We LOVE to explore the world and it’s hidden gems. Nevertheless, we share also the must-dos for Venice. The gondola ride, beautiful Piazza San Marco, this list would not really be complete without them.
We numbered every item and included a description of it.
- WHY we recommend it
- HOW to get here
- WHERE to book
We also give you our best tips for accommodation in our guide to where to stay in Venice. It covers Hostels, hotels, Airbnbs, apartments and even the luxury experience.
Last but not least, here’s our guide to the perfect 7 days in Venice. We share how to get around and how many days we really recommend staying here.
(Last update: August, 2020)
List of Cool Things to Do in Venice
Magical paradise, Venice is a world known for its gorgeous photos, shared all over the internet.
Have you seen those beautiful Instagram photos about Venice? You will get them too through this list. We did, of course, share our experience on our Instagram, check out our Venice stories if you wanna get some more details.
- Visit Piazza San Marco
- Take a Gondola Ride (but know what you want…!)
- Alternative: Take a Gondola Ride for 2€
- Stay at a Former Monastery
- Seek for hidden squares
- Walking Tour to the hidden spots
- Visit Libreria Acqua Alta
- La Biennale Di Venezia
- Try Gelato and more Gelato
- Become a local
- Try on the Venetian Mask (and get one as a Souvenir)
- Or make your own Venetian Mask
- St Marks Bell Tower
- Exclusive Alone in St. Mark’s Basilica After Hours
- Visit the three island: Murano, Torcello, Burano
- Admire the popular Doge’s Palace
- Join a Free Walking Tour
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection
- Legends and Ghost tour of Ancient Venice
- Teatro La Fenice
- Murano Glass Factory Experience: Factory Tour and Workshop – Reviews
- Leonardo da Vinci Museum
- Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
- Venice in one Day (skip all lines)
- Aurora Beach Club
- Beach Time in Venice!
- Get lost in the restaurants
- Go for Aperitivo (or 2, or 3…)
- Try the Venetian tapas
- Join concerts at We Crociferi, a former monastery
- Slow down with a coffee (and visit the rest-room)
- Escape Room
- Photo Tour
Found something in particular that catches your interest? Feel free to jump to the topic or you can just take your time and read all through the lines.
1. Visit Piazza San Marco
Sorry, but we have to start with a very obvious one. Bare with us, this list is gonna get much better, yet we have to cover this one.
This is the number one thing you have to do once you arrived in Venice. Not only is it the main square, the heart of Venice but also the magical place where every single tourist comes together.
Here, at Piazza San Marco, you are surrounded by breathtaking buildings. The cafés are more pricey, and live music is played basically all day long. Bear that in mind. We actually recommend to come here, take a few photos and move on.
There is much more to discover in Venice; with lesser tourists and better prices. Either way, we consider Piazza San Marco an absolute must-do!
Note: It is forbidden to sit down at Piazza San Marco. In the night there is no police, so you can sit down and take beautiful photos. You did not hear this from me…
2. Take a Gondola Ride (but know what you want!)
Yes, yes!! Take a beautiful, romantic Gondola ride. Everybody does it and it is certainly beautiful. There are a few things to consider before hopping in your first Gondola.
- Do you want to try riding a Gondola on your own?
- Do you want to do it by day or by night?
- Do you want to join more people?
- Or you can also have a gondola ride with dinner experience.
It all affects the price.
I seriously recommend taking a Gondola ride combined with you trying it for yourself as well. It is more fun, and certainly a memorable experience.
Is it worth it to take a Gondola Ride in Venice?
The first time I visited, I skipped this experience. I felt it would be too touristy. On my second visit, I hopped on. I found a Gondola a bit of the beaten path and we went along canals with much less Gondolas and boats.
It was great, I loved it! However, do not expect the Gondolier to sing along.
Tip: Make sure you bring your camera, you do want to take plenty of photos!
3. Alternative: Take a Gondola Ride for 2€
A cheaper alternative is the regular gondola, being used as public transport. The two main islands are connected by a few bridges. On a few points away from the bridges, you can take Gondolas to cross the river.
It only costs 2€ and it takes around 2 minutes to cross.
This is an excellent option if you feel like the official Gondola rides are too pricey. Or in case you are too sensitive to boat rides, this is my case.
Bear in mind, these regular Gondolas are not the beautiful, decorated Gondolas. Nevertheless, it’s much cheaper and a fun thing to do while in Venice.
4. Stay at a Former Monastery
Venice is a very unique destination. Make sure you pick a unique accommodation for your stay.
