Bucketlist Travels logo

Bucket list ideas:

33 Best things to see & do in Venice

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Nicky Swallow
  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

St Mark’s Basilica

Bucket List Experience

St Mark’s Basilica

Surely the most exquisite place of worship in Italy, St Mark’s is a cathedral built to satisfy the wildest dreams of the Doges.

Built in the 11th century to house the alleged remains of St Mark, its Byzantine mosaics, Gothic carvings and sumptuous treasures were accumulated during many centuries of Venetian trading and looting.

From the Pala d’Oro (jewel-encrusted altarpiece, made in Costantinopoli in 976) to its wealth of sculptures and magnificent bronze horses rearing over the piazza, its OTT opulence, both inside and out, it is a testament to La Serenissima’s power and might.

Good for age: 18+

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Renaissance paintings on the walls in exhibition rooms of the Galleria Accademia in Venice

Bucket List Experience

Accademia Gallery (Venice)

A one-stop-shop of Venetian painting, the Accademia Gallery is to Venice what the Uffizi is to Florence and one of Italy’s foremost repositories of art.

From the glittering Byzantine-style devotional works to Carpaccio’s scenes of Venetian life, complete with lissom gondoliers and little white dogs and Tintoretto’s magnificent portrayal of the Transport of the Body of Saint Mark, it is not only a dazzling collection of masterpieces but also a voyage through the history of Venice itself.

The collection was made possible by Napoleon, who closed many Venetian churches and convents, moving their artworks here not only for storage but also to be used by students for study.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 18+

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Doge’s Palace

Bucket List Experience

Doge’s Palace

With its rose pink-and-white brickwork shimmering on the edge of the lagoon, the Doge’s Palace seems more mirage than monument. While other states fortified their power with forbidding castles, the Venetians showed off their security with this airy, ethereal palace.

The hub of the far-reaching political power of La Serenissima since the 9th century, today it is a testament to the best of Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance architecture and painting.

Highlights include the arcaded courtyard, the frescoes by Veronese, Tiepolo and Tintoretto in the grand chambers and the collection of armour and weapons in the old Armoury. Tintoretto’s Paradiso is the largest oil painting in the world.

Adult price: £25

Good for age: 18+

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Carnevale (Venice Carnival)

Bucket List Experience

Carnevale (Venice Carnival)

Dating back almost a thousand years, the Venetian Carnival (or Carnevale) is a two-week estravanganza of dressing up, partying and posing enjoyed by  Venetians and tourists alike.

Carnevale enjoyed its heyday in the 18th century when it became popular as a pagan festival. It was revived in the 1970s when the city administrators realised it could still draw the crowds (and bring in the cash), and it worked; today tens of thousands flock to the city each year from round the world for the spectacle.

For two weeks in February each year, the streets of Venice fill with people wearing masks and elaborate masquerade costumes. The original purpose of the costumes and masks is thought to have originally been to hide the wearer’s identity, removing social differences and allowing them to engage is less reputable practices.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 2 weeks

When: February

Freq: annually

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

World-class art in Venice

Bucket List Experience

World-class art in Venice

Venice is best known as a centre of religious art, daubed across small yet stunning Catholic churches and scuole. But there’s also a vibrant contemporary art scene: a slew of good commercial art galleries, the palatial collections of world-class patrons such as Peggy Guggenheim, and the world-famous Venice Biennale.

Good for age: 18+

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Art in Venice’s Scuole

Bucket List Experience

Art in Venice’s Scuole

Venice’s scuole (schools) were established from the 13th century by the patrician class, partly as religious and charitable institutions, partly as guilds and confraternities, that had members from all walks of society.

By the 15th century, there were some 400 minor scuole and six more important, powerful ‘Scuole Grandi’ which commissioned the great artists of the day to beautify their headquarters. Carpaccio, for example, decorated San Giorgio agli Schiavoni and Tintoretto San Rocco.

Adult price: £-

Good for age: 18+

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Boat trip down the Grand Canal

Bucket List Experience

Boat trip down the Grand Canal

To all intents and purposes, the Grand Canal (or Canal Grande) is Venice’s high street, a wide thoroughfare lined with elegant palazzi that winds through the city. Like any high street, it is full of traffic (water buses, ambulances, builder’s barges, gondolas and private boats) and is essential to Venetian life.

Two miles long, and traversed by four bridges, the Canal flows between the train station and St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco). Between the 12th and 18th centuries, every important Venetian family built a palazzo (often called a Ca’) on its banks, each with a water entrance. The most notable palazzi include; Ca’ d’Oro, Ca’ Pesaro, Ca’ Foscari, Ca’ Rezzonico and Palazzo Grimani.

The cheapest boat ride is to hop on one of the regular water buses (vaporetto) that ply the Canal from one end to the other. Progress is slow, and they are often crowded, but a sought-after open-air seat at either the front or the back allows you to see everything. For a more exclusive experience, and to up the glamour stakes, take a water taxi or a gondola.

Adult price: £5

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 45 minutes

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Spritz Aperol drink with venetian traditional snacks cicchetti on the water chanal background in Venice. Traditioanal italian aperitif. Image with small depth of field

Bucket List Experience

Venice’s best food & drink

Dishes, both fish and meat-based, are seasonal, prepared with the minimum of fuss and often dressed with just olive oil, a little lemon and seasoning. In spring and summer, menus feature abundant fresh vegetables, many sourced from the  island of Sant’Erasmo.

You’ll find unique ingredients in Venetian restaurants such as moeche (soft-shelled crabs), and schie (tiny grey prawns).

Meals are traditionally divided into antipasti (starters), primi (soup, pasta), secondi (meat, fish) and dolce (dessert).

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Cicchetti Crawl

Bucket List Experience

Cicchetti Crawl

Cicchetti are Venetian tapas, tasty morsels to whet the appetite and soak up a glass of wine or two. They are traditionally served in a bacaro (wine bar), which also offers wines by the glass; Venetians eat cichetti before lunch or dinner, usually standing at the bar. A plate of cicchetti is one of the cheapest ways to fill up in this expensive city; 6 or 7 make a light meal, and at an average price of €2, along with a glass of inexpensive local wine, that’s a bargain.

A fun way to enjoy this tradition is to plan a tour of different bacari, tasting a couple of cicchetti in each. Expect polpette (fried meat balls), baccalà mantecato (creamed salt cod), a whole variety of weird and wonderful seafood, and lots more.

Adult price: £-

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Bucket List Experience

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

The unfinished, one-storey Palazzo Venier dei Leoni was the home of eccentric American millionairess Peggy Guggenheim and today still houses her extraordinary collection of modern art.

Guggenheim brought her collection of mainly surrealist and modernist works to Venice in 1949 purchasing the charming Grand Canal-side palazzo to house it and herself. She died here in 1979 aged 81.

From Picasso to Pollock, Brancusi to Max Ernst, Guggenheim’s brilliantly unfailing eye picked out the best of the 20th-century avant garde; this collection gives the city a modernist stamp it would otherwise have lacked.

Gazing across the Grand Canal, with the rambling sculpture garden overlooked by the café, there are few more alluring spots in Venice.

Adult price: £12

Good for age: 18+