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My Escapes Italy Venice Floating Worlds - Venice, Murano, Burano, Torcello Finding the Main Attractions of Venice

Finding the Main Attractions of Venice

December 6, 2013
April 29, 2015

I was able to visit most of Venice's top attractions within a rather short, almost 3 day-long time frame.
Use this article as your travel guide if you're wondering what to see and visit when in Venice. It points out to the "must see" points of interest.

If you choose to walk on foot, expect walking for long hours. Two full days weren't enough for me to see all major attractions. But for most of them, yes.

To get a good taste of Venice, I think a minimum stay of 2 full days is an absolute must. 3 days were not enough for me, but I reckon that 5 days would suffice if you'd like to visit all main attractions both in and around and, still have time to sit down and contemplate in the romantic atmosphere.

Gondolas in Venice

Two lonely gondolas

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Venice comprises of 118 islands and has 8 districts: Santa Elena, Castello, San Marco, San Polo, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, Cannaregio, Giudecca.

It's huge!

Although priorities and tastes vary from traveler to traveler, these 15 top places to see list includes all main attractions of "floating Venice".

#1 The Canal Grande (The Grand Canal)

It's the main waterway crossing Venice - it's like the "main road of Venice", only that it's made of water; check out the map and the snake-like main water canal is easily noticeable.

You can't miss it. It's the main artery of the city.

It's an attraction by itself, in my opinion.

Some tourists call it "the river", but hey, there ain't no rivers in Venice! This is part of the sea... if you start to think about it, that's quite weird.

Of course, I took several walks along (wherever it was technically possible to walk along) and around the Canal Grande.

Canal Grande, Venice

Late afternoon view of the Canal Grande

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#2 Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark's Square)

This is where the basilica with the same name and other attractions are found..

Great place for walking and wandering around. I even fed the pigeons. And only found out later that it's not allowed.

To me, the friendly calm pigeons were the special attraction of the place.
These birds will even sit on top of your head. One landed directly on the palm of my hand.
These fellows are quite heavy! I felt a similar weight as my DSLR camera had.

The architecture around is splendid and there are countless restaurants and huge thick crowds gather during the day. So, the best time to visit is in the early morning.

Piazza San Marco

The Saint Mark's Square viewed from the Sain Mark's Basilica

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#3 Saint Mark's Basilica

In Italian: "Basilica di San Marco". Fantastic huge church (interesting both inside and outside), completed in 1617. Although, most of the construction had been mostly completed by 1093.

Waited an extra long line for 2 hours starting from the Doge's Palace (for which I waited another hour and a half!), but it was worth visiting.

The interiors are astounding. I paid 2 EUR extra to view Saint Mark's tomb.

Expect big crowds, long waiting lines... Give at least 2 hours for your visit to Saint Mark's Basilica (also considering the crowds).

I had to leave my luggage at a luggage storage facility, which was about 2 streets away, behind the building (as you see it, to the left).

Saint Mark's Basilica

Saint Mark's Basilica

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#4 The Doge's Palace

Beautiful iconic building of Venice and a rich museum - you mustn't miss this one either!

It's a fine representative of the Venetian Gothic architectural style.

The Doge's Palace is one of Venice's iconic landmarks and dates back to 1340!

The building used to be the residence of Venice's Doge (or Duke) - the leader of the Venetian Republic.

There's a lot more to see than in the Saint Mark's Basilica, lines might be equally long. I'd say - give at least 3 hours to your visit. Might complete in 1.5-2, but give it 3 (considering the lines).

The interiors are astonishingly beautiful. The chambers, the rooms, the decorated ceilings and famous paintings, but also the courtyard.

This is where I saw the famous painting by Giovanni Bellini, entitled "Portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan".

The Doge's Palace

The Doge's Palace from the water

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#5 Saint Mark's Campanile

Saint Mark's Campanile

The Campanile di San Marco was standing almost 100 m tall in 1514 already!

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Ancient bell tower, another iconic building - which has been rebuilt after it had collapsed entirely in 1902, so what you can see today is a reconstruction from 1912.
The tower today vividly reflects its looks from 1514.

It has a height of 98.6 m (323 ft) and its sides have a width of 12 m (38 ft).

Of course, I waited a long long line here as well! It took about 1 hour to get to get into the elevator. Which they closed almost immediately after me. 5-6 persons still made it through.

The old lift got jam-packed with visitors and at the roof, I encountered dozens more people. Of course, everyone tends to stay there, so getting down there might be slow as well.

The views from up there were astonishing, too bad the protective web hinders you from taking good photos.
I tried putting my camera through a hole for taking pictures, but just then - my DSLR's battery died.

