15 COOLEST Things to Do in Venice [2018 Bargain Guide]

Venice is an insanely popular Italian destination, famous for its beautiful waterways and bridges, romantic vibe, and historical air, all spread across several pedestrianized islands.

But be careful! The narrow, winding streets hide many of Florence’s lesser-known wonders, and it’s easy to overlook many of Venice’s charms.

Which is exactly why we put together this guide of the best things to do in Venice!

Written by our travel-pros, we’ve combined headline attractions with secret gems so you can have the ultimate stay in Venice. This guide will help you find some of the coolest activities in Venice – guaranteed.

No matter you’re budget, we’ve got something for everyone! Here are our top-notch recommendations for the best things to do in Venice.

Additional reading – The 17 Best Hostels in Venice and Where to Stay in Venice

Things to do in Venice

Quick Answer – Best things to do in Venice

 

Fun Things to do in Venice

There are tons of cool fun things to do in Venice. You can easily tick off your bucket-list must-dos over a couple of days.

Take a Walking Tour of Venice

take-a-walking-tour-of-venice

  • Sightseeing
  • History
  • Culture

Exploring Venice by foot is the best (and often only!) way to hit the sights. Step back in time as your knowledgeable guide points out some of Venice’s significant landmarks and monuments, all while providing interesting historical tidbits and insider anecdotes.

You’ll also tick off two of Venice’s main attractions: the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica.

See Venice’s former political powerhouse and admire glorious artwork at the Doge’s Palace. You can even step inside eerie former prison cells that are steeped in history. St. Mark’s Basilica is brimming with opulent religious artwork and you’re sure to be impressed by the altar.

Wander through Mercerie, Venice’s busiest shopping hub and experience the hive of activity at S. Maria Formosa and St. Mark’s Square. This is definitely a tour that crams in lots of Venice’s best bits!

Ride in a Traditional Gondola

Ride-in-a-traditional-Gondola

  • Gondola Ride
  • Canals
  • Traditions

You can’t visit Venice without taking a ride at least once in an iconic gondola! Venice’s traditional modes of transportation can be a bit pricey, however, so joining a shared ride lets you enjoy the experience for less. Don’t worry, you won’t be crammed in—each gondola only seats up to six people.

Sit back and relax as your gondolier, clad in an eye-catching blue and white striped top, navigates the wooden vessel through the waters. You’ll enter the Grand Canal and explore the small waterways around Campo San Moisè.

Pass under elegant bridges, drift past beautiful palaces, see medieval buildings, spot churches, and soak up the magical atmosphere of Venice from the water.

Visit the Venetian Lagoon

Visit-the-Venetian-Lagoon

  • Island Hopping
  • Culture
  • Art

Hop on a boat to visit three awesome Venetian islands in the scenic lagoon: Murano, Burano and Torcello. You’ll have plenty of time to explore each island as well as soaking up sights from the boat, and an onboard commentary ensures you get the most from your trip.

Murano is famous for its glass-blowing industry, and you’ll have the chance to watch a master artisan at work. Historic Torcello has much fine architecture, including the Church of Santa Fosca and the buildings around the main square.

On Burano, you can get snap happy with the photogenic multi-coloured houses and learn more about the local lace-making traditions. Peek inside the quaint shops to find unusual handmade souvenirs.

Romantic Things to do in Venice

Many couples flock to Venice to make many magical memories. Known for being one of the most romantic places in Europe, here’s how you and your love can enjoy Venice.

Have a Romantic Meal and Wine

Have-a-Romantic-Meal-and-Wine

  • Cuisine
  • Traditions
  • Local Life

It may sound clichéd, but sharing a meal is intimate, tasty, and a great way for couples to relax and enjoy each other’s company. This tour takes you to all the hottest local spots where you can feast on delicious cuisine and sample tasty local wines in authentic, atmospheric settings.

Start at Campo de la Maddalena, with its cute homes with unusual chimneys, before making your way to a tapas bar for a taste of delectable Viennese delights. You and your love can share small plates of tasty goodies, relishing each bite as you gaze into each other’s eyes and lap up the ambience.

Next, it’s onto a historic restaurant to feast on spicy meatballs. Let your food digest as you cross the Grand Canal and take a quick hand-in-hand stroll through the local market before savouring more Venetian tapas in another quaint establishment. Finish your romantic evening by visiting a few of Venice’s lovely bars and chatting over a few glasses of the finest Italian wines.

