Known for its canals, waterways, bridges and other historic attractions, Venice, Italy, offers travelers everything from centuries-old history to unparalleled beauty. Some of the best Venice tours take you to the quietest areas of the city – away from the crowds – to discover Venice’s cuisine, wine and culture, while others showcase the city from the water by gondola or kayak. Consulting both traveler opinion and expert input, U.S. News identified the tours below as the best Venice has to offer.
Avventure Bellissime – Venice in 1 Day Tour
Price: Adults from 109 euros (about $120); kids from 95 euros (about $104)
Duration: 3 hours
If you’re short on time, consider this three-hour tour that hits multiple of Venice’s top attractions. You’ll enjoy skip-the-line access to St. Mark’s Basilica, as well as a two-hour walking tour (capped at 20 participants) passing sights like Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Square, the Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto Bridge and more. The final leg of your tour is reserved for exploring Venice’s world-famous waterways on a one-hour boat ride down the Grand Canal. This is a great way to see much of Venice in just one day, according to tourgoers. Travelers also say it’s a great value.
Tickets start at 109 euros (about $120) for adults and 95 euros (about $104) for children 7 to 12; kids 6 and younger can join the tour for free. Complimentary headphones are included. Tours run Monday to Saturday around 11 a.m., though you can break the tour into sections and complete it over two days if you prefer. Note: Your shoulders and knees must be covered to enter St. Mark’s Basilica; large bags are prohibited inside as well. Know, too, that St. Mark’s Basilica only offers skip-the-line tickets from April to October.
Venice Free Walking Tour – Campo SS Apostoli Venice Through the Centuries: North
Duration: 2.5 hours
This 2.5-hour tour could be a great way to start your visit to Venice. According to reviewers, valuable information is shared on the walk, including locals’ recommendations of the best restaurants and places to visit, which could serve you well during the rest of your trip. Though each guide takes travelers along a slightly different route, you’ll likely see some of the city’s top attractions, learn about its centuries-old history and see much of its incredible architecture. Tours depart daily at 11 a.m. from Campo Santi Apostoli in front of the well and travel to the eastern part of the Cannaregio district and the western part of the Castello district.
Trips are free, but the company asks you to consider donating what you think the tour is worth at its conclusion. Additionally, you must reserve a spot online in advance (there is a booking fee of 3 euros, or about $3, per participant). The company offers a couple of other sightseeing tours throughout Venice, as well.
Venice Kids Tours – A Thrilling Secret Journey Into the Doge’s Palace
Price: From 85 euros (about $93) per hour, per party
Duration: 2 hours
Ideal for families with kids ages 7 to 18, this approximately two-hour tour explores Doge’s Palace. Guides lead families through some of the hidden corridors and secret passages not open to the general public as they share stories about the building’s history. Also on the agenda is the attic prison, the former torture chamber and the armory, among other spots. Reviewers say their kids love the tour and recommend it to other families.
Prices for the private outing start at about 85 euros (about $93) per hour, per party (up to groups of five) but vary based on the length of the tour and number of participants, which is limited to five people. Kids must be at least 6 years old to tour; the company does not recommend the tour for pregnant women, or for those who have mobility problems or are claustrophobic. Trips depart in the morning only. Venice Kids Tours offers other family-focused activities, such as scavenger hunts, walking tours and boat tours.
Food Tours of Venice – Jewish Ghetto & Cannaregio Food Tour
Price: From 105 euros (about $115)
Duration: 4 hours
Explore all there is to both see and eat in Venice’s Jewish Ghetto along this four-hour tour. This foodie excursion stops at more than six eateries for samplings of pasta, gelato, wine, baked goods and more. The route also takes travelers past historic synagogues, over the oldest bridge in Venice and through the city for spectacular evening views. Tour-takers say the food was plentiful and delicious, and they highly recommend the tour.
Tickets cost about 105 euros (about $115) per person, regardless of age. Tours run Saturday to Thursday at 4 p.m. Food Tours of Venice also offers a Rialto Food Tour, among others.
City Wonders – Murano & Burano Small Group Tour with Private Boat
Price: Adults from $43
Duration: 5 hours
Explore two of Venice’s most beautiful islands on this half-day tour. You’ll first journey to Murano by boat to see a glassmaking demonstration followed by time to shop and explore on your own. You’ll then cruise to Burano, where you’ll observe Italian women crafting lace by hand, visit a lace museum and stroll around the island. Travelers say the tour is educational and are pleased with the informative guides. Others wish they were given more time to explore the islands.
Tickets start around $43 for adults with discounts available for children ages 2 to 14. Infants 1 and younger can join the tour for free. The five-hour tours run daily at a variety of times between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (and vary by season). City Wonders also operates tours of the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, among other Venetian hot spots.
