St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco)

Price guide: Free

Piazza San Marco, Venice

Price guide: Free

St Mark's Square with acqua alta (high water)
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By Anne Hanley, your Venice expert

I write for CSMA Magazine, Departures, .... Read more
#7 of 22
expert-rated things to do in Venice
Expert overall rating:4.8 out of 5
Value for money:
Recommended for:
Culture vultures, Families with teenagers, Families with younger children, First-time travellers, Seasoned travellers, Art, Design and architecture, History, People watching, Romance

Expert review of St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco)

This magnificent square is the throbbing heart of Venice.

Napoleon called it "the drawing room of Europe" – which perhaps says more about the emperor's lodgings than about this magnificent square surrounded by museums and galleries ( all of which are visitable on a cumulative ticket, and by charming but rather over-priced cafés. Think twice before occupying a table on the square.

The view across the square from its western edge, the basilica glittering at the far end, never fails to take my breath away... even when the view is obstructed by hordes of visitors. On the northern side, the long long Procuratie Vecchie building dates from the early 16th century; on the south, the Procuratie Nuove was built in the 17th. During his short reign, Napoleon joined them on the west with what is still known as the Ala napoleonica – the Napoleonic wing. 

To the left of the basilica as you look at the facade stands the 15th-century Torre dell'Orologio (clock tower): the tour (pre-booking obligatory through is marvellous. To the right stands the campanile (bell tower) which can be climbed.

The Museums of St Mark’s Square pass gives access to the Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale), the Museo Correr (history and art), the National Archeological Museum and the city’s historic Marciana library. 

Price advice: 

The Museums of St Mark's Square pass costs €12 (€6.50 reductions) in Nov-Mar and €13 (€.50 reductions) for the rest of the year. Through Venice Connected ( you can get the same pass for use between 3pm and 6pm for €10 (€4.50 concessions). Passes are valid for six months, but allow only one admission to each site.

The campanile costs €8, €4 reductions.

Expert tips: 
A few drops of rain tends to clear the piazza fast: it's a great time to have it to yourself.
If you're travelling on a budget, bear in mind that the caf├ęs in the square are horribly expensive.

More information on St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco):

Price guide:
Landmark / monument, Museum, Square
Piazza San Marco, Venice
Months open:
All year round
Opening times:
Museums (Musei Civici): Nov-Mar 9am-5pm daily. April-Oct 9am-7pm daily. Campanile: Nov-Easter 9.30am-3.45pm daily. Easter-June, Oct 9am-7pm daily. Jul-Sep 9am-9pm daily.

Have you been to St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco)? Would you recommended it?