Venice is probably one of the best known cities in Italy and is rightly nicknamed the “City of Canals”. Walking through the streets of the city feels magical, and you can spend the whole day strolling the bridges and exploring the 118 islands that make up Venice. In addition to its famous canals and gondola rides, this place is known for glass making and Venetian carnival festivals.
When you vacation in this spectacular city, you want to make the most of your time by trying to experience as much of its culture, history, and traditions as possible. We suggest looking for more to do beyond the main tourist attractions, which is why we’ve put together this list of things you’ll want to add to your bucket list.
Travel Tip: To make the most of the trip of a lifetime, stop by a Venice luggage storage location to drop off your purchases and large backpacks. Enjoy these experiences without the burden of suitcases!
make your own venetian mask
Remember when we mentioned the Venetian carnivals? Historically, people who attended these events always wore a mask to hide their identity. This allowed people to mix no matter where they came from. If you want to get hands-on with tradition, you can sign up for a Venetian mask painting workshop to create your own version of these mysterious accessories.
Relax on the island of Giudecca
A popular city like Venice is often filled with throngs of tourists, and sometimes you may want to get away from the business of the city center for a while. There is a small island just a short boat ride away called Giudecca, and it will definitely help you unwind with its laid-back atmosphere and picturesque scenery. The charming little villages and the countryside full of serene vineyards will make you fall in love with the quieter side of Venice.
Try to find Banksy street art
Chances are you’ve heard of Banksy, the anonymous British street artist. No one knows his true identity and he purposely performs his job late at night to stay hidden in the shadows. Just a few years ago, he added his own artwork here in Venice. The powerful image is that of a migrant child wearing a life jacket and holding a flare, and you can find it in the Dorsoduro district. See if you can find it while exploring the city!
Take a night walking tour
If you’re already planning to see all of Venice’s main sites and landmarks, we suggest you consider visiting at night. The main attractions not only look completely different and much more impressive after dark, but they will also be less crowded! Some of the places we suggest you visit are the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica of San Marco. If you want to sign up for an official tour, there are some companies that offer night activities.
Visit the flooded crypt of San Zaccaria
Located just off Piazza San Marco is an impressive church that catches everyone’s eye with its beautiful 15th-century exterior. You will see many tourists admiring the church both inside and out, but what most of them don’t know is that there is a crypt under the Chapel of San Tarasio and you can enter it by going down the stairs. This is where some important local figures were buried, such as the first Doges of the city. The space is now flooded, giving it a spooky and fascinating new perspective with all the reflections.
Escape Borges’ Labyrinth
It could be argued that the streets and canals of Venice are like a maze, but if you head to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore you will be able to explore a veritable labyrinth called the Borges Labyrinth. This complex network of hedges was created in dedication to Jorge Luis Borges and, in total, the route was carried out with 3,000 plants boxed in over half a kilometer.
See the dragon bones in the Basilica of Santa Maria e Santa Donato
Head to the island of Murano to see the Basilica of Santa Maria e Santa Donato, which is said to have huge dragon vertebra bones hanging behind the main altar. According to the stories, the dragon was defeated by Saint Donatus and his bones were displayed in the church shortly after his own remains were buried there in the 12th century. The bones can be a little hard to spot behind all the mosaics and details, but they’re still there today!
Shop at Acqua Alta Bookstore
There are many quirky shops in Venice, but one of the most unique is the bookstore Libreria Acqua Alta. This hidden gem has become popular with visitors because as the water level in the lagoon rises, it actually seeps into the store. The store owner was able to adapt by using waterproof furniture, or just things that float! If you want to buy a book, you can browse the volumes kept in bathtubs or old ships. Some of the books are even used as part of the building; Like the ladder made of old novels. You can climb on top to get a beautiful view of the surroundings!
See the hidden side of Venice
A city like Venice is full of hidden gems, and many of them are not really known to tourists. You can get lost in the narrow streets of the city, which is not a bad thing, as you might come across something interesting! The things we’ve mentioned can help you get started on your adventure, but there are even more places to discover, so don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and explore the hidden side of Venice.