10 things to do and see in Venice

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Venice in 1, 2 or 3 days

10 things to do and see in Venice
10 things to do and see in Venice

There are two ways to visit Venice: you can follow the hurried tourists and an established tour chosen by about 20 million people every year, or you can leave this path and try to discover a less touristic Venice. We think that you can do both: you can go to St. Mark’s Square, so often seen in the pictures, or on the Rialto Bridge to admire the Grand Canal and fight with the crowd in order to take a picture.

You can, otherwise, forget any stereotype of Venice and find out that there are extraordinary places to visit. So it happens to go to the Accademy Art Galleries, St Rocco Scuola Grande, or the Frari Church and discover magnificent works and fine buildings. Those monuments will tell you the true story of Venice, the one too often overshadowed by a standard tourism. In this page we suggest you 10 things to do in Venice during a weekend or a longer holiday.

If you are looking for a hotel in Venice, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 450 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

St. Mark's square in Venice

1

St. Mark’s square is the first place that people use to think about Venice. The great square of the  Basilica, with the pigeons waiting for some crumbs, it’s perhaps the most famous image of Venice.

St. Mark's square in Venice
St. Mark’s square in Venice

Before the arrival of the relics of St. Mark and the construction of the Basilica, this was simply a large vegetable garden, crossed by the Rio Batario, then buried by order of the Doge Vitale Michiel II. St. Mark’s square is the only open space in Venice who has the privilege of being called “square”, while all other areas with this feature are  called “fields”. During the years of the Venetian Republic it was the place for  exhibitions, tournaments, processions, and the hunt for bulls, while today it is surrounded by very expensive cafés, where you can sit and watch the passage of thrilled tourists from all over the world.

Doge’s Palace in Venice

2

Venetians take care of this building because it’s the protagonist of important events happened in Venice. Doge’s Palace was exactly where it is now during the period of the Republic,  was there with the other dominations and also when Venice became part of Italian state . This palace is a constant presence, always loyal to the city.

Doge’s Palace in Venice
Doge’s Palace in Venice

It has been subject of many changes, because of a long series of terrible fires. The political importance of this palace, once seat of the Doge of Venice, was underlined by Napoleon too, who wanted this palace to become the centre of his administration in 1797, when he conquered Venice. The historical importance of the Doge’s Palace is testified also from the great sum of money that the newborn Italian republic gave to Venice to remodel this building. In spite of the loss budget of the new unified Italy, it spared no expenses to one of the most important symbols of this city.

The Grand Canal in Venice

3

Venetians use to call it “canalazzo”,  but it’s not derogatory name, it’s just their way to identify the biggest canal of their city. This canal cross the city and it’s 4 kilometers long, dividing the city centre in two parts. The Grand Canal is even older than Venice, it has a S reverse shape and it’s 5 meters deep in some points and in some others can be 70 meters width.

The Grand Canal in Venice
The Grand Canal in Venice

If you want to admire the city from a different point of view you can make a boat tour on the Grand Canal that starts  from Santa Lucia Station and arrives to Saint Mark square, offering a wonderful view of the city. During the tour you’ll have the chance to admire buildings that seem to compete in beauty. Observing buildings, the harmony of the constructions and the narrow alleys, that you can see while the ferry boat slowly goes in direction of Saint Mark square, you’ll understand why Venice is one of the most loved cities of the world.

Venice's bridges

4

It’s not easy to count Venice’s bridge: they’re 354! This city has an important relation with its bridges because people need them to go in different directions linked by bridges. Venetians transformed their necessity into  the main feature of their city: Venice is so characteristic thanks to all these “half-moons” (bridges)  that you can see on its canals.

Venice's bridges
Venice’s bridges

The most known bridge it’s the Bridge of Sighs, but only few people knows that this name doesn’t come from the languid sights of the lovers that swear eternal love to each other under this bridge. The bridge takes its name from the sights of the condemned people to death, that were brought to the near prison passing through this bridge, and looking for the last time the city, they sadly sighted. On the Gran Canal you can see the Rialto bridge too.

