Regardless of how many times you've marveled over photos of the enchanting city, actually vacationing in Venice is even more dreamlike. Canals replace streets, palaces and churches reflect centuries of history, and Venice's narrow alleyways offer an insider's look at some of the best kept secrets in the city. Trying to make the most of your time in Venice? Take a look at our list of must-see tours and Venice attractions!
As Venice's most popular, most photographed and most toured attraction, touring the Grand Canal should be one of the first items on your list. Hire a gondolier for a romantic row along the canal, or opt for a less expensive option and hop on a water bus. Some of these water busses travel down the Grand Canal at a slower pace and are comparable to a traditional city bus tour. St. Mark's Square is a good place to disembark from the water bus to continue sightseeing in Venice.
Inside the Scuola Grande of Santa Maria della Carita lies Venice's prestigious Accademia Galleries. Founded by Napolean in 1807, these galleries boast an extensive collection of pre-19th century Venetian art. While all travelers should make a trip through these galleries, travelers expecting the grandeur of larger European museums might be a little disappointed, but true art aficionados will be blown away by the amount of great artwork.
Nestled in the eastern end of Venice's St. Mark's Square is the church that was built to house the remains of St. Mark. Although Italy is filled with baroque churches, St. Mark's Basilica is one of the most intricately designed. Encrusted with gold mosaic tiles that catch the light perfectly, travelers will learn more about the historical role the church played during the centuries.
Many consider the Peggy Guggenheim Collection to be one of the most important museums in Italy for 20th century European and American art, which makes it an import part of your next trip to Venice. The museum is located in Guggenheim's former home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, and visitors will be privy to an impressive collection of works by Picasso, Braque, Duchamp, Miro, Ernst, Pollock and Dali to name a few, comprised of masterpieces of Cubism, Futurism, European Abstractionism, Surrealism and American Abstract Expressionism.
Another prominent building in St. Mark's Square is Doge's Palace, a beautiful gothic structure that was once the center of power from where the Venetian Republic was ruled. Today, the palace is a museum that is visited by nearly 1.5 million people, giving visitors a unique glimpse into early life in Venice. Although it boasts a somewhat depressing history, Venice's Bridge of Sighs is still a must-see attraction. Centuries ago, the bridge was used to transport prisoners from the courtrooms in Doge's Palace to the prisons. The bridge's name is said to refer to the sighs of prisoners who passed from the courtroom to the cells in which they would serve their sentences.