Venice is one of our favorite spots in Italy. Why? Venice is romantic, historic, and gorgeous. It is also small and compact, perfect to be explored with just a few days time. The list of sites to visit in Venice is long. So long, in fact, that it would take days to see all of them. Most people have just a few days in this magical city.
The Italian city of Venice (Venezia) is located on the Adriatic Sea in the northeast of the country. The city in Italy is divided into six districts and some of the most famous islands are Lido di Venezia, Murano and Burano. The special thing about your visit of Venice city is that there are no normal roads in the city. There is one long bridge between the mainland and Venice, with only one road and a railway. Every other transportation runs via the famous canals – of which there are about 177 – to and from the more then a hundred islands that makes up Venice. The Canal Grande is one of the widest canals and apart from a touristic gondola you can also opt for a water bus (Vaporetto) to get around in the city.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN VENICE
Put down your map and just wander. Forget the big, popular sites (we will get to those soon). The smaller canals off of the main tourist trail are perfect for wandering.
The main city of Venice is small enough that you can walk it in several hours. Explore the canals, sit and relax in the small squares that punctuate the city, go cafe-hopping for coffee or wine, and just enjoy this city without feeling like you have to check a bunch of sites off of your to-do list.
St. Mark’s Square is the heart of Venice. From here you can easily visit most of the other main sites. The best things to do here? Take a 360° panorama photo and go people watching.
The Campanile is the bell tower that dominates the skyline of Venice. The only way to the top is by elevator. From the top, your reward is one of the best views of the city.
Spanning the Grand Canal, the Ponte di Rialto is Venice’s most popular bridge. From the top of the bridge, enjoy another fantastic, iconic view of this city. See it at sunrise, see it at sunset, join the crowds of tourists in the middle of the day. Watching the gondolas, vaporettos, and ferries travel up and down the Grand Canal from this spot is mesmerizing.
Expect to share this space with a lot of other travelers. Find a spot, take lots of selfie photos, and smile because you are in Venice!
Yes, it may be cliché and super-touristy, but in our opinion, a visit to Venice would not be complete without a gondola ride through the canals.
The Doges’ Palace is a palace built in Venetian Gothic styles. For centuries, this building served as the residence for the Doge, the seat of the government, and a palace of justice. Now, it is a museum. Without a doubt, a visit to the Doges’ Palace is a must-have experience in Venice. The history that took place here is incredible. Touring this palace is one of the best things to do in Venice.
You can tour the Palace on your own or book a guided tour. As you tour the Palace, you will have more fantastic views of Venice. One of the most unique views of Venice is from the Bridge of Sighs. From this window, prisoners on their way to execution would have this final view of the city.
So, you walked across the Bridge of Sighs from the Doges’ Palace. Now it is time to view the Bridge of Sighs from outside the Doges’ Palace.
Go for a stroll along Riva degli Schiavoni, which is a wide promenade that runs along the Venetian Lagoon near Doge’s Palace. As you cross Ponte della Paglia look down the canal for the iconic view of the Bridge of Sighs.
This is another landmark of Venice that is not to be missed.
St. Mark’s Basilica dates back to the 9th century AD. Over the course of eight centuries, mosaics were added to the interior of the cathedral, as well as treasures from the Crusades. The Pala d’Oro is a Byzantine alter piece that is covered in gold and studded with almost 2,000 gems.
What is a vaporetto? Basically, it is a water bus that takes passengers from point to point. Most people use the vaporetto as a way to travel between the main sites. For a cheap but fantastic way to tour the Grand Canal, ride the vaporetto from the lagoon through the Grand Canal, past the Rialto Bridge, all the way to the train station.
Take the No. 1 vaporetto (ACTV) Linea 1 from Piazzale Roma to Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). If you want, this vaporetto travels all of the way to Lido Island. It also runs in both directions, so if you are coming from Lido Island, you can ride the vaporetto across the lagoon and down the entire Grand Canal.
From Ponte dell’Accademia, you have one of the best views of the Grand Canal. This old, wooden bridge is not one of prettier bridges in town but the view from here is stunning.
Look east along the Grand Canal. You will be able to see the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, a 400-year-old church that is a famous Venetian landmark. This bridge also a great spot to watch as gondolas, water buses, and taxis drift up and down the Grand Canal.
HOW MANY DAYS SHOULD YOU SPEND IN VENICE?
Ideally, plan on spending two or more days in Venice.
BEST TIME TO VISIT VENICE
In general, spring and fall are the best times of the year to visit Venice. During this time, the weather is great for sightseeing and crowds tend to be lower than the busy summer months. But here is a breakdown by season of what you can expect in Venice:
WINTER: It’s cold in Venice during the winter months. Daytime high’s average around 7°C (in the mid-40’s) and it can get down to freezing at night. However, this is the driest time of the year. Crowds are also at their lowest, so if you want to visit Venice without the crowds, this is the time to go…just pack your winter coat. Carnavale is one of Venice’s biggest festivals and takes place at the end of February, ending on Mardi Gras.
SPRING: As the weather warms up in the spring, rain chances also go up. Spring is one of the wettest seasons to visit Venice, but not quite as rainy as the fall months. In early spring, the high temperature is 13°C (55°F) and it continues to get warmer week by week, reaching an average high of 21°C (70°F) by June.
SUMMER: Expect big crowds and hot weather during the summer months. Daily high temperatures average 28°C (82°F) but can get up much higher than this (sometimes getting over 35°C/95°F). However, rainfall is low. Summer is the most popular time to visit Venice, so crowds will be at their highest. If you plan to visit in the summer months, make your hotel reservations far in advance and purchase skip-the-line tickets if possible. And book a hotel with air conditioning, just in case you are here during a heat wave.
FALL: In early fall, crowds can still be high, not really quieting down until the end of October. Daytime high’s range from 21°C (70°F) in early fall and cooling off to 13°C (55°F) by late fall. Autumn is the wettest time to visit Venice (late September through early November), so bring an umbrella if you plan to be here at this time.
VERDICT: We think the best time to visit Venice is from late-April through May. The weather is nice, spring break is over, and crowds are manageable. If you don’t mind chilly weather, March into April would also be a nice time to visit Venice, just try to avoid the Easter holiday.
VENICE FLOODS: Between the months of October and January, water levels in the Venetian Lagoon can rise, flooding St. Mark’s Square. This is called acqua alta, or “high water” and typically lasts a few days each year.
Allora andiamo in italia!