Narrowing down what to do in Venice might be even tougher than driving a car in its car-free city center. There’s so much to experience in this famous canal city, chances are you’ll have to visit multiple times to do it all. If it’s your first trip, however, and you’re just trying to hit all the basics, these are the three activities you need to do.
You can’t miss the Rialto Bridge. Located near the center of Venice and is easily accessible by foot from most locations, the iconic bridge spans the Grand Canal at the heart of the city and connects the districts of San Marco and San Polo. The bridge was first built in 1181 as a pontoon bridge, but it later collapsed several times before being rebuilt in its current form with stone arches in the late 16th century.
It sounds cliche to take a gondola ride in Venice, but it’s a cliche for good reason. There’s really no better way to explore the city and its famous canals than by taking a gondola ride. Gondolas are traditional rowing boats unique to Venice, and offer an unforgettable way to experience this historic city. Gondolas usually take up to six people, and your gondolier will guide the boat through the narrow canals, pointing out famous landmarks along the way.
St. Mark’s Basilica is one of Venice’s most famous landmarks, and worth visiting even if you’re not an architecture buff. Dating back to the 9th century, the basilica is known for the grandeur of its golden mosaics adorning the entrance facade, as well as the intricately-designed ceilings depicting Biblical scenes. One of the most impressive features of the basilica is the Pala d’Oro (Golden Altarpiece), a masterpiece of Byzantine goldsmithery. The altarpiece is encrusted with more than 1,900 precious stones and gems.