Venice Introduction Walking Tour, Venice

Venice Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Venice

Although most experts agree that the Venetian lagoon emerged nearly 6,000 years ago, the area of today's Venice remained mostly uninhabited, except for a small population of fishermen, up until the 5th century AD when the hordes of Gothic barbarians, looting their way into Rome, drove many a people away from their homes on the mainland to take refuge on the coastal Venetian islands.

Those who fled the burning and plundering by the invaders founded a city which was officially recognized as such after the remains of St. Mark the Evangelist, brought from Alexandria, Egypt, were interred here some time around the 9th century AD. At that point, St. Mark became the patron of Venice and made it part of the Christian world.

Shortly afterwards, Venice had gained independence from the Byzantine Empire and, by the early 11th century, emerged as a powerful city-state successfully trading with the Christian forces during the Crusades. Two centuries later, Venice became a seasoned maritime republic, reigning supreme over the Mediterranean, stifling opposition from the Byzantine Empire.

The Venetian Republic was ruled by a Doge, an elected for life leader assisted by the Council of 10 and the Grand Council of 2,000 members. This form of government remained in force until the Napoleonic invasion of 1797 removed the Venetian Doge and Grand Council from power, thus marking the end of the Republic.

The ensued period of decline lasted until the turn of the 19th century when Venice emerged on the scene once again, this time as a fashionable vacation spot for the wealthy.

Reputed as one of the most romantic places ever built by man, Venice is nicknamed “the City of Water” and “the City of Bridges”. Other than the water and bridges though, the city boasts great art legacy manifested in numerous palaces, galleries, and churches of unparalleled beauty.

The Venice Introduction Walk takes you to the top landmarks of Venice, most of which located along the Grand Canal and San Marco quarter.

Getting to Sight #1. The first tour stop (Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)) is on San Marco Square or can be reached by: Alilaguna Water Taxi: Blue (B), Rosa (R); Water Bus: 1, 2, 4.1, 10, 7, 4.2, 5.2, 2, 20 + N (Night line).
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Venice Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Venice Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Venice (See other walking tours in Venice)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Author: greghasleft
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)
  • Campanile di San Marco (St Mark's Campanile)
  • Basilica di San Marco (St Mark's Basilica)
  • Piazza San Marco
  • Torre dell'orologio
  • Fondaco dei Tedeschi
  • Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)
  • Mercato di Rialto (Rialto Food Market)
  • Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
  • Scuola Grande di San Rocco
  • Campo Santa Margherita
  • Ca' Rezzonico – Museum of 18th-century Venice
  • Gallerie dell'Accademia
  • Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection
  • Santa Maria della Salute
Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)

1) Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) (must see)

Built on the foundations of a 9th-century fortress, this palace is unquestionably the finest secular European building of its time which, in the course of centuries, had served many purposes, including Doge residence, seat of the Venetian government, court of law, civil office, and even a prison.

First built in the 14th century, much of the original palace was destroyed by fire in the 16th century reducing to ashes most of the art treasures held inside. Some of the greatest Venetian masters of the time, such as Tintoretto, Veronese, Titian, Bellini, and Tiepolo, contributed to restoring the palace to its former glory, recreating gilded stucco, sculptures, frescoes, and canvases.

A blend of Byzantine and Gothic architecture on the outside, inside the palace is all Classical which, in turn, led the art critic John Ruskin to declare it “the central building of the world”.

The interior of the palace – spectacular furnishings and paintings, marvelously adorned ceilings – reveals lavishness on the scale that is hard to match. The most outstanding is the Grand Council chamber, featuring Tintoretto’s “Paradise”, reportedly the world’s largest oil painting. Running up to it, in terms of grandeur, is the Sala dello Scrutinio or the “Voting Hall” embellished with paintings depicting Venice’s glorious past.

A stark contrast to this splendor are the cell-blocks on the opposite side of the canal – grim remnants of the horror of the medieval justice – linked to the outside world by the Bridge of Sighs by which the prisoners were led to their cells. The word “sighs” refers to the laments of the numerous victims forced across the bridge to face certain torture and possibly death at the hands of the state inquisitors appointed by the city.

To get the most of your time at Palazzo Ducale, use the infrared audio guide available at the entrance and hear a fascinating story of the 1,000-year-old maritime republic of Venice and the intricacies of the government that once ruled it.


