Check out our ultimate Venice bucket list for the best things to do in the city!
If you’re planning a trip to Venice, you are in for a treat! Venice is such a pretty city, full of interesting things to see and do. I have absolutely loved the time I’ve spent in Venice, and although it’s a popular tourist destination, I definitely think Venice is worth visiting.
This post is your go-to guide for the ultimate Venice Bucket List. Of course, Venice is famous for all of her charming, winding canals filled with floating gondolas. But there’s so much more to this city!
Each spot on our list is a snapshot of Venice’s beauty and charm. Whether you’re marveling at the grandeur of St. Mark’s Basilica, wandering through the vibrant Rialto Market, or crossing the famed bridges, you’ll feel Venice’s unique vibe. It’s a mix of awe-inspiring history and lively present-day culture.
23 Amazing Things for Your Venice Bucket List
1. Take a Water Bus Through the Grand Canal
One of our favorite memories in Venice was actually riding the water bus through the Grand Canal first thing in the morning. You can buy tickets and pick up the bus at the Piazza Roma at the very top of the Grand Canal, and then ride the bus to the Giardini stop at the far end of the island (or get off at San Marco or wherever you’d like).
I’d highly recommend doing this first thing in the morning, because it’s a much, much more pleasant experience when the boat isn’t too full and you can just sit in the very back and enjoy the view. Trust me, I speak from experience! Riding the water bus in the middle of the day when it’s jam-packed full of people is definitely not the same.
For 9.50€, it’s a great ride through Grand Canal.
2. Gondola Ride
It’s dreamy and romantic and one of the most “classically Venice” things you can do in the city (and yeah, pretty touristy, but who cares!) – you can’t visit Venice without going on a gondola ride. There are gondolas available for rides all over the city, navigating unique routes through the narrow, winding canals.
While there are a lot of gondolas that go up and down the Grand Canal, I’d actually recommend grabbing a gondola on a quieter back canal and taking the water bus through the Grand Canal. That way you can experience both types of water passageways (and the smaller canals are just so dang charming!).
On our gondola ride, we spent more of the time going through small canals, and then about 5 minutes in the Grand Canal – it was perfect!
It’s 80 € during the day, 100 € at night for a 30-minute ride, and the price is fixed.
3. St Mark’s Basilica
The Basilica di San Marco sits prominently on the Piazza di San Marco (St Mark’s Square) and is a jaw-dropping display of Italo-Byzantine architecture and the wealth that Venice once had. Its exterior boasts domes and archways clad in golden mosaics, complemented by the intricate tracery stonework typical of Venice.
Inside is no less impressive. The many domes and archways are covered in intricate gold-leafed mosaics and are interspersed with colorful mosaics portraying Biblical or religious scenes. The effect is a shimmering golden glow over the basilica. The ground is also covered in intricate tilework.
I’ve visited my fair share of gorgeous and outstanding churches in Europe and around the world, and the St. Mark’s Basilica had my jaw on the floor.
Different Areas: The church includes several must-visit areas (each with its own entrance fee): the main church (3€), the Pala d’Oro (5€), and the Museum + Terraces (7€), each with a separate entrance fee.
The museum, albeit small, offers a close look at the detailed mosaics and the original horses, leading to a terrace with stunning views of the basilica’s exterior, Piazza San Marco, and the Doge’s Palace.
Tickets: Advance ticket purchases are recommended, so you don’t have to stand in line. You can also buy tickets on-site, although this often involves a lengthy wait (we waited 30 minutes to get in).
Pro Tip: A guided tour would be a really good option for a visit to the church, to fully appreciate the history, significance, and craftsmanship of the building. We visited without a tour, but actually really wished we had the benefit of a tour guide as we were exploring the church.
👉This is a great guided tour option of the basilica during the daytime
👉 Alternatively, these night-time tours are a top-rated activity, where you get to experience the basilica illuminated by lights and without the crowds
4. St Mark’s Campanile
At nearly 100 meters tall, St. Mark’s Campanile (aka the Bell Tower) is Venice’s tallest structure and stands proudly outside of the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace in St Mark’s Square.
