Things To Do And See In Venice Italy

Built on water and marshland, Venice is not just an amazing city, it is also a feat of engineering and determination. The city's famous canals serve as its main streets, traveled by a variety of boats, including the famous gondolas. The largest canal is the Grand Canal that snakes it's way trough Venice.

Venice is a walking city. There really isn't any other way to get around. The only time you won't be walking is when you take the vaporetto (water bus) between the train station and Piazza San Marco, go on long hauls to outlying islands, or shell out big bucks for a private taxi acquei (water taxi).

Because there is only one driving way into Venice a lot of people take the train. The train drops you off right on the Grand Canal and from there you can get on a Water Taxi or just walk to your favorite places.

Every time we went to Venice we drove. When you are driving over the bridge, as you get closer to Venice, you can see the Tronchetto parking garage. We enjoyed this parking garage because it's safe, it's not in the center of the tourists, it's right next to the cruise ships coming and going, there are Water Taxi's here and I thought it was a reasonable price for an all day parking spot. It cost 21 Euro for 6 to 24 hours. It was well worth it and knowing our vehicle wouldn't get towed or anything was a huge relief too!

Venice Italy

A markerTronchetto -
Tronchetto, 30135 Tronchetto Province of Venice, Italy
[get directions]

The parking garage for Venice Italy. Excellent place to park your car while you explore Venice.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My, my husband and my Mom in Saint Marc SquareMy dad feeding the pigeonsMy husband had a friend that wouldn't leave
My, my husband and my Mom in Saint Marc Square
My, my husband and my Mom in Saint Marc Square | Source
My dad feeding the pigeons
My dad feeding the pigeons | Source
My husband had a friend that wouldn't leave
My husband had a friend that wouldn't leave | Source

Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica)

No church in Europe is more lavishly decorated, more exquisitely mosaicked, more glittering with gold then Venice's San Marco. Dating back to the 11th century, the originally Byzantine architecture and decoration now includes Romanesque and Gothic touches, too.

A few basic do's and don'ts when visiting St. Mark's

  • Dress appropriately - that means no bare shoulders or knees (no shorts, short skirts, or tank tops)
  • Keep silent (it is a church)
  • No photography is permitted inside the church. However, outside photography is highly recommended!

There is over 40,000 square feet of gold-backed mosaics crafted between the 12th and 17th centuries that cover the church's atrium, ceilings, walls, and multiple domes. The oldest were created by Eastern masters, and later ones were based on works by Tintoretto, Veronese, and Titian. The floor carries on a mosaic feel with its wonderfully spiraling marble tiles.

The only disappointing aspect of this wonderful area is it's immense popularity. You could be pushed through the whole church in as little as 20 minutes! But no matter how much time you spend on the inside of the church it will be an amazing and unforgettable experience.

Right outside the Basilica is a huge piazza where the tourists love to hang out. There are open air restaurants and souvenir places all over. They also set up a lot of concerts in this area and when Carnival is going on this is where it all happens! The easiest way to describe Piazza San Marco is a gathering place filled to the brim with milling visitors, swarms of hungry pigeons, locals enjoying espresso at outdoor cafes, and couples dancing on the cobblestones to the strains of live piano music.

My favorite part about the piazza is the pigeons! We learned after our first time there that you can't go to the piazza without some sort of bread. Even if you go to the cafe and keep a piece or two for the pigeons, it's totally worth it! In the video to the right is my dad Ron feeding the pigeons. It really is amazing how they will just flock to you and all over you without a bit of hesitation!

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Standing in the small walkway on our way to the Hard Rock Cafe VeniceThe Hard Rock Cafe sign.My dad Ron and the awesome American waitress!  He even gave her the Sturgis Rally pin he had on his hat :)
Standing in the small walkway on our way to the Hard Rock Cafe Venice
Standing in the small walkway on our way to the Hard Rock Cafe Venice | Source
The Hard Rock Cafe sign.
The Hard Rock Cafe sign. | Source
My dad Ron and the awesome American waitress!  He even gave her the Sturgis Rally pin he had on his hat :)
My dad Ron and the awesome American waitress! He even gave her the Sturgis Rally pin he had on his hat :) | Source

Hard Rock Cafe

The first couple times we went to Venice we just packed a picnic lunch and put it in the stroller. It wasn't until my Mom and Dad came to visit that we found the Hard Rock Cafe. To get to it from the square there are many different ways, mainly because all the streets are connected in one way or another, but our favorite way to get there was right to the front door.