I was stunned by the sight of massive cruise ships edging along the shoreline of Venice, passing between the water channel separating mainland Venice from the Lido island...

#6 Rialto Bridge

The oldest bridge across the Canal Grande, dating back to 1588-1591. 22.90 m (75.1 ft) of it is above the water.

It's another daring construction, considering its old age.

At the time of its inauguration, many believed it wouldn't stand for long. But behold: it still stands more than 400 years later!

The area near Rialto Bridge gets very crowded during mid-day until the evening. It's a good place for trying out restaurants.
Perhaps even for buying souvenirs. There are lots of shops around. Yet, prices are high!

Find more details about Rialto Bridge here.

Rialto Bridge

The famous Rialto Bridge

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#7 Rialto Market

The Rialto Market is in the proximity of the bridge with the same name. Some might refer to this as "The Fish Market".

Fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh fish can be bought here... no stalls or shops were open during my visit, thought.

Oddly, you can find fish shapes and heads as motifs in the architecture here.

"Where there are fish, there are cats". I wonder if there are any felines here?

The Rialto Market

Clocktower at the Rialto Market

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#8 Ca' d'Oro (Palazzo Santa Sofia)

Couldn't find it, no matter how long I wandered around in the area... I eventually managed to immortalize it with my camera from the other side of the Canal Grande!

Finalized in 1430, it's another fine representative of Venetian Gothic architecture.

It was owned by the Contarini family, who've provided 8 Doges for Venice between 1043 and 1676.

Ca' d'Oro, Venice

The beautiful Ca' d'Oro from the other side of the Canal

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#9 Santa Maria della Salute

70 meters high, consecrated in 1681, it's a Baroque church found on the eastern tip of the Dorsoduro district - so often shown in movies and posters of Venice.

You can get there either by water bus or by walking through Dorsoduro. Or, you can cross the wooden Accademia Bridge from the San Marco district.

The huge cupola of the church dominates the views in the area. It's a beautiful sight.
Boat trips will give you the opportunity to see it from different angles - it dominates the tip of the island it's on.

My time didn't allow to see its interior, but I'll update you as soon as I'll visit it in the future!

Santa Maria della Salute

The immense cupola of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute dominated the view

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#10 San Giorgio Maggiore Basilica

It's the least accessible Venetian church. The San Giorgio Maggiore is found on the San Giorgio Maggiore Island. Quite close to the Saint Mark's Square (just across the water), it's only reachable by boat.

The church whose construction work lasted for roughly 35 years, was completed in 1610.

San Giorgio Maggiore

San Giorgio Maggiore Island and the church with the same name

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#11 The Casino (Casino di Venezia)

Don't confuse it with the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas!

The official name of this building is Casino di Venezia. Literally: The Casino of Venice.

This building is found on the Canal Grande's left bank (northern Venice). Some confuse it with the Ca d'Oro. But the latter is far more ornamented.

You have to be at least 18 and pay a fee of 5 EUR in order to visit the Casino.

Casino of Venice

The Casino of Venice

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#12 Campo Sant' Angelo

Beautiful old square, a bit off the main stream of tourists. Quite large, with lots of ancient buildings all around. And, there's a tilted tower there as well, the Campanile di Santo Stefano.

You can find the Campo Sant' Angelo in the San Marco district, quite deep inland.

This was one of my favorite places in Venice, so I subsequently returned to it.
Not many crowds were here, thankfully...

Campo Sant' Angelo

Campo Sant' Angelo and the leaning tower

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#13 Campo Santo Stefano

It's just south of the Campo Sant' Angelo and quite similar to it. I personally think it's like an extension of the previous square.

The Chiesa di Santo Stefano is the most prominent building in the area. It was finalized in the 13th century, but rebuilt in the 14th.

It's tower is leaning (as mentioned above). Yet, I think this leaning church tower is best viewed from the Campo Sant' Angelo.

#14 Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo

Impressive huge church built in 1430.

What's special about it (besides the architecture) is that 12 Doges are buried there.

It was impossible to take a full photo of it, because it's so huge and the space around so narrow.

Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo

Just a small portion of the beautiful Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo

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#15 Ponte degli Scalzi

Rather new bridge from the 1930's, but for the views over the Grand Canal it's good to checking out.

You'll find it close to the train station. More info about this bridge you can find here.

I went out and crossed the Ponte degli Scalzi several times every day and I've found it one of the best places for watching the boat traffic on the main canal.

Ponte degli Scalzi

The Ponte degli Scalzi

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Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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