As well as being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Venice is full of history and culture. Make your visit even more special with these top 5 things to do in Venice.
Take a Gondola Ride
Exploring Venice by Gondola is the very best way to experience the real Venice. There are no cars on the main island, this is a city that lives and works on the water. Exploring Venice by Gondola means you can go off the beaten path and see what day to day life in Venice is really like.
Prices for gondola rides are regulated. When we visited in September, the cost was 80 Euro for the first 30 minutes. Increase the length of your ride in 15 minute increments, at 40 Euro each time. Be aware that at 7pm, the basic rate goes up to 100 Euro for the first 30 minutes. Gondoliers only accept local currency (Euro) in cash. Most gondoliers appreciate – and often expect – a tip.
Although gondola rides are expensive, they really are worth the splurge. It’s a fun way to see the city with family, or a romantic way to see it as a couple. In addition to the basic rate gondola services detailed above you can also pay extra for musicians or English speaking guides to come with you. I recommend arranging this in advance. In October of 2015 we took a gondola tour with an English speaking guide and it was by far the best gondola ride we have ever had. Expect to pay about 70 Euro per person for this sort of tour.
Indulge Your Inner Foodie at The Mercati di Rialto
The first thing I noticed about the Rialto Market was the amazing colours. There is a huge selection of fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, spices, pasta, and more on offer. Nestled near the feet of the Rialto Bridge, the market spreads into the side streets. Feel immersed in the experience of living in an Italian city as vendors call out, enticing you to look at their wares. It’s a wonderful place to while away an hour or two, and perhaps pick up some foodie souvenirs.
Visit St Mark’s Basilica
The Basilica San Marco is a fantastic example of Gothic and Byzantine architecture, and one of the most breath-taking cathedrals I have ever visited. Don’t forget to look up as you walk the pathway into the church – every ceiling is ornately decorated. With nearly 8000 square meters of mosaics with golden backgrounds on the walls, vaults and cupolas, the cathedral seems to glow from within.
Despite the hundreds of people walking through the cathedral, it has a beautiful, peaceful atmosphere. You can feel the history and the faith in this incredible place.
Queues form early in the morning to get into the cathedral, but for a nominal fee (2 Euro at time of writing) you can book a timed ‘skip the line’ pass at VenetoInside. This service is only available from 1st April to 2nd November, but it saved my husband and I about an hour’s wait, plus we were able to plan the timing of our visit in advance.
Explore The Doge’s Palace
The scale and grandeur of The Doge’s Palace really blew me away. There’s so much opulence, it’s almost overwhelming. The Doge’s private apartments were closed when we visited this time, but it’s still incredible seeing the public areas. Each room seems more beautiful than the last.
Eventually you arrive at The Bridge of Sighs. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see this iconic bridge from the inside, although honestly, I found that portion of the tour a bit harrowing! You proceed through the narrow bridge, with its view on to the beautiful Grand Canal, and then find yourself in the dungeons. The very walls seem to breathe sadness, and I really couldn’t wait to get out. I was incredibly glad to leave the dungeons behind and explore in the courtyard of this magnificent building.
There can be queues to get into the Doge’s Palace. “Skip the line’ offers are available online, but I have not used any of them personally.
Expand Your Artistic Horizons at The Guggenheim Museum
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is housed in Peggy’s former Venice home, right on the Grand Canal. The museum is home to wonderful examples of Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Impressionism, as well as a striking sculpture garden. It really is a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours, even if your tastes in art run to the more traditional, as mine do.
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I have been to Venice on three occasions, always on private holidays with my husband. We paid all our own expenses. All of the above opinions are my own, and have not been solicited by any business or tourist attraction.