So, for your next holiday, you have decided to visit Venice! Surely you have heard and read a lot about this enchanting and mysterious city on the water, so much so that it feels as if you already know it a little bit. You surely have heard of Piazza San Marco and the St Mark’s basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto Bridge and of course the the Grand Canal; these are probably the most popular cultural attractions.
But what if we told you that there are many more incredible things to discover in Venice that most tourist never get to see? What is the best way to visit Venice ? How do you decide on the best itinerary and experiences with the time you have available?
Let us give you an introduction to this remarkable city and then you will be ready to discover it for yourself!
Please remember that the city of Venice is certainly unique, but Venice would not be Venice without its mainland. In fact there is also a great deal to see and do in the area surrounding Venice known as the Veneto region . From charming historical cities like Treviso and Vicenza to vineyards and wine tasting and the beauty of mountain villages. Many of these places can be visited as a day trip from Venice or why not, you could consider coming back and exploring the whole of the enchanting Veneto region for your next trip to Italy! Please check our dedicated section to find out more about the Veneto region!
Are you ready to start the journey?
The Sestieri: the neighborhoods of Venice
The streets of Venice are a real labyrinth … a labyrinth which is divided into neighbourhoods or SESTIERI. The six Sestieri di Venezia reflect the ancient administrative areas of the city.
Every sestiere has its own character:
Castello: is the residential area preferred by the Venetians characterized by a bohemian atmosphere. There are many galleries here but also the exhibition venues of La Biennale di Venezia(an important arts organisation.)
Cannaregio: it is also a very populated area where you can see many craft shops. This is also and the Jewish neighbourhood of Venice,;
Santa Croce: it is a bit like the the main gate to the city. It includes the Piazzale Roma (bus terminal), the Tronchetto (Cruise and car terminal) and the Santa Lucia station;
San Polo: it is the smallest sestiere and represents the center of Venice;
Dorsoduro: is the university area and also includes the great Giudecca island
San Marco: the political and commercial center, it also includes the island of San Giorgio across the lagoon. From there you can enjoy the most spectacular panoramic view of the island of Venice.
Venice Points of Interest : the most important places to visit
You probably have already compiled a list of the most popular attractions to visit. However, please check also our section on main Venice points of interest , to make sure you do not miss any of them!
Saint Mark ’s square : one of the most imposing and elegant squares in the world, overlooked by the Doge’s Palace, the beautiful Basilica di San Marco and the bell tower (called “el paron de casa”) of San Marco, as well the ornate renaissance clock tower.
Rialto bridge and the surrounding area with the church of San Giacometto, the oldest in Venice. The colourful Rialto markets are also famous as they are a great opportunity to meet locals doing their fruit, vegetable and fish shopping. this will also be an opportunity for great photos.
Accademia Bridge: the only wooden bridge in Venice from where you will be able to admire one of the best views of the city!
There are some other great things to see which we consider unmissable.Although these are less popular, especially among the visitors with little time available, visiting them will give you a impression of the city and the locals from a different angle.
The Arsenale: the ancient shipyard of Venice, which is used today as a venue for arts events.
The rafts: a beautiful walk overlooking the island of Giudecca where we Venetians love to go to eat the Gianduiotto (chocolate ice cream with nuts and cream!) at Nicos or sip an aperitif at the Chioschetto bar.
The squero: these are the workshops where the gondolas are built. Only 5 of these are still in working order today.
And then of course there are the numerous museums of the city … but that’s another story!
Venice Islands and lagoon
If you have enough time to spend in Venice, you surely should consider visiting some of the Venice islands. The most famous are the islands of the northern lagoon:
Murano, whose history is linked to glass art
Burano famous for its colored houses, the biscuits called “Bussola’” and the traditional lace made by hand.
Don’t forget the charming small island of Torcello, which has only a few residents.
Because of their proximity to Venice and the small size of these islands, it is possible to visit them in half a day with an organized tour or make your own way there and take a little more time to explore.
The fame of the Venice Lido is today linked above all to the Venice Film Festival, but most people know that when we talk about the Lido we “natives” mean “going to the beach”: The Lido has clean water, pristine sand, and a quiet and relaxed atmosphere. A bike ride to the Lido is a highly recommended experience!
Besides these fairly well known islands there are others like Pellestrina, Sant’Erasmo, San Francesco del Deserto, San Giorgio Maggiore and Giudecca.
Venice events: look at the calendar!
Venice is still a living city (even if with fewer and fewer residents …) and there are very many Venice events going on. Venice has exhibitions throughout the year but also hosts celebrations and events related to local folklore and sport.
There are a number of events in keeping with the naval tradition of Venice.
From rowing regattas to the traditional show of the feast of the sensa (the feast of the ascension). There is also the vogalonga which happens in November and is a non competitive race where any rowing boat can enter the course, which is 30km long around the various Venetian canals.
We also highlight two important events related to the history of Venice – the Redeemer (Rendentore) on the third Saturday of July and the Madonna della Salute (November 21st).
The La Biennale di Venezia Foundation, is a regular big international art and design exhibition
Venice Carnival, the most famous in the world!
Of course the Venice Carnival is probably the most famous event of all! The carnival happens everywhere in the streets but also in Venice’s beautiful buildings. Why not enter into the spirit of the carnival and dress up yourself to experience the atmosphere and the magic of the festivities! A historical or fantastical costume will do -the important thing is to dress up!
If you are planning your trip during this period remember that the dates of the carnival are not fixed but follow the religious calendar: the Carnival happens in the 20 days before Ash Wednesday.
How many days in Venice?
If you have not booked your flights yet, you are probably wondering how many days to spend in Venice. We have to be honest, getting lost in Venice without any concern for time is probably the best way to really discover the city; however we also realize that the time available to you will not be unlimited and that a virtual guide might be appreciated! At least to extricate yourself from the many information you read on the web.
Therefore we have put together some itineraries in Venice to give you suggested guidelines. Some of the itineraries are longer, some are shorter, some focus on the classical Venice, some on the unusual Venice; some have been developed along themes, which might appeal to you: sport, relaxation, culture, contemporary art, suitable for children, in the historic center or on the islands.
Keep exploring our website to find the most suitable itinerary for your needs.
Venice Tourism: how we see it
In recent years we have seen a radical change with a growing number of tourists visiting Venice. The sustainability of Venice Tourism is very close to our hearts. We want visitors to see the authentic Venice and not only the main tourist spots. Beyond those famous sights there is an artistic, authentic Venice we want you to engage with. The VivoVenetia team is composed of young women, all living in Venice, with the desire to show our city as we know it, how we live in it every day. Some of us were born here, while others moved here many years ago because they fell in love with this fascinating and timeless city.
Our stories are stories of experiences and people … because people are the soul of any city, through which emotions and traditions of entire generations are passed on.
We want to show that responsible and sustainable tourism is as possible in Venice as anywhere else!