My favorite thing to do in Venice was Burano. From the center you can take the Vaporetto (the boats that serve as public transport) and in almost an hour you’ll arrive in the colorful streets of Burano.
Like Venice itself, this small island is characterized by the channels running through the streets, but probably much more because of the brightly colored houses. Red, blue, yellow, green, … All the colors of the rainbow can be seen here! You may compare it a little with the bright blue houses of Chefchaouen, Morocco. But even more colorful and with a lot of water in between the streets.
If you go to Burano, I recommend that you also plan a stopover in Murano. One letter difference, but a completely different island. For me, Murano seemed to look a lot like Venice. Cozy streets, calm canals, a lot of bridges but above all: much less crowded!
Perhaps Murano sounds familiar to you. That’s gotta do with the glass that they produce here. The many souvenir shops sell beautiful gifts, but the most beautiful glass monument is right next to Murano’s bell tower. There you can find a huge and pointy glass sculpture from Simone Cenedese.
Canneregio is one of the cutest neighborhoods of Venice. Relax here and get away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. Enjoy great food in one of the nice (and often not so expensive) restaurants along one of the calm canals. Go out for exploration and don’t forget to get lost on purpose. The narrow streets are romantic and full of secrets!
4. T Fondaco dei Tedeschi
The ‘T Fondaco dei Tedeschi’ is a luxurious shopping center in the heart of Venice. Perfect for shopaholics or lovers of exceptionally beautiful interiors, but even for people who don’t like any of this, I recommend a visit. After all, on the roof terrace of this shopping center you get the best views of Venice. And the best part is: it’s free!
After walking up the stairs, you are welcomed with exceptionally beautiful views of the hundreds of canals, the thousands of boats and the majestic buildings of Venice. Don’t forget to take your camera, as this really is the best place to make beautiful views of this romantic city.
5. Scala del Bovolo
Tucked away between the many narrow streets, you’ll find the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, a home that once belonged to one of the richest families of Venice. What is really beautiful about this building is the revolving spiral staircase. For five (or three) euros you can climb the building and get a nice view of Venice. Admitted, less beautiful than the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, but still quite impressive. In addition, the architecture and shape of the Scala del Bovolo is also just worth the visit.
6. The San Marco Basilica or St. Mark’s basilica
The most busy place of Venice is undoubtedly St. Mark’s Square. Here you’ll find several of Venice’s top attractions right next to each other. The eyecatcher of this square is, according to me, the Saint Mark’s basilica. Decorated with detailed images, frescoes and painting, she decorates the whole square with a beautiful piece of architecture. Not only the outside is an amazing treat for the eye, the inside is also beautiful.
The giant basilica and its dozens of domes are covered with beautiful ceiling paintings, each time coated with gold.
Don’t let the long queues frighten you! Often people are queueing up until the Doge’s palace, but as access to this monument is free, the waiting times are in fact not so long.
7. Torre dell’Orologio
Left of the Basilica stands a striking bell tower. Above the beautiful clock and the detailed sculptures you’ll also find two statues standing on the tower. Every time an hour passes, these copper statues come into action and hit the bell as hard as they can.
Are you fascinated by the Torre dell’Orologio? Then go take a look inside! There you can read more about the mechanics, and you can of course also look at the two men in close-up.
8. The Doge’s Palace
Next to the impressive San Marcos Basilica you will find the majestic Doge’s Palace. The exterior is much less decorated than the basilica, but the building remains an imposing appearance.
When you set foot in the courtyard of this former palace of the leader of the Venetian republic, your jaw will fall open immediately. The columns (on each side of the inner courtyard the columns are in a different style) and impressive statues show the wealth of this city. If you also visit the interior of the palace, you may eventually get a stiff neck. The beautiful ceilings allow you to dream away for hours over the mythical scenes and golden frameworks and fringes. For five euros extra you can also have an audio guide. In this you will hear historical summaries and stories related to the room you’re visiting.
Much less beautifully decorated are the adjoining prisons. Enemies of the state were thrown in the dark, gray cellars of the Doge’s Palace without forgiveness. At some point you’ll also cross the ‘bridge of sighs‘. It can also be seen as you walk through the entrance to the Doge’s Palace.
