Ahhh… Venice, Italy… Birthplace of Casanova.
We can’t get over the beauty of the city. Its canals and singing gondoliers. Its bridges. (Did you know Venice has over 400 bridges?) Its gorgeous palaces and museums…
And the light as it plays on the multi-colored hues of the city!
The fact is that Venice is not only one of the most beautiful places to see in Italy, it’s also impossibly romantic.
And there are so many wonderfully romantic things to do in Venice!
Whether seeking a memorable way to spend your honeymoon, celebrate an anniversary, rekindle the feelings that brought you together years ago – or simply get away for a few days together – romantic Venice is the place to do just that.
So if you’re wondering what to do in Venice, Italy, for a romantic trip, read on…
Romantic things to do in Venice, Italy
To help with planning your romantic Italian getaway, here’s our list of the 17 best things to do in Venice for couples.
1) Take a romantic Venice gondola ride
Picture yourself in one of those postcard-perfect scenes, cozying up to your love as you slowly glide along the dreamy canals of Venice in your own gondola.
Without a doubt, a gondola ride is one of the most romantic Venice activities!
Some 10,000 of these narrow flat-bottomed boats once plied the canals and lagoons, but now there are only about 400 – so the canals aren’t as crowded as they were centuries ago.
For a more romantic ride, avoid the bustling Canal Grande (Grand Canal).
Venture to the Campo San Barnaba and San Polo areas to find a gondola to whisk you off on a quiet ride through the back canals.
The city of Venice sets official rates for gondola rides.
Current rates are 80 Euros (about $87 USD) for a 40-minute ride. You can buy additional time at the cost of 40 Euros (about $43 USD) for each additional 20-minute chunk of time.
Singing by your gondolier costs extra!
A gondola ride is admittedly pricey.
But it’s a unique travel experience in Europe and probably the most romantic thing to do in Venice, right?
2) Explore the Doge’s Palace
The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) is a palatial waterfront masterpiece, built during the 10th and 11th centuries to serve as the official residence of the doges (elected leaders of Venice).
Its design is a fascinating blend of Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, with a truly Venetian pale pink façade.
Walk arm-in-arm as you explore the lavish interior, including rooms decorated with marble carvings and frescoes.
Gaze at the famous painting “Bacchus, Venus and Ariadne” by Tintoretto, permanently housed here along with many other precious pieces of art.
Finish up with a walk across the Bridge of Sighs to the old prison.
The best way to see the Doge’s Palace is on a guided tour.
This top-rated Doge’s Palace tour (with skip-the-line tickets) will bring the palace’s history and intrigue alive for you.
It also includes a tour of St. Mark’s Basilica (see #5 below), another of the city’s most important landmarks.
Fancy bundling the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica with a romantic gondola ride that explores both the Grand Canal and Venice’s narrow waterways (maximum 6 people in the boat)?
Here’s a great “Venice in a day” tour. More than 600 happy reviewers have given it a 5-star rating.
And as you’d want – yours is a romantic trip to Venice, after all! – this guided walking tour of Venice’s top attractions is also a small group tour.
Do you have a passion for palaces? Then read about Sweden’s Drottningholm Palace, inspired by two beautiful strong-willed queens
3) Kiss under the Bridge of Sighs
Speaking of the Bridge of Sighs, if there’s one place known to all in Venice, it’s this iconic bridge.
Built in 1600, the white limestone bridge is completely enclosed with latticed windows.
According to Venetian folk tales, those who kiss underneath this famous bridge are bound to find happiness and eternal love.
Take a gondola that passes underneath the bridge to share this romantic moment. Maybe go as the sun goes down and the city is bathed in soft orange light.
No doubt about it. This is one of the most romantic things to do in Venice!
4) Attend an opera at Teatro La Fenice
Be captivated and inspired as you make your way into Teatro La Fenice, a 1792 opera house with a stunning interior.
Catch a performance of “Aida” or perhaps “La Traviata” in this 1,126-seat venue, complete with 23-carat gold leaf details.
Revel in its surrounding beauty as the opera performance comes alive right before your eyes.
Whether this is your very first or your 100th opera, it will long stand out as being one of the most romantic experiences the two of you have together.
5) Feed the pigeons at St. Mark’s Square
Take in the Renaissance architecture of Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) in the heart of Venice.
While there, feed fluttering pigeons as they land on your outstretched arms. These birds far outnumber Venice residents, so expect a flurry of activity whenever they are near.
Also admire the spectacular views surrounding the square, including domes, arches and turrets of the Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica).
6) Linger over lunch on Torcello Island
Drift over to Torcello Island – like the famous writer Ernest Hemmingway once did – for inspiring sights before lingering over a romantic lunch in a quaint restaurant, perhaps on a shady terrace.
