Venice, the world’s only pedestrian city, is easily walkable, and the absence of cars makes this a particularly pleasant experience. However, walking and standing all day can also be exhausting, so it is best to pace yourself. The Rialtine islands – the ‘main’ part of Venice – are small enough to walk from one end to the other in about an hour, provided you don’t get lost (a common occurrence).
If you want to get around a bit more quickly, there are numerous vaporetti (water buses) and water taxis. The vaporetti are generally the best way to get around, even if the service route map changes frequently. If you are going to be in Venice for a few days visiting, it is a lot cheaper to use vaporetti than private water taxis. If you want to have a romantic ride along the canals, take a gondola ride, although they tend to exist for more scenic purposes, rather than getting people from point A to point B.
Otherwise, take a walk! The city is not that big, and you can walk from one end to the other in a few hours (if you stick to the paths conveniently marked with arrows in the direction of major landmarks). But it would take months for a fit person to discover every path in the city. Along the way you will discover marvelous art, superb architecture and breathtaking urban landscaping. Exploring the city randomly by walking is well worth it but also be prepared to get lost easily! Signs all over the city indicate the direction to the main attractions, “Rialto” and “San Marco”, as well as the way back to the train station (“ferrovia”) and the bus terminal (“Piazzale Roma”). These signs make it easy to have the “get lost experience” even as a one-day tourist.
Be aware that addresses in Venice are of the form DISTRICT number (The Venetian word for district is “Sestriere”), not STREET number. To find a specific place using a map, make sure you know which district it is in. The numbers are assigned at the start of the district and increase as they move farther away from the Grand Canal.
- 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 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.
Outdoor sights, piazzas, bridges, canals
- Don’t miss theRialto 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 theSquero(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).
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.
- 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.), ☎+39 041 5225205 (procuratorial phone number). 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 Torcellois 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, when the Basilica in Venice wasn’t built yet.
The Museums of St. Mark’s Square are covered by one €16 admission ticket, including Doge’s Palace and the Correr Museum, valid for 3 months, for a single entry per museum. On the other hand, the Museum Pass, for €24.50, covers seven more museums including those on Murano and Burano; these passes are valid for 6 months, for a single entry per museum.
- 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, ☎+39 041 715 359 (email@example.com, fax: +39 041 72 3007). 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), ☎ +39 041721798. 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), ☎+39.041.2405.411 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +39.041.5206.885). 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. Peggy was 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, ☎+39 041 5200345 (email@example.com). 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. 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.
Other museums include:
- Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro), Murano. Closed on 25 December, 1 January. Working hours: 10 – 17 (winter), 10 – 18 (summer). On Murano, the island so typical of its glasswork. Full price: €8, reduced price: €5,50.
- Carlo Goldoni’s House (Casa di Carlo Goldoni). House of Venice’ most famous playwright.
- Lace Museum (Museo del Merletto), Burano.
- Museo Fortuny.
- Museum of Greek Icons.
- Museo di Storia Naturale(Natural History Museum), Santa Croce 1730, ☎ +39 041 2750206 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +39 041 721000). From June 1st to October 31st: 10:00 – 18:00 (ticket office 10:00 – 17:00); From November 1st to May 31st: Tue – Fri: 9:00 – 17:00 (ticket office 9:00 – 16:00) Sat and Sun: 10:00 – 18:00 (ticket office 10:00 – 17:00). Closed on Mondays, December 25th, January 1st, May 1st. 8€.
- Naval History Museum (Museo Storico Navale).
- Scala Contarini del Bovolo.
- Voga Longa, the yearly equivalent of a marathon run on water. Voga Longa competitors must row 32 kilometers under 3.5 hours to receive a certificate of attendance at the finish line, but everybody with a human-powered vessel is welcome to participate (some foreigner teams take up to 10 hours to complete the journey just for the fun of it).
The official purpose of the Voga Longa was to protest the sharply increasing use of powerboats in Venice, but the event has gradually grown into a festival since 1974, with up to 5500 racers in 1500 vessels attending by the early 2000s. The racetrack visits different parts of Venice as well as some of the nearby islands. Locals and tourists lining up alongside rios and canals cheer the racers.
