of the free audio guide to learn more about the collection.
11. Teatro La Fenice
Teatro La Fenice is one of Italy’s most famous and renowned opera houses. Its interior is lavishly decorated, and it’s a hub for world-class opera performances.
Travel Tip: Book tickets in advance for a performance, or take a guided tour to explore the theater’s opulent interior.
12. Jewish Ghetto
The Jewish Ghetto in Venice is the world’s first ghetto and is rich in history and culture. It’s a place to learn about Jewish heritage in Venice through its synagogues and museums.
Travel Tip: Consider taking a guided tour to fully understand the historical significance of the area.
13. Ca’ Rezzonico
Ca’ Rezzonico is a grand museum dedicated to 18th-century Venice. It’s housed in a beautiful Baroque palace and offers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of that era.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the ornate ballroom and the collection of period furniture and paintings.
14. San Giorgio Maggiore
San Giorgio Maggiore is a stunning church located on its own island, offering breathtaking views of Venice. Its white façade and classical design are a sight to behold.
Travel Tip: Take the elevator to the top of the bell tower for panoramic views of the city.
15. Scuola Grande di San Rocco
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is a confraternity building known for its incredible ceiling paintings by Tintoretto. It’s a hidden gem that art lovers will appreciate.
Travel Tip: Rent the available mirrors to view the ceiling without straining your neck.
16. Torcello Island
Torcello Island is one of the oldest inhabited areas in Venice and offers a peaceful escape from the city’s bustle. It’s home to ancient churches and lush landscapes.
Travel Tip: Combine a visit to Torcello with Burano and Murano for a full day of exploration.
17. Ca’ d’Oro
Ca’ d’Oro is a beautiful Gothic palace that now serves as an art gallery. Its name means “Golden House,” reflecting its original gilded exterior.
Travel Tip: Visit the balcony for a lovely view of the Grand Canal.
Unique Activities in Venice
1. Piazza San Marco 3 Greatest Caffe’s Audio Guide
Dive into the history and culture of Piazza San Marco’s three most renowned cafés. With an optional audio guide, learn about the significance of these establishments and their role in Venice’s social scene. A perfect experience for coffee lovers and history enthusiasts.
2. Private Gondola Ride along Grand Canal
Experience the magic of Venice with a private gondola ride along the Grand Canal. This intimate journey allows you to witness the city’s architectural wonders and immerse yourself in its romantic ambiance. Ideal for couples or small groups seeking a personalized experience.
3. Catamaran Sunset Jazz Cruise
Sail into the sunset on a catamaran while enjoying live jazz music. This cruise offers breathtaking views of Venice at dusk, complemented by an aperitivo. The combination of serene waters, enchanting music, and delicious drinks makes this a must-try activity.
4. Small Group Pasta and Tiramisu Class
Indulge in the flavors of Italy by joining a pasta and tiramisu-making class in Venice. Learn the secrets behind these iconic dishes from expert chefs and enjoy the fruits of your labor. This hands-on experience is perfect for food enthusiasts and those looking to delve into Italian cuisine.
Day Trips from Venice
Discover the romantic city of Verona, famously known as the setting for Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. Wander through its ancient streets and visit the iconic Verona Arena.
Travel tip: Opt for an early morning train from Venice to avoid the tourist rush and get the most out of your day.
2. Lake Garda
Experience the largest lake in Italy, surrounded by picturesque towns and majestic mountains. Enjoy a boat ride or simply relax by its serene shores.
Travel tip: Consider purchasing a day-pass for the ferry to explore multiple towns around the lake.
Explore the historic city of Padua, home to one of the world’s oldest universities and the stunning Scrovegni Chapel with Giotto’s frescoes.
Travel tip: Don’t miss the Palazzo della Ragione, a medieval town hall with a vast hall decorated with stunning frescoes.
Where to stay in Venice
Venice, Italy, a city renowned for its romantic charm and unique architecture, is home to a wide array of hotels that cater to different tastes and budgets. Spread across 118 islands and connected by 409 bridges, Venice offers accommodations ranging from luxurious palaces overlooking the Grand Canal to budget-friendly options nestled in the narrow streets. Whether you’re looking for opulence, family-friendly environments, or a place that captures the city’s historic essence, Venice’s hotels provide a perfect blend of comfort and Venetian style.
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
H10 Palazzo Canova (★★★★)
- Description: Situated in San Polo, Venice, H10 Palazzo Canova features a terrace and a bar. This 4-star hotel offers free WiFi.
- Price: €375 per night
- Rating: 9.3 (Superb)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel (★★★★★)
- Description: Housed in a 16th-century building overlooking the Grand Canal, Palazzo Venart offers elegant rooms and suites, with a fine dining experience.
- Price: €2,036.22 per night
- Rating: 9.6 (Exceptional)
3. Budget Hotel
Il Lato Azzurro (Budget Hotel)
- Description: Located on the island of St. Erasmo, Il Lato Azzurro features a private garden with views of Venice Lagoon. It offers rooms with free Wi-Fi and private bathroom.