This secluded isle, off the beaten track, is one of the most romantic spots in Venice. Here you can escape the crowds, slow down and enjoy each other’s company.
After lunch, check out the Byzantine mosaics in the 7th century Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell ‘Assunta.
Or follow one of the many walking paths through the nature preserve that makes up most of the island.
Relishing unhurried time on the island of Torcello is one of the more charming and less touristy things to do in Venice, Italy!
You can get there by taking a vaporetto boat with a connection in Burano (about a 50- to 60-minute ride) or a private water taxi.
7) Visit the colorful island of Burano
While there are many small islands to visit in Venice, make sure the colorful island of Burano is on your list. Wander hand-in hand-along the narrow passageways, passing colorfully painted houses separated by winding canals.
The island is world-famous for its intricate lace, and artisans create beautiful lace creations you’ll want to purchase as a remembrance of your romantic trip.
Gather up delicate handkerchiefs, scarves, blouses, tablecloths and napkins to take home.
A pleasant 30-minute boat ride across the Venetian lagoon takes you to this part of Venice for lovers.
If you have 2 days in Venice, Burano Island is the perfect Venice day trip for the morning or afternoon of your second day.
8) Sip Bellinis at Hotel Cipriani
Another one of the best romantic things to do in Venice is to slip off to the nearby isle of Giudecca for a little romantic retreat – Giudecca is a short boat ride across the lagoon from St. Mark’s Square.
On arrival, make your way to the Gabbiano Bar at the elegant Hotel Cipriani and order a pair of bellini cocktails to sip on while gazing out over the waterway.
These signature drinks of the hotel are a just-right mixture of Prosecco sparkling wine and peach puree or nectar.
It’s the perfect romantic drink to savor together as you enjoy the hotel’s beautiful views of romantic Venice.
9) Get lost in Dorsoduro
Escape to Dorsoduro, a quiet part of the city full of quaint shops and restaurants nestled along cobblestone streets.
With its bohemian atmosphere, you can pass a full day here and never be bored – there are lots of vintage boutiques, galleries and museums to explore.
Be sure to venture along the Dorsoduro Museum Mile, taking in the best of art history in the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Punta della Dogana, Vittorio Cini and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
Afterward, settle into one of the eateries for authentic Italian treats or a drink at one of the pubs.
For souvenirs, the well-known Venetian Carnival mask shop, Cà Macan, is a must, and there are many other intriguing indie shops in the neighborhood.
10) Ride a vaporetto
Take a fun break from strolling the streets of Venice and cozy up next to your partner on a vaporetto (water bus) to soak in the sights. (See this official Venice tourism website link for transportation passes and tickets.)
The Grand Canal is 2.4 miles long, flowing in an S shape and offering spectacular views.
Ride the full length starting at Piazzale Roma (the main transportation hub near the Santa Lucia train station) all the way to St. Mark’s Square on Line 1.
Along the way, you’ll see the Gothic palace Ca’ d’Oro (also known as the Palazzo Santa Sofia), the baroque Basilica de Santa Maria della Salute and the Renaissance-style Palazzo Dario, among many other spectacular sights.
You may want to know: Here’s how to get from the Venice cruise port to the train station (and to St. Mark’s Square
11) Bed down in a romantic hotel
To set the scene for a fully romantic experience while in the city, stay in one of the most romantic hotels in Venice catering to couples.
After exploring the city all day, a beautiful room awaits for making like sybarites and spending cherished time together.
Venice is home to many of the most luxurious and romantic hotels anywhere. Look for those with large windows or terraces with gorgeous views of the canals and even a spa bath.
A Venice honeymoon suite is always a good choice – especially if you’re celebrating your honeymoon in Venice.
You don’t even have to go off budget to find lovely but affordable hotels.
We especially like Hotel Palazzo Abadessa.
Located about a 15- to 20-minute walk from St. Mark’s Square, it has 15 rooms and suites in a former Doge’s residence. (We loved having breakfast in the pretty garden.)
We’ve also stayed at the Hotel American-Dinesen.
Don’t let the name fool you. Housed in a 17th century Venetian townhouse, it overlooks the San Vio Canal in the Dorsoduro district.
It’s very Venetian. And romantic! And mid-price affordable (not splurge-priced).
12) Share some gelato
Take time out from exploring the city and settle in to share some of the most decadent gelato found anywhere.
Gelaterias are sprinkled throughout the city and offer sensational varieties such as those made with Amarena cherries or Sorrento lemons.
You may want to start at La Mela Verde on the Rio di San Provolo canal, indulging in their creamy pistachio or white peach gelato, made with whole Italian milk.
Order two – then find your own private spot with a view of the flower-lined canal to taste the velvety softness and seriously delicious flavors.
Try different gelatos as you stroll around the “City of Love,” and enjoy the romance in Venice at every turn.
