What to See and Do in Venice, Italy?

Lose yourself amid Venice's maze of bridges and charming neighborhoods on an enchanting Italian getaway.
Written By: Andrea Spallanzani
Reviewed by: Rick Orford
How & Why We Created This Article

This article has been written, reviewed, and fact-checked by Rick and I. We live in Italy and travel throughout the country to help you make the best choices for your trip. We wrote this piece to help you have the best trip possible on your next trip to Italy. Portions of this article have been written using assistive AI tools to help with tasks like research, spell-checking, grammar, and translation.

Last Updated March 22, 2024

In this article, you'll learn how:

  • Venice's Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge are must-see attractions for their history and beautiful views.
  • Visit St. Mark's Square to see the Doge's Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, and the Campanile bell tower for panoramic views.
  • Take a romantic gondola ride along the canals for about 80 euros for 40 minutes to experience Venice's iconic transportation.

Are you planning to visit Venice, Italy, and wondering what is there to see and do?

Venice, the capital of the Italian region of Veneto, is a wonderful city that attracts countless visitors worldwide. The city is located in Northern Italy, is iconic for its canals, and had 96 million tourists in 2019. We recommend spending two nights to see what Venice has to offer. But even if you have just an afternoon or one night, we’re sure you’ll be delighted nonetheless.

For you to be guided on your tour, we offer you the best things to see and do in Venice, Italy.

How to Get to Venice

There are many ways to reach Venice, but there are three possibilities during the week: by train, plane, or car.  

The local airports in Venice are Marco Polo and, a little further out, Treviso. It will take about 40 or more minutes from Treviso and about 20 to 30 minutes from Marco Polo to get to the city proper. You can take a bus, take a taxi, arrange for private transportation, or take the scenic but longer route on the Alilaguna Water Bus. In any event, we recommend Marco Polo.

If you go to Venice by train, you will want to arrive at Santa Lucia train station. Going on the train is one of the best ways to get to Venice, as you will start on the Grand Canal. But be careful, there’s another train station called Venezia Mestre, which is not the one you want because it’s too far inland!

If you drive to Venice as Andrea and I often do, you’ll need to park at the edge of the city, at Piazzale Roma. Then, you can take a Vaporetto (Venice transportation) where ever you like, such as Piazza San Marco.

What is the best month to go to Venice

In Venice, the winter is short, crisp, and windy, and the streets are much quieter than in the summer months, June through August, which is also the period when most tourists flock to the city. It’s hot and humid during summertime, with typical temperatures of around 28C / 82F. Expect large crowds if you plan to see visit the city during these months.

Consider visiting during the shoulder season

If your schedule is flexible, consider visiting Venice during the shoulder seasons from March to May and September to November. There are fewer tourists during these months, making seeing and doing things in Venice far more comfortable. Personally, I like to visit the city in May and September.

When does Venice flood?

Flooding in Venice typically occurs from late September up to April. It’s become so common that it’s become just another thing to see in the city. Once every four years or so, however, the water rises beyond 110 cm of the established sea level and causes floods in multiple areas in the city. This phenomenon is known as acqua alta (“high water.”)

Although the city has struggled with rising water levels since the 5th century, recent floods have fueled concerns about how vulnerable coastal cities are to rising sea levels associated with climate change and how we can mitigate them. Sea levels in Venice are three to four meters higher than they were 50 years ago, according to the city’s Tidal Office. 

Acqua Alta: November 12, 2019 – Rick had a little fun!

flood in Venice, acqua alta

One of the most recent acqua alta events was on November 12, 2019, which was the second-highest tide surge in the city’s history. Water levels reached 189cm and flooded a significant portion of the city, including St Mark’s Square, located in the San Marco area. Traders and shopkeepers tried to lift their wares out of the water, and there was a concerted effort to mitigate the flooding using makeshift barriers, vacuum cleaners, and pumps. Shops and museums closed in the worst-hit areas of the city, such as the Old Town and the Venetian Quarter. Many were disappointed when officials closed the historic site as the wind whipped up the rising water. Nevertheless, tourists in their best suits and high-end shoes came to watch and photograph the spectacle.

