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Visiting Venice in Style: Hot Spots & Attractions

Venice is located on the marshy Venetian Lagoon and is made up of 118 small islands separated by a maze of canals and linked by more than 400 bridges.

You probably know about some of Venice’s most historic sites like the dazzling Italo-Byzantine style Basilica de San Marco and the nearby Doges Palace. However, there’s so much more to this unique locale than those two landmarks. Here’s a quick guide on visiting Venice in style and it’s easier than you can ever imagine! You’ll surely have a grand time exploring the City of Canals.

Favorite Churches

Located right on the Grand Canal in the Dosoduro section of town, the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute rises up as a testament to the end of a terrible plague in the early 1600s. Known by the Venetians as simply Salute, this baroque-style church holds works by Titian and Tintoretto.

In contrast to the extravagant styles of the Basilica San Marco and Salute churches stands San Giorgio Maggiore, a masterpiece of Palladian symmetry and restraint. Sail over to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore located directly across the Grand Canal from Piazza San Marco to see it for yourself.

Cultural Outings

Take a Ride in a Gondola. The long, black boat piloted by a stripe-clad Venetian is perhaps the most iconic symbol of watery city known as Serenissima. A gondola ride is a must for any visitor to Venice.

The cost of an official gondola ride is set by the city and is €80 for 40 minutes. An additional 20 minutes is €40.After 7:00 PM, the costs increases to €100 and €50 for an additional 20 minutes. You can have up to 6 passengers per ride. Our insider tip, look for the “SERVIZIO DI NOLO” signs on smaller canals for a quiet tour of the hidden corners.

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection. This extraordinary collection of contemporary art is housed in the 18th century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal. Once the home and personal collection of the stylish heiress, now you can spend hours in the classical style palazzo looking at works by artistic greats ranging from Duchamp, Mondrian and Kandinsky and Pollock.

A Night at the Opera. Use your most stylish dress and mingle with the most elegant Venetians at the Teatro La Fenice.The ornate theater is one of the most important opera houses in Europe. Painstakingly and beautifully restored after a terrible fire in 1996, the historic theater is loved by Venetian aristocracy and celebrity transplants like Elton John. If you can’t see an opera or ballet performance, you can still take a scheduled tour of this important piece of Venetian history during the day.

Venice at night

As the Venetians Do

Rialto Market. Make an early start to your day and head to the colorful Rialto market in the San Polo neighborhood.Fruits, vegetables and fish are stacked in artful piles that are incredibly photogenic. They’re just as good to look at as they are to eat, so feel free to indulge in a feast for the senses when you get here.

Campo Santa Margherita. On the other side of town, in the heart of the Dosoduoro neighborhood, is the large, irregularly shaped Campo Santa Margherita. Each day starts with locals setting up market stalls while dogs are walked and the morning paper is delivered. In the evening, the Campo’s location near the University brings students and families together for a passigiata and glasses of wine.

Andar Per Ombre. Venetians love to tell the story of local wine sellers placing their barrels in the shade of the Saint Marks Square bell tower to protect them from the sun’s heat. This is how the phrase andar per ombre” – let’s meet in the shade – came to mean meeting for a drink and a snack in the Venetian dialect.

Early evening in Venice means heading to the Bacari; rustic wine bars where you go for a glass of ombre or a spritz and cicchetti. A spritz is a refreshing mix of Campari or the less bitter Aperol, prosecco, sparkling water, orange peel and ice.Cicchetti are small plates of snack. As Venice is so close to the sea, you will find many seafood dishes like, fried calamari and baccalà mantecato, a creamy blend of codfish, olive oil and garlic. Tiny meatballs and small dishes of risotto are also popular. This a great option for an early dinner, as Bacari are open from about 6:00 – 9:00pm.

Stylish Sips

Cocktails in Piazza San Marco. The vast and dramatic Piazza San Marco is ringed with stylish stores and historic cafes. The best place for a top notch cocktail is Cafe Quaddri. An encyclopedic menu, the old fashioned orchestra music and the white-coated waiters are all part of the ambiance that makes dining in this place an unforgettable affair.

Coffee at Florian. Room after room of faded frescos, velvet couches and marble-topped tables make Cafe Florian one of the coziest spots for a cup of coffee or an indulgent hot chocolate on a cool day. If you’re looking for a place to just chill and soak up the Venetian life, this is definitely where you’ll want to hang out.

Bellinis at Harry’s Bar. Historic, elegant and iconic, the bar at the Cipriani hotel has been declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs. Sit at the long wooden bar and order the famous drink made from purred white peaches and ice cold prosecco. If you’re looking for a drink that sums up the Venetian experience in one gulp, it has to be this one.

Insider Tips

Most of Venice is made up of narrow alleys (calle), tiny streets and bridges in the six sestieri (neighborhoods) which are a big part of the city’s mysterious charm. Go for strolls along the wide via Garibaldi in the Sestieri Castello for a relaxing time with scenic views at just about every turn.

You’ll also want to make the most out of your euros and visit the Venice Connected website to purchase vaporetto (water taxi) tickets ahead of time at a reduced price.

Alright, that does it for our list of places that you should check out whenever you’re in Venice. There are certainly other spots to enjoy, but these are the ones that will give you the definitive Venetian experience. Ciao!

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By Priscila Siano (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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One Comment

  1. Walter
    Posted February 22, 2015 at 3:13 AM | Permalink

    I’m Venetian, we say “Andar per ombre” not “Andare alle Ombre”!
    And, no Venetian will never go in Piazza San Marco to drink a cocktail, only tourists do that 😉

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