Venice is one of the most famous cities in Italy due to the fact that most of its streets are not streets at all, but canals. Also known as “the floating city,” it is made up of 100 islands floating on a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It is world-renowned for its many bridges, as well as for its striking architecture that includes buildings from the Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque, and Byzantine eras.
Oh, and it just so happens to be sinking one to two millimeters further into the sea each year, so it may be best to visit it now while you still have the chance!
What Is the Best Time to Visit Venice, Italy?
From September to November, you’ll find that all the tourists have left Venice, which means that it will be yours to explore at your own pace and without all the bustling crowds. The temperature can be a bit unpredictable in those months, but if you dress in layers you’ll be perfectly fine.
If you don’t mind a bit (okay, a lot) of crowding, you could also visit in February or March for Carnival, one of the best attractions in Italy, but more on that below.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Venice, Italy
Carnival of Venice
Carnival is the Italian version of Mardi Gras, and the biggest celebration of it takes place in Venice. Elaborate masks are worn and around three million people come to the city every year to celebrate with music, dancing, and, of course, eating. It is a bright, colorful, joyful celebration that takes place one day before the more somber Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent in the Catholic religion, and it is really a spectacular event to be a part of.
Take a Gondola Ride
Aside from Carnival, Venice is arguably most famous for its gondolas. There are 350 of these long, artfully decorated boats in the city, and you can pay a gondolier to take you for a ride in one of them at almost any time of day. It is a relaxing experience as you wend your way through the canals, taking in the views of the city, and it is often seen as the perfect romantic date option for couples visiting Venice.
Take a Walk on the Bridges
Venice has an incredible 417 bridges crossing over its many canals and waterways and connecting all of its small islands together. Seventy-two of these are privately owned, but the rest are open to visitors who can walk on them to look down on the water, or who can take photos of them from a distance. The Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs are among the most noteworthy, but there is really no shortage of interesting bridges to check out.
Some of the Best Attractions in Venice, Italy
Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco is located in the very heart of Venice. Although most other cities are full of piazzas, this is the only one in Venice due to its semi-aquatic nature. Here, you can see the Basilica di San Marco, an extraordinary building covered in mosaics formed by Byzantine tiles, as well as the Campanile di San Marco, a bell tower that gives you a view of the whole city from the sky. There is also the diamond-patterned Palazzo Ducale that gives visitors a great view of the Grand Canal.
There are hundreds of canals in Venice, but this one is the biggest and most important. The Grand Canal snakes through the entire city in a huge, sprawling S-shape, and following it will bring you past over a hundred architecturally significant buildings, some of which date back to the 13th century. Usually, the canal itself is not traversable by tourists or your ordinary townsfolk (unless you take a special type of boat), but there are four bridges that cross it that you are more than welcome to use to criss-cross over it.
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Across the Grand Canal from Piazza San Marco sits the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. This beautiful church stands out, not just among the other buildings and churches in Venice, but also the other churches in Italy due to the fact that it was built in the Baroque style of architecture in the 1600s. Its dome rises high up above the rest of the city’s skyline and the four statues of Christ’s apostles welcome visitors from the outside. Inside, visitors are met with an enormous, well-lit space full of art that dates back centuries.
Other Sights Worth a Visit in Venice, Italy
Located on a separate island, the Lido di Venezia is an 11 kilometer-long piece of land that gives visitors a quieter, calmer place to check out shops and look out over the water. This is also the place where the famous Venice Film Festival is held each year.
With its unique combination of architecture, great views, and waterways, Venice is a great place to float on by for a trip. Just don’t forget to bring money to buy your own unique Carnival mask from one of the shops!