It was built back in the 10th century as a watchtower to see approaching ships, and also functioned as a landmark to guide ships into the harbor. The current bell tower is actually a reconstruction, after the original collapsed in the early 1900’s.
When you visit, it’s best to buy tickets ahead for a designated time slot, allowing you to walk right in without a wait. An elevator takes you to the top, where you can enjoy open-air, panoramic views over Venice.
From this vantage point, you can see numerous other bell towers and the sprawling Piazza San Marco below. The tower’s bells still ring every hour, echoing through the square, adding to the charm of your visit to this remarkable landmark.
5. Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace sits right next to the St. Mark’s Basilica on St. Mark’s Square, and showcases the wealth and power of the Venetian Republic at the height of its reign. This is one of the top things to do in the entire city.
The Doge was like a duke and was the chief magistrate and leading ruler of Venice. The Palace was both the residence of the Doge and the administrative center of the city.
The palace is full of endless, opulent rooms designed for different councils and meetings, which really highlighted how powerful Venice was and the power that the Doge and magistrates and council members had in the city.
The ceilings are almost the best part of all the rooms. They essentially have “golden picture frames” around different paintings and murals on the ceilings, and are incredibly detailed and ornate.
Besides regular administrative affairs, the Doge’s Palace also saw high amounts of intrigue, drama, and torture – unsurprising given the amount of power held in the city.
As part of the tour, you’ll cross the Bridge of Sighs that takes you from the palace to the dungeons (so named for the sigh prisoners would give for the last view they would have of the outside world). The tour continues through the dungeons and then ends back in the palace.
I would definitely recommend buying your tickets online in advance, so you can skip the queue. The official website was really confusing, but getting tickets through GetYourGuide was really easy. You can show up anytime, timed entry was not required.
6. Correr Museum
The Museo Correr, located on the far end of St. Mark’s Square, is housed in a former palace and has both beautiful architecture and priceless artwork on display.
A Somewhat Random Tip: As a book lover, I really enjoy visiting beautiful libraries around the world, and I saw that the National Library in Venice was open to the public… or so I thought. Turns out that the actual library is only open to users and students, but you can visit the Monumental Rooms of the National Library in the Correr Museum.
Unfortunately, the Monumental Rooms were a little disappointing – beautiful, to be sure, but they also didn’t have any books in them!
Your ticket to the Doge’s Palace also includes entry to the Correr Museum.
7. Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs, an iconic Venetian landmark, stretches over the Rio di Palazzo canal, connecting the Doge’s Palace to the historic prisons. This enclosed bridge, made of white limestone and adorned with windows barred with stone, is named for the sighs of prisoners catching their last glimpse of Venice before they get locked away.
The bridge is unique in that it is the only bridge in Venice that connects two buildings instead of two streets.
You’ll walk across the Bridge of Sighs during your visit to the Doge’s Palace, but the best view of the bridge itself is on the Ponte della Paglia, right off of the Riva degli Schiavoni.
8. Riva degli Schiavoni
The Riva degli Schiavoni is a walkway along the water, starting at the Piazza San Marco and continuing east, away from the city’s top attractions. This promenade is really lovely, and you’ll pass several noteworthy spots as you stroll (the viewpoint for the Bridge of Sighs, the Danieli Hotel, and the Chiesa della Pieta church).
This tends to be a pretty busy spot with lots of people and souvenir stands around, but it’s a wide promenade, there’s plenty of space, and the farther you get from Piazza San Marco the quieter it gets.
This is a particularly great spot for watching the sunset as well. Because of the way that Venice is oriented, you don’t really get sunsets over the water, but the evening views from the San Zaccharia F dock, just off of the Piazza San Marco, are really lovely.
9. Hotel Danieli
The Hotel Danieli, a Venetian gem with a pink facade along Riva degli Schiavoni, began as the 14th-century Palazzo Dandolo, built by the noble Dandolo family, and the palace hosted grand social gatherings and lavish parties for the nobility of Venice.
