Venice has some attractions and sights to offer. If you ask or look, you will only find the usual things in the tourist traps. OK, some may be there, but it is rather unusual and fun!
The first few may be more traditional, but you shouldn’t miss them, especially if your trip is short. Do them first and consider doing them as part of the activities that involve skip-the-line entrance to save time. You’ll skip long lines and have more time to explore!
1. The Bell Tower in Saint Mark’s Square
You can get the best view of Venice and the Basin of San Marco from the top of the Bell Tower in Saint Mark’s Square. The Dolomites are visible on days with clear skies.
Long waits and tickets are €10.00 each (only available on-site). There is an extensive line at the top of the bell tower in San Marco Square, but if you’re willing to wait, you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views of Venice, the lagoon, and the square itself. Watch the clip below—the price of admission is €3.00.
2. Get Lost in Venice’s Alleyways
Head out of the San Marco district into the smaller side streets and let your curiosity lead you. What you need is probably simply a pocket-sized map right about now… You don’t want to get too lost, and if you ask a Venetian for directions, all you’ll hear is, “Keep going straight….”
3. Reach the top of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi-Rooftop
The rooftop of Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the former Central Post Office in Venice, has been transformed into a magnificent high-end shopping centre. The palace has been rebuilt, and the terrace offers a breathtaking view of the Grand Canal and the iconic Rialto Bridge, making it the pièce de résistance.
4. Go shopping
The bustling Rialto markets are a vibrant hub where Venice’s freshest produce is sold daily to local restaurants. Given the city’s strong emphasis on seafood, the fishmongers play a vital role in providing tourists with the essential ingredients for experiencing Venetian cuisine at its finest.
The vegetable stalls at the Rialto markets offer an array of fresh and diverse vegetables, surpassing what you would typically find in supermarkets. Venice is also known for its shopping scene, with numerous shops offering Italian staples like leather goods (especially shoes and purses) and high-quality cashmere items.
For those fascinated by the Venice carnival, speciality shops cater to enthusiasts by selling complete outfits and authentic Venetian masks.
5. See The Most Unique Bookstore On Earth: Libreria Acqua Alta
Water-based cities, such as Venice, often face the challenge of flooding. However, Venetian institutions have devised ingenious solutions to tackle this issue. One such example is the Libreria Acqua Alta, a bookstore that sells books and magazines creatively displayed in bathtubs, watertight containers, and even a full-sized gondola!
These innovative measures protect the merchandise from water damage and add a whimsical charm to the shopping experience.
It creates a magical atmosphere. This Venice bookstore is an Instagram favourite with unusual “backdrops” for photographs. Beware of adopted stray cats roaming the stores.
6. The Bridge Of Sighs
Venice’s most famous attraction is the Bridge of Sighs. The Bridge of Sighs viewing bridge is always crowded! The Bridge of Sighs can be walked through, but few people realize this. The two-way bridge links the Doge’s Palace to the prison across the canal.
The Doge’s Palace, a magnificent museum and gallery, serves as the entrance to the Bridge of Sighs. As you cross the bridge, the tiny windows offer glimpses of the picturesque San Giorgio Maggiore Island. Discovering and crossing the Bridge of Sighs is one of Venice’s best-hidden gems!
7. Take A Day Trip To Burano
Burano is a charming small island located in the Venetian Lagoon. It can be reached by taking a 40-minute water taxi ride from St. Mark’s Square.
Pink, blue, yellow, and greenhouses distinguish this modest fishing community. It’s a rainbow with canals.
Traditional lace-making in Burano is rare due to its complexity and time-consuming nature. The main area has pubs and outdoor eateries, so order fresh fish risotto for lunch! Burano is a fantastic half-day journey from Venice to see something different.
8. Zaccaria Crypt
San Zaccaria is a centrally located Venetian Gothic-Renaissance church. What makes the church famous is its flooded crypt. Surprisingly, the presence of water has enhanced the site, making it an ideal resting place for some of Venice’s earliest Doges (religious and political leaders).
Stone columns, cavernous ceilings, and standing water create a spooky tomb. A must-see in Venice!
9. Hotel Danieli and grab an evening drink at Bar Dandolo
Visit Hotel Danieli and Bar Dandolo to observe how the other half handles Venice. Charles Dickens, Harrison Ford, and Peggy Guggenheim visited this 5-star hotel.
The foyer of the establishment boasts an exquisite red-and-gold grand staircase, creating a stunning first impression. As you enter the bar, you’ll be greeted by a lavish display of antiques, Murano glass chandeliers, and opulent golden accents. This very bar has been featured in notable films such as “Casino Royale” (2006), “From Russia with Love” (1963), and “Moonraker” (1979). It’s worth stopping by for a martini and immersing yourself in the cinematic ambience.