I experienced the frequent floods in St Mark’s Square firsthand when I was in the area on an evening in June 2020. The water on the street rose above my ankles, but the locals didn’t seem to mind — that’s how normal flooding is in that area — so neither did I.

The city’s flood defense program, named MOSE, has been touted as the answer to the flooding woes of the city and is currently in partial operation since October 2022. The project, which has suffered from prolonged delays in construction and a lack of funding, is expected to reach operational completion in 2025.

The Carnival of Venice (You must see this!)

If the weather and number of tourists don’t concern you, perhaps consider visiting Venice during a particular celebration.

The most famous event in the city is the Venice Carnival or the Carnevale di Venezia. It happens every February or March, 40 days before Easter, with a final party a day before Lent on Ash Wednesday. I wholeheartedly urge every single one of you to attend this festival at least once.

Carnivale is well known for its masks, costumes, and parties. Venice will be quite full during this festival, but the celebratory spirit that permeates the air during the festival makes it all worth it. 

Where to stay in Venice

If you’re going to see Venice for a night or two, you’ll want to be in the ideal locations.

If it’s your first time in the city, consider staying near the Rialto Bridge or St. Mark’s Square in the San Marco district. San Marco is where the city’s main highlights are located, where the luxury hotels are, and guided tours begin. Staying here means less time wasted on transport and more time for fun and exploration.

A room for two (double room) in Venice can cost upwards of 300 euros a night, but in the low season, the rooms are much less costly. Many of the best accommodations in Venice, including hotels along the Grand Canal, have become more affordable in recent years.

How much money do you need in Venice?

Venice is not a huge city, but it has a relatively efficient public transport network, which means you get around a lot quicker, even if you don’t do everything in one day.

Three to four-star hotels cost between 100 and 300-plus euros a night during high season. Allot another 100 euros a day per person for food and attractions.  

So you might need about 200-300 euros per person, including a hotel. For two nights in Venice, you might need about 400-500 euros per person, again, including the hotel. Could you see Venice for less? Sure, but you’ll be missing out on the best things to see and do.

What is the best day of the week to visit Venice?

The best day of the week to visit Venice depends on what you want to see. For example, consider opening hours for the attractions you want to see.

I would say the best day of the week to visit Venice is a Tuesday-Friday, either in June or September. Personally, I like visiting the city during times when there are no cruise ships scheduled to come to town. I also generally prefer weekdays over weekends.

Heads up, though: there are no slow days during peak season. Hotels are also more expensive during July and August, and there are a lot of people around, and this all happens under the hot and humid summer weather.

What is the weather like in Venice?

Venice has a relatively temperate climate, with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing during the day and rarely rising sharply. In the summer, expect high temperatures in the mid to upper 20s (28 degrees Celcius in July and August are the warmest months.)

Venice in the summer

It starts to get warm at the end of spring when days are longer, and we’ll see less rainfall. The weather is warm and mostly sunny. The temperatures are pleasant and do not have the humidity of high summer. Since Venice is a year-round destination, mass tourism and large crowds begin in the summer in spring and last until autumn.

The peak tourist season extends from June to the beginning of September, although some would argue that Venice no longer has a low tourist season. 

Does Venice smell?

I’ve heard people say, “Be careful in Venice; it smells like poo.” 

The canals in summer can be almost as overwhelming as the beauty. However, I visited Central Venice in February, June, July, August, & September and never smelled anything besides saltwater in a canal. 

However, from time to time, sewage in the canals contributes to the unpleasant smell that tourists complain about. Locals often attribute the smell to naturally occurring seaweed and mud in the canal, but sewage is the real culprit. 

What to See in Venice, Italy

Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge

Entire Grand Canal

Venice’s largest and most famous canal, the Grand Canal, is an absolute must-see. The Grand Canal is the city’s two-mile main artery, the s-shaped curve of water lined with some of Venice’s most important buildings and jam-packed with private water taxis, Vaporetto (water bus), and gondola rides. The palaces, museums, and warehouses that line the Grand Canal were once the abodes of some of Venice’s most prominent mercantile families and trading corporations.

The best way to experience the Grand Canal is from the water, and you can do it by taking the Vaporetto water bus. While the Grand Canal does help travelers connect to the top attractions of Venice, it is actually a top attraction in and of itself.

