16 Very good excuses to visit Venice, Italy

In Europe, Featured, Italy, Mini Breaks, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, Unesco, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Amongst the canals & gondolas

It’s understandable why Venice is on so many folks bucket list; it’s a city that must be seen, to be believed.
The view over the Grand Canal towards St. Mark's Square with St Mark's Campanile dominating the view

An iconice view across the Grand Canal, Venice

With its seeming never ending web of waterways, weaving in and around Venice’s 118 islands, then being crisscrossed by its 400 bridges.

When you first arrive in Venice, it’s so easy to get lost, because all you want to do is go and discover what is hidden around the next corner or alleyway, but surely that is all part of the fun.

Quick Links

Narrowing down our list was quite tricky as there is so much to see & do in this historical city, we could have easily spent a few more days uncovering further what was hidden below the surface.

In 1987 Venice and its Lagoon was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List and it’s easy to see why. So why not don your comfy shoes and go and explore.

I’m sure you’ll have your own shortlist of favourites, but these were ours.

A helpful guide

If you're lured by beautiful architecture and meandering waterways I urge you to visit Venice. I found this DK Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into a voyage of discovery.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our wanderings around Venice, now you can grab the revised copy.

DK Venice cover

The Piazza San Marco has to be on every visitor’s list, it’s such a wonderfully elegant square and encased with stunning architecture.
The marble arches of the Antony Palace Hotel, and the Campanile di San Marco in Piazza San Marco, Venice, set against a deep blue sky.

Campanile di San Marco

It really does have the wow factor when you first enter it, but not just for the amazing Basilica, or the intricate detail of Doge’s Palace, or even the imposing Campanile, but the view across the lagoon is breath-taking.
Gondolas, with the interior covered with blue protective layers moored up on the edge of St. Mark's Square square, with the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the background.

Parked gondolas

You feel like you have been transported onto a movie set, it one of those moments when you say to yourself “am I really here”.

Through the heart of Venice snakes the iconic Grand Canal, this busy waterway is not only for visitors, but it is also a working canal.
A view from the Rialto Bridge along the busy Grand Canal of Venice, with colourful buildings lining either side

The view from the Rialto Bridge along the Grand Canal

As Venice is not accessible by car, the canal is used by locals to go about their day to day business; it’s a great place to watch the world go by. The elegant buildings & villas that line the canal are stunning, also search out the Pescaria (fish market) just along from the Rialto Bridge.

One of only four bridges that span the Grand Canal and the oldest is the Rialto Bridge; it is a magnificent piece of architecture.
The Rialto Bridge across the Grand Canal of Venice at dusk as the lighting starts to come on.
The Rialto Bridge

Although admiring it from the banks of the canal is probably the best way to appreciate it, you should definitely have a wander up to the central portico and discover the little shops & boutiques that line the arches.

Guarding the entrance to the Grand Canal stands the Baroque Basilica of Saint Mary of Health, built in 1681 as a dedication to Venetian plague survivors.
A shot of Santa Maria della Salute at dusk under an orange sky taken from a boat on the lagoon

Santa Maria della Salute at dusk

It’s easy to see why this iconic view inspired artists like Canaletto.

Have a couple enjoying a gondola ride in the early evening is the colours change to golden hues on one of the small canals in Venice.

You can discover so much by getting lost

One of the greatest ways to discover Venice is just to wander and immerse yourself in all that is Venetian. Take a stroll along the tiny lanes, across the plentiful bridges, you never know what you may find
Although quite an icon it is a wonderful site, the enclosed limestone bridge spans the Rio di Palazzo and connects the interrogation rooms at Doge’ Palace with the New Prison.
The white stone 'Bridge of Sighs', over a canal, connecting the Doge’ Palace with the New Prison.
The Bridge of Sighs

If you have the time you really must visit the wonderful islands of Murano & Burano, honestly you won’t be disappointed, in fact, add an extra day to your break.

The connecting islands of Murano are famous for its glass making, like me you may be able to sneak back a pair of earrings.

