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Venice > Q&A > Sightseeing & local tours

Venice Travel FAQ:
Sightseeing and Local Tours

From: Venice Travel FAQ

Dog in Venice

ABOVE: If you're worried about getting lost, bring a dog to help you sniff out the sights.

  • 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 enjoy Venice.

  • 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 for a good selection.)

Still, if you enjoy guided tours, you can pre-book tours or private guides through Viator, GetYour Guide, local travel agencies, or top-quality specialist firms such as WalksInsideVenice.

We also recommend the tours of Gran Teatro La Fenice (Venice's opera house), the Grand Canal palazzo headquarters of Ca' Foscari University, the historic synagogues in the Ghetto, and Silvia Zanella's Discover Burano walking tours).

  • What's the best tour bargain in Venice?

We recommend taking the Linea Uno (No. 1) public water bus from Piazzale Roma to San Marco or beyond, preferably in late evening when the daytrippers have gone home and you can see the interiors of luxurious palazzi as you cruise up the Grand Canal. For details, see: Vaporetto Line 1 (Grand Canal).

  • Any more tips about things to see and do?

Yes. See:

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Venice Travel FAQ:
General questions about Venice
Planning a trip
Hotels and vacation apartments
Arriving and getting around
Money and tipping
Food and drink
Sightseeing and local tours
Personal safety and emergencies

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.

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