Enjoy a Private Gondola Ride

Enjoy-a-Private-Gondola-Ride

  • Gondola Ride
  • Culture
  • Romantic

While families and groups of friends may opt for a shared gondola ride, there’s nothing more romantic than boarding your beautiful Venetian boat with just your other half.

Steal loving kisses as you drift along the waters and cosy up next to each other as you sail past famous sights and see the city from a different perspective. You never know, you may even feel like serenading your significant other or you might even pop the big question!

Go on a Wine Tasting Tour

Go-on-a-Wine-Tasting-Tour

  • Countryside
  • Wine Tasting
  • Dining

Venice is cool, but the crowds can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Escape the hustle and bustle and head into the countryside!

Travel Italy’s oldest wine route to the lush hills of Valdobiaddene to explore verdant vineyards and fancy wineries with your sweet. You’ll be able to learn more about how the famous Prosecco is made and, of course, be able to taste the delicious fizz.

Treat yourselves to a tasty local lunch at an attractive restaurant set in beautiful surroundings, and soak up the region’s cultural sights as you pass by, including Abbazia di Santa Maria di Follina and San Pietro di Feletto.

Things to do in Venice with Kids

Venice might not be the first place that springs to mind when travelling with kids, but you’ll be surprised at how many child-friendly things there actually are.

Join a Mask-Making Workshop

Join-a-Mask-Making-Workshop

  • Traditions
  • Hands-On
  • Creative

While kids may not fully appreciate the history and culture behind the stunning Venetian carnival masks, they’ll almost certainly have an absolute ball making one!

The experience starts with a brief introduction to the traditions of mask-making and wearing, and your kids can then choose whether they want to make their own mask from paper-mâché, perhaps to decorate at a later time, or whether to paint a stunning mask with the guidance of a skilled expert.

Either way, it’s time to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in! And, even better, you’ll have beautiful keepsakes to take home as a reminder of the fun family times you shared in Venice.

Appreciate Modern Art at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum

Appreciate-Modern-Art-at-the-Peggy-Guggenheim-Museum

  • Art
  • Workshops
  • History

Founded by a wealthy American heiress, the Peggy Guggenheim Museum is home to a fabulous selection of contemporary artwork. Browse interesting works by well-known artists like Dali, Picasso, and Andy Warhol. Children are sure to find the outdoor sculpture garden particularly appealing.

Art-loving parents can share their passions with their children and, if you visit on a Sunday afternoon, little ones are in for an extra special treat—the museum has free art workshops to inspire young creative minds. Ideal for kids between 4 and 10, you might just help to create the next big name in the art world!

Whip Up a Storm in the Kitchen

Whip-Up-a-Storm-in-the-Kitchen

  • Cooking
  • Traditions
  • Hands-On

Another hands-on activity that’s great for older children, a cooking class lets you all learn new skills that you can impress others with long after the vacation has ended.

Head to the Polo District and be welcomed into a local family home where you’ll learn more about local cooking techniques, recipes, and ingredients. Then, wash your hands and get stuck into preparing a four-course lunch or dinner. You’ll discover how to make a starter, a pasta dish, another course, and dessert.

Of course, when everything is ready it’s time to dig in and relish the fruits of your labour! Why not take a post-meal stroll of the nearby Jewish Quarter afterwards?

Free Things to do in Venice

The costs of travelling can soon mount up, but that doesn’t mean that people on a budget can’t still experience Venice’s beauty. There are terrific free attractions to help keep costs down while still having a great time and, naturally, admiring the wealth of stunning architecture, strolling alongside the canals, and crossing the charming bridge is totally free too.

Explore the Lively Rialto Market

Explore-the-Lively-Rialto-Market

photo credits: Andrea Lanzilli (Flickr.com)

  • Shopping
  • Local Life
  • Market

Open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, the thronging Rialto Market is a top place to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of Venice. The bustling medieval marketplace promises to appeal to the senses!

You can browse a colourful range of fresh fruits and vegetables, various types of meats, and freshly caught fish and seafood. If you’ve taken a cooking class you might even want to stock up on essentials to practice your new skills!

Even if you don’t plan on buying anything the market is still among the best free things to do in Venice, providing a window into the local life and many opportunities to indulge in a spot of people watching. Plus, you’re sure to walk away with many terrific photographs!