13) Shop for glass on Murano Island
Hop on a boat for the short boat ride over to the island of Murano, where the art of glass blowing takes beauty to a whole new level.
As a precaution against fires in the city, the Doge of Venice ordered all Venetian glass makers to move their furnaces (fornaci) to the island back in 1291.
This is where they’ve been ever since, providing an entire area for glass shopping.
Watch as artisans mold hot blobs of glass into exquisite bowls and vases.
Maybe pick up some Murano glass jewelry? Or splurge on a stunning Murano glass chandelier for your home (it can be shipped).
You can learn all about making glass at the Vetreria Artistica Gino Mazzuccato, an ancient glass-making factory and showroom.
As we mentioned, Burano (#7) is another one of the most beautiful islands near Venice. If you’re enjoying a romantic weekend in Venice, you may want to spend some time visiting both Murano and Burano on a guided tour.
During this small group tour by private boat, you’ll watch Venetian craftspeople create Murano glass and also visit Burano’s Lace Museum (Museo del Merletto).
14) Enjoy a romantic dinner in Venice
When it comes to dining out, there’s no shortage of restaurants in this romantic city.
Venetian cuisine focuses on local seafood, game meat and fresh pasta. And what with ordering some of Italy’s best wines, how can you not fall in love with each other all over again!
For a romantic dinner in Venice in a historical setting, you might like Cantina Do Spade.
This 600-year-old wine bar and trattoria is where the famous lover Casanova is said to have once entertained the women in his life.
Also try Wisteria Ristorante. Serving seasonal and creative dishes, this great spot has a garden courtyard with canal views.
Or maybe you’d like to eat and drink like a local on a fun (and tasty!) walking food-and-wine tour?
You’ll follow your guide to several backstreet cicchetti bars in Venice, where you’ll taste cicchetti (Venetian appetizers, like marinated seafood with polenta) and sample regional wines, including Prosecco.
The group size is limited to 12 for a more intimate experience and even includes a gondola ride across the Grand Canal! You can book it for 5:00 pm for an evening experience.
This tour has received 5-star reviews from more than 1,000 reviewers.
If interested, you should do it at the beginning of your Venice visit. You’ll want to find out all the non-touristy restaurants in Venice to go to later from an insider (i.e., your guide).
15) Gawk at the views from the top of San Giorgio Maggiore Campanile
Share an exquisite view of Venice and beyond, together, as you stroll out onto the top of the San Giorgio Maggiore Campanile. It rises up over Venice
Gawk at the incredible panoramic scenes before you, and get a bird’s eye view of the Doge’s Palace, the length of the Grand Canal and San Marco.
The San Giorgio Maggiore is a Benedictine church built in the 16th century and sits on the island sharing its name. Be sure to share a kiss atop this belltower as the sun sets and casts its glow over the entire city.
This is one of the most romantic places in Venice and the least crowded.
You can get to the island by vaporetto. And there’s a glass-walled elevator up to the top of the bell tower, more than 200 feet high.
16) Stroll Zattere at Sunset
Hold hands and walk along the Zattere promenade at dusk – there’s no better place to take in the golden Venice sunset than this canal-side walkway.
See the last daylight glimpses of the Giudecca Canal and the pastel buildings lining each side as darkness descends, and watch the play of light as it flitters across the water.
A leisurely stroll here is one of the most romantic things to do in Venice at night.
17) Go on a Prosecco wine tasting tour
Italy is synonymous with fine wine – so take your love on a wine tasting tour! One of the most romantic of these is a Prosecco wine tasting day trip with lunch.
Set against a backdrop of the Dolomite Mountains, the lush vineyards of the Prosecco region are an hour’s drive north of Venice. Several companies offer tours.
This lovely semi-private Prosecco tasting tour, for example, visits two boutique wineries.
You’ll tour the cellars, taste various Prosecco versions, learn how this Italian sparkling white wine is made and maybe even meet the winemakers themselves. Lunch is at a traditional trattoria overlooking the vineyards.
You don’t even have to leave Venice.
This unique Venice rooftops walking tour and Prosecco tasting shows you the secret side of Venice from the terraces of private Venetian palaces – all while sipping on a glass of Prosecco.
You can bone up on your wine knowledge in advance by reading about “What is Prosecco?“
Now you know all the romantic places in Venice and what to do!
Visiting Venice, one of the most romantic cities in the world, is a perfect way to spend quality time with each other – exploring, relaxing and sharing your love.
Whether celebrating your honeymoon in Venice or simply escaping for a romantic getaway, you’ll love discovering all the different nooks and crannies of this enchanting city together.
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Photo credits: 2, 6, 14, 16, 26 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 13 Hotel Cipriani | 21 Wisteria Restaurant