Visitors wishing to participate should have serious experience in rowing or sculling and practice duely, as the journey is physically demanding (even seasoned oarsmen develop calluses by the finish line). The event is mainly for teams, completing Voga Longa on a single oar is considered a major achievement. Extreme participation (scuba frogmen and surface swimmers) sometimes occurs, but it is not recommended due to water contamination issues.
- Regata ‘Storica(Historic fleet event) is held on the first Sunday of every September. Celebrating a historic event from 1489, the regatta displays almost a hundred varieties of venetian boats from the city’s rich past. Large oarships, replicating ancient roman and medieval vessels, are rowed along the Canal Grande, followed by many smaller boats. There are several races, including a master championship for solo sculling in streamlined gondolini, painted in unusual white, pink, etc. colours. There are many excellent photo opportunities for this event.
- La Biennale di Venezia is one of the most well known culture institutions. Two events organised by Biennale are the Art and Architecture International Exhibitions happening alternately (Architecture Biennale in even years, Art Biennale in odd) but other fields are also covered – contemporary theatre, dance, music, cinema
- Venice International Film Festival– 71st edition, from 27th August to 6th September 2014, will take place as usual in the island of Lido di Venezia. This is the oldest film festival of the world. Screenings will take place at Palazzo del Cinema on Lungomare Marconi and other nearby places such as the Venice Casino.
- Carnival of Veniceis one of the most popular carnival of the world. First organised on 1926 this carnival is particularly appreciated cause of the masks that are exhibited by its partecipants. During the carnival period the inhabitants of Venice are allowed to carry out unusual behaviours.
Ride a Vaporetto (Water Bus) down the Grand Canal right before sunset. The Vaporettos are not cheap (€7), but the sights are priceless: amazing architecture, soft seaside sunlight, and a fascinating parade of Venetian watercraft.
Take a Gondola if you can afford it: it’s expensive, but the Gondoliere may decrease the price if you ask (but they can also decrease the time…). Make sure you reach an agreement on price and time before you start! A good tip with the Gondolieres is to bargain the price down as low as you can, then say that it’s still too much and walk away. Two or three of them will chase after you, one after the other, each offering a lower price than the last. It’s possible to knock €20-€30 off the price(even then, be prepared to shell out €80).
Some guidebooks discourage tourists from asking for gondola price reductions. The oarsmen have an informal habit of cutting the most interesting and little-known parts from the journey path for “discount” customers. Reduced rate riders get much less marvel in exchange for a moderate price drop, which may not be worth it.
Gondolier-for-hire business licenses are officially limited to just 430 to 455 rowers in Venice, making the market artificially scarce and inflating prices. Gondola rides are always costly, often in a princely way and that expense should be planned in advance of the visit[. If you go as a group it might be cheaper, though the number of people who can be accommodated on a gondola varies, usually up to a maximum of six seated passangers. The “traghetti” holds more, mostly standing, as a pair of gondoliers rows short distances for canal crossing purposes at a number of points along the Grand Canal.
Venetians and especially the gondoliers among them have highly conservative ideas about society: by 900 years of tradition, all gondoliers must be male and most are born locals. There are only a few Germans in the business and a single lady, Alexandra Hai, who couldn’t manage a for-hire license even after 10 years. She is officially allowed to carry guests of her contract hotel only.
