April 05th, 2024

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“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.” – Truman Capote We agree! Which is why it gives us pleasure to show you the 11 best experiences Venice has to offer. This insider's guide will unveil more authentic Venice for those who are looking for an intimate experience with the floating city. From sipping wine with locals to exploring Venice after dark. Follow our edit of Venice's top 11 attractions and experiences for an unforgettable immersion in this magical lagoon city.

Welcome to Magical Venetia

As the taxi boat glides you along slender canals, under graceful bridges, and past rose-colored palazzi, Venice unfolds like a waterborne mosaic. This sinking city’s artistic and architectural treasures inspire awe and splendor at every turn, from the labyrinthine halls of the Doge’s Palace to strolls along the Grand Canal. But beyond the well-trodden tourist track, authentic experiences await those willing to lose themselves in the calli (streets).

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1.Gaze Heavenward at St. Mark’s Basilica

Commanding attention in Piazza San Marco stands the Byzantine-inspired Basilica di San Marco, a symbol of Venetian wealth and power. Gasps ensue as you enter the glittering interior and lay eyes on the 10,000 square feet of gold mosaic tiles along the vaulted ceilings.

Arrive early or late in the day to avoid the lengthy queues, as only a limited number of visitors are permitted entry at one time. Don’t miss the Pala D’Oro altarpiece featuring over 1,900 jewels and the Quadriga, four stolen horses perched atop the exterior balcony.

To ensure skip-the-line access, we’ve made it easy for you here.

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2.Behold the Splendors of the Doge’s Palace

Savor a glimpse into the lives of Venice’s ruling dukes at the Palazzo Ducale, connected to St. Mark’s via an enclosed bridge. Beyond the Gothic exterior lies a marble-filled interior housing precious Veronese and Tintoretto paintings.

For an intimate look at Venice’s secretive past, book the Itinerari Segreti tour to enter restricted rooms like the interrogation chambers within the armory. Don’t forget to cross the Bridge of Sighs, where convicts got their final view of beautiful Venice before meeting their fate.

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3.Wander Through the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Housed inside the 18th-century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the Peggy Guggenheim impresses with its trove of 20th century masterpieces. Surrealism takes the spotlight with key works like Dalí’s Birth of Liquid Desires and Magritte’s Empire of Light.

Sculpture shines too from Brancusi’s Smooth Egg to Moore’s Reclining Figure. Stroll through the terraced gardens overlooking the Grand Canal to spot sculptures by Giacometti and Ernst.

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4.Marvel at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

Escape the crowds and step inside the jewel-box interior of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, lined with luminous paintings by Venetian Renaissance master Jacopo Tintoretto. His brushwork earned him the nickname ‘Il Furioso’ for its dynamic energy and gestural paint application. In the Sala dell'Albergo, behold the striking Crucifixion scene against an inky black background. Coin-operated lighting illuminates the canvases, allowing you to float from one to the next.

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5.Get Lost in the Calli

Leave the tourist throngs behind by venturing into Venice’s labyrinth of narrow walkways known as calli. Wandering aimlessly is highly encouraged, but smart detours include Campo San Polo, the city’s largest square far removed from the selfie-stick wielding crowds.

The bohemian Dorsoduro district is charming with artisan shops and pocket-sized canals. Or glance at laundry lines crossing the slim Rio Terà Canal on your way to the vaporetto after dark.

Going astray has its rewards.

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6.Indulge in an Idyllic Gondola Ride

For an antidote to Venice’s urban maze, hop aboard a sleek gondola for a glide along the city’s winding waterways. Let your gondolier navigate toward the Rialto Bridge or Accademia bridges as you relax against velvet cushions, soaking up sights of hidden gardens and waterside palazzi.

Float past the island cemetery of San Michele, along sleepy side canals, and into the Grand Canal. Standard 40-minute daytime rides start around €80, or opt for a smaller traghetto to cross the Grand Canal for just €2.

Alternatively you can also board a luxurious private boat here, and cruise along the waters with comfort and ease.

Private Venice Gondola Ride with kids

 

7.Sip and Nibble Your Way Through Cicchetti Pub Crawl

In the labyrinthine alleys of Venice, beyond the reach of tourist throngs that cluster around its famed attractions, lies the heart of Venetian social life: the cicchetti bars. These local haunts, echoing the city's grandeur and its intimate small-town vibe, serve up Venice's answer to tapas. Cicchetti, delightful appetizers skewered on toothpicks or served in small dishes, are the stars of these bars, accompanied by ombra, glasses of wine so named for a tradition dating back to when wine vendors followed the shade across St. Mark's Square.

For those willing to wander, Venice rewards with the giro d'ombra, a "stroll of shade" that is essentially a pub crawl Venetian style, promising you an authentic experience of the city's culinary and social culture. This tradition invites you to weave through Venice's narrow streets and expansive squares, urging you to get as delightfully lost as possible.

As night falls, these bars known as Bacari’s fill with locals enjoying an aperitivo, a pre-dinner drink that signals the start of the evening's festivities. The house wine, kegged and inexpensive, flows freely, complementing the bite-sized gastronomical delights.