On the night of 25 July 1755, aged 30, Casanova was arrested for affront to religion and common decency and was sentenced to five years imprisonment without having had a trial. He was taken to the Doge's Palace and put in a cell under its roof, which was covered with lead plates. In summer, the lead roof absorbed the heat and turned the place into an oven, but prisoners also suffered greatly from the "millions of fleas".

Casanova's physical distance from the opulence of Venice and the center of government was negligible, the psychological distance immeasurable. Eventually, after 15 months of torment and despair, he managed to escape by making a hole in the ceiling and descending his way to freedom with bed sheet ropes. The only person ever to escape from the prison of Doge's Palace, he first sought refuge in Munich, then Strasbourg, and completed the final leg of his journey by coach to Paris, where he would start a new life.

Book in advance for the guided "Secret Itinerary" tour that takes you into otherwise restricted quarters and hidden passageways, such as the Doge’s private chambers, the torture chambers where prisoners were interrogated, and the two cells that Casanova occupied.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am–7pm, last admission 6pm (Apr-Oct); 8:30am–5:30pm, last admission 4:30pm (Nov-Mar)
Campanile di San Marco (St Mark's Campanile)

2) Campanile di San Marco (St Mark's Campanile)

The city’s tallest bell tower was originally constructed in the 12th century, as a combined lighthouse and belfry, and was continuously modified up until the 16th century, when the golden angel was installed on its summit. Back in the day, each of the five bells here had a distinct function: the largest bell tolled the start and the end of a working day; another bell rang midday; two other bells either proclaimed a session of the Senate or called members of the Grand Council to the meetings; while the smallest of the bells gave notice of a forthcoming execution.

It was at the top of this belfry that Galileo Galilei famously demonstrated his telescope to the Venetian Doge on 21 August 1609 – the event commemorated by a plaque at the tower's observation deck. Still, the most dramatic event associated with the Campanile took place on 14 July 1902, when the tower fell down shortly after giving a sound of warning to the leisurely coffee drinkers at piazza below, sending them run for their lives!

The Venetians put the Campanile back “where it was and how it was”, and the tower is now safe to climb to the very top. Unlike other belfries where you have to brave a narrow, steep spiral set of stairs to reach the top, the Venetian one has an elevator so you can easily get a pigeon’s eye view just for a fee.

Standing 99 meters high, the Campanile is the tallest structure in Venice; an ideal vantage point for observing the cupolas of the San Marco basilica and further afield, including the surrounding lagoon. Sometimes in the evening, the view is so clear that one can literally see for miles away! But even if you don't reach the top, standing at the base of this historic belfry and staring up at its summit can be just as exciting an experience.
Basilica di San Marco (St Mark's Basilica)

3) Basilica di San Marco (St Mark's Basilica) (must see)

By far the main draw for tourists visiting Venice is the Basilica di San Marco. It was built in 832 AD to house the remains of the city’s patron, Saint Mark. The holy man’s body was brought from Alexandria, Egypt by two Venetian merchants who smuggled it concealed in the barrels of pork meat, which they rightly regarded the Muslim guards would never touch. According to legend, the night the body arrived in the lagoon, St Mark was greeted by an angel, saying, “Peace be with you Mark, my Evangelist. Here shall your body rest”. Over the centuries, this legend has inspired many works of art.

200 years later, a sumptuous temple was built upon the foundations of an earlier church, and was consecrated when St Mark’s body was interred beneath the high altar. The new basilica was modeled after the celebrated Church of the Apostles in Constantinople. To enhance its opulence, the structure was subsequently clothed in marble and mosaics depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as the lives of Christ, Virgin Mary and St Mark himself.

Many of the mosaics were later retouched or remade, as artistic tastes changed and the damaged mosaics had to be replaced, so the ones currently in place represent 800 years of artistic styles. Some of them derive from traditional Byzantine representations and are masterworks of Medieval art; others are based on preparatory drawings made by prominent Renaissance artists from Venice and Florence, such as Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, Titian, Paolo Uccello, and Andrea del Castagno.

Andrea del Castagno was active at San Marco in the mid-15th century, introducing a sense of perspective largely achieved with architectural settings. Attributed to him is the mosaic in the Mascoli Chapel, depicting the Dormition of the Virgin. Tintoretto, in his turn, created the mosaic in the central nave depicting the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (16th century), while Titian designed and executed, between 1524 and 1530, the mosaic decoration of the Sacristy vault depicting Old-Testament prophets.

