Whoever said that the best things in life are free was probably referring to getting lost in the cobbled maze of Venice, Italy. Just strolling through this magical city was one of my favorite parts of visiting Venice. If you have a few days in the city, check out my guide for best tourist attractions in Venice, Italy. Hope you enjoy!
#1 Soak in the splendor of St. Mark’s Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the best tourist attractions in Venice, Italy, and easily one of the most iconic sites. The cathedral church is located on the edge of Piazza San Marco, and is well known for its elaborate design and gold mosaic. Make sure to get up close and personal to check it out!
#2 Gaze out on the Venetian rooftops from St. Mark’s Campanile
St. Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of St. Marks’ Basilica. Hike up the stairs to get a panoramic view of the beautiful city. Lines can get pretty lengthy in the summer, so arrive early or invest in a skip the line ticket!
#3 Watch the sun go down & the lights come on in Piazza San Marco
One of my favorite things about Venice is watching all of the lights come on in St. Mark’s Square. Watch the sun disappear, night roll in, and the square come alive. The evening is one of the most beautiful times of day there.
#4 Cruise down the Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is basically like the aquatic Main Street of Venice—it’s the main thoroughfare of the city. It’s packed with water taxis, vaporettos, and gondolas all going about their days. The first thing I did upon arrival was to take a Grand Canal tour to get oriented with the city!
#5 Get a taste of authentic Venetian cuisine
For everyone that knows me, food is always a huge highlight of my trip. Savoring the local cuisine gets you in touch with the culture, and I’m not sure I’ve enjoyed that anywhere more than in Italy. I tasted pasta, antipasti, fresh seafood, gelato, you name it…you basically had to roll me out of dinner when I was done!
#6 Indulge in a gondola Ride
When you go to Venice, you should probably take a gondola ride. You see gondolas on postcards, on TV, in your dreams…you might as well splurge when you’re in the city itself. It’s easily one of the best tourist attractions in Venice, Italy!
#7 Visit the Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace is one of the best tourist attractions in Venice, Italy. Serving as the residence for the former Doge (aka Big Boss of Venice), it holds an immense amount of history. I did a Secret Tour of Doge’s Palace, where I got to see the room from which Casanova escaped, cross the Bridge of Sighs, and get sneak peeks into other hidden rooms. I’d definitely recommend the hidden itineraries tour, because it also lets you skip the line!
#8 Cross the Bridge of Sighs
When you make it to the Doge’s Palace, make sure to cross the Bridge of Sighs. The legend is that prisoners would sigh at their last view of Venice before being taken down to their cells. Honestly, with the stone lattice in the way you couldn’t see much though.
#9 Shop for hand-blown glass on Murano
If you have a few days in Venice, I would definitely recommend taking a trip to Murano and Burano. Murano has beautiful hand-blown glass, and one of the coolest things to do is watch a glass-blowing demonstration. I’m warning you, these demos are very hot (but also totally worth it)! On a side note, Murano is also where I found a calzone the size of my head, so it holds a very special place in my heart. You can either use the vaporetto (public ferry) to get to the island, or take a tour that will transport you to Murano and Burano.
#10 Experience Instagram heaven on Burano
I’ve already written a whole article on Burano and how absolutely in love I am with this little slice of paradise, so you’ll want to check out my guide for photo tips and transportation to and from the island. What I can promise is that you will 100% fall head over heels for Burano.
#11 Take a Walking Tour through “Hidden Venice”
Get off the main tourist thoroughfares and experience the true life of a Venetian. This is one of my top things to do in every city. The Castello neighborhood was one of my favorites, and I really felt like I could see everyday life on the island. Also, how can you not love adorable canals like this?!
#12 Drink like a Venetian
Venice has this fun drink called an Aperol Spritz or just “The Spritz.” The drink is made with prosecco, aperol, a bit of soda water, and an orange slice and is incredibly refreshing after a long day exploring the city. It does have a very unique taste, so before you go crazy and order 10 of them, make sure you like it first! (I liked it!)
#13 Lose the map and explore
This one was easy for me since I have no sense of direction and am usually lost. Take a stroll through the quiet streets, check out the canals, and soak in the pure Italian-ness of the city. I know a lot of people that have visited Venice have said they don’t like it…it’s too crowded, too smelly, etc. Honestly, I was there in July, and didn’t experience that at all. Sure, St. Mark’s Square was crowded, but after seeing the main attractions there, I explored the quieter areas and enjoyed what Venice had to offer. Venice may have been my favorite city in Italy…
#14 Experience Aperitivo Time
Italians (and myself) were a huge fan of this time of day. In the evening, everyone congregates for snacks (cicchetti) and drinks (oftentimes wine or spritz) as the day cools down. If you’re feeling hungry, hop on a cicchetti and wine bar tour with a local. It’s also easy to make your own!
Cheap flights: I’d recommend checking out Momondo. They scan tons of different travel discount sites and let you filter by cheapest, best, and shortest. Another good one to check out is eDreams.net —they often feature special flight deals.
Hotel Deals: My top choice is probably Priceline.com —I’ve found some insanely cheap (beautiful) hotels. Other sites I check are Expedia.com and the Hilton (for points). If you’re looking to avoid hotels and go the hostel route, I recommend checking out Hostelworld – there are plenty of options in Italy! My personal recommendation here is to do an Airbnb. I stayed in one along one of the quiet canals and had the most peaceful experience. (Use my link for savings on your first stay!)
My Venice Essentials
So, I hope you found this Venice, Italy guide helpful. I was somewhat skeptical going after hearing all of the mixed reviews, but I came out totally obsessed with the city. If you haven’t been, it should definitely be on your bucket list! Tell me—have you visited Venice, Italy and loved it as much as me? If not, what’s your favorite Italian city? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!