Here are a few options:
- Casa Sant’Andrea near the train station. It has a very simple decoration.
- San Clement Palace Kempinski: it is on the San Clemente island. You have to take a boat to get there and it is totally worth it.
- We LOVE Combo Venezia. It is a former Monastery, located on the main island. It’s an enormous building and all rooms come with views of the canal. This is absolutely amazing!
Combo Venezia is a hostel, yet it is recommended for all ages and all types of travelers.
- solo traveler
- elderly couples
The rooms are high-end and you can sleep in comfortable beds with no noise. Combo Venezia also organizes weekly events like Aperitivo, small concerts, wine tastings, cinemas, you name it.
Venice has many tourists coming over only for the day. That is because of the cruise ships on the Mediterranean. Anyway, Venice is gorgeous and I highly recommend staying at the very least for 1 night. Even better for the perfect stay is 2 nights!
5. Seek for hidden squares
Venice is touristy, yes. But it also has many hidden gems and squares all around. Just go off the beaten path and you will explore a few for sure.
The beaten path in Venice? That is the direct street of Ponte Degli Scalzi connecting the Piazza San Marco with the main train station. Strada Nuova, where all the shops are. The Rialto Bridge is also another highlight, as same as the surrounding islands like Burano and Murano.
My three favorite hidden squares are:
- Campo Dei Gesuiti
- San Zaccaria
- Campo Madonna de l’Orto
- the area around Cannaregio
- San Zan Degolà
6. Walking Tour to the hidden spots
Another way to get around? Get a local tour guide.
But, obviously, we don’t recommend a regular tour guide. Get one that goes beyond the touristy things. We enjoyed With Locals for local tours.
You can find more walking tours in Venice here.
7. Visit Libreria Acqua Alta
Considered one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world is Libreria Acqua Alta. This library is truly special. You will find the books are kept in bathtubs, gondolas, and boats. Why? You might ask.
Well, if you ever heard about the winter phenomena that hit Venice, High water (Aqua Alta), here you have the answer.
The owner considered that he had to find a solution to save the books in case the bookshop gets really flooded.
If you want to be helpful, then buy a book here or any souvenir. It helps the owner to actually run the shop!
Note: Don’t leave Aqua Alta without visiting also the outside part of the bookshop.
8. La Biennale Di Venezia
Huge range of art – to different tastes! For art lovers, you will need a whole day needed to see La Biennale Di Venezia.
The ticket is valid for 2 days. It is thought that the visitor spends one day on the Arsenale and one day on the gardens (Giardini la Biennale)
9. Try Gelato and more Gelato
You are in Italia, you are in Venice.
It actually goes without saying, but here are the absolute must-eats in Italy:
All over Italy, you can find endless restaurants and Gelateria.
My favorite Gelateria is Gelateria Nico. Why this Gelateria? Cause the views and the vibes from the surroundings are great. Gelateria Nico is located at the Zattere Promenade, a popular waterfront walkway along the Giudecca canal.
Get your ice cream, seat around, and enjoy the show.
10. Become a local
Wanna get some real hidden gems? Then check out this guide on the best 6 hidden gems to Venice in a secret guide. You can download the guide for free.
11. Try on the Venetian Mask (and get one as a Souvenir)
The Venetian Mask is world-famous. You may have seen it already in advertising, photos or wherever. It is a common motif to use.
Although Carnival takes place in February/March, you will find the masks all year round. It was quite surprising to me how beautiful they are. The quality was also surprising to me.
Therefore, it is a perfect souvenir. You can also consider this mask for your next carnival party or Halloween party – when mixed up properly with some crazy outfit.
Some of the street vendors allow you to take photos with the mask. At least do that!
12. Or make your own Venetian Mask
If buying a souvenir is nothing for you, then make your own one. Make a handmade Venetian mask. There are several shops around, offering this unique activity in Venice.
You can also book your spot directly here.
I’ve to admit: I first thought these masks are cheesy and so touristy. But actually, when I tried one the first time I really liked it. It is quite artistic. I got myself one for carnival. Give it a go!
13. St Marks Bell Tower
Located directly at Piazza San Marco, St Marks Bell Tower is an iconic landmark. If you are looking for what to see in Venice list, this tower will be on it!
You can join tours to go up the St Marks Bell Tower. It is worth it! But don’t get trapped in the queue. Buy your ticket and skip the line.
You can climb up all the stairs to soak in a wonderful view over Venice and other areas. It is also a unique view from Piazza San Marco right below.
