Venice Travel Guide: A City Like No Other

venice grand canal
“Known for its canals, gondolas, bridges, and breathtaking views, Venice well-deservedly holds the title as one of the most romantic places on the planet.”

The city of Venice consists of 117 small islands, separated by a network of canals, and connected by a series of bridges. Whilst Venice is not the largest city in the area by any means, it is certainly one of the most visited tourist destinations in the whole of Italy, due to its breathtaking beauty and its historical and cultural influence over the centuries.

Venice served as an important and influential financial and military centre during the Middle Ages and Italian Renaissance, spawning internationally renowned cultural and artistic development. This can be seen in the intricate facades of the Venetian buildings, skyscraping monuments, and building techniques that were ahead of their time.

Today, Venice continues to draw millions of tourists from all over the world to the group of islands every year due to its jaw-dropping attractions. So, let us explore all the must-see things you simply cannot miss whilst in Venice.

Article Published: November 1, 2021
Last Update: November 4, 2021

Table of Contents

Best Times To Visit

Picking the best time to visit Venice really depends on what is important to you. If you're looking for warmer weather July and August are the best months for this. While not as hot as the interior Italian cities it still gets up into the low 80's in July and August. The summer months in Venice are the peak season and it can be very busy, especially as cruise ships start back up again. Venice is a major cruise hub and a base for exploring the mediterranean. May and June are pleasant months and are dryer than the fall months. Booking a trip to Venice during these months gives you a nice mix of less crowds and pleasant weather.

Weather - Venice, Italy

Things To See and Do in Venice

Piazza San Marco

piazza san marco sunrise

The area of San Marco is the oldest, and probably the most highly-regarded, quarter of Venice. Nestled within San Marco is the only square to be titled ‘piazza’, the centre of civic and religious life since the days of the Republic. As one of the most beautiful squares in the world, and Venice’s best attraction, here’s the top things you can see and do at Piazza San Marco.

Piazza San Marco in Pictures

Check out some great shots of the Piazza San Marco and surrounding area

piazza san marco at sunrise
Piazza San Marco at Sunrise, Venice
St. Marks Basilica
St. Mark's Basilica, Venice
St. Marks Basilica
Campanile di San Marco, Venice
bridge of sighs
Bridge of Sighs, Venice
piazza san marco
Piazza San Marco, Venice

Things to See & Do at Piazza San Marco

1. Visit St. Mark’s Basilica

st marks basilica

One of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world, St. Mark’s Basilica, or Basilica di San Marco, features breathtaking marble floors, sparkling gold mosaics, and 4,240 square meters of outstanding mosaics of religious scenes. Not only this, but it houses the remains of St. Mark himself, along with various reliquaries collected by the Venetian crusaders. Today, St. Mark’s Basilica still stands as the most important monument in Venice.

2. Climb the Campanile di San Marco

campanile di san marco

First built in the 12th century, and then rebuilt to its current glory in the 16th century, this 99 meter high tower can be found right in the center of the Piazza San Marco. In its heyday, the Campanile was used as a lighthouse and watchtower. Today, visitors can climb to the very top of the tower, enjoying a breathtaking view over Venice. Whilst you are there, take a moment to admire the tower’s original five bells.

3. Walk over the Bridge of Sighs

bridge of sighs

The Bridge of Sighs is without a doubt one of Venice’s top attractions, and one of the most famous bridges in the world. Spanning across the Rio die Palazzo, it was originally intended to connect the interrogation rooms of the Palazzo Ducale with Venice’s prison. However, more importantly, local legend states that people who share a kiss at sunset, on a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs will be entrusted with eternal love and happiness.

Piazza San Marco in Video

Grand Canal

grand canal at twilight

The Grand Canal curves through the entirety of Venice, serving as the main street and the beating heart of the city. This canal connects all the best attractions in Venice, and offers one of the best vantage points for viewing the facades of the monumental buildings. But, on top of this, the Grand Canal is one of Venice’s best attractions in its own right, and is a must-see place during your travels.

The Grand Canal in Pictures

Check out some great shots of the Grand Canal

grand canal at twilight
Grand Canal & Rialto Bridge, Venice
grand canal at twilight
Grand Canal, Venice
view of grand canal from rooftop
Rooftop View of the Grand Canal, Venice
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Rialto Bridge Over the Grand Canal, Venice
view of  santa maria della salute from grand canal
Santa Maria della Salute from the Grand Canal, Venice
view of  santa maria della salute from grand canal
Santa Maria della Salute in Background of Grand Canal, Venice
grand canal at twilight
Grand Canal, Venice
grand canal aerial map
Grand Canal Aerial Map, Venice

Things to See & Do Along The Grand Canal

1. Take a Boat Tour

couple on grand canal gondala

Take a ride on the vaporetto along the entire length of the Grand Canal. This floating public transport system runs all the way from San Marco to Porta Roma. However, it is worth noting that you should make sure to take Line 1. This is because Line 2 is the express line, moving at a faster pace past all the sights.

Though many might dream about touring the Grand Canal on a gondola, these romantic gondola tours are much better suited for the smaller, quieter canals. Instead, for a more close up experience, you can also tour along the Grand Canal on a motor boat. These guides can point out all the attractions and even pull up close to them for unparalleled views.

