Must-See Destinations : Venice is one of those cities that you need to visit at least once. Its gondolas, canals and charming alleyways can make you feel like you’re floating in a dream. It’s divided into six sestieri, neighborhoods that all have distinct characters. The city also has a number of smaller islands, including Lido, Murano and Burano.
1. St. Mark’s Basilica
It’s no secret that Venice is a renowned travel destination. A trip to Venice would not be complete without visiting St. Mark’s Basilica, which has withstood the test of time. A true architectural blend of East and West, this opulent church is a sight to behold, with its glistening mosaics and marble columns that crest and ripple like waves. It’s especially gorgeous at sunset when the golden mosaics are set aglow by the rays of the sun.
The basilica is also famous for its treasures, including the four bronze horses that adorn the facade and the Pala d’Oro, a Byzantine alter piece covered in gold and studded with thousands of gems. With a small-group tour, you’ll be able to see all of these highlights and much more with your guide!
2. Doge’s Palace
Doge’s Palace is a must-see for history lovers and anyone who wants to learn more about the city of Venice. The opulent gothic palace was the city’s government seat from the 14th to 18th centuries and served as the home of the Doge (the elected leader of Venice). It was also used for a Senate, court facilities, and prisons. Today, the opulent interiors of Doge’s Palace give visitors a glimpse into the wealth and power that once reigned in Venice.
Start your tour at the Central Courtyard, which boasts numerous columns and statues that scream of Renaissance opulence. Then, head to the Scala dei Giganti, or “giant’s steps,” for a look at the imposing staircase that leads up to the state apartments on the first floor of the palace.
3. Rialto Bridge
As the oldest bridge in Venice, Rialto Bridge is a must-see for any traveler to the city. Whether you stroll beneath it on a sunset gondola ride or simply admire it from afar, it’s hard not to love this iconic landmark. One of the most interesting aspects of Rialto Bridge is its sculptural elements. The sides of the bridge are carved with numerous figures and symbols, which depict Venice’s history and culture.
Throughout the years, artists from all periods and styles have been inspired by this iconic landmark. Among them are landscape painter Michele Marieschi, Baroque and Neoclassical artist Gabriele Bella, vedutist Francesco Guardi, surrealist Giorgio de Chirico, and the American painter John Singer Sargent.
4. Bell Tower
The iconic Bell Tower of Venice is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. This iconic tower stretches 84.7 metres tall and offers visitors stunning views of Venice. The bell tower is also home to a few fascinating features including a set of bas-reliefs by Giotto. On the second floor, there are sixteen niches which feature statues of kings, patriarchs and prophets.
In addition, the tower features a beautiful gondola lift that allows visitors to reach the top of the tower and view the spectacular city below! As a bonus, the tower is open until 6pm, meaning that you can see this iconic building all lit up after a long day of sightseeing. This makes for a truly memorable experience!
5. San Giorgio Monastery
Venice is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, and for good reason: it’s a dreamy floating city filled with overwhelming beauty, tremendous history and incredible museums. But it can be hard to fit everything into your itinerary, especially when you’re only there for a short amount of time. A great place to escape the crowds is San Giorgio Monastery, where you can find a serene and peaceful sanctuary away from the bustle of Venice. Originally a Benedictine monastery, it’s now home to the Giorgio Cini Foundation and an international cultural center.
The Palladian Church is a must-see, particularly the Sala Capitolare – an elegant room with a gilded ceiling and wall paintings that depict biblical scenes and allegorical figures. You can also visit the Longhena Library, a treasure that was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici when he was exiled from Florence in 1433.
6. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Peggy Guggenheim was a flamboyant American heiress who became a major figure in the modern art world, amassing an impressive collection of twentieth-century works that she exhibited at her home on the Grand Canal. Today, her former home is a prestigious museum known as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and one of Venice’s most-visited attractions.
You can visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in the Dorsoduro area of Venice between the Accademia Bridge and Santa Maria della Salute basilica. Here you’ll find a beautiful selection of twentieth-century masterpieces, from Jackson Pollock and Mondrian to Picasso, Magritte, and Dali.
7. St. Mark’s Square
Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark’s Square in English, is undoubtedly the most famous public square in all of Venice. The sweeping square is home to several attractions including the Basilica of St. Mark, the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. The square also houses the Museo Correr, a beautiful art and history museum that is well worth a visit.
Visitors can see Egyptian, Roman, Babylonian and Greek statues as well as other artifacts that help to tell the story of Venice and its people. One of the most popular things to do in the square is to climb up the Campanile, which is a great way to get an aerial view of the city. A lift whisks you up to the top of the tower in a few minutes, and the views are spectacular!
8. Canale Grande
The Canale Grande is arguably Venice’s most important waterway. Winding in a reverse-S shape through the city’s central districts, or sestieri, it runs almost 4 km (2.5 mi) long and is an essential component of the Venetian economy. The Grand Canal is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the city and is one of the most iconic attractions in all of Venice.
The most popular way to explore the canal is by gondola, but you can also take a vaporetto down the canal at a slower pace. A great place to begin your tour is at the Gallerie dell’Accademia, which features a massive collection of pre-19th century Venetian art from masters like Canaletto and Titian. A visit to the museum will enlighten any art lover and is sure to make any trip to Venice even more memorable.
9. Rialto Market
The Rialto Market is a must-see for food lovers, as it features fresh produce and seafood. Its stalls line an embankment along the Grand Canal, displaying produce and seafood that is largely local to Venice. Aside from being a fascinating market, the Rialto Market also ties together history and tradition with contemporary culture. Many of the products on display are labelled with their place of origin, whether from the nearby islands in the lagoon or the surrounding Venetian countryside.
If you’re looking for a more authentic Venetian experience, we recommend visiting the Rialto Market early in the morning to see how locals shop and get a feel for what it’s like living in the city. You can also watch fishermen at work unloading their catches before they are sold to restaurants and locals! You can even grab some Cicchetti, a tasty snack enjoyed with wine by Venetians.
10. Campo Santa Margherita
If you’re planning a visit to Venice, don’t miss Campo Santa Margherita. This lively public space is home to a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops that cater to both local residents and visitors. The square has several historical buildings, including the Scuola Grande dei Carmini. This Carmelite confraternity school was established in 1597, and its walls are decorated with artwork emphasizing the religious values of the order.
Another building is a truncated campanile that sits on the northern side of the Campo. This is one of a number of similar structures that can be seen around Venice. The area is a fun place to visit, especially during the evening when young people from nearby universities congregate on the square. There are a variety of bars and restaurants here, from touristy to authentic, so it’s easy to find a spot that suits your needs.
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