14. Exclusive Alone in St. Mark’s Basilica After Hours
After closing time, when visitors have been pushed out, a guard unlocks the doors of St. Mark’s Basilica to explore the city’s most important building completely alone.
With walks of Italy, you will have access to the areas of St Mark’s Basilica with a small group of max 15 people and an expert tour guide who will tell you the stories and help you spot all the details
You will also be able to visit the crypt, where to bones of St. Mark himself are said to lie.
15. Visit the three island: Murano, Torcello, Burano
You may already come across the three islands, surrounding Venice. The three islands are:
You can visit these islands for a day trip from Venice. This is something quite unique since you can also visit the Glass factory in Murano.
16. Admire the popular Doge’s Palace
Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is not just a majestic building in Venice. It represented for centuries the seat of the Venetian political power.
You could just admire the palace from the outside but trust us, it is worth it to get in. Splendid rooms, hundreds of masterpieces of painting, a golden staircase, crossing the Bridge of sighs…
The information at the palace is quite badly organized. That is why I do recommend you to get a tour.
My favorite tour is with Walks of Italy.
The tour includes:
- Explore the more impenetrable parts of the Doge’s Palace, including torture chambers and interrogation rooms
- Learn more about the people who passed through this building
- Acquaint yourself with St. Mark’s Basilica and marvel at the treasure trove housed within
17. Join a Free Walking Tour
We already shared the walking tours. There are as well free walking tours in Venice. They are tip-based. This means you pay at the end of the tour whatever you feel this tour was worth it.
An average tip is around $10 per person. Backpackers usually pay less while families pay a bit more.
You can find more details and schedules of the Free Walking Tour Venice here.
18. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Not everything is history and old in Venice. You can find also a museum of modern art, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
19. Legends and Ghost tour of Ancient Venice
Interested in the ghosts and the mystery of Venice?
Experience the mysterious atmosphere yourself as the night falls on the Cannaregio district of Venice with an entertained guided tour.
20. Teatro La Fenice
One of the best venues to experience an Opera in Italy – and Europe.
Teatro La Fenice is a historic theater with stunning decor inside.
If you like opera and are visiting Venice you should definitely try to get tickets. If you do not like opera, we do recommend you to visit the Theater anyways. It is a beautiful place!
21. Murano Glass Factory Experience: Factory Tour and Workshop
Murano glass is originally from Burano, Venice. Nowadays, you can still see a glass-blowing demonstration by a glass master in Burano Island.
To understand really the process and get a special experience, join the Factory tour and workshop and create your own bracelet, key holder or earrings from scratch.
22. Leonardo da Vinci Museum
Quite a small museum but it is quite interesting is the Leonardo da Vinci Museum.
Basically, it consists of models of Leonardo’s ideas and inventions. Some of which were realized (you will be surprised how many things that he invented are still in use today). Others which never were realized.
Many of the exhibits are interactive and most also showed an explanation or history of the invention.
A cool way to find out so much more information about Da Vinci.
23. Hop-On Hop-Off Boat
In all the big and even small cities in Europe offer the famous Hop-On Hop-Off bus.
There is one as well in Venice.
The difference? It is a boat, not a bus. You can hop-on whenever you want, and you can hop-off whenever you want. There are different packages available, suitable for your length of stay.
I think I mentioned it before but I would recommend staying 2 nights, 3 days in Venice.
24. Venice in one Day (skip all lines)
Venice can be „done“ in one day, this is true! Many people do it, and so can you.
However, you need to prepare this a bit. Get the Skip-all-line ticket to… Well… You know why.
The main landmarks are usually busy and you can lose your time in lining up. Get the skip-all-line tickets and you can go ahead – literally.
Get the Spill all line VIP one Venice tour and get an 8-hour tour to Marvel at the city’s Byzantine bridges, palaces, villas, and churches. You will also skip the long lines to St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. And go by a water taxi through the canal.
25. Aurora Beach Club
Visiting Venice in Summer? Then you cannot miss the Aurora Beach Club.
It is the highlight of Summer in Venice. Located on the Lido beach, the Aurora Beach Club contributes to the fun night atmosphere with colored lighting, popular DJs, large white sunbeds, and fruity cocktails.
26. Beach Time in Venice!
Yes, Venice has its own beaches. And it is quite easy to get here.
The most convenient is the Lido. You can reach it with a Vaporetto and you will find the clean waters and soft sand.
It is said that the most beautiful is the Caorle. A colorful fishing village turned into a resort town. To get there, you need to take a bus or a train.
27. Get lost in the restaurants
It is common knowledge: Italian food is AWESOME! Sorry, I am a huge fan…
But seriously, get lost in the restaurants in Venice!
