Grand Canal Walking Tour, Venice (Self Guided)

Grand Canal is the main channel in Venice. The channel has an "S" form dividing the main districts of Venice. Public transport is provided by water buses and private water taxis, but for tourists, it is recommended that they visit it by gondola. On both sides of the Grand Canal are established the most beautiful buildings dating from the 12th to the 18th centuries that tell the story of a thousand years of Venetian splendor.
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Grand Canal Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Grand Canal Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Venice (See other walking tours in Venice)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 km
Author: naomi
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

1) Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (must see)

Santa Maria della Salute (English: Saint Mary of Health), commonly known simply as La Salute, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica located in the Sestiere Dorsoduro of the Italian city of Venice. It is one of the best expressions of Baroque architecture in Venice. It stands on a narrow finger of land between the Grand Canal and the Bacino di San Marco making the church visible when entering the Piazza San Marco from the water.

La Salute is part of the parish of the Gesuati and is the most recent of the so-called plague-churches. In 1630, Venice experienced an unusually devastating outbreak of the plague. As a votive offering for the city's deliverance from the pestilence, the Republic of Venice vowed to build and dedicate a church to Our Lady of Health (or of Deliverance, Italian: Salute). The church was designed in the then fashionable baroque style by Baldassare Longhena, who studied under the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi. Most of the objects of art housed in the church bear references to the Black Death.

The dome of La Salute was an important addition to the Venice skyline and soon became emblematic of the city, inspiring artists like Canaletto, J. M. W. Turner, John Singer Sargent and Francesco Guardi. Several works by Titian enrich the sacristy: "San Marco in trono, con i santi Cosma, Damiano, Sebastiano e Rocco", "Caino ed Abele", "Il sacrificio di Abramo ed Isacco" and "Davide e Golia".

Why You Should Visit:
San Marco may be Venice's most famous church by name, but La Salute may be Venice's most famous by image and silhouette!
The surrounding scenery is just amazing, too, since the church is right at the edge of the canal. You get great shots all around.

Do make sure you visit the treasure room for some amazing relics.
And do bring a drink with you as there are hardly any cafes around.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-12pm / 3-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Barbarigo

2) Palazzo Barbarigo (must see)

Originally built in the 16th century, Palazzo Barbarigo is a palace in Venice, situated on the Grand Canal of the city. Today it is one of the more opulent palazzi on the canal, distinguished by its mosaics of Murano glass applied in 1886. At the time it was owned by the proprietors of one of the glass factories, who took their cue from the exterior mosaics on the facade of St Mark's Basilica. The palazzo follows the Renaissance pattern of design on three floors: an open loggia gives access to the canal surmounted by a Piano nobile with open loggias and decorated columns, with a "secondo piano nobile" (second floor) above. The comparatively modern mosaics probably cover original windows and obliviate the original design.

Go grab a drink out at the beautiful small balcony at the bar overlooking the Grand Canal if you can afford it!
If looking for a hotel, the one at the palazzo is small and intimate and in a perfect location for walking to all sites.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti

3) Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti (must see)

Erected in 1565, Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti is a palace in Venice, not far from the Ponte dell'Accademia and next to the Palazzo Barbaro on the Grand Canal of Venice. In the 19th century, it was internally modernized and externally enriched in Venetian Gothic style, with rich window framing, by a series of grand owners. The first neo-Gothic improvements were made after 1840, when the young Archduke Frederick Ferdinand of Austria (1821-1847) reassembled the property, the Palazzo Cavalli-Gussoni, which had become divided among heirs, and embarked on a complex project intended to give a more prominent Habsburg presence along the Grand Canal, as Austria-Hungary had been awarded the territories of Venice after the Napoleonic Wars. Since 1999 it has been the seat of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti and frequently houses cultural events.

Why You Should Visit:
Wonderful palace with spectacular painting on the walls and ceilings and some great contemporary exhibits.
The views of the Grand Canal can't be beaten, and the cafeteria is excellent for healthy lunch (fantastic value!).

Check out the external courtyard with fine medieval details.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Campo San Samuele

4) Campo San Samuele

Campo San Samuele is a square located on the bank of Grand Canal. The square is home to some amazing palaces of great historical, architectural and cultural importance for Venice, such as the Palazzo Malipiero and the Palazzo Grassi, to name just two. Both palaces were homes of the greatest Venetian lover of all times, Giacomo Casanova. In the center of the square is located the Chiesa di San Samuele, this is the church where Casanova was baptized.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Grimani di San Luca

5) Palazzo Grimani di San Luca (must see)

The Palazzo Grimani di San Luca is a Renaissance building in Venice. It is located on the Rio di San Luca channel of the city, at the point in which it flows into the Canal Grande. The palace was built in the mid-16th century for procurator Gerolamo Grimani by architect Michele Sanmicheli, and completed after his death by Gian Giacomo de' Grigi, known as "il Bergamasco". The façade has three sectors with Corinthian columns, also inspired to the Roman architecture, in particular to the triumphal arch. The residence of the patrician Grimani family until 1806, Palazzo Grimani is currently the seat of the Venice' Appeal Court.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Fondaco dei Tedeschi

