Top 10 free things to see in Venice, Visitors Information

Top 10 free things to see in Venice

Here is the top 10 free things in Venice

Scala Contarini del Bovolo


There are a lot of islands that make up Venice. They are connected by rivers. People know the city for its unique history, architecture, and natural features. 

The city can be explored on foot, by water bus (vaporetto) gondola or by taxi boat. 

However, some people think that it is overrated and too expensive. Venice, the city built on the water, is famous for its unique architecture, rich history and romantic atmosphere. 

From Saturday until the end of the Biennale, you have to pay to see the buildings. You can enjoy many other beautiful works of art around the city for free, though.

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Best of Venice

Here is the top 10 free things in Venice

Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore: The island of San Giorgio has the best views in Venice, with the Doges Palace and the Grand Canal visible below. 

The famous church, which was built by Andrea Palladio in 1555, is a must-see. It's free to go inside the chiesa, which has paintings by Carpaccio, Palma, and two important works by Tintoretto: L'Ultima Cena and Il Cader della Manna. 

The inside is pretty stark. It only costs €5 to take the lift to the top of the bell tower, which is much more convenient than waiting in queue for eight euros to climb St Mark's Campanile. 

The view from San Giorgio is also much better. The church's grounds and monastery are owned by the Cini Foundation, which puts on free shows in Le Stanze del Vetro. During the Biennale, there is a beautiful piece of gold pillars by the vaporetto stop designed by the German architect Heinz Mack.


Casino Venier: During the time of Giacomo Casanova in the 18th century, there were more than 100 casini all over Venice. These were fancy, small rooms where the rich and famous met, danced, chatted, and mostly bet. 

One of the most beautiful can still be seen because it is now home to the French culture centre L'Alliance Francaise. 

The Casino Venier was built in 1750 and is on the first floor of an unremarkable building with a view of the narrow Barateri Canal. 

As you walk up the old stairs and open the heavy door, nothing prepares you for the lavish decor of the main room. The marble-floored Casino is a riot of lavish stucco, paintings, and Murano mirrors, and it is sometimes used for art shows today.



Scala Contarini del Bovolo: There are a lot of small streets in Venice, but the so-called Snail Staircase is one of the best secret sights you will discover. 

It's not far from the Rialto. Follow the yellow signs for Accademia from Campo San Bartolomeo, which is at the base of the Rialto bridge, until you reach Campo Manin. 

There is a small panel that is easy to miss that points in the direction of the Scala. After going back and forth between the lanes, you suddenly find yourself in a small area that is dominated by a tall stairs with arches that spiral and swirl around it. 

The house, which was built in the 1400s for the Contarini family, doesn't look like much from the outside. In 1499, this amazing Gothic staircase was added to the outside.


I Gesuiti: This huge baroque church is actually called Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, but people know it by the name of the Jesuit Order that had it built in 1715. 

The Gesuiti has a great collection of paintings and paintings that look like statues. Plus, there is no fee to enter. 

These artists lived close by and made works that can be seen in the main church. In the sacristy, you can see 20 paintings by Jacopo Palma il Giovane. 

Next door is a building that used to be a Jesuit convent. It has been a school, a hospital and then military barracks. It was recently brought back to life as student housing, and the cloisters and cafe are now open to the public.

Santa Maria della Salute: This is one of the most famous churches in Venice. It stands at the entrance to the Grand Canal and is just called the Salute. 

The Salute's huge baroque entrance and dome, designed by Baldassare Longhena, were built in 1681 to honour the Serenissima's escape from a plague that killed many. 

They are a famous sight on the skyline of Venice. But there are also important works of art inside, like paintings by Titian and Tintoretto. 

In front of the church, a wooden bridge spans the Grand Canal so that people can cross to enjoy the Festa della Salute.

Orsoni Colour Library: The only working glass furnace in Venice, is hidden away in a quiet backstreet in Cannaregio, not far from the old Jewish Ghetto. It makes beautiful smalto (glass mosaics) and gold leaf that have been used in some of the most famous buildings in the world, like St Paul's Cathedral, Barcelona's Sagrada Familia, Paris's Sacre Coeur and Venice's Basilica of San Marco.

 If you call ahead, you can get a free tour of the workshop that includes a description of how smalto is made and a stop at the Colour Library, which is full of thousands of bits of glass in a wide range of colours.


Sala San Marco Biblioteca: No one wants to go to the hospital while they're on vacation, but the Ospedale Civile in Venice is different from all the others. 

It is in the huge Scuola Grande di San Marco from the 1400s, and its wedding cake-shaped frontage dominates the San Giovanni e Paolo Campo. 

There is an old cloister and gardens after walking through the grand main hall with its intricate marble floor. But as of recently, the public can now visit the first floor of Sala San Marco. 

It has a huge medical library, a scary collection of old medical instruments and drawings, and beautiful copies of works of art by Bellini, Donato, and Tintoretto that were painted for the Sala but are now mostly shown in the Accademia gallery.


San Michele Cemetery: From the vaporetto stop at Fondamente Nove, it takes just a couple of minutes to reach the red-brick walls and tall cypress trees that encircle Venice's cemetery on the island of San Michele. 

While most tourists carry on to the next stop, the glass-blowing island of Murano, it is well worth taking a break at San Michele. The island's church is magnificent, designed in distinctive Istrian marble by the Renaissance architect, Mauro Codussi, in 1469, with peaceful cloisters and gardens, though most of its famous paintings have disappeared to museum collections. 

The cemetery is a much more recent early 19th-century creation, and although there are several famous graves – Ezra Pound and Joseph Brodsky, Diaghilev and Igor Stravinsky – there are also statues on tombs of gondoliers, and a Protestant section with graves of Grand Tour travellers who ended their journey in Venice.


Casa di Tintoretto: The grand house where Jacopo Tintoretto lived and painted has a sign outside, but you can't go inside. 

But this strange part of Cannaregio is worth finding because it has some very Venetian quirks. At the corner of Fondamenta dei Mori, there is a white statue of the Greek trader Rioba with a metal nose that stands out. 

There is also a fancy statue of a Moorish trader in a turban by the door to Tintoretto's house. The Bottega del Tintoretto is a print shop on the ground floor of the house. 

It is run by the friendly local artist Roberto Mazzetto and is open to the public. 

More Moorish figures are in the Campo dei Mori, and as you walk across a bridge to get to the Madonna dell'Orto church, you can see another strange frieze of an Arab dealer leading a huge camel on the back of Tintoretto's house. Tintoretto is buried in Madonna dell'Orto, which also has a museum with some of his works but charges a fee to enter.

Basilica di San Marco

Basilica di San Marco: The St. Mark's Basilica, also known as Basilica di san Marco, is a beautiful work of Byzantine art. It is the shrine of St. Mark, who protects the city. 

With its Basilica and Piazza San Marco, Venice is one of the most famous places in the world. The church is known around the world as the Golden Cathedral because it shows off how great Venice is. This church is one of the most well-known in Venice, and it's easy to find on a map of Venice. 

People often think that almost everything in Venice costs money to enter, so the fact that the Basilica di San Marco, the city's most famous draw, does not charge people to visit is a surprise. 

With its fairy-tale-like front, the church dominates the Piazza San Marco, though be aware that at least part of it will be covered up for repairs. It is the most evocative reminder of Venice's former glory, and the dome-shaped interiors are covered in stunning, detailed mosaics. But keep in mind that once you get inside, it costs money to see St. Mark's Museum, the Treasury, or the beautiful Pala d'Oro.

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