Venice, Italy, known as the City of Water, evokes romantic images of serenading gondoliers rowing through winding canals underneath arched stone bridges, magnificent architecture, charming cafes and bars, the stunning St. Mark’s Cathedral, and the astoundingly beautiful Doge’s Palace. If you have just a few days to discover the one-of-a-kind wonders of this city, here is our guide to the top 5 can’t-miss Venice attractions.
The city is situated across 115 small islands linked by over 400 bridges, in the shallow waters of the Venetian Lagoon. The Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) is an iconic bridge in the Grand Canal that is central to the city and one of the city’s most photographed attractions. There’s an abundance of restaurants nearby, where you can dine al fresco on thinly sliced prosciutto and cheese plates and sip refreshing wines with breathtaking views of this artistically-designed bridge. Markets surround the area offering a lively atmosphere with a variety of fresh produce, seafood and souvenirs. The views from both sides of the bridge are extraordinary as well. Watch barges and boats navigate along the Grand Canal lined with the colorful homes and shops.
The second-most famous Venetian bridge, the Bridge of Sighs, has a limestone baroque beauty covering its dark history. It is the only covered bridge in the city and its windows were the last place prisoners would see the outside world before being led to their small stone cells. However, its ornate design has made it one of the most popular bridges for photographing the gondoliers, a quintessential Venetian experience and leader of Venice attractions. Be sure to pick your favorite singing gondolier to steer you through the labyrinth of winding canals to discover the city, as they have done for centuries.
As a top among Venice attractions, Piazza San Marco is surrounded by elegant cafés with outdoor seating. Score a seat here for a homemade pizza with mouth-watering fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, accompanied by cocktails and phenomenal people-watching. You can try an authentic Bellini cocktail, made from peach juice and Prosecco wine at Harry’s Bar, where it was invented in the 1930s by hotel proprietor Giuseppe Cipriani. At the Gritti Palace’s Bar Longhi, formerly a Doge’s residence and favorite of writer Ernest Hemingway, order an Aperol spritz, a popular Italian apéritif, and savor it slowly from the terrace which offers outstanding views of the Grand Canal. Be sure to stop in the world’s oldest coffee house Caffè Florian, which opened in 1720 and was frequented by Casanova. Sit on its red velvet couches surrounded by ornate gilded, mirror-covered walls and splurge on an espresso, which will be brought to you on a silver tray.
Ride a boat to the nearby island of Murano, where the most famous glass creations in the world are made. Take a Venetian glass tour to see some of these valuable pieces of art come to life during a glass-blowing demonstration. Then, create your own colorful vase to take home to commemorate your visits to Venice attractions.
Venetian masks were traditionally known for being worn at Carnival, a hedonistic celebration and street party, but evolved in the 16th century to be worn by Commedia dell’arte (theater comedic actors) to be a source of anonymity, disguising the wearer’s face for criminal or romantic encounters. In the 18th century, they were required to be worn by the government officials to hide their identities at important rule-making events. They are usually made from papier-mâché — a plaster-like dough — and adorned with gilding, lace, gems, feathers and vivid paint. They are unique and striking pieces of art, which makes them the perfect items to bring a piece of Venice home.
The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) was the government seat and home of the doges — the city’s leaders for over 1,000 years. This pink-and-white decorated, marble masterpiece of Gothic-Renaissance architecture is also home to magnificent art made by Venetian master artists. Don’t leave without seeing the intricate, awe-inspiring painted ceiling by Veronese, the Trionfo di Venezia, a masterful work of art and premier of Venice attractions.
Next to the Palace lies the magnificent Basilica di San Marco (Saint Mark’s Basilica), a striking example of Byzantine architecture. Step inside to gaze at the intricate, sparkling gold mosaic tiles and a jewel-accented alter. The four realistic, imposing bronze horses captured from Constantinople, Turkey, stand as a symbol of the former power of the Venetian Republic.
Step outside to explore Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square), one of the city’s largest squares, and make your way to Venice’s tallest building — Campanile di San Marco (Saint Mark’s Bell Tower). One of the most scenic views of the city can be experienced from the top of the red brick bell tower.
The famous composer Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice. He worked as a priest, and a violin teacher. He was also theater manager, and it was during those years that he wrote his most renowned music. He helped the growth of Baroque music and the concertos. He is best known for the Four Seasons violin concerto, Gloria e Imeneo, and several operas. Listen to his music at a concert at Chiesa San Vidal or several other performance venues.
A great way to see this breathtakingly beautiful city and one of the most popular destinations in the world is with an all-in-one vacation package with Monograms, part of the Globus Vacations family. You’ll be delighted by not only the Venice attractions but also by what’s included to make sure your vacation runs seamlessly: hotel reservations at centrally-located hotels, buffet breakfast daily, sightseeing and transportation. You will have a Local Host® who is an expert in everything Venetian. They will offer you suggestions on where to eat and where to go, and let you in on little-known secrets, like where to capture the best photo of St. Peter’s Basilica. Plus, you can personalize your vacation by choosing your favorite activities and excursions from their wide selection of options.
Contact one of our Italy travel experts for an insightful and unforgettable guided Venice vacation with Monograms.