8 Best Things to do in Venice | Important Travel Tips & Guides
April 27, 2020
Venice is an easy place for visitors to travel around independently due to it being a small area with most of its main attractions located centrally together. Furthermore, you can walk across the entire main island of Venice in less than an hour.
This article is a full travel guide for Venice which has everything you’d need to know before embarking on your trip. The following topics will be covered:
Table of Contents
Getting Around Venice
Walking is by far the best way to move around the island. Its streets are pedestrian-friendly and you can easily walk across the island under an hour. I walked everywhere while I was in Venice. It gives you a chance to just wander and find hidden alleys.
2. Taking Water Buses
There is a vaporetto (ferry) that takes people from from one end of the Grand Canal (the train station) to the other end (San Marco). Single rides cost €7.50; unlimited travel day pass (one-/two-/three-/seven-day passes cost €20/30/40/60). Tickets can be purchased at ACTV ticket booths and ticket vending machines.
With only 4 bridges that cross the Grand Canal, you can travel on a Traghetto to get from one side to the other of the canal instead of walking to find a bridge. A Traghetto is a bigger version of a Gondola and is rowed by 2 people instead of 1. It is priced at €2 per trip and you can pay when you board.
If you need a visual illustration of the different types of water transport in Venice, this website I found here has a good illustration.
How to get from Marco Polo Airport to Venice?
Getting from Marco Polo Airport to Venice convenient and there are a total of 4 options you can choose from, so choose the one that suits you the most.
1. ATVO Bus (Best option for tourists)
Runs between Marco Polo Airport and Piazzale Roma.
Tickets can be purchase at ATVO office at the airport upon arrival or at automated ticket machines (If you want to avoid queues at the counter, pre-purchase a ticket online here).
Luggage space storage under bus is provided.
Duration: 25 minutes.
Frequency: Every 30 minutes (timetable can be found here).
Price: €8 for single-trip, €15 for round-trip.
2. ACTV Bus / Bus Line #5
Public transportation company
Runs between Marco Polo Airport and Piazzale Roma
Tickets are purchased at Airport self-service machines and at Piazzale Roma (Alternatively, you can purchase your tickets online for convenience).
No luggage space storage provided
Duration: 25 minutes.
Frequency: Every 15 minutes.
Price: €8 for single-trip, €15 for round-trip.
3. Water Bus
Alilaguna is the name of the company that operates the water buses that run between Marco Polo Airport and Venice
Tickets are purchased at the arrival area of the airport or you can get it in advance at a better price here.
Duration: 1.5 hours
Frequency: Once every 30-60 minutes.
Price: €15 for single-trip, €27 for round-trip.
4. Water Taxi
Most expensive method.
Better option for those travelling in groups of 4 or more (as cost can be split).
Prices start from €35.
Tickets are purchased at airport arrival counters.
Alternatively, KLOOK also provides a variety of private transfers via car or water taxi which you can consider booking in advance online.
The 8 Best Things to do in Venice
1. St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
This is the the city’s main public square and surrounding it are the city’s most renowned buildings such as St Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. Have breakfast by one of the cafes around the area as you overlook Venice’s historical core in one setting. You can also book a Guided walking tour of Venice if you’d prefer someone to show you around city.
2. St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
St Mark’s Basilica is a cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. It is the most famous of the city’s churches and is designed beautifully with Italo-Byzantine architecture. The church is enveloped with over 8,000 square meters of mosaic and has 500 columns supporting it within its interiors.
In the 9th century, first St. Mark’s Basilica was constructed to house stolen sacred relics, particularly the body of St. Mark the Evangelist. His body was stolen by the merchants of Venice in the year 828 from Alexandria, Egypt. Due to uprising in the city, the church was destroyed and was last re-constructed in 1063. At that time, it became a symbol of the republic’s growth and wealth as the power of the Venetian Republic had risen largely.
Entrance Fees & Opening Hours
The Basilica is divided into 4 parts – St. Mark’s Museum, Pala d’Oro, the Bell Tower and the Treasury.
The entrance fees as follows: Basilica (free), Museum (€5), Pala d’Oro (€2), Treasury (€3), The Bell Tower (€8)
Opening hours: Mondays to Sundays, 9.30am to 5.00pm. (Sundays close at 4.30pm during non-summer months)
4Methods to skip-the-line to enter St. Mark’s Basilica:
1. Buy an online reservation ticket for €3 here(only available from 1 April to 3 November as it is the peak travel season). 2. Take a guided tour(includes fast track entry into the Basilica + Pala d’Oro + Treasury). 3. Try going after 1.30pm when the crowds lessen. 4. Attend the 7am mass
If you plan on visiting all the parts of the Basilica, it may be quite cumbersome to be queuing at each attraction especially during the peak-summer season. Hence,theguided tour is better option for this activity.
Travel Tip: You will have to dress appropriately to enter the Bascilica as it is a church. Luggage bags are also not permitted inside the church. Avoid carrying large tote bags as line deposit bags tend to be long.
3. Doge’s Palace
Just located adjacent to St. Mark’s Basilica, you can find Doge’s Palace. It is a palace built in Venetian Gothic style, and was the center of government during the Venetian Republic and also where the Doge of Venice resided.
Entrance Fees & Opening Hours:
Venice Museum Pass (Skip-the-line): €25 (Klook currently offers the best price, while the official Venice website sells it at €27). Without Skip-the-line: €20 (purchase at entrance) *Tickets give you entrance to the Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr, Archaeological Museum, and Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Marciana.
