Things to Do in Venice: Must-See Routes and Places

Andy Holmes, Unsplash
January 1
Written by Elena Kostas

Discover the most fascinating things to do in Venice. Explore the picturesque streets, visit the historical sites, and immerse yourself in the authentic Venetian atmosphere.

Often referred to as the City of Canals, Venice is a marvel that leaves travelers smitten. Nestled in the northeastern part of Italy, this city is a mesh of 118 small islands, all separated by canals and connected with over 400 bridges.

From its beautiful architectural wonders to its rich cultural heritage, there's a plethora of things to do in Venice. If you're wondering what to see in Venice, be prepared for an endless list. A Venice guide could keep you mesmerized with tales of its labyrinth of canals, captivating artworks, and centuries-old buildings that seem as though they've been plucked out from a classic Venetian painting.

Finding intriguing places to visit in Venice isn't a challenge, but picking which ones to explore first might be. Now, did you know that Venice is also known as 'The Floating City'? This is because, over centuries, the city has been sinking at a rate of 1-2mm a year! Now that's a fun fact to share when you return from your Italian adventure!

1. St. Mark's Square

Historical Monuments and Architecture
group of people walking towards white building
St. Mark's Square / JUN HAO, Unsplash

St. Mark's Square, also known as Piazza San Marco, is the heart of Venice. Surrounded by magnificent buildings such as St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, and the Clock Tower, this square is the main landmark of the city.

With its Renaissance and Gothic architecture, St. Mark's Square will transport you to centuries past. The ornate details of St. Mark's Basilica and the grandeur of the Venetian palaces that surround it are truly impressive.

In addition to its architectural beauty, St. Mark's Square is also famous for its historic cafes, such as the legendary Florian Café and Quadri Café. These places have witnessed the cultural and social life of the city for centuries and are still popular meeting points for visitors and residents of Venice. Don't miss the chance to enjoy a coffee or aperitivo at one of these iconic cafes!

2. Rialto Bridge

Historical Monuments and Architecture
photo of gondolas on body of water between buildings
Rialto Bridge / Claudio Schwarz, Unsplash

Rialto Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in Venice and a must-visit for all travelers to the city. Located in the heart of Venice, the bridge spans the Grand Canal and connects the districts of San Marco and San Polo. With its unique architecture and fascinating history, Rialto Bridge is a true gem of Venice.

Rialto Bridge was first constructed in the 12th century and has been reconstructed several times throughout the centuries. Its current design, built in stone, was completed in the 16th century and has stood the test of time, becoming a symbol of the city.

From the bridge, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the Grand Canal and the historic buildings that surround it. Additionally, Rialto Bridge is home to a variety of shops and markets where visitors can find everything from souvenirs to fresh local produce. A visit to Rialto Bridge is an experience not to be missed when exploring Venice!

3. Doge's Palace Venice

Historical Monuments and Architecture
people walking in front of a brown building
Doge's Palace Venice / Denys Barabanov, Unsplash

Discover Doge's Palace in Venice

Doge's Palace is one of the main tourist attractions in the Italian city. Built in the 14th century, this magnificent building is an outstanding example of Venetian Gothic architecture. It was the seat of political power in the Republic of Venice and currently houses the Doge's Palace Museum, where valuable artworks and historical objects can be admired.

Explore its unique architecture

Doge's Palace combines elements of different styles, from Gothic to Renaissance, with Oriental influences. Its white and pink marble facade reflects the elegance and opulence of ancient Venice. Inside, you will find impressive halls and audience rooms decorated with magnificent frescoes and artworks.

Enjoy panoramic views

From Doge's Palace, you can enjoy incredible panoramic views of Venice, including the famous St. Mark's Square. Climb up the Clock Tower and marvel at the views of the canals and rooftops of the city. An unmissable experience for history and architecture lovers.

4. Grand Canal

Historical Monuments and Architecture
boats sailing through the sea between buildings
Grand Canal / Christian Holzinger, Unsplash

The Grand Canal is the main waterway in Venice, stretching for 3.8 kilometers. Its 'S' shape and connection to numerous smaller canals make it one of the most fascinating and must-see things to do in Venice.

Both sides of the canal are lined with impressive palaces and luxurious residences that showcase the wealth and splendor of the city at its peak. Some of the notable palaces include the Doge's Palace, Ca' d'Oro, and Palazzo Barbarigo.