If a gondola seems a little pricey, the alternative is to cross the Grand Canal by traghetto. These only cost €0.50 to use and are largely gondolas that have seen better days, They are stripped down and used as municipal ferries. In the 1950’s there were as many as thirty, but now there are seven points to find them. However some only operate when people are going to and from work. The length of any crossing is just a few minutes. Many visitors enjoy visiting the open air markets near the Rialto Bridge and there is a traghetto station there, at the Pescheria (fish market) joining the Santa Sophia church along the Strada Nova. You will notice that traghetti passengers tend to stand up, but if you are not comfortable doing so, sitting is possible, if you are careful. The more adventurous can try the venetian style of rowing through Row Venice or one of the many rowing clubs
If you are looking for something to do, you can always shop. Venice is packed full of little stores in every corner and crevice. The commonest local specialties are Carnival masks, glass, and marbled paper. Price can vary wildly, so it’s a good idea to hold off buying until you have a fair idea about the relative value of things. As is the case with most tourist cities, a LOT of the “original ” and “made in Venice” items are actually made in China. Murano is an island famous for its glass making. Almost in every shop you will find “original Murano glass” items. If it was really made in Murano, it would be prohibitively expensive, with prices routinely running into thousands of euros. So if you are looking for cheap souvenirs, real Murano glass is not the thing to buy! You can also see glass making demonstrations in Murano, but be sure to check that there is a demonstration scheduled for that day. And it is normally not done in winter either.
Spend a day on the islands, mainly Murano, Burano and Torcello. There are boat services to all these islands at scheduled times, including between the islands themselves. Be prepared for long lines and long waits for the boats between islands.
The Glass Museum in Murano and the Lace Museum in Burano are certainly worth a visit. In Burano you will find some of the most picturesque streets and houses, with each house sporting a different pastel shade. Its really beautiful. Though there is not much to see in Torcello except for the old church, and the supposed “Throne of Atilla”. However, the peace and tranquility of the island is not to be found anywhere else in Venice! Torcello is also home to a very expensive Cipriani restaurant. But just walking around on these islands is a nice enough experience. If you’ve had enough of the hype and the other tourists, hop off the vaporetto at ‘Cimitero’, Venice’s graveyard for a peaceful walk. There are many famous tombs, and the section dedicated to deceased children is particularly haunting. There is also a free toilet there.
While going through Venice, make sure you take in the beauty of it all. Walk through the alley ways, and take the water taxi to different parts of the island, sometimes at night you can just go sit in an open area and watch locals and tourists passing by. It is wonderful. There are many museums and churches that are around the city that allow tourists to go in a visit. They are many great sights to keep you busy throughout your visit.
The “Secret Itineraries in Doge’s Palace” worth a visit, take the visitor into the most secret and fascinating rooms in the Palace. It’s better to book in advance.
Because Venice is now pretty much only inhabited by tourists and people serving the trade, it gets very quiet by 9.00 and there is very little to do in the evening (outside of eating). There are a few exceptions, like some classical music concerts, which most probably only play Vivaldi.
If you would like to have a guide to show up the highlights of Venice, you can choose between many offers. There are walking or boat tours, focused on shopping or history or for art lovers, and many itineraries.
If you are interested in exploring all things related with Italian food you have to visit the freshly open “i Tre Mercanti” (campo della guerra 2 mins from S.Marco square) an amazing food gallery where you can find typical Italian specialties, a wide range of the best wines and the usual classics like Olive Oil, balsamic vinegar, parmesan, Limoncello along with hundreds of regional specialities (including 97 pasta sauces!). Classy and friendly the staff speak many languages and is open every day. If you don’t feel like shopping you can always browse the shop and ask cooking tips and the history of products to the helpful manager.
Send a Postcard or even better, an entire mail dedicated to an important one (the old “snail mail” one, not the electronic variety)! Venice has a long, celebrated tradition in postal services, paper and written communication in general (including one of the earliest medival book printing houses).
Venice it’s also Riviera del Brenta old canals. The Riviera del Brenta is famous for its extraordinary Palladian villas along the Brenta river, its museums and historical buildings and it is located only 25 miles from Venice. This Riviera and its mainland include 7 small cities: Stra, Fiesso d’Artico, Dolo, Fossò, Mira, Oriago and Malcontenta. These places are indicated for cycling excusions and to see antique Palladian Villas built on the Brenta river. In Stra village the famous gardens of Villa Pisani and the museum of the shoes in Villa Foscarini Rossi. In this last museum you can admire 1500 models of made in Italy shoes created from local factories for major brands included Fendi, Genny, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Ungaro, Anne Kleyn, Richard Tyles, Vera Wang and much more. In Dolo village you can visit the square, old watermill (XI century)and big open air market.