Inside, there are also a number of things you can see for a separate fee, such as the Golden Altar, the Museum, the Treasury, and the Crypt. It is also definitely worth paying to go up to the first level just to gaze at the interior and the square outside from an elevated point, or you might as well want to come on a night tour when the basilica is closed to the public and you can have the entire place to yourself.

Entry to the basilica is free but you can pay a small fee just to skip the line and book a time slot.

Why You Should Visit:
Exceptionally beautiful blend of Byzantine and Western art!
The grandiosity of the mosaics and the wealth of the 'treasure room' will make you realize how powerful Venice was in its golden days.

The best time to visit the basilica is around midday when all the golden mosaics adorning the vaults, walls and cupolas are illuminated and are most spectacular. The lights are on only for limited times (11:30-12:30), so make sure to schedule your visit accordingly, so as to see/appreciate the mosaic at its best.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5pm; Sun: 2-4pm (until 5pm during the summer months)
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Piazza San Marco

4) Piazza San Marco (must see)

No visit to Venice – not even the recurring one – is complete without setting one's foot on Piazza San Marco, replete with the sense of history and art. Long before the tourists arrived, this was the city’s religious, commercial and political nucleus from where the Venetian Republic reigned for centuries. When the future founders of the city settled on the lagoon islands, this area was used to build a citadel – Palazzo Ducale – complete with the city's most precious place of worship, the San Marco Basilica. In the course of centuries, these two magnificent edifices have formed a public space so noble and majestic that no other square in Venice was seen worthy enough to bear the name “piazza” – hence, all the other Venetian squares are called either “campi” or “campielli”.

Today, Piazza San Marco remains the core of the city with the highest concentration of plush hotels, elegant and exorbitant cafes, most extravagantly-priced seafood, and luxurious shops. Evenings with mood lighting and live music here are especially romantic, so if you're happy to pay €15 for coffee or €25 for a cocktail, then take your time sipping it whilst enjoying the ambiance. However, if this is outside your budget, then head to the side streets of the San Marco quarter where there's just as plenty of action going on, and the colorful boutiques, bars and food outlets are more affordable.

Otherwise, enjoy this famous square for what it is and keep breathing its air... in and out. For you're in Venice!!!

If your time permits arrive later on the afternoon before or while it gets darker. Charming, romantic... and pretty empty. During the day, however, some stalls are selling souvenirs, bags (and knock-offs) and other things at surprisingly fair prices.
Another word of advice: if you go for a gondola ride, avoid gondolas moored by the square. Look for those outside the main touristy areas as you will get much more of the side-canal views that look much better in the pictures – plus the whole experience will be much more romantic.
Torre dell'orologio

5) Torre dell'orologio (must see)

In a square filled with iconic Venetian buildings, this remarkable Renaissance clock tower holds its own. Its base has always been a favorite meeting point for Venetians as it marks the entrance to the ancient Merceria, one of the busiest streets in Venice, now home to both high-end boutiques and trinket shops.

The tower's clock itself was made the official timekeeper of Venice as far back as 1858. It notably not only tells the time but is also aid to the astrologer, matching zodiac signs with the position of the sun.

Above the clock's face, against a field of golden stars, you can see a winged lion of St Mark, symbol of Venice found practically everywhere around the city. Beneath the lion is a statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus who also seem to be watching over Piazza San Marco.

The two men striking the bell at the extreme top of the clock tower are some of the most peculiar Venetian characters. Originally, these were two shepherds who, but after being reproduced in bronze, grew significantly darker with time, and thus, got the nickname of “Moors”.

If you decide to climb the tower, you may want to book a tour. There are two English tours run every day, each limited to 12 people only. On this tour you will see a secret door and then stop at every level all the way to the top to observe the clock mechanism and other curious things within the tower, along with San Marco square itself down below.
Fondaco dei Tedeschi

6) Fondaco dei Tedeschi (must see)

Once headquarters of the German merchant community in Venice, Fondaco dei Tedeschi is a huge building standing just beside the Rialto bridge. Back in the day, German traders were the most influential foreign group in the city and had rented this centrally-located building from as early as the 13th century. After being destroyed by fire, the Fondaco was rebuilt in the 16th century into a functional 4-story edifice with a grand inner courtyard. While architecturally it is typically Italian Renaissance, the basic concept of the building (much as the word 'fondaco' itself) is typically Arabic. Just like Fondaco dei Turchi, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi comprised a palazzo, a warehouse, and restricted living quarters for the inhabitants – mainly merchants from the German cities of Nuremberg, Judenburg, and Augsburg.