(Courtesy of Walks of Italy)
Walks of Italy – Exclusive Alone in St. Mark’s Basilica After Hours
Price: Adults from $102; kids from $98
Duration: 1.5 hours
This special 90-minute tour treats you to an inside look at St. Mark’s Basilica after it closes its doors to the general public. Guides lead no more than 25 tourgoers inside the basilica, sharing stories of its history as you explore. In addition, you’ll visit the crypt, which is not open to the public during normal visiting hours. The crypt is said to house St. Mark’s remains, as well as the Pala d’Oro altarpiece, which is adorned with nearly 2,000 gems. Tour-takers say after-hours is a wonderful time to see the cathedral and that guides are passionate and informed.
Ticket costs vary by day but start around $102 for adults, $98 for children ages 2 to 14 and are free for kids younger than 2. Tour times depend on the day, but generally depart between 7 and 9:45 p.m. several times a week. The company also offers a secret passages tour of the Doge’s Palace, gondola rides and food tours, among other options.
Raphael Tours & Events – Rialto Food Tour in Venice
Price: From $98
Duration: 4 hours
On this four-hour tour, you’ll explore Rialto by way of your taste buds as your guide takes you to pastry shops, wine bars, restaurants and markets. Along the way, you’ll sample meats, cheeses, wines (including sparkling), polenta, olives and more. Travelers say the tour is wonderful and offers plenty to eat. They also appreciate the stories guides share during the adventure. Others warn, however, that the company may cancel the tour last minute if not enough bookings are made.
The tour operates daily, and start times are customizable. Tickets start around $98 per person. Raphael Tours also operates a walking tour of Venice.
Intrepid Urban Adventures – Cicchetti & Wine Tour of Venice
Price: From $109
Duration: 2.5 hours
Support the local economy on this foodie trip that takes you to locally owned and operated businesses to sample Venetian cuisine. During the 2.5-hour tour, you’ll eat four cicchetti dishes (think: polenta, seafood and vegetables), drink five glasses of wine and indulge in one dessert. Though you may pass by some big sights like St. Mark’s Square, you’ll mostly visit less-touristy spots in the Cannaregio and Rialto areas of the city. Plus, you’ll get to ride in a gondola. Travelers praise the tour guides and compliment the food and wine chosen.
Tickets cost approximately $109 per person for both children and adults. Children must be at least 6 years old to join the tour. Tours are typically offered Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Venice Kayak – Lagoon Natural Tour
Price: Adults from 110 euros (about $121); kids from 80 euros (around $88)
Duration: 2 hours
Kayak your way through the Venetian lagoon on this two-hour tour. You’ll leave the city behind and immerse yourself in nature while your guide leads you through wild marsh. The company rates this excursion as a “beginner” tour, which makes it ideal for those new to kayaking. Tourgoers say this is a wonderful way to see the wildlife and islands surrounding Venice and describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Tickets cost approximately 110 euros (about $121) for adults and 80 euros (around $88) for children 14 and younger. Tickets include the use of all equipment, water, lockers and shower facilities after your tour. Trips run Tuesday to Sunday at 9 a.m. and depart from Certosa island. Venice Kayak offers canal kayaking tours as well.
Friend in Venice Private Tours – Venice by Venetians
Price: From 120 euros (about $132)
Duration: 2 hours to full day
This is a fully customizable tour that takes travelers to the lesser-known areas of Venice away from the busy city center. Along the way, your guide will teach you about Venice’s history and answer all your questions about their city. Children are welcome on the tour, though the company asks that you advise them ahead, so they can tailor the tour to keep the kids’ interest. Tourgoers say guides are friendly, engaging and intelligent.
Tours run for two hours, a half day or a full day; prices are tiered based on the length of your tour and start at 120 euros (about $132) for up to six people. Friend in Venice Private Tours offers a number of other themed Venice tours, such as an exploration of Marco Polo’s Venice and the city’s cuisine.
Gray Line/Park View Viaggi – Inside Venice: Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica
Price: Adults from 95 euros (about $104); children from 80 euros (about $88)
Duration: 2 hours
Breeze past the crowds of tourists waiting to see both the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica with this skip-the-line tour. During your roughly two-hour sightseeing journey, you’ll see important works of art and prisons inside the Doge’s Palace and learn about the history of Venice inside St. Mark’s Basilica. For many reviewers, the promise to skip the line at these crowded attractions proved worth the ticket price. The knowledgeable guides also earn praise from tourgoers.
Tickets cost approximately 95 euros (about $104) for participants 15 and older and 80 euros (about $88) for children 6 to 14. Children 5 and younger can tour for free. Tours start at 10:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. daily and are offered in English, French, Spanish and German. Gray Line also offers wine tours, boat tours and island tours in Venice.