6) Fondaco dei Tedeschi (must see)

The Fondaco dei Tedeschi is a historic building in Venice situated on the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge. It was the headquarters and restricted living quarters of the city's German merchants. A broad definition was taken of the term 'German', which included what would today be regarded as separate nationalities. First constructed in 1228, the building was rebuilt between 1505 and 1508, after its destruction in a fire. The reconstruction produced a very functional 4-floor building which surrounds a grand inner courtyard. Its architecture is typical of the Cinquecento (Italian Renaissance) style, but the basic concept (and the word 'fondaco') is derived from a type of building in Arab countries. Just like the Fondaco dei Turchi, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi was a palazzo, warehouse, and restricted living quarters for its population, in this case mainly Germanic merchants from cities such as Nuremberg, Judenburg, and Augsburg.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the largest, most well-refurbished shopping centers selling high-end luxury items. Everything looks so pretty you'd prefer to leave them on the shelves.
The 4th-floor Event Pavilion is an exhibition space where you have free access to the roof terrace providing one of the best panoramas of the Grand Canal.

You must get a timed ticket near the elevators and line up in the Events Pavilion. Go first to the top floor, pick your ticket and in the meantime you can enjoy the shopping mall (you even get a voucher for some extra discount). Alternately, go onto their website, book your time slot, then show the security guy at the entrance your booking code which you get by email when booking.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chiesa di San Stae

7) Chiesa di San Stae

Chiesa di San Stae, with its magnificent facade adorned with Rococo statues by Domenico Rossi, overlooks the Grand Canal. The interior dates from the late seventeenth century and has been done by the architect Giovanni Grassi, with a series of paintings by artists such as the Piazzetta and Tiepolo. The latter are a prime example of the Venetian school in the early eighteenth century.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Fondaco dei Turchi

8) Fondaco dei Turchi (must see)

Constructed in the first half of the 13th century by Giacomo Palmier, the Fondaco dei Turchi is a Byzantine-style palazzo on the Grand Canal of Venice. The Venetian Republic purchased it in 1381 for Niccolò II d'Este, the Marquess of Ferrara. During its early history, the palazzo also served as a residence to many visiting dignitaries. From 1890 to 1923, the area was home the Museo Correr collection, which was moved to the Procuratie Nuove and Ala Napoleonica museums, at the Piazza San Marco, after 1923. Today, the area houses the Museo di Storia Naturale di Venezia (Natural History Museum of Venice), with historical collections of flora and fauna, fossils, and an aquarium.

Why You Should Visit:
Fascinating fossils inside, and excellent presentation of the collection including the traditional 19th-century presentation for some of the animal collections.
Also has air conditioning, unlike most other museums, an English guidebook & audio guide, a beautiful inside courtyard, and reasonable prices.

If you carry a picnic the grounds are a wonderful place to eat lunch.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Fri: 9am-5pm, last admission 4pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-6pm, last admission 5pm (Nov-May); Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm, last admission 5pm (Jun-Oct)
Closed on Monday, December 25th, January 1st, May 1st
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chiesa di San Geremia

9) Chiesa di San Geremia

Chiesa di San Geremia is located in Venice in the Cannaregio district. It is an important religious building, which houses many works of art and the remains of St. Lucia from Syracuse. The church was built in the eleventh century and was rebuilt several times. The altar is very beautiful and precious, with its sanctuary, where you can admire the statues of St. Peter and St. Jeremiah, dating from 1798, and executed by Pier Antonio Novelli.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chiesa di Santa Maria di Nazareth

10) Chiesa di Santa Maria di Nazareth

Chiesa di Santa Maria di Nazareth, also known as Chiesa degli Scalzi is an early eighteenth century religious building in Venice. The church was designed by Baldassare Longhena in the late Venetian Baroque style. The building during its history was host to a great number of art works. Some of them have remained in it, while some have been given out to local galleries for display.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Train Station

11) Train Station

Venice has two major railway stations. We are speaking here about the Santa Lucia station. The other one, Mestre, is located off-shore. Both stations are managed by Grandi Stazioni and they are linked with each other by the Ponte della Libertà (English: Liberty Bridge) between the mainland and the historic city. Venezia Santa Lucia is located in Cannaregio, the northernmost of the six historic sestieri (districts) of the historic city, near the western end of the Grand Canal. It lies at the 267 kilometers (166 mi) mark of the Milan–Venice railway. The building is very old and very beautiful, built in an early baroque style, with something special thrown in - a unique, mixed Venetian style. The place is usually crowded, but none of the visitors can stop you from admiring the edifice. The flanks of its façade are decorated with Venetian lions. Behind the façade, there is a sizeable main hall with ticketing facilities, shops, offices and luggage storage facilities. The main hall also leads to the station's 16 platforms.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chiesa di San Simeon Piccolo