There is a small alley way before you go into the San Marco Piazza. All you have to do is that that small, kinda creepy, alley way and you come out right at the front door! The seating inside is cool. You can sit downstairs at the bar area or upstairs at the table. I don't think that it is big enough because every time we have been there it has been at least a 20 minute wait! But waiting isn't all that bad when you have one of the biggest Gondola "parking spots" right out front. There is also the gift shop where you can buy souvenirs (which are a bit pricey but well worth it).

The food is incredible (it was nice to have a good American meal after 2 1/2 years in Italy) and the staff was very friendly. We even had an American waitress. When you are in Venice, at least stop in and check the place out.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
On the Gondola ride in the middle of Venice on an unknown canal (I couldn't keep track)Right outside the Hard Rock was one of the largest Gondola ride places.Another shot of the Gondolas.A view of the Rialto Bridge from the GondolaThe opposite side of the Rialto Bridge.My Mom, Dad, Husband and I on the Gondola.Every Gondola has it's own name, ours was Dei Rossi :)
On the Gondola ride in the middle of Venice on an unknown canal (I couldn't keep track)
On the Gondola ride in the middle of Venice on an unknown canal (I couldn't keep track) | Source
Right outside the Hard Rock was one of the largest Gondola ride places.
Right outside the Hard Rock was one of the largest Gondola ride places. | Source
Another shot of the Gondolas.
Another shot of the Gondolas. | Source
A view of the Rialto Bridge from the Gondola
A view of the Rialto Bridge from the Gondola | Source
The opposite side of the Rialto Bridge.
The opposite side of the Rialto Bridge. | Source
My Mom, Dad, Husband and I on the Gondola.
My Mom, Dad, Husband and I on the Gondola. | Source
Every Gondola has it's own name, ours was Dei Rossi :)
Every Gondola has it's own name, ours was Dei Rossi :) | Source

Gondola Ride

Besides the water canals and incredible sights, Venice is also known for the Gondolas. You know, those super skinny boats you see in movies, where the couple is all in love and adorable and the Gondileer (guy rowing the boat) in the stripped shirt is standing on the end of the boat, rowing, and singing some incredible Italian love song.

Well, this isn't always how it works out. We did get our Gondileer to sing a little bit to us (but we gave him a larger tip too). He told us that his father had been a Gondileer for 35 years and he sang to all his passengers. So I guess it all depends on who you get.

To take one of these amazing trips down the canals in Venice, it does cost you a hefty price. We paid a total of 120 Euro for a 30 minute ride! He took us around a few of the back canals and out on the Grand Canal and under the Rialto Bridge. Being on the Grand Canal with all those boats (even though there is a speed limit and such) was a bit scary but it was well worth the money for the four of us to enjoy something we will never get to do again. They do only take cash (or Euro rather) so make sure you have some to spare when you go.

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These are a few that I have hung up in my living room.  Yes, there are more :)My very first mask I bought.My husbands favorite mask which I think is a bit on the creepy side.You can even buy his and her matching masks, we have three sets.
These are a few that I have hung up in my living room.  Yes, there are more :)
These are a few that I have hung up in my living room. Yes, there are more :) | Source
My very first mask I bought.
My very first mask I bought. | Source
My husbands favorite mask which I think is a bit on the creepy side.
My husbands favorite mask which I think is a bit on the creepy side. | Source
You can even buy his and her matching masks, we have three sets.
You can even buy his and her matching masks, we have three sets. | Source

Carnival

If you have a specific time you want to see Venice and are looking forward to spending time with the tourists and seeing the "little bit crazier side" of Venice, then might I recommend going to the Venice Carnival!

This has to be the most amazing costume party in the world! It always takes place during the ten days leading up to Shrove Tuesday. It starts around two weeks before Ash Wednesday. In 2013 Carnival starts on February 2nd. You can book your vacation at the Venice Carnival 2013 website. This website includes hotels, tours, photo galleries, etc. If nothing else, stop by and check out their amazing photos!

I was never able to make it to Carnival because I didn't think it would be a good place for my three small kids and finding a babysitter when I wanted to go was almost impossible. But even though I didn't get to make it to Carnival doesn't mean I didn't buy myself some masks! I'm not sure how many masks I have but I do know it's several thousand Euro worth (it was a small obsession of mine).


