Best things to do in Venice: activities, museums and must-see monuments
What are the best things to do in Venice? That’s a tough one! Just like Paris, London or Rome, Venice is one of those cities where you could stay a lifetime and still not see it all!
Planning your stay in Venice can therefore be somewhat daunting when faced with the endless list of activities, museums and monuments in the ‘City of Water’.
To help you out, Captain Ulysses has made a bucket list of the best things to do in Venice. Feel free to draw ideas from the Captain’s list and make up your own schedule in Venice!
What to do in Venice? Follow the guide! ⚓
📜The top tours and activities in Venice:
How to get around Venice?
St. Mark’s Square and its surroundings
Venetian bridges and canals
The must-see museums in Venice
The Islands of the Venetian Lagoon
Venice’s iconic churches
The Venetian Arsenal and the district of Castello
The Venetian Ghetto and the district of Cannaregio
The Carnival of Venice
Music in Venice
First of all, how to get around Venice?
Before setting out to discover the stunning monuments and and top activities in Venice, let’s pause a second and discuss strategy!
The centre of Venice is entirely pedestrianised. The city is relatively small and easy to explore on foot. If you don’t feel like walking, the most handy way to get around Venice is the vaporetti: boats (part of the public transport system) travelling on the the city’s canals and in the Venetian Lagoon.
If you are staying in Mestre, if you plan to explore the islands of the Venetian Lagoon or if you simply want to save time, Captain Ulysses recommends opting for a public transport pass (bus + vaporetto).
St. Mark’s Square and its surroundings
St. Mark’s Square
In the heart of the sestiere (district) of San Marco, St. Mark’s Square is without a doubt one of the most emblematic sights in Venice. It is the only square in the city to bear the name of “piazza”, the other squares in Venice are simply called “campo” or “campiello” in Italian.
For centuries, St. Mark’s Square has been the heart of the political, administrative and religious powers in the Republic of Venice. Napoleon even called St. Mark’s Square “the most beautiful parlour in Europe.”
It is also where public executions were carried out. Today, it is best known for its iconic monuments… and its pigeons 🐦 (which visitors aren’t allowed to feed, by the way!)
St. Mark’s Square is actually divided into two interconnected esplanades:
- Piazza San Marco, the largest of the two
- Piazetta San Marco, right by the Venetian Lagoon
St. Mark’s Square is located at the lowest point of Venice, which explains why it is always hit hardest during periods of acqua alta, floods.
St. Mark’s Basilica
With its impressive domes, its intricate columns and its opulent gilding, St. Mark’s Basilica is undoubtedly the most iconic religious building in Venice… if not in the world.
The basilica dates back to the 11th century, although it isn’t the first building dedicated to St. Mark built on this site (a first church was built in 832, then a second in 978 after the first one was destroyed in a fire).
St. Mark’s Basilica is a symbol of Venetian power and blends gothic and byzantine influences. Over the centuries, the basilica grew rich thanks to the spoils of war brought back from the Venetian conquests in the East.
Today, St. Mark’s Basilica is a must-see monument for any visitor passing through the ‘Floating City’!
💡Visiting St. Mark’s Basilica 💡
Admission to the basilica is free, but you’ll have to buy tickets to access the Pala d’Oro, the museum and the treasury (respectively €2, €5 and €3). The queue to access the basilica may be quite long, which is why Captain Ulysses recommends that you either:
– show up very early
– opt for a guided tour which includes a skip-the-line ticket to the basilica
– or book a guided tour of both St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace.
Before visiting the basilica, make sure that your legs and shoulders are properly covered. Before the visit, you will also have to drop off your backpacks in the lockers (free).
The Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale in Italian) is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful monuments in Venice.
Located on St. Mark’s Square, a stone’s throw from the basilica, the Doge’s Palace was the residence of the Doge (the high-ranking magistrate in charge of administering the city), but also the centre of the political power in the Republic of Venice.
Built in the 14th century to replace the previous palace which had been destroyed in a fire – by now, you will have figured out that fires were quite common in Venice! -, the palace was transformed, enlarged and embellished multiple times over the centuries. The greatest Italian artists and architects (Veronese, Tintoretto…) contributed to making the Doge’s Palace a true symbol of Venetian wealth and refinement.
