Venice, often referred to as the “City of Canals” or the “Floating City,” is a place that seems to have sprung from the pages of a fairy tale. With its labyrinthine waterways, historic architecture, and unique culture, Venice is a destination that captivates the hearts of travelers from around the world. In this article, we’ll delve into the top 10 things to do in and around Venice, Italy, to help you make the most of your visit to this enchanting city.
1. St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
Your Venetian adventure begins in the heart of the city, St. Mark’s Square. This iconic square is a treasure trove of history and culture. Start by visiting St. Mark’s Basilica, a stunning example of Byzantine architecture adorned with intricate mosaics. Don’t forget to climb the Campanile (bell tower) for panoramic views of the city and the Grand Canal.
Strolling around the square, you’ll also encounter the Doge’s Palace, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that once served as the political center of the Venetian Republic. The Bridge of Sighs, which connects the palace to the Prisons, is a must-see and is shrouded in romantic legends.
2. Venice Grand Canal
The Grand Canal, the main artery of Venice, is a waterway unlike any other in the world. To truly appreciate its grandeur, take a vaporetto (water bus) ride along its winding path. As you glide through the waters, you’ll pass by magnificent palaces, historic buildings, and bustling markets. The experience offers a unique perspective of the city’s architecture and daily life.
3. Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
Crossing the Rialto Bridge is not just a practical means of getting from one side of the Grand Canal to the other; it’s an experience in itself. The bridge is an architectural marvel, and the bustling Rialto Market nearby offers a glimpse into daily Venetian life. Explore the market’s stalls brimming with fresh produce, seafood, and souvenirs, or simply enjoy the view of the Grand Canal from this iconic location.
4. Gondola Ride
No trip to Venice would be complete without a gondola ride. While it’s true that this is one of the more touristy activities, there’s something undeniably romantic and quintessentially Venetian about gliding through the narrow canals in a gondola. You can opt for a shared ride or splurge on a private one for a more intimate experience.
5. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Art enthusiasts should not miss the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, housed in the former home of the American heiress and art collector, Peggy Guggenheim. This museum boasts an impressive collection of 20th-century European and American art, featuring works by renowned artists like Picasso, Pollock, and Kandinsky. The museum’s garden, with its sculptures and charming views of the Grand Canal, is a peaceful oasis in the heart of Venice.
6. Murano and Burano Islands
Escape the hustle and bustle of Venice for a day trip to the nearby islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for its glass-blowing traditions, and you can witness skilled artisans crafting exquisite glass art. Burano, on the other hand, is known for its vibrant, colorful houses and intricate lacework. Both islands offer a glimpse into Venetian craftsmanship and culture.
7. Venice Lido
If you’re in need of a break from Venice’s historic charm, head to the Venice Lido. This barrier island is known for its sandy beaches and relaxed atmosphere. It’s a great place to unwind, go for a swim, or take a leisurely bike ride along the waterfront. The Lido is also home to the Venice Film Festival, adding a touch of glamour to the island’s laid-back vibe.
8. Teatro La Fenice
For a taste of Venetian culture, consider attending a performance at Teatro La Fenice. This historic opera house has been a symbol of Venetian musical tradition for centuries. Its ornate interiors and exceptional acoustics create a truly enchanting atmosphere for opera, ballet, and classical music performances.
9. Jewish Ghetto
Venice’s Jewish Ghetto is one of the oldest in the world and has a rich history. Take a guided tour to learn about the Jewish community’s influence on Venetian culture and cuisine. You can also sample some delicious Jewish-Italian dishes at local restaurants in this area.
10. Venetian Cuisine
No visit to Venice is complete without savoring its delectable cuisine. Try some local specialties like cicchetti (small snacks), fresh seafood, risotto with cuttlefish ink, and sarde in saor (sweet and sour sardines). Pair your meal with a glass of Prosecco, the sparkling wine that originates from the Veneto region.
In conclusion, Venice is a city that offers a treasure trove of experiences for travelers. From its iconic landmarks and historic sites to its vibrant culture and delectable cuisine, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re wandering through St. Mark’s Square or gliding along the Grand Canal in a gondola, Venice’s unique charm and beauty are sure to leave a lasting impression. So, pack your bags, and embark on a Venetian adventure like no other!
Photo by Henrique Ferreira