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20 must-see sights in Venice for your bucket list
Let's face it, it's hard to imagine a European city that's incredibly unique and filled with so much history, heritage and culture beyond Venice. These are a must, whether you're planning a romantic weekend or a full week of sightseeing.
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The three-storey Palazzo Grassimix mixes baroque and neoclassical elements on its facade. The Palazzo Grassi was the last palace to be completed on the Grand Canal before the end of the Venetian Republic in 1797.
After falling into disrepair, the Fiat Motor Company bought the palace and undertook extensive repairs and alterations, including the roof of the courtyard, which is now used for exhibitions along with the rest of the palace.
The building's seamless fusion of neoclassical and modern architectural forms is remarkable and helps to set Palazzo Grassi apart from the other buildings on this stretch of the Grand Canal.
See the Palazzo Grassi and other highlights of Venice on a half-day walking tour.
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Dominating St. Mark's Square, this majestic centuries-old basilica with its dazzling golden mosaics is one of the most impressive religious buildings in Italy, and perhaps Europe. Although entry is free, it's best to invest a few euros in a skip-the-line ticket.
The basilica houses relics and artifacts from across the Venetian Empire, which used to stretch from the Dalmatian coast to Istanbul. Inside, visitors pass under brightly painted hanging domes in the shape of a Greek cross. Not to be missed is the Pala d'Oro, a jeweled altarpiece hidden in the sanctuary. There are about 2,000 gems in all, including pearls, sapphires, emeralds, and garnets.
Book a guided tour of St. Mark's Basilica so you don't miss out on important information and exciting stories.
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3. St. Mark's Square
When you visit the basilica, take some time to soak up the atmosphere in the adjacent square. Known simply as “la piazza” or “the square” in Italian, this famous public square is always packed. Avoid the crowds and umbrella-toting guides by visiting just before sunrise or late at night when the basilica and surrounding buildings are illuminated.
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Built in the 12th century, the Arsenale di Venezia is a vast Byzantine arsenal and shipyard that served as the Venetian military headquarters for many decades. The vast halls and beautiful gardens of the Arsenal and the city's Naval Museum are now used as event spaces, mainly during the Biennale, one of Venice's most famous festivals.
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5. Basilika der Frari
The massive Basilica dei Frari, completed in 1490, is one of three existing Venetian Gothic basilicas in the city. Many notable figures are buried there, such as the neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova (whose heart rests in a beautiful pyramid he designed) and the Venetian painter Titian.
Two of Titian's masterpieces, as well as works by Bellini and other medieval masters, adorn the walls of the church, making the Basilica di Frari an essential stop on any artistic tour of Venice.
The remarkable collection of sculptures, works of art and funerary monuments can be visited seven days a week, except on Sunday mornings when the basilica is apparently in use.
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6. Cafe Florian
Caffé Florian in the center of St. Mark's Square is a must. A royal landmark since the 1720s, this famous piece of Venetian history has attracted the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Andy Warhol over the years. The decor hasn't changed much since the 18th century, making it a great place for history buffs.
Try risotto or gourmet chocolates, specialty coffees and frozen ice cream. In summer, the terrace is ideal to enjoy a panoramic view of the square, but be prepared to pay very high prices for this emblematic place and place!
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This magnificent fortified house was the residence of the Doge, ruler of the Republic of Venice, for almost 400 years. The beautiful facade of this castle is a masterpiece of Venetian Gothic.
The Doge's Palace served as the democratic heart of the republic, housing not only the chambers and administration of the reigning Doge, but also the courts and prison, connected to the palace by the world-famous Bridge of Sighs. A visit to Venice would be incomplete without a stop here, so book a guided tour of the Doge's Palace to make the most of this wonderful landmark.
Before crossing the bridge to see the cell of famous Venetian playboy Casanova, take a little more time to admire the gilded ceilings.
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8. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
You will surely recognize this name as being synonymous with some of the finest art collections in the world. In the quiet Dorsoduro district of Venice, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection fits right in and is by far one of the most prestigious private art collections in the world.
From the Grand Canal, this one-story building looks like an incomplete palace, which it is. Guggenheim bought the unfinished building in 1949 and began filling its spaces with its extensive collection of 20th-century Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, avant-garde sculpture, Cubism, and more.
Discover the works of Jackson Polloc, Mondrian, Dali and Picasso. Don't forget to also explore the museum's sculpture garden, which is filled with lush greenery and fantastic works of art.
If that sounds like your thing, then a private tour is a fantastic option.
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Although the marble filigree by Bartolomeo Bon, who also created the Porta della Carta in the Doge's Palace, has lost its original rich painting and gilding that gave it its name -Casa de Oro-, the Ca' d'Oro is probably even more beautiful without it .
The interior, which is now a museum, vividly depicts the life of Venetian aristocrats in the late Middle Ages. The mosaic on the ground floor is a replica of a mosaic found in St. Mark's Basilica, and the walls are adorned with beautiful art and whimsical decor. Take some time to visit the Galleria Franchetti, an art collection in Ca' d'Oro.
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10. San Marcos Bell Tower
The most famous and well-known tower in Venice is the bell tower of the Basilica of San Marco. Unsurprisingly, the view from the top is one of the best in town.
Pay €12 and walk up the narrow staircase (you may need to rest on a hot day) and on a clear day prepare yourself for a magnificent view of the city, lagoon and mainland.
