Venice Sights & Attractions
What to See and Do in Venice
PIAZZA SAN MARCO is one of the world's most beautiful squares, and anyone standing before its famous BASILICA DI SAN MARCO and the PALAZZO DUCALE won't disagree. Go inside those famous landmarks and pass by the PONTE DEI SOSPIRI (Bridge of Sighs) behind the Palazzo Ducale after going up the CAMPANILE tower for city views. Another impressive architectural masterpiece is CA D'ORO, a 15th century palace with a magnificent façade facing the Grand Canal.
Picasso, Pollock, Duchamp, Dali, Miró, and Magritte are just some of the artists represented at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, with its contemporary art collection housed in a wonderful 1-floor palazzo that served as Peggy's residence for three decades. Stay at the gardens for a while, admiring the sculptures scattered around.
If you enjoy that, you'll also want to pass by Palazzo Grassi, an 18th century palace renovated in 2006 to display temporary art exhibitions around the stunning marble interior.
If you only have time for one museum in Venice we'd recommend Peggy Guggenheim's (see above), but admirers of the Renaissance will prefer the Accademia Gallery. It is actually the city's most important museum, rich in religious art and offering a unique perspective on centuries of Venetian art. Also outstanding is the collection inside the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, with impressive works by Tintoretto.
Venice avoids contemporary architecture so much that its first brand-new construction in seven decades drew endless controversy. Santiago Calatrava's CONSTITUTION BRIDGE opened without a major ceremony in 2008 after protestors said it hid the city's skyline from Piazzale Roma (where you'll arrive in the city from the airport), was "a waste" of Venice's money, and lacked access for the disabled. You draw your own conclusions as you cross the 94-meter (310ft) glass arch.
SANTA MARIA GLORIOSA DEI FRARI (or simply "Frari"), is a 15th century Gothic church known for its interior decorated with masterpieces by Ticiano and Bellini, monumental tombs, and a fantastic wooden sculpture by Donatello. While this church is more impressive inside, SANTA MARIA DELLA SALUTE is a grandiose baroque church best admired from outside, with its huge dome seen from almost anywhere on the Grand Canal. The interior is surprisingly somber, although it includes some notable 16th century paintings.
To go further back in time visit the island of TORCELLO, the oldest continuously populated region of Venice. Its 7th century cathedral features some magnificent mosaics, and the adjacent church is a wonderful example of the Byzantine style.
Take a vaporetto (water bus) ride from outside the train station all the way to Piazza San Marco to admire all of the stunning architecture facing the GRAND CANAL. An even more romantic (although tourist trap) experience is a gondola ride through the city's canals and in between the decaying buildings.
As you walk around the city you'll see signs pointing in the direction of RIALTO, a neighborhood known for its market and iconic bridge. Do as the Venetians, and start your day at the market, and return at night for the city's hippest hangouts located behind the bridge (look for Campo dell'Erbaria and Campo Cesare Battisti, two old squares by the canal).
TOURS & DAYTRIPS
Go on a Tour of Venice. Choose to see the city on a gondola, a boat, or by going on a walking tour, and take the opportunity to see Venice's nearby attractions.