We created an easy guide to Venice Italy for first time visitors so that you know the main highlights and attractions that you should not miss on your trip.
Venice is quaint, historic, and artistic with beautiful pre-Renaissance architecture.
No matter how many photographs, films, or paintings you see, Venice glistens like a rich gem and surprises you on every piazza.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to get to Venice, the best time to visit, the best attractions, where to stay, plus tips and things to know before you go.
Where is Venice
Venice is located in the northern part of Italy on the eastern coast. The city is an island and only accessible by boat or on foot.
What makes it most extraordinary is the web of streets, winding canals, historic architecture, and picture-worthy palaces and churches.
How to Get to Venice
The Marco Polo international airport (VCE) is less than a twenty-minute drive. If you fly into VCE airport there are three transportation options to the island:
- Taxi (or public car share)
- Water Taxi
If you are traveling into the city by train, you most likely will arrive at Santa Lucia train station. From the station, you’ll need to walk across the Ponte della Constituzione (an arched pedestrian bridge) or Ponte degli Scalzi (a stone bridge across the Grand Canal).
From the station, you can also take a water taxi to a stop that is closest to your hotel.
When is the Best Time to Visit Venice
The best months to visit are between April and early June.
If possible, try to visit Venice in spring. Summer is uncomfortably warm for comfort. You will have to get around on foot and walking in the heat, especially for families with little ones, will be unbearable.
If you enjoy much cooler weather, the best time to visit is between December and February. Celebrations at the end of the year for the holidays are magical and Carnevale is an annual tradition for locals in which tourists can participate.
Where to Stay in Venice
San Marco is the best play to stay in Venice because you are within walking distance of major attractions of the center such as Saint Marks Square, The Bridge of Sighs, the Doges Palace, and the St. Marks Basilica.
The neighborhoods of San Marco and San Polo are in the center. This is where most of the tourist attractions are located.
There are several neighborhoods. On the northern end is Cannaregio and to the south is Dorsoduro. Across the water (further south) are the Guidecca, Lido & southern islands.
To the west and spreading towards the center of the city lies Santa Croce, while Castello lies to the east.
Best Things to Do in Venice
The Cannaregio Neighborhood
In this peaceful area, you’ll find synagogues and what is known today as the Ghetto which was a designated Jewish quarter. It’s much less touristy than other neighborhoods.
- The Ghetto
- Church of Madonna dell’Orto
- Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli
The San Polo and Santa Croce Neighborhoods
The Rialto Bridge is perhaps the most photographed site, second only of course to St. Mark’s.
As the oldest bridge crossing the Grand Canal of Venice, the Rialto Bridge has become one of the main attractions that you must visit when walking through the city. The Rialto Bridge is located right next to major highlights, but across from the Grand Canal.
Strolling across the city’s first built bridge puts you right in the middle of the crowds — both tourist-friendly and of a local kind, but the bustling atmosphere at the famed Rialto Market is something you do not want to miss.
The city’s first-built bridge leads to the popular Rialto Market, where vendors sell fresh-picked vegetables, fresh-caught seafood, spices, and more.
- Scuola Grande di San Rocco
- Gondola on the Grand Canal
The San Marco and Dorsoduro Neighborhoods
St. Marks Place, called the Square of San Marco, is the primary public square in Venice and is the civic center of Venice. Located in the Grand Canal, across from the island of St. George, St. Mark’s Square is of immense importance to Venice and is truly an impressive site to see.
Take a step inside the Basilica to visit St. Mark’s Museum, a small museum that tells you all about the basilica and the history of Venice, as well as for the unparalleled views over St. Mark’s Square from a terrace overlooking the Horse statue.
- The Bridge of Sighs
- Museo Correr
- Palazzo Ducale
- Doges Palace
TIP: Hop on an elevator to the top of the Campanile (St. Mark’s Bell) to get views over Venice and the Venetian lagoon from a height of 324 feet (99 meters).
Many people stop for a photo at the tall bell tower, which stands majestically next to St. Mark’s Cathedral, a patriarchal basilica, and never bother taking the elevator up to the top to get unparalleled views of Venice from the air.
One of the most famous buildings in Venice, apart from the Campanile, is Doges Palace which is also located on St. Mark’s Square but looks down on the Grand Canal.
The Castello Neighborhood
This is the largest district in Venice and is historically known as the site of naval shipyards. Public access is now only available in major events, like Carnevale.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wear comfortable walking shoes.
- It will be helpful to use a GPS for walking, but it is not always reliable.
- Make sure you pack essentials for international travel.
- Read our tips to prepare for a long flight.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Venice Italy
Venice is so scenic, that one of the best things to do is just explore the center of the city by walking.
The tourism in Venice continues to thrive as more cruise ships enter the ports. Everyone is anxious to explore the canals, sit down and relax at one of the tiny plazas that pepper the city of Venice, enjoy coffee or wine-hop, and eat gelato.
When you travel to Venice, it’s easy to simply soak up this city on your first visit without feeling you need to tick off a ton of sites on your list.