Today, this is one of the largest and resplendent shopping centers in Venice specialized in high-end luxury stuff. No wonder prices here are a bit steep, but the place is still a popular hangout, always teeming with tourists.

But don’t let the crowd put you off, at least not before you check out the Fondaco's rooftop terrace for the views it provides, fit to blow anyone away. The 4th-floor Event Pavilion is an exhibition space with a free access to the terrace affording one of the best panoramas of the Grand Canal, the downward view of the Rialto Bridge, and the top of San Marco's Basilica a kilometer or so away – quite a different angle from what you can see at a ground level!

To enter the roof terrace you need a ticket – offered for free, but issued for a certain time in order to regulate visitors' numbers and to prevent overcrowding. A word of advice is to pick up your ticket at the top floor first, and then explore the below shopping mall. Otherwise, you can book the ticket online at Fondaco's website. And if you're really lucky to catch a sunset while up on the roof, your efforts will be well rewarded!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm
Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)

7) Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) (must see)

There are only four bridges in Venice spanning the Grand Canal and, if you’re exploring the city on foot, you will find yourself crossing at least one of them sooner or later. Ponte di Rialto is the oldest and certainly the most famous of the four, linking the Eastern and Western quarters of Venice – the districts of San Marco and San Polo.

It was originally built of wood in the 12th century, followed by the current stone modification four centuries later. The engineering solution seemed so audacious at the time that certain architects predicted its future ruin. However, the bridge has defied critics to become one of the architectural marvels of Venice which, until 1854, remained the only foot crossing of the Grand Canal before the Accademia bridge was erected.

And if you’re comfortable steering through the hordes of tourists crawling over the bridge, you may enjoy the spectacular views of the canal opening in both directions. Beyond the souvenir stalls are the centuries-old markets that traditionally showcase the abundance of fruits and vegetables harvested on the lagoon islands, as well as the fish freshly caught in the bordering Adriatic Sea – you can even see boats from the Burano and Pellestrina islands unloading their daily catch here.

There are plenty of shops and restaurants within the Rialto bridge area as well, usually overpriced, but masterly tucked in so as not to disturb the heritage exterior. Also by the bridge are waterbus stops, not to mention persuasive gondoliers who just happen to have a vacant gondola with your name on it, in case you're in for a boat ride.

Evening is by far the best time to visit – much quieter and looks stunning.
Mercato di Rialto (Rialto Food Market)

8) Mercato di Rialto (Rialto Food Market) (must see)

If you seek to experience Venice in its entirety, then head to the Rialto Market! Just as in most any other city, this food market is a pulsating center of the local community. Among other things, the Rialto market epitomizes the sincerity and joyfulness of the Venetians and their love of life, in part due to which this market is often mistaken for a sort of open-air theme park!

To characterize the Rialto Market, one has to start with its location directly overlooking the Grand Canal since as early as the 11th century. Another distinctive feature are the explicit product signs born out of the grocers' fantasy which, apart from the origin and price, always provide extensive product characteristics and sometimes even cooking tips – all presented in a very artistic style.

The entire place is as much colorful and lively as it is practical – here you can buy flowers, spices, seasonal produce, fresh meat and seafood – quite rich in terms of range and, what's most amazing, reasonably priced. While some of the fish here, like salmon, you may find recognizable, the remaining majority would be quite exotic. For example, here you can find cuttlefish used for the famous black ink pasta available only in Venice, plus a huge variety of shellfish. A mere watching all this is a feast for eyes and a grand source of photo opportunities!

As part of tourist etiquette, please keep in mind that this is a regular market, where regular people come for regular shopping – so try and be as little hindrance as possible. Also, don't forget to ask permission before you actually touch anything on sale, so as not to annoy anyone.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 7:30am-1:30pm
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

9) Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (must see)

After Basilica di San Marco, this is probably the second most notable church worth visiting in Venice. Located slightly off the beaten path in a charming area with a great deal of character, the Frari church is rarely, if ever, assailed by visitors. Though the building itself is quite extraordinary and is a true monument to the Venetian history and art combined.