Take the time to admire the exterior of the palace before entering. Inside, don’t miss the Giant’s Staircase (in the inner courtyard), the Golden Staircase and the Chamber of the Great Council. You can also explore the interior of the Bridge of Sighs, which leads to the palace’s prisons (the Captain will tell you more about this bridge in a moment).
💡Visiting the Doge’s Palace 💡
Admission to the Doge’s Palace is €25 for full price tickets, €13 for discounted tickets (children, students…). That being said, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends opting for a skip-the-line ticket which is a little bit more expensive but well worth it.
The entrance to the Doge’s Palace is also included in the Venice Museum Pass: it is definitely worthwhile if you’re planning on visiting 3 or 4 of the museums and monuments included in the pass (such as the Ca’ Pesaro Palace and the Ca’ Rezzonico Palace).
A guided tour is another good option if you don’t want to miss out on any of the wonders of the Doge’s Palace.
And if you like to venture into forbidden places, then you should definitely consider opting for a secret tour of the Doge’s Palace 🤫!
The Bridge of Sighs
While it is now considered one of the symbols of love and romance in Venice, the Bridge of Sighs is actually named after the sighs breathed by the Venetian convicts who walked across the bridge to reach the city’s prisons, located right by the Doge’s Palace, where they were tried.
But English poet Lord Byron and his well-known poem Chide Harold’s Pilgrimage greatly participated in changing the image of the bridge and making it a romantic emblem in Venice.
💡Visiting the Bridge of Sighs 💡
To discover the Bridge of Sighs, you have three possibilities:
– exploring the interior of the bridge during a visit of the Doge’s Palace
– admiring the bridge from the Ponte della Paglia, on the Riva degli Schiavoni (the promenade along St. Mark’s Basin)
– passing under the bridge during a romantic gondola ride 🌹
St. Mark’s Campanile
St. Mark’s Campanile has been watching over Venice since the 12th century… well, sort of.
The current bell tower is actually a copy of the 12th tower which collapsed in 1902. On the very evening of the accident, the Council of the City of Venice decided that the tower should be rebuilt identically. In 1912, the new campanile was inaugurated almost 10 years after it was destroyed.
Today, St. Mark’s Campanile offers stunning views over Venice and the Venetian Lagoon. But be warned: if you are afraid of heights, you might want to pass!
💡Visiting St. Mark’s Campanile 💡
Tickets to access the tower are €8 for adults, €4 for children and students. Up until recently, it was possible to book skip-the-line tickets online but the Captain couldn’t find any last time he checked. That being said, you can still opt for a private tour of the main monuments around St. Mark’s Square, which includes a skip-the-line ticket to the Campanile.
Other sites and monuments on St. Mark’s Square
You’ll find a few other places of interest on St. Mark’s Square. While they’re not as iconic as the Doge’s Palace or St. Mark’s Basilica, they are still worth a visit if you stay in Venice long enough:
- The Procuraties (or Procuracies): they were the home and workplace of the Procurators of St. Mark, who were Magistrates of the Republic of Venice;
- The Clock Tower: built in the 15th century century, it is mostly worth a look for its impressive mechanism which indicates the time of day, the zodiac sign, the position of the sun, the seasons and phases of the moon;
- Caffè Florian: open since 1720, it is the oldest café on St. Mark’s Square.
Venetian bridges and canals
Venice is not nicknamed the “Floating City” and the “City of Water” for nothing! Charming and romantic, the canals are also the most convenient way to get around the city! 🚣
The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal (Il Canalezzo in Italian) is the largest and most famous of Venice’s canals. It is 3.8 kilometres long (2.36 miles) and 50 to 70 metres wide (165 to 230 ft). It flows along some of the most emblematic monuments in ‘La Serenissima’ (the Doge’s Palace, Santa Maria della Salute, Ca’ d’Oro Palace…).
Why are there so many sumptuous palaces on the banks of the Grand Canal, you may ask?
For the Venetian nobility, building a palace by the Grand Canal was the ultimate sign of power and refinement! That’s the reason why the banks of the Grand Canal count some 170 historic buildings (mainly built between the 13th and 18th centuries), each as stunning as the next.