Click thumbnail to view full-size
The famous church in VeniceThe Museum in VeniceThere are steps down to the water everywhereGondola's down every waterwayShops along one of the walkwaysMy mom and I at the water taxi entrance which is right next to the cruise shipsMy sister stopping in one of the many storesSome of my scarfs I bought in Venice
The famous church in Venice
The famous church in Venice | Source
The Museum in Venice
The Museum in Venice | Source
There are steps down to the water everywhere
There are steps down to the water everywhere | Source
Gondola's down every waterway
Gondola's down every waterway | Source
Shops along one of the walkways
Shops along one of the walkways | Source
My mom and I at the water taxi entrance which is right next to the cruise ships
My mom and I at the water taxi entrance which is right next to the cruise ships | Source
My sister stopping in one of the many stores
My sister stopping in one of the many stores | Source
Some of my scarfs I bought in Venice
Some of my scarfs I bought in Venice | Source

Other things to do in Venice

There are many things you can do in Venice. The above mentioned were my all time favorite things but here are some others that are top sights when visiting the city.

  • Accademia - The museum covers the biggies in Venetian painting, from Paolo Veneziano's 14th centry Coronation of the Virgin altarpiece to Giorgione's strange The Tempest and Giovanni Bellini's numerous Madonna and Childs.
  • Collezione Peggy Guggenheim - This is Peggy Guggenheim's former residence in Venice and is now one of the world's top modern art museums. The uncompleted 18th centry Palazzo Venier dei Leoni sits on the Grand Canal and is filled with the late and great art collector's personal favorites.
  • Murano - This is an island outside of Venice and has several age-old glass factories. You can go here and watch them blow glass and can even get some of the glass blowers to make you your own one of a kind creations. Most can create original items, espically trinkets, for you on the spot.

Whenever things start to feel a little too touristy, just walk a block or so away from the action. Put your map in your pocket, purse, or backpack and just walk the streets. You will get to see the different water levels on the buildings as you walk by. There are shops around almost every corner that you can buy that perfect gift or souvenir at. You also find the best cafes that are not crowded at all and it doesn't take you an hour or more to get your food. It is even neat to see the huge cruise ships that dock right here in Venice to load and unload passengers. We took a cruise to Greece from here and it was AMAZING!

Have you ever been to Venice Italy?

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Comments 36 comments

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi CassyLu. We love Venice. Went back in 2009 and we are going again soon, in September. Thanks for this great look at this amazing city. Love the photos.


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

bdegiulio - Thanks :) It is an amazing city isn't it! We lived only 45 minutes away so we went all the time and each time we saw something new. It's kind of funny how you can never get lost the same way twice, espically in Venice. Thanks for the comment! Have a safe and wonderful trip in September!


darexfire profile image

darexfire 4 years ago from maryland

nice stuff


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

darexfire - Thanks :)


nmdonders profile image

nmdonders 4 years ago

This is in my top 10 places I must see. Thanks for posting this, you have some great info and beautiful pictures. I wish I could fly there right now!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Thank you for the tour my friend! I've always wondered if the water is filthy there...I don't know why that has always been my first question about Venice. It is a lovely city for sure.


daskittlez69 profile image

daskittlez69 4 years ago from midwest

I have been to quite a few cities in Italy and Sicily. But I have not had the pleasure to visit Venice, yet. Thanks for the Hub, loved the pictures.


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

nmdonders - It is definately a place you must see!!! It is beautiful and there is so much to do and see. Even just riding the water taxi all day is kind of fun :) Thanks for stopping by and the comment!


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

billybuc - Well, my husband says the water is really nasty. It's a bit on the green side but that's mainly because of all the moss and stuff. You don't see a whole lot of trash except in places where water gets "stuck" like by the Cruise ships and stuff. I loved seeing how the water levels change from season to season. The San Marco square even floods quite often!!! Thanks for stopping by and the comment :)


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

daskittlez69 - Wow, I had never made it to Sicily, would LOVE to get there one day! Hopefully you make it to Venice, it's definately a place to visit! Thanks for stopping by and the comment :)


rfmoran profile image

rfmoran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

Great Hub Cassy about my favorite city. I've been there twice, and I wash I had your hub to guide me. Voted up and useful, liked and shared on twitter.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Wandering the streets is the best part - you are right. I've been there once by train and once on a cruise. We sailed in at sunset with Vivaldi blasting on the speakers. Amazing.