Opening hours: Daily, 8.30am to 7.00pm (Closes at 5.30pm in Winter)
4. Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri)
Just further down from Doge’s palace, you’ll find one of the most famed Venetian icons – the Bridge of Sighs. It is an arched stone bridge that connects the Doge’s Palace with the first floor of the prison.
It was said that prisoners who crossed the bridge on the way to their prison cell or execution camber would sigh as they took their last glimpse of Venice. The sentences given by Venetian judges were known to be ruthless.
5. The Bell Tower (Campanile di San Marco)
Standing at 99 meters tall, the Bell Tower of Venice is the best place to get high-up views of the city.
I previously visited Venice in December so the queue to go up to The Bell Tower was not too long. We only waited for about 15-30min for the lift to go up. However, if you’re planning to travel during the peak seasons, it is a wiser choice for you to purchase a skip-the-line ticket at their official website here.
Entrance Fees & Opening Hours
Entrance Fees: With skip-the-line: €13 Without skip-the-line: €8
Opening hours: October 1 – March 31: 9.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. January 7 – 24: Closed April 1 – April 15: 9.00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. April 16 – September 30: 8.30 a.m. – 9.00 p.m.
6. Take a Gondola Ride
No trip to Venice will be completed without taking a Gondola ride for most visitors. It is one of the must-do activities in Venice and the demand for it has driven the prices of these rides up.
Price of Gondola Rides
There are several places you can book a ride but if you’re at St. Mark’s Square area, you can easily book a private Gondola ride at the Gondola Station ride outside of Doge’s Palace. The price is at €80 for a 30-minute ride. This is best for people travelling in groups of 4 pax or more so that the cost can be split. Take note that each Gondola can take a maximum of 6 pax but this is depending on the total weight and balance of the group.
For couples, or smaller groups, you can book better priced tickets here. Tickets here are priced by per pax basis instead of per ride, which makes it cheaper for smaller groups or solo travellers.
It is not possible to bargain on the price of your gondola ride. The Gondoliers have plenty of business so they won’t feel a need to compromise on the price. However, if you’d like to extendyour ride on the Gondola, you can try to ask for a better rate with your Gondolier.
7. Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is a stone-arch bridge that crosses the Grand Canal. Built in the 16th century, it is the oldest bridge in Venice and is known to be an architectural and engineering achievement of the Renaissance.
Overlooking from the Rialto Bridge you can find the best views of the Grand Canal. Here, you can witness boats shipping goods to and fro from the Rialto market.
8. Burano and Murano Island
Last but not least, plan a day trip to visit the rainbow houses in Burano and Murano Islands.
The island of Murano is renowned for its historic tradition of glass-making. Visitors come to explore the Museo del Vetro on the island, which tells the tale of glass through the centuries, and to shop for locally crafted souvenirs.
The island of Burano is a fishing village and its restaurants serve fresh seafood from the lagoon. The houses in Burano are more vibrant and colourful as compared to Murano. Their Museo del Merletto has exhibits the tradition lace-making in the area, and shops sell lace products like linens and clothes for local souvenirs.
How to get to Murano and Burano Island from Venice?
Option1: Take the Vaporetto (water bus service) A Vaporetto line (Water bus service) runs from Venice to Burano: Number 12. The ferry runs from Fondamente Nove (F.te Nove), to Murano and Burano Islands.
Duration: Takes about 45 minutes to reach Burano from Venice. Price: €7.50 per person for one-way ticket (purchase your tickets at the ferry counter) Frequency: Approximately once every hour (See timetable here).
Option 2: Book a guided tour Alternatively, half-day tours to Murano and Burano Islandscan also be booked online. You will be given about an hour to explore each island which might be a little rush, but it is good for those who have limited time and would like to visit all 3 islands.
Best Accommodation and Hotels to Stay at in Venice
There’s no ‘best’ place to stay in Venice as the island is small and accessible to all areas. However, most of the things to do in Venice are located at St. Mark’s Square area, hence you could choose to stay there.
Here’s a list of budget and good quality places to stay at in Venice:
Best option – Spend 2 full days in Venice. You will be able to finish all the main attractions in Saint Mark’s and Rialto area in 1 day. The 2nd day should be reserved to visit either Burano or Murano Island.
However, those keen on visiting all the museums and taking guided tours to fully learn about the history of Venice, should plan to spend 3 full days in Venice.
Recommended Itineraries for Venice (1 day, 2 days, 3 days)
For 1-day Itinerary
Morning (from 8am to 1pm): Visit St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bell Tower, Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge
Day 1: Sign up for tours to visit the museums at St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bell Tower, Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge. You’ll have more time to fully learn about the history to Venice.
Day 2: Travel on your own to visit Murano and Burano islands (you will have more time on each island as compared to a half-day tour).
For 3-days Itinerary
Day 1: Sign up for tours to visit the museums at St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bell Tower, Doge’s Palace.
Day 2: Travel independently to visit Murano and Burano islands.
Day 3: Visit Rialto Bridge and Rialto Market, Frari Church, Ca’ Rezzonico museum and Accademia museum (for Art-lovers)
The Currency used in Venice
The currency used in Venice is the Euro (€).
When is the Best Time to Visit Venice?
Similar to most other European countries, the best time to visit Venice is during Spring (April to May) and Autumn (September to October). During these periods, the weather is comfortable and the city is not overcrowded due to any holidays season. Avoid July and August, which is their peak summer months and it gets crowded.
Venice is the least crowded between November to March. The weather is cooler and occasional flooding may occur. Attractions also tend to close slightly earlier. I previously visited Venice in late December, where the temperature was between 1-8 degrees celsius. Although it was cooler, it was still sunny. I had a great time as there were less crowds and we were able to complete all the attractions within 2 days.