19 Unmissable Things to Do in Venice

Venice, with its historic canals, glistening waters, and maze-like alleys, is a city that promises countless adventures. Things to do in Venice range from cultural experiences to simple joys of savoring gelato by a canal. This article endeavors to unveil the top attractions and activities that make Venice so mesmerizing, helping you curate your perfect Venetian experience.

See the List below 19 Unmissable Things to Do in Venice;

1. Tour the Grand Canal on a Gondola

20 Unmissable Things to Do in Venice

There’s no better way to introduce yourself to Venice than by floating through its main artery, the Grand Canal. Spanning over 3.8 km, this waterway epitomizes the heart of Venice. As you glide down the canal on a gondola, you’ll see historic palazzos, bustling marketplaces, and locals leading their day-to-day life. Hiring a knowledgeable gondolier can provide enriching insights into the stories and legends associated with the buildings that line the canal. Besides the iconic views, one of the things to do in Venice is to let the rhythm of the oar hitting the water set the tone for your Venetian sojourn.

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2. Visit St. Mark’s Basilica

20 Unmissable Things to Do in Venice

St. Mark’s Basilica, a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, stands as a testament to Venice’s affluent past. With domes adorned with gold mosaics and floors laid with intricate marble patterns, this basilica is a visual feast. A tour inside reveals art, treasures, and relics that weave tales of Venice’s political and trade prowess. No list of things to do in Venice would be complete without marveling at the Pala d’Oro, the golden altarpiece, which is one of the most refined and accomplished works of Byzantine craftsmanship.

3. Stroll Around Piazza San Marco

20 Unmissable Things to Do in Venice

Often touted as “Europe’s drawing room,” Piazza San Marco is Venice’s principal public square. A leisurely walk reveals historic cafés where classical music often fills the air, the imposing Campanile tower from where the views are panoramic, and of course, the bustling activity of both locals and tourists. One of the joyous things to do in Venice is to sit at a café, sip on an authentic Italian espresso, and watch the world go by.

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4. Climb the Campanile for a Panoramic View

20 Unmissable Things to Do in Venice

Standing at 98.6 meters, the Campanile di San Marco is one of Venice’s most recognizable landmarks. The climb (or elevator ride) to the top is rewarded with unrivaled views of Venice’s red rooftops, winding canals, and far-off islands. We recommend visiting during sunset when the city is bathed in a golden hue. It’s one of those things to do in Venice that offers both a physical journey and a visual treat.

5. Explore Doge’s Palace

20 Unmissable Things to Do in Venice

The Doge’s Palace, or Palazzo Ducale, once housed Venice’s rulers and was the heart of its political and administrative functions. Its Gothic architecture, courtyards, grand staircases, and opulent chambers make it an architectural marvel. However, the palace is not just about beauty; it’s steeped in history. The prison cells tell tales of plots and treacheries, and the Bridge of Sighs, connecting the interrogation rooms to the prison, is a poignant reminder of Venice’s strict judicial system. Exploring this palace is among the top things to do in Venice for history buffs.

6. Experience the Rialto Bridge and Market

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One of the city’s most iconic structures, the Rialto Bridge, gracefully arches over the Grand Canal, offering a picturesque vantage point. As you walk over its steps, you’re greeted by myriad shops selling curios and trinkets. It’s not just a bridge; it’s an emblem of Venice’s commercial heartbeat. But the experience doesn’t end there. Just a stone’s throw away lies the bustling Rialto Market. A feast for the senses, this market is where you can experience the culinary palette of Venice firsthand. From fresh seafood that still smells of the salty sea to the vibrant hues of locally sourced vegetables, it’s one of the most delightful things to do in Venice for food enthusiasts.

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7. Discover the Hidden Gems of Burano and Murano Islands

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While Venice itself is a marvel, the surrounding islands of Burano and Murano offer a different charm. Murano, renowned worldwide for its exquisite glass-making traditions, allows visitors to watch craftsmen breathe life into molten glass, shaping them into intricate masterpieces. On the other hand, Burano, with its riot of colorful houses reflected in the serene waters, looks like a canvas come alive. Beyond the colors, it’s famed for its centuries-old lace-making craft. Taking a boat ride to these islands is not just a journey across waters, but a voyage through time, making it one of the must-do things to do in Venice.

8. Visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

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The Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice” by Kalboz is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

For art aficionados, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection offers a respite from Venice’s historic art and provides a deep dive into modern art. Housed within the unfinished Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the museum showcases a rich array of modern art from the personal collection of the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim. From Picasso to Pollock, the walls of this museum whisper tales of the 20th-century avant-garde movement. One of the enriching things to do in Venice is to stroll through these galleries, letting the abstract brush strokes evoke emotions and thoughts.

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9. Experience an Authentic Venetian Mask Making Workshop

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Venice is synonymous with its iconic masks. Whether it’s the Carnival of Venice or a themed ball, masks hold a special place in the city’s cultural fabric. However, beyond wearing them, the true magic lies in crafting one. Across Venice, various workshops offer hands-on experience in mask-making. Here, you not only learn the history and significance of these masks but also imbibe the craft from local artisans. Engaging in mask-making, understanding the nuances of design, color, and texture, and then having a tangible memory to take back, is one of the most personal things to do in Venice.

10. Take a Historical Walking Tour

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Walking through the labyrinthine alleys of Venice is like navigating through the pages of a rich historical novel. Guided historical walking tours offer the most immersive way to explore Venice, as every corner whispers tales of the past. From stories of ancient Venetian lords to the architectural marvels that stand as testaments to Venice’s grandeur, every step is a revelation. Tour guides often share anecdotes, legends, and historical snippets that aren’t found in typical guidebooks. Walking on the same cobblestones that have witnessed centuries of history is undoubtedly one of the most enlightening things to do in Venice.

