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20 Free Things to Do In Venice

Ah, Venice!  The romance, the mystery, the sexy allure, Venice has it all.  You have be careful though, or all that mysterious romance will break the bank! 

That’s why we created this list of free things to do in Venice!

If you’re like us, Venice is one of those cities that you will completely fall in love with, and, believe it or not, you can actually see a lot without spending a ton of money and still have a wonderful time!

With free museums, churches, bookshops, and outdoor areas, you truly can visit Venice on a budget.

Incorporating these free things to do will help to free up money for the things you should splurge on that we mention in our 3 day Venice itinerary.

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Free Things to Do in Venice

Get Lost

Grand Canal in Venice

Seriously, wandering the streets of this Italian city and getting lost is one of the best free things to do in Venice!

There are picturesque moments and areas to chill, shop, or try some great Italian drinks and cocktails everywhere you look.

St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica San Marco)

church of St. Mark's

San Marco Basilica is a wonderful historic church highlighting Piazza San Marco, and while it used to be free, they recently started charging a 3 Euro entry fee.

I left it on the list because I feel like it is well worth visiting and paying the 3 Euros if you are able to.

I know that when you see the line for Basilica di San Marco, you might think twice about entering, but trust me, they move quickly.

The interior of the church is stunning with it’s intricate gold mosaics, gorgeous art work, and beautiful altars.

Take my advise though, and dress conservatively, they have strict dress code requirements to enter the churches in Italy.

You cannot have short shorts or skirts or bare shoulders. If you do, they will make you purchase a cover up which will set you back an additional 2 Euros.

St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)

St. Mark's Square

The square outside of St. Mark’s Basilica is packed with pigeons and people, making the Piazza San Marco one of the great free things to do in Venice.

As the most famous square in Venice, you know you are in for a treat when you visit St. Mark’s Square.

We recommend visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid some of the day trippers that invade the island mid-day.

Enjoy people-watching as you take in the gorgeous architecture surrounding you at the Piazza San Marco, a great activity to soak in the Italian lifestyle and save money!

While this is a great place to people-watch, beware of sitting at the tables in the square; they definitely aren’t cheap!

Also, be respectful of the area and obey the authorities if you are asked to do or not do something.

For instance, you are not allowed to sit on the steps around the square or feed the pigeons, and don’t buy stuff from the street sellers.

While in St. Mark’s Square, take note of the clock tower and leaning bell tower. If you desire, you can pay and go to the top of the bell tower for some great views of the city.

Bridge of Sighs

While in the area of St. Mark’s Square, make your way to the waterfront area to see the infamous Bridge of Sighs.

The bridge earned its name from the sound prisoners would make as they made their way between the courtrooms of Doge’s Palace to the prisons, located on the other side of the bridge.

Probably one of the most photographed spots in Venice, Italy is the Bridge of Sighs is the perfect place for a memorable selfie!

Take time to enjoy the bridge, and turn around to see another gorgeous view, that of San Giorgio Maggiore Island!

Fondaco dei Tedeschi

If you want a great view of the city for free, then book a 15 minute time slot at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi shopping center and head to the top floor of their rooftop terrace.

Here, you can enjoy fabulous views of the city including the main streets of Venice, St. Mark Square, the Rialto Bridge, and more.

Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge in Venice

The infamous Rialto Bridge stretches across the Grand Canal (Canal Grande) and is a great place to add to your list of free things to do in Venice.

When you first arrive at the bridge, we recommend finding a spot along one of the jetties to grab the perfect photo of the bridge and watch the gondolas glide by on the Grand Canal as you take in the sights and sounds of Venice.

Once you have had your fill of that, go ahead and make your way up onto the bridge and into the hustle and bustle of the crowds.

The bridge is also full of shops, perfect for window shopping while enjoying views of the Grand Canal.

This is another place that we recommend visiting early in the morning in order to avoid some of the crowds.

