There is perhaps no city in the world quite like Venice, Italy. With 177 canals and 477 bridges, Venice is literally a city upon the water. In turn, it’s typical to move around via water bus or even gondola. And with over 400 palaces built throughout this 1500-year-old city, there is no lack of interesting things to see. Let’s visit Venice!
Visiting Venice? Here’s What To Do
There’s really so much to do, this place could keep you busy for days. Here’s a list of our must-see’s when visiting Venice.
Visiting Venice? Don’t Miss the Classics:
Piazza San Marco
Also known as St. Mark’s Square, this is easily one of the most famous plazas in the world. Anchored by the Basilica of San Marco and the San Marco Campanile on one end and surrounded on three sides by the elegant symmetry of the Procuratie’s arcades, this has been the center of life in Venice for centuries. Pull up a chair at the elegant, three-hundred-year-old Caffè Florian and soak it all in.
Basilica of San Marco
This incredibly intricate Roman Catholic Cathedral was built to properly house the stolen-yet-recovered relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist. The interior of the Basilica is covered with over 80,000 square feet of gold mosaics and it’s said that many of the treasures found inside came from the conquest of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade.
This magnificent structure was once the palace of the doge and the center of government for the Republic of Venice. Today this magnificent structure is a museum that remains much as it looked when finished in the 15th century.
San Marco Campanile
This imposing 323-foot tower was originally built in 1514, but was rebuilt in 1912 after collapsing in 1902. Head to the top for about $8.50 and be amazed by incredible 360 degree views of Venice from above!
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Majestically situated at the entrance of the Grand Canal, this amazing piece of architecture was built in dedication to the Virgin Mary in 1687, after being delivered from the plague that had killed a third of Venice’s population.
At over 400-years-old, this is the oldest and most grandiose bridge that crosses the Grand Canal. The marble bridge is home to several shops that sell Murano glass. The Rialto Bridge is a must when visiting Venice.
Visiting Venice? Book a Tour!
Visiting Venice? Go Island Hopping!
Murano is world-renowned for glass-making techniques that date back over 700 years. This small island (or group of seven tiny islands connected by bridges) held a monopoly on the glass-making trade for centuries, and artisans were even permitted to marry Venetian royalty. Make sure to check out a free demonstration at one of Murano’s many glass factories.
Much like Murano is known for glass, Burano is world famous for a lace-making tradition that goes back over 600 years. But in our opinion, Burano is a must-see for the incredibly brightly painted homes that are unlike anything we’ve seen in the world.
San Giorgio Maggiore
An island-bound Benedictine Monastery for over 1000 years, San Giorgio Maggiore is also famous for it’s world-class opera tradition. Some areas are open to the public, although you can get fantastic views of the island from the top of San Marco Campanile.
Visiting Venice? Bonus!
We’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity and converted our Venice travel guide into a downloadable application that comes complete with a GPS map of our recommendations and operates offline without any need of data plan or Internet connection. You can check it out here.
Getting to Venice
Getting to Venice: FLY
If planned in advance, there are reasonable direct flights to Venice from most major cities in Europe for under $30. Find affordable international flights from Hamburg for $6, Budapest for $14, Paris for $14, or London for $18 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.
Venice Flight Deals
Getting to Venice: TRAIN
Trains throughout Europe are a great option. You’ll avoid lines at the airport, enjoy beautiful scenery, and the trains are typically very comfortable. If you’re coming from any other city in Italy we highly recommend traveling by train. However, if you’re traveling from another European country we still recommend flying, due to the overall cost and journey time. For example, the train route from Munich is $75+ for the 6.5-hour trip.
Getting to Venice: BUS
Buses are not our favorite mode of travel.. The seats are generally cramped, the ride is bumpy, and departure/arrival times can be unpredictable. Bus travel is generally less expensive and the ride from Rome is just $30, but the trip to Rome takes about 8 hours.
Airport to Venice City Center
You can fly into Venice Marco Polo Airport, which is located about 8 miles from Venezia Santa Lucia (Venice’s Central Station), or Treviso Airport(Treviso-Sant’Angelo Airport) which is about 16 miles away. How will you get there?
From Venice Marco Polo Airport:
You can purchase Water Bus tickets to Venezia Santa Lucia for about $16. Look for the ticket machines in the baggage return area, the arrivals hall ticket office, or purchase them on the bus. When leaving the arrivals hall, turn left and follow the covered walkway about 7 minutes until you reach the dock.
You can also take a motorboat to the main station, or even better yet, directly to your hotel. Tickets range about $40-$60/person depending on the company. Contact ahead to make sure there is a boat waiting for you on arrival. Here’s a list of operators and contact info.
Look for the line of white, metered taxis outside the arrivals hall. A ride from Marco Polo Airport to either the Piazzale Roma or Santa Lucia station will cost about $55.