You can enjoy a romantic gondola ride along the Grand Canal, admiring the architecture and feeling the magic of Venice as you navigate under beautiful bridges like the Rialto. An experience you can't miss!

5. Burano Island

Historical Monuments and Architecture
water canal between buildings of varied colors during the day
Burano Island / Dorian Mongel, Unsplash

Burano Island is one of the most charming and picturesque places in Venice. Known for its vibrant colorful houses, serene canals, and authenticity, Burano offers a unique experience that you can't miss.

Stroll through its narrow streets, admire the traditional architecture of the brightly painted houses, and enjoy the tranquility of this island. Don't miss the famous Clock Tower, the bell tower of the Church of San Martino, and the Cathedral of San Martino.

In addition to its visual charm, Burano is also known for its handmade lace. Visit the local workshops and learn about this centuries-old tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.

6. Gondola Ride in Venice

Entertainment and Pop Culture
a woman in a hat is in a gondola
Gondola Ride in Venice / Antonio Molinari, Unsplash

Venice is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, and there's no better way to explore it than on a gondola. A gondola ride is a traditional activity that allows you to immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of this Italian city.

The journey along Venice's canals will take you through the city's most iconic landmarks, such as the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. You'll be able to admire the beautiful palaces, churches, and bridges that are part of Venice's landscape.

The gondola is a symbol of Venice and represents the city's history and culture. Expert gondoliers will guide you through the narrow canals while sharing interesting stories about Venice and its past.

7. Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Museums and Art Galleries

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a must-visit for contemporary art lovers in Venice. Located in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the banks of the Grand Canal, this museum houses an impressive collection of works by renowned artists.

Admire paintings and sculptures by great names such as Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and many more. In addition, you can enjoy temporary exhibitions that will immerse you in the world of modern art.

Visiting the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is an unforgettable experience that will transport you to the fascinating world of contemporary art. Don't miss this cultural gem during your visit to Venice.

8. Venetian Masks

History and Cultural Heritage
gold and white masquerade ball mask
Venetian Masks / Vlad Hilitanu, Unsplash

Uncover the fascinating history of Venetian masks

Venetian masks are an iconic symbol of Venice and have a long history dating back centuries. These elaborate and beautiful masks have been a part of Venetian festivities and events for a long time, adding a touch of mystery and charm to the city.

Immerse yourself in the tradition and mystery of Venetian masks

In Venice, you can find a wide variety of Venetian masks, from the classic and elaborate carnival masks to more modern and creative ones. Take a stroll through mask shops and workshops and discover how these unique works of art are created.

Enjoy festivities and events with Venetian masks

Throughout the year, Venice hosts various events and festivals where Venetian masks take center stage. Join in the Venetian Carnival or other themed events and immerse yourself in the magic and charm of Venetian masks.

9. St. Mark's Basilica

Historical Monuments and Architecture
a city on the water
St. Mark's Basilica / Ljubomir Žarković, Unsplash

St. Mark's Basilica is one of the most important tourist attractions in Venice. Known for its impressive Byzantine architecture and beautiful mosaics, it is a must-see during your visit to the city.

Located in the famous St. Mark's Square, the basilica has been the center of religious life in Venice since its construction in the 11th century. Its marble facade and opulent interior are a testament to the city's glorious past.

Inside the basilica, you'll find treasures such as the Pala d'Oro, a magnificent golden altarpiece adorned with precious stones, and the mosaics that cover the walls and ceilings, depicting biblical scenes and sacred figures.

10. Venice Lagoon

Natural Spaces and Parks
photography of people near the boat during the day
Venice Lagoon / Joshua Stannard, Unsplash

The Venice Lagoon is one of the most fascinating natural wonders you can find in the city of Venice. Connected to the Adriatic Sea, this lagoon stretches along kilometers of serene water and picturesque islets.

The canals of the lagoon are like veins that run through the entire territory, creating a network of waterways that connect the different islands. Taking a gondola ride through these canals is a unique experience that will allow you to discover Venice's hidden secrets.

The Venice Lagoon is home to several famous islands, such as Murano and Burano. Murano is known for its tradition in glassmaking, while Burano is famous for its vibrant colorful houses and handmade lace. Both islands are must-visit stops for visitors to Venice.