Sitting on a lagoon in the Italian Veneto region, Venice is the most unusual city in Italy — and possibly even the world. Its uniqueness is precisely what makes it so photogenic and one of the most beautiful places in Europe. It’s impossible to say whether you’ll get the best views from a vaporetto or a gondola ride or by strolling on foot — but it simply doesn’t matter. Venice is equally breathtaking from every angle! The city was built on top of more than 100 islands, separated by countless narrow canals and split in half by the wider Grand Canal. Everything is connected by roughly 400 bridges, including the iconic Rialto Bridge and the famous Bridge of Sighs, only a stone’s throw away from the famous San Marco Square, the Campanile, and the Doge’s Palace. Afraid of getting lost? Don’t be — that’s the point! Getting lost in Venice is something everyone should experience one day. Forget Google maps and just trust us: you’ll stumble across many photo opportunities and beautiful places wherever you end up. Without further ado, we present our list of the best places to take photos in Venice, along with travel tips (and directions!) for the beautiful, floating city of Venezia. We can almost hear the Venetian gondoliers serenading already! 🎶
1. San Marco / St. Mark’s Square
Let’s start with the classics. Venice’s principal piazza is one of the most evocative places of the city’s long and rich history. Piazza San Marco has been the seat of government and a place of worship for centuries, and is now an open-air museum. The square is dominated by the impressive St. Mark’s Basilica that was built over a thousand years ago to be the last resting place of the relics of Saint Mark, the city’s patron saint. The church’s distinctive style includes domes, colonnades, and mosaics and reflects the city’s ties with Eastern cultures through navigation and commerce.
Standing on the right side of the basilica is the Doge’s Palace. In ancient times, the Doge was the ruler, commanding everything from his palace filled with incredible stuccos, frescoes, and dramatic staircases. Here’s a fun fact: the Doge’s Palace is home to the world’s largest oil painting, The Paradise by Tintoretto. 👨🎨
Opposite the palace and the basilica is St. Mark’s Campanile, a huge red brick belltower with a pointy green roof. It’s one of Venice’s most famous landmarks. Be there on the hour to hear the iconic bells chiming loudly above you. The sound might prompt the pigeons to fly, and, even though you’re surrounded by tourists, you might feel like you’re transported back in time. 👑
2. Viewpoint of San Giorgio Maggiore
Want to see everything from a completely different perspective? Andiamo! 🙋♀️
Jump on a Vaporetto and cross over to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore to enjoy some of the best views of Venice. You can climb or take the lift to the top of the bell tower for what is probably the city’s most stunning panoramic views. From up on high, you’re guaranteed beautiful pictures of St. Mark’s Square and its campanile, the Grand Canal, and the Doge’s Palace. Even though the scenery is hard to beat, this site is usually less crowded, so it’s the perfect opportunity to soak in that Venetian air. The Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore is a classic Venice photo when framed by swaying gondolas from Riva Degli Schiavoni across the canal, and equally worth it to see the Renaissance white marble façade from up close.
There’s no wonder why students and the art crowd prefer this sestiere to others in Venice. Dorsoduro attracts a more local crowd and feels miles away from the other touristy parts of town. Art sets the tone while you wander through the picturesque narrow streets and canals. You’ll notice several painters and sculptors doing work open air, but also restorers, art curators, and historians alike – each taking in the scene in their own way. Dorsoduro has everything, from Renaissance works at Galleria Dell’Accademia to modernist marvels at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection — not to mention that it’s all housed in stunning palazzos. 😍
Speaking of which, make sure to check the façade of Ca’Rezzonico, a magnificent baroque mansion facing the Canal Grande. Even though it was once a private mansion, now everyone can enjoy its beauty by visiting the museum.. In the evenings, mingling over a drink is almost a ritual. You have plenty of options for restaurants, cafes, and bars. Students usually flock to Campo Santa Margherita to do some catching up on the latest Venetian gossip and trends. It’s an excellent spot for people-watching and soaking in the youthful energy around.
Is it already time for an aperitivo? 🍸
4. Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
Magnificent churches seem to be over every other bridge here in the City of Water, and they are all unique in one way or another. ⛪️ The Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute, or simply Salute, as locals affectionately call it, is one of a kind. Sitting right at the entrance of the Grand Canal, as if welcoming people to the Venetian spectacle, its white stone façade is richly decorated with 125 statues. Crowning everything, you have enormous domes that gleam under the sun. ✨
The best photo opportunities are from across the canal, but entry to the church is free, so take a sneak peek inside, especially at the high altar, which is a baroque wood-carving masterpiece. Heads up! This place is always crowded, so if you’re looking for some peace, it’s a good idea to visit in the early mornings.
5. Ponte di Rialto
The oldest bridge in Venice, the Rialto Bridge is the city’s beating heart. The architect, Antonio da Ponte, famously competed with other Renaissance geniuses such as Michelangelo for this project. Luckily, he won. His bridge is an incredible engineering feat crossing the canal at its narrowest point.