Purchase tickets for the 20-minute ride to Venice Piazzale Roma(a 5-minute walk from Venice’s Central Station) for about $8.50. Look for the ticket machines in the baggage return area, the arrivals hall ticket office, or ticket machines in the bus boarding area. You can also buy tickets online The 5-AeroBus line will pick you up just outside the arrivals area.
From Treviso Airport:
Trains depart from Stazione FS in Treviso to Venezia Santa Lucia every 30 minutes. But first, you’ll need to transfer from the Treviso Airport via taxi or bus.
Taxis can be found outside of arrivals and will have you to Stazione FS in about 10 minutes for about $16.
Bus transfer is only about $1.50, and you can purchase tickets on the bus, from the arrivals hall ticket office, or via SMS by texting MOM to the number 4850208. Find the bus stop to the right of the airport exit on Via Noalese, and get off at Stazione FS Treviso AKA the Treviso Railroad Station.
Find the ticket window at Treviso Station and purchase tickets to Venezia Santa Lucia for about $3.60 for the 30-minute ride.
Purchase tickets for the ATVO line to Venice Piazzale Roma station in the Arrivals hall ticket office or online for about $13. The ride takes about 70 minutes.
Getting around in Venice
Also known as a Vaporetto, and other than walking, this is the most common way for getting around in Venice. Tickets cost about $7.50 for 75 minutes and you can buy them at the ACTV ticket machines at the Vaporetti stops. If there is no ticket machine at the particular stop, you can also by them onboard. If you plan on staying in Venice for awhile,
you might look into purchasing a “Time Limited” discount card from the ACTV website.
Water Taxis are basically the limousines of Venice. From airport to hotel and anywhere in-between, they can deliver you quickly to your destination. But just like a limousine, they can be on the pricy side of things and typically run about $40-$60 per person.
We highly recommending walking (and getting lost) in Venice. Although using a water bus is inevitable in Venice, Walkscore.com gives the popular areas of San Polo and San Marco scores of 99, calling them a “Walker’s Paradise”.
Where To Stay in Venice:
Where To Stay in Venice: HOTELS
Ranging from $120-$1500/night, hotels in Venice are not exactly on the cheap side of things. To stay in the desirable areas of San Polo or San Marco rates can get a little steep. Another option would be to stay a short train ride away, in nearby Mestre, where rates run around $70-$200/night. We’ve found some great hotel deals using Priceline’s sister site, Agoda.com.
Venice Hotel Deals
Where To Stay in Venice: HOSTELS
With just 106 hostels in Venice, you’re sure to find one that fits your needs, although it’s usually a good idea to book ahead. Prices generally range from $10-$60, depending on your choice of private or ensuite room. Hostelworld always has great deals, especially in Venice:
Venice Hostel Deals
Where To Stay in Venice: AIRBNB
We love using Airbnb. From private rooms to entire homes, Airbnb is represented in all parts of Venice, and the average Airbnb price is about $139/night. If you’re a first timer to Airbnb, use our coupon for $35 off your first night’s stay.
Where To Stay in Venice: NEIGHBORHOODS
Choosing a neighborhood is an important part of trip planning that should not be overlooked! Venice is a small city divided into six sestieri or districts. While our general recommendation is to stay closer to the city center, here are some of the best areas worth considering in Venice.
On the other side of the Grand Canal via Rialto Bridge is Venice’s oldest neighborhood, San Polo. This busy, centrally-located neighborhood is home to Venice’s best fish market and some of Venice’s best restaurants, so is great for foodies.
With attractions like St. Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace, and Rialto Bridge, San Marco is easily the most popular, expensive, and crowded sestiere of Venice.
This authentic Venice neighborhood is where you can fall into pace with Venice’s locals. Cannaregio is also home to the San Lucia train station, is an easy walk to many of Venice’s main attractions, and has quick departures to the islands of Murano and Burano.
This Venetian-built walled city is just a 30 minute, $3.60 train ride from Venice and is all but free of tourists. Treviso has canals of it’s own and is the original home of prosecco and tiramisu. Fly directly into Treviso Airport and expect to pay around 50% less to stay in Treviso compared to Venice. Check out our Treviso Travel Guide.
Venice Travel Tips:
Venice Travel Tips: Tipping
Tipping in Italy is not customary but is always appreciated. At restaurants check your bill, there is sometimes a 10-15% service charge, and some will even charge extra for things like plates and silverware. At hotels, leave $1-$2 per day and for taxi drivers, round up.
Venice Travel Tips: Money
Italy’s national currency is the Euro and is currently exchanging at .95Euro to $1USD. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATM machines are readily available.
Venice Travel Tips: Insurance
Traveling to Venice is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.