A view along the canal - Rio dei vetrai towards the brick Torre dell'Orologio, clocktower in Murano
Wandering towards the clocktower in Murano
Where the smaller Island of Burano is well known for its lace making and its colourful buildings lining the canals and streets.
A view along a canal in Burano in which each home is brightly coloured, and small motorboats fill the waterway.
Brightly coloured homes in Burano

Our Tip

These islands are accessed by Vaporetto (water bus) which can get very busy on your return journey to Venice. If so, from Burano catch the Vaporetto onto Torcello (the next stop), stay on the boat, and it will turn around and complete the journey in reverse. This should cut down on your queuing.
Before we went to Venice I said that I didn’t want to take a gondola ride, as it seemed a bit gimmicky, well yes, it is, but I changed my mind when I arrived.
A view from inside a gondola as it travels down the Grand Canal in Venice
The view from a Gondola
It’s a great way to explore little canals & buildings you could never see on foot & you appreciate the elegant Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance buildings that line the canals so much more.
The Campo Santo Stefano an expansive, lively square.

Campo Santo Stefano

Venice wouldn’t be the same without its plentiful Piazza’s, some of them stylish and grand & others just hidden away around a quiet corner.

This is a very interesting area of Venice and not quite as busy as some other spots around the city. It was designated the Jewish quarter from the 16th to 19th centuries and is still the centre of the Venetian Jewish community today.

Did you know?

That the English word ghetto was derived from the Jewish Ghetto in Venice ‘Venetian ghèto’.
Looking up to the entrance to the classical style building of Saint Maria of Gesuati in white stone, with a dark wooden door against a deep blue saturated sky
The entrance to Saint Maria of Gesuati

I know this really goes without saying, but the mixture of the imposing elegance and the rustic nature of some of the buildings is wonderful.

The Ponte dei Pugni, otherwise known as the Bridge of Fists, was named due to rival Venetian clans or factions fist fighting on top of the bridge.
A pair of gondolas and the fruit & vegetable barge by the Ponte dei Pugni or Bridge of fists in Venice
Gondoliers in front of the Bridge of Fists
Although a fairly small bridge it is worth taking a detour to see it and also the floating fruit and veg stall next to it.
The isolated walled cemetery island is located in the lagoon close to Venice. If like me you have an unusual fascination with cemeteries, then it is worth the visit, it is the resting place of Igor Stravinsky, the Russian composer.
A view of the cemetery island of Venice from the quayside at Fondamente Nove
Cimitero di San Michele

You can catch the waterbus to it on your way to Murano.

The Gondolas boatyard on the canal edge. Here you can see several boats being worked on in a traditional setting.
The Gondolas boatyard, Venice, Italy
A fascinating glimpse into a piece of Venetian history is the Squero San Trovaso, where you can see gondolas being made and repaired in the workshop.
Although it isn’t cheap, when we flew into Venice I had arranged for a water taxi to take as to our hotel along the Grand Canal.
A beautiful wooden veneered water taxi in front of the Venetian palace of Ca' d'Oro
A water taxi in front of Ca' d'Oro

The stylish wooden taxi cruised across the lagoon and through the canals, Gary’s face was a picture, he felt like James Bond.

Two glasses of Aperol Spritz with a bottle of Prosecco, a bottle of Aperol, a soda syphon and a bowl of crisps in our garden
Aperol Spritz at home
What better way to soak up the Italian atmosphere of Venice than with an Aperol Spritz – Cheers!!!!

Our Accommodation

Our accommodation while we were in Venice, was at the wonderful Al Ponte Antico Hotel. It was our bit of luxury for the break, we had a room that overlooked the Grand Canal & it even had its own pontoon.

What made the hotel extra special was the balcony that overlooked the Rialto Bridge, from here you could enjoy your breakfast in the morning and an ice-cold glass of Prosecco in the evening.

The view across the Grand Canal to Camp Erberia, at dusk under an orange sky

Looking across the Grand Canal from the bar

Although we seemed to spend the whole break discovering the city on foot, there was plenty more for us to see, I’m sure we’ll return again.

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