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Our Top 5 Must-See Venice Attractions

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by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Pia V.

Last updated : May 21, 20247 min read

Travel Tips

Ah, Venice. Even in a country as beautiful as Italy, this one-of-a-kind city famed for its scenic canals and gorgeous architecture manages to stand out. It really is no wonder this coastal city manages to attract millions of visitors each and every year. 

 

After arriving in Venice, you might be tempted to hop on a gondola to enjoy a lazy cruise down the canals and simply call it a day. Frankly, though, it would be a shame to travel to Venice without visiting some of the city's most beautiful and historic landmarks. Here are the top 5 attractions you simply must visit while in Venice alongside our private guides

 

St. Mark's Basilica

 

St. Mark's Basilica, or ‘Basilica di San Marco’, is without a doubt the most famous church in Venice. This stunning cathedral sits on the edge of Piazza San Marco, and together these two landmarks make up one of the most visited and photographed spots in the city. The cathedral's history can be traced all the way back to the 800s AD. More than a thousand years later, the opulent structure still continues to wow visitors from far and wide. 

 

The cathedral is huge, and it's built in the shape of a Greek cross, complete with five majestic domes. The building features beautiful details and materials throughout, including mosaic, marble, and glass. The design is a perfect reflection of Venice's rich history. The basilica's iconic bronze horse statues, for example, were originally brought to Venice from 13th century crusades, only to be transported to Paris by Napoleon himself. The horses were finally returned to Venice in 1815 and remain at the cathedral to this day. 

 

Doge's Palace 

 

The Doge's Palace, also known as Palazzo Ducale, is one of the most popular attractions in Venice, and deservedly so. Located just on the edge of Piazza San Marco, the palace was once the home to the Doge of Venice, who served as the head of the Republic of Venice. The building was also the republic's hub of power. The iconic landmark was first built in the 1300s and, despite enduring several fires, has maintained its grandeur throughout the centuries. 

 

The exterior of the building is instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever been to Venice, or even just seen photos of the city. A landmark of Gothic architecture, the palace features dramatic marble pillars, arching windows, and stark checkered floors. It is also home to priceless works of art from artists including Bellini and Carpaccio. The palace leads out to the famous Bridge of Sighs, which was once used to transport prisoners from the courtroom to prison.  

 

Grand Canal

 

What would Venice be without its canals? For generations, the maze-like waterways have been essential to the local way of life, and the Canal Grande (or the Grand Canal) is arguably the most important of them all. This is the main water-traffic corridor in this coastal city, with several smaller canals feeding into it. The Grand Canal is just under four kilometers long, with an average depth of about five meters. The canal is thought to follow the route of an ancient river. 

 

While the canal certainly looks beautiful from the sidelines, the best way to experience it is of course by hopping on a gondola. Not only will this allow you to truly soak up the ambiance of the city, but it will also introduce you to the local sights in a whole new way. One of the most famous landmarks to spot during your boat ride is the Ponte di Rialto, a beautiful pedestrian bridge built over the canal. 

 

Teatro La Fenice

 

Even if you don't consider yourself a fan of the opera, visiting the Teatro la Fenice should definitely be on your travel bucket list. Even when no music is playing, this world-famous concert venue is simply stunning to look at, from its ornately decorated balconies to the plush velvet seats, all crowned by an artfully decorated ceiling. It is also one of the most important landmarks of opera found anywhere in the world. 

 

The opera house was first built in the 1830s, and since then it has endured many hardships, including a devastating fire in 1996. Thankfully, this Venice icon has been able to recover and thrive. Though it is steeped in history, Teatro La Fenice is by no means a relic. The venue is still a vibrant hub of art and culture, hosting regular concerts and theater performances, including their much beloved New Year's Concert. It's hard to imagine a more beautiful setting for ringing in the new year!

 

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection

 

Venice's long and fabled history and grand, classic architecture might have you convinced that when it comes to art and design, this beautiful city is all about days gone by. However, if you look beneath the grand façade, the city is actually home to a very vibrant and forward-looking art scene. The best place to sample some of that modern flavor is of course the famous Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

 

Located on the banks of the Grand Canal, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is home to prestigious futurist and modernist paintings, mainly by Italian and American artists, including Giorgio De Chirico and Jackson Pollock. Besides paintings, the museum also features a sculpture garden. Though the building itself appears modern, the museum is actually housed in an 18th century palace where Guggenheim herself lived for some 30 years.  

 

Conclusion

Whether you're a first-time visitor or a fully-fledged Venice aficionado, Italy's famous floating city has a lot to offer. The five landmarks listed here are an absolute must for anyone visiting the city. Even after you've checked them off your bucket list, there is still so much more left to explore. In fact, it might all feel a bit overwhelming! If you want to make the most of your trip to Venice without the stress, we recommend exploring the city with our professional guides. Contact one of our local guides to start planning your trip today.

Venice Tour Guide - Roberto V.

Roberto V.

Italy

Hello everyone! My name is Roberto and I am ready to be your host and go with you to discover the very true side of Venice. I was born, raised up and living in Venice since 1957.... I have been knowing and loving Venice for more than half a century now. After being a concierge in the most famous hotels in Venice, I went for a change and took my licenses for both tour leader and environmental guide. I will certainly be able to show you how we live in Venice now and how we used to live in Venice some years ago...well, yes, I am old enough to do it! I am a true Venetian and I have a sort of warranty certificate for this... I mean for being a true Venetian. Because the family was a well known noble family in Venice that also gave Venice a doge...and who was the doge? Ehiiiiiii I cannot tell you everything now! Book a tour with me and you’ll discover!                                                                                                                                  

Veneto Tour Guide - Ruben A.

Ruben A.

5.00 / 5
(1 reviews)
Italy

Ciao, my name is Ruben, I have been working as a tourist guide for over 10 years. I am a licensed tourist guide in Vicenza, Verona, Padua and all Palladian and Venetian Villas in the Veneto. Let me share my joy of guiding and my local knowledge and living experience in Vicenza, Verona or Padua and so many more in the Veneto through one of my several tours. The tours in my list are only examples and can be all customized according to your interests, requests and needs. I can provide you with all information you may need about time, sites to visit, restaurants, museums, etc. I will offer you my companion visitors a real experience in the Veneto.                                                                                                                                 

Venice Tour Guide - Cecilia S.

Cecilia S.

Italy

After my degree at the University of Venice, I obtained my diploma of Sommelier. As licensed tour leader and certified Sommelier, I organize wine experiences in my beloved Venice, to see the city from a different perspective, a very delicious perspective! I can organize wine tastings or walking tours with food and wine tastings and I am very open to customize different experiences. I am also available for full day trips to Prosecco hills to taste great sparkling Proseccos, or Valpolicella area where the full bodied Amarone is produced. My family roots are my inspirations, my Passion for wine is my calling!                                                                                                                                 

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