In 1822, the palace was transformed into a hotel, blending its historical grandeur with modern luxury.
When you step inside, you’re welcomed by beautiful marble staircases, archways, chandeliers, and intricately carved ceilings – it truly feels like you’re stepping into a palace.
We didn’t stay in the hotel, but we just stopped in and walked around, enjoying the feeling of having stepped into a palace, listening to the soft melodies being played on a grand piano in the corner of the dining room.
10. Libreria Acqua Alta
Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice’s unique bookstore, is a charming haven for book lovers. Housed in a simple building off a side street, it’s famed for keeping its books in waterproof basins, bathtubs, and even a full-size gondola to protect them from flooding.
It’s certainly a picturesque shop, filled with photo-worthy book displays and a few spots designed as photo-ops.
To avoid crowds and fully enjoy its quaint charm, it’s best to arrive early, ideally right at its 9 AM opening. The space is cozy, and it can get busy quickly, making early visits more enjoyable.
To be honest, I found this shop to be cute, but the aisles are very narrow and make it extremely difficult to navigate through if there are crowds. We got here at 9:30am, and it was busy but tolerable, but by the time we left 20 minutes later, it was packed and not worth it at that point.
I’d only visit if you can get there right at opening, otherwise, I don’t think its worth a stop.
11. Rialto Market
The Rialto Market is an authentic fish and produce market that has been in operation for almost a thousand years! Locals come here daily to pick up the catch of the day (with a wide variety of seafood on display) or peruse the juicy, fresh, vibrant fruits and vegetables available for purchase.
The fish market is pretty stinky, but it’s still fun to walk through and see all of the different types of fish being sold. The produce market has high-quality foods at very reasonable prices, as well as pasta mixes, rice mixes, and herb mixes that are more geared for tourists and are great things to bring home as gifts.
12. Teatro La Fenice
Teatro La Fenice is a gorgeous landmark in Venice that still sees relatively few visitors. The name of the opera house (“The Phoenix“) certainly foreshadowed its future – the theater has burned down and been rebuilt no less than three times.
The opera hall itself is gorgeous – there is seating on the floor and multiple levels of boxes in a horseshoe shape around the stage. The room is adorned with heavy fabrics, a painted ceiling, gold leafing, and intricate designs and sculptures.
We were in awe standing in the room, and even though we visited during the day, we immediately wanted to come back later to experience a show.
After you visit the opera hall, don’t miss the singing hall at the top of the staircase. This smaller room is designed for more intimate performances and is just stunning – adorned with delicate pink and cream curlycue designs in marble.
You can do a guided tour or a self-guided tour – both are great options. If you do self-guided, there is no need to buy a ticket in advance. The actual theater itself is sometimes not open because they are rehearsing for a show – you can check the times online before you go.
13. Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge, Venice’s oldest bridge over the Grand Canal (and one of only four that does so), is an architectural marvel and a symbol of the city.
Initially, a pontoon bridge was built in the late 1100’s, but that floating structure was replaced in 1255 by a more permanent wooden bridge due to increased traffic from people visiting the nearby Rialto market.
Finally, the current stone bridge that we all know and love was built in the late 1500’s. This large, wide bridge has sets of staircases going up each side that end in a central portico.
As you walk across the Rialto Bridge, you’re treated to stunning views of the Grand Canal. However, to truly appreciate its beauty and architectural ingenuity, it’s best to view it from the walkways along the canal.
Here, you can admire the bridge’s striking design and its integration into the vibrant life of Venice, making it a must-visit on any trip to the city.
14. T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace
T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi is a luxury shopping mall just around the corner from Rialto Bridge, and the very top of the mall has a rooftop terrace with some of the best views over the Grand Canal.
The best part about the terrace? It’s totally free to visit. You do need to make a timed-entry reservation to enter. These spots open up a week ahead of time and are usually gone within 1-2 days of becoming available.
