One of the most beautiful places in the world Venice will charm you with its maze of canals and impressive architecture of age-old buildings. The floating city of Venice built on the wood foundation is an engineering marvel and comprises of around 118 islands linked together with bridges and pretty canals. The grandeur buildings, lovely squares and the arched bridges over the emerald waters lit up at dusk makes Venice an ideal romantic destination.
Our first trip to Venice was a part of Italy road trip starting from Geneva in Switzerland. One can also plan short breaks to Venice, for our second trip, we visited Venice over the weekend. The city of Venice can easily be explored on a walking tour. Saunter through the labyrinth of canals exploring the architecture of the colorful ancient buildings and churches exuding an old world charm.
Day 1 – Exploring Venice
We made a list of places to visit in Venice in one day and started from the Piazzale Roma bus station where the bus we boarded from our apartment dropped us. We crossed the Ponte Della Costituzione, the bridge over the grand canal to Santa Lucia train station.
The Grand Canal running opposite the train station is a bustling promenade with several ferry points and an imposing 18th century San Simeone Piccolo church across the canal. We walked past the beautiful church of Santa Maria di Nazareth and crossed the Grand Canal through Ponte Degli Scalzi to the other side.
The city of canals will surprise you at every nook and cranny with the enticing maze of canals, brightly painted houses lining the canals and their balconies overflowing with colorful blossoms. Venice has more than 130 churches most of which we walked past during our self-guided walking tour. We came across several small churches like Chiesa Di San Simeone Profeta and also some interesting buildings like 13th-century confraternity building Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista with its church.
In some parts, the facades of the buildings are faded with time and the paints had scraped out and amidst them stood some magnificent churches like Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari basilica and Chiesa di San Rocco which is located beyond the basilica. Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari with its imposing brick edifice, interior with outstanding work of art and monuments and its campanile is one of the notable churches in Venice. Scuola Grande di San Rocco next to the San Rocco houses some of the fine collection of paintings.
We sauntered through several bridges and churches like 11th century Church of Saint-Apollinaire with an interesting gothic bas-relief and San Silvestro which houses some significant paintings to Ruga Dei Oresi. Ruga Dei Oresi is a busy street leading to the famed Rialto bridge lined with shops. The square is dominated by Chiesa di San Giacomo di Rialto church which is believed to be the oldest church in Venice and has a monumental 15th-century clock above the entrance.
Ponte di Rialto or Rialto Bridge
The iconic Rialto bridge spanning the GrandCanal is the oldest bridge in Venice and a prime tourist spot. The bridge is lined with rows of shops which makes it a crowded place to walk through, there are also two more alternate walkways along the outer balustrades. The foot of the bridge offers a splendid panorama of the city along the Grand Canal.
At the other end of the Rialto Bridge is a small square San Bartolomeo dominated by a Statue of Carlo Goldoni an Italian playwright born in Venice. The square is surrounded by several restaurants and pizzerias and has a notable Church of San Bartolomeo Di Rialto.
We walked past few more churches like the 11th century San Giovanni Crisostomo Church and Santa Maria Dei Miracoli which is also known as the ‘marble church’ for the colored marble ornamentation on the facade.
The vistas of the canal all along the way are breathtaking with gorgeous architecture of the buildings and the gondolas giving the tourists ride of their life.
We walked into a huge square of San Giovanni e Paolo home to one of the largest churches in Venice Basilica Dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo. The 15th-century church built in brick houses several funerary monuments and paintings. Next to the church is Scuola Grande di San Marco, a civil hospital. The grandeur facade of the building is embellished with arches, niches, and marble statues. At the center of the Square is an equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni a former Captain General of the Republic of Venice.
Bridge of Sigh
The Bridge of Sigh is an enclosed limestone arch bridge located behind the Doge Palace in St Marks Square and connects the interrogation rooms in the Palace with the new prison. The name of the baroque bridge comes from the thought that the prisoners would sigh at the view of Venice from the bridge windows for one last time before being taken into the dungeons.
Saint Mark Square or Piazza San Marco
The public square in Venice city center tops the Venice tourist attractions. The square is surrounded by arcades of public buildings, Palazzo Ducale or the Doge’s Palace, and Basilica di San Marco with the iconic St. Mark’s Campanile in the center. The Basilica di San Marco or the St Mark’s Basilica with its resplendent facade ornamentations consisting of niches, marble artwork, mosaics, domes, and statues are an Italo-Byzantine architectural masterpiece.
St Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica. The loggia at the top houses five bells. One can climb to the top of the tower for astounding aerial views over the city of Venice, Grand Canal and the surrounding islands. Check here for times and cost for the climb up the tower.
The Doge’s Palace built in Venetian Gothic style is one of the prominent Venice landmarks and has served as a residence of the Doge of Venice. The palace overlooking the lagoon houses one of the famous Venice Museums and holds some of the fine pieces of art and sculpture dating back to 14th and 15th centuries. Read More.
The best way to navigate through the maze of canals to the St. Mark’s Square without getting lost is to follow the sign ‘Per Rialto, Per SMarco’ painted in every alley.
A visit to Venice is incomplete without a gondola ride. Take a delightful ride through the picturesque canals lined with buildings emanating an old world charm accompanied by an enchanting folk song by the gondoliers.
Views captured along the gondola ride.
Gondolas lining the lagoon and the Doge Palace.
The remarkable Roman Catholic Church of Santa Maria Della Salute with a striking pair of domes and bell tower was built in the late 17th century. The church was built as a gratitude to Virgin Mary for protection against the plague that broke in Venice in 1630.
The 16th-century Benedictine church of San Giorgio Maggiore accompanied by neoclassic style campanile.
Venice offers its visitors with a great array of souvenirs from Murano glass, Burano lace work, several gift items like tiny replica of gondolas and the charismatic traditional Venetian mask which range from opulent to simple designs. The bright colored masks are decorated with elegant patterns in golden and silver colors.
Day 2 – Venetian Islands
We started from the Piazzale Roma bus station, at the corner of the promenade leading to the ferry point is a ticket counter where one can buy tickets to the Venetian islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. We boarded a ferry from Venice to Murano which takes less than 30 minutes.
After an amazing Murano tour, we boarded a ferry from Murano to Burano Island. The colorful town of Burano is close to the island of Torcello and all the ferries to Burano have a stop at Torcello. So make sure to make a stop at the island of Torcello too.
There are several Venice day tours to the Venetian islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. But we recommend you to visit the islands on your own for they are well connected by ferry and you would get enough time to explore on your own. One can also plan a half day trip to Lido Island popular for its less crowded beaches, the island is also home to some grand hotels and exceptional architectural buildings worth exploring.
Check out few more pictures of enchanting canals and buildings exuding antiquity which will make you fall in love with the enchanting Venice.
Plan your visit during the Venice Carnival held from January end to the first week of February and indulge in the fun activities. Check out tips for the best experience at Carnival in Venice. Venice has been a wonderful experience. We have visited Venice twice but we still feel like there is so much to explore in this glorious City of Canals or the City of Romance as the honeymooners call it.
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