TOP 15 monuments and attractions in Venice – Venice, of course! – This unique lagoon city on the Italian Adriatic is one of the world’s most important destinations for city breaks. In addition to magnificent churches and unique museums and palaces, it is above all the canals with their gondolas that give the city its unforgettable charm. Venice’s architecture is unique and the right place to simply drift. The city is a huge open-air museum with countless art and cultural treasures and also offers a lot of culinary delicacies.
There is a lot to see, but these 15 top sights are not to be missed! Venice is the classic city trip with more than 25 million visitors every year. In addition, there are also many Italians as excursionists or day tourists. The same applies to the number of crusaders, who arrive with ever-larger ships and bring many attractions to the limits of their visitor’s capacity. This often means long queues at ticket counters – so don’t forget, only holders of pre-booked online tickets have priority entry.
While you are preparing your trip, take a look at my TOP 10 hotels in Venice for overnight stays. If you want to stay cheaper you will surely find a suitable offer in hotels outside the centre of Venice.
Venice is an expensive city. Those who want to save some money and time will find some discount possibilities for the quick entry to some of the most important sights under the category Passes for Venice. Further tips and advice can also be found at the end of this article.
1. Canal Grande
Those who visit the lagoon city will find everywhere the main artery of the city, the Canal Grande. With a length of 4 kilometres, it winds its way through the entire city area. 45 smaller canals flow into the Canal. It is possible to drive the Canal Grande with a gondola, a water taxi or quite normally with the public water buses for example, line 1.
These trips are not only a great and extraordinary experience, but you will also see many impressive churches and wonderful palaces. There are a total of 4 bridges, the most famous is the Rialto bridge, a very special sight.
Many suggestions for trips on the Canal Grande with gondolas or boats can be found in the section Boat Tours.
2. St Mark’s Basilica + Bell Tower
The most famous square in Venice is the Piazza San Marco. The St Mark´s square is 82 meters wide and 175 meters long and lies directly on the Canal Grande. This is also the location of St Mark’s Basilica. Not only the facade of the cathedral with its five huge domes is an impressive sight.
The interior of the cathedral captivates with marble columns, the partly still original mosaics, the many decorations and the pictures from gold and coloured marble. On St. Mark’s Square there is also the Campanile di San Marco, the bell tower of St. Mark’s Cathedral. In former times the bell tower served as a lighthouse for ships. Those who climb the 100-meter high tower will be rewarded with a great panoramic view over the lagoon city.
Admission to St Mark’s Basilica is free, but the waiting times for entry can be long. The only quicker way is to take a guided tour or skip the queue with access to the Terrace and Pala D’Oro. The St Mark’s Basilica last-minute tickets are still available at a slightly lower price.
3. Doge’s Palace + Bridge of Sighs
The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) was a symbol of power and wealth in the Middle Ages. Today the Doge’s Palace is one of Venice’s most popular sights. The imposing building is located at St Mark’s Square. Always buy tickets in advance if possible.
The splendid rooms of the ‘Palazzo Ducale’ are not only impressive with gilded elements, stucco, and wonderful paintings. From the Doge’s Palace, a bridge leads to the former prison opposite.
The Bridge of Sighs is 11 meters long and crosses the Rio de Palazzo. The Bridge of Sighs is said to have got its name from the former prisoners. It is said that they sighed when they were able to take their last free look at the city before being taken over the bridge to prison.
4. Rialto Bridge
Hardly any other bridge in Italy is as famous as the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto). Today it is one of the most famous bridges in the world and crosses the Canal Grande. After the wooden bridges burnt down again and again in former times, the Rialto bridge was for centuries the only bridge that led over the Canal Grande. For true love – Private Ride to Rialto Bridge
The bridge with a span of 48 meters connects the two districts Sestiere and San Marco and is today one of the landmarks of Venice.
5. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of the most important museums for modern art with a collection of world-famous paintings from various eras. The American millionaire Peggy Guggenheim (1898 to 1979) was a passionate art collector. In 1949 she bought the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni.
A year after her death, the museum was opened here. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection Museum is located in the south of the old town on the Canal Grande. However, the Venier dei Leoni Palace was never completed, only the ground floor exists. In the garden is the grave of Peggy Guggenheim, as well as the graves of her beloved dogs. Interested people can also book tickets directly here without queuing.
6. Gondola ride
In the past, the gondolas on the canals were considered a means of transport for the rich population and for the delivery of goods of all kinds. In the 16th century, about 10,000 gondolas were in operation. They often served as a status symbol for the rich Venetians, who decorated their gondolas with brocade, gold, and silk and painted them brightly.
In 1562 the head of the town Girolamo Privli decreed the colour black for all gondolas in order to finally limit the pompousness. Today a gondolier leads his boat with tourists through the canals of the city. You can discover many breathtaking palaces, beautiful churches but also very old and almost dilapidated houses.
The island of Venice consists of six districts. Cannaregio is the second largest district of the island. Here, one still finds some of the former charms of the island. Small nice shops and winding alleys in which there are very good cafés, bars, and restaurants. But one will not find the big sights here.
But the Jewish quarter around the square Campo di Ghetto Nove with the Jewish Museum and the Synagogue is definitely worth a visit. The district of Cannaregio is also home to one of Venice’s most famous churches, the Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. More information, restaurant tips, and accommodation suggestions can be found in the article Cannaregio.