Founded by the Franciscan order in the late 13th century, this gargantuan edifice is one of Venice’s largest, and its brick bell tower is the 2nd tallest after the San Marco's. It is also one of the three Venetian churches to retain Gothic appearance – rather plain on the outside, including the facade. Contrary to its misleadingly dull “mountain of brick” type of exterior, the interior is quite astounding.

Few buildings in Venice can boast multiple first-rate works by Titian, especially the likes of the “Assumption” painting, unprecedented at the time, soaring over the high altar. Another Titian's masterpiece here is “Madonna di Ca' Pésaro” – equally innovative in the displacement of the figure of the Virgin Mary from the center of the picture.

Alongside these and other paintings by Vivarini and Bellini, the church is also home to the wooden statue of St John the Baptist by Donatello, the beautiful 15th-century choir, and the wealth of extravagant tombs. On the right-hand side of the nave stands a 19th-century monument to Titian, marking his grave. The artist died in 1576, aged nearly 90, from a plague. Such high was his esteem, that Titian was the only plague victim to be allowed a church burial during the outbreak. On the opposite side, there's a marble pyramid – mausoleum of sculptor Antonio Canova erected by his students, and a rather controversial, if not say grotesque, tomb of Doge Giovanni Pésaro – the monumental composition supported by gigantic Moors and featuring, among other figures, some decomposing bodies.

To learn more about these and other artworks within the church, feel free to grab a guidebook or a free pamphlet by the ticket office as an aid.

Pay cash – no credit cards accepted.
Modest dress code required (covers provided).

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm; Sun/Holidays: 1-6pm
Visiting hours may vary according to liturgical celebrations, concerts and events.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco

10) Scuola Grande di San Rocco (must see)

The religious fraternity (scuola) of Saint Roch, or Rocco, was set up in Venice in 1478. Seven years later, the body of the saint was brought from Germany, which ensued a boom of donations so great that in 1489 the fraternity acquired the status of “scuola grande”. In 1527, the city was hit by an outbreak of plague and the scuola’s revenue rocketed to record highs with the money pouring in from those desperate to secure St Rocco's protection from the disease. This financial intake eventually paid for the construction of the current building complete with the amazing paintings inside.

Indeed, no other Venetian fraternity is as richly decorated as Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The man responsible for it is Venice's own 16th-century artist Tintoretto. Born Jacopo Robusti, the painter got this nickname, which means "little dyer" or "dyer's boy", because of his father, who was a dyer (tintore). Also nicknamed Il Furioso ("The Furious") for his phenomenal energy in painting, Tintoretto was admired and equally criticized by his contemporaries for the unprecedented boldness of his brushwork as well as for the speed with which he painted. Nonetheless, it took him three decades to complete this project – from its inception, when Tintoretto was 46, until his death, in 1594, at the age of 76.

Over the said period, the artist had created more than 50 epic canvases for the walls and ceilings of the scuola, earning it a hyperbole reference among critics as “one of the three most precious buildings in Italy” for the overwhelming effect it produced. Although the Tintoretto cycle begins with the “Annunciation”, located in the lower room, to appreciate his progression as an artist, it is best to start in the smaller room, on the upper floor, called Sala dell’Albergo, housing the “Crucifixion” painting, which truly reveals the full magnitude of Tintoretto's masterhood.

Among other highlights here are the New Testament scenes, in the main upper hall, defying every convention of perspective, lighting, and color – a feat of relentless inventiveness that has very few equals in the Western art. Notwithstanding that Tintoretto was in his late 60s when he came to paint these scenes, they prove to be some of his finest creations.

Why You Should Visit:
Rarely busy or crowded – an oasis of peace, culture and Venetian history.
Photos don't do it justice. You can't help being overwhelmed by what you see.

Make sure to get an audio guide as there are no descriptions.
Wear warm clothes (it gets quite cold inside) and take your camera.
The mirrors in the chapter room allow you to study the ceiling art without having to strain your neck.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5:30pm
Ticket office closes at 5pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Campo Santa Margherita

11) Campo Santa Margherita

If Piazza San Marco is a tourist center of Venice, then Campo Santa Margherita may well be regarded as the main gathering spot for locals and hip young crowd. Ringed by 14th-century buildings, this vast, elongated square is a social heart of the Dorsoduro district, many of whose inhabitants come here in the morning to stock up on vital provisions at a local farm and fish market. As such, this is a great place to see Venetians go about their daily lives. Due to its remoteness from the popular Rialto-San Marco route, you won't find many tourists around and the shops here cater mostly to the locals.

