Free Things to Do in Venice
Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with millions of people visiting every year.
This city is notoriously expensive with prices for accommodation, eating out and sightseeing sky high. Despite this though, there are lots of ways to keep your costs down and most of the best things to do in Venice are completely free.
Check out our list of the top 10 free sights and attractions to experience in Venice below.
1. Wander Across the Rialto Bridge & Admire its Quaint Markets
Since 1591, the impressive Rialto Bridge has been the main bridge crossing Venice’s Grand Canal. The bridge’s unique architectural style features a series of arches on one side and the Rialto Market on its other side and is one of the best things you need to do in Venice.
The Rialto’s lively food market has existed for hundreds of years and offers a plethora of fresh, local produce each morning. Get to the bridge early enough and you will marvel at the sight of thousands of freshly caught fish being delivered by fishermen on the canal.
2. People Watch in in Piazza San Marco
The Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square) is one of the most famous destinations in Venice and despite the cafes, bars and restaurants here charging a premum, walking around and people watching is completely free. From St Mark's Square you can also get amazing views of the Doge’s Palace and Basilica as well as views across the water towards Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore.
Piazza San Marco was allegedly once referred to by Napoleon as the “drawing room of Europe”, the Piazza is constantly buzzing with thousands of people. Take a seat on a bench and gaze at the endless number of passers-by and soak in the beauty of the Venetian square and church.
3. Discover the Beautiful Basilica di San Marco
The Basilica di San Marco is certainly nothing short of breathtaking. The gothic-style cathedral charges no entrance fee – besides, you can spend just as long admiring the intricately-decorated outer walls as the inside. You can find the Basilica di San Marco located in the eastern-end of the Piazza San Marco.
4. See Renaissance Art at Galleria dell’Accademia
If you are interested in viewing Renaissance paintings then The Galleria dell’Accademia is one of the best art galleries in Venice. Here you can see stunning artwork from the 14th to 18th century from artists like Bellini, Titian, and Veronese. You can get free entry on the first Sunday of every month.
5. Visit the San Giorgio dei Greci
The San Giorgio dei Greci is one of the oldest and best Greek Orthodox churches you can visit in the world. Constructed in the 16th century, this church has a iconic leaning bell tower and inside you can see various mosaics and paintings. San Giorgio dei Greci ic located in the Castello district of Vencie which used to be home to a large population of Greek people.
6. Watch Gondola Rides
Gondola rides are one of the most expensive tourists activities in Venice with prices generally starting at around 80 euros for 30 minutes. If this is out of your budget there is nothing to stop you watching from a distance and gettting the iconic gondola photo. Or you can even get a little closer to have a photo, some workers will even let you have a picture in their boat.
7. See Venice from Above
Next to the Rialto Bridge there is a department store which has a rooftop viewpoint that is totally free and provides panoramic views of the Grand Canal and the whole of the city.
This is one of the best-kept secrets in Venice and allows you to get all the key landmarks in your city scape photographs from a great vantage point. Right next to the Grand Canal, it is in the heart of Venice and you can see right across the whole city.
The department store itself is a sight, with a spectacular interior and top of the range Italian goods, you won’t know where to look first.
8. Venture Through & Across the Countless Bridges and Canals
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Venezia is its lack of roads. Instead, the charming city boasts around 150 canals and hundreds of bridges.
Varying from vast waterways such as the Grand Canal, to narrow streams of water small enough to serve as washing lines between neighbours, Venice’s array of canals are all charming in their own way.
The hours will flash by as you wander aimlessly down the twisting alleyways and across the stone bridges. Keep an eye out for the illegal street vendors though: buying from these sellers can result in a hefty fine from the Italian police.
9. Revel in Some Window Shopping
Scattered across Venice are designer shops (especially in the San Marco area) selling beautiful yet very pricey items of clothing, but there’s nothing stopping you from simply admiring these delights! Also, it’s essential to check out the authentic Italian markets and quaint shops selling local crafts including jewellery, hand-blown glass and carnival masks. It’s impossible to miss these as an appealing window display is around almost every corner in this city.
10. Witness One of Venice’s Festivals
If you can pay Venice a visit whilst it’s celebrating one of its many festivals, you’re in for a treat.
Its most famous festival is the Carnevale which spans two weeks every February. These festivities can be enjoyed without spending a single euro. For example, during the Carnevale the city is filled with people in elaborate costumes and masks hosting boat parades and street entertainment. Venice’s cobbled streets and squares are charged with an electric and exciting atmosphere of festivities – it’s like attending a masquerade ball free of charge!
Be sure to check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Travel Aware advice pages for some super useful tips to ensure you stay happy, safe and healthy whilst abroad!
By Charlotte Day