Top Attractions in Venice

Top Things You Must See and Do in Venice, Italy

Venice is one of Italy's must-see cities and its attractions are one-of-a-kind. Here are some of the top things to do and see that you shouldn't miss on a visit to Venice. See also Free Things to do in Venice.

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    Italy, Venice, Piazza San Marco
    ••• Dennis Flaherty/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    Venice's largest piazza, Saint Mark's Square, is the city's main meeting place. Lined with cafes, shops, and a number of museums, here is the place to get a glimpse of the Venice's glorious architecture and the sea.

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    Doge's Palace Venice photo
    ••• Inside the Doge's Palace. courtesy of Select Italy

    During the 1,000-year reign of the Republic of Venice, its headquarters – and the residence of its leader, the Doge - were at the Doge's Palace, now a museum. Get a glimpse of the rooms occupied by Venice's executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as go on the Secret Itineraries Tour, which includes access to torture chambers, prisons, and the Bridge of Sighs.

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    Basilica San Marco

    venice picture, basilica san marco, saint marks, italy
    ••• Basilica San Marco. © by Martha Bakerjian

    This superb example of Byzantine architecture next to the Doge's Palace is dedicated to Venice's patron and is Venice's main basilica. Treasures inside Saint Mark's Basilica include glistening Byzantine mosaics and paintings by leading Venetian artists.

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    rialto bridge pictures
    ••• Rialto Bridge and Market Pictures: Close-up of the top of the Rialto Bridge. Rialto Bridge © 2009 by Barbara Molini, used by permission

    This ornamental stone bridge on the Grand Canal is one of the most famous bridges in Venice and is an icon of the city. Take a stroll across the Rialto Bridge and enjoy its lively shops and markets.

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  • 05 of 10

    Galleria dell'Accademia

    ••• Suphanat Wongsanuphat/Getty Images

    The leading place to see Venetian art from the 14th to 18th centuries is the Galleria dell'Accademia. Its collection of works by Paolo Veneziano, Tiepolo, and Titian make it one of the top museums in Venice.

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    ••• Lonely Planet/Getty Images

    Modern art lovers will love the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, one of the first contemporary art museums in Italy. The museum houses priceless works from the leaders of 20th-century painting including Pollock, Klee, Mondrian, and de Chirico.

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    venice gondola photo
    ••• Venice Gondola. Sami Sarkis/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    While a gondola ride is not always the romantic activity it's cracked up to be, it is quintessential Venice. A gondola ride through the city's network of canals is also a fantastic way to explore some of Venice's most famous bridges and buildings.

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    venice pictures, carnevale pictures
    ••• Venice Carnevale Picture: Woman in Carnevale Costume. © 2009 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Venice's best-known festival is Carnevale – Carnival – which sees several weeks of celebrations in which Venetians dress in period dress, masks, and other finery. The festival, which typically occurs in February, is always packed with entertainment, food, and thousands of costumed revelers.

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    ••• Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

    The Biennale, an arts, film, and dance festival occurring every year in odd-numbered years since 1895 is synonymous with Venice. There is also a Biennale of Architecture and Theatre, which occurs every other year in even-numbered years. Thus, each year in Venice holds an opportunity to mingle with the brightest stars in the world of the contemporary arts.

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    burano photo
    ••• © by James Martin

    Venice is situated on a lagoon that includes islands and beaches suitable for a day trip. The top day trips include excursions to Murano, Burano, and/or Torcello, where you can watch craftsmen create their famous glass works or to the Venice Lido, which has a beautiful strip of beaches.

Guided Tours and Activities

A great way to experience the unique culture and history of Venice is by taking a guided tour or class. Choose one of these tours, ranging from food to sights, or activities such as mask-making, cooking, or rowing on your visit to Venice.