Doge’s Palace

The amazing ceiling of the Doge Palace in. Venice

If you want to know more about Venice’s history, we recommend you have a guided tour of the Doge Palace and visit this historical palace with the prison.

The Doge’s Palace, Palazzo Ducale in Italian, is situated in St. Mark’s Square. The Palazzo Ducale was originally a fortified castle founded between the tenth and eleventh centuries. The palace was partially destroyed by a fire and was rebuilt between 1172 and 1178, as was the Piazza San Marco. During this period, the Palazzo was used as a fortress and prison.

To access more, you can even buy tickets to several attractions, giving you access to both the Ducal Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. If you want to avoid insanely long queues, we advise buying tickets in advance. 

While the palace’s exterior is incredibly decorated, you will be surprised at how incredible the interior has become. 

The Bridge of Sighs

Here is another must-see landmark in Venice. Let us take a glimpse at its beginnings to appreciate it more.

Bridge of Sights in Venice

Centuries ago, the Bridge connected the Doge’s Palace to the dungeons and was used to transport prisoners from the courtroom to the prisons. Legend has it that the Bridge of Sighs, or Ponte dei Sospiri in Italian, was named for the sighs prisoners like Giacomo Casanova would utter as they took one last look at the outside world through the bridge’s windows as they made their way to prison for good.

On a lighter and more romantic note, locals say that if two lovers kiss on a gondola under the bridge, they’ll be granted eternal bliss.  

St Mark’s Square/Piazza San Marco

You will find Piazza San Marco in the heart of Venice. It’s the Main Square of Venice, Italy, where you will see many attractions. You will surely dive into Venetian history by visiting the two most magnificent structures; the Doge’s Palace and Basilico San Marco.

Piazza San Marco, Venice

In summer, when the city is busiest, St. Mark’s Square can feel like the drawing room of Europe. Visit the square to enjoy a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea and the magnificent view of Venice from the top of its highest peak. 

Although it is a popular meeting place for tourists and Venetians, the swanky boutiques and outdoor cafes here are extremely expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the atmosphere, stroll around, and marvel at the outstanding architecture. 

St. Mark’s Basilica is an excellent example of Italian-Byzantine architecture and welcomes visitors and believers alike. The palace, built in Venetian Gothic style, has expanded its range of tours.

Basilica di San Marco

When strolling in San Marco, you must visit St. Mark’s Basilica. This elaborate church sits on the popular St. Mark’s Square. The church was built in honor of St. Mark the Evangelist, whose remains were stolen from their home in Alexandria, Egypt, and hidden in barrels of pork and cabbage leaves by a couple of crafty Venetians intent on bringing him to rest in Venice.  

St. Mark's Basilica in Venice

Crafted from many different styles of architecture, today, St. Mark’s Basilica shines from nearly every corner – from the four bronze horses that guard the entrance to thousands of square feet of mosaics to the Pala d’Oro. If you look closely at the church’s center gable, you can see a statue of St. Mark and Venice’s emblem, a lion with wings.  

The mosaics in St. Mark's Basilica

Many consider the basilica to be a must-see attraction while in Venice. Others said the lines to enter tend to get long, but they move quickly. To avoid the perpetual crowds, follow my advice by planning to arrive right when the church opens. Or, sign up for one of the best Venice tours; many offer skip-the-line access to the church.

Climb the Campanile di San Marco

One of the most recommended things to do in Venice is to experience climbing St. Mark’s Campanile. This large bell tower is located on Saint Mark’s Square, near St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and the Grand Canal.

This was originally a lighthouse dating from the 12th century, with even remains of a previous construction from the 9th century. The tower has been rebuilt several times, and the bell and copper-pointed roof were not added to the tower until the 16th century.

On the ground floor and at the top, you’ll see various decorative elements and decorations, with a simple construction of orange bricks in between.

Visitors will have a magnificent view of Venice and the Venetian Lagoon from the Campanile’s observation deck, a beautiful sight of St Mark’s Basilica, Basilica di Santa Maria, San Giorgio, and if it is sunny, you can even see the neighboring island of Murano.

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is one of Venice’s most important religious buildings. Its striking dome is depicted in most of the city’s postcards.

