A floating city made up of more than 100 islands, Venice is a top northern Italian destination thanks to its mix of high culture, classical romance, and baroque architecture. Skip-the-line tickets are a savvy traveler’s ally for top attractions such as St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, while a gondola ride down the Grand Canal remains a quintessential Venetian experience. Wheels are off-limits throughout most of Venice, so walking tours that help navigate the tangled maze of backstreets offer a great introduction to the city’s history and hidden charms. Visitors eager to explore more can cruise across the Venetian Lagoon to the isles of Murano and Burano for glassblowing or lacemaking demos.
St. Mark’s Basilica
Impossible to miss, St. Mark’s Basilica is Venice’s crown jewel. With an interior of golden mosaics and soaring Italo-Byzantine domes, the church is so opulent that it’s known as the Golden Church. A heavy influx of visitors means there is often an hours-long wait to enter, so skip-the-line tours are essential. The equally famous Doge’s Palace lies just across St. Mark’s square, and walking tours of the surrounding neighborhood often include visits to both the palace and the basilica.
With skip-the-line access to both attractions, this combo tour allows time-pressed clients to visit St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace in a single morning or afternoon.
This small-group tour allows travelers to visit St. Mark’s after hours and avoid stifling daytime crowds, with the option to explore the Doge’s Palace afterwards.
Ideal for first-time visitors, this small-group tour ticks off top Venice attractions with the added plus of skip-the-line entry to St. Mark’s Basilica and the adjacent Doge’s Palace.
Read more about St. Mark’s Basilica tour options here.
Once the seat of powerful Doges who ruled the Venetian Republic with an iron fist, this Gothic palace in St. Mark’s Square offers a gilded glimpse into Venice’s past. Tours of the interior treat clients to original murals by Tintoretto, Titian, and Veronese—plus dark tales from the palace prison, accessed via the notorious Bridge of Sighs. Skip-the-line tickets save precious vacation time, while “secret” tours offer a peek into often overlooked chambers and passageways.
This basic tour covers Doge’s Palace essentials and allows travelers to skip past lines and explore alongside a guide.
In addition to priority access, this experience offers access to the secretive Piombi prison—the attic cell from which Casanova famously escaped.
Venice Super Saver: Skip-the-Line Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica Tours plus Venice Walking Tour
Ideal for budget-minded travelers, this tour hits three Venice highlights: the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, and San Marco District’s storied backstreets.
Travelers enticed by the sinister legends of the Doge’s Palace can delve deeper into the city’s dark side on this evening haunted history tour.
Read more about Doge’s Palace tour options here.
A traditional gondola ride along the Grand Canal is at the top of the list for many first-time Venice visitors. Shared rides are the most economical option, while private tours, sunset rides, and serenades can sweeten a special occasion. For a faster-paced experience, water taxis and other motorized boats zip up and down the Grand Canal and into smaller waterways.
A cost-effective option, this shared ride offers a waterfront view of Venice landmarks, plus the added perk of a gondolier who serenades the flotilla with traditional Italian ballads.
This small-group motorboat cruise take clients down the Grand Canal and off the beaten path to provide a glimpse of daily life in lesser-known Venetian neighborhoods.
For the ultimate in Venetian romance, this private gondola tour includes a boat reserved for one party, plus a singing gondolier to set the scene.
For an overview of Venice, clients can look no further than this tour. A gondola ride and motor boat cruise covers water-bound highlights including the Grand Canal, while a walking tour with priority access to St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace allows visitors to explore the city’s landlocked attractions.
Read more about Grand Canal tour options here.
Murano and Burano Islands
Of Venice’s 100-plus outlying islands, Murano and Burano are among the most popular day-trip destinations. Located just a short boat ride across the Venetian Lagoon, Murano has been home to the prestigious Venetian glassmaking industry since the 13th century, while Burano is known for its intricate handmade lace. Visitors can watch live glassblowing demonstrations and shop for one-of-a-kind glassware and textiles in factory shops.
For clients seeking a personalized experience, this private tour covers the highlights of Murano, Burano, and ancient Torcello—an island many visitors overlook.
Read more about Murano and Burano Islands tour options here.
Things to Know
When to Visit
While the fair weather of late spring and early summer brings heavy crowds, tourists typically disperse in fall (September to November). Winter brings bargains but occasional seasonal flooding known as aqua alta. Visitors should book well in advance for the city’s Carnival, held in February or early March.
The main city and sights of Venice can only be explored on foot or by boat. Public water buses known as vaporettos make scheduled stops along popular routes, while private water taxis and other motor boats are available for hire.
For a light dinner or between-meal snack, locals head to casual bars known as bacari, where wine and Venetian-style finger food called cicchetti are typically enjoyed standing up at the bar.
Things to Bring
Patience, and plenty of extra time—especially when trying to reach a tour meeting point or navigate the city’s notoriously challenging backstreets.
What the Locals Know
Much of the city’s best art can be viewed for free in city churches. Look for paintings by Titian and Tintoretto at Santa Maria della Salute and Veronese frescoes at the Church of San Sebastiano.