There's nowhere in the world quite like Venice. The city offers what seems like an unlimited amount of sights to see and things to do. Here are just a few that aren't to be missed when you visit this magical city of canals.
TRIP DOWN THE GRAND CANAL
The first thing that anyone should do on their visit to Venice is take a trip down the Grand Canal. Considered Venice's main "road", the S shaped waterway splits the city in half and features many beautiful and historic sites along the route. From the train station you can hop on a vaporetto (water bus) and tour the whole city as an incredible introduction to Venice.
It may be cheesy and it may be expensive but you should not pass up the opportunity to take a gondola ride in Venice. If you had any doubts, we are here to tell you that it is worth it. You can pick up a gondola almost anywhere in Venice and prices are standard and agreed upon beforehand. Our recommendation - hop on around the Rialto Market and ask to be taken into the back canals past Marco Polo's house.
BASILICA DI SAN MARCO
Sitting within Piazza San Marco is the beautiful church of the same name. Its an elaborate work of art that was built to honor Saint Mark after Venetian merchants smuggled his remains out of Egypt to be housed at the church. It is Venice's official cathedral and a can't miss site at the city's most popular piazza.
PALAZZO DUCALE (DOGE'S PALACE)
At one time, Venice's political and administrative center, Palazzo Ducale has an impressive historical importance. Another must see in the busy Piazza San Marco, the palace was also once the residence of the Doges of Venice and features beautiful architecture and artwork.
PONTE DI RIALTO
The stone bridge, an impressive feat of engineering, took 3 years to complete in 1591 by Antonia da Ponte. Centuries ago, the Rialto bridge was the only way to cross over the Grand Canal but is now one of four bridges where you can cross. Present day, the bridge has shops for tourists and features beautiful views of the canal.
Arrive in the morning to see the Rialto Market at its finest. You'll be rewarded with mounds of brightly colored produce and swarms of fishmongers with their fresh morning catches on display for purchase.
A favorite of Casanova, Caffè Florian is one of the oldest coffee shops in the world. Established in 1720, they have done a great job of maintaining the ambiance. Rooms are ornately decorated and waiters wear tuxedos as they serve cappuccinos on silver trays. Just be prepared for the hefty price tag.
PEGGY GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION
Arguably one of Europe's finest galleries of modern art, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a refreshing break from the ever present Renaissance art in Europe. After her father died on the Titanic, heiress Peggy Guggenheim became dedicated to the collection of modern and contemporary art. An American expat who lived in Venice, the gallery is Peggy's personal collection and is housed in her former home. It features works from Ernst, Pollock, Picasso, Dalí and many others.
CA' SAGREDO HOTEL
Ca' Sagredo is an elaborate 15th century palace turned hotel that overlooks the Grand Canal. Stay in one of the 42 rooms or just grab a cappuccino to enjoy along the water. Don't leave without going upstairs to explore the salons and dining areas equipped with ornate artwork of its time.
Take a day trip to experience Venice's best kept secret - Burano. Like Venice, Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon and is about a 40 minute boat ride from Piazza San Marco. The small island is known for its lace work and brightly colored homes. A photographers dream.
The city's passageways are extremely complicated and even with directions or a map it can be a challenge to get from point A to point B. In fact, you have not properly experienced Venice until you have gotten lost in its back alleys and canal ways. Good for us that, with dreamy Italian scenes around every corner, getting lost in Venice is so magical.