Top 7 Things to do in Venice · Complete Guide for First-Timers

October 11, 2023

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This photo shows our Top Things to do in Venice and a Complete Guide for First-Timers

Venice, Italy, is a dreamy destination like no other, and it is one of our favorite Italian cities. With its enchanting canals, timeless architecture, and rich history, it beckons travelers from around the globe. If you’re planning a visit to this remarkable city, you’re in for a treat. In this comprehensive Venice travel guide, we’ll unveil the top 7 activities to make your trip truly unforgettable. So, grab your gondola and let’s embark on a journey through the wonders of Venice!

1. Take a Romantic Gondola Ride on the Venetian Canals

The most iconic and romantic activity to do in Venice is to take a gondola ride! It was one of our bucket-list experiences to sail through these canals on a gondola ride. Venice is made up of approximately 118 islands that are connected through picturesque canals, and you will see gondola stands all over the place. It’s a unique experience where a local gondolier (wearing striped shirts with a hat) will row the gondola standing up through the narrow canals of Venice.

We opted for a private gondola for a romantic private gondola ride, and it was absolutely worth all the hype! We recommend booking your gondola ride in advance, as you don’t want to get stuck waiting in line or risk getting a bad gondolier. You can book a shared gondola ride here, or a private gondola ride here. The great thing about booking with these partners is that the gondoliers have been tested and reviewed. We always recommend booking a private gondola ride instead of a shared ride so you can feel the romantic energy of the city in peace and take the best photos.

Pro tip: The best place to book your private gondola ride is here. You can cancel 24 hours before the ride if your plans end up changing. If you do end up waiting for the last moment, you can still book one on the cancels. The city of Venice sets a standard hourly rate across all gondola rides. As of September 2023, it is 85 euros per 30 minute ride. This helps both tourists not get scammed, and local Gondoliers to make a standard wage. This is relief so you don’t have to bargain!
How to book a gondola ride in Venice - everything you need to know about how to book a gondola ride

2. Eat Gelato, Gelato, and more Gelato!

If you are in Venice, you cannot skip eating gelato! We ended up discovering from a local one of the best Gelato ice-cream spots (a hole-in-the-wall local’s favorite), called Gelateria Gallonetto. We typically avoid eating sweets due to our healthy lifestyle; however, we make exceptions for trying authentic and local sweets. The gelato here was the BEST we had in Italy. When we ate the first bite of gelato, we were just blown away by its richness, smoothness, and how it melted away so fast in our mouths. They offer a variety of flavors to choose from! We ended up loving the pistachio-flavored gelato the most. And last but not least, ALWAYS say YES to adding the waffle cone. >:]

Pro tip: This little gelato shop is loved by locals and tourists alike; it’s easy to miss it so here’s the exact Google Maps location. We’ll also compile Google Maps with all the locations we share at the end of this blog post.
best gelato in italy
best gelato in venice

3. Explore Venice in the Morning to get Venice to Yourself

Venice is a super touristy city where it gets super crowded during most of the day and evenings—think a sea of humans. However, you can still enjoy the stillness and magic of this beautiful city if you commit to traveling early in the morning. We decided to start our day early in the morning at 6 a.m., and guess what? We had the entire city to ourselves—no tourist traps, no hoards of tourists, no other people in our photos. Just us, the birds, and Venice. It was pure magic to experience the city, where we got to see the streets light up in the morning glow, birds soaring blissfully, and a gorgeous sunrise falling on the gorgeous Venetian architecture and canals.

Save the following Venice top attractions for where you must visit to make your trip memorable. Remember to make a ton of memories and take photos!

  1. Rialto Bridge
  2. Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square)
  3. Saint Mark’s Basilica (Museum)
  4. St Mark’s Bell Tower
  5. Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs)

Pro tip: Save this Venice travel guide map with all the location spots to easily plan your Venice trip!

best views in venice
colorful Venice canals
the best photo spots in Venice Italy

4. Book a Insta-Venice Photoshoot

Booking a romantic photoshoot in Venice was one of the best decisions we made for our Italy trip. If you want an ICONIC photo album and Instagram-worthy shots of your vacation, this is the photoshoot to book! Our local photographer, Devin, was absolutely incredible and showed us romantic, magical spots in Venice while avoiding tourists. Not a single person appeared in the background of our photos. Here’s the exact photo package we booked: Insta-Venice, Iconic photoshoot while exploring the city. We can’t wait to go back to Venice, and this will definitely be our go-to photographer when we do go back.

best photoshoot locations in Venice Italy, Venice canals
romantic couple photoshoot spots in Venice Italy
romantic couple photoshoot spots in Venice Italy
best couple photoshoot locations in Venice Italy