Basilica di Santa Maria, as it is typically known, was founded in 1631. The basilica was built to commemorate the end of a horrific plague outbreak that began in 1630 and killed a large portion of the Veneto population. It was dedicated to Our Lady of Health (Salute in Italian).

Rialto Bridge/Ponte di Rialto

The Rialto Bridge, which runs through the heart of Venice, Italy, the city’s most famous bridge and a tourist attraction, provides an excellent introduction to the city. There are several things for everyone to do, not just for most visitors but for anyone visiting Venice in the summer months. 

Rialto Bridge Venice Italy

The iconic bridge was built in stone between 1588 and 1591 by Antonio da Ponte to substitute a wooden bridge that had collapsed on two occasions and had been partially burnt down in 1310.

If you pass over the bridge from Piazza San Marco, you will come across the Rialto Market, a colorful market packed with delicious-looking fruit and vegetable. It also includes a fish market. If you visit Venice in summer, you will surely be tempted by the trays of fresh fruit on sale in some of the market’s stands.

What to Do in Venice, Italy

Rick driving a Gondola

Take a Gondola Ride

Venice is known for its gondola rides, so you’ll be missing out if you skip that experience.

There is also no more romantic way to explore the city than by gondola at night. If you are in Venice on your honeymoon, you should consider a night ride.  

How Much Is A Gondola Ride In Venice, Italy

Although gondolas are less practical today, they are still a truly unique way to see the canals of the floating city and are a top-rated tourist attraction. A typical 40-minute gondola ride costs about 80 euros (for two people), and a gondola ride at 7 p.m. costs about 50 euros for the same duration. 

Gondola ride on the Grand Canal

How Do I Get A Cheap Gondola Ride In Venice

The cost of a gondola ride in grand canal Venice can go as high as 80 euros, but it is still a pretty exciting experience and a fun way to explore the floating canal towns. Fortunately, if you’re trying to get a cheap gondola ride to see the city, there is a way to cross the Grand Canal on a budget of just 2 euros

Ride the Water Bus, Vaporetto

A must-do in Venice is to ride the Vaporetto (water bus.) The Vaporetto connects downtown Venice to the furthest outreaches, including Burano and Murano. I recommend buying a 24, 48, or 72-hour ticket, depending on the length of time you plan to be in Venice. It will save you money and will pay for itself over and over.

Visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

The Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in which the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is exhibited and where Peggy Guggenheim used to live – is located at the end of the Grand Canal, just before reaching the Bacino San Marco.

The palace is known for its clean lines that are reflected everywhere in the architecture. You will recognize playful elements in the floors, in which flowing lines and warm colors are incorporated.

What is there to do in Venice at night?

Venice is charming and romantic, especially when you can stroll peacefully along its dimly lit canals. While the shops might be closed, there is a lot to see and do in the city at night.  

In the San Marco area, there are many restaurants where you can have an aperitivo (Evening snack) or dinner. Take a water taxi, and ideally sit at either the boat’s front or back. There, you will get the best views of the canals and gaze out at the incredible buildings that line the canal. 

Also, consider a nighttime Gondola ride. What could be more romantic than that?

Food & Drink In Venice

Coffee In Venice

Italians are very serious about their coffee, so much so that there are rules about when and where to have a coffee.  

It depends if you’re wondering how much a cup of coffee in Venice is. For example, at a bar inside a restaurant, expect to pay between 1- 2 euros for a coffee. But if you’re sitting down at a table, expect to pay significantly more.  

If you want to visit a historic café, head to Venice’s Café Florian. As the oldest café in Italy (opened December 29, 1720), it has had the pleasure of serving famous guests, including Charles Dickens, Goethe, Lord Byron, and even Casanova. (Note: expect to spend as much as 15 euro for a cup of coffee at a table!)

Caffe Florian at Carnevale

Another historic cafe is Caffe del Doge, known perhaps for having the best coffee in Venice. You will find Caffe del Doge in a narrow, deserted alley, even in the summer!

Common types of coffee in Venice, Italy

If you want to try sipping coffee in Venice, here are a few options for you.

Caffe normale: A simple shot of espresso, usually creamy and delicious.

Caffe doppio: Double shot of espresso. Don’t confuse this with a long espresso, which is different.

Caffe Lungo: A single shot of espresso; however, this one is about 100-150ml. A caffe lungo will be closer to what one might expect from North America.