In 1593, the Rialto Bridge replaced the old bridge made with wooden boats that allowed the passage towards populated Rialto market. Today the bridge, covered by arches, is crowded with tourists and vendors, one of the most famous photographic points of the world.

The newest bridge of Venice, the spectacular Bridge of the Constitution, has been projected and built by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The Bridge, commissioned in 1997, after a long time due to some mistakes in its design, has been opened to the public in 2008 and only after one year he received the definitive technical approbation.

The Accademy Art Galleries

5

The Accademy Art Galleries hosts the richest collection of Venetian paintings, from the Byzantine and Gothic  style to Renaissance artists.

Some names can immediately clarify the quantity and quality of the works housed in a complex that link  the church of St. Mary of Charity, the monastery of the Lateran Canons and the Great School of St. Mary of Charity: Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto and Titian, Tiepolo and the great eighteenth-century landscape painters Canaletto, Guardi, Bellotto, Longhi.

The Accademy Art Galleries
The Accademy Art Galleries

There are also works by Mantegna, a Piero della Francesca, Crivelli, Luca Giordano, Memling and others. The museum  also hosts one of the highlights of Leonardo da Vinci, the Vitruvian Man, but is very rarely exhibited because the light ink could lose its original color.

Where: Venier dei Leoni Palace , Dorsoduro 701
How to get there: From Piazzale Roma or train station: ferry line 2, direction Lido, the Accademia stop; Boat No. 1, direction Lido, Accademia or Salute stop.
From St. Mark’s Square: waterbus line 2, towards P. Roma, the Accademia stop; Boat No. 1, towards P. Roma, stop or Health Academy.
Hours:
The Museum of the Accademy Art Galleries is open at the following times:
Monday from 8.15 am to 2.00 pm  (last entry 1.00 pm )
Tuesday to Sunday from 8.15 am  to 7.15 pm  (last entry at 6.15 pm)
Full closing days: Monday afternoon, January 1st, May 1st, December 25th
Ticket: Single ticket Galleries + Grimani Building:
Single ticket Full price: € 15.00 (+ € 1.50 reservation fee)
Reduced Single ticket: € 12.00 (+ € 1.50 reservation fee)
U.E. boys 18-25 years old with identification card, teachers without their school group.

Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice

6

The Peggy Guggenheim collection is the most prestigious Italian collection dedicated to the European and American contemporary art of the first half of 1900. In this Museum you can find the masterpieces of the greatest artists: Pollock, de Chirico, Picasso, Kandinsky, Brancusi and Duchamp.

Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice
Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice

One of the most interesting collection is the Gianni Mattioli’s, one of the greatest collectors of ‘900, in which you can find the best Italian Futurism art: Sironi, Carrà, Soffici, Rosai, some paintings of Morandi and a beautiful portrait of Amedeo Clemente Modigliani. The Museum is placed in the only incomplete palace of Venice: the Venier House of Lions bought by Peggy Guggenheim to realize the biggest modern art museum of the 50’s. She spent all her life with the only purpose to realize a museum which could enhance the vanguards of all the world. Her passion wasn’t stopped by the second world war. During those years she continued travelling  all around Europe, mindless of dangers, looking for the works she wanted in her prestigious collection. The strong personality of Peggy Guggenheim allowed artists to become the most representative of the American Abstract Expressionism.

Where: Venier dei Leoni Palace , Dorsoduro 701
How to get there: From Piazzale Roma or train station: ferry line 2, direction Lido, the Accademia stop; Boat No. 1, direction Lido, Accademia or Salute stop.
From St. Mark’s Square: waterbus line 2, towards P. Roma, the Accademia stop; Boat No. 1, towards P. Roma, stop or Health Academy.
Hours: everyday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Never : Tuesdays and December 25th
Ticket: Full ticket € 12, reduced ticket € 7

The Frari Church in Venice

7

The Church of the Frari is  one of the places in Venice that the hurried tourists miss out .

