Venice – 8 Great Things To Do In A Day
“La Serenissima”, the serene city. That is how Italians refer to Venice, Italy.
While much has been written about Venice, it is only when you visit you begin to truly understand the city’s connection to La Serenissima. Looking beyond the streets, the piazza and campos filled with tourists, you will find a city draped in history and beautiful architecture. Although a day is hardly enough time to explore all Venice has to offer, it is nevertheless enough time to at least experience La Serenissima!
Start At Venice’s Canałazzo
The Canałazzo or Grand Canal is one of Venice’s most identifiable landmarks. Featured in Hollywood movies, on postcards and in literature, the Grand Canal is truly ‘bigger than life’. As Monet proclaimed; “the Grand Canal of Venice is too beautiful to paint”. The Grand Canal is the perfect stepping off point for your day in Venice.
Stand On Venice’s Ponte di Rialto
As you stand on the Ponte di Rialto overlooking the gondoliers and water taxis (and tour boats) traversing the Canal below, you will understand Monet’s sentiment. Joining the San Polo and San Marco districts, the Ponte di Rialto is one of four bridges spanning the Canal, but without question the most famous.
Tip: Enjoy a glass of wine or lunch at Cantina do Mori. In operation since 1462, it is the oldest Cicchetti bar in Venice. Just a two minute walk from the Rialto Bridge.
Take A Stroll On The Piazza San Marco
At the heart of Venice is Piazza San Marco, more commonly known as Saint Mark’s Square. One of the most famous squares in the world, it boasts a history dating back to the 9th century when it served as a market.
Towering high above the Square is Saint Mark’s Campanile (Bell Tower). The bell tower, standing at a height of 98.6m, was originally used as a lighthouse for approaching ships. Construction began in the 10th century and completed in the 12th century. After a fatal collapse in 1902, it was rebuilt twelve years later. Take the lift to the top of the Campanile for a fantastic view of the city and lagoon below or if you are in great physical shape, climb the 323 steps to the top. Entrance Fees are 8€ for Adults; 4€ for Children 6-18.
Visit The Basilica di San Marco
Looking toward the east on Saint Mark’s Square you will see the majestic Basilica Cathedral Patriarcale di San Marco (Saint Mark’s Basilica). A previous temple to house the remains of Saint Mark was built in the year 830, however, construction of the Basilica that stands today didn’t begin until 1063. Recognized as one of the best examples of Italy’s Byzantine architecture, the Cathedral was designed in the shape of a Greek cross resembling the structure of the Holy Apostles Church in Constantinople. Entrance to the Cathedral is free (although the queue can be quite long).
Visit The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)
Located directly on the Piazza San Marco next to Saint Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace is one of Venice’s main landmarks.
Built in 1340, it is the former residence of the Doge of Venice, the former supreme rulers of the Republic. It contains a dazzling assortment of rooms, a grand courtyard and even a prison. Keep in mind that you could spend your entire day exploring this palace! Entry Fees are: 30€ for adults; 15€ for children, students and seniors over 65.
Tour Venice’s Lagoon and Canals of Venice By Gondola
What better way to see Venice than by gondola? While on Saint Mark’s Square you will find a number of gondoliers waiting to take you on a romantic excursion along the lagoon and scenic canals, although you can also find them available throughout the city. A 30 minute excursion costs 31€ per person and will be a memory that will last forever.
Visit The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Commonly referred to simply as ‘Frari’, the Basilica di Sant Maria dei Frari dates back to the 13th century and is among the largest churches in Venice. Although architecturally not as impressive as Saint Michael’s Cathedral, the Frari is considered one of Italy’s most important Franciscan sites. The interior is arranged in a Latin cross plan comprised of three naves with ogival arches resting on six columns on each side.
The Basilica di Sant Maria dei Frari is located in the San Polo section of Venice. Entry Fee is 5€ (students 2€; seniors 3€)
Enjoy A Walk Around Campo San Polo
After visiting the Basilica di Sant Maria dei Frari, take a walk around the Campo San Polo, the largest campo (square) in Venice and the second largest public square after the Piazza San Marco. Originally a pasture, it was paved in 1493 and became the site for bullfights and masked balls.
Today, the Campo is host to the Venice Carnival as well as an open-air cinema during the Venice International Film Festival.
Shop Venice’s Alleyways
As one of the world’s major tourist sites, Venice is full of souvenir shops, but take the time to explore the alleyways as you walk through Venice and you will find unique items offered by local Venetian craftsmen.
Insider’s Tip: Shop Pied à Terre for chic gondolier slippers; Giuliana Longo for handcrafted hats; Antonia Miletto Gioielli for unique handmade jewelry; Martinuzzi for locally crafted homeware.
Whether visiting for a day or a week, Venice will not disappoint!