When In Venice Italy: The Best Ultimate Guide [2021]

Things to Do in Venice
Amazing Things To Do In Venice Italy

Your Guide In Venice Italy

For many when you think of Italy you think of the rolling hills and cypress trees of Tuscany, or the amazing waterfront towns like Cinque Terre, but for our family being in Venice Italy is like being a kid in a candy store with no limit there is always a unique treat.

As the capital of the Veneto Region of Northern Italy, Venice actually lies on 100+ small islands that are connected by a series of bridges and uniquely linked by canals.

With a population floating around 270K, Venice is by no means one of the largest cities in Veneto, but it is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country.

Now you can experience the same not as a tourist but as a local.

Come be mesmerized by the beautiful and epic sites in Venice with your family. Whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind laced scarf, a gondola ride through the beautiful narrow canals, or hand-made pieces of Marano glass.

In this detailed guide, we will show you how to do it safely, cheaply, and have a family adventure that you will leave your friends drooling over.

Essentials When In Venice Italy

Electric Sockets: Electricity in Italy conforms to the European standard, coming out of the wall socket at 220 volts alternating at 50 Hz.

In contrast, in the USA electricity comes out of the wall socket at 110 volts, alternating at 60 Hz. Be sure your device is dual voltage.

If you look on your device for small writing you should see 110-240v, if you don’t see those magic numbers then you will need a converter in Venice Italy. If you see them then just a plug adaptor is fine.

*Click here to see an example plug outlet
Currency: Euro
Visa: Due to COVID this one has gotten tricky but here is the latest from the US Travel Advisory website. For UK travelers here’s a good resource for visas and up-to-date COVID entry requirements.

As a rule of thumb if you are staying for less than 90 days and are a US citizen because Italy is a member of the European Union and signer of the Schengen convention.

British citizens are covered by a Schengen visa waiver. This means you do not need to apply for a Schengen visa to visit these countries for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

-Tourist travel
-Some business activities, such as attending meetings
Language: As diverse as the country of Italy is, in Venice Italy, you will find that the dominant language is Italian, just like the majority of the other country. The good news is that many shop owners and locals speak English.
Keep this quick chart handy for reference.

In Venice Italy Map It Like A Pro

The GOOD news is Italy is allowing tourist travel at this time, fortunately for you, we already went through the pain for you.

All sit in restaurants, public transportation, museums, churches almost anything in closed requires you to have what they call a Green Pass. Italy has its own but fortunately, they are accepting any that have been issued by competent and comparable local health authorities.

Due to the ever-changing guidelines, you can find the latest updates for Americans here when traveling in Italy.

Things To Do In Venice Italy


1. Ponte di Rialto Bridge (FREE)

Thomas' at the Ponte di Rialto bridge
Take a walk with us over the bridge

There may be four large bridges that span the Grand Canal, but the main one that everyone loves and knows is the magnificent Rialto Bridge.

Which started out as a wooden pontoon bridge in the 12th century which stood for hundreds of years but collapsed in 1524.

The current bridge was built in the late 16th century, at a time when critics claimed that it would soon fall into ruin. But more than four centuries later, the Rialto Bridge still stands in splendid defiance.

The detail and design of the bridge are simply beautiful and its symmetry perfectly frames the grand canal.

Shops line the center of the bridge, the perfect place to pick up a Venetian souvenir like jewelry or some famous Murano glass.

The rialto bridge one of the most iconic bridges in Italy in the background as a gondola glides toward the white bridge with arched openings.

Dive deep into the culture of Venice and see it from the eyes of a Venetian, with a Venice walking tour.

2. Libreria Acqua Alta Book Store (FREE)

See the Libreria Acqua Alta
The coolest book store in the world

Why would a book store have their books protected like they are the Pope? Seriously they are in bathtubs, gondola boats, and protective water sleaves?

Due to the constant flooding like what happened on November 12, 2019, the water reached a peak of six feet (2 meters).

When perusing through the Libreria Acqua Alta Book Store be careful of the crabby Instagramers trying to get the best shot for their feed.

If you have time grab a book from this unique one-of-a-kind bookstore but take the book with you rather than sit around the picturesque walls.

3. The Bridge Of Sighs (FREE)

The bridge of sighs
Don’t want to be crossing that one.

Part of the impressive collection of bridges in Venice, Italy, the Bridge of Sighs is one of the most known in the world.

This Venetian enclosed limestone bridge is located next to the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy.

It was commissioned by the Doge Marino Grimani, whose family coat-of-arms can be seen in the center of the facade.