Cappuccino: A coffee made from a shot of espresso and frothy milk. Warning: Don’t try an order a cappuccino after lunch in Italy – the restaurant will likely deny the request!

Those coming from North America might be surprised that “takeaway” coffee isn’t popular in Italy yet. Tourists do not carry many drinks with them outside restaurants in Venice — or anywhere else in Italy, for that matter.

Local food of Venice

Italian food is regional, and Venice is a coastal city. As such, there’s no surprise that the food of Venice is primarily seafood.  

typical cicchetti lunch in Venice

We recommend trying cicchetti. It looks like Spanish tapas, but never mention that to a Venetian! Cicchetti is small bites of meat (fish, pork, etc.) or cheese, usually on a slice of bread. It’s light and inexpensive, making it a staple dish for pub crawls.

Off the beaten path

Once you’re in Venice, consider moving beyond the tourist hotspots. This will supercharge your visit. 

Dorsoduro District

Take a trip to the old district of Dorsoduro at the center of Venice, known for its authenticity, fewer tourists, and low prices. The number of shops here makes this area the perfect stop, and there are also some great museums and galleries.

The Galleria dell’Accademia

The Galleria dell’Accademia is packed with Venetian art from the 14th to the 18th centuries and is a captivating place to visit, especially if you’re a fan of Middle Ages and Renaissance art. The museum’s collection includes more than 1,000 paintings and sculptures framed by the towering Campanile, which is home to some of the most famous works of art of all time.

La Fenice

We highly suggest that you arrive early if you plan to visit the Grand Opera House (La Fenice.) It’s a favorite tourist attraction, and the lines can get very long.

Free (or nearly free) things to see and do in Venice

The Free Walking Tour also shows you some hidden gems and is one of our most prominent tourist attractions, so it’s a must-do for your Venice route. 

If an 80-euro gondola ride is too expensive, there are gondolas you can hire to cross the grand canal for just 2 euros. Sure, the trip only takes 5 minutes, but it’s enough to get a taste! Get your cameras ready!


You will find churches pretty much everywhere in Venice and abroad in Italy. For the most part, churches are free to visit. However, they do cost money to keep up. So, if you have an extra euro, consider making a small donation in exchange for the photo-taking.

Venice’s two most famous churches are the San Marco Basilica and La Salute. Both are iconic and astonishingly beautiful to photograph from the outside.

See Venice on foot

Can you walk everywhere in Venice?

Venice has over 118 islands and 400+ bridges. You can easily explore the city on foot. But remember, Venice has narrow streets and roads with no logical flow. It’s easy to get lost in the labyrinthine canals and narrow streets, especially without a map. The signage is also non-existent.  

I don’t mind getting lost, but if you’re only here for a day, you’ll probably miss some things, and wandering the alleys looking for your destination is not the best way to spend your time. 

How long does it take to walk around Venice?

Venice is one of the most walkable cities in Italy.

Walking from the Rialto Bridge to San Marco Square should take about 20 minutes. If you’re in good shape, you can easily walk 20,000 steps a day in Venice without seeing the same thing twice (well, except for the most famous monuments.)

If you want to spend a day or two in Venice, I recommend taking your time and not overscheduling. There is certainly lots to see and do. If you only have a day in the city but don’t want to miss out on some must-see attractions, you can easily reach the most famous monuments. Two nights in Venice is the perfect amount of time to see everything the city has to offer. 

Is It Safe To Walk In Venice At Night

Venice by night is an entirely different experience from the day and my absolute favorite time to see the city. Magic happens when the sun sets over the city, and you’ll never get a better opportunity to admire the soft glow of light from the docks and bridges that light up the canals.

These fun activities in Venice at night will help you to be enchanted by the magic of the city after dark. Night tourists can enjoy spectacular views of the canals and the Mediterranean Sea under the moonlight. There is a lot to do at night, and although everyone is generally well-behaved to a certain extent, crowds during the day can often put a small dampener on the experience


You just have learned the best things to see and do in the magical city of Venice. With its top tourist attractions, historical sites, surrounding architecture, and busy streets, there is no reason not to be in love with this place.

With this information, I hope you can easily visit and are now ready to explore the wonders of Venice.