When I hear the name Venice, what immediately comes to mind is serenade, romance, history, architecture or city of secrets… Venice continues to enchant and inspire over the years.
Here are our ideas for activities in Venice!
History of Venice
The birth of the city of the Doges dates back to the beginning of the 5th century. It was built gradually with the maritime traffic on the Adriatic, the obligatory passage for merchants from the East and the West.
Independent, powerful, intriguing, the Serenissima as it is also called, developed its internal politics led by doges or Dukes, hence the Doge’s Palace, before being weakened by the various crises or invasions of history, to finally join the kingdom of Italy.
Over time, during the Renaissance, Venice charmed many artists, painters and architects, allowing it to become a culturally active city. Many noble families lived there, some in beautiful mansions and others in numerous palaces.
Receptions and banquets were common, as were cultural outings to the theatre, public festivals, and the carnival, which lasted six months of the year. The Venetians loved to celebrate and always found an opportunity to do so.
The party was a means of social cohesion, allowing to forget the daily worries (that’s why we still party today!). This led to the development of a new market for costumes and masks, which in turn led to acting.
What to do in Venice?
The city of the Doges will seduce you with its cultural offer. Its monuments. Its shops and its atmosphere. It can be discovered easily on foot or by boat or gondola along the canals. A pleasant and soothing tranquility along the water.
Coming here is like stepping back in time as the gothic architecture has remained in time with Byzantine and Islamic inspiration in its colourful facades and patterns.
For a first glimpse of the city, nothing beats a ride on the Vaporetto, along the Grand Canal. That’s how we got to our hotel before wandering through its narrow but inviting streets.
During your stay, you will find that you often sail between the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square. A good way to organize your visits. Walk around each of these two points.
Go to the globally famous St. Mark’s Square and admire the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica and the Campanile. Stroll along the Piazzetta quay and take a break (or even a picnic) at the Royal Gardens!
After a good dinner, treat yourself to an evening of opera at the Fenico Theatre, a renowned venue in Venice.
Go window shopping in the alleys. Why not also leave with a traditional souvenir such as a Venice mask?
In addition to souvenirs, the city of the Doges offers beautiful fashion boutiques: from small manufacturers to luxury boutiques, there is something for everyone. For my part, I fell in love with a small jewelry shop, Il Baule D’Oriente.
Or simply get lost, wander where the bridges will take you. Make it a game! You’ll see that it’s not so easy to get where you want to go without a map: bridges are often tricky, but that’s how you get to know the city!
One of the most popular activities is of course the gondola ride. Each gondola is unique as it is handmade and painted and then decorated. It’s such a lovely ride on the water, to do as lovers, as a family (like we did) or with friends!
It’s also an opportunity to learn more about the city, its history, its monuments and its issues by asking the boatman!
As our boatman mentioned, the city has more than 400 bridges, the most famous of which are the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs, a closed bridge that prisoners used to cross while sighing to get to their cells after being sentenced to the Doge’s Palace.
The city has more than 120 churches. Some are not to be missed! It is quite an experience to enter these places, to feel the soul of these monuments that have crossed history. A perfect place to take a break on hot summer days!
Several islands around Venice are worth visiting, including Murano, known around the world for its expertise in the manufacture of Murano glass. The Murano glassblowers use a technique that is particular to them, it’s an art. Attend a demonstration!
Another island to see if you have more time is Burano. A city known for its colourful facades and its lace-making expertise. It takes just under an hour to get there from Piazza San Marco on the Actv LS line.
Watching the sunrise is another moment worth taking, relaxing, in silence, listening to the birds. The place will be all yours.
Enjoy a coffee at the counter in the alleys of Venice with a good pastry. It’s always a good way to start the day; we loved the Pasticceria Bonifacio.
If you have more time, have breakfast on a terrace. I recommend the one at Rialto where you can watch the comings and goings of boats, vaporettos, tourists and deliverymen. A real treat!
This will give you a better understanding of the local daily life, with the setting up of the Rialto market for example, the cleaning of the streets, the deliveries of goods by boat or the sportsmen who run in the deserted streets.
To end your visit strong, don’t miss the sunset on St. Mark’s Square, which is adorned with shimmering colours. You’ll be amazed by the atmosphere!
For an even more delightful sunset, sit on a perched hotel terrace like the one at the Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel or enjoy one of the many restaurants in the Serenissima, along a canal or in a square.
The atmosphere changes in the evening, the terraces and bars fill up. It was the opportunity for us to test several nice terraces to have a drink including the one of The Gritti Palace, The Luxury Collection. It offers a magnificent view of the canal, a small luxury that leaves a memorable impression.
Finally, if you wish to swim, it is possible! The nearest beach, Lido, is about 45 minutes away. You will find a beautiful fine golden sand.
Recommended activities in Venice
Here are some activities that have been highly rated through our partner Viator:
Gas & Transit
Every visitor “crosses” the Freedom Bridge or Ponte della Libertà, by train (railway line parallel to the bridge that leads to the Santa Lucia station), by car (parking lots at the exit of the Piazzale Roma), or by plane (Treviso airport or Marco Polo with continuation by train).
From here, board an Actv vaporetto on line 2 which will sail, for example, through the Grand Canal to the Rialto Bridge (pier F) or through Giudecca to St. Mark’s Square or S.Marco (pier G).
Venice has taken advantage of the calmer time with the health crisis to put in place measures to protect its heritage and environment from mass tourism.
Thus, except fpr ships of about 200 passengers, large cruise ships have just been banned from the lagoon and will no longer be able to dock in Venice, as of August 1st, 2021. Their arrival damages the ecosystem of the lagoon and causes more pollution.
You can buy your bus and boat tickets on the spot at one of the ticket machines or at the counter, or you can buy them online.
You can find all the information on this subject on the Venezia Unica website.
With the crisis that we experienced, Venice was eager to see its tourists again.
To discover it, Airbnb rentals – booked with your points – remain a good solution. You will be able to discover the city from a different angle, like a local.
Otherwise, turn to hotels. The Marriott chain is present with several hotels, we tried two of them for you:
The prices are quite high, it is interesting in this case to use Marriott Bonvoy points.
How to use your points for a stay in Venice?
The HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® follows us everywhere. We mainly used this card during our trip to Venice since it is the best Mastercard credit card in Canada with no conversion fees .
With this card, you earn 6 points per dollar on travel purchases and 3 points everywhere else, including Costco. And you get a $100 annual travel credit.
As Venice is very busy with tourists in general, the shopkeepers have adapted. You can easily find businesses that openly accept American Express credit cards.
A very good point for everyone who owns these cards, and for the Milesopedians who follow us! For example, you can use your American Express Cobalt® Card at many restaurants to earn 5 points per dollar.
Finally, plan to have many Marriott Bonvoy points if you want to stay in one of the beautiful hotels of the city: they are category 6 to 8 in the historic center.
If you are coming to Venice for a weekend, you will need to get organized and know your priorities. You won’t be able to see everything in 3 days. Enjoy your visit!
How to get to Venice?
Air Canada offers flights to Venice Marco Polo Airport. An opportunity to use your Aeroplan points! If you are already in Europe, many flights are available.
You can reach the center Venice by train or bus.
When to go to Venice?
Venice is a city in Italy where the temperatures are continental with cold, wet winters and hot, heavy summers. Visit it any time from spring to autumn, avoiding the middle of summer.
Between November and April you can witness the phenomenon of Acqua Alta, repeated flooding of the city. The latter is a source of problems for the Venetians.