To Start Planning Your Perfect Italian Vacation, Also Read…

20 Best Travel Apps for Your Italy Trip
Complete Done-for-You Venice Itinerary
Ultimate Venice Itinerary Guide
How to get to Venice
Best hotels to stay in Venice
All of Our Best Italy Guides
Top 10 Cinque Terre Instagrammable Photo Spots
The Only Itinerary You’ll Need to Visit Cinque Terre
A Day in Florence: Ultimate Itinerary to Explore the Renaissance City in 24 hours
The Only Itinerary You’ll Need to Visit Cinque Terre

5. Take a Hidden Venice Small Group Tour

If you want to explore the hidden side of Venice, booking a Hidden Venice Small Group Tour was one of the most interesting highlights of our trip. There are tons of free walking tours out there however we feel the free ones are always overcrowded (30+ people), try to cater to a general audience, and just never hit the mark for us. We prefer paid, vetted smaller tours (less than 8 people) where we get to learn from the local tour guide, their stories growing up in the city, and their perspectives on the local culture.

Here is the exact tour we took and recommended. Our guide was such a fantastic storyteller, and we learned so much about Venice in less than 3 hours. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as Venice is a walking city and your feet will thank you later! If you’re heading to a photoshoot before or after, pack your heels in a travel bag for later. We always recommend booking a hotel that is centrally located. Also, read our Ultimate Venice Itinerary Guide to start planning your perfect trip to Venice. In the guide, we cover everything from how to get to Venice, a complete done-for-you Venice itinerary (includes the spots on this list!), the best hotels to stay, and more.

romantic couple photoshoot spots in Venice Italy

6. Eat Coffee and Croissants!

What time is it?! It’s time for some coffee and croissants! When in Italy, you should always start your day with some coffee and croissants. Our absolute favorite breakfast cafe was Farini. There are multiple locations, and our favorite was the one located a 3-minute walk from Rialto Bridge. They offer varieties of sandwiches, croissants, and coffee. We even came back at lunch to try their square pizzas (also delicious)! Pick the best combination; you can never go wrong. Prices were super reasonable, starting at 1.5 euros for croissants and 3 euros for a cafe latte. This specific location had outdoor seating too, so you could soak up the city vibes. Aside from breakfast, they even had a lunch menu with tons of pipping hot pizzas starting at noon!

Pro tip: Check out our 20 Best Travel Apps for Your Italy Trip including the best apps to make restaurant reservations, an app to score 50% off your restaurant bill (YES, IT’S TRUE!), an app to getting a box of Italian baked goods for only a few euros, an app for finding water foundations (cause water ain’t free in Venice), and much more!
best breakfast in Venice
best coffee cafe in Venice

7. Savor Italian Vegetarian Delights

Venice offers a surprising variety of vegetarian and vegan dining options amidst its seafood-centric cuisine. Explore the charming streets to discover quaint eateries and restaurants that cater to vegetarians. Don’t miss the chance to indulge in dishes like creamy risotto, fresh pasta with seasonal vegetables, and delectable pizzas topped with local ingredients.

We found an amazing restaurant called Punto G on the Fork app; it’s one of the vegetarian-friendly restaurants. They serve one of the best creamy, cheesy ravioli we’ve ever had; it’s a must-try place. Many restaurants are happy to accommodate dietary preferences, so don’t hesitate to ask for vegetarian recommendations when dining out in Venice.

Pro tip: Did you know that you can reserve restaurants in Italy and end up getting a 15-20% discount? Yes you heard it right! Download the Fork app to reserve restaurants, our favorite Italy travel app.

Readers also love our 20 best apps for Italy travel. Trust me, these apps will not only save you money, but make your trip 10x better, more luxurious, and more efficient. I know what you’re thinking…SIGN ME UP!

best Italian restaurants in Venice, where to eat in Venice
best restaurants in Venice, where to eat in Venice

Want More Activities to do?

See below for some of the best activities to add to our stellar list above.

Our Complete Done-For-You Venice Itinerary Planner

Don’t forget to save this page and access our exclusive Venice Travel Guide, complete with a meticulously curated Google Maps collection pinpointing all the must-visit destinations in the city. We’ve handpicked the very best spots to ensure your Venice trip is nothing short of perfection. From iconic landmarks to hidden treasures, our map serves as your passport to unlocking the true essence of this enchanting city. Get ready to immerse yourself in the rich history, culture, and beauty of Venice, as every corner and canal eagerly awaits your exploration! You can do this trip in one day or space it out to three days.

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  1. I definitely need to get back to Venice! I only had one day there many years ago.

  2. Jess says:

    Love this list, especially eat gelato! That’s all I do in Italy hahaha

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