15. Santa Maria della Salute
The Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, commonly known as the Salute, is one of Venice’s most notable churches. It sits right at the southern tip of the Grand Canal. The interior has beautiful sculptures, some small chapels, and open space right under the dome.
The basilica was constructed in response to the devastating plague of 1630, and is in honor of the deliverance of Venice from the plague – the name “Salute” meaning “health.” Built in a beautiful Baroque style, the art inside bears references to the Black Death.
The Salute’s dome has become a defining feature of the Venetian skyline, with the tall dome rising prominently against the backdrop of the surrounding sea.
16. San Giorgio Maggiore
Visiting the little island of San Giorgio Maggiore should definitely be a part of your itinerary for Venice!
The island offers beautiful views of the main island, and a chance to experience a quieter part of the Venetian lagoon. The island holds the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, built in the 16th century. It was designed by Palladio.
Even before you go to the island, you have to snap photos of the pristine white basilica from San Marco.
The campanile, similar to the one in San Marco, has a lift that you can ascend for views, not only of the main island but also other islands like Giudecca. Inside, look for two large paintings by Tintoretto.
Today the small island has an arts center and a theater If you visit during an exhibition, you may be able to see some of the art on display. Stroll around the church and take in the views of the boats in the harbor and the water before you head back.
Getting to San Giorgio Maggiore is easy: you simply ride the Vaporetto from San Marco.
17. Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
What might be a hidden gem is the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, a small palazzo in Venice. It’s a must see place and perfect for a weekend getaway in Venice.
The panoramic views from here are simply breathtaking. There is a beautiful spiral staircase known as the Scala Contarini del Bovolo which you can climb.
At the top you’ll find a stunning vista of Venice’s red-tiled rooftops and picturesque canals. Gothic, Renaissance, and Byzantine styles are blended together and showcased in the palace’s architecture.
Top tips for visiting: Take your time exploring each level, capturing the stunning cityscape at various heights. Don’t forget your camera for that perfect shot! To avoid crowds, aim for early morning or late afternoon.
Buy tickets ahead online. A full ticket costs 8 € but there are reduced tickets for children and elderly at € 6.
The palazzo is located on a hidden street near Campo Manin, about halfway between Campo San Bartolo and Campo Santo Stefano, which are both not too far from Rialto.
18. Madonna dell’Orto Church
The neighborhood of Cannaregio in Venice isn’t the most popular part of the Floating City, but there is one compelling reason to explore it, hidden away on the city’s quiet northern shore.
Cannaregio is home to several fine Venetian churches, and the best of these is Madonna dell’Orto, between the Ghetto and Cannaregio Canal. It’s named after a statue of the Virgin Mary believed to have healing properties.
But its main claim to fame is that it was the parish church of the great Venetian artist Tintoretto, and has one of the two best collections of his work in the world. It’s also his burial place.
Jacopo Robusti was born in 1518, the son of a dyer – hence his later name, Tintoretto. He spent most of his life in Venice, which included a brief, turbulent apprenticeship to another great Venetian master, Titian.
Some of his greatest works are in Madonna dell’Orto. His superb Last Judgment is perhaps the best-known work on display. However several others can also be seen, including St Peter’s Vision of the Cross and The Beheading of St Paul.
If you visit Madonna dell’Orto, try to coincide it with the opening times of the Casa di Tintoretto, the house where the artist lived on the Fondamenta dei Mori.
19. Crypt of San Zaccaria Church
The flooded crypt of San Zaccaria Church is a unique attraction in Venice, steps away from San Marco Square.
It is mostly overlooked by tourists because, from the outside, it looks just like another church. However, San Zaccaria Church, which dates from the 9th century, is special.
As you enter the church you will see its impressive and unique to Northern Europe architecture, with its walls covered in paintings by famous artists of the 17th and 18th centuries.
The entrance to the church is free, but to see the crypt and the Golden Chapel, you will have to pay 3 euros.