Even though most tourists are oblivious to this fact you won’t be. The sighs the bridge refers to are not of love, but despair! In fact, for some, the Bridge of Sighs was the last bridge they would ever cross.

Therefore, the name of the bridge refers to the heavy sighs of convicts who, crossing the bridge to go to prison, knew they were probably seeing Venice for the last time and possibly losing their life.

Now that you know the truth if you want to see it up close it will cost you not too much though when you tour the Doges’ Palace [AFFILL]. Or just grab a free shot like us 😉.

Gondola Ride through the windy canals in Venice Italy

Take a private Gondola ride tour under the bridge of sighs, don’t be like the criminals crying because you missed this tour.

4. See Doges Palace ($)

Doges Palace In Venice Italy
Doges Palace

When taking in The Doges Palace you shouldn’t think of it as a whole you want to see it in parts of an amazing whole. The exterior, the courtyard, and the history.

Exterior

The oldest part of the palace is the wing overlooking the lagoon, the beautiful corners you see are decorated with 14-century sculptures said to have been designed by various Lombard artists (the region we live in).

The beautiful entrance you go through today is via the Porta del Frumento, on the waterfront side of the building.

This was not always the entrance, the entrance in 1438-1442 was the Porta Della Carta, which was deemed the ceremonial entrance to the building.

What about the courtyard?

Courtyard

One of the main features you will see is the magnificent staircase in the courtyard, which was constructed in the 15 century.

Since 1567, the Giant Staircase is guarded by Sansovino’s two colossal statues of Mars and Neptune, which represent Venice’s power by land and by sea, and therefore the reason for its name.

The history goes without saying.

History

The Republic of Venice was developed in the 8th century and continued to exist until the late 18th century when Napoleon embarked on his conquest.

During that period, the republic was presided over by none other than “The Doge”, a chief magistrate elected for life by Venetian nobles. Basically, this guy was a meld between the pope and a president.

With all the being said it still doesn’t even begin to touch the amazing views you will get, the history, or the tours that are at the palace. Take the Doge’s Palace Tour [AFFIL] and be amazed by the amazing sights and architecture.

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Thomas Tip: Save in Venice by purchasing these tickets ahead of time, tickets are normally limited for certain times get them ahead so you’re not missing the fun.

Doges Palace In Venice Italy

Venice is already going to be crowded skip the line with a VIP pass and explore the inside of this beautiful building like a royal.

5. St. Mark’s Square (FREE- $$$)

Piazza San Marco or St. Mark's square is being viewed from the canal as you see the winged lion
Piazza San Marco or St. Mark’s square still beautiful

Whilst St. Mark’s Basilica is the most famous building in Venice, St Mark’s Square is the most famous piazza.

Located on the grand canal, opposite the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, this square holds huge importance in Venice and is a truly spectacular place to visit.

Surrounding the Piazza is a series of ornate buildings with arched walkways that frame it perfectly.

There are loads of important buildings located in the square including St Mark’s Campanile, St Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, and Torre dell’Orologio.

This square really is the perfect place to start your tour of Venice and tick off some of its most impressive sights.

You can even catch your gondola or water taxi here as a quick location point for the family you cant forget this spot.

A few cafes line the North end, so it’s a nice place to sit with a beer, spritz, or espresso and chew on your flaky croissant.

St. Marks Restaurant Receipt (REAL)

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Thomas Tip: If you choose to dine be careful of the “live music” charge. They put this on your bill automatically. Save that Euro’s and have a refreshment somewhere else.

6. St. Mark’s Basilica ($)

St. Marks Basilica at night reflecting into a puddle left form the rain.
St. Marks Basilica come see me at night

This is one of the amazing wonders of Venice in St. Marks Square if the name didn’t give it away.

This is one of the most famous churches in Venice. The most amazing thing about the church is the design influence and that it has stood the test of time since its creation in 1092 and remains one of the most important religious buildings in Northern Italy.

When visiting the church there are a few things to keep in mind even though entrance to the church is FREE there are normally long lines, for when going with the kids either have a stroller or strong shoulders.

Not only is the outside beautiful but the inside has an amazing small museum inside, but what we loved the most were the views from the outside terrace.

Even if you are only here for a few days it’s still a must-see stop even if you only get a chance to view the exteriorized.

The inside of the dodges palace with a gold ceiling and marble pillars surrounding the middle arch and a picture of a basilica on the ceiling

Don’t miss the history of the basilica. With this personally picked tour, you won’t miss a thing.

