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Venice Italy Travel Guide: What to Do & See in Venice, Italy

Let's travel to: Venice, Italy

There is an air of mystery to Venice - from the gondolas to the masked figures. During Carnevale, this magical city transform and becomes even more surreal as it fills masked party-goers - posing, wandering and dancing.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Acqua alta is when the water levels are high and usually happens when tide is 9 am above normal height
  • Venice is sinking at the rate of 1-2 millimeters a year
  • The first public casino in the world was opened in Venice in 1638
  • There are 118 islands, 416 bridges, 177 canals and 127 squares in Venice

USEFUL INFORMATION

  • Language: Italian, English is widely spoken
  • Currency: Euro (€)
  • Tipping: optional, a cover charge “coperto” is often included
  • Transportation: Walk or water bus/taxi
  • Weather: Winters are cold and wet. Summers are extremely hot
  • What to expect: Venice can feel particularly crowded in the summer months. The early morning is the best time to soak in the city before everyone else wakes up and before tourists from nearby cities visit.

WHAT to do & see

  • Experience Carnevale from end of January to mid-February
    • When to go: Most excitement happens on the weekends (specifically the final weekend)
    • Where to go: St. Mark’s Square is where most festivities happen. You’ll see many people dressed up in extraordinary costumes, hoping for a chance to win best costume
    • Cost: There are no costs to join in on the festivities on the streets but parties and balls will cost extra and can get quite expensive. Visit the website for more detail 
    • What to wear: anything goes from masks to full-out costumes. Spend some time wandering through the shops to find the perfect mask
  • Wander and get lost - Venetian streets are pretty hard to navigate so you’ll find yourself getting lost anyways but getting lost isn’t so bad in Venice. You will find yourself in many charming and often-empty squares and streets. Instead of trying to find things in Venice, resolve to discovering them for yourselves.
  • Hire a gondolier - a cliche and experience but a trip to Venice isn’t complete without a gondola ride
    • What to expect: A short bit of the Grand Canal with a focus on the quiet enchanting side canals
    • Rates: from 8am - 7pm are 80 euros for 40 minutes (max 6 people)
      • In the evening, rates increase to base price of 100 euro
      • Additional fee to be serenaded by your gondolier (must be negotiated)
    • Venetian legend: lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge of Sighs as the bells of St. Mark’s Campanile ring.
  • Piazza San Marco - see three major sights in one square (St Mark’s basilica, Doge’s Palace, Torre dell’orologio).
    • Saint Mark’s Basilica - book entry time online (free)
      • Open from 9:45 am - 5:00 pm daily
      • Modest dress required
      • It’s a great view during carnevale of all of the people dressed up
    • Campanile, St Mark’s Basilica bell tower - go up to the top for the best view of the city
    • Doge’s Palace - admission fee for tour
      • Closes at 7:00pm in the summer, last entry at 6:00pm (closes 1.5 hrs earlier in the winter)
      • Walk across the Bridge of Sighs and see the prison cell from which Casanova famously escaped
    • Torre dell’Orologio - Clock tower in Venice, one of the most original buildings of the Venetian architecture
    • Caffé Florian - The oldest café bar in Venice, Caffé Florian enjoys a perfect location in Saint Mark’s Square
    • Tip: make sure to also visit the square at night when you can enjoy the orchestras with a drink on the square
  • Walk over the Rialto Bridge and check out the Rialto food market
  • Hop on board a vaporetto or water taxi and ride down the Grand Canal - ride the length of the canal and under the Rialto Bridge
  • Wander into boutiques and find your perfect mask
  • Museums
    • Accademia (Renaissance Venetian art, closes at 14:00 on Mon)
    • Peggy Guggenheim Collection (modern art, closed Tue, near Accademia)
    • Correr Museum (overview of Venetian art and history, ticket bought here includes Doge’s Palace; both on St. Mark’s Square)  

WHAT to eat

  • Best pasta: Dal moro's (take-away pasta)
    • Usually open from 3pm - 8pm
  • Best pizza: Rosso Pomodoro
  • Gelato: shop near Poste Fontego San Stae
  • Drink: Castello beer & lots of wine

Day Trips

  • Burano Island  - wander the streets through the brightly coloured buildings
    • Less crowded than Murano
    • Famous for lace and the brightly coloured buildings
  • Murano Island - known for the amazing glass-blowing demonstrations
    • A very unique experience to see glass blowing or how a glass sculpture is made but be warned that this is also a very touristy experience 
    • Closest so easiest to visit
    • Catch a vaporetto to Murano and walk around the studio
  • Torcello Island - the island of mosaics
    • Short trip from Burano
    • Most of Torcello is a nature reserve
    • Main reason for visiting the island is to see the spectacular Byzantine mosaics
    • Least touristy

LIST BY: CAROLYN CHEN

Carolyn Chen has done two backpacking trips around Europe and spent six months studying abroad in Italy. She loves finding the most beautiful scenery, hidden gems and indulging in great food. Find more posts by Carolyn here.

Follow her adventures on Instagram: @carolynjxchen

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