The crypt is flooded, and you can’t really walk around it. You can descend a staircase, in two different areas, to see it though. The crypt has eight tombs inside, where early doges of Venice are buried.
Besides the crypt, the ticket also includes access to the Golden Crypt, which has part of the original mosaic floor, from the 9th century.
The Choir Chapel, which is at the entrance of the crypt, has some very famous paintings hanging on the walls, including a large work by Tintoretto.
The flooded crypt of San Zaccaria Church is without a doubt a hidden gem in Venice, so don’t miss it when you visit the city.
20. Sample Cicchetti
Cicchetti is one of Venice’s delicious local cuisine, and you can find it throughout the city. Very similar to tapas, cicchetti is composed of slices of crusty bread topped with various assortments of meat, seafood, cheese, and sauces.
Since we were in Venice, seafood features prominently in cicchetti toppings, but you can also find options like caprese.
21. Visit the Island of Murano
Another thing you absolutely need to add to your Venice bucket list is a day trip to Murano.
Murano, a small archipelago consisting of seven individual islands connected by bridges, is just a short 10-minute ferry ride from Venice.
Exactly like Venice, Murano has its own Canale Grande running down from one end of the island to the other. Although it’s not as big as the original one it’s still great to see all the old buildings on each side of it.
Another place you shouldn’t miss seeing in Murano is the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato. Apparently, the basilica contains bones of a slain dragon that can be found behind the altar.
However, the main reason why a trip to Murano is a must-do is neither the church nor the smaller Canale Grande. It’s the long tradition of glass-making. Visitors from all over the world come to this island to purchase the most gorgeous things made out of the iconic Murano glass.
To understand this tradition a bit better, plan a visit to the Museo del Vetro where you’ll learn the story of glass through many centuries. And don’t forget to buy a small glass figure as a souvenir!
22. Visit the Island of Burano
When it comes to Venice bucket list activities, it is worth mentioning not only the center of Venice but also the surrounding smaller islands. One of these is the island of Burano, a real highlight in the area.
Burano is a small island in the Venetian Lagoon, relatively far from Venice, but can be easily reached by regular Vaporetto service.
If you are in Venice, it is worth spending a half or whole day in Burano. The main attraction of the island is its brightly colored houses. Seeing the increasingly colorful streets, strolling along the canals, or taking a boat trip around the area are all great experiences.
Burano is also famous for its lace-making, which has a centuries-old historical tradition. For those interested in local history, a visit to the Lace Museum is also recommended.
While in Burano, don’t miss the local Italian restaurants, where you can sample Italian cuisine in a more peaceful and charming setting than in the bustling center of Venice.
All in all, whether you are traveling specifically to Venice or as a stop on a longer Italian journey, Burano is a destination that is highly recommended to visit.
23. Visit Lido Island
As discussed above, the enchanting Burano is a great place to visit, and popular for tourists. But you should also consider a visit to Lido!
Just a 20 minute vaporetto ride from the Venice train station, Lido Island offers the closest beach to Venice itself, and is also well-known for the Venice Film Festival.
Lido Beach is the most popular beach on the Island with white sands and great views. Others include Alberoni – a wild beach, popular with locals and a bit isolated, and Blue Moon Beach, which stretches along the exquisite hotels and has several amazing restaurants nearby.
But Lido is not only about the beaches. Malamocco is a charming village, connected to Lido by several bridges. The most significant buildings in the village are Santa Maria Assunta Church, Palazzo del Podestà, and Ponte Borgo.
Strolling along Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta will allow you to see numerous beautiful historic buildings – we loved the astonishing facade of Grande Albergo Ausonia & Hungaria.
The historical Church of San Nicolo hosts the famous Festa della Sensa dedicated to the marriage between Venice and the sea.
Venice Bucket List – The Wrap Up
Venice definitely belongs on your northern Italy itinerary (along with amazing destinations like Milan and Lake Como!) There are so many interesting things to do and places to see in Venice. You could easily spend many days, weeks even, exploring this fairytale city.