Canals lined with gondolas, fine dining restaurants, as well as a remarkably passionate atmosphere — Venice is one of the best options for a romantic holiday. Or any holiday! Stroll through the streets between San Marco and Rialto and turn off at Grand Canal so you can enjoy the city lights on the water and sky. All those boats and gondolas together with spectacular scenery and so many eating and drinking establishments mean a pleasurable vacation in Venice is guaranteed. Go get something to eat or drink in the Rialto. At Piazza San Marco, shop till you drop with signature brands, and after doing your high-end shopping be sure to celebrate with a spritz, the local aperitif.
When To Go:
The high season months of September to November are excellent for exploring the attractions of the city. In spite of the fact that the daily temperature ranges from the upper 30s to mid 70s, you will still need some warm climate wear. The low priced hotel rates and the beautiful canals make it worth any amount of trouble. Winters are cool with temperatures in the 30s and 40s, and spring brings the city’s most tolerable climate. Late spring is the peak season and is characterized by high hotel rates, high temperatures and a high percentage of tourist arrivals. High water flooding happens many times each year, particularly in the colder months, so make a point to put some rain gear in your luggage.
Here are the things to do when in the city of Venice:
The ride down the Grand Canal — this will be one of your main memories from Venice. To see the stunning splendor and fragility of palaces and houses that grow directly out of the water makes the ride worth any effort. For those who are making their first visit the city, it is better not to take photographs on this first trip; just simply enjoy the sights and experiences. Delight in the walkways where they need to “park” the gondola and boats. The impressive palaces cause a storm of fantasies with their abandoned sunken rooms and cellars.
You will get a strong impression of beauty and at the same time understand how completely this city is full of life. On the boat you will get an overview of the city and the narrow canals. The gondola and the inspired gondoliers (boat rowers) leave indelible impressions and are also considered symbols of the city. Most of these gondoliers are required to wear red striped shirts and black pants, some sing and recite poetry, most will talk about the city, houses and museums and other landmarks seen from the channel. Other transport options are also available — you can ride the shuttle boat with other Venetians, you can select an individual ride, or take a package group boat tour. The Grand Canal via gondola is a great initial way to enjoy the aesthetic pleasure of Venice.
St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
St. Mark’s Square is the central area of Venice, very beautiful and charming. It is better to come in the morning, to view the space before it gets crammed with tourists and the gondoliers that are preparing for another busy day. The weather is hopefully beautiful, pigeons are omnipresent, and you can wander aimlessly or stop at every structure, drink coffee in some famous coffee shop, listen to music in the square or watch the quay to see the different-sized vessels depart.
And of course you should enter the cathedral vaults — a sure way to cool off on a sunny day, passing through the labyrinths from north to south; view the sea, the Cathedral, and the island of San Giorgio Maggiore at the opposite side. The main attraction of the square — the Doge’s Palace — is a very beautiful building. Not far away is the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco
The Brotherhood of San Rocco founded this charitable organization in the 15th century. Today, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco holds a unique collection of paintings by Tintoretto, who painted everything — walls and ceilings. It has perfect intact paintings, many stunning frescoes, chandeliers, lampshades, and murals. If necessary, ask for a mirror to look at the ceiling — or just strain your neck.
Among the most famous paintings by Tintoretto are The Flight into Egypt, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Egypt, and a self-portrait. These are the genuine timeless masterpieces of the great Venetian artist, whose talent and 25 years of dedication as a religious painter is unparalleled. The cathedral holds a huge amount of his painting that is rich in emotion; some of the images are pretty hard to fathom, but truly interesting! You can learn more about the artist and his life on the guide map given at the entrance. Also noteworthy are the intricately carved wooden panels.
When visiting the Palazzo Ducale, it is best to take the audio guide (or download the audio guide in English in advance) to have a deeper understanding of what happened here many centuries ago. It is very exciting and interesting to visit this historic Venetian Gothic place and the adjacent prison. Plunge into the atmosphere of mystery and the origin of the Venetian state.
View all the impressive splendor of paintings, furnishings, and artful interior halls with secret rooms; see works of art and thought, globes and maps, the reception hall and the justice chamber. When visiting the Palace, it is normal to feel the building and the floors vibrate. This fluctuation of the Palace is impressive and simultaneously ephemeral. It is good to see the weapon rooms and the “Bridge of Sighs” that holds the mystical mood of those who were taken into custody and stayed for a long time in this prison.
Musica A Palazzo
Music lovers should not miss an evening at the Musica A Palazzo. The music and the actors surround you and make you almost part of their art. They sing in front of you instead of changing the scene or the stage then give you a drink after their performance. The singers perform so close that they never fail to engage their audience.