Monumental basilica 102 meters long, has 17 monumental altars and a collection of works worthy of the best museums in the world.

The Frari Church in Venice
The Frari Church in Venice

Here are buried Antonio Canova and Tiziano, many doges, generals, the composer Monteverdi and many other Venetian personalities. In the Apse you’ll be astonished by  the Assumption by Tiziano, the most important work of the church together with the Pesaro Altarpiece, always by the same painter. But are no less so the works of Bellini (Frari Triptych and Madonna Enthroned), the Deposition of Frangipane. Don’t miss a visit to the beautiful wooden choir. Beyond the works, in the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari light will amaze you: the arrangement of the works like in a museum, the monumental power  gives an overall feeling of grandeur.

Where: Campo ai Frari
How to get there: Line 1, stop San Tomà
Hours: From Mon to Sat 9:00 am  to 6:00 pm  – Sunday: 1.00-6.00 pm
Closed  December 25, January 1, Easter and August 15.
Ticket: € 3

Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice

8

Tintoretto has put all his skills in the Sala Albergo of the  Scuola di San Rocco. And he succeeded, because this cycle of works is considered by all the Sistine Chapel of Venice.

The Scuola Grande di San Rocco was the seat of a brotherhood of rich Venetian people devoted to charitable works and takes its name from the San Rocco body, guarded here.

Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice
Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice

In 1564 the Brotherhood entrusted Tintoretto the task of decorating the school. In 24 years, the artist and his students realized a cycle of large canvases in the Ground and in the Sala  Albergo. The works tell biblical stories and the life of Christ in an exceptional artistic path, which almost stuns for the size and the number of painted works.

Where: Piazza San Marco
How to get there: From the boat station, Line 41, stop San Zaccaria; Line 2, Line 1, stop Vallaresso or San Zaccaria.
Hours: April 1 – November 1, 10:00 am  to 7:00 pm ; 2 November to 31 March 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Never: December 25, January 1.
Ticket: full ticket  € 13, reduced € 7.50. A single ticket allows entrance to: Doge’s Palace, Correr Museum, National Archaeological Museum, Monumental Halls of Marciana National Library.

Things to eat in Venice

9

Venice gastronomy has particular tasty dishes. You can begin with the appetizers, the masterpieces of Venetian menu. The “bacari” (the typical taverns) offers to their customers the “cicchetti”, typical Venetian appetizers that must be served with a “ombra de vin” (a little wine). You just have to choose among groceries or fried crab, the “soppressa” (a sort of salami) with polenta or half egg with anchovies.

Things to eat in Venice
Things to eat in Venice

Among the first courses, the most know dish is “risi e bisi”, also known as rice with peas, that the Doge’s ate in honor of the Saint Patron of the city on 25th April.

In Venice you can also eat seafood: spaghetti with clams or cooked with sepia. In this place another dish really appreciated is the pasta with beans. To conclude your meal you have to choose a second course: inevitable (for people who has a strong stomach…) the liver cooked in the Venetian way, its characteristic is to be cooked with a lot of onion, served with “castrature”, the typical artichokes farmed on the little islands of the Laguna.

Where to sleep in Venice

10

Every year about 20 million tourists visit  Venice. The majority doesn’t stop to sleep but take a flight after a few hours walking around.

Despite this tourism that does not occupy rooms in Venice it can be very difficult to find a place to sleep, especially during the spring and Carnival. Even if you find it, you’ll to spend too much and don’t expect extra luxury rooms.

Where to sleep in Venice
Where to sleep in Venice

Local hoteliers know that you are willing to pay a lot and get little in order to visit the lagoon city. A normal 3 star hotel can cost 150 Euros per night, while the more luxurious can get to cost you very much. Hotels and the cheaper B&Bs are located on the mainland in Mestre, which is perfectly connected to Venice, and allows you to reach the main monuments of the lagoon city in just a few minutes. Maybe this is the solution less romantic but certainly more convenient.

If you are looking for a hotel in Venice, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 450 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com