💡Exploring the Grand Canal 💡
To navigate the Grand Canal, visitors have three possibilities:
– the Vaporetto: it is by far the cheapest option, but it is also the least charming. The vaporettos are often quite crowded and you might not be able to find a quiet little corner from which to admire the view. If this is still the option you choose, the Captain recommends downloading a mobile app which will help you identify the main monuments lined up along the Grand Canal and provide valuable historical information.
– a guided cruise: it is a good intermediate option to enjoy the ride on the Grand Canal without having to break open the piggy bank!
– a gondola ride: it is unsuprisingly the most expensive option of all three… but also the most charming and romantic 🌹
The Rialto Bridge
Spanning the Grand Canal a stone’s throw from St. Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge is a must-see monument for any visitor staying in Venice!
The Rialto Bridge is undoubtedly the most famous of the city’s 438 bridges. Built in the second half of the 16th century, the Rialto Bridge was designed to replace the many wooden bridges built up to then (which needed constant repairing because of humidity and fires). This imposing stone bridge was for many decades the only way across the Grand Canal on foot.
The bridge is also famous for its striking architectural features: in the shape of a circumflex accent (^), it consists of three pedestrian walkways, including a central aisle lined with shops.
From the bridge, the view on the Grand Canal is quite simply breathtaking, especially at sunset!
💡Visiting the Rialto Bridge 💡
The Rialto Bridge is open at all times. Captain Ulysses recommends that you stop by the bridge on several occasions to admire the view on the Grand Canal in the daylight, at sunset and at night.
The Venetian canals
Venice counts 177 canals in total. There’s an incredible variety of them: some are large, some are small, some are sumptuous, some are time-worn.. A word of advice: take the time to get lost in the city to discover the many canals of ‘La Serenissima’.
If you want, you can also embark on a boat ride on the Venetian canals. The options are the same as those that Captain Ulysses gave earlier in the article 😉
The must-see museums in Venice
Venice’s incredible cultural wealth is quite extraordinary and the city is full of fascinating museums exhibiting the artwork of the greatest Italian artists.
Attention all art lovers: you will find in Venice countless masterpieces to admire! 🎨
The Gallerie dell’Accademia
A stone’s throw from the Grand Canal and the Ponte dell’Accademia, the Gallerie dell’Accademia houses the largest collection of Venetian art in the world.
Located in a large complex spread over three former religious buildings (the Scuola Grande di Santa Maria della Carità, the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Carità and the Monastero Canonici Lateranensi), the galleries invite visitors on a chronological journey to discover Venetian art from the Middle Ages to the 18th century.
Among the many pieces exhibited in the museum, countless are attributed to great Italian masters including Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Veronese, Bellini, Giorgione and Vittore Carpaccio.
In short, the Gallerie dell’Accademia is undoubtedly a must-see museum for any visitor staying in Venice!
💡Visiting the Gallerie dell’Accademia 💡
Admission is 12 euros for adults, the reduced fare is 2 euros (admission is free of charge for people under 18, visitors with disabilities, students…). If you are visiting Venice during high season or during the school holidays, you might want to consider opting for a skip-the-line ticket.
And if you are an art lover or simply curious to learn more about the great Italian masters, Captain Ulysses recommends opting either for the audioguide (6 euros, available on site) or for a guided tour of the museum.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection
After discovering the great Italian masters, why not indulge in some modern art? Nestled in gorgeous Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the banks of the Grand Canal, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of Captain Ulysses’ favourite places in Venice.
Opened in 1980, it is considered one of the finest modern art museums in Italy. The museum exhibits pieces of countless iconic artists including René Magritte, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Vassily Kandinsky, Alexander Calder, Piet Mondrian, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock, Giorgio de Chirico, Mark Rothko and Fernand Léger… The least we can say is that Peggy Guggenheim had intuition when it comes to detecting talent! 🎨
Outside, artworks from Brancusci, Giacometti and Moore are displayed in the sculpture garden.
💡Visiting the Peggy Guggenheim Collection 💡
Admission to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is 15 euros per adults, 13 euros for visitors over 65 and 9 euros for students under 26. The museum is free for children under the age of 10.
Like all the top sights and monuments in Venice, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is stormed by tourists, especially during school holidays. If you are visiting Venice during high season, you might want to book a skip-the-line ticket to avoid wasting time in endless lines.
Ca’ Rezzonico & the Museo del Settecento Veneziano
Of all the palaces lined up along the banks of the Grand Canal, Palazzo Ca’ Rezzonico is one of the most famous. Built between the 17th and 18th centuries, this imposing baroque marble palazzo now houses a vast collection of 18th century decorative arts as well as artworks from famous Italian artist Canaletto and frescoes attributed to Giambattista Tiepolo.
Inside, the palazzo hasn’t aged a day. The ballroom especially is spectacular as ever.
💡Visiting Ca’ Rezzonico 💡
Regular tickets are €10, reduced-rate tickets are €7.50. Admission to the Palazzo Ca’ Rezzonico is also included in the Venice Museum Pass.
Ca’ Pesaro & the Modern Art Museum
Built between the 17th and 18th centuries by the Pesaro family and designed by architect Baldassare Longhena, Palazzo Ca’ Pesaro now houses the Modern Art Museum of Venice (Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna), where visitors can discover the city’s impressive modern art collection, including artworks from a number of iconic artists, among whom Chirico, Klimt, Kandinski, Chagall, Bonnard and Klee.
Ca’ Pesaro is also home to a second museum, the Oriental Art Museum (Museo d’Arte Orientale) exhibiting some 30,000 objects brought back from Japan, China and Indonesia, among other exotic destinations.
💡 Visiting Ca’ Pesaro 💡
Full-price ticket to Ca’ Pesaro (which include access to both museums) are €10, reduced-rate tickets are €7.50. Access is free for children under 5 and people with disabilities. Tickets can be booked online at a small extra-cost. Access to the palazzo is also included in the Venice Museum Pass.
Ca’ d’Oro and the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti
Nestled on the banks of the Grand Canal, in the sestiere (district) of Cannaregio, the Palazzo Ca’ d’Oro is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful palaces in Venice. Its name (“the golden house” in English) derives from the gilded ornaments adorning its intricate façade mixing Gothic and Renaissance influences.
Built between 1421 and 1434, the palazzo was bequeathed to the Italian state in 1902 and converted into a museum. It is now home to the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti, where visitors can discover works from the Venetian, Tuscan and Flemish schools, including paintings by Carpaccio, Tintoretto, Titian, Van Dyck and Van Eyck.
💡Visiting Ca’ d’Oro 💡
Full price tickets are €8.50, while admission for students from the European Union is €2. Admission is free for children under the age of 18 and people with disabilities.
If you’re running out of time and can’t explore Venice’s many museums, Captain Ulysses recommends focusing on the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
The Islands of the Venetian Lagoon
If it is tempting to stay in Venice considering the long list of monuments and museums in the city, it would be a shame not to visit at least one of the islands in the Venetian Lagoon! Captain Ulysses recommends devoting at least half a day to their exploration.
Murano, the ‘Glass Island’
A stone’s throw from Venice, Murano is one of the the most famous islands in the the Venetian Lagoon. It is here that the glassmakers who made Venice famous settled after being evicted from the city in 1201 as local authorities feared that their workshops put Venice at risk because of fire hazard.
But the island is not simply known for Murano glass. Covered in vineyards, Murano once attracted the wealthy Venetians who came here to indulge in forbidden pleasures away from prying eyes. The casins of Murano (which are the ancestors of casinos) were indeed the scene of extravagance and debauchery… Casanova himself is said to have been a regular in Murano’s casins!
Today, Murano is worth a visit both for the its glass-making workshops and for its lovely canals lined with beautiful ochre-coloured houses.
💡Visiting Murano 💡
To get to Murano, visitors have two possibilities:
– getting the vaporetto
– or opting for a day-tour to Murano, Burano and Torcello (available in English, German, Italian, Spanish & French)
In Murano, be sure to visit a glass workshop, such as the Vetreria Artistica Colleoni, where you can attend a glass blowing demonstration.
The Glass Museum is also a great stop to learn more about glass-making history and the techniques that glassmakers have passed down from generation to generation. A combined ticket gives access both to the Glass Museum in Murano and the Lace Museum in Burano. Admission to both museums is also included in the Museum Pass.
Burano, the island of lace-making
Located 8 kilometres (26 miles) north-east of Venice, the island of Burano is renowned worldwide for its laces. Considered by many to be the most beautiful island in the Lagoon, Burano is also known for its picturesque and colourful fishermen’s houses.
Things to do in Burano include visiting the Lace Museum, strolling along the charming canals and tasting fresh fish in one of the many restaurants on the island.
💡Visiting Burano 💡
To get to Burano, the options are the same as for Murano: taking the vaporetto or joining a day tour.
If you want to visit the Lace Museum, you can either buy your ticket on site or opt for a combined ticket (Burano Lace Museum + Murano Glass Museum) which you can book online. Admission to the Lace Museum is also included in the Museum Pass.
The other islands of the Venetian Lagoon
- Torcello: Once the most populated island in the Lagoon, Torcello now only counts 14 inhabitants in total. If you have some time to spare, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, with its sumptuous mosaics, is definitely worth a visit.
- San Giorgio Maggiore: opposite the Doge’s Palace, the island of San Giorgio Maggiore is best known for the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore and its bell tower, from where the view on the Venetian Lagoon is stunning.
- San Michele: Located halfway between Venice and Murano, this small island has been the graveyard of the City of Bridges since 1837. Peculiar!
- Lido: 10 minutes from Venice by vaporetto, the island of Lido is the seaside resort of ‘La Serenissima’. It is particularly appreciated by visitors and locals alike for its clear waters and sand dunes.
Venice’s iconic churches
Venice certainly does not lack churches and basilicas, some of which keep marvelous wonders, and it seems quite impossible to visit them all! To help you out, Captain Ulysses has made a small selection of the most emblematic churches in Venice ⛪
Santa Maria della Salute
Nestled on the banks of the Grand Canal, Santa Maria della Salute is high on the list of Venice’s must-see churches.
Built to implore Virgin Mary’s mercy when the city was prey to a deadly plague epidemic, the Basilica was consecrated in 1687. It is most definitely worth a visit both for its remarkable architecture, meddling classical and baroque influences, as well as for the incredible masterpieces on display. The sacristy is indeed home to a collection of iconic paintings, including Tintoretto’s famous Marriage at Cana.
💡Visiting Santa Maria della Salute 💡
Access to Santa Maria della Salute is free. But you’ll have to pay €4 if you wish to enter the Sacristy.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari and the churches of the Chorus Pass
In the sestiere of San Polo, the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari(or more simply I Frari for insiders), is the 2nd largest church in Venice. If the exterior of the basilica may seem quite austere, you’ll find inside lavish ornaments and priceless works of art, including Titian’s famous Ascension. While in the church, don’t miss the impressive mausoleums of Antonio Canova and Titian.
The Chorus Pass gives access to 17 churches-museums in Venice, a list of which can be found here.
In Captain Ulysses’ opinion, you should opt for the pass if you’re spending more than 4 days in Venice so you can visit the various churches that you stumble upon while exploring the city. But if you’re only staying a couple of days, then investing in the Chorus Pass might not be worth it.
💡Visiting Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari and the churches of the Chorus Pass💡
If you don’t opt for the Chorus Pass, the price of the ticket to Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is €3. The Chorus Pass amounts to €12, €8 for the reduced rate. It is free for children under the age of 11. A family pass (2 adults + 2 children under the age of 18) is also available for €24. It is possible to purchase the Chorus Pass at the tourist office, in each of the participating churches, or online.
The Church of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
In the district of Castello, the Church of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni (Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni) is mostly worth a visit for Vittore Carpaccio’s incredible paintings, including the Triumph of St. George.
💡Visiting the Church of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni 💡
Admission to the church amounts to €3.50, €1.50 for the discounted rate.
The Basilica of San Giovanni e Paolo (Zanipolo)
In the heart of Castello, the Basilica of San Giovanni e Paolo (nicknamed Zanipolo) is the Pantheon of Venice. Built in the 15th century, it houses the tombs of 25 doges, as well as many well-known personalities. Visitors can also admire the paintings of Italian masters among whom Giovanni Bellini, Veronese and Palma il Giovane.
💡Visiting the Basilica of San Giovanni e Paolo 💡
Access to the basilica costs €3.30, the reduced rate is €1.50.
The Church of San Zaccaria
A 5-minute walk from St. Mark’s Square, the Church of San Zaccaria, built between the 9th and 15th centuries, is famous for its incredible collection of artworks. Visitors can admire paintings by Palma il Giovane, Palma il Vecchio, Tintoretto, Giovanni Bellini and Van Dyck. The Golden Chapel of San Tarasio and the crypt, where some of Venice’s oldest doges are burried, are also definitely worth seeing!
💡 Church of San Zaccaria 💡
Admission to the church is free, but you will have to pay €1.50 to access to the Golden Chapel and the Crypt.
If you’re not staying long in Venice and you’re not planning on visiting countless churches, Captain Ulysses recommends that you at least have a look at Santa Maria della Salute!
The Venetian Arsenal and the district of Castello
The Venetian Arsenal
In the heart of the district of Castello, the Venetian Arsenal is one of the most emblematic monuments in Venice. It is here that the ships which made the Republic of Venice feared and respected throughout the world were built and maintained. It represents 15% of the city’s surface area, which is to say 332,000 square meters (82 acres)!
If the majority of the Arsenal still belongs to the Italian Navy, part of the complex is now owned by the city of Venice and is occasionally accessible to the public during the Biennale.
💡Visiting the Venetian Arsenal 💡
Visitors are unfortunately not allowed inside the Arsenal and are simply able to admire the building from the outside. Still, it is well worth the visit.
The district of Castello
To the east of the city, Castello is the biggest of the six sestieri of Venice. It is also by far the most authentic. Less “sophisticated” than the rest of the city, Castello invites visitors to discover a less touristy side to ‘La Serenissima’.
Among the main sites and monuments in the area, don’t miss:
- the Via Garibaldi
- the Church of San Zaccaria
- the Basilica of San Zanipolo
- the Church of San Francesco della Vigna
- the Church of Santa Maria Formosa
Properly discovering Castello also means getting lost in the winding lanes of the district. A word of advice: keep your map/GPS in your pocket and stroll aimlessly around the area.
💡Visiting the district of Castello 💡
While exploring Castello on your own is perfectly feasible, if you are fond of historical anecdotes and do not want to miss out on anything, you might want to opt for a guided tour of the district.
The Venetian Ghetto and the district of Cannaregio
If you want to properly visit Venice, then you should definitely get off the beaten track. To the north of the city, the sestiere of Cannaregio has remained (relatively) forgotten by the vast majority of tourists staying in Venice. Yet the Jewish Ghetto, located in the heart of Cannaregio, is definitely worth the visit! After being driven out of Spain in the late 15th century, numerous Jewish communities settled here.
Today, the Jewish Ghetto of Venice remains well-known for its cultural vitality. It is also one of the favourite places of foodies in Venice. You’ll find countless small restaurants and shops where to try specialties of all kinds.
Among the main monuments in the Jewish Ghetto, the must-sees are:
- The Museum of Jewish Art
- the Scuola Levantina, a synagogue dating back to 1538
- the Scuola Spagnola, a synagogue built in 1555 and renovated in 1635 by famous Venetian architect Baldassare Longhena
💡Visiting the district of Canareggio 💡
Just like in the district of Castello, Captain Ulysses simply recommends getting lost in the bustling streets of the Jewish Ghetto. But you can also opt for a guided tour of the Ghetto and the Cannaregio district to discover the best local gastronomic specialties.
The Carnival of Venice
Visiting Venice during the Carnival
The Carnival of Venice is undoubtedly one of the most famous cultural events in the world.
Every year, in January or February, Venetians and visitors take out their best costumes for 10 days of incredible celebrations. While you’ll see no parade, you’ll find a variety of street performances (jugglers, acrobats, dancers…) throughout the city and particularly around St. Mark’s Square. Private events are also held in many luxurious hotels and palaces in the city, including dinners, balls and concerts.
💡Visiting Venice during the Carnival 💡
During the Carnival, Venice is even more crowded than usual! Prices are through the roof and the queues at the entrance of the main monuments get desperately long… Captain Ulysses therefore recommends that you book your accommodation and activities well in advance, and opt as much as possible for skip-the-line tickets!
Don’t hesitate to inquire beforehand about the tours and activities that are only available during the Carnival, such as a visit of Venice accompanied by a comedian, a treasure hunt in St. Mark’s Square or a dinner cruise.
Visiting Venice the rest of the year
You can’t go to Venice during the Carnival? Lucky for you, you can still have a taste of the carnival with a Carnival Mask-Making Class. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the history of the Carnival and discover the ancestral mask-making techniques of the Venetian craftsmen.
Music in Venice
Venice was the epicentre of arts and culture Europe for centuries. So it’s no surprise that music remains today at the heart of Venetian cultural life! 🎶
Teatro La Fenice
In the district of San Marco, Teatro La Fenice (“the phoenix”) is one of the most famous opera houses in the world.
Built in the 18th century to replace the Teatro San Benedetto, which was destroyed in a fire, La Fenice quickly became an emblem of the radiant cultural life in Venice.
But in 1832, the theatre burned down. It was rebuilt in 1837 and in the 1840s hosted the first representations of some of Verdi’s greatest masterpieces, including Hernani and La Traviata.
The opera-house was once again destroyed in a fire in 1996, but La Fenice, which means “phoenix” in English, was true to its name, and was once again fully restored. It reopened in 2003 and has since been successful as ever.
If La Fenice is famous for the masterpieces that were performed on its stage (among which operas by legendary composers Gioachino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi and Igor Stravinsky), it is also renowned for its neo-classical architecture which is well worth the visit.
💡 Visiting La Fenice and attending performances 💡
La Fenice is open for daily visits from 9.30 a.m. (closing times vary depending on the performances). Full price entry tickets are €10, €7 for the reduced rates. Skip-the-line tickets (+ audioguide) are available online. You can also opt for a guided tour of the theatre.
If you are a music enthusiast, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends attending a concert or an opera at La Fenice. To learn more about the schedule, visit the official website of the theatre.
Classical concerts in Venice
If La Fenice is sold out or if the prices are too prohibitive, there are some alternatives to attend a classical music concert or an opera in Venice. You’ll find a wide selection of options here.
Discovering Venetian gastronomy
Italy is a land of gastronomy, and so is Venice! Visiting the City of Water also means discovering (and tasting) delicious local specialties. Follow the guide! 🍝
The Rialto Market
A stone’s throw from the Rialto Bridge, the Rialto Market is one of the biggest markets in Venice. It is divided into three smaller markets:
- the Pescheria, the fish market
- the Erbaria, the market for fruits and vegetables
- the Beccaria, the meat market.
It’s the perfect place to find delicious products from the Venetian Lagoon: fish, seafood, vegetables, mushrooms and much more.
💡Visiting the Rialto Market 💡
The Rialto Market is not open every day. The Pescheria is open from Monday to Saturday from 5 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; the Erbaria is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Food tours and cooking classes 👨 🍳
Attention, foodies! To discover local specialties, there’ nothing like a food tour. Captain Ulysses recommends two tours in particular:
And because practise makes perfect, why not try a cooking class? It’s a great opportunity to discover Venice like a local:
Venice is a very touristy city and there is no shortage of accommodation, but they are generally rather expensive. If your budget is tight, Captain Ulysses suggests staying in Mestre,out of town. Accommodation is much more affordable and buses reach Venice very regularly. Find out more here. For intermediate budgets, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Hotel Le Isole:very well placed a few steps from St. Mark’s Square, this beautiful hotel has spacious and elegant rooms and offers a very good breakfast. Finally, if you want to have a real pleasure in Venice, then Captain Ulysses recommends a thousand times theHotel Londra Palace: a real gem nestled in a Venetian palace on the Riva degli Schiavoni.
Tickets, guided tours, gondola tours, excursions… There is no shortage of activities in Venice. Victim of its success, the city is stormed by tourists: Captain Ulysses recommends you book your activities in advance and opt for wire-cutting tickets to save time. To do this, the Captain highly recommends the websites Musement and Tiqets,specialists in booking tourist activities: you should find your happiness.
Venice means gondola and vaporetto. As an accomplished sailor, Captain Ulysses can only recommend that you take a boat ride on the Venetian canals. But beware of scams: many gondoliers do not hesitate to inflate prices! That’s why the Captain advises you to book your activity on a reputable site: here or here.
If you plan to scour Venice’s sights, Captain Ulysses suggests you opt for a Citypass,giving access to a selection of the city’s most must-see sights and monuments. There are many kinds depending on your needs and desires. Find out more here.
To reach Venice from the airport, three options: the bus,the vaporetto (orange Alilaguna Arancio line), the taxi or the water taxi. It’s up to you to choose the option that works best for you! 🙂 Be aware, however, that the historic centre is pedestrianised, and buses and taxis are not allowed to operate there.
To explore Venice, get ready to walk. The historic centre is not accessible to buses or cars. The local public transport is the vaporetto: boats travelling on the water and making stops in the main points of interest of the city. If you plan to use the vaporetto regularly (to travel to Venice or visit the surrounding islands like Murano and Burano), or if you are staying in Mestre and have to take the bus to Venice, Captain Ulysses suggests you opt for a map of public transport. You can already book it here.
Venice is a city easily accessible by plane, train and bus. To book your plane tickets, Captain Ulysse recommends the Skyscannercomparator, ideal for finding THE right plan. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights. On the train side, it is possible to make the night commute to save time (and money)! For more information, visit the Trainline website, which allows you to travel across 44 countries with 207 rail and bus companies.
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Venice is a very touristy city and you’ll have plenty hotels to choose from, but, be warned: they are overall rather expensive. If your budget is tight, Captain Ulysses suggests staying in Mestre, just outside of Venice, where hotels are much more affordable and you’ll find regular buses to Venice. Find out more here. For intermediate budgets, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Hotel Le Isole: ideally located a few steps from St. Mark’s Square, this beautiful hotel boasts spacious and elegant rooms. And if you’re looking for a more luxurious option in Venice, then Captain Ulysses most definitely recommends the Londra Palace nestled in a Venetian palace on the Riva degli Schiavoni.
Tickets, guided tours, gondola tours, day-trips… There are plenty of things to do in Venice. But the city is often packed with tourists, which is why Captain Ulysses recommend that you book your activities online and opt for skip-the-line tickets. The Captain suggests having a look at Musement and Tiqets, which are online platforms specialised in selling tourist activities worldwide.
Venice is synonymous gondola and vaporetto. As an accomplished sailor, Captain Ulysses can only recommend that you embark on a boat ride on the Venetian canals. But beware of cams: some gondoliers tend to take advantage of tourists! That’s why the Captain advises that you book your boat tour on a reputable website like here or here.
If you’re planning on visiting all of Venice’s top sights, Captain Ulysses recommends you to opt for a Citypass,which will give you access to a selection of the city’s must-see sights and monuments. There’s a variety of citypasses to choose from. Find out more here.
To get to Venice from the airport, you’ll have four poptions: the bus, the vaporetto (orange Alilaguna Arancio line), the taxi or the water taxi. It’s up to you to choose the option that works best for you! 🙂 Be aware, however, that the historic centre is pedestrian, and buses and taxis are not allowed to operate there.
Get ready to walk. The historic centre is not accessible to buses or cars. The local type of public transport is the vaporetto: boats travelling on the water. If you’re planning on using the vaporetto regularly (in Venice or to visit the surrounding islands like Murano and Burano), or if you are staying in Mestre and have to take the bus to Venice everyday, you might want to consider opting for a Public Transport Pass. You can book it here.
Venice is a city easily accessible by plane, train and bus. To book your plane tickets, Captain Ulysses recommends Skyscanner, which allows you to compare countless flights to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible. Overnight trains are also a great way to save time (and money) ! For more information, visit Trainline.com.