Students from the nearby university hang out at the numerous bars scattered in the vicinity, and the whole area has quite a bit of an alternative culture feel. There is also a high concentration of clubs frequented all year round. Especially at night, local restaurants offer good value for money, as compared to the more touristy spots, with plenty of Venetian Spritz being drunk at outdoor terraces.

Why You Should Visit:
Even if you do not intend to eat/drink here, take a detour to people-watch – fortunately, there are many benches for you to enjoy the scene.

Keep this place in mind for when you will need food late at night. One of the best eateries and watering holes around is Al Bocon DiVino, sitting on the corner of Calle de Magazen, serving small fish snacks, called “cicchetti,” plus a good choice of desserts and spritz in a relaxed atmosphere.
To the south are a bunch of lively bars offering music to various tastes and genres, not least of which is the Venice Jazz Club hosting live shows by the in-house quartet, as well as guest acts.
Ca' Rezzonico – Museum of 18th-century Venice

12) Ca' Rezzonico – Museum of 18th-century Venice (must see)

Visiting Ca' Rezzonico offers a rare opportunity to see one of the most magnificent Grand Canal palaces. Meticulously renovated, the building houses a fascinating collection of 18th-century art, including Tiepolo and Tintoretto paintings, tapestries, porcelain, and period furnishings. In fact, the palace was acquired specifically to hold the collection and, as such, its contents are in perfect harmony with the outside appearance that is rarely seen anywhere else.

Upon entering, the first thing you see is the enormous Ballroom with chandeliers and ceiling paintings with a genuine 3D effect, followed by a range of other lavishly embellished rooms en route to the Throne Hall with the allegorical ceilings painted by Tiepolo. From the first floor balcony, you get a view of the Grand Canal similar to that the aristocratic residents of the palace had a privilege to enjoy back in the 18th century.

The low-ceiling 3rd and 4th floors house a Venetian art collection received from a private donator, dating back to the 15th century, but the main highlight there is the pharmacy – a sequence of wood-paneled rooms heavily stocked with glass bottles and ceramic jars. Complementing this is a tremendous view opening to the rooftops of Venice below.

Neither large nor small, and not too crowded either, this palace is a place to go after you have had your share of Venice's main highlights and have a taste for lavish living that the local high society afforded themselves back in the day. Advance tickets can be purchased from the official website.

The on-site audio guide is quite good, much as the bookshop and terraced cafe directly facing onto the Grand Canal. Further to that, there's a quiet little side garden free to walk in with some seats in the shade that you may want to use for a welcome break after long hours of walking in Venice.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed-Sun: 10:30am-6pm (Apr-Oct); 10:30am-4pm (Nov-Mar)
Last entry: 30mins before closing time; closed on Tuesdays
Gallerie dell'Accademia

13) Gallerie dell'Accademia

The pomp and glory of Venice live on in the remarkably extensive collection of paintings, known as Accademia, spanning from the Middle Age to the Renaissance periods. The hallmark of the Venetian painting school is color and more color. From Veronese to Titian to Tintoretto, the Accademia gallery houses the best of Venice's glorious sons.

Also among its highlights are the works of 14th-century masters like Paolo and Lorenzo Veneziano who bridged the gap between the Byzantine and Gothic art; Giovanni Bellini – author of the “Madonna and Saint” and “Madonnas and Bambini” paintings; Vittore Carpaccio’s gruesome yet fascinating depiction of mass crucifixion and narrative paintings of St Ursula – amazing to a modern eye with the meticulous detailing of domestic architecture, costumes and decorative arts of Venice at the end of the 15th century; as well as Giorgione’s most famous painting “The Tempest” depicting a baby suckling from its mother's breast overlooked by a man with a staff.

Rooms 6 to 8 are all dedicated to the heavyweights of the Venetian High Renaissance such as Tintoretto, Titian, Veronese, and Lotto. Although fit to embellish any art collection in the world, these works are mere “appetizers” to what awaits visitors in the huge room #10 one of whose walls is fully taken by a single canvas, called “Christ in the House of Levi” by Paolo Veronese.

