5 Things to Do in Venice
Inspiration for Repeat Visitors to Venice
If you’re planning your first trip to Venice, head over to my post detailing itinerary inspiration for two days in Venice, highlighting some tips and insight on how to maximize a first visit to the Floating City. If however, you’re heading back to Venice for round two – or beyond – and looking for new experiences in this gorgeous Italian enclave, I’m sharing 5 things to do in Venice to capture some new experiences in a familiar place.
Have a Fabulous Lunch on the Colorful Island of Burano
If your first visit to Venice only offered you a limited time in the city, there’s a solid chance you stayed within Venice’s core areas to take in the key attractions like Piazza San Marco, Doge’s Palace, the Rialto Bridge, a classic gondola experience, and more. When you’re ready to venture a bit further afield, there are more islands to pique your interest. Set just under 10 kilometers from Venice sits the island of Burano, a colorful hamlet that weaves whimsy and tradition into its being. An island famous for its lace production, Burano’s most well-known attribute now is the candy-colored fishermen’s homes that hug the waterway. I’d heard of Burano and seen photos of it, but it still totally wowed me with its vividness and beauty. If you’re making the journey out, don’t miss the opportunity to have lunch at one of the region’s most beloved restaurants, Trattoria al Gatto Nero, a seafood place on the canal serving up freshly caught fare and local vino.
To get to Burano, you can zip over in a water taxi for a premium or jump on the Vaporetto, Venice’s water bus system, for €8 each way/€15 round trip (one day passes available for €20 per person).
Take in Venetian Art
If you’re like us, your first visit to Venice didn’t require a museum or an art gallery because the city itself is an art gallery. The architecture and design of Venice is enough to keep you enthralled for days on end but if you’re looking for a way to layer on to your Venetian knowledge, take in some art in a more structured way. I’ve never considered myself much of an art aficionado, but after repeat trips to Italy taking in different regions, it’s hard to not appreciate Italian art history. If you’re looking to scope out work by Venetian artists like Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese, your natural first stop is the Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia, which offers the largest collection of Venetian paintings in the world (purchase tickets at least a day before online). If you’re looking for something impactful but a bit lower key, head to the duo of Scuola Grande di San Rocco and The Basilica dei Frari. La Scuola Grande di San Rocco is stunningly grand and focuses on works by Tintoretto while the Basilica dei Frari (just around the corner from the Scuola Grande) houses an incredible collection of woodwork, paintings, and carvings from famous artists within Venice’s largest working church. Both are great to visit and provide a great option for an indoor activity if weather isn’t working in your favor.
Discover Venice’s Six Districts
Most visitors are familiar with San Marco and its range of luxury properties alongside must-see sights like Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. San Marco is just one of Venice’s districts (‘sestieri’) – and its most popular and crowded – which means there are still five others to uncover. A map helps in your endeavours when understanding how the six districts are laid out and how to reach each, but fortunately Venice is a gorgeous walking city and exploring the districts is a perfect way to burn off your afternoon Spritz and cicchetti.
From San Marco, head to Cannaregio, Venice’s largest district which is home to Ca d’Oro, a well-known palace on the Grand Canal with a Vaporetto stop of the same name. It’s also where you’ll find ‘the world’s most beautiful bookstore’, Libreria Acqua Alta. If you’re looking for a hotel in this area, you’ll find petite five-star boutique Ca’ Sagredo, a fan favorite. If you came in by train, you’ll recognize some landmarks as the station sits within the Cannaregio district. Continuing on, you’ll hit San Polo and Santa Croce. San Polo is home to the famous Rialto Market which is a great stop for fresh produce and for food-focused gifts, plus it’s where you’ll find the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and The Basilica dei Frari that I mentioned above.
Dorsoduro is an artsy and academic area, home to a university, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (good for modern art lovers), and dell’Academia for Venetian art. Dorsoduro brings a youthful vibe and is home to some good restaurants for long lunches, an afternoon aperitivo, or a more fine-dining evening affair. Lastly, Castello sits adjacent to San Marco and represents one of Venice’s quieter areas, an escape from the crowds of San Marco in the summertime. A few beloved restaurants sit in Castello (not far from San Marco) including Al Covo and Corte Sconta.
Enjoy an Authentic Gondola Ride
If you’ve visited Venice before, you’ve likely done the classic Grand Canal gondola ride, and that’s totally okay! For round two, the idea of forking over €80+ for the same touristed circuit may be hard to swallow but what about switching it up to enjoy a less-trafficked waterway? In San Polo, right in front of the Basica de Frari (mentioned above), you’ll find a gondolier stand where one of the more authentic routes can be enjoyed. Our concierge at the Gritti Palace recommended it to take in sights slightly less seen from the water.
If you re-read my post on two days in Venice, you’ll see that the Vaporetto can be a great way to get in some of Venice’s main sights in an extra affordable way (take Line 1 for Grand Canal tour).
Delve into Venice’s Food Scene
I talked a bit about the food scene in my post detailing two days in Venice, including our experience with EatWith in Venice, which was a super memorable experience. Venice’s food scene is something I find flies under the radar in a major way. When we think of Italy’s great food cities and regions, Venice generally fails to be a talking point. We know it for its fabulous architecture, incredible history, beautiful art, and overall unique landscape, but if you were prompted to discuss Venetian food… well, what exactly is it? Venice is a city on the water, so it should come as no surprise that the food here is sea-centered, which means you’ll find lots of octopus, fresh fish, and the ever-present baccalà (baccalà mantecato, creamed cod, is a staple on local menus). You can sit down for a traditional multi-course meal or if you’re more of a grazer, you can opt for Venetian cicchetti, which is Venice’s answer to San Sebastian’s pintxos. Grab a bite or two paired with a drink and continue onward; the perfect dining method for a city food crawl (I have yet to do this but it’s in my future).
As far as beverages go, you’ll find wines from the Veneto region which are often prominently featured but you’ll also see people walking the streets with Spritzes in hand as the de facto drink of the city (these will typically range from €3 to €6 at a casual streetside spot). Aperol and Campari are classic Spritz options but if you want to go local, try the Select Spritz, which celebrates their local aperitivo, Select, which was born in the Castello district of Venice.
For a proper sitdown meal (not cicchetti), two of my favorite meals from this trip were at Osteria Bancogiro near the Rialto Bridge, and at Lineadombra in Dorsoduro, though we were spoiled with food from start to finish.
For my Venice lovers, any recommendations for off-the-beaten-path experiences for repeat visitors to the city?