Venice for Visitors logo
Venice Home All topics
Where to stay Transportation

Arrow. Helping 30+ million Venice travelers since 1997

Venice > Sightseeing > Fondaco dei Tedeschi

Fondaco dei Tedeschi roof terrace

For a 13th Century aerial view of Venice, visit the free observation deck of a former palazzo that is now a luxury department store.

Fondaco dei Tedeschi rooftop terrace view, Venice, Italy.

ABOVE: The Fondaco dei Tedeschi's rooftop observation terrace offers free views of the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, and other Venice landmarks.

At a glance:

Admission: Free (online booking required)

Visitors to Venice have long enjoyed looking out on the city's rooftops and canals from the Campanile di San Marco, the Campanile di San Giorgio Maggiore, and the major bridges (especially the Ponte di Rialto and Ponte di Accademia) on the Grand Canal. But in recent years, a little-known newcomer has expanded the city's aerial sightseeing options:

  • The Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a luxury department store in a 13th Century palazzo near the Rialto Bridge, offers great (and free) views from a rooftop observation deck. And because the Fondaco requires reservations in advance, you can enjoy views or snap selfies away from the crowds.

First, a little background on the Fondaco dei Tedeschi:

 The Fondado dei Tedeschi (in English, "Warehouse of the Germans") was built in 1228 as a place where German merchants could live and trade with Venetians. It burned down less than 300 years later and was rebuilt between 1505 and 1508.

The Germans left around 1800 (after the fall of the Venetian Empire and the arrival of Napoleon's troops), and the building slowly rotted until the Italian post office bought it in 1925.

From 1925 until the early 2000s, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi served as Venice's main post office, and I can remember buying stamps at a window in the palazzo's vast interior back in the day.

The Italian post office sold the Fondaco in 2008. In 2016, after several years of renovations, the palazzo reopened as the first European store of the high-end duty-free retailer DFS. (You can read more about the building's history here.)

As part of the palazzo's restoration, a viewing terrace was constructed on the roof. (This replaced a 19th Century pavilion, according to a 20th Century Architecture report.)

The terrace is open to the general public--not just to luxury shoppers--and you can visit it free of charge.

How to visit the observation deck:

Fondaco dei Tedeschi booking form screen capture.

1. Reserve a 15-minute time slot for yourself and your companiuons. Click here for the Fondaco dei Tedeschi's Wb site, then scroll down and click the Web site's "Book Now" button to make a reservation. You can reserve up to 21 days before your visit.

We recommend booking as early as you can. Only 50 spaces are available per 15-minute time segment, and the Fondaco doesn't have a waiting list. If you show up without a reservation, you'll be turned away. (Only about a dozen people had reservations during one of our visits, but the guards still didn't allow walk-ons.)

Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice, Italy - view of interior courtyard.

2. On the day of your appointment, enter the Fondaco dei Tedeschi by any door. Use this Google Map to find the palazzo's location near the Rialto Bridge.

Go directly to the top floor by elevator, escalators, or stairs. When you get there, follow the signs.

Note: We suggest arriving early, since it takes a few minutes to get upstairs. (You might also want to use the toilets on the top floor, since public facilities can be hard to find in Venice.)

Fondaco dei Tedeschi security guard checking rooftop terrace reservation.

3. Inside the Fondaco's top-floor events center, a security guard will check your reservation.

If you can't find the confirmation e-mail on your phone, just give your name, and the guard will consult the reservations list.

Fondac dei Tedeschi: Visitors climb stairs to the rooftop terrace.

4. At the appointed time, the security guards will open the door, giving you access to the rooftop. You'll have 15 minutes to enjoy the views.

More photos:

People on roof terrace of Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice.

The Fondaco dei Tedeschi's rooftop is open year-round. You'll have to take potluck with the weather, but it's well worth visiting even on wet or chilly days.

The management reserves the right to close the terrace if ice, high winds, etc. present risks to visitors.

Fondaco dei Tedeschi view of Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal, Venice.

The most dramatic view from the Fondaco's terrace includes the Grand Canal with the Rialto waterbus station on the left and the Rialto Bridge in the foreground.

Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice view of Rialto Bridge.

Buddhist monks near Rialto Bridge, Venice.

During a daytime visit, our telephoto lens captured shoppers and monks on and around the Rialto Bridge.

Water buses and other boats on the Grand Canal from the Fondaco dei Tedeschi roof terrace.

Zooming in on the Grand Canal gave us a good view of a vaporetto, an Alilaguna airport boat, water taxis, and several gondole or gondolas.

Basilica di San Marco and Campanile di San Marco from Fondaco dei Tedeschi rooftop terrace.

From the Fondaco's roof terrace, we could see the Basilica di San Marco and its domes (left) and the Campanile or Bell Tower of San Marco.

Italian Alps near Venice from the Fondaco dei Tedeschi.

Although skies were gloomy when we visited the Fondaco on an afternoon in late November, we were able to see the Italian Alps across the Venetian Lagoon.

Altana in Venice from the rooftop terrace of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi.

Nearby, an altana or rooftop deck adorned a residential building in the San Marco district of Venice.

Cheryl Imboden takes a selfie on the roof terrace of Venice's Fondaco dei Tedeschi.

With only a few minutes left in our 15-minute visit, my wife Cheryl snapped a selfie with the Grand Canal as a backdrop.

Waiting in line for the rooftop terrace of Venice's Fondaco dei Tedeschi.

On another day, we waited in line for a 5:45 p.m. visit to the Fondaco dei Tedeschi's roof terrace.

Grand Canal at night from Fondaco dei Tedeschi's roof terrace in Venice, Italy.

It was dark by the time we stepped onto the Fondaco's roof to view the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge.

Cloud across setting sun in Venice, Italy.

A cloud crossed the setting sun.

Rialto Food markets and the Grand Canal with a vaporetto.

Looking up the Grand Canal in the opposite direction, we saw a vaporetto and the Rialto Food Markets (left).

Cheryl Imboden selfie with Grand Canal from the Fondaco dei Tedeschi roof terrace in Venice, Italy.

Cheryl grabbed another selfie with her phone. 

Fondaco dei Tedeschi Christmas decorations, Venice, Italy.

On our way downstairs via the grand staircase, we took this photo of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi's interior courtyard and its Christmas decorations.

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden has written about Venice, Italy since 1996. He covered Venice and European travel at for 4-1/2 years before launching Europe for Visitors (including Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl Imboden in 2001.

PC Magazine
has called this "the premier visitors' site for Venice, Italy." Over the years, it has helped more than 30 million travelers. For more information, see About our site, our Europe for Visitors press clippings, and our reader testimonials.