Finally, on your way out, make sure to see Titian’s “Presentation of the Virgin” – a fitting farewell to the galaxy of great Venetian artists.

Why You Should Visit:
Large, spacious and clean – the rooms are well planned and the layout beautiful.

The entry charge to the gallery is reasonable or none at all if you happen to visit during a major local festival. However, if you buy a ticket, be aware that you can also use it for the recently renovated Palazzo Grimani, just a short walk away.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 8:15am-6:50pm (all year round); Tue, Thu: 7-10pm (Jun 4–Sep 26)
Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti

14) Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti

Situated opposite the Accademia gallery, next to the Palazzo Barbarigo, this palace is quite simply one of the most beautiful along the Grand Canal, lavishly adorned with Gothic tracery and a large, beautifully tended garden. Built in the 16th century, it represents a stunning mix of Gothic and Byzantine influences, and today accommodates headquarters of the Venetian Institute of Science, Letters and Art.

In the course of centuries, the palazzo changed hands many times during which it was internally modernized and externally decorated in the Venetian Gothic style with its signature rich window framing. The first round of neo-Gothic renovation took place in 1840 – by the young Archduke of Austria, Frederick Ferdinand, who embarked on this complex project in a bid to make the Hapsburg presence in Venice more prominent. The Archduke lived in the palace until 1878, after which it was sold to Baron Raimondo Franchetti who also undertook renovation, but never actually made the palace his personal residence.

The edifice now serves multiple purposes but is mainly dedicated to hosting changing exhibitions of contemporary art which, in turn, give it a breath of fresh air amid the massive dominance of the Renaissance art all around. Each room within the palace is fitted with Murano glass chandeliers, some of which are quite monumental.

Apart from the art and the unbeatable views of the Grand Canal, visitors to the palace can also enjoy a pretty on-site cafeteria with a fairly good lunch menu!

Opening Hours:
[Cafeteria] Daily: 9am-6pm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection

15) Peggy Guggenheim Collection (must see)

Described as one of the most comprehensive and brilliant modern-art collections in the Western world, this is also one of Venice’s glossiest museums – the second most popular after the Accademia and a prime venue for touring exhibitions. The collection is housed in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the former Venetian home of Peggy Guggenheim on the Grand Canal. Pursuant to her family tradition, Peggy was a lifelong patron of contemporary artists, impressing critics not only with the high quality of their works but also with the ways she presented them.

As her private collection continued to grow with more and more masterpieces from the Cubist, Futurist, Metaphysical, Surrealist, and Abstract Expressionist schools, Peggy Guggenheim decided to find a larger showcase and, for that purpose, selected Venice. Her husband, Max Ernst, was one of her early favorite artists, as was Jackson Pollock, for whom she provided a farmhouse where he could develop his technique. Displayed here are the works not only by Pollock and Ernst, but also those by Picasso, Duchamp, Chagall, Mondrian, Brancusi and Dalí, plus the modern sculpture works by Giacometti and Paolozzi placed in the garden in which Peggy’s own ashes are laid to rest.

Since her death in 1979, the collection has been administered by the same foundation operating Guggenheim Museum in New York. Visitors are free to wander around and explore the collection in an informal, relaxed way, or to take a 90-minute private tour for a 'behind-the-scenes' scoop on all the art and Peggy's history. The regular multilingual crowd of well-versed individuals bubbling around the property with free information are quite fascinating in their own right.

Why You Should Visit:
To see a treasure trove of works up close and personal – all in one fabulous mansion on the toniest stretch of the Grand Canal.

In a new wing of the museum, there is a shop and a cafe in case you want to take a break and reflect on what has been seen and heard.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 10am-6pm
Closed Tuesdays and December 25
Last ticket issued 30 minutes before closing time
Santa Maria della Salute

16) Santa Maria della Salute (must see)

San Marco may be Venice's most famous church by name, but Santa Maria della Salute is by far its most famous by image and silhouette! Commonly known simply as La Salute, this grand historic church is largely recognized as the pinnacle of the city's Baroque movement.

La Salute is the most recent of the so-called “plague” churches. Back in the early 1630s, Venice was devastated by a plague that exterminated nearly 100,000 people, roughly one-third of the lagoon’s population. As a votive offering for deliverance from this pestilence, the Republic of Venice vowed to build and dedicate a church to Our Lady of Good Health (or Deliverance) which means “Salute” in Italian. Resting on a platform of more than 100,000 wooden piles, the church was designed in the then fashionable Baroque style, by Baldassare Longhena, who dedicated half a century to working on this project and lived just long enough to see it finished, in 1681.