7. Gallerie dell’Accademia ($)

Come visit the Gallerie dell Accademia on a bright sunny day like thsi
Gallerie dell Accademia

The Gallerie Dell’Accademia is home to many of the most amazing art pieces, but its history is even more amazing.

It was one of the first institutions to study art restoration starting in 1777, but in 1807 the academy was re-founded by Napoleonic decree.

At this point the name was changed from Veneta Academia di Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (wow what a mouth full) to Accademia Reale di Belle Arti, “royal academy of fine arts”.

After all the changing there was another one, the Gallerie dell’Accademia became independent from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia in 1879.

Which is perfect for those who love Renaissance art and iconic masterpieces.

Possibly its best-known piece is the Vitruvian Man by Da Vinci which shows the ideal proportions of man.

Other memorable works include the Resurrection by Tintoretto, Virgin and the Child by Titian, and the Battle of Lepanto by Veronese.

Even if you don’t go in it sits on the edge of the Grand Canal wouldn’t want to miss that.

Colorful picture in venice with a gondola going under an old wooden venice bridge

The Gallerie dell’Accademia is an amazing museum that can only be described as picturesque. But paints are just paintings without the history behind them this tour is perfect.

8. Only In Venice Can You See A Gondola Being Made (FREE)

Gondola boat making shop Squero di San Trovaso in venice italy
Catch a glimpse of gondola history.

Squero di San Trovaso is part of a dying Venetian tradition because it’s one of the last remaining Venetian gondola boatyards remaining.

Don’t expect a miraculous boat show, if you are fortunate you will get a chance to see them working on a €35,000-50,000 gondola. But still well worth the travel.

Two hundred years ago, there were 10,000 gondolas in Venice. Although the aristocracy preferred horses to boats through the early Middle Ages, beginning in the 14th century, when horses were outlawed from the streets of Venice, the noble class embraced gondolas as a respectable form of transportation.

Today, there are about 400 gondolas in service, used only by tourists. The boats are more lavish now, but they row the same way they always have.

Even though the Squero di San Trovaso isn’t a bring your tourist to work workshop. There is a unique Gondola Making experience [AFFIL] that you and the family can attend and I must say it is amazing.

Head shot of Marcus
Thomas Tip: This tour is amazing you can meet one of the men behind the beautiful gondola boats forcola.

 Two men one in a red shirt the other in a white shirt the man in the red shirt is a master gondola forcola wood workman in venice italy

Meet Piero in his workshop in the heart of Venice and learn all about the process of creating this magical Venetian item from beginning to end.

9. Ride A Gondola In Venice ($$)

Gondola Ride through the windy canals in Venice Italy
Gondola Ride loved it

I can already hear it, are the gondola rides expensive? Should I really do one?

Riding a Venetian gondola is simple, expensive, and one of the great experiences in Europe. So in short the answer is YES!

To put it simply if you can go to Paris, France, and not see the Eifel Tower, Louver, or Notre Dame then your good, go ahead and miss it.

I will say this though since you came to Venice for culture and history you will not want to miss a ride.

Tips For Riding A Gondola In Venice

There are dozens and dozens of gondola stations along the canals but don’t be fooled like a tourist ride a gondola like a local.

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Thomas Tip: Prices are standard and listed on the gondoliers’ association website SAVE yourself some time from arguing and purchase ahead with a trusted gondolier.[AFFIL]

Once you’re on board, put the smartphone down and let all your senses take control. Don’t worry about getting 300 Facebook likes, savor the scene as the gondola glides through quiet canals.

Best advice from a FRUGAL (not cheap traveler) approach with the right attitude, the experience can be extremely breathtaking (and, I think, worth the extra cost to experience at night). Especially with a significant other.

Gondola Ride through the windy canals in Venice Italy

Board an authentic gondola and take a romantic ride. See the sights along the historical part of the Canal Grande.

10. Basilica Di Santa Maria Della Salute ($)

Floating past Basilica Di Santa Maria Della Salute on a boat.
Basilica Di Santa Maria Della Salute

In the 21 century, COVID has been a horrible pandemic that has plagued the world but especially the beautiful people of Italy.

Even though this has been a trying time for all Italians the Venetians especially are not strangers to plagues in the 17th century Venice suffered a horrendous outbreak of the bubonic plague.

In particular, the basilica of Santa Marica Della’Salute was erected as a liberation from the plague which in the two-year in Venice, claimed 80,000 victims.

Even though this was such a tragic time things are better now even with the COVID pandemic around.

