What's the best sightseeing strategy for Venice?
Take a long walk. Let yourself get lost.
Why? Because Venice's biggest sightseeing attraction is Venice
itself. Venezia is a remarkable city that was built almost entirely on
a chain of 118 islands, using millions of wooden pilings (harvested from forests
on the mainland) to support buildings that mostly date from the 1300s through
the 1700s. Its street plan is complicated, confusing, and delightful, with a
surprise around every corner.
Don't get us wrong: You'll also want to allow time for a handful
of "must-see" tourist attractions such as the
Piazza San Marco,
St. Mark's Basilica, and the
Rialto Bridge. Visits to the Doge's
Palace and a museum or two should also be on your agenda if you're in Venice for
more than a few days.
If you like churches (or even if you're indifferent), wander
into a few churches like Santa Maria della Salute and some of our own favorites:
Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Gianovanni e Paolo, San Giacomo dall'Orio, Madonna
dell'Orto, and San Nicolò dei Mendicoli. (See
The Churches of Venice
and buy a Chorus Pass before
setting out.) The Venetian Ghetto is also interesting. If you have time, you
might want to consider a self-guided
Venice islands tour by public
transportation to Murano
and other islands in the Venetian Lagoon.
But for the most part, walking without a goal is the best way to
What guided tours do you recommend?
Unless you're pressed for time or have a limited capacity for
walking, you don't need sightseeing tours. Just enjoy the remarkable urban
landscape and see how Venetians live their everyday lives. (A sightseeing
guidebook can be useful; visit
Libreria Studium near the Piazza San Marco or the gift shop in the main
Venice tourist office for a good selection.)
Still, if you enjoy guided tours, you can pre-book tours through
Viator or (more expensively) hire a private guide. See our
Venice Tours page for suggestions with links.
We also recommend the tours of
Gran Teatro La Fenice
(Venice's opera house), the Grand Canal palazzo headquarters of
Ca' Foscari University, and the
in the Ghetto).
What do you think of the Vaporetto dell'Arte "hop
on, hop off" water bus?
It's expensive, and we aren't all sure that it's necessary.
Still, it can be a decent value if you buy your Vaporetto dell'Arte ticket in
combination with a Tourist Travel Card for public transportation. For more
information, see: Vaporetto
Any more tips about things to see and do?