12) Chiesa di San Simeon Piccolo

Chiesa di San Simeon Piccolo or Santi Simeone e Giuda is a religious building in the city of Venice, located in the district of Santa Croce. The building was completed in 1738 by Giovanni Antonio Scalfarotto and represents one of the first fully neoclassical buildings in Italy. The construction of the building has an unusual circular shape that reminds one of the Byzantine tradition and the Palladium.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Venice, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Venice

Create Your Own Walk in Venice

Creating your own self-guided walk in Venice is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Best Sights of San Marco Walking Tour

Best Sights of San Marco Walking Tour

San Marco is one of the six sestieri (neighborhoods) of Venice, set in the very heart of the city. It is known primarily as the home of the eponymous Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) and other notable locations, such as Saint Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, Harry's Bar, the Palazzo Dandolo, San Moisè, the La Fenice theatre, the Palazzo Grassi and several churches. Once...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
Ghetto Tour

Ghetto Tour

The term "ghetto" is derived from a local Venetian dialect and relates to foundries and the metal casting industry. The Ghetto of Venice was indeed built around a smelter. Here, in 1516, at the behest of the Republic of Venice, Jews were literally locked inside the gates in the evening. Nowadays this is a center of Jewish life in Venice. The area comprises several synagogues, divided by...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.4 km
City Orientation Walking Tour

City Orientation Walking Tour

Largely regarded as one of the most romantic places ever built by man, the city of Venice is spread across 118 islands collectively earning it the nicknames of the City of Water and the City of Bridges. Other than the bridges, though, the city abounds in museums, basilicas and other historic sights. For a chance to visit some of these and learn more about Venice, embark on this self-guided walk!

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Piazza San Marco Walking Tour

Piazza San Marco Walking Tour

Piazza San Marco is the main square in Venice. This is a place that enriched the cultural, social and economic life of Venice in the course of its history. The square is the host of the famous Venice landmarks as the Doge's Palace, Basilica San Marco and the Procuratie. Piazza San Marco is always full of people and pigeons.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km
Romantic Walking Tour

Romantic Walking Tour

Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world. It is the perfect destination for honeymoons, proposals and romantic trips. It is impossible to name the most romantic places in Venice because all the streets, canals and corners of this city are filled with romance, passion and love. This tour will guide you through the places where you can enjoy the perfect moment with your beloved.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 km
Murano Island Walking Tour

Murano Island Walking Tour

Murano is often called the Glass Island, since it is home to the most impressive and renowned Venetian glass factories. The glass makers here have preserved their centuries-old techniques. The island is full of shops were you can admire and purchase these adorable glass items. Some factories have special showrooms where you can see the full process of glass making.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

15 Distinctively Italian Things to Buy in Venice

15 Distinctively Italian Things to Buy in Venice

Venice has been a tourist mecca for over a century now, with millions of visitors flocking in every year to see this unique place on the face of the Earth. Many, if not all, of these people seek to obtain something memorable as a token of their stay in this city. By far, not all of them know which...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Venice for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Venice has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Venice's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Official All Venice City Pass, Venezia Unica Tourist City Pass, 72-Hour Venice Transportation Pass, or Venice Museum Pass.

A city pass combines all of or multiple Venice's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Venice hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Hotel Concordia, Hotel Al Ponte Dei Sospiri, Baglioni Hotel Luna.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Venice, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Venice typically costs from around US$20 up to more than US$200 per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off sightseeing boat to view all of Venice's top attractions while listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route as often as you like.

- Experience Venice from dry land and water on the combo of 2-hour walk and half-hour gondola ride around the historic center, marveling at the Byzantine monuments and gliding down the canals of this marvelous city.

- Have a double pleasure for your eyes and ears combining a 30-minute gondola ride with a serenade, wafting by the fascinating sights of Venice in the company of a traditionally-dressed gondolier and a singer aboard.

- Having quenched your appetite for sightseeing, don't forget to treat yourself to some delicious specialties of Venice as well. Take a 2.5-hour tour led by a local guide to see the city's highlights on waters, plus check out several notable eateries to savor authentic Venetian delights.

- Discover the Jewish side of Venice from a culinary standpoint on a food tour of the historic Jewish ghetto. Guided by a food-connoisseur, you will visit a number of joints offering authentic local dishes thus acquainting yourself with the rich culture and food traditions of the Venetian Jews.

- Architecture-wise there's so much more to Venice than just St. Mark's Square. Be welcome to prove it to yourself on the guided walk exploring the artistic richness of Venice away from the trodden tourist paths.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Venice, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Verona, Valpolicella, Florence, or the Dolomite Mountains. For as little as US$140+ to US$180+ per person you will get a chance to visit one of the most romantic cities in Italy (hometown of Romeo and Juliet), learn about Veneto’s winemaking heritage and sample the local wines, visit the Tuscan capital of Florence, soak up the bracing mountain scenery, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight at your hotel or a designated place in Venice, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or minibus or train to the destination of your choice and back again.