Top 10 Things to Do in Venice
- Get Lost in Venice
There is nothing that is as important when you’re visiting Venice than just wandering aimlessly through its streets and alleys. By wandering (especially if you point yourself in the exact opposite of the direction where the herd is going) you can find Venice’s many charming and often-empty squares and streets, which goes a long way toward helping you appreciate the city.
- Visit St. Mark’s Basilica
Its beautiful outside, with its big onion domes and multi-colored marble pillars, and the interior is floor-to-ceiling mosaics. There’s no fee to tour the main part of the basilica, and even booking an entry time online (so you don’t have to wait in the sometimes-long line out front) is free, so after you’ve wandered the city this should be your next stop. There are three smaller museums within the basilica which you’ll have to pay an entry to see; your budget and overall interest should dictate whether you visit all of them, but if you’re just going to pick one then by all means take the narrow and steep staircase in the entry alcove up to the museum that has the original horses which used to overlook the square – in addition to seeing the horses, you’ll also get to go out on the roof and overlook the square yourself.
- See St. Mark’s Square When it’s Empty
Visit the square when everyone else isn’t there. The best times to catch St. Mark’s Square at her most vulnerable are early morning and late evening, before the day-trippers arrive or after they’ve gone. Venice isn’t a nightlife town, so it doesn’t take long after the restaurants close for the square to be emptied of much of the crowd.
- Take the #1 Vaporetto for a Grand Canal Tour
I think the easiest and most pleasant way to get around Venice is on foot, but the Grand Canal only has a few bridge crossings and taking a ride on the vaporetti is a fun transport method. Even beyond the practical reasons for taking a vaporetto, however, there’s the fact that the slow #1 vaporetto that runs the length of the Grand Canal is the ideal equivalent to a city bus tour.
- Watch a Glass-Blowing Demonstration on Murano Island
travel on the vaporetti to the island of Murano and see an entertaining and educational glass blowing demonstration, and walk around the streets and do some glasss shopping, but beware of cheap imitations from China!
- Tour the Doge’s Palace
next to St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace is arguably the second most important “attraction” in Venice after the basilica (if you don’t count the city itself as an “attraction”). While there are several good reasons to pay the admission fee to tour the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale in Italian), probably the most popular stop on the tour is when you get to walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs. You can see the bridge from the outside without buying an entry ticket, but the only way to walk on the bridge yourself is as part of a Doge’s Palace tour.
- Take the Elevator to the Top of the Campanile
While you can get a great view of St. Mark’s Square from the roof of St. Mark’s Basilica, you can’t get a great view of the church’s roof when standing on it. For a view that includes both the basilica and the piazza, buy a ticket for the short elevator ride to the top of the Campanile, or bell-tower, that’s in front of the church. The views are great, and you get an up-close-and-personal look at the big bells that you’ll hear ringing out the time all over the city. If you want to avoid getting your ears blown off, I’d advise making the trip to the top of the tower at something other than the hour mark.
- Wander the Streets of Burano Island
With a little extra time in Venice, after your visit to Murano take a vaporetto further into the lagoon for a trip to the island of Burano. In general, the further you get into the lagoon from the core Venetian islands, the less crowded they get – Burano is usually less crowded than Murano, for instance. And with its almost cartoon-like brightly colored buildings, it makes the perfect backdrop for a stroll.
- Take a Hike on Torcello Island
It’s a short trip from Burano, but can take up to an hour if you go straight to Torcello from Venice. Either way, it’s the ideal spot if you’re in the mood for less structure and more nature. Most of Torcello is a nature reserve, and while you can’t actually go hiking out in the fields, you can certainly get away from the tourist hordes and enjoy the tranquil view. There are roughly 20 people who still live on the island, and there’s only one (very expensive) hotel, although there are a few places to eat. The main “sight,” is a 7th century church on the island with more exceptional mosaics.
- “Window” Shop at the Rialto Market
Visiting the famous Rialto market is a great way to see how real Venetians get their food supplies. All the locals shop here, from restaurateurs to ordinary folk stocking their kitchens. The Rialto market is particularly known as a fish market, but there’s plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit for sale as well. If you’re doing more than just browsing, remember that you don’t handle the merchandise until after you’ve paid for it – point at what you want and the vendor will choose and bag it for you.