Popular Things to Do in Venice, Italy

Popular Things to Do in Venice, Italy

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  1. Venice, Italy is one of the world’s most unique cities as it is essentially floating on water, and it has also been labeled as one of the world’s most romantic.  During the high tourist season, it is bustling with visitors from all over the world, and so if you can visit during the off season you will have more room and less crowds with which to compete.  The city is filled with churches and museums, but if you only have a few days, the following activities will give you a wonderful introduction to the city.

    Vaporetto and Gondola Rides

    The streets of Venice are best maneuvered by foot as vehicles are not allowed.  The Vaporetto (waterbus) routes is the main public transportation, and also provide a wonderful scenic tour through around the city.  You should take at least one round trip Vaporetto ride through the Grand Canal as it is relaxing and a great way to see the entire city, including the iconic Rialto Bridge. 

    No trip to Venice is complete without at least one Gondola ride, and although expensive, taking one ride is worth the money.  The Gondoliers guide you with ease through the narrow canals.  Evening rides are quite enjoyable as you can avoid the heat of the day.

    Basilica di San Marco and Piazza San Marco

    Many beautiful churches are found in Venice, but St. Mark’s cathedral is most spectacular and stands out among churches in all of Italy.  It is laid out in the pattern of a Greek cross with 5 domes.  Replicas of four bronze horses (the originals can be seen inside) stand above the stunning entrance of the Cathedral.  Mosaics across the front of the church tell the story of how St. Mark’s body was smuggled from Alexandria under slices of pork so that it could be returned to Italy.  The tomb holding what is believed to be St. Mark’s body lies in the main alter, and just behind it is the ‘Pala d’Oro’, or the golden altar that contains 250 enamel paintings on gold foil enhanced with many precious jewels.  It is truly stunning.  Thirteenth century mosaics fill the church, and visitors can walk to the second level to view the Piazza from the viewpoint of the bronze horses. 

     The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) lies adjacent to the cathedral and was the official residence of every ruler of Venice.  You can walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs and visit many of the rooms in the palace.

    You should not leave Venice without having enjoyed an afternoon Cappuccino in the Piazza San Marco.  It is often filled with birds that are so brave that they will even perch on children’s heads!  It is a wonderful place for photography, and many shops line the square.

    Murano Glass

    Murano is a small cluster of Islands near Venice, and is famous for its glassmaking, which has been going strong since 1291.  Tours of the glassmaking factories can be arranged through your hotel concierge and it is just a short trip via water taxi to the islands.  There are lovely hotels and restaurants to explore in the area as well if you want to get away from the large crowds.  You can purchase wonderful glass pieces here, but you will find a great deal of beautiful glass in nearly every shop in Venice.

    There are enough museums and churches in Venice to fill an entire vacation, but seeing what is listed above will give you a good sense of what the city is all about.  Venice can easily be enjoyed in 2-3 days, and it will certainly leave you wanting to return for more.  Be sure to spend some time wandering through the streets and over the bridges, especially the Rialto Bridge.  It’s fun to watch the gondolas and boats maneuver through the canals.  Also, do your best to arrive before nightfall, as some of the waterbus stops are closed, the city pretty much shuts down and it can be difficult to find your hotel.  Venice is beautiful and romantic and should definitely be included as a stop on your Italian vacation!

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