11. Watch a Vivaldi Concert at La Fenice Opera

Venice and Vivaldi are inseparably intertwined. The city reverberates with the symphonies of this Baroque maestro. La Fenice Opera, a phoenix that rose from the ashes (literally, after multiple fires), is the epitome of Venice’s indomitable spirit and its rich musical heritage. Dressed in gold and adorned with chandeliers, its interiors are as melodious as the notes that fill its hall. Witnessing a Vivaldi concert here, as the intricate compositions flow seamlessly with the acoustics, is one of those things to do in Venice that appeals to both the ears and the soul.

12. Dine by the Canals

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The Venetian culinary landscape is as vast and deep as its canals. From crispy cicchettis (Venetian tapas) to the rich flavors of risotto al nero di seppia (squid ink risotto), Venetian cuisine is a delightful play of ingredients. And what better way to enjoy it than dining by the canals? Waterfront restaurants, with their candlelit tables, offer the dual pleasure of delectable food accompanied by views of gondolas gliding by. The gentle ripple of water, the distant serenade of a gondolier, and a plate of fritto misto (mixed fried seafood) in front – it’s one of those things to do in Venice that tantalizes all senses.

13. Visit the Jewish Ghetto and Museum

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The Venetian Jewish Ghetto, established in 1516, stands as a poignant reminder of the city’s complex past. This area, where Jews were compelled to live, is rich in history and stories of resilience. Today, the ghetto is a vibrant neighborhood with synagogues, kosher restaurants, and shops. The Jewish Museum, situated here, offers insights into the history, culture, and traditions of the Venetian Jewish community. Walking through the museum and the ghetto, understanding the intricate tapestry of stories and events, is among the educational things to do in Venice.

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14. Hop On a Vaporetto to the Lido Beach

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Beyond the historic alleys and grand palazzos, Venice offers a serene escape – the Lido Beach. A quick vaporetto (water bus) ride transports you from the bustling city to this 11km long sandy stretch. Known for hosting the Venice Film Festival, Lido provides a relaxing seaside ambiance, a stark contrast to the city’s maze-like structure. Sunbathing, enjoying the gentle waves, and savoring seafood at a beachside trattoria, are some of the rejuvenating things to do in Venice.

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15. Explore the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

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Dedicated to St. Roch, the patron saint of plague victims, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco stands as a masterpiece of Tintoretto’s artistry. Every inch of its walls and ceilings narrate tales of biblical passages through the master’s brush strokes. As you wander through the rooms, the artist’s narrative style brings to life scenes from the Old and New Testament, making you feel as though you’re stepping into the pages of a grand pictorial Bible. Taking your time to absorb the intricate details of each painting, while appreciating Tintoretto’s genius, is one of the most inspiring things to do in Venice for art enthusiasts.

16. Revel in the Festivities of the Venice Carnival

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If there’s a time when Venice transforms into a riot of colors, masks, and festivity, it’s during the annual Carnival. The streets come alive with parades, masquerade balls, live music, and dance performances. Everywhere you look, there are ornate masks, from the simple to the truly opulent, each telling its own story. Participating in the Carnival, either as a spectator or by donning a mask and costume yourself, offers an unparalleled Venetian experience. If you happen to be in Venice during this time, immersing in the Carnival’s euphoria is undeniably one of the most unforgettable things to do in Venice.

17. Traverse the Lesser-Known Canals in a Kayak

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While gondolas are the traditional mode of Venetian water transport, kayaking provides a more intimate and adventurous way to explore the city. Paddling through the smaller, less-traveled canals offers a unique perspective of Venice, away from the tourist hustle. With each stroke, you’re privy to lesser-seen views of historic homes, bridges, and bylanes. For those seeking both tranquility and a bit of adventure, kayaking is one of those things to do in Venice that combines the best of both.

18. Indulge in Venetian Gelato

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What’s a trip to Italy without indulging in authentic gelato? Venice, with its myriad gelaterias, promises a delightful gelato journey. Whether it’s classic flavors like stracciatella or unique ones like rose and basil, every scoop is a creamy embrace of quality ingredients. Taking a leisurely evening walk, gelato in hand, while watching the sunset over the canals, is one of those simple yet profound things to do in Venice. Each flavor not only tantalizes the taste buds but also offers a sensory insight into Italian dessert traditions.

19. Marvel at Contemporary Art in the Venice Biennale

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Modern Primitives Venice Biennale” by ArandaLasch is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

For art connoisseurs, the Venice Biennale is akin to a pilgrimage. Held every two years, this contemporary art exhibition attracts artists, curators, and enthusiasts from across the globe. With installations, exhibitions, and events spread across the city, the Biennale transforms Venice into a global art hub. Exploring the myriad artworks, engaging in discussions, and understanding the pulse of contemporary art trends makes attending the Biennale one of the most enriching things to do in Venice.

From its historic alleys to its global art platforms, from its traditional gondolas to its modern-day festivities, Venice is a city of contrasts, where the past and the present seamlessly intertwine. With our curated list of things to do in Venice, we hope you find your own rhythm in the city, cherishing moments both grand and intimate. After all, Venice is not just a destination; it’s an emotion, waiting to be felt, one canal at a time.

Traveling isn’t just about places, it’s about experiences. I’m Sachin, curating unique tales of exploration at Voyage Roams. Journey with me!

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