Rialto Market

fish market

Just over the Rialto Bridge, on the banks of the Grand Canal, is the famous Rialto Market.

The Rialto Market is an outdoor market that has been one of the city’s staples since the 11th century.

Enjoy shopping at the Rialto Market with the locals and grab some amazingly fresh picnic supplies while watching the locals shop for fresh fish and fresh vegetables as they exchange stories.

This is a great way to support the local businesses of Venice, so please purchase something during your visit.

San Giorgio Maggiore Church

view from the Bridge of Sighs

The San Giorgio Maggiore is well worth a visit during your time in Venice.

This historic church is like stepping into a museum thanks to beautiful paintings that adorn the walls.

Grab a brochure on the way in that explains the paintings, including Tintoretto’s last painting, “The Last Supper.”

The church has free entry, but I recommend paying a small fee to go to the top of the church for a beautiful view of Venice, Italy.

Like most churches in Europe, appropriate dress is required.

Stanze del Vetro Glass Museum

Behind the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore, you will find a glass museum that offers free tours.

Tours are starting in April 2024 and will take place in English daily at 11:00 am.

Visit the Lido (Beach)

Not many people associate Venice with a beach vacation, but, believe it or not, you can spend a day on the beach in Venice.  

While the beach is free, you will need to purchase a vaporetto ticket to get to the beach, but you have probably already purchased one for your time on the island.

Accademia Bridge

bridge in Venice

For one of the most famous, and arguably one of the best, views of Venice, head to the Accademia Bridge (Ponte della Accademia).

This bridge crosses the Grand Canal and leads to the Galleria della Accademia.

As you cross the bridge, notice the gorgeous views of the city, they are breathtaking!

If you happen to be visiting on the 1st Sunday of the month, then make your way to the Galleria della Accademia and visit the museum for free!

Go on a Photo Safari

Venice gondolas- this should be on your couples bucket list

Everywhere in Venice seems photo-worthy to me.  

Pick a theme and go around taking pictures based on your theme, or have a contest between you and your travel companion to see who can capture photos of all the items on your list first.

This is a great free activity to enjoy while in the city.

Museo della Musica

Believe it or not, there are a few free museums in Venice, and the Museo della Musica, or the Musical History Museum is one of them.

Located inside the San Maurizio Church, this museum houses historical musical instruments dating as far back as the early 1600s.

Lovers of musical history will definitely want to check out the section of the museum dedicated to Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi.

Shop for Carnival Attire

Venetian masks

Whether it’s Carnival season or not, you can find handmade masks and amazing costumes year-round in Venice, and shopping for them (even if you aren’t buying) is still fun.

It doesn’t cost a thing to window shop!  We even spent time with a true Venetian mask maker and had an amazing time learning about the process that has been passed down from generation to generation..

Visit the World’s First Jewish Ghetto

Located in the Cannaregio region of Venice, the Jewish Ghetto area houses synagogues and kosher food stores.

In the 1500s, the Jewish community of Venice, Italy was confined to this area, named the “Ghetto” as this is where iron was gettato (smelted). This is where the term Jewish ghetto originates from.

Explore the Jewish Ghetto area to see how local Venetians, and many of the city’s Jewish residents live today.

Of course, some great historical sites, including a Jewish museum, antique shops, art galleries, and restaurants in the Jewish Ghetto area.

Take a Free Walking Tour

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One of the best free things to do in Venice, Italy is to take a free walking tour!

A walking tour is a great way to learn more about the history and culture of a new city. Not only that, but we love getting the inside scoop on where the locals eat and hang out.

Several companies offer free walking tours, but we especially love this Venice Free Walking Tour as a great orientation to the city.

Please remember that even though this guided tour is free, you should always tip your guide.

Libreria Acqua Alta

bookstor in Venice

This unique library features books that have been turned into furniture.  

Social media has helped to put the Libreria Acqua Alta on the map thanks to people featuring their unique displays.

When you visit inside, you will find the books set on special shelves including gondolas, boats, and canoes.

