Begin your tour of Venice in St. Mark's Square. Home to the magnificent St. Marks Basilica, Bell Tower and Doges Palace, this is the biggest square in Venice. Then, skip the line and enter St. Mark's Basilica. The church dominates the square with its impressive facade, butthe inside is even more stunning. You'll soon understand why this church is nicknamed "the Church of Gold", as your guide explains the jaw-dropping interior decor. The basilica is one of the most-visted sites in Venice, and it has a fascinating history. For example, did you know that In 828, merchants from Venice stole the remains of St. Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria, Egypt? Find out how they accomplished this and more.
*Since St. Mark's is a sacred place, both men and women must cover their knees and shoulders. Otherwise, you may be refused entry to a portion of your tour. We understand the summers in Venice are hot - a great alternative is to bring a shawl/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.
Rialto Bridge and Neighborhood
Just a few minutes away from St. Marks Square is the Rialto Bridge, as much a symbol of Venice as St. Mark's Basilica. Initially built from old boats, the unstable bridge was rebuilt in 1500. On one side of the bridge is the Rialto Market, a place thats been whetting appetites for seven centuries. The best view of the Grand Canal is from the center of Rialto Bridge. The scene of boats traveling down the canal is so dreamlike, you might have to pinch yourself to make sure you aren't dreaming. The area around Rialto Market is famous for its fish market, cicchetti bars and mask shops. If you're interested in returning to spend more time here, to either go out at night or watch the fishermen unload their boats in the morning, ask your Venice tour guide for tips.
A Gondola Ride in Venice
At the conclusion of your tour of Venice's highlights and hidden gems, your local guide will leave you with a trusted gondolier. For the next half an hour, sit back, relax and see Venice from a whole different angle - from the water. If you're lucky, as you you cruise through the blue canals, your gondolier might sing to you - just ask! The gondola ride is included in the cost of the tour. When your gondola ride ends, you'll be dropped off a few minutes walk from St. Mark's Square, where you met your guide.