If there was ever a time to put Venice at the top of your bucket list, now is that time. Venice was recently added to the World Monument Fund’s list of places under threat. There are genuine concerns that this magical canal city is, quite literally, sinking.
According to the WMF, between rising sea levels and the movement of large ships through the Giudecca Canal, the city’s buildings have been slowly sinking into the Adriatic. That said, the palazzi should continue to stand for decades to come and there is still time to enjoy this magical city.
We land in Venice just a few weeks from now, at the peak of July’s tourist season. While we typically avoid crowds, we look forward to getting lost in the narrow streets, exploring the canals and spending hours at a local cafe with a bottle of wine.
Our ideal day in Venice is a mix of iconic Venetian sites and off the beaten path adventures.
Cruise the Grand Canal
Jump on the #1 main tourist vaporetto line and cruise down the Grand Canal. If you’re not short on time, this is a leisurely way to soak in the sights and enjoy the passing historic architecture for the first time.
Walk through Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)
The last stop on the #1 vaporetto is the famous Piazza San Marco, at the heart of Venice. Here you can find the trio: St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and The Clock Tower.
Climb the Campanile di San Marco
Originally built as a lighthouse, visitors can now take an elevator to the top of St. Mark’s bell tower for some of the best views in all of Venice. The ticket to the top is 8 euros and the long line is said to move very quickly.
Cross the Rialto Bridge into the Market
From Piazza San Marco, stroll over to the Ponte di Rialto, Venice’s most popular bridge. After taking in the view and watching as gondolas, vaporettos and ferries navigate through the Grand Canal, walk through the local market and sample some of the freshest seafood and fish in the world.
Ride a Gondola
Yes, it’s terribly touristy. But what could be more iconic that riding a gondola through the canals of Venice? It’s possible to share a gondola with up to 6 people to offset the cost (starting around 90 euro for 40 minutes), or choose a route away from the bustling Grand Canal. For a more peaceful experience, walk down a side canal, away from the vaporetti stands, and hop on from there.
For the more adventurous, consider rowing your own gondola! Row Venice offers an unforgettable experience for half the cost. You’ll not only learn how to row a gondola, but you’ll also get a history lesson and fun facts about being a gondolier. A 2-hour lesson is 60 euro for singles or 40 euro/person for doubles.
Cross Ponte dell’Accademia at Sunset
Around sunset, head to the Academy Bridge, or Ponte dell’Accademia, for one last stunning view of the city. Whereas the Rialto Bridge is often overflowing with tourists, the Ponte dell’Accademia offers a peaceful view over the Grand Canal.
Eat Cicchetti in Dorsoduro
In the evening, head over to Dorsoduro and get lost in the narrow streets along the Giudecca canal, stopping in along the way to sample a variety of Venetian tapas at the many intimate cicchetti bars.
Some local favorites include:
Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti – traditional Venetian tavern with fresh, changing daily menu with outdoor seating by the canal
Ristoteca Oniga – easygoing eatery with wooden tables and terrace, creative seasonal dishes
Ostaria Antico Dolo – family-run restaurant with a lively atmosphere
Day Trip to Visit the Colored Houses of Burano
Photos by @Shutterstock unless otherwise noted.
If you have more than one day to explore Venice, a trip to Burano is worth the 40 minute vaporetto. Burano is most well-known for their rows of colorful houses and other-worldly seafood dishes. Because Burano is a working fisherman’s island, you can get the freshest fish here — for a fraction of the price compared to Venice.