Tip for the evening: 2-Hour Legends and Ghosts of Cannaregio Tour
8. Islands of Murano, Torcello, and Burano
Northeast of Venice is the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. Murano is known for its stained glass (Murano Glass Museum). It’s exciting to watch the artists at work. Lace (Museo del Merletto) is produced on the island of Burano. The place with its wonderfully colourful candy colours is wonderfully suitable for a leisurely stroll. It is said that on their return the fishermen had problems finding their house and mooring. Possibility to buy a combined ticket for the island museums
So they simply painted their houses brightly and could finally see where they had to dock. Torcello is the farthest away. In the past there were almost 20.000 inhabitants living on the island, today there are only about 25 people. In the centre of Torcello, there are the two churches Chiesa di Santa Forca and Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta and the Museo di Torcello.
9. Lido di Venezia
The name Lido di Venezia comes from the Latin word litus. It means coast or beach. Lido di Venezia is an island in the lagoon and can be reached in only 10 minutes by various water buses. For a long time, the island was not very important because it was too far from the centre.
But in the second half of the 19th century, more and more bathing opportunities were created on the beaches and the town developed into a sophisticated seaside resort that still attracts many prominent visitors today. The best way to explore the lagoon is by bike or to relax on one of the beautiful beaches of the lagoon. Further information about the Lido di Venezia.
10. Scuola Grande di San Rocco
The Scuola Grande di San Marco is considered to be the most famous brotherhood of the former Venice. The former house of the Brotherhood, with its beautiful façade, is a special attraction and is located on Campo San Rocco in the Sestiere San Polo. The original building, unfortunately, fell victim to a fire in 1445 and the construction of the new building began in 1488.
The Scuola Grande di San Marco is known for its famous ceiling paintings with scenes from the Old Testament and the very large pictures on the walls. The 56 paintings by Jacopo Tintoretto can also be seen here.
- Address: Campo San Polo, 3052, 30125 Venezia – in the centre of Venice
- Opening hours: all year round from 9:30 -17:30, ticket office closing 17:00. Closed 25 Dec and 1 Jan
Right next door is the Leonardo da Vinci Venice Museum, Campo Rocco. Another highlight among the countless museums in the historic centre of the city.
11. Teatro la Fenice
The Teatro La Fenice is one of the great opera houses in the world and is the most famous opera house in Venice. It was built in the 18th century and unfortunately almost completely destroyed by fire in 1996. The Teatro La Fenice was rebuilt and reopened in 2003. It is located in the heart of the city and only 5 minutes walk from St. Mark’s Square.
The program of events includes theatre performances, classical ballet, symphony concerts, and operas. Outside the events, tours with an audio guide or guided tours for visitors are offered. More information can be found in section La Fenice admission fees.
12. Rialto Markets
The Rialto market is located directly on the Canal Grande and is only 5 minutes walk from the Rialto bridge. Those who don’t only want to watch the many tourists, but rather the locals during the buying and trading, should be on their feet very early. The large fruit and vegetable market is followed by a fish market (Pescheria) where the fresh fish from the Adriatic is sold.
Some of the fruit and vegetables come from the vegetable island of Sant’Erasmo in the north of the lagoon, but some are imported. Tourist kitsch can only be found at a few stalls on the edge of the market. The many small bars at the Rialto market are popular meeting places for the locals.
13. Santa Maria della Salute
On the right bank of the Canal Grande is the imposing Basilica of Santa Maria Della Salute, another great sight. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Venice. It was built between 1631 and 1687 on the occasion of a serious plague epidemic that cost the lives of thousands of people.
The interior of Santa Maria Della Salute consists of a very fine white marble floor, paintings by various artists and impressive altars. Paintings by the artist Titian can be found in the sacristy of the church. Among others the ceiling painting ‘Cain and Abel’. Also, the exterior of the church with its octagonal ground plan is very impressive.
- Address: Dorsoduro, 1, 30123 Venezia; water bus line 1, Canal Grande, Salute stop
- Opening hours: Daily from 9:30 to 12:00 and 15:00 to 17:00;
- Admission max. 4,00 €
14. Musica a Palazzo
Musica a Palazzo is a cultural association. It was founded in 2005 with the aim of broadening opera culture and making it accessible. Here the traditional equipment of the opera is replaced by a stage that adapts to every scene. Each act of an opera is performed in different salons. The audience has the opportunity to experience the opera from the inside, so to speak.
Musicians, actors, and spectators wander between different halls. The location of Musica a Palazzo is Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto, whose main façade is on the Grand Canal, next to the “Giglio” Vaporetto stop.
- Info: www.musicapalazzo.com/en
Chioggia, of course, does not have the big sights as they are to be found in Venice but is definitely worth a visit. Finally, Chioggia is also called Little Venice. Here everything is a little bit smaller and finer and there are much fewer tourists. Worth seeing is the 830 meters long main street Corso del Popolo with many cafés and old palaces. In the evening, it turns into a pedestrian zone and is then closed for cars. Also at Corso del Popolo are the baroque churches San Giacomo and Sant’Andrea and the cathedral Santa Maria Assunta.
On the main canal, Canale Vena one can observe the typical colourful fishing boats. With its beautiful old town on an island, this place remains my secret tip for an excursion from Venice. A somewhat long and arduous journey. But it is still worth it. All worth knowing details in addition also in my separate article Chioggia, even with hotel tip.
Venice’s public transport network, including trips to the neighbouring islands, is excellent.
If you want to see the TOP 15 sights and many other attractions of the lagoon city, please don’t forget to get your tickets for the most important sights in advance to avoid unnecessary queues. A summary of the most important tickets can be found under Infos &Tips in Online Tickets.
If you want to know everything in detail or experience something extraordinary, it is best to take a tour with a local.
Who gets appetite between the visits will find everything important in the article Culinary Venice.