Try to purchase tickets for this monument in advance, or buy a ‘skip-the-line’ ticket. The queues for this monumental attraction can take hours and hours…
9. The Bridge of Sighs
This monumental bridge is a favorite photo location for many city trippers to Venice. This is not only because of the beauty of the bridge, but also because of the continuous presence of gondoliers and their boats. One gondola isn’t even gone yet, and another appears under the bridge already. This bridge connects the Doge’s Palace with the adjacent prison. As the detainees were led to their dark rooms, they got to see Venice one last time. A last sigh before they wandered off forever in the dark prisons of the palace. A beautiful bridge with a not so beautiful story! Want to read more about its dark history? Read this article!
10. Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute
Just a short boat trip away from the San Marco square is the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. It’s across the street from ‘il Canal Grande’ (this canal runs almost entirely through Venice). To get there, take the Vaporetto, otherwise you have to make a very big detour. The giant dome can’t be imagined away from the street scene, and probably that’s the reason why it’s such a popular attraction in Venice. Don’t just look at the outside of this basilica, but go in as well. The wide circular church may be less impressive if compared to the San Marco basilica, but then of course there isn’t really anything not impressive in Venice…
11. The Peggy Guggenheim collection
Not only New York and Bilbao have a Guggenheim museum. Venice also has one! The heir of Solomon R. Guggenheim regularly exhibited modern art in this beautiful house. After her death, it was taken over by the ‘Guggenheim Foundation’ and they made a museum out of the house. Outside and inside you’ll find beautiful modern artworks. Among other things, there are works of art by Pablo Picasso, Marchel Duchamp and Albert Gleizes.
12. La Biennale
Venice is a city full of culture! Just think of the many museums, the beautiful buildings and of course the Venice Film Festival. The latter is a part of ‘La Biennale’, an art organization that organizes many events in Venice. If you happen to be in Venice during a year with an odd number, then I recommend visiting ‘Art Biennale’. In about ten minutes walking from the San Marco square you’ll find ‘La Biennale Giardini’ and ‘Arsenale’. At these venues there are gigantic art collections of all participating countries (in 2017 there were 86 and then a few tens of independent participants). Huge and modern, or just small and very detailed. The artworks you see here are very different. A lot of the art is somewhat experimental, but even if you’re not too fond of art, it’s fun to walk around. The domains at which La Biennale is organized are always very beautiful and perfect to escape the hustle and bustle of Venice.
13. Libreria Acqua Alta
One of the perhaps strangest things to do in Venice is a visit to the Libreria Acqua Alta. This bookshop is run by the eccentric Luigi Frizzo and his four cute cats. Books about all subjects seem to pile up and take over the whole business. In the middle of the shop you’ll also find some boats (of course there is also a gondola!). At the small courtyard you can climb a staircase of books for a nice view of the adjacent canal.
14. A ride on a Venetian gondola
You can’t visit Venice without having done in a gondola ride. These traditional boats are richly decorated with beautiful wood carvings and equipped with comfortable and luxurious seats. The men and women in their typical stripy outfits are eager to paddle you through the narrow streets of Venice. However, it isn’t cheap… Eighty euros for thirty minutes and up to six people during the day, or one hundred euros for a romantic evening round trip. Do you travel alone and you think this is really expensive? Then book a shared gondola. That’s already possible for thirty euros per person.
15. The Rialto Bridge
The area around the Rialto Bridge is popular with many tourists. Once you get around this gigantic bridge, it will not surprise you that hordes of visitors take pictures of the daily activities around this grand white building.
Don’t forget to climb the bridge as well. You wouldn’t expect the bridge to be so wide, but in the middle you can find a great shopping street. Perfect for fun souvenirs or luxurious gifts, but just as much to just enjoy the sightseeing and people watching. From both sides of the bridge you also have a beautiful view of the Canal Grande. A wide stretch of canal where tens, perhaps even hundreds of boats in all sizes, try to squeeze through.
Another tip: get lost deliberately!
A final tip that you can do as an ‘activity’ in Venice is to get deliberately lost. Most people who visit this beautiful city seem to be only interested in the most famous sights. But there is so much more to see! Venice is actually a museum in itself. Almost every house, each canal and every street is beautiful. Don’t forget to turn left or righ in one of the narrow streets occasionally. You never know what beautiful hidden treasures you will encounter!
Excursions and tours in Venice
Curious about more sights? Or do you want a guided tour? Then take a look at these excursions and tours:
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.