Widely renowned as the most romantic city in the world, Venice is Italy’s Floating City. It has no real roads, just a network of canals, and is famous for its palaces and gondolas. There is so much to see in the city, and these are some of the essential sights that shouldn’t be missed on your tour of Venice.
St. Mark’s Basilica
This is the city’s cathedral and one of the best examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture anywhere in the world. It is at the eastern end of St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco). The building dates back to the 11th century, but it took hundreds of years to complete. Nicknamed the Church of Gold, it is a stunning symbol of the wealth and power in Venice - there are gold mosaic ceilings and the design of the church is extravagantly beautiful. There are portraits, statues and mosaics adorning the inside of the church, and this is a big draw for tourists visiting Venice. It gets incredibly busy but the best Venice tours allow you to skip the line which is exactly what you can do when booking with us!
St. Mark’s Square
Following on from the cathedral itself, St. Mark’s Square is also a must-see. It is the main public square in Venice, forming the central religious, social and political area of the city. Stories say that Napoleon once referred to the square as ‘the drawing room of Europe’, and it attracts a constant stream of visitors. It is the perfect place to get a good view of Saint Mark’s Basilica, which dominates the square. There is also the Clock Tower, Doge’s Palace, the Campanile of St. Mark’s Church, Loggetta del Sansovino - all stunning examples of Venetian architecture and history. The square is the perfect place to experience the hustle and bustle of Venice, and drink in the beautiful views. You’ll often be able to spot wedding processions too!
Built in Venetian Gothic style, the palace (also located at St. Mark’s Square) is one of the most iconic buildings in Venice. The Doge of Venice lived here - the highest authority of the former Venetian Republic. The beautiful palace is now a museum, and the public enter through the Porta del Frumento, which is on the waterfront side of the building. Not all areas are open to visitors, but the parts that you can see are well worth it. Rooms are adorned with frescoes and portraits, and you can walk in the footsteps of Venetian politicians from years past when you take a Doge’s Palace tour. The sheer size and beauty of the rooms within Doge’s Palace is incredible!
The Grand Canal
Another must-see in central Venice is the Grand Canal. It is the major water traffic area in the city, and it is lined with buildings from the 13th-18th centuries. As there is no pavement, making it look like the palaces and houses rise straight from the water, the best way to see these buildings is by boat. If you are interested in architecture and want to see different styles such as Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance, then this is the place to be. Events take place on the Grand Canal, such as the Historical Regatta and the Feast-day of the Madonna della Salute. It is also the perfect place for romantic boat tours of Venice!
The oldest and most famous of the bridges across the Grand Canal is the Rialto Bridge. It connects the districts of San Marco and San Polo and has been rebuilt many times since it was first created in the 12th century. The current stone bridge was designed by Antonio da Ponte and was completed in 1591. It is now one of the top tourist attractions in the whole of Venice, as it offers spectacular views of the canals and the city. At 48 meters long it’s hard to miss, and the Rialto Bridge is definitely a must-see when visiting the Floating City.
The Bridge of Sighs
Designed by Antonio Contino, the nephew of Antonio da Ponte (who designed the Rialto Bride), the Bridge of Sighs is an incredibly poignant piece of Venetian architecture. The view from the bridge was allegedly the last sighting of Venice for convicts being taken to prison - hence the name, as prisoners would sigh at the thought of their freedom being taken away. Whether or not this tale is true, it is a story that lives on to this day and is the reason why this beautiful bridge is so popular among tourists.
One of the most famous Venetian island is Burano, a lace-making island. It is well documented in photo form due to the stunning colorful houses: yellow, red, pink, blue and purple buildings line the canals and make for the perfect Instagram shot. A few traditional lace makers still live and work on the island, and there is a Lace Museum too. There are seafood restaurants and bakeries galore, and a stunning bell tower, leaning slightly due to its poor soil foundations. A tour from Venice to Burano is absolutely worth a visit, and you can combine it with another one of Venice's much-loved islands too…
Another of Venice’s famous islands is Murano - renowned for its glass making. Again, there are colorful houses lining each side of the water, and the Museo del Vetro sees thousands of visitors who have come to learn the story of glass making over the past few centuries. Murano isn't all about glass, though: it is home to the beautiful Romanesque style Church of Santa Maria and San Donato, with its colorful mosaic floor. The church is also said contain the bones of a slain dragon, so it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re taking a Murano glass Venice tour.
Venice has so much to offer to visitors and tourists. Alongside the typical tourist attractions there are shops, restaurants and bars dotted along the canals, and plenty of places to sit down and relax. The city can get incredibly busy, and we offer a variety of tours in Venice that allow you to see everything you want without having to stand in line for hours!