The Venice carnival may be what puts this city in the international news every year, but itís a highly sought-after tourist destination at any time. Prized for its architecture, artwork, churches and museums, Venice, Italy offers gondola rides, scenic and strollable streets and boatloads of good food and wine.
There are several itineraries and methods for exploring Venice, and a number of things many people have on their list to experience once they arrive. Here are some of the more popular things to do in the city, to give you an idea of what you can expect to enjoy during your visit there.
Venetian Souvenir Shopping
There are several prized things to shop for as you see the sights. Hand-blown glass, adorned carnival masks and hand-crafted lace all make the list of sought-after souvenirs by Venice vacationers. There are also a number of street artists selling gallery-worthy oil paintings, charcoal sketches and watercolors of famous buildings and scenes throughout the city. Chances are, youíll stumble across a glass-blowing demonstration during your explorations. Take the time to enjoy it. Itís a welcome break from architecture overload.
Taking a romantic gondola ride is the quintessential experience for a vacation to Venice, Italy. Many make the mistake of wanting to book a gondola the minute they approach the Grand Canal from the main train station. Itís my opinion that this is usually far too choppy to enjoy in the manner youíve likely always dreamed of. A more serene gondola experience can be had in the quieter canals toward the city center.
Piazza San Marco
One of the most famous piazzas in the world, piazza San Marco is named for the Basilica di San Marco itself. But there are many other important things to see at the Piazza. The Dukeís palace, the Bridge of Sighs leading to the prison, the old library and the archeological museum. There are also the two impressive towers leading out of the piazza and onto the piazzetta near the vaporetto station. St. Markís square is also famous for its pigeons, which you can feed for a nominal fee when you purchase bird seed from one of the vendors in the open area. This is definitely the piazza where youíll want to sit with a cappuccino and enjoy the sites.
The Rialto Bridge and surrounding area of shops is a popular spot for photo ops and souvenir shopping in the city of Venice, Italy. There are outdoor cafes where you can have coffee and dessert while overlooking this historic bridge thatís often filmed in movies and is routinely the subject matter of various street artists.
Galleria dellí Accademia
This former church and convent is on the tourist list for most visitors with even a passing interest in art, as the collection represents how Venetian art progressed in form from fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Works from many famous masters are housed here.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection
For modern art fans, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a must-see on the Venice tourism circuit. In addition to the sculpture garden where Ms. Guggenheim and several of her pet dogs are buried, youíll see paintings from numerous important modern artists, including several by Picasso and Pollock.
Afternoon Vaporetto Rides
If youíve seen as much as you can on foot, mid-afternoon is the perfect time to take a vaporetto Ė a public water bus Ė from St. Markís Square back to the main train station. The light is fantastic at that time of day to get some great stationary gondola photographs next to the famous striped Venetian poles and historic buildings. Itís also one of the best cheap tours of the Grand Canal at your tourist disposal.
Venice, Italy is arguably one of the most amazing cities in the world and well-worth the tourist dollars for those who can afford to go. These ideas represent some of the most popular things to do in Venice, but there are certainly many other activities and sights. One thingís for certain. Whether you are able to spend a day or a week, youíll be able to count Venice as one of your trips of a lifetime. After touring this historic city, itís possible to launch off and explore other Italian vacation options as well, such as Bolzano, Florence, Verona and Lake Garda.
Photo Credits: Images for this article were photographed by the Trek Hound team. However, they are available for online use through a creative commons agreement with our sister site, Pictures of Travel Places.