There is no city in the world quite like Venice, that’s for sure. This unique spot in north eastern Italy attracts millions of tourists each year, people desperate to experience a city where instead of roads there are canals, and instead of cabs there are water taxis. A visit to Venice is sure to be unforgettable, just because it’s such a mesmerizing place.
We were lucky enough to visit this amazing city as part of our Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas cruise. Venice was our start and end point so we had a few days before and after the cruise to explore this Italian city and discover some beautiful Venetian gems. And after much exploring here are our Top Things to do in Venice.
Visit Piazza San Marco
As one of the most famous squares in the world, no trip to Venice would be complete without stepping into Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark’s Square. Even though this spot is overrun with tourists all the time, especially in the summer months, it’s still worth visiting just to say you have witnessed the chaos. There are plenty of cafes here with you can sit, but beware that the prices sky rocket just because of the location, so the further you are away from the square the better in terms of affordability. It is well worth heading here at night, because there are far less people and when the square is all lit up it is nothing short of magical.
Go mask shopping
The legend of the masquerade is a huge part of Venice culture, and you’ll see dozens of shops selling traditional masks around every corner of the city. If you’re in Venice round Easter you might be in town for Venice Carnival, where hundreds of people hit the streets dressed up in traditional costume and wear masks. If not, you can simply settle for going into a mask shop and trying on some masks yourself. There are hundreds of variations of masks, from the terrifying to the hilarious, so definitely stop off in a few shops during your visit and take a look around.
Take a gondola ride
This is one of those things in Venice that you absolutely have to do whilst you’re there. In no other place in the world can you take a gondola ride quite like in Venice. Sit back and relax and you glide through the waters. If you’re lucky the gondolier you have might even speak some English and tell you about your surroundings and the important landmarks you pass. Even if that doesn’t happen, it’s an enchanting way to see the city and an experience you’ll never forget. Be aware though it is an expensive and expect to pay 80 euros for a ride.
Visit the Rialto Bridge
There are plenty of bridges in Venice for you to wander across, but one of the best has to be Rialto Bridge. It is one of four than span the Grand Canal, and the oldest of these four. It’s a beautiful structure to behold from afar, and it’s also worth getting up close and walking over it, even though it’s another one of those Venice attractions that is packed full of tourists most of the time. There are little shops that line both sides of the bridge, which are full with mostly tourist bits and bobs or expensive jewellery.
Sip coffee and people watch
There are many little squares in Venice that you will stumble upon as you wander through the city. If you’re in the mood for relaxing, take some time to pick a little cafe in one of these squares and sit back and people watch. As the buildings are so picturesque and the atmosphere so unique, just being able to sit back and absorb it all is a must-do activity.
Visit Burano Island
If you want a change of pace and scenery, a day trip to Burano will give you just that. The little island situated about 40 minutes by boat away from Venice is famous for its bright colored houses, which are very different from the identical streets in central Venice. Burano only has a population of less than 3,000 people, so it’s a change from the hordes and crowds you would have no doubt experienced in the middle of Venice. It’s not a place packed full of things to do, simply a nice spot to admire the little houses and walk through for an afternoon.
Get lost in the tiny streets
You would be extremely lucky if you managed to visit Venice and not get lost at least once. Due to the miniscule streets and the lack of signage, you really have to have a photographic memory when it comes to navigating your way through Venice. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, throw your navigating skills outs the window for one afternoon and allow yourself to get lost in Venice’s tiny streets. Go wherever you feel the city is taking you, and that way you might even stumble on something that you may never have seen otherwise. If you’re going to inevitably get lost anyway, why not embrace it? Another bonus is that the further you stay from the touristy areas the more you have the place to yourself. Now you can soak up the real Italian feel.
Eat pizza and drink wine
It would be rude not to, now wouldn’t it? We’ve talked about how much we love Italian cuisine a lot in the past, so this point must go on almost every post we write about Italy. Just as you should sit in a square and sip coffee in Venice, you should also take one evening to do exactly the same with pizza and wine, and of course follow that up with gelato. The tiny streets of Venice are packed full of incredible places to eat where you will find just that, but if you’re in the city in the summer months, make the most of the warm evenings and sit outside in a square for dinner.
Climb the Bell Tower
Along with gondolas and bridges, the Bell Tower in Piazza San Marco is one of the iconic images of Venice. Even though this city really is at its most captivating when you discover it on foot, a trip to the top of the Bell Tower gives you another angle, and here you can look out over the rooftops and to the Grand Canal beyond. The tower has been replicated many times all over the world, but this one in Venice is the real deal, and well worth a visit if you’re in the city.
Charter a yacht
Venice is well known to be the city on water and we have all seen James Bond cruising along the canals in a speed boat. I really enjoyed the harbour where moorings for yacht charter were available and provided me the memories I had on Quantum of Solace and the Italian Job when they have motor yachts slipping through the city canals. It was extremely beautiful to see and I would really love to return.
Do you have any suggestions for the Top Things to do in Venice Italy?