If there’s one problem you won’t have in La Serenissima, it’s finding something to keep you busy.
There are almost 100 churches in Venice proper, plus more on the outlying islands, many of them containing spectacular artworks; and there are world-class galleries displaying anything from home-grown geniuses Bellini, Titian and Tintoretto to the very latest in contemporary art.
But most of all, there’s Venice itself: its jumble of splendid palazzi reflected in quiet canals, its tortuous dark alleyways and sudden, surprising squares. As you rush from one surfeit of artistic riches to another, take time out to absorb the city around you: watch passing boats from a little-used bridge or observe everyday neighbourhood life from a café table in some far-flung corner far from the tourist hordes.
My Venice insider tips page contains a host of suggestions for enjoying Venice more cheaply and/or with minimum hassle; my How to get around Venice advice will help you manoeuvre your way around town by foot or on the water. Top tips include:
- consult www.veniceconnected.com well before you arrive and book transport and museum tickets – often at reduced prices – online.
- pay just €10 for a Chorus Pass which gives access to 16 churches which otherwise charge €3 each.
- many museums and galleries are closed on Tuesday; some, on the other hand, close on Monday. Most churches, however, are open daily.
- queues for major sites can be daunting in high season; if you haven't pre-booked tickets, try going at lunch time. Don't however, presume you can slip in at the last minute – most ticket offices shut an hour or more before the official closing time.
- if the crowds are getting too much for you, take an abrupt turn down any side alley: you'll be amazed how very quiet most of Venice is.
How I’ve picked my things to do:
The majority of the sights I've chosen fall under the heading 'culture': this is, after all, what you come to Venice for. Of these, a large proportion are household names: again, it makes little sense to come to Venice for the first time (any many times more...) and miss out on the wonder of St Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco), or the splendour of the Venetian masterpieces in the Accademia Gallery.
But I've also included some lesser-known artistic glories, and some suggestions which are not strictly sights at all: atmospheric areas of town, panoramic viewpoints etc.