The cicchetti bars stand as testament to its enduring spirit, offering a slice of Venetian life that remains untouched by the passage of time. Here, Venice reveals its soul — one cicchetti at a time.

Our 7 Favorite Cicchetti Bars to Visit;

  • Cantina Do Mori: Established in 1462, Cantina Do Mori holds the title of Venice's oldest bacaro, offering a timeless atmosphere and a wide array of traditional cicchetti in the heart of the city.

  • Osteria Alla Ciurma: A stone's throw from the Rialto Market, Osteria Alla Ciurma delights its visitors with a variety of fresh, seafood-focused cicchetti in a cozy and convivial setting.

  • El Refolo: Nestled in the Castello district, El Refolo offers a modern twist on the classic bacaro experience, serving creative cicchetti and quality wines in a charming, laid-back atmosphere.

  • Cantina Arnaldi: Situated in the Santa Croce district, Cantina Arnaldi blends contemporary elegance with traditional Venetian hospitality, offering a curated selection of wines and gourmet cicchetti.

  • All'Arco: Just moments from the Rialto Bridge, All'Arco is a beloved institution among locals, known for its homemade cicchetti and the warm welcome extended to every guest.

  • Vino Vero: Located on the lively Cannaregio canal, Vino Vero stands out for its extensive selection of natural wines and artisanal cicchetti, making it a favorite haunt for connoisseurs and casual visitors alike.

  • Salvmeria: A newer addition to Venice's bacaro scene, Salvmeria quickly earned acclaim for its innovative approach to cicchetti, combining traditional Venetian flavors with a contemporary flair, nestled in the vibrant university district.

Best Romantic Restaurants in Venice

 

8.Marvel at Tiepolo’s Masterpieces at Ca' Rezzonico

Escape the crowds at Museo del Settecento housed inside the resplendent Ca’ Rezzonico palace along the Grand Canal. Here, 18th century Venice springs to life through the ceiling frescoes of Giambattista Tiepolo, known for their dreamlike quality.

His most breathtaking work graces the grand Throne Room, transporting viewers to an elegant ball. Don't miss the gilded ballroom and delightful paintings by Canaletto, Guardi, and Longhi.

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9.Trace the Rich History of Venice's Jewish Community

A visit to the Jewish Ghetto (Getto) offers an opportunity to connect with the long and complex history of Venice's Jewish community. Established in 1516 on the site of an old foundry (geto), the Ghetto was the first segregated Jewish quarter in the world.

Dark and impactful – Today, you can get a sense of much brighter Jewish life in the Ghetto Nuovo (New Ghetto), centered around Campo del Ghetto Nuovo. Look for kosher restaurants, bakeries selling classic Jewish treats like challah bread.

The Museo Ebraico di Venezia (Jewish Museum of Venice) located in the Ghetto Vecchio (Old Ghetto) recounts the neighborhood's evolution and the contributions of Venice's Jewish community over the centuries.

Don't miss the iconic skyline over the Ghetto, with staggered, stacked synagogues protruding above the apartments where Jewish Venetians once lived in cramped quarters.

As sunset approaches, head to Fondamente Nove on the lagoon for an Aperol spritz and reflections on the bittersweet history of this unique island neighborhood.

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10. Find Hidden Treasures at Drogheria Mascari

For a profoundly local experience, step inside the modest Drogheria Mascari, an artfully cluttered spice shop that has remained unchanged since opening in the 1940s.

Charming organization meets the meticulous care of ingredients here, as spices like bronzed saffron and vibrant curries jostle for space on the shelves.

The owner will passionately explain the selected origins and uses of his wares. Don't leave without nabbing some hand-wrapped soaps or artisanal foodstuffs.

Getting lost amid Venice's calli and campi lets you stumble upon the city's humble wonders, beyond basilicas and carnival masks.

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11. Finish Your Evening With the Original Venice Ghost Walking Tour

As dusk falls in Venice, the labyrinth of alleys and canals transforms into a hauntingly romantic backdrop for the Original Ghost Tour's spellbinding 90-minute journey into the city's shadowy history and enduring legends.

Led by expert English-speaking guides, small groups thread through little-known paths, listening to chilling tales of centuries-old murders, forbidden affairs, and spectral sightings around landmarks like the elegant Palazzo Fortuny. The tour's pinnacle is the breathtaking moonlit panorama from the Bovolo staircase, capping an unforgettable experience that peels back Venice's beguiling mysteries concealed in the darkness.

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Book Your Dream Trip to Venice Today

From getting lost in winding alleys to cruising the Grand Canal, Venice overflows with magic, mystery, and wonder. This sinking city beckons you to look beyond the surface and immerse yourself in authentic local experiences. Savor the rituals of Venetian life, from lingering over cicchetti while canalside to marveling at Tiepolo’s dreamlike frescoes.
Wander and wonder, and Venice will reveal herself to you.

Create your own Venice story. Just don’t forget to look up now and then, to appreciate why this impossible city built on water has endured and enchanted for so long.

 

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