What to see in the capital of northern Italy's Veneto region

Venice, the charming capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, was built on over 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. The ancient city has no roads, only canals — including the famous Grand Canal — that are lined with awe-inspiring Gothic and Renaissance architecture.

A vacation in Venice will undoubtedly give any culture and history buff his/her fix. The Floating City is packed with museums, galleries, quaint crafts shops, cafes, and more, spanning from ancient palaces to contemporary exhibits.

Whether you choose to get delightfully lost in the labyrinthian streets of Venice or abide by a fixed itinerary, here are a few places not to miss.

Doge’s Palace



At the Doge’s Palace, feast your eyes on the architectural splendor, with its shimmering exteriors and opulent interiors, and learn about the rich history of the ancient Venetian ruling system.

The palace features grand meeting halls and formal reception rooms adorned with canvases by Venetian painter Tintoretto, as well as cramped chambers where bureaucrats went about their administrative duties. If you don’t want to pay the entrance fee, however, the famous Bridge of Sighs is always visible from the outside.

San Marco Square/Basilica



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Unofficially known as Venice’s “drawing room”, the central piazza in front of St. Mark’s Basilica is a must-visit for any visitor. It’s usually packed with camera-toting tourists (and pigeons), but it’s a lovely place for people-watching. Plus, come evening, you might also get to enjoy some live music from the pianists and violinists at the surrounding restaurants.

Right before San Marco square is the St. Mark’s Basilica, a Byzantine-era church that features over 8,000 sqm of luminous mosaics. Photography is forbidden inside the church, but you’d be too busy being awestruck at the interior anyway.

Libreria Acqua Alta



Bibliophiles, this one’s for you: The High Water Bookstore is a book haven stowed away in a nondescript cobblestone lane. It is composed of several rooms stuffed with stacks and stacks of books, magazines, maps, postcards, bookmarks, and other collectibles you can’t help but buy. If you’re a lover of books and stationery, be prepared to spend at least couple of hours there. The owner is also super friendly so you can feel free to go shutter-happy.

Rialto Bridge/Market

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As the oldest of the four bridges spanning Venice’s Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) was the belle of its day, a place to people watch, appreciate the view of the canal flanked by rows of restaurants and shops, and shop at the local food market.

A food market is a culturally interesting way to get a glimpse of the local culture and day-to-day life of locals. All the locals shop at the Rialto market, from restaurateurs to regular folk. While it is best known as a fish market, it also stocks plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

La Fenice



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Built in 1792, The Phoenix was once the envy of all of Europe, as famed composers like Bellini, Rossini, and Donizetti staged operas there, and international greats like Stravinsky and Prokofiev composed masterpieces specially for the opera house. Opera seasons are from January to July and September to October, so be sure to book in advance.

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