Can you believe this 400-year-old stone bridge still stands on the same 12,000 wooden pillars it was first built on? Not to fear – t’s absolutely safe to cross, and you wouldn’t want to miss the beautiful views of the Grand Canal stretching underneath you. While you’re at it, this spot is also great for window-shopping. We recommend browsing the shops filled with world-famous Venetian masks. They come in all shapes and sizes — you can go discreet, dramatic, joyful, or teary. 🎭
Ponte Rialto is also about romance. Another name for it is “The Lover’s Bridge.” And the scenery gets even more romantic during the golden hour. Even if you need to haggle for your spot with other tourists, romance is in the air. 💓
6. San Polo
Around the Rialto Bridge, there’s another remarkable Venetian sestiere. San Polo is the smallest neighbourhood in Venice, but it’s the liveliest, filled with artisan stores, restaurants, markets, and historical buildings. The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is one of the most striking landmarks. They say it represents Venice in the same way that the Sistine Chapel represents Rome, because the walls and ceilings are lavishly decorated by the renowned artist Tintoretto. That’s a big deal!
To spur your senses, head to the Rialto Market, the city’s primary food market for over 700 years. It’s filled with colourful fruit and vegetable stalls, with friendly vendors sometimes offering complimentary tastings to tourists. 😋 In the same area, Pescaria sells fresh seafood under a gothic-style structure. It’s a great place to stop for a fritto misto, an Italian-style fried seafood mix, and to marvel at the local’s intimate relationship with food and ingredients. 🍤
Go in the morning, when you’ll find fewer tourists and more locals strolling around the stalls with their small shopping carts. Zigzag your way through the picturesque alleyways looking for incredible pizzas, palazzos, and churches. Remember we mentioned that getting lost is all part of the fun?
7. Gondola Ride
Riding in a gondola while being serenaded by the gondolier may be the most clichéd thing you do in Venice, but we are here for it! In the past, gondolas were used as personal taxis for the upper class to get around, so they have historical significance for Venice and have become a symbol of the city. In truth, they are one of the most romantic and best ways to get a feel for the city, so there’s no shame in indulging in this very worthwhile tour. 🚣
Gondoliers have been practicing their trade for a millenium, and you’ll know they are on the job when you see them wearing a stripey shirt and black pants. When hiring a gondola, here’s few things to know: Rates are fixed and so not up for negotiation; prices are time-based and per ride, not by number of riders; prices go up after 7pm (the most romantic time!); and you’ll pay more to have your gondolier sing. Always confirm your route before you get started so the gondolier knows where you’d like to go or what you’d like to see on your tour. After that? There’s nothing to do but sit back and enjoy some of the most beautiful views in the world! 😍
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In the northern part of the city sits Cannaregio. The area is famous for being the set of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and for housing the century-old Venetian Jewish Ghetto. Just like Dorsoduro, the streets are lively with a more authentic vibe. Locals go there to meet friends and wander around the many enchanting alleyways. It’s easy to pass by the 53-cm wide Calle Varisco without noticing it, but keep your eyes open because this is a famous spot for being Venice’s narrowest street. There’s no walking hand-in-hand in here!
Cannaregio is also an excellent place for a night out in Venice — a good time is guaranteed! Start with an aperitivo, of course, in one of the many bars or restaurants, and then head to a live music club in the area. 🎉
This is also the point of departure for several day trips across the lagoon. Take a ferry from here to visit the islands of Murano to see the world-acclaimed Venetian glass in the making, or Burano, an old fishing village famous for its hyper-colourful buildings — another Instagram favourite. 📸
9. Little Bridge in Academia
The Ponte Dell’ Accademia is one of the four bridges crossing the Grand Canal, but it’s pretty different from the others. Dating from 1933 and built as a temporary replacement for another bridge, this one is made of wood, not marble and stones like most other bridges in Venice. Despite that, its design is so elegant that the Venetians decided to keep it.
The views from the bridge are stunning. You’ll see the Grand Canal with its several quays and palazzos right in front of you. The gondolas and water taxis enrich the picture whichever side you look at, but look to the east to spot Santa Maria Della Salute, with its magnificent dome. This magnificent skyline scenario makes it the perfect photography spot. 👌
10. The Bridge of Sighs
Funny enough, Venice’s most famous bridge is a small one that no one gets to cross. Built during the Renaissance, Ponte Dei Sospiri, as locals call it, connects the Doge’s Palace to the prison across the canal. Contrary to most people’s belief, the name doesn’t refer to love sighs, but rather sighs of sorrow, as prisoners would throw their last gaze to the outside world while crossing the bridge. Still, the bridge is indisputably romantic, and more modern traditions say that you must kiss your loved one while passing underneath it on a gondola ride. We say go for it, but leave some time to admire the intricate carving work in the white limestone facade as well!
Take note that this spot is very popular, so for a real Instagram-worthy photo, visit early in the day. It will be less crowded, and the soft light of the morning makes it even more beautiful for pictures. You can see the bridge on foot by tracing the Doge’s Palace or from underneath it on a gondola ride. What could be more quintessentially Venetian? 😉
Best places to take photos in Venice
Whether you call it “La Serenissima,” “The Floating City,” or “The City of Bridges,” Venice has as many names as it has charms. Other remarkable places that are particularly instagramable are Scala Contarini Del Bovolo and the Libreria Acqua Alta.
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