Visit the Museo della Musica

Visit-the-Museo-della-Musica

photo credits: Cuong Vu (Flickr.com)

  • Museum
  • Music
  • Traditions

A small but fascinating museum, particularly if you love music, the Museo della Musica takes you back in time through Vienna’s melodic heritage. Unsurprisingly, there’s a section dedicated to the life and work of one of Venice’s most celebrated people—Antonio Vivaldi, writer of the world-famous “Four Seasons” and musician and composer extraordinaire.

You will also discover more about the traditions of making violins, with the local stringed instruments once highly acclaimed and sought after around the world. There’s an array of other musical instruments too, including cellos, pianos, violas, and mandolins. Do look out for the unusual barrel organs too.

The collections are housed in elegant former churches and there are plenty of striking architectural details to admire as well.

Marvel at Casino Venier

Marvel-at-Casino-Venier

photo credits: venissima.blogspot.com

  • History
  • Glamour
  • Hidden Gem

If you’re expecting roulette wheels and card tables at the spectacular Casino Venier, think again! Venetian gambling in times gone by was a much classier affair than the glitzy casinos of today.

Rich people and members of nobility used to meet in Venice’s 100-plus casinos to mingle, network, dance, and chance their luck with a range of betting games. The casinos were once an important part of the local social scene, a place to see and be seen.

While there’s little risk of losing out to Lady Luck today, you can feast your eyes on the opulent setting where riches were made and fortunes were lost.

Housed in L’Alliance Francaise, the outside cannot prepare you for the riches that lie within its rather ordinary walls. Climb the old staircase to be wowed by marble flooring, ornate plasterwork, gorgeous glass mirrors, and awesome wall and ceiling paintings.

Best Things to do in at Night

There are plentiful restaurants and bars to visit in Venice after night falls, and taking a walk alongside the canals, with lights reflecting seductively off the water’s surface, promises to be an enchanting affair. You might want to add some diversity to your evenings too.

Go Ghost Hunting!

Go-Ghost-Hunting!

  • Unusual
  • Eerie
  • Paranormal

Explore Venice’s darkest alleyways and peer around corners made eerie in the dim glow of street lamps to uncover Venice’s spookier side.

Surrounded by mystery and intrigue, you’re sure to have a few spine-tingling quivers as you creep quietly through the streets of Cannaregio. Look out for things that go bump in the night as you hear reports of ghostly apparitions and supernatural occurrences.

You’ll also discover more about Venice’s more gruesome past—the ancient walls of Cannaregio would have many colourful stories to tell if they could only speak!

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry at Hard Rock Café

Eat-Drink-and-Be-Merry-at-Hard-Rock-Café

  • Dining
  • Drinking
  • Music

With many branches around the rock, Hard Rock Café has become an iconic name when it comes to a great meal in terrific surroundings. The Venice restaurant is no exception. Always busy, it really pays to be able to beat the crowds so you don’t waste precious vacation time hanging around waiting for a table.

Close to St. Mark’s Square and a major gondola station, finding the restaurant couldn’t be much easier. Your biggest problem is likely going to be deciding what to order from the tempting menu! Devour hearty burgers, stuffed sandwiches, pasta, and more, before drooling over a tasty dessert, all while listening to the best sounds from rock legends and admiring the photos and décor.

Dine by Candlelight on a Galleon

Dine-by-Candlelight-on-a-Galleon

  • Boat Ride
  • Views
  • Dining

Ahoy there, shipmates! Do something different for dinner and set sail around the gorgeous Venetian Lagoon for a candlelit meal. Great for couples, friends, and families, dress up fancy and climb aboard.

Watch as islands continue to come into view and enjoy the sights alongside the canals. You’ll pass palaces, homes, museums, churches, and top-class hotels, all made even more magical when their lights twinkle in the dark.

Feast on a selection of fine Venetian fare, specially prepared by the onboard chef. The sumptuous galleon stocks a good selection of wines too, so there’s no excuse not to splash out and treat yourself!

Final Thoughts on Things to do in Venice

And there you have it! From romantic escapades and hidden jewels to family-friendly fun and Venice’s most well-known highlights, don’t miss these best things to do in Venice for a holiday to remember.

Did we miss any of the top things to do in Venice? Which experience or tour are you going to do?

Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author Aaron Radcliffe

Leave a Comment: