15 Fun Things to Do in Venice Italy On Your First Visit

Things to do in Venice Italy

Venice is one of the most magical places to explore in all of Europe! From the endless backstreets to the narrow canals and colorful cafes, there is truly nowhere else quite like this surreal part of Italy. So let’s cut to the chase! Yes, Venice is very touristy and it absolutely can get packed with people. However, that shouldn’t stop you from seeing this one-of-a-kind Italian city. Here are the best things to do in Venice Italy, what to see, and how to avoid the crowds on your first visit.

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15 Best Things to do in Venice Italy 

1. Early Morning Exploring

The morning in Venice is hands down the best time to be there. This is also one of the reasons that we urge travelers to stay overnight in the city if possible. 

Tourists are slowly waking up and those who are visiting on a day trip won’t have arrived yet. This makes it one of the only times you will be able to experience Venice in a calm and surreal state.

Many of the side streets and main attractions will be empty and you can see Venice in a way many others will never. It’s more than worth it to get up early on your trip to Venice!

Venice Italy Top Things to Do

2. Go Out on the Water 

Venice is known as the “City of Canals” and it more than lives up to its name. Getting out onto the water is a must when looking for things to do in Venice Italy. I mean even the police and ambulances use the waterways instead of the small side streets!

Just know there are several ways to actually do this. Of course, you can take a ride on the world-famous gondolas or one of the many other types of boats perusing the canals for passengers.

Gondola rides typically last for about 30 minutes, but it’s possible to customize your time and tour with the driver. Also, you can buy a single or multi-day pass to the Vaporetto water buses.

Book a Private Gondola Ride along Canal Grande

Top Things to Do in Venice Italy

3. Hit the Classic Venice Spots 

As you have fun with all the best things to do in Venice Italy there are some famous spots that can’t be missed! While exploring use the below markers for general direction. After a few days of navigating your way through the Venice canals, you will surely be passing them anyway! 

  • St. Mark’s Basilica
  • St. Mark’s Square 
  • Ponte di Rialto
  • Canale Grande
  • Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

Best Things to do in Venice Italy

4. Tour Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica

Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica are two of the most stunning places to see in Venice. To fully experience both, we recommend booking a guided tour. Not only will you have more access to this unique part of the city, but you’ll gain a deeper appreciation by learning the history from a professional.

Book a Guided Tour of Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica with Terrace Access

What to Do in Venice Italy

5. Local Morning Markets

Venice is famous for its seafood and there is no better place to start your day than at the fish market! Fresh seafood will be on full display as the daily catch is sold during the morning rush. With how touristy Venice is, this is an interesting change of pace to see how the locals operate. Mercado de Rialto is the place to be and it runs most days from 7:30am to noon. 

Best Things to do in Venice Italy Market

6. Wander the Small Side Streets 

From your first steps on the streets of Venice, you will realize it’s one giant maze. While there are some main walking streets that snake through the city, make it a priority to divert off of these as much as possible.

The many side streets will lead to random bridges, unique viewpoints, and plenty of great photo opportunities. No matter where you end up, you’ll be in for a good time getting lost in Venice! 

Venice Tip: On the sides of the buildings there are small signs that will point you in the direction of the main points of interest. If you get lost you should be able to find your way out shortly!

Top Things to do In Venice

7. Day Trip to Nearby Islands

After you’ve done some of the best things in Venice Italy it’s time for a day trip! The city is surrounded by a few different islands that are definitely worth seeing. Take a ferry to one and spend the day, or hop on a boat tour and see multiple islands.

Murano may be the most visited from Venice, but they all have their own unique features and characteristics. Have a look below at our short descriptions to decide which one may suit you best!

  • Burano: Bright-colored houses, biscuits, and lace. 
  • Murano: Famous for its glass making and jewelry. 
  • Torcello: Quiet with greenery, churches, and beautiful mosaics.
  • Lido: Residential area built on a long sandbar with bike riding and camping.
  • Giudecca: Provides one of the best views of Venice. 
  • Isola di San Michele: The eery cemetery island. 

Book a Murano, Burano and Torcello Islands Full-Day Trip

Best Venice Italy Things to Do

8. Take a Street Food Tour

Much like all places in Italy, one of the best things to do in Venice is eat! Sampling the local specialties is a great way to learn about the region and gain a deeper appreciation for their culinary expertise. We love jumping on street food tours while we’re aboard as we always discover some delicious food that we may have not sampled ourselves.

Venice Tip: Don’t worry if you’re not into tours… We’ll share more of what to eat in Venice soon!

Book a 2.5-Hour Venice Street Food Tour with a Local Guide

Things to do in Venice Italy Tour

9. Book a Time for the Free Viewing Platform

Once you’re 15 days away from your visit to Venice Italy you should lock in your spot at the T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace. Here you’ll find an amazing view of the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, and the stunning Venice skyline! 

The viewing platform is free to everyone but time slots go fast. If you wait to book the day of it’s likely to be sold out. Make sure to plan this part of what to do in Venice in advance! 

→ Sign up for your time slot at T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace.

Venice Italy Best Things to Do

10. Cicchetti Bar Hop Around the City

Cicchetti is not just one of the many things to do in Venice Italy, it’s a lifestyle! This longstanding tradition involves small plates of food and drinks at the bars along the canals. Tiny storefronts flood into the streets and sell small sandwiches, meat & cheese plates, and other yummy snacks.

Enjoy your food with a glass of wine or Prosecco as you take in the views of Venice. Want to know the best part? Each order will only set you back a couple of Euros! The Cicchetti pubs make for super fun stops while you’re strolling around this historic city.

→ Venice on a Budget: Where to Eat & Drink For Under €3 Euros

Top Things to do in Venice Italy

11. Do a Workshop 

If you’re looking to experience a different side of Venice then consider doing a workshop. Instead of buying a souvenir to take home you can actually learn about the process and make it yourself!

All involve cooking or some form of art which are both a huge part of the cities culture. The most popular workshop is to make one of the famous Venice carnival masks.

Book a Spot and Create Your Own Carnival Mask in Venice Italy

12. Visit a Venice Museum

Speaking of the arts, there are an extraordinary amount of places to see it in Venice! For hundreds of years, the breathtaking canals and architecture have been drawing in artists from around the world.

Doge’s Palace and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection are great places to start, but there are dozens of other museums to see art and history in Venice. Here are a few more of the best museums that Venice has to offer.

  • Gallerie dell’Accademia: Renaissance paintings from 13th-17th centuries of Venice.
  • Museo della Musica: Italian music museum housed inside the beautiful Church of San Maurizio.
  • Museo Correr: Venetian history museum that tells the entire story of the city.
  • Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery: Modern Italian art from the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Pinault Collection: French billionaire Francis Pinault’s private collection.
  • Museo Storico Navale: Naval history museum of Venice. 

Things to do Venice

13. Experience Cafe Culture

After you’ve had some amazing food and wine in Venice it’s time for some coffee! One of the best things to do in Venice Italy is to simply relax, enjoy an espresso or cappuccino, and take in the gorgeous views. 

Caffe Florian has been open since 1720 and is a super popular cafe to stop into in St Mark’s Square, altho we will warn that it can come with a steep price tag. Still, there are hundreds of lovely coffee shops all throughout the city to enjoy! We recommend finding the local spots yourself as you wander through the canals.

Venice Italy Cafe

14. Watch the Sunset Over Venice

Sunset is the best way to end your day in Venice, and should never be missed! You can head to Rialto’s Bridge or St Mark’s Square which are two of the most popular places to watch the colors change over the buildings. 

However, to avoid the crowds we recommend diverting from the main areas. Take a walk around the canals and find your own special place to watch the sunset in Venice!

Soon the sky will light up to match the brightly painted architecture of the city. We promise this is something you’ll never forget!

Things to do in Venice Italy Sunset

15. Stay in the City Center 

Where you decide to base yourself on your first visit to Venice will be huge in determining your overall experience. While a lot of the time we prefer Airbnb, if you want to stay inside Venice you’ll have many great hotel options. Travel back in time at one of the many renovated historic accommodations. 

Where to Stay After the Best Things to do in Venice Italy

Ultra Luxury – The Gritti Palace – Set right on the Grand Canal, this stunning hotel is known as one of the best in the city. Expect nothing but high-end luxury with rooms featuring antiques and Murano glass.

Fun VacationScalon del Doge – This bed and breakfast is located in a 13th century building overlooking the Grand Canal. Decorated in a typical Venetian style, you’ll feel like you’re staying right in a Venice fairytale!

Hostel LifeGenerator Venice – Just a quick 10 minute ride by water bus to St. Marks Square, you won’t find a cheaper or more stylish hostel in Venice. Dorms and en suite rooms are available, and it’s close to all the best Venice restaurants!

For more places to stay in Venice explore the latest prices here!

Venice Tip: If staying inside the city center is out of your budget then don’t let that stop you from visiting Venice! While it does add to the overall experience there are more budget-friendly options just a quick bus ride away.  

Have any questions about the best things to do in Venice Italy on your first trip? How about your own tips for what to do in Venice? Let us know in the comments below! 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

 Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar


Venice Italy Things to Do

Italy Travel Planning 

Explore Italy: Milan Cathedral Rooftop – 10 Things to do MilanBologna Portico di San LucaOne Day Verona 

 Flights: We always check Skyscanner and Kayak to search for cheap flights. That’s how we got from Rome to Venice for under $30 USD!

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic Italian road trip! 

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around the world. Book a Florence winery tour, Capri Boat trip or street food tour with a local guide in Rome! 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

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