To avoid some of the crowds, try to visit early in the morning.

Santa Maria della Salute

Santa Maria della Salute Church-free things to do in venice

The Santa Maria della Salute Church was built by plague survivors to thank the Virgin Mary for saving them.

One of the most important religious buildings in Venice, the Santa Maria della Salute is well worth a visit during your time in Venice.

The dominating dome on the exterior of the Santa Maria della Salute and its octagonal chapels inside are tributes to the gorgeous architecture of the church.

Giardini (Gardens of Venice, Italy)

Located on the east side of the island, the Giardini Pubblici this public park is a nice green space to visit to get some fresh air and escape some of the crowds of this unique city.

The Giardini della Biennale is another beautiful area to visit, but it can get busy, especially when the art exhibitions are on display.

If this is the case when you visit Giardini della Biennale, just walk a bit further and you will come to Remembrance Park, a tranquil green area shaded by pine trees.

These gardens are a great addition to your itinerary, especially if you are traveling on a limited budget.

Take a Day Trip to Burano and Murano (Almost Free)

view of Murano from the lagoon

Located in the Venice Lagoon, the islands of Burano and Murano are only a vaporetto (water buses) ticket away.

More than likely, you will have purchased a one day or multi-day pass to ride Venice’s vaporettos, so why not put that to use on one of these day trips.

The island of Murano has a rich history with glass-making, when the Venetian Republic ordered that the glass furnaces be moved here to decrease the risk of fire on Venice.

Enjoy a ride over to Murano where you can tour the glass factories that are still in operation today. Most of the factories offer free demonstrations, but there are a few that request a minimal fee (around 3 Euros).

Burano Island can also be visited using your vaporetto pass, and in our opinion, should not be missed.

The colorful houses that dot the island make this a picturesque place to just stroll around and take pictures.

In addition to the colorful houses, Burano is also famous for the lace that is produced on the island. You can visit the lace museum for 6 Euros, or visit the lace shops for free, the choice is yours.

Burano, Italy-Colorful houses line a canal with boats in it

Final Thoughts on Venice

Venice is an incredible island that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. As you can see, there are numerous things to do for free, so you don’t have to break the bank.

If you have some money to spend while in Venice, here are a few of the guided tours that we highly recommend:

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Michelle Snell-Founder That Texas Couple

About the Author

Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through creative content creation and her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel and accompanying social media accounts.  She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.

Anja

Sunday 7th of April 2024

Loved your first suggestion :-) Getting lost and wandering aimlessly is very special in Venice, and you never won't get too lost, as you will inevitably reach a canal or a landmark. Definitely need the good walking legs in Venice.

thattexascouple

Monday 8th of April 2024

Thank you so much, Anja. Venice is the place to get lost for sure!

Anja

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

Great post! I returned to Venice recently and although most churches now charge an Euro or two, its excellent value for money for the great art you can admire in situ. Also... stick to cafes and bars where they display a price list at the bar.

thattexascouple

Thursday 2nd of September 2021

I didn't know they were charging now. I do agree with you though, this is not much money for great history and artwork.

Nina Clapperton

Tuesday 17th of November 2020

I desperately want to visit Venice so I'll be saving this post for the future! I've heard it's extremely expensive there so free things are always appreciated.

thattexascouple

Tuesday 17th of November 2020

Thanks so much, Nina. It can get expensive quickly, but with these tips you will have a great time and save some money!

Gloria

Monday 16th of November 2020

What a great list! I’ve always wanted to go to Venice, some really good tips here for when I do go

thattexascouple

Monday 16th of November 2020

Thanks so much! I hope you get to go when all of this is over and the world opens back up! :)

Ashley

Monday 16th of November 2020

I loved Venice thanks for all the great ideas for the next time I’m there :) My favorite thing to do in Venice is to wander the streets and get lost too!

thattexascouple

Monday 16th of November 2020

That was my favorite also!!!