Top 23 Things to Do and See in Venice

The Essentials

Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), (San Marco Square). From April 1st to October 31st: 8.30 am – 7 pm (last admission 6 pm); from November 1st to March 31st: 8.30 am – 5.30 pm (last admission 4.30 pm). Closed on December 25th and January 1st. If the ticket line is long, you can buy regular tickets across the square at the Museo Correr. Don’t miss the guided tour named Secret Itinerary (€20), which will let you discover the part of the palace where the city’s administration worked, as well as Casanova’s jail and the wonderful five hundred year old roof structure. Regular ticket €16 valid for the Doge’s Palace and the Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, and Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana.

Bell Tower of Saint Mark
Bell tower of St. Mark (Campanile di San Marco), (San Marco Square). closes at 9pm. The current tower dates from 1912; an exact replica of the previous tower which collapsed in 1902. The top of the tower offers great views of Venice and the lagoon. €8.

Clock tower (Torre dell’Orologio), (San Marco Square) — Having been closed for restoration for many years, the restored astronomical clock is now visible. The fascinating tour of the clock mechanism (and rooftop bell) can only be visited on a guided tour, which has to be booked in advance.

Scuola Grande di San Rocco. A masterpiece of Tintoretto, this guild house is an exquisite example of Manierist art in its best. In order to allow a comfortable admiration of the detailed ceiling mirrors are offered to the visitors.

Jewish Ghetto of Venice. While racial and ethnic neighbourhoods had existed prior to the Venetian Ghetto, Venice’s ghetto was the first “ghetto” (coming from a Venetian word for the Iron Foundry that was on the site previously) and “ghetto” eventually came to mean any neighbourhood that was made up of a single ethnic/racial group. Today, Jewish life is still very active in the ghetto, and elsewhere in Venice, and is home to five synagogues. Visiting on Saturdays or late Fridays (the Jewish Sabbath) will prove very fruitless because all shops, restaurants, and other Jewish places will be closed. If you wish to sense the unique Venetian atmosphere coming from the East you can take part in an itinerary covering the Jewish Ghetto and the Rialto area to discover the crucible of races, cultures and religions that have co-existed for centuries in Venice and admire a different side of this city.

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Rialto Bridge
Don’t miss the Rialto market and the Rialto Bridge (Italian: Ponte di Rialto) on San Polo, the smallest sestiere. The Rialto market is for shoppers. To the east is a neighborhood of small shops and restaurants; to the west is the Rialto farmers’ market. Shopping is slightly less expensive than in the tourist-filled Piazza San Marco. The bridge has become one of Venice’s most recognizable icons and has a history that spans over 800 years. Today’s Rialto Bridge was completed in 1591 and was used to replace a wooden bridge that collapsed in 1524.

Zattere. It’s a long and sunny walk along the Giudecca canal, protected during winter time from cold northerly winds for being exposed to south and shielded by buildings. You might find interesting to see how a gondola is made, stopping by the Squero (Venetian for small ship yard) across the canal near San Trovaso Church. It’s one of the few still in business in town. With some luck, you’ll see some gondole through various manufacturing steps (note that gondole are not straight to counter-balance the gondoliere push).

The Churches

Although the Basilica di San Marco is free, other famous churches charge an entry fee. If you plan to visit three churches or more, you are better off buying the churches pass. There is also a combined pass for museums, churches and transportation only available at the tourist information office but it is relatively expensive.

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Basilica di San Marco (Saint Mark’s Basilica) (Basilica di San Marco), Piazza San Marco (Water lines # 1, 52, and 82 will take you from Santa Lucia (the train station) or Piazzale Roma to Piazza San Lucia. Walking is another option but will require a map and lots of time and energy). 1st October to 31st March: 9:45AM-4:45PM; 1st April to 30 September: 9:45AM-5PM. Saint Mark’s Basilica is on the Piazza San Marco and is one of the highlights of a visit to Venice. As with most churches in Italy, you must be dressed appropriately to be allowed in; this means no short skirts or bare shoulders. You are not allowed to carry large bags or rucksacks inside. You must deposit them just round the corner from the main entrance. Filming and photography is forbidden so be prepared in advance. The visit within the basilica lasts ten minutes. Waiting for entry into the basilica can last up to five or so hours and it may be wise to buy a ticket from the official site  (reservation costs €1.50). Once you have a reservation you can take the group entrance on the left, where you give in the printout of your reservation. These reservations are only available 7 months out of the year, 1 Apr-31 Oct. The symbol of St. Mark’s Basilica is a masterpiece of the Greek Hellenistic sculpture: the famous gilded bronze horses. A visit to St Mark’s Basilica is a must! It is renowned worldwide for its priceless treasures and fascinating secret places. Some of them, such as the Baptistery and the Zen Chapel, are usually closed to the public. Admission to the basilica is free; however, the museum upstairs costs €5 and to view the high altar and treasury costs €2.