10. Escape to Torcello Island
Famous Murano glass and Burano architecture. Torcello Island holds Venetian treasure. Burano is worth the hour-long drive from Venice. Few live on the tranquil island. Its museum and Santa Maria Assunta Church are notable. Cathedral art is Byzantine.
The sophisticated gold-glass Last Judgement mosaic and semi-complete Madonna mosaic on the apse show it. Torcello Museum exhibits Mycenaean to modern island history. A 14th-century home faces the church.
11. Sign up for a Mysteries of Venice tour
Venice is known for its canals and rivers, but its history contains mysteries and hauntings. Join a walking tour through Venice’s lesser-known streets to hear the city’s most thrilling, frightening, and legendary tales. Go around empty San Marco Square and hear ghost stories in the spooky twilight.
Search for ghosts in narrow passageways and up the spiralling Bovolo Staircase!
12. Enjoy a dinner cruise on a Galleon
Besides gondolas, Venice has other boats.
You may travel on a magnificent, antique Galleon ship and enjoy a candlelit gourmet dinner and spectacular vistas. The Carnival Party cruise is more vibrant. Meet other social travellers!
13. Join an underground ghost tour (if you dare)
The Venetian subterranean holds a wealth of bizarre and spooky tales stemming from floods, plagues, conflicts, and quarantine. For a fun and interactive approach to learning about these intriguing stories, consider joining a walking tour.
However, be prepared for an eerie experience, as a candlelit tour of an abandoned crypt will send chills down your spine. Leaving the kids at the hotel for this particular adventure is advisable.
14. Check out the costumes at Palazzo Mocenigo
The Palazzo Mocenigo is one of the more unique museums in the area. It has a great collection of rare textiles and costumes, many decorated with intricate lace patterns and embroidery. It also has a collection of valuable artworks from the 18th century.
Play with Arts & Culture is a new hands-on exhibition at the museum that was made in partnership with Google.
15. Go shopping at T Fondaco dei Tedeschi
This famous building is on the Grand Canal, near the Rialto Bridge. It is a great shopping destination and can conveniently add to your afternoon plans.
As you explore the vast expanse of 7,000 square meters, you’ll encounter a wide range of high-quality products, including clothing, jewellery, cosmetics, food, wine, and much more.
The shopping experience at this location showcases both Italian and international brands. Once you’ve completed your shopping spree, visit the rooftop terrace, which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Venice.
16. Feel on top of the world (literally) with the best rooftop bars
After a fulfilling day of exploration, treat yourself to a stunning city view at one of Venice’s rooftop bars. At the Skyline Rooftop Bar, you can savour a perfectly mixed drink, accompanied by live music, while gazing out over the captivating cityscape and the shimmering canals.
Alternatively, indulge in a few drinks at Blind Spot, where the elegant decor and exceptional beverage selection perfectly complement the picturesque view.
17. Catch a cabaret dinner show
The cabaret show is always an excellent choice for visitors. It is an unforgettable dinner show with dance, magic, contortionists, and a little bit of adult humour.
But putting on a show is only half the fun! In addition to great entertainment, you’ll get a delicious multi-course meal, a glass (or three) of Italian wine, and lots of coffee and sweets.
18. Let loose on a Venetian-style pub crawl!
Let’s stop talking about history, food, and love for a minute and have some fun! In Venice, you’ll dress in traditional clothes and hop from bar to bar, trying spritz, wine, and other drinks.
A few glasses of Prosecco are always a great way for solo travellers or people who want to meet new people to break the ice.
19. Learn to Row a Gondola
No visit to Venice is complete without experiencing a gondola ride. It is an essential part of immersing oneself in the charm of this watery city, and to miss out on it would be considered heresy. Picture yourself gliding through the enchanting waterways of Venice on a moonlit evening, with a serenading gondolier setting a lovely ambience.
It’s an experience that captures the romance and beauty of the city, leaving you with memories to cherish.
For a change, take the oar yourself. Many establishments in Venice provide hour-long rowing classes. It’s challenging and one of Venice’s most peculiar activities!
20. Visit Lazzaretto Nuovo – Quarantine Island
Europe was plagued, including Venice, and the city’s close quarters made residents more susceptible to the sickness.
The city established two quarantines. Lazzaretto Nuovo (new quarantine) was one. The island initially screened imported ship workers for the black death.
But, the outbreak became so severe that people were quarantined. Many never left, and mass graves have been found recently. Little museums on the island’s peculiar history are open to the public.