The dome of the Salute was an important addition to the Venetian skyline and soon became emblematic of the city, inspiring painters both local, such as Canaletto and Francesco Guardi, and foreign, such as J. M. W. Turner, Claude Monet and John Singer Sargent.

The basilica makes for an interesting visit, too. It houses a small art gallery in its sacristy, which includes a Marriage Feast of Cana by Tintoretto, along with the allegorical ceiling paintings by Titian (the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school) such as David and Goliath, Abraham and Isaac and Cain and Abel, and eight tondi of the eight Doctors of the Church and the Evangelists, all in the great sacristy, and Pentecost in the nave. Also by Titian are The Descent of the Holy Ghost, in the third altar to the left of the entrance, as well as St. Mark Enthroned with Saints Cosmas, Damian, Sebastian and Roch, the altarpiece of the sacristy.

Of a particular note is a highly symbolic statuary group at the high altar, called The Queen of Heaven expelling the Plague (1670), by the Flemish sculptor Josse de Corte. This theatrical Baroque masterpiece features the Virgin and Child rescuing Venice (depicted as a kneeling young woman) from the plague (depicted as an old woman).

Entrance to the Basilica is always free during the opening hours, however to enter the main sacristy (museum), a ticket is required. Whenever you choose to visit, do get your tickets in advance to skip the long lines. Once inside, you can treat yourself to a unique view of the adjoining plaza from the balcony and, perhaps, also a 30-minute organ recital after the service... so do check the events program in advance – and enjoy!

Bring a drink with you as there are hardly any cafes around.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-12pm / 3-5:30pm
During festive Masses, times may be subject to change
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.
Casanova's Venice

Casanova's Venice

One of Venice's most famous personalities, Giacomo Casanova is remembered today as a womanizer, but was much more than that. Born in a family of theater actors in 1725, he came through as highly intellectual and very sharp from his very childhood, having become in his time an erudite scholar, a diplomat and spy, and a metropolitan ‘avant la lettre’, who frequented the high society and...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
Venice's Hidden Art Treasures

Venice's Hidden Art Treasures

Among the first things springing to mind when talking about Venice, apart from the canals and gondolas, of course, is Art and Architecture. Indeed, Venice is one of the few cities in the world where Art and Architecture have merged in a stunning multiplicity of forms. The city is even renowned for its unique (Venetian) pictorial school famed by the likes of Tintoretto, Titian, Veronese, Castagno...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Titian's Paintings Walk

Titian's Paintings Walk

One of the greatest painters of all time, Tiziano Vecelli – better known as Titian – was a pioneering figure of the Venetian school of Italian Renaissance painting. His career was successful from the start, and he became sought after by patrons, initially from Venice and its possessions, then joined by the north Italian princes, and finally the Habsburgs and papacy.

Equally adept with...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Piazza San Marco Walking Tour

Piazza San Marco Walking Tour

All of Venice’s roads seem to run into Piazza San Marco – the commercial, religious, and political heart of the city. With a glowing reputation as one of the finest squares in the world and arguably one of Europe’s primary tourist attractions, it certainly has a lot to offer to visitors.

Start your exploration with a tour of the pink-and-white marble Palazzo Ducale, which takes you...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.6 Km or 0.4 Miles
Dorsoduro Walking Tour

Dorsoduro Walking Tour

One of the six districts of Venice, Dorsoduro’s name translates as “hard bridge” due to the area's relatively high terrain. Home to some of the city’s highest spots, it also comprises some of Venice’s most picturesque canals, historic locations and cultural venues, including the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute; the Gallerie dell’ Academia & the Ca’ Rezzonico – both...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Jewish Ghetto Tour

Jewish Ghetto Tour

Founded in 1516, the Jewish Ghetto in Venice was the oldest of its kind in all Europe. At the time, Venice received order from the Pope to expel all Jews from the city, but the Venetian government opted to lock them onto a small island in the district of Cannaregio. Since then this small area has been the center of Jewish life in Venice, with buildings rising vertically to accommodate the rising...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.4 Km or 0.2 Miles

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...