The basilica is positioned near the entrance to the Grand Canal. Entrance is FREE, to be honest, all we did was simply chill out on the church staircase. The Vaporetto water taxi is only about 15 steps away too.

Gondola Ride through the windy canals in Venice Italy

Board an authentic gondola and take a romantic ride. See the sights along the historical part of the Canal Grande.

11. Crafted Murano Glass Sculptures (FREE – $$)

This was one of the greatest experiences our family has experienced in Venice.

This is a video we took of a Murano Glass shop owner. It is well worth the wait to get your own custom piece of glass.

Did you know Murano is one of many islands in Venice Italy find the best islands of Venice for you and the family HERE?

Head shot of Marcus
Thomas Tip: Before you look at anything else find a Murano glass shop and design your piece so it can cure while walking the city. Watching isn’t enough go to a Murano Glass factory

Murano is one of the many small islands just outside of Venice, reachable via water taxi. It’s become known around the world for its glass-making artisans.

Many will tell you to visit the museum of Museo del Vetro but to us, it wasn’t worth the stop as you will see if you find a knowledgeable shop owner you can learn all you need from them.

Even though Murano is an amazing island for glasswork. There are other islands that you can enjoy the easiest way is to get an Island Hopper Pass.

water taxis Venice traveling through the water

See the highlights of 3 islands on 1 handy boat trip. You will be awed by the best local tips from your savvy guide on these 3 Venice Islands.

12. Get Mesmarized by A Venetian Sunset (FREE)

A beautiful pink 17th century venetian building overlooking a sunset.
I fell in LOVE all over again

When you think of Venice Italy and all the architecture, museums, and history don’t forget the FREE stuff.

Venice is known for some of the most amazing sunsets due to the buildings and the skyline the buildings create.

Here is a MAP of some of the best spots to see the sun even though we didn’t get a chance to view the sunset in a secret spot on Murano Island we still got a beautiful view over the Grand Canal.

water taxis Venice traveling through the water

Enjoy a romantic adventure in Venice and climb aboard a beautiful Venetian boat to cruise around the city as the sunsets.

13. Shop With The Locals Rialto Market (FREE – $$)

Rialto Fish Market (Pescheria) where all the local fisherman display their locally caught fish.

There is freshly caught and then there is slap you in the face fresh. The Venice Rialto Market is one of the most unique markets in the world.

We have been to the La Boqueria along the La Rambla in Spain, and we still love this one the most.

Local Venetians still do their daily shopping here for a treat for the senses, with artful piles of peaches, cherries, artichokes, and red chicory from Treviso.

The location of the Rialto market is northwest of the Rialto Bridge in the district of San Polo.

The place is alongside the Grand Canal to the right behind the souvenir stalls. Just use the map to know exactly where it’s at.

What you see in the picture is the fish market which is next door, get the full experience of a real fish market. You can hear them shouting “fresh fish, fresh fish” (pesce fresco, pesce fresco)!

The fishers directly prepare the fish, so locals and restaurants can buy the fish immediately. The fish is the freshest you can ever get… And above all, it is fun to watch! 

A lady in a white apron with writing on it. in yellow and black. She is making fresh pasta in a pasta machine in venice on the market tour

Experience one of the most vibrant sites in Venice on a tour of Rialto Market with a friendly chef. Select seasonal ingredients to prepare and cook an authentic Italian meal.

14. Just Get Lost in Venice Italy (FREE)

Getting lost in Venice is always rewarding, you get to see beautiful building red, yellow, and purple.
Getting Lost In Venice

Things in Europe are generally smaller but this becomes a huge advantage in Venice. Due to this, there are so many alleys that you can get lost in.

You can only see so much and do so much especially if you are on a budget so why not get lost.

When we got lost we found a Venician treat called “Cicchetti” or “Cichéti“.

Cicchetti bars (bacari) serve little plates of inexpensive food in addition to wine, prosecco, and the occasional Aperol Spritz.

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Thomas Tip: We got hit with a €290+ bill don’t fall for the same trick. Ask how much is each one if there are no prices and budget from there. Food tours are a GREAT way to avoid that. [AFFIL]

15. Leonardo da Vinci Museum Venice ($)

Leonardo da Vinci Museum even in a foggy day it's nice.
Leonardo da Vinci Museum

Does this building look familiar? If you said Indiana Jones “The Last Crusaders” you are right it was the imaginary Venice library.

Even though it is something out of a movie set it is something very much real now as the Leonardo da Vinci Museum.