U.S. military can purchase gondola tickets at USO or at the Rec. Centers at the bases in Italy. No negotiating and good prices.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Cassie - I love this article on Venice! It brought back so many memories - I have been to Venice several times - I love San Marco Plaza and the pigeons, pigeons, pigeons!!! Your photos are fabulous and I loved everyone of them. Thanks so much for an informative and interesting article on this great city!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

Venice has been on my must-visit list for more than two decades now. Thanks for the interesting info and lovely photos. You just made my wanderlust get even stronger.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Awesome hub! I've always dreamt of visiting Venice, this just makes me want to go even more! :) Great job!


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

rfmoran - Maybe when you go back for your third trip you can print my hub and take it with you :) Thanks so much for the votes and shares!!!!


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

Kathleen Cochran - you know, we lived there for 3 years and it never once dawned on me to get my tickets at the USO or Rec Centers LOL You'd think I would have known that. Oh well, there's always next time! I'll be sure to let everyone I know that is over there to do this! Thanks for the advice :) And the comment!


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

suzettenaples - I'm so glad it brought back memories. And don't you just LOVE the pigeons??? There are so many! I never thought they would be all over us like they were, it was crazy but a lot of fun :) Thanks for stopping by and the comment :)


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

Om - You have to go!!! It's such an amazing city! I do want to warn you though, if you go once (and have an incredible time) you will want to go back again and again. I wish plane tickets weren't so dang expensive. I'd be back there in a heartbeat :) Thanks for the comment!!!


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

TToombso8 - Thanks :) Definately get there if you can, it is a must see while you are in Italy! It's such a beautiful country it's hard to pick just a few places though! Thanks for stopping by and the comment :)


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this fascinating tour.


Emma Harvey profile image

Emma Harvey 4 years ago from Berkshire, UK

What a lovely hub on a wonderful city - although I have never been there! My folks were there just a few months ago - it's just one of the many places in Italy I'd love to visit.

My husband to be is part Italian and we shall be going to south Italy next week, but after then we must go to Venice! Lots of helpful information and lovely photos - Voting up and shared :)


meloncauli profile image

meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

Great hub. Ah Venice....gondolas! Always fancied a romantic weekend away there. Must stop dreaming and do it!


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

Mhatter99 - you are so very welcome :)


donnah75 profile image

donnah75 4 years ago from Upstate New York

I love Venice! I visited a few times with a job I used to have. It is a lovely city. I can understand your desire for an American burger if you have been there for a couple years. I didn't even know there was a Hard Rock in Venice. Next time, eat at a local restaurant. I have had some of the most amazing meals in Venetian restaurants. Thanks for helping me stir up some good memories!


Mellonyy profile image

Mellonyy 4 years ago

What a wonderful place to visit! I have been there a couple of years ago. Recommend it to everyone. Thanks for sharing.


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

Emma Harvey - South Italy is so much different then Northern Italy! But if you can, definately make it up to Venice :) You will love it for sure! Thanks for the votes and shares :)


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

meloncauli - The Gondolas are amazing!!! We only went on them the one time (wasn't sure it was real safe for three small kids) and it is definately worth every penny spent. A romantic weekend there would be awesome :) You should just do it ;)


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

donnah75 - We went to Venice all the time! It was just really nice to find the Hard Rock since we didn't know there was one there :) When we took my sister we found a little hole in the wall place that was incredible. The pasta I had was amazing and the pizza was good too! I'm not sure you can be in Italy and not Love the food!!! Thanks for stopping by and the comment :)


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

Mellonyy - I'm so glad you enjoyed Venice as much as I did :) Thanks for the commen!!! It's greatly appreciated!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I have always wanted to visit Venice. You made it interesting. Loved the photos..Thank you..


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

always exploring - if you get the chance you should really take a trip to Venice. It is a very interesting place :) Thanks for the comment!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

I would LOVE to take a gondola ride on those canals - what an amazing trip! The sparrows outside of Notre Dame in Paris are similar to the pigeons in Venice - very tame and they'll even fly to your hand! It is amazing how tame the birds have become!


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

leahlefler - The gondola ride is a lot of fun, a bit scary when you hit the waves but so worth it :) I couldn't imagine St. Marc square without the pigeons. It is what helps make it such a memorable experience (espically for kids). Thanks for the comment :)


Kayla 4 years ago

I loved Venice back in 1998. It looks as though I need to go back. Thanks for the wonderful tour through the streets of Venice once again.


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC Author

Venice is a beautiful city :) I think everyone should have a chance to see it! Thanks for the comment :)

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