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11. Academy Galleries
If you have even the slightest interest in art, this is a building you must visit in your lifetime. The impressive palatial Gallerie dell'Accademia was founded in 1750 and is filled with treasures. Although the building has been there since the 13th century, Napoleon Bonaparte himself moved the collection in 1807 as part of his great plan for Venice improvement.
The collection, which includes paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Bellini, Veronese and arguably Venice's most famous artist, Titian, is as grand as the building itself.
Both art lovers wanting to learn more about the masterpieces and beginners who don't know where to start will benefit from a guided tour of the Gallerie dell'Accademia.
There are 20 days of the year when admission is free, which coincides with local festivals and global public holidays, so be sure to check the Gallerie dell'Accademia's website before preparing for your visit.
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12. Murano und Burano
Although both are a boat ride from central Venice and not close to each other, these islands are perfect for a day trip if you have the time.
Murano is closer to the city and is famous for glass making. Dozens of independent wind players and vendors line the narrow streets, making this the ideal stop for a few iterations of Venice and a break from the city center's extreme business. There are also plenty of fantastic bars and restaurants catering to the 'locals' so eat here too.
Burano is even further from Venice, north of the lagoon, and requires a water taxi or 45-minute transfer. Burano is famous for its beautifully painted houses, often used as retreats or galleries for artists. The pace is much slower here, so take the excursion when you need a break from the crowds and enjoy a relaxing breeze in a unique part of Venice.
See everything in detail on a half-day guided tour.
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13. Ca' Pesaro
The Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna and the Museo d'Arte Orientale are two notable art museums hidden behind the refined exterior of this masterpiece designed by Baldassare Longhena and built in 1710.
Prince Enrico di Borbone credits the Museo d'Arte Orientale with his two-year tour of Asia in the 1880s, which became one of the most extravagant souvenir tours of all time. Fine silks, ceramics, glass and even weapons from the Far and Middle East are exhibited in the first part of the building.
The other half of Ca' Pesaro houses paintings from La Biennale di Venezia. A nod to the strength and greatness of the Pesaro clan, Ca' Pesaro's richly painted ceilings vie with the artwork for visitors' attention. So don't forget to look up!
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14. Rialto Bridge
The most famous bridge in Venice is also the most popular with tourists, so it is almost impossible not to find crowds. If you don't like being hustled or hassled by hawkers, take the adjacent sidewalks for better views and photo opportunities.
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15. Rialto Market
Under the magnificent canopies of the 16th-century Rialto Market, the tradition of morning fish sales continues. There are stalls full of fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices as well as the catch of the day from Venetian fishermen.
Rivo Alto (later abbreviated as Rialto) is one of the busiest and oldest neighborhoods in Venice, dating back to the 5th century. Rialto, the true heart of the island, was where the first Venetians settled and where the sale of caught fish took place . he quickly followed into the surrounding pond.
The market is a great place for a picnic or a gastronomic tour. Also talk to the vendors while shopping, even if you don't speak Italian they will still give you a fair chance. It's a time-honored tradition to talk about life when making a purchase.
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16. San Giorgio Maggiore
A short boat ride from St. Mark's Square is the Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore, with its dazzling white facade and soaring tower. Designed by famed architect Andrea Palladio, this striking landmark on the Venice skyline is a must-see thanks to its stunning architecture, stunning Tintoretto paintings and slower speed than central Venice.
Climbing the bell tower, which offers spectacular views of St. Mark's Square and the adjacent Venetian Lagoon, is another good reason to do this excursion.
Make your trip even more memorable with aPrivate pleasure cruise through the canals of Venice, including San Giorgio Maggiore.
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17. Palacio Contarini
Tucked away in a very narrow street, the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is an architectural treasure that blends Venetian Byzantine, Renaissance and Gothic elements into a building that is unique not only in Venice but in virtually all of Europe.
The Scala Contarini del Bovolo, the building's famous external spiral staircase, has recently been reopened to the public after 30 years of painstaking restoration. Climb this magnificent structure for incredible views of Venice's historic streets and canals.
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18. Punta della Dogana
On the edge of the Dorsoduro district, just below the Salute Cathedral, this imposing structure, originally the old customs house, towers over the lagoon like a fortress of marble and stone.
Punta della Dogana is the French Arts Organization's second art gallery space in Venice and has been beautifully restored by the Pinault Collection. François Pinault is famous for his exceptional collection of modern art and this venue, with its world-class exhibits and great viewing rooms, is no exception.
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19. Der Canal Grande
The main street in Venice is not a motorway, but the widest and probably the most important canal. Flanked by many of Venice's most important buildings and bridges, the Grand Canal is a natural magnet for visitors and locals alike.
could be temptingRent a private gondola(which is highly recommended), but the vaporetto, Venice's floating public transport system, can take you along the Grand Canal from San Marco to Porta Roma. Take line 1 instead of express line 2 unless you want to pass palaces and skip several stops, including the Rialto Bridge and Palazzo Grassi.
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20. Basilica Santa Maria della Salute
The massive baroque church of Santa Maria della Salute was built in 1630 to celebrate the plague that ravaged Venice. Architect Baldassare Longhena hammered more than a million beams into the lagoon floor to support the structure's enormous weight.
The church is an impressive landmark visible from San Marco on the other side of the Grand Canal, and the grandeur continues inside, with the eye being immediately drawn to the massive dome. Be sure to visit the sacristy for the best paintings, including Tintoretto's The Marriage at Cana. The vaporetto landing stage is right in front of the church.
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