Traveling is fun, but sometimes it will get pricey if you start going to a lot of museums, exhibitions, or pay-to-enter locations. We had quite the long vacation planned with lots of traveling, so looking for free things to do while still enjoying and absorbing the history and culture of Venice was necessary.
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Here are 11 things we had a look at and visited during our trip to Venice, Italy.
1. Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco is no surprise. It is a central place for tourists to gather and enjoy many other surrounding landmarks like St Marks Basilica and Doge’s Palace. It also leads to the Grand Canal harbour front where many can walk along the water while shopping at the many souvenir stalls. If you’re planning to visit Venice, I’d recommend going here first, really early in the morning because it is bound to get packed, and will eventually be hard to walk through.
2. St Marks Basilica
Pictures don’t do this place justice. This cathedral, located at the east end of Piazza San Marco is the most famous church in Venice. The Italo-Byzantine architecture features many small painting, details, and elegant colours. You’ll find yourself standing in front of the building for quite a while, trailings your eyes around every nook.
3. Doge’s Palace
Beside St Marks Basilica is Doge’s Palace. It was once home to the Duke between 726 and 1797. It has now been open as a Museum. You can enter and explore for 20,00 euro, or just walk around and admire the outside for free. The building has many intricate details and colours, and faces the waterfront.
4. Rialto Bridge
Venice is the home to many bridges and streams, but one of the oldest is Rialto bridge. It has been rebuilt many times over the years and is still actively being used today. If you visit at peak hours, you’ll find it congested with people looking out across the water. We found that one side was more congested than the other because it had more of a view featuring buildings, the hustle and bustle, and boats riding down and under the bridge.
5. Bridge of Sighs
This is a beautiful bridge made of limestone and stone bars. It connects Prigioni Nuove, or the New Prison to the interrogation room in Doge’s Palace. The sad story is, it’s called the Bridge of Sighs because Venice convicts or criminals would take one final sigh as they see their final view of the city before entering their cells.
6. Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
If you’re just wandering around Venice, this Roman catholic church is something you won’t miss. In fact, it’s something that will probably catch your attention. This basilica was built in honour of their Lady of Health when the plague broke out in 1630. Much of the art inside references the Black Deaths that occurred during the time.
7. Chiesa San Giorgio dei Greci
From many places around venice, you’ll find this Byzantine church towering from above if you take a look up. You can even use this as a reference point to meet up with friends or family after a long day. For a fee, you can get a tour of the inside, but otherwise, it’s still a nice view just admiring it from the outside for free.
8. Grand Canal
One does not simply go to Venice without thinking or hearing about the Grand Canal. Venice doesn’t have typical streets. Much of the traveling around the city is done either by foot or water-travel. They even have a thing called water-taxis. It is one of the largest water-channels in the city and you’ll find many canoes and boats floating around.
9. Scoula Grande di San Marco
If you find yourself in San Giovanni e Paolo, you’ll also find this magnificent building with many architectural details. It was once destroyed by a fire in 1485, but was rebuilt approximately 20 years later. It now currently acts as a civil hospital and landmark for tourists to appreciate. Even in the photo, you can see that it’s a popular place for tour groups.
10. The Many Squares around Venice, Italy
Venice is full of narrow alleyways and a variety of plazas or squares, home to great foods and boutiques. There are many popular ones like the previously mentioned places, but there are also small, less known areas that are worth a visit. You’ll be able to find them just by walking around. They are a nice break from all the hustle and bustle that happens in populated areas. You can find it a great place to have a break and enjoy the serenity.
Exploring the alleys in Venice is probably one of my favourite things to do while I was there. If you stay away from the touristy areas, it’s very empty, relaxing, and aesthetically pleasing. No 2 alleyways are the same in either design, length, or width. You may even find yourself stumbling upon small boutiques with unique items or museums you wouldn’t think to visit. It’s always worthwhile to wander around and explore freely (assuming you have a GPS of some sort to get back to your hotel, motel, or hostel).
Looking to visit Venice, Italy soon? These might help with planning your trip:
Have you visited Venice before? What’s your favourite place or memory?