On Friday nights there is a short show called the “Love Duets” with a performance of some opera arias accompanied by a string trio and piano. In the very beautiful context of the historical building, and overlooking the canal from the alcove above the room, the music takes on a whole different meaning. It is a superb experience that is definitely exciting and among other things, comes with a convenient price. The music, the fantastic location, and the theatrical experience are a must for those who love the opera and the city of Venice.
St. Mary of the Friars
St. Mary of the Friars is a huge and luxurious basilica with the great masterpieces of the famous Italian artist named Giovanni Bellini. His works at the cathedral exude an incredible power of attraction and entice tourists to explore his special brand of Venetian Art. The church itself will also amaze you, not only for its size but also for its decoration. Adorning the altars are the “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” and the “Madonna Pesaro” of Titian; the grandiose monument to the Doge Pesaro; the touching tombstone of Canova (almost a copy of the tombstone of Augusta Maria Cristina in Vienna) who is buried here — as is Titian himself, and his tombstone is also worthy of attention.
Please note that the chapel is open for inspection only during the hours when no Mass is held. The beauty of its interiors offsets the rather modest façade; you can go inside and take a deep breath because the air is saturated with peace and lots of history. It is worth seeing; however, taking pictures is prohibited.
Teatro La Fenice
This is considered as one of the top temples of music in Venice. Most important are the acoustics here — the Theater of Venice (Teatro La Fenice) has amazing speakers that allow perfect audio for every performance. The comfortable chairs, friendly and professional service in the lobby and the elegant ushers all around are just a few of the highlights of this place.
At the top of the scene, there is a screen with text in English for the Italian operas, to make them easily understood. The theater is located in the center of Venice, near Piazza San Marco, and is very easy to find. On the Internet you can see the annual schedule of shows, opera and musicals. You can buy tickets in advance to avoid the long lines and waiting in the ticket booths.
Saint Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
St. Mark’s Cathedral is a typical Catholic shrine that holds a huge collection of relics, and feels filled with mysticism and ancient rites. Many faithful devotees come to the Basilica to visit the fourteen statues of the apostles and to revere the relic of St. Mark. The mosaic floor here is gorgeous and at the exit of the temple you can buy some interesting souvenirs. Climb to the roof of the Basilica and see a magnificent view of the Piazza San Marco.
To get inside, you will need to stand in a line and leave your bags or backpacks, as they are not allowed. From here, you can see the zodiac clock and harbor views. It is a really awesome place whose age seems to enhance the beauty of the murals — and it holds a lot of historical value.
San Giorgio Maggiore Cathedral
Perhaps the best view of Venice can be seen from the top of the San Giorgio Maggiore bell tower. Entrance to the church is absolutely free, and the left side of the church altar is where you can find the tower elevator. The current tower was built in 1791, and offers the most beautiful views of Venice and the nearby lagoon islands. The sights reach from the embankment of the Grand Canal of Venice to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, one of the most attractive places in Venice. It is good to see it in the morning or in broad daylight.
The great Italian architect Andrea Palladio built the Benedictine church in 1566-1610 (he actually died before it was completed), so it is considerably older than the tower. In the cathedral there are lots of paintings done by Tintoretto. For years the Benedictines had an important cultural and spiritual center here, so it seems appropriate that the place is now home to the Giorgio Cini Foundation with modern library and the original Longhena. It collects valuable books on the history of Venice and serves as a congress center during the year. The part that had been converted to a military arena under Napoleon now hosts the biennial exhibitions and conferences. The Palladian church offers the latest work of Palladio and was also a pantheon of important doges. There is an area for opera and other musical performances — and the room where they held the election of Pope Pius VII in 1799. It is one of just two conclaves that have ever occurred outside Rome.
Santa Maria dei Miracoli
Santa Maria dei Miracoli is a small but very beautiful Renaissance church in Cannaregio. The shape of the facade and the roof is often compared to that of jewelry chests. It looks very romantic at night when the lights play on the marble-covered panels, windows, and arches of the facade. This marble church is one of the favorite places of Venetians for wedding ceremonies. Set aside an hour to stroll through the narrow streets of Cannaregio, go out to the small area on which this awesome church stands — the miracle of pink, white and gray marble makes a good subject for photography. Wander inside this place, absorb it as much as possible and learn to see life in a new perspective after hearing a holy mass.
The church is on the opposite side of the canal from St. Mark’s Square, where crowds of tourists usually go. Water taxis can reach it easily. Visit the church (there are concerts and an entrance fee) and most importantly — take a walk in the area behind the cathedral to see a different side of the city. This touching church is worth seeing because it looks like a box of marble that is stored inside a treasure chest with a beautiful picture of the Madonna. The architecture of the church opens the eyes of the traveler to the aesthetic vision of Renaissance beauty. Composed of polychrome marbles and wonderful mosaics, it is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in Venice.