 
San Giacomo di Rialto. This church is possibly the oldest church in Venice built around 421. It is most recognized for its 15th century clock above the entrance of the church. It is also recognized for the red pillars and beautiful gold accents around the church itself.

 
San Giovanni e Paolo (San Zanipolo in Venetian dialect). A fine, huge Dominican church with the tombs of many Doges. It shares its piazza with the fine Renaissance facade of the Scuola San Marco and an equestrian statue of the mercenary (condottiere) captain Colleone. Look out for the testicles (coglioni in Italian – it’s a lousy pun) on his coat of arms!

 

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. The big friary church, with fine monuments and paintings, among which the famous ‘Assunta’ by Titian. Regular tickets: €3,00

 

Santa Maria dei Miracoli. A perfect jewel box church, simple in form but ornamented with fine exterior marble facings.

 

San Simeone Piccolo. The last church built in Venice. It is located across from the Grand Canal in front of Santa Lucia Train station. One of the things that it is recognized for is the fact that they celebrate Tridentine Mass on Sundays. It is also recognized for it’s dome because it is used to make the church look taller than it is and the dome itself is entirely covered with lead sheet.

 
Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta in Torcello is situated in the charming Torcello island, and it is an enchanting example of Venetian- Byzantine architecture. The cathedral is renowned for its important mosaics, which are a real masterpiece of the Byzantine-Ravennate school, including that in the counter-façade representing the Last Judgment. Discover, among its historical and artistic treasures, some exclusive areas which have remained inaccessible for centuries: the crypt and the sacristy. The crypt is situated under the altar and, being frequently reached by the water, is equipped with a wooden bridge in order to make visits always available. The other mysterious location that has been covered for centuries is the sacristy. Following a hidden passageway, you can reach a Roman sarcophagus, which is supposed to have been the tomb of Mark the Evangelist for a period of time, before the Basilica in Venice was built

 

Venice’s Museums

Correr Museum, San Marco 52 (on San Marco Square). Very interesting collection of globes, starting from the 16th century. There is also an only library hall, an archeological museum of Roman antiques and an important picture gallery. At the end of your visit, don’t miss the museum art cafe, with their tables on the San Marco Square. Admission is €16 (reduced €10), which also includes Doge’s Palace.

 
La Fenice Theater (Teatro La Fenice), (300 m west of San Marco square). Visit this historic theater with an audioguide (good explanations in several languages). The theater is an identical reconstruction (rebuilt in 2003) of the previous theater building that burned down in 1996. €7.

 
The Jewish Museum (Museo Ebraico), Cannaregio 2902/b (museoebraico@codesscultura.it). Hours:1 June – 30 September: 10AM-7PM 1 October- 31 : 10AM-6PM The Museum is closed on Saturday (Shabbat), during Jewish festivities, on December 25th , on 1st January and on 1 May. Entrance to the Museum: Full price: € 3.00, Reduced price: € 2.00. Entrance to the Museum and Guided Tours to Synagogues: Full price: € 8.50, Reduced price: € 7.00.

 
Mocenigo Palace (Palazzo Mocenigo), Santa Croce 1992 (vaporetto San Stae). Closed on Mondays. A collection of clothes dating from the 18th century. €5.

 
The Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni (Located on the Dorsoduro region of Venice, to the east of the Accademia bridge, on the southern side of the Grand Canal), (info@guggenheim-venice.it). Hours: W-M: 10AM-6PM. Closed on Tuesdays and on 25 December. Open on national holidays (including Tuesdays). The Peggy Guggenheim Museum offers a personal collection of modern art collected by Peggy Guggenheim, an American married to modern artist Max Ernst, and funded a number of his contemporaries. The gallery includes a sculpture garden and works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Tanguy, Duchamp, Pollock, Dali, and Mondrian. Admission: Adults: €12, Seniors (over 65 years): €10, Students (18 years and under or holders of valid student ID): €7.

 
Ca’ Pesaro. Beautiful palace housing the gallery of modern art focusing on Italian art in the 19th Century as well as the Marco Pollo Museum, a rich collection mainly of Asian exhibits.

 

Ca’ Rezzonico. Museum of the 18th Century in Venice – attempts to revive the domestic atmosphere of Venetian nobilities.

 

Galleria dell’Accademia di Venezia, Campo della Carità Dorsoduro n. 1050 – 30100 Venezia,  (info@gallerieaccademia.org). M: 8:15am-2pm, T-S: 8:15am-7:15pm. The ticket office closes 45 minutes before. Closed on Monday afternoon, December 25th and January 1st.. Venice’s most significant art museum which is also one of Italy’s best. €16,50 full price or €13,50 reduced.

 

Palazzo Grassi, Campo San Samuele, [13]. Temporary exhibitions from François Pinault’s Collection.

 

Punta della Dogana, Dorsoduro (on the tip between Grand Canal and Giudecca Canal). Former customs house, centre for contemporary art, permanent exhibition of works from the François Pinault Collection. Renovation by world renown architect Tadao Ando.

 

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