The Best Things to See and Do
Every expert has their favorite things to do in Venice so it is good to get tips from a variety of experts.
Backpacking2Europe provides their favorites in this video plus great tips for saving money.
Don’t Break Your Budget on the First Day
You finally arrive in Venice, Italy for your dream vacation. After all of your saving, planning, packing, and surviving the long flight, you are finally there. You decide to sit and savor the moment in the Piazza San Marco with your first real Italian cappuccino. Then you try out one of the first phrases of Italian you learned in your “Travel Italian” class. Il conto per favore!
The cameriere brings out your check and you almost drop your nearly empty cup! 10€ for the cappuccino and a 20€ surcharge for sitting in the piazza. You have spent your daily food allowance in one 30 minute break.
Don’t despair. You can find less expensive places to snack (look for pizzeria’s and bars where you eat standing up).
Here are things you can do that are free
#1 Piazza San Marco
Chances are you have already found one free thing to do. Wander around Piazza San Marco. Just don’t sit down, if you do you will have to order something and it will most likely cost more than it is worth. If pigeon’s are your thing then you can wander among the birds, if not stick to the perimeter of the square. Visit our more extensive walking tour around Piazza San Marco and Piazzaetta di San Marco.
Piazza San Marco, basilicasanmarco.it. Hours: Mon-Sat 9.45am-5pm & Sunday 2pm-4pm.
# 2 Basilica di San Marco
Saint Mark’s Basilica has a magnificent façade and interior. It was where many great Italian and European artists came to work.
Yes, the Basilica is free. You have to pay a fee, though it is relatively inexpensive, to see the Pala d’Oro.
# 3 Bridge of Sighs
You have to buy a ticket to the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) to see the inside of the bridge. But you can get a great view of the Bridge of Sighs by standing on the bridge over a canal to the side of the Palazzo. There is a very crowded side and an uncrowded side, try them both.
You can learn more about the Bridge of Sighs at our website by clicking here.
#4 Venice, Italy Free Things to Do – Ponte di Rialto
The Rialto Bridge is a single span stone structure designed by Antonio da Ponte and completed in 1591. The Rialto Bridge is a great place for people watching and you get a beautiful view of the Grand Canal.
# 5 Mercato di Rialto
The Rialto markets are an assault on the senses. Vendors are yelling to sell their products, the colors of the fruits, vegetables, fish and meats are vibrant and then there is the smell which is sometimes a wonderful aroma of herbs and spices and other times the not so wonderful smell of fish left out a little too long.
# 6 Wander the Streets
The streets of Venice are a narrow, winding, maze. It does not take much of an imagination to transport you back to the 15th century. And it does not take much or long for you to get lost. When you are not sure where you are ask for Piazza San Marco and start over again. Be sure to wander through some of Venice’s neighborhoods such as the Ghetto Erbraico (Jewish Ghetto). Made famous by Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” this is where all Jews were forced to live from the 16th to the 18th century. It is worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood.
Google Maps offers walking tours of Venice . Their guide straps a camera backpack on and gives you a feel for walking the streets of Venice. Google provides facts and interesting information about Venice on their walking tour.
# 7 – Window Shop
I know I say this in every Italy city, but there are glass stores in Venice that are like museums. Window shopping is free but it is hard to resist buying.
#8 Venice Canal Watching
Stand on one of the bridges away from the tourist area and watch what happens on the canals. It is amazing to watch big screen TV’s, ovens and refrigerators being unloaded. It is also impressive to see the oarsmen navigate some of the larger boats through the canals.
Venice is one of those places where what you hear can be almost as interesting as what you see. You can hear sea gulls calling, gondoliers singing, motor boats putting along, vendors hawking goods and tourists speaking a world of languages. What you won’t hear are cars, buses or motorcycles.
Riding in a gondola is not cheap but watching is fun and free.
Okay so technically it is not free because you have to take the vaporetto to Murano islands. But the ride over is worth the money and once you are there you can spend the day exploring one of the Lagoon Islands. Look into one of the workshops and you will see glass makers at work.
Here is another YouTube Video of a Travel Agent’s Top Ten Things to Do in Venice, Italy