Top tickets for watery things to do in Venice
Best of Venice
Make it a trip to remember with these must-dos
Know your Venice basics
Central European Time (CET)
Venice is pretty easy to navigate on foot and most people find the maze of streets quite fun to get lost in. But if you’re trying to fit a lot into a short timeframe, make use of the public transport as well. Public company ACTV runs vaporetto boats of different sizes - so-called because they used to be steam-powered. Tickets must be validated on the landside machines, in one of the docking stations. To cross the Grand Canal you’ll need one of the Traghetti.
If you’re planning on strolling through the streets, gelato in hand, July is the best month for that, summer temperatures in Venice average 23°C. The downside is that the summer months are also the most crowded. The coldest and quietest month is January, when temperatures drop to 3°C. Don’t be put off though - Venice can be beautiful under a light dusting of snow. Any month between January and June has variable temperature (bring a sweater and sunscreen).
Venetian Food & Drink
If traditional Veneto dishes are on your bucket list, try some oca in onto (goose in fat). It’s better than it sounds. Spider crab, mantis shrimps and sea snails are seafood items you might not see elsewhere. And as a snack, lots of bars will offer cicheti (Venetian tapas) behind the counter - tiny treats from €1 a piece. The house wine in most places is better than in other European countries, so don’t be afraid to wash your tapas down with the cheapest one.
St. Mark’s Basilica
History springs to life in what was the hub of Venetian social and political life for over 1000 years. The glittering St Mark’s Basilica is one of the world’s most jaw-dropping examples of Byzantine architecture. This church, bedazzling visitors with 8,500 m2 of glittering mosaics, dates back to the 9th century - the height of the Venetian Republic’s power. Napoleon once called the area it inhabits, Saint Mark’s Square, "the drawing room of Europe." Take a guided tour for the historical lowdown.
As a symbol of Venice’s political power, the mighty Doge’s Palace is a highlight on every visitor’s list. Here you’ll witness impressive Renaissance artwork from the greats and learn the history and stories that make this palazzo something special. Look at the mosaics, dating from 1270 to see St Mark's stolen body arriving at the basilica. Tour the Opera Museum, enter the atmospheric Piombi attic prison and vocalise your sympathies as you cross make like the prisoners and cross the Bridge of Sighs.
Explore the Waterways
Befriend a gondolier, grab your mandolin, and hop into one of the ubiquitous gondolas for a punt down one of Venice’s famous canals. Remember, it’s nice to have a singer serenading you, but that will boost the price. Psst - we can help you save a bit of cash. For a different view, jump on a vaporetto (the water bus) and take the Grand Canal boat tour down the city’s main thoroughfare. The 3.5 km boat trip from the railway station to San Marco is a great intro to Venice’s culture and history.
Head to the Dolomites
If you’re craving a slightly slower pace, take a day trip to the UNESCO-listed Dolomite Mountains. You can take in two of the most beautiful lakes in the whole peninsula, Lake Santa Caterina and Lake Misurina, eat your lunch in a traditional trattoria and stroll around the little mountain town of Cortina d'Ampezzo with all its unique boutiques. Renaissance painter Titian was born in the nearby Pieve di Cadore. By the time you get back to Venice you’ll be culturally richer, as well as refreshed.