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, 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

It’s impossible to miss St. Mark’s Basilica, 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. Since there is usually a heavy influx of visitors, 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.

Legendary Venice St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace

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.

St Mark’s Basilica After-Hours Tour with Optional Doge’s Palace Visit

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.

Small Group Venice In a Day with Basilica San Marco and Doge’s Palace plus Gondola Ride

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.

Doge’s Palace

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.

Skip the Line: Doge’s Palace Ticket and Tour

This basic tour covers Doge’s Palace essentials and allows travelers to skip past lines and explore alongside a guide.

Skip the Line: Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour

In addition to priority access, this experience offers access to the secretive Piombi prison—the attic cell from which Casanova famously escaped.

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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.

Bonus: Venice Ghost and Legends Walking Tour

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.

Grand Canal

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.

Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade

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.

Venice Canal Cruise: 2-Hour Grand Canal and Secret Canals Small Group Tour by Boat

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.

Private Tour: Venice Gondola Ride with Serenade

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.

Venice-in-a-Day Combination Tour Package

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.

Excursion to Murano and Burano Including a Glass Factory and a Lace Laboratory

Ideal for budget-minded travelers, this motorboat tour offers an easy way to visit both Murano and Burano, with stops at a glassblowing factory and lace workshop to watch master artisans in action.

Murano Glass Factory Experience: Factory Tour and Workshop

This tour offers an in-depth exploration of Murano’s glassmaking heritage, with a guided factory tour, live glassblowing demonstration, and crafting workshop to create a personalized glass souvenir.

Private Tour: Murano, Burano and Torcello Half-Day Tour

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.

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Local Customs

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.

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.

Getting Around

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.

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.

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