Venice is the city of romance and dreams. But if you were to ask the Venice tourism office what is there to see and do in the city, you’d likely be given a long list of “must-see” sights and attractions – but only a fraction of those are actually what most people would consider “must-see.” You want to know what the real top sights in Venice are so that you don’t miss anything – especially if you only have a short time to spend in the city – but you don’t want to be tricked into paying a hefty admission fee for some tourist trap. So here are our pick of 6 “must-see” and “must-do” in Venice.
1.Get Lost in Venice
Wandering aimlessly through the colorfully lit streets and alleys of Venice is one thing that you must do. Before setting your foot inside a museum or attraction sight, just get acquainted to the place.
2.Watch a Glass-Blowing Demonstration on Murano Island
This is kind of a tricky one, because so many of the glass-blowing demonstrations on nearby Murano Island are very tourist-trappy, but it’s a totally worth one. Many people have never seen anyone do glass blowing or glass sculpture, so it’s entertaining and educational even if it is touristy.
3.Tour the Doge’s Palace
Right next (and partly connected) to St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace is arguably the second most important “attraction” in Venice after the basilica (if you don’t count the city itself as an “attraction”). While there are several good reasons to pay the hefty admission fee to tour the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale in Italian), probably the most popular stop on the tour is when you get to walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs.
4.Ride a vaporetto down the Grand Canal
Whether you arrive in Venice at Santa Lucia railway station, at the bus depot in Piazzale Roma, or at the small airport across the lagoon, the glorious Grand Canal will be among the first sites you see, and invariably, it will look exactly as you imagined. It will feel at once foreign and familiar, as if you’ve stepped into an 18th century painting by Canaletto, only to find that the world around you has changed little in its substance.
5.Soak in the Byzantine splendor of St. Mark’s Basilica
At the eastern end of St. Mark’s Square lies the basilica that was built to house the remains of St. Mark the Evangelist, plundered from Alexandria, Egypt in 828 A.D. Legend has it that the Venetians hid the relics in a barrel under layers of pork to slip them past Muslim guards, a scheme they later depicted in a mosaic above the portal that is farthest left of the front entrance.
6.Visit the Rialto Market to experience the vivid sights, sounds, and smells of Venetian life
In the morning, the open-air Rialto Market is a feast for the senses, as local farmers and fisherman unload trays of fresh squid, cuttlefish, crabs and clams, as well as baskets of whatever produce is in season, from cherries and grapes to peas and asparagus.