Venice is a city in Italy filled with tourist attractions and it’s hard to know where to begin. At every turn, you’ll see something worth remembering with a photo. No matter where this exploration takes you.
Best Time to Visit
If you are planning a Travel to Italy then the best time to visit Venice is from September to November when tourists desert the city. Although the temperatures — which range from the upper 30s to mid-70s — necessitate some warm weather wear, the lowered hotel rates and the barren canals make it worth it.
Top Places to Visit in Venice
1. St. Mark’s Basilica
Certainly Venice’s best-known church, and one of the most easily recognized in the world, St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) was originally the Doge’s private chapel, decorated with Byzantine art treasures that are part of the booty brought back by Venetian ships after the fall of Constantinople. The gold-backed mosaic pictures above the doorways on the façade only hint at the mosaic artistry inside, where 4,240 square meters of gold mosaics cover the domes and walls. These set a distinctly Byzantine tone to its soaring interior. he magnificent golden altarpiece, the Pala d’Oro, one of the finest in Europe, was begun by early 12th-century artists, and centuries later, adorned with nearly 2,000 gems and precious stones.
2. St. Mark’s Square
The vast expanse of Venice’s largest square is brought together and made to seem almost intimate by the elegant uniformity of its architecture on three sides. But more than its architectural grace, St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is loved as Venice’s living room, the place everybody gathers, strolls, drinks coffee, stops to chat, meets friends and tour guides, or just passes through on the way to work or play. Three sides are framed in arcades, beneath which are fashionable shops and even more fashionable cafés.
3. Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs
Visitors arriving in Venice once stepped ashore under the façade of this extraordinary palace. They couldn’t have failed to be impressed, both by its size and the finesse of its architecture. If they were received inside by the Doges, the impression would only strengthen as they entered through the Porta della Carta, a perfect example of Venetian Gothic at its height, and ascended the monumental Scala dei Giganti and the gold vaulted Scala d’Oro to be received in what many consider to be the palace’s most beautiful chamber, Sala del Collegio. Even jaded 21st-century travelers gasp in awe at the palace’s grandeur and lavish decoration.
4. Grand Canal
Sweeping through the heart of Venice in a giant reverse S curve, the Grand Canal is the principal boulevard through the city, connecting Piazza San Marco, Rialto Bridge, and the arrival points of the rail station and bridge from the mainland. Only four bridges cross its 3.8-kilometer length, but stripped-down gondolas called traghetti shuttle back and forth at several points between bridges. The Grand Canal was the address of choice for anyone who claimed any influence in Venice. Palaces of all the leading families open onto the canal, their showy Venetian Gothic and Early Renaissance facades facing the water, by which visitors arrived. These grand palaces – or at least their facades – are well preserved today, and a trip along the canal by vaporetto is the best way to see them.
5. Gallerie dell’Accademia
Called “Accademia” for short, this museum on the Grand Canal has the most important and comprehensive collection of 15th-18th-century Venetian painting in existence. Much of the collection was assembled from monasteries and churches that were closed and from the clearing of palaces of noble families, now displayed in the former Monastery of Santa Maria della Carità. Some of the galleries, such as the first one, which contains Venetian Gothic Painting, have richly carved and gilded 15th-century ceilings. Works are arranged chronologically, so you can not only trace the evolution of styles, but can compare the works of contemporaries.
6. Rialto Bridge
Once the only bridge across the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge marks the spot of the island’s first settlement, called Rivus Altus (high bank). Built in 1588, some 150 years after the collapse of a previous wooden bridge, this stone arch supports two busy streets and a double set of shops. Along with serving as a busy crossing point midway along the canal, it is a favorite vantage point for tourists taking – or posing for – photos, and for watching the assortment of boats always passing under it. The church of San Bartolomeo, close to the San Marco end of the bridge, was the church of the German merchants who lived and worked in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (German Commodity Exchange) bordering the canal here.