Even though the use of mask are required and anyone over the age of 12 must present either a certificate attesting to the administration of the first dose of the vaccine, which took place at least 15 days prior to the visit to the exhibition or a confirmation of the healing from Covid-19 within the last 6 months; the negative result of a swab performed no more than 48 hours prior to the exhibition visit.

The beautiful thing is because the artwork is only renditions it allows you to really explore, examine, and experience these pieces to the fullest.

The museum is a very interactive experience (great for kids) all machines work and many can be tested.

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Thomas Tip: If you buy tickets make sure to show up on time. If not you will lose the reservation and will not be refunded.

A white poster is attached to a wall in the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum bookstore depicting the ideal man and a red poster to the right with white writing on it and a lot of books on tables about Da Vinci in Venice

Enjoy a family-friendly exhibition and stimulate your curiosity by tapping into the genius mind of Leonardo da Vinci. The museum is themed around the 4 elements of earth, water, fire, and air.

Best Times To Visit Venice Italy

Being from Orlando, Florida we hate crowds so if you are the same then I would avoid June – August.

We went in December it was a perfect getaway not too crowded and due to it being low season you can find amazing deals on hotels and VRBO.

Many tourists scurry away from this time due to the “high water” or flooding that occurs frequently but we had no issues in December.

If you don’t mind it being a little more crowded not like summer but still crowded visits during March-May and then September-November are also good alternatives.

Where To Stay When In Venice Italy

Staying in Venice is a must the extra €30 a night you save if you have a family you spend in transportation to and from the city, Venice is a pedestrian only city.

Normally I would just find the cheapest rental car company that I can find for good value and say take the drive, but here is different.

We have done the hard work again use the interactive map above you can move it to find exactly what you want and even see the ratings for all local rental properties in one spot.

By using this map we found a GREAT accommodation option, we found a 2 bedroom apartment for $129 a night with a kitchen.

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Thomas Tip: Make sure when looking on our interactive map look at areas not next to the famous spots to save HUGE!

Hotels In Venice Italy

If staying inside of a hotel is more your speed that’s fine too, we have done both.

Use the interactive map to look at local hotels and reviews, the best thing to do is book this page so you can book the hotels direct and get exclusive offers on some hotels.

Getting Around In Venice

This can depend on where you are in Italy if you are in Florence, Italy check out this article it gives you a detailed guide to get from Florence to Venice by train [INT].

Most travelers will be coming into Venice through Marco Polo Airport (not the game…save your laughs). There are a few options to get to venice by bus on the ATVO transport to Piazzale Roma. Buses leave every 20 minutes and cost around €6-€8.

Boat to Venice

We recommend starting your unforgettable trip off right by taking a boat to Venice.

Vaporetto In Venice (Water Bus)

  • A single ticket costs €7.50 (One ride – one way)
  • 24 hour Unlimted ticket €20
  • 48-hours for €30
  • 72-hours for €40 (BEST VALUE)
  • Timetables here. Book tickets online in advance here .

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Thomas Tip: Children up to the age of six travel FREE on the AVM/ACTV urban services in the Municipality of Venice.

The Ultimate Summary Guide In Venice

  • Parents with little children dont forget to pack a stroller there is a lot of walking ahead and those little legs are “not made for walking…”
  • Before booking a flight see which airport is best for you. Check out this airport guide.
  • Beaches in Venice Italy are another free way to save money and keep the family cool.
  • If you have a travel card that uses points dont forget to use it and play with dates and dont be afraid to call the free concierges to see what they have available. Chase is a great card to have with no internatioanl foreign transaction fees (cha-ching) see there best cards here.
  • To avoid the huge influx of cruise ship passengers that hail down like a swarm of bees on Venice, check out this Cruise Ship Calendar [AFFIL] to help avoid the crowds.
  • Speaking of crowds, mentally prepare for them. Unless you prefer to visit on the off-season (like us), Venice is NEVER NOT packed, think Disney on a peak day 60,000 – 80,000 people a day!
  • Buy a Vaporetto ticket for the whole time you’re in the city. Visiting for 3 days? It’s worth it to get the 72-hour unlimited ticket for €40.
  • Don’t waste money on bottled water. Almost every public square has a free water fountain. Just bring a reusable water bottle, similar to this one! [AFFIL]
  • Buy tours and experiences before you go as most have limited tickets and time slots, use our curated list to create an itenerary from our above suggestions.
  • There is no way for you to see absolutely everything in Venice plan your day ahead and use our interactive map. Pick a few things to do each day always include cafe, wine, or a spritz.
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