2. See the Santa Maria della Salute

santa maria dell salue

If you take the vaporetto or motor boat tour from San Marco, gaze across at the jaw-dropping Baroque facade of the church of Santa Maria della Salute. To support the foundations of the building of the church back in the 17th century, more than one million timbers were secured into the floor of the lagoon below - an impressive, monumental architectural feat.

3. Visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

peggy guggenheim collection

After you have passed the majestic church of Santa Maria della Salute, bring your attention to the low white contemporary building close by. Built on the foundations of a never-completed palace, this single floored masterpiece became the site of art collector Peggy Guggenheim’s museum in 1949. Try to catch a glimpse of the Angel of the City statue on the terrace as you float by.

4. Ponte dell’Accademia

ponte dell accademia

Under Austrian occupation, the Ponte dell’Accademia was constructed across the Grand Canal in 1854. This small iron bridge connected San Marco to Dorsoduro. In 1932, it was replaced by a temporary wooden bridge, intending to rebuild it in stone. However, this wooden bridge proved incredibly popular with the locals, and so the ‘temporary’ wooden bridge still stands strong to this day.

The Venice Grand Canal in Video

Murano Island

murano glass making

Murano is one of most well known islands in the lagoon of Venice. This is largely due to its international reputation for producing exquisite glass, with a glassmaking history that goes back for centuries, passed down through the generations. When exploring Murano, here are some of the must-see things to do, including learning about its famous artisan glass, and wonderful architecture.

Murano in Pictures

Murano is all about spectacular glass making.

murano glass
Murano Glass
murano glass dragon
Murano Glass Dragon
museum of glass murano
Museum of Glass (Museo del Vetro, Murano Island
museum of glass murano
Display in the Museum of Glass, Murano Island

Things to See & Do in Murano

1. Museo del Vetro

outside museum of glass murano

The fabulous building that houses the Museo del Vetro was once a 17th century palace, before transitioning into a commemoration of Murano’s extensive glassmaking history in 1861. During Murano’s peak era of glass production, in the late 19th century, independent local glassmakers donated many artifacts to the museum. Thanks to this, the Museo del Vetro now houses a substantial collection of objects and works that authentically relay the history of Murano’s glass making prowess through generations.

2. Mazzega Glass Factory

murano glass dragon

However, don’t be tempted to think that glass making in Murano is confined to the workings of a museum. In fact, glass making in Murano is still at the very heart of the community to this day. The Mazzega Glass Factory revolutionized the glassmaking industry worldwide when it burst onto the scene in the 1950s. Visit the showroom to see eleven different areas displaying items made within the factory walls, and take a moment to learn about the techniques employed from the knowledgeable tour guides.

3. Basilica di Santa Maria e San Donato

Basilica di Santa Maria

Though it has been rebuilt many times over the centuries, the Basilica di Santa Maria e San Donato’s history started back in the 7th century. It is dedicated to Saint Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Saint Donato. Within the basilica, you can find a large set of rib bones said to be the relics of Saint Donato, previously belonging to a dragon that he killed, behind the main altar. But don’t worry, no dragons were harmed in the making of this travel guide! The bones are most likely that of a large Jurassic marine reptile called a plesiosaur.

Murano Glass Making in Video

Teatro la Fenice

teatro la fenice

The Gran Teatro La Fenice di Venezia is the most famous and largest opera house in Venice, highly regarded as one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. Within these walls audiences flocked to see the world premieres of the likes of Verdi, Bellini, and Rossini. It is certainly an unmissable sight on your trip to Venice.

The Gran Teatro La Fenice di Venezia in Pictures

Check out these pictures of this stunning theatre

interior of teatro la fenice
Interior of Gran Teatro la Fenice, Venice
teatro la fenice
Gran Teatro la Fenice, Venice
interior of teatro la fenice
Interior of Gran Teatro la Fenice, Venice
sign of teatro la fenice
Sign of Gran Teatro la Fenice, Venice
interior of teatro la fenice
Interior of Gran Teatro la Fenice, Venice
chandelier in teatro la fenice
Main Chandelier of Gran Teatro la Fenice, Venice
interior teatro la fenice
Hallway and Stairs in Gran Teatro la Fenice, Venice
interior teatro la fenice
Hallway in Gran Teatro la Fenice, Venice

Everything You Need to Know About the Teatro la Fenice

1. La Fenice : The Phoenix

sign of teatro la fenice

The story of the Teatro la Fenice begins in 1743, when the famous Teatro Benedetto opera house burnt down due to a fire. Though a new opera house was built, due to legal struggles between the landowners and theater operators, it was decided that a brand new, bigger, better, and more beautiful theater should be built on their own plot of land. The result - on May 16 1792 the Teatro la Fenice opened its doors, and the Theater of the Phoenix (literally) rose from the ashes.

2. Visiting options

interior or teatro la fenice

There are two ways that you can visit the Teatro la Fenice. If you would like to take in a performance, it is well worth it to visit during the opera season, which is from January to July, and September to October. If you cannot attend a performance, you can also take an audio guided tour around the theater. The theater is open for visitors all year round, Monday to Sunday, 9.30am - 6.00pm. However due to rehearsals, technical requirements, or afternoon performances, there may be some closures or changes to this schedule. Therefore, it is always advisable to check the current opening times before you go.

The Gran Teatro La Fenice di Venezia in Video