I know many people say it is difficult to find good places to eat in Venice. Read this guide on 22 places to eat in Venice. There is some really good food! After all, it is still Italy.
Good to know: In Italy, you pay an extra fee just for sitting down. It is called „Coperto“ and it ranges from 1€ to 2€.
Better to know: This „Coperto“ fee at Piazza San Marco can easily be around 10€. Pay attention before taking a seat! If in doubt, ask the bartender or have a look on the menu.
28. Go for Aperitivo (or 2, or 3…)
The Aperitivo is celebrated every evening, around 6 PM (18:00).
What is this Aperitivo?
Order a drink and a small pasta dish or anti-pasta. This is how it works — simple. Here is a full guide on what’s an Aperitivo.
Where to get Aperitivos?
Not all restaurants and bars offer Aperitivos.
I am sharing here hostels, hotels and other accommodations that offer more than a bed, but also experiences and such.
29. Try the Venetian tapas
The Cicchetti is known as the Venetian tapas and it is very common to find them
Go to the bar, order a drink and a couple of Cichetti. Hop to another bar. Repeat the process until your stomach is full.
Popular Cicchetti in Venice are:
Many locals meet for a drink and a couple of Cichetti. It is like their after-work meeting. Try to join them. In the best-case scenario, you will be invited to an Italian house with home-made pasta.
Prefer a guided tour? Then check out this Venice Food Tour.
This will be your magic bullet to great food. I joined on my first visit to Venice, totally worth it. I even went back to the same places on my next visits.
30. Join concerts at Combo Hostel, a former monastery
While we are talking about events at Combo Hostel, they also organize concerts. When you are staying at the accommodation, you will be updated on the events in the hostel.
You can also visit the concerts when you are NOT staying at Combo Hostel Venezia. Just visit their website to see what is going on and come over.
The atmosphere is easy-going, the building beautiful and the music was always great when we joined.
31. Slow down with a coffee (and visit the rest-room)
While there are so many day trips and activities around Venice, it is important to remember to slow down!
It is not a race, it is vacation time. Have a seat in a cafe. Order a Latte Macchiato, Cappuccino, whatever you feel like. You can watch people passing by and charge your inner battery.
Good to know: The public toilets usually cost around 1-2€. Remember to use the restroom before you continue your journey.
32. Escape Room
I bet this one you did not expect. In case you are looking for fun things to do in Venice on a rainy day, consider an Escape Room. Escape Venice.it has three different themes.
They are always changing. So please make sure the theme fits your interest. Not all of them are actually for kids.
33. Photo Tour
Last, but certainly not least: We recommend a professional photo tour.
Get a professional photographer, taking beautiful shots of you and your time in Venice. The portfolio of Pictrip is impressive.
Staying in Venice is an experience itself. There are gorgeous guesthouses, impressive boutique hotels, and interesting hostels.
I recommend staying on the main island. It is easier as you can go out at night and you don’t have to worry about the last ferry. You will find anything from
- Airbnb and Apartments
- Luxury Level
Please read my detailed guide on where to stay in Venice Italy.
How long to stay in Venice?
Perfect stay: 3 nights!
I recommend staying at the very least 1 night in Venice. It is simply too beautiful and too much to see as a day trip.
A great time frame would be 2 nights and 3 days. When you are staying 3 nights, it’s absolutely perfect to see all Venice with no rush at all. It is really up to you.
How to get around Venice?
You can take the Hop-On Hop-Off Boat. There are several, flexible packages available, depending on your length of stay. Venice is really walkable.
Bikes and Segway are no option at all since you have numerous stairs and bridges you will not be able to cross.
You can also take the public boats. There are several stops even around the islands. It is easy to get around.
In between the islands you can take a private boat or public boats as well. To get from Piazza San Marco to Burano, Murano… you can take a ferry.
It is really easy to get around Venice. Walk and get the Hop-On Hop-Off ticket and you are ready to go.
Summary: Cool Things to do in Venice Italy
There you have it. I just gave you a bunch of cool activities for Venice. Some are for rainy days, other a bit touristy, I’ve to admit. Make sure you plan a bit ahead of time and have a look on what is available.
Remember to read my detailed guide for the perfect Venice itinerary. I included the best perks as well as some preparing you need to do beforehand.
I also wrote up a big guide on travelling around Italy.
Venice is fairly small and things to do are limited. However, if you do it right, Venice will absolutely amaze you. I went already 4 times; every single time I am enjoying it.
Any questions? Then please leave a comment below. I would be thrilled to help you.