Considered one of the most unique and romantic cities in the world, a trip to Venice should be on everyone’s bucket list. Its timeless beauty, history, renaissance architecture and delicious food attract millions of visitors every year, making it one of the most popular and sought after destinations to tick off your Europe bucket list.
Venice is probably the most crowded city in Europe, especially in the summertime high season but it’s easy to lose the crowds, just head away from Piazza San Marco. Areas such as Cannaregio, Dorsoduro, Castello and Giudecca are full of some awe-inspiring spots with not a single tourist in sight. The million-dollar question is however when to visit Venice and this really depends on your preferences. Winter is cold, wet and sees some flooding, while autumn is perfect if you’d like to see Venice in the fog. Spring is a great time to visit and summer is hot and busy.
Venice is absolutely charming and best explored on foot and by water taxi. Get lost in it’s magical, crumbling alleyways without a map or compass, simply walk and see where you get to- it’s all part of the experience. Enjoy the Grand Canal on a gondola, marvel at St Mark’s Square, visit a world-class museum and dine on pizza, Venetian tapas and spritz. There is no wrong way to visit this delightful and dreamily romantic city, just book your ticket and go.
Venice is compact and most sites and bucket list experiences are walkable and it’s easily seen in 2-4 days. Here is my list of the top Venice bucket list experiences that are an absolute must for that perfectly illusory trip to Venice
VISIT SAN MARCO SQUARE AND THE BASILICA
The number one attraction in almost any Venice bucket list guide, St Mark’s Square has to be one of the most, if not, the most famous square in the world. It’s been the centre of Venetian art, trade and commerce for hundreds of years- even the Doge decided to erect his Palace here. Walk through the square and around the gallery marvelling at the old cafes and Venetian mask stores, admire St Mark’s Basicila and it’s impressive mosaics from the outside as well as the imposing 16th-century cathedral tower. Next, go into the Basilica and admire all the gold and centuries of hard work and artistic skill.
FLOAT ALONG THE GRAND CANAL
There are many ways to take in the Grand Canal but the best has by far got to be float on it. Take a gondola, Venetian water taxi or a Vaporetto and marvel at some of the most iconic facades of Venetian architecture, gaze at the cute docks, piers, cafes and restaurants and admire all the bridges along the way.
Headed to Venice with little time? Check out The Ultimate Venice One day Itinerary | Best Things to Do in Venice, Italy
EAT TAKE AWAY PIZZA BY A CANAL
There’s nothing more Italian than pizza and nothing more Venetian than a canal. Put the two together and you have an unforgettable, whole-heartedly Italian bucket list experience. Head to my favourite pizza place Pizza 2000, grab a classic margarita to go and head to a nearby canal to sit and eat it, watching the gondolas go by.
PHOTOGRAPH THE BRIDGE OF SIGHTS
Probably one of the first sights you’ll see but the view from the Bridge of Sights was one of the last prisoners saw as they crossed this bridge from the interrogation rooms to the doge’s prison next door. The bridge has a bleak past but is now one of the most iconic symbols of Venice. Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
On a baking summer’s day in Italy, nothing beats a gelato break. Head to Insta famous Gelatoteca Suso, which really is some of the best gelato you’ll find in the city. There are also many vegan options so it gets a thumbs up from us.
VISIT THE DOGE’S PALACE
The doge, elected by the aristocracy of Venice was the ruler or king of the city-state of Venice from the 8th Century, a custom that lasted for one thousand years. A visit to this palace is unmissable for learning about Venetian history, architecture, opulence, customs and arts.
TAKE A GONDOLA RIDE
A ride on the symbolic gondola is a must when in Venice, I mean where else in the world are you going to do it? The feeling of floating on the water, manoeuvring through the narrow canals and enjoying the views from the water is like stepping back into a lavish, bygone era. They are expensive but oh, so worth it. Gondola stations are located throughout the city so try to move away from St. Mark’s Square to negotiate a cheaper rate.
STROLL ACROSS RIALTO BRIDGE
The most famous bridge in Venice and one of the five to cross the Grand Canal. This bridge is wider than many and contains a mix of traditional and touristy shops on it. A marvellous place to take a seat, rest those tired legs and watch the water traffic go by.
Located in the north of the Venetian lagoon, a 40-minute Vaporetto ride from St. Mark’s Square Burano has recently gained more and more popularity for its colourful houses. Many local people live here too so it’s a chance to mingle with the locals, people watch and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Just north of Venice lies Murano a group of seven islands famous for its glass. It’s an unmissable spot to visit to find out more about Venetian glass and see it being made. It’s also a lovely place to get away from the crowds of Venice, relax, and stroll it’s very own canals.
DRINK AN APEROL SPRITZ
You’re in the birthplace of the classic cocktail so, why on earth not?
OOGLE AT THE CA’ D’ORO PALACE
One of the oldest and best surviving examples of Venetian Gothic architecture- if you only have time to see one palace this should be it. It has one of the most elaborate and pretty facades facing onto the Grand Canal which used to be decorated in gilt and polychrome, thus the name, ‘oro’ meaning gold. Explore inside and look out for the intricate 15th Century ceiling carvings and fantastic floor tiles.
VISIT THE GALLERIA DELL’ ACCADEMIA
The centre of pre-19th-century Italian art in Venice the Galleria dell’Accademia is the place to go for your dose of Italian masterpieces. Containing priceless works by Italian masters such as Bellini, Tintoretto and Titian among others it’s a must for not just art lovers.
RIDE A WATER TAXI
If the Vaporetto doesn’t quite live up to your Venetian transport expectations, take a water taxi, a much fast, stylish and chic way of getting around.
VISIT THE BIENNALE
The Venice Biennale is one of the most prestigious contemporary art events in the world that happens in Venice every other year between May and November. If you’re in Venice during the Biennale, checking out the central pavilions and scouting out some artwork is a must.
EAT VENETIAN TAPAS
Cicchetti are Venice’s answer to tapas and they are an incredible way to eat while sightseeing in Venice. Simply stroll from one ‘bacari’ to another while taking in the sights on the way. Cicchetti are made with a slice of baguette on which many different toppings are placed from salami to grilled veggies. Pair this with a spritz or a cold glass of white wine and you’re ready to go.
BASILICA DI SANTA MARIA DELLA SALUTE
One of the largest and most impressive Basilicas in Venice, the Salute Basicilca can’t be missed towards the exit of the Grand Canal. Take the Vaporetto over to the other side and admire it’s amazing door and intricate carvings and details up close.
MARVEL AT THE PEGGY GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION
Another of the unmissable museums in Venice for 20th Century European and American art, this Guggenheim collection is on a par with that of New York. Marvel at the masterpieces of what is considered to be one of the most important eras for art.
COFFEE AT CAFFE FLORIAN
Located on St. Mark’s Square this rather expensive and touristy cafe looks like it hasn’t changed in a few hundred years. Be awed by the splendid Baroque furniture, the old, Italian paintings on the walls and the flamboyant touches. Stop for a simple coffee just to feel what Venice would have been like all those years ago.
Any questions about your Venice bucket list experience? Feel free to leave your questions or comments below.
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