This iconic floating city is exceptionally beautiful and not like any other place on this side of the globe. Venice is truly a must-visit destination in Italy.

We were very happy that we squeezed in Venice on our first trip to Italy. Thankfully, the historical core was small and compact.

It’s possible to have a quick tour of the major attractions below in as little as one day or explore the nearby islands if you have more time.

Here’s a list of the best spots to go for first-timers in Venice.

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1. Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)

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Located in the heart of Venice, Piazza San Marco is the perfect place to start your tour of the city. Also known as St. Mark’s Square, it is surrounded my many of the city’s most famous buildings including St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile (bell tower), Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr and the Torre dell’ Orologio. Piazza San Marco can be crowded, so the best time to go here is very early in the morning.

Saint Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace guided tour package + skip-the-line entry ticket

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2. Saint Mark’s Basilica

Location: Piazza San Marco, 328

Saint Mark’s Basilica is the most visited tourist spot in Venice. This famous architectural wonder is a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, renowned for its opulent design and gold ground mosaics. Saint Mark’s Basilica is one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture, achieving an Oriental feeling of exoticism mixed with the Venetian style of the Renaissance Art. There’s no admission fee to get inside the Basilica, but expect to pay entrance fees to special parts of the complex including the aint Mark’s museum, Pala d’Oro, the Bell Tower, and the Treasury.

Saint Mark’s Basilica guided tour package + skip-the-line entry ticket

Book discount here

3. St Mark’s Campanile (Basilica Bell Tower)

Location: Piazza San Marco

Standing near the front of St. Mark’s Basilica is its campanille or bell tower. With a height of 98 meters, this easily recognizable landmark is the highest in Venice. For a fee, you can go up the tower and see the best panoramic views overlooking the floating city.

4. Doge’s Palace

Location: Piazza San Marco, 1

Beside the Saint Mark’s Basilica, you can find the Doge’s Palace. This awe-inspiring landmark, built in Venetian Gothic style, is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The palace served as the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Venetian Republic. Inside, you can find the golden staircase and hundreds of paintings made by world-renowned artists, including the world’s largest canvas painting: “Paradise” by Tintoretto.

Doge’s Palace guided tour package + skip-the-line entry ticket

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5. Bridge of Sighs

Location: Piazza San Marco, 1. Save on Google Maps.

This famous bridge passes over the Rio di Palazzo, and connects the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace to the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove). They say prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells. Thus, the origin of the bridge’s name, Bridge of Sighs.

6. Venice Gondola Ride

It’s an experience like no other. The 30-minute gondola ride takes you through the Grand Canal and other minor canals in the city. When in Venice, taking a gondola ride is a must! It’s the best way to explore the Venetian canals as you get to see a fascinating view of the floating city.

Venice gondola ride package

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7. Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo

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The Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo is one of the largest churches in the city. Designed in Italian Gothic style, this 15th-century minor basilico it is the site of the funeral services of all of Venice’s doges. All 25 doges are buried in the church.

8. Casa di Marco Polo and Casanova House’s in Venice

Location: 30121, Calle Scaleta

Hidden in a small alley is the site where Marco Polo once lived. Although the structure is quite unassuming, it’s a great spot to appreciate the life of Marco Polo, often named as the greatest explorer of all time. In Venice’s backstreets, stands the family house of the infamous Italian adventurer, Giacomo Casanova. It’s a good thing that we booked a guided tour because the two spots are easy to miss.

9. Parish of Santa Maria Formosa

Location: Calle Seconda de la Fava, 5263. Save on Google Maps.

The church of Santa Maria Formosa is an architectural masterpiece designed in Renaissance-style by Mauro Coducci. This attraction is also one of the interesting to visit on a walking tour of Venice.

10. Rialto Bridge

Location: Sestiere San Polo. Save on Google Maps.

A must-visit in Venice! The Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal is the oldest in the city and one of the most famous icons of the city. The area is usually crowded, so go early in the morning if you want to soak up the peaceful ambiance with a view of the Grand Canal glowing under the golden sunrise light.

11. Grand Canal

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The Grand Canal is one of Venice’s the most important canals and the central artery of Venetian life. It is lined with palaces, churches and other remarkable buildings all in Romanesque, Gothic or Renaissance styles. Here you can appreciate the impressive way this floating city was built. Eat at a restaurant along the canal and enjoy delicious Italian dishes while taking in the view.

12. T Fondaco dei Tedeschi

Location: Rialto Bridge, Ramo del Fontego dei Tedeschi. Save on Google Maps.

A historic building now transformed into a luxury department store, the T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi By DFS stands beside the Rialto Bridge. A terrace on the rooftop offers beautiful views overlooking the Grand Canal.

To access the rooftop terrance, you need to book your 15-minute timeslot in advance here.

13. Church of San Giorgio Maggiore

Location: Isola di S.Giorgio Maggiore. Save on Google Maps.

This massive Church of San Giorgio Maggiore can be seen from the waterfront at Piazza San Marco. The church stands on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. We didn’t have enough time to visit but if you do, you can cross to the island by ferry and see a spectacular view from the tower.

14. Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

Location: Dorsoduro, 1. Save on Google Maps.

Another church that can be seen from the waterfront at Piazza San Marco, is the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, also known simply as the Salute. It is one of the largest and most recognizable buildings in Venice, famed for its inspiring dome.

15. Santuario di Lucia (ex chiesa dei Santi Geremia e Lucia)

Location: Campo San Geremia, 334. Save on Google Maps.

The Santuario di Lucia (ex chiesa dei Santi Geremia e Lucia) can be seen on the ferry ride to/from Venecia Santa Lucia Station, the main train station in Venice.

What places have you added to your bucketlist? Have you been to beautiful places in Venice that should be on this list? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Places to visit in Venice

Venice tourist spots, things to do in Venice, where to go in Venice & more.

Note: Destinations featured above are not listed by rank.

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