8 Top things to do in Venice Italy an insider’s guide; Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, and there are many reasons why it attracts so many visitors each year.
From the historic architecture to the food and wine, it’s easy to see why so many people want to experience Venice first-hand.
But what are the top things to do in Venice? Here’s our list of the most popular activities that every visitor should experience at least once when they visit this beautiful Italian city.
1) Get lost
One of the best things to do in Venice is to simply get lost. Stroll through the narrow streets and alleyways and explore all the hidden corners of this beautiful city.
You’ll stumble upon charming cafes, shops, and squares that you would have never found if you stuck to the main tourist routes.
There are few better ways to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Venice than by taking a stroll through its backstreets.
The city has so much more than just canals and gondolas to offer. It’s filled with beautiful buildings and outdoor areas that will impress you from every angle.
2) Watch the sunset from St. Mark’s Square
There’s nothing quite like watching the sunset from St. Mark’s Square in Venice. The square is beautiful at any time of day, but it’s especially stunning when the sun is setting. Make sure to arrive a few minutes early to get a good spot.
And don’t forget to take some pictures! Venice is one of those cities that looks amazing no matter what angle you’re looking at it from.
I recommend starting your evening by taking a ride on the water taxi around the canals and along the Grand Canal. It’s not only scenic but also provides lots of photo opportunities.
As you’re getting closer to sunset head back into town and find your way to St. Mark’s Square.
Once there, walk around so you can experience all aspects of this famous plaza; from its cafés with their delicious cappuccinos and croissants to its striking columns and religious artwork on display in abundance here.
Don’t forget about the pigeons they will be making themselves known as soon as they sense someone with food approaching them so be warned.
As you approach 6 pm you’ll see people moving their chairs back towards their tables as if it was some unspoken rule take a seat and make sure you’re there for sunset.
When that sun finally goes down every person on St. Mark’s Square will be standing up applauding and cheering. It’s quite a sight to behold.
3) See a performance at La Fenice Opera House
La Fenice Opera House is one of the most beautiful theaters in the world. It was destroyed by fire in 1996 but rebuilt and reopened in 2004.
If you’re lucky enough to see a performance here, you’ll be treated to amazing acoustics and a truly unique experience.
La Fenice is a small venue that can only seat 886 people. Tickets aren’t cheap, so it’s best to book early if you want to see your favorite artist or opera group perform here.
The theater offers concessions such as snacks and drinks, but you are free to bring your refreshments.
Unfortunately, you cannot visit La Fenice unless you’re seeing a performance, the theater is closed on most days.
It’s difficult to get tickets for La Fenice; you’ll need to plan, the box office opens 90 days before any show begins and only allows people who are at least 16 years old.
If you’re able to secure a ticket, we recommend arriving about an hour early so you can check out La Fenice before your performance. See below for more details.
In addition to La Fenice Opera House, other cultural venues are located near Saint Mark’s Square, for example, you can stop by The Bridge of Sighs (pictured below) and get a look at historical prison cells when you’re in town, see below for more details.
4) Visit a museum or gallery
The first stop on any trip to Venice should be the Gallerie dell’Accademia, which houses one of the world’s finest collections of Venetian art.
If you’re interested in Italian Renaissance art, make sure to also visit the Palazzo Ducale, which has a great collection of paintings by Titian and Tintoretto.
For something a bit different, head to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which features modern art from the likes of Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock.
It’s housed in an 18th-century palace that once belonged to Peggy Guggenheim herself, who was known for her love of contemporary art.
Other options include Ca’ Pesaro (Venice’s Museo Delle Cere), Ca’ Rezzonico (a former aristocratic residence), and the Pallazo Cámara Museum (which showcases a huge range of arts including painting, sculpture, and architecture), and Museo Fortuny (which displays decorative arts).
Don’t forget about architecture lovers! While Ca’ d’Oro is probably one of Venice’s most famous palaces, there are many other impressive buildings to admire around town.
For instance, don’t miss Palazzo Grassi or Palazzo Mocenigo (both of which are Renaissance-era residences).
If you’re interested in art nouveau and art deco architecture then try San Samuele Church or Palazzo del Cinema on Giudecca.
Also, don’t miss Punta Della Dogana and Punta Della Sinagoga for two great pieces of contemporary art near San Marco Square. There’s no better way to wrap up your day than with a glass of wine at one of Venice’s many rooftop bars overlooking the canals below.
5) Watch Venetian masks being made
There’s something magical about Venetian masks, they have the power to transform anyone who wears them into a completely different person.
If you’re curious about how these masks are made, you can watch artisans create them at several shops around the city.
Seeing the process from start to finish is fascinating and will give you a new appreciation for these works of art.
The process begins with creating a piece of paper-mache paste that’s molded into the desired shape.
Next, liquid plaster is mixed with water and applied to form a thin layer on top of the pasta until it hardens.
Finally, the mask-maker cuts out intricate details with paint or engraving tools before applying glitter or sequins to make it more beautiful. After it dries, they use strong string (or wire) to tie it around your head so that you can wear it.
6) Try some local street food
One of the best things about street food is that it’s a great way to try local dishes without having to commit to a full meal. And in Venice, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from.
Here are some of our favorites
- stands specializing in gondola ride snacks: for €4-5 you can buy polenta chips and pork ribs, which are typically served as late-night snacks on those long gondola rides.
- Frozen custard stands Venetians like their gelato icy cold, so head over to one of these stands if you’re looking for a chilly treat!
- Corn on the cob: another typical street food offered by Venetian vendors at this time of year (although not strictly Venetian) is corn on the cob; we recommend stopping by one of the many corn roasters along the Rialto Bridge or Santa Croce area and buying one or two fresh cobs.
- Cornettos: these chocolate pastries are another crowd favorite and have been a local favorite for centuries. But if you’re looking for a more exotic sweet treat, look no further than Fiorentina (Venice’s version of zeppole) or tagliatelle.
In conclusion, there’s no doubt that Venice is a beautiful and unique city.
With its canals, gondolas, and bridges, it’s worth a visit, and with so many things to see and do, you’ll never be bored.
If you want to avoid the crowds, head out of town for the day or explore the outskirts of Venice by boat or bus, don’t forget to carry along with your camera