Known for its narrow canals, beautiful bridges and atmospheric streets, Venice is one of the most unique cities in the world and a must-add stop when in Italy. Our founder Susie Marquis offers her recommendations for the best walking tours in the ‘City of Canals’….
Venice is wonderful to visit at any time of year, and the perfect city to explore on foot … although a romantic gondola ride down the narrow canals is also very special! When walking in this unique city, it can be easy to get distracted and lose your sense of direction from time to time. If you know what you want to experience but don’t know the city very well, you can save a lot of time by having a professional tour guide.
As well as our beautiful apartments in Venice, we can also recommend local experiences to our guests. Covering everything from art galleries and museums to sightseeing and photography tours – and of course, local food tours. With the smaller tours comprising of less people, most of the companies mentioned below will offer a bespoke experience based on your interests and preferences.
Food and Wine Tours
For sampling local wine and food, we highly recommend Giorgia at Have a Glass in Venice, as being the perfect guide for smaller groups who are looking for an authentic Venetian experience. Giorgia offers some great local tours, including visits to traditional Venetian bacari (wine bars) to enjoy local wine and cicchetti (tapas).
For both food tours and some interesting sightseeing tours, we also recommend Devour Tours which originally offered tours in Spanish cities (which we have tried and enjoyed in the past) and have now expanded to other countries and cities, including our much loved Venice.
With such a wonderful selection of art galleries that can be reached on foot, it is no surprise that there are just as many excellent walking tours, including Venice Art Tours arranged by Eric Bagan who has lived in Venice since 2002. Offering personal tours for visitors, he will collect you at your apartment and for four hours you will be able to experience a knowledgeable insider's view of Venetian art.
It is also worth looking at Context Travel’s art tours, which include a three hour Veneziana Tour with an art historian at the famous Accademia Gallery, which includes collections containing works by Venetian masters such as Bellini, Titian, Tiepolo and Giorgione.
Museum and Art Gallery Visits
Dorsoduro, on the south-western side of the city between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, is one of my favourite districts in Venice and regarded by many as the creative side of the city, as well as being home to one of its most famous landmarks: the Santa Maria della Salute church. It’s also known for its famous art galleries, including the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Guggenheim Museum. Another nearby favourite is the Ca' Rezzonico Museum, one of the most beautiful palazzos in Venice. Although unfortunately it is closed to the public for a while, as it is undergoing major renovation and restoration works.
Another company offering interesting tours and worth looking into is Venice Autentica,a company with a goal to protect Venice from unsustainable mass tourism. They can arrange everything from gondola rides to a photo-walk experience, where you will enjoy a day out walking the city with a professional photographer and stopping at all the best capture spots. Moreover, they can offer visitors a Venezia Autentica Friends’ Pass which can be used in the best local shops, bars, and restaurants in Venice with a 10% discount – helping to support small local businesses that have a positive impact on Venice.
Ca’Nova 1 (2 bedrooms, 4 guests)
A beautiful apartment with a central Venice location, as well as wonderful views and interiors. It is one of four luxury rental apartments in a historic Palazzo, dating back to the 12th century. From the windows overlooking the Grand Canal, there are direct views to the magnificent Baroque church of Santa Maria della Salute and the new Punta della Dogana museum which houses the Pinault contemporary art collection. Guests here will also be just a a 5 minute walk from Piazza San Marco and 3 minutes from the La Fenice theatre. Guests will have also access to a spacious terrace also on the 5th Floor, shared by guests at all four apartments in the Palazzo. The other three apartments here, Ca’Nova 2 (2 bedrooms, sleeps 4), Ca’Nova 3 (3 bedrooms, 5 – 7 people) and Ca’Nova 4 (1 bedroom, 2 – 3 people) which can be rented separately or, for a large group, the entire palazzo.
Apartment Zattere (2 bedrooms, 4 guests)
Situated on the Zattere, in the Dorsoduro area, the apartment benefits from views over the Giudecca Canal as well as panoramic views to the Redentore Church and the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore. Guests here will be just a 5 minute walk from both the Guggenheim Museum and also the Punta della Dogana, the latter in a recently restored old custom’s building and featuring a sensational art collection. The Accademia Gallery is also just a 7 minute walk. After a visit to the gallery, you can cross the Accademia bridge to visit San Marco, or continue to Campo Santa Margherita, a lively market square by day, and a lovely place to sit and relax with a glass of wine in the evening. The interiors of the apartment are furnished to a very high standard, and there is also a sauna and a furnished terrace.
Apartment Grand Canal, (4 bedrooms, 8 guests)
This stunning apartment is in an historical palace near San Marco at the entrance to the Grand Canal, and offers wonderful views from St Mark's Basilica to Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore and to the Accademia Bridge. On entering the apartment, the entrance hall leads to a huge living room furnished with magnificent antiques, Venetian tapestries and Fortuny fabrics. The large double-height windows here open to a balcony with views over the Grand Canal to the Basilica di Santa Maris della Salute, which can be reached in a 10 minute walk (or gondola ride) The Gallerie dell’Accademia and Piazza San Marco can be reached in around just 7 minutes’ walk. The bedrooms are on the second floor, where there is also a sitting area and more wonderful Grand Canal views.
Apartment Altana (3 bedrooms, 4 – 6 guests)
In a wonderfully central location just a 4 minute walk from the Accademia Gallery and a 12 minute walk from St Mark’s Square, guests here will also be very close to a great selection of famous art galleries, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Palazzo Grassi and the Punto della Dogana at Salute. The interiors are furnished to a high standard and the rooms feature a mix of beautiful contemporary and vintage pieces, including original modern art, as well as furniture from the 1950s and 60s, with upholstery in authentic and beautiful Venetian fabrics. The living space here offers both comfortable seating and beautiful views. On the upper floor, where there is a third bedroom, guests will find a Japanese style double bed and a sitting area opening to a small furnished Venetian ‘altana’ terrace. On the ground floor of the building is a beautiful private spa with sauna.
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