Note: Some tour providers on this list may be running more limited operations due to COVID-19 or may impose testing or vaccine requirements. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
Known for its myriad of canals and waterways, Venice, Italy, offers travelers everything from centuries-old history to unparalleled beauty. Some of these top tours take you to the quietest areas of the city away from the tourist crowds to discover Venice’s cuisine, wine and culture, while others offer ample opportunity to see the city from the water whether 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.
City Wonders – Murano & Burano Small Group Tour with Private Boat
Explore two of Venice’s most beautiful islands on this half-day tour that’s limited to 20 participants. You’ll first journey to Murano by boat to see a glassmaking demonstration followed by time to shop and explore the island 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 Burano. 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 at around $40 for adults and $35 for children 2 and older. Infants 1 and younger can join the tour for free. The five-hour tours run daily at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; an additional 9 a.m. departure is available during select months. City Wonders also operates tours of the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, among other Venetian hot spots.
Avventure Bellissime – Grand Day Tour of Venice
If you’re short on time, consider this five-hour tour that hits three of Venice’s top attractions. You’ll enjoy skip-the-line access to Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, as well as a two-hour walking tour of the city. 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. Other sights seen along the way include the Bridge of Sighs and the Rialto Bridge. 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 189 euros (about $199) for adults and 151 euros (about $159) for children 7 to 12; kids 6 and younger tour for free. 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. Know, too, that St. Mark’s Basilica only offers skip-the-line tickets from April to October. Avventure Bellissime also offers an abbreviated version of this tour that lasts three hours, among other options.
Venice Free Walking Tour – Venice Through the Centuries: North
This 2 1/2-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. The company offers tours of St. Mark’s Square, which are accessible.
Explore Venice’s famous St. Mark’s Basilica without the crowds during a tour with Walks of Italy. (Courtesy of Walks of Italy)
Walks of Italy – Exclusive Alone in St. Mark’s Basilica After Hours
This special 90-minute tour treats you to an inside look at St. Mark’s Basilica after it closes its doors to the public. Guides lead no more than 20 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 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. Tickets cost around $95 for adults, $90 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 p.m. Friday through Wednesday. The company also offers a secret passages tour of the Doge’s Palace, gondola rides and food tours, among other options.
Venice Kayak – Natural Tour
Kayak your way through the Venetian lagoon on this three-hour tour. You’ll leave the city behind and immerse yourself in nature where your guide will lead 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 $116) for adults and 80 euros (around $84) for children 14 and younger. Tickets include the use of all equipment, water, lockers and use of shower facilities after your tour. Trips run Wednesday to Sunday at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and depart from Certosa island. Venice Kayak offers daylong tours as well.
Raphael Tours & Events – Rialto Food Tour in Venice
On this four-hour tour, you’ll explore Rialto by way of your taste buds as your guides 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 leaves daily at 11 a.m. Tickets start at around $95 per person. Raphael Tours also operates a walking tour of Venice.