- Price: Price not specified in Euros
- Rating: 8.7 (Fabulous)
4. Hotel for Family
Santa Croce Boutique Hotel (★★★★)
- Description: Situated in the Santa Croce district of Venice, Santa Croce Boutique Hotel is a 10-minute walk from both Venice Santa Lucia Train Station and Rialto Bridge.
- Price: €380.14 per night
- Rating: 9.5 (Exceptional)
5. Hotel for Couples
Carnival Palace – Venice Collection (★★★★)
- Description: Carnival Palace is a brand-new hotel offering ultra-modern rooms with wood floors and free Wi-Fi. Set in Venice’s Jewish Ghetto area.
- Price: €281 per night
- Rating: 9.1 (Superb)
6. Hotel for Solo Travellers
Hotel al Sotoportego (★)
- Description: Located in Venice, Hotel al Sotoportego offers 1-star accommodation in Cannaregio, Venice. It is known for its great location and amazing host.
- Price: Price not specified in Euros
- Rating: 9.3 (Superb)
Did you know? Facts about Venice
- Venice is built on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges.
- The city was historically the capital of the Republic of Venice for almost a millennium, from 810 to 1797, and was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
- Venice has been known by various names such as “La Dominante,” “La Serenissima,” “Queen of the Adriatic,” “City of Water,” “City of Masks,” “City of Bridges,” “The Floating City,” and “City of Canals.”
- In the 21st century, Venice remains a popular tourist destination and has been ranked many times as the most beautiful city in the world.
- The city faces challenges including an excessive number of tourists in the historical center, pollution, tide peaks, and cruise ships sailing too close to buildings.
- The traditional first doge of Venice, Paolo Lucio Anafesto, was elected in 697, and the city was governed as a republic throughout its independent period.
- Venice became an imperial power following the Fourth Crusade in 1204, and its sphere of influence in the Mediterranean included territories like Crete and Cyprus.
- The city’s decline began in the 15th century, losing its monopoly over trade with the East and facing devastating plagues that killed thousands of citizens.
- Venice lost its independence when Napoleon Bonaparte conquered it in 1797, and it later became part of the newly created Kingdom of Italy in 1866.
- Despite challenges, Venice’s historic center remains renowned for the beauty of its settings, architecture, and artwork, and it continues to play an important role in the history of music and art.
FAQ about Venice
What Makes Venice the “City of Canals,” and How Can Tourists Explore It?
Venice, often referred to as the “City of Canals,” is built on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges. Tourists can explore this unique cityscape by taking a traditional gondola ride or Vaporetto (water bus) through the Grand Canal, visiting iconic landmarks like the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Campanile.
How Has Venice’s Rich Maritime History Shaped Its Cultural Heritage?
Venice’s maritime empire, known as the Republic of Venice, played a crucial role in shaping its cultural heritage. The city was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, influencing art, architecture, and commerce. Visitors can explore the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, and various museums to delve into this rich history.
What Are the Must-Visit Islands in the Venetian Lagoon?
The Venetian Lagoon is home to several beautiful islands, including Murano, famous for its glassmaking; Burano, known for lace-making and colorful houses; and Giudecca, offering stunning views of Venice. A guided tour or independent exploration by water taxi can provide a unique island-hopping experience.
How Is Venice Addressing the Challenges of Over-Tourism and Environmental Concerns?
Venice faces challenges such as over-tourism, pollution, and tide peaks. Efforts are being made to regulate tourist numbers in the centro storico and address environmental issues. Travelers can contribute by respecting local regulations, choosing sustainable travel options, and supporting local businesses.
What Are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Explore in Venice?
Venice and its Lagoon are inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, encompassing the historic parts of the city and the lagoon. Key sites include the Grand Canal, Bridge of Sighs, and various architectural masterpieces. Exploring these sites offers insights into Venice’s artistic and cultural significance.
How Can Visitors Experience Venice’s Role in the History of Music and Art?
Venice has played an essential role in the history of instrumental and operatic music, being the birthplace of composers like Antonio Vivaldi. Art enthusiasts can visit the Venice Biennale, explore art galleries, and attend concerts at historic venues like La Fenice Opera House.
What Are the Traditional Venetian Culinary Delights to Savor During a Visit?
Venetian cuisine offers a blend of seafood, risottos, and unique flavors. Visitors can indulge in traditional dishes like Sarde in Saor (sweet and sour sardines), Bigoli in Salsa (pasta with onion and anchovy sauce), and Fritole (Venetian doughnuts), available at local restaurants and markets.
How Can Travelers Experience Venice’s Festivals and Cultural Events?
Venice hosts various festivals and cultural events, such as the Venice Carnival, famous for its masks and costumes; the Venice Film Festival; and the Festa del Redentore, a traditional celebration with fireworks. Planning a visit during these events can provide a vibrant and authentic cultural experience.