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.
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.
City Wonders – Murano & Burano Small Group Tour with Private Boat
Price: Adults from $40; kids from $35
Duration: 5 hours
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.; additional departures at 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. are 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
Price: Adults from 189 euros (about $189); kids from 151 euros (about $151)
Duration: 5 hours
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 $189) for adults and 151 euros (about $151) 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
Duration: 2.5 hours
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 (there is a booking fee of 3 euros, or about $3, per participant). The company offers tours of St. Mark’s Square, which are accessible.
Venice Kids Tours – A Thrilling Secret Journey Into the Doge’s Palace
Price: From 80 euros (about $80) per hour
Duration: 2 hours
Ideal for families with kids ages 7 to 18, this approximately two-hour tour explores Doge’s Palace. Guides lead families through some of the hidden corridors and secret passages not open to the general public as they share stories about the building’s history. Also on the agenda is the attic prison, the former torture chamber and the armory, among other spots. Reviewers say their kids love the tour and recommend it to other families.
Prices for the private outing start at about 80 euros (about $80) per hour, but vary based on the length of the tour and number of participants, which is limited to five people. Kids must be at least 6 years old to tour. Trips depart in the morning only. Venice Kids Tours offers other family-focused activities, such as scavenger hunts, walking tours and boat tours.
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
Price: Adults from $105; kids from $100
Duration: 1.5 hours
This special 90-minute tour treats you to an inside look at St. Mark’s Basilica after it closes its doors to the general 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, which is adorned 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 $105 for adults, $100 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. several times a week. The company also offers a secret passages tour of the Doge’s Palace, gondola rides and food tours, among other options.
Raphael Tours & Events – Rialto Food Tour in Venice
Price: From $90
Duration: 4 hours
On this four-hour tour, you’ll explore Rialto by way of your taste buds as your guide 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 $90 per person. Raphael Tours also operates a walking tour of Venice.
Intrepid Urban Adventures – Cicchetti & Wine Tour of Venice
Price: From $100
Duration: 2.5 hours
Support the local economy on this foodie trip that takes you to locally owned and operated businesses to sample Venetian cuisine. During the 2 1/2-hour tour, you’ll eat four cicchetti dishes (think: polenta, seafood and vegetables), drink five glasses of wine and indulge in one dessert. Though you may pass by some big sights like St. Mark’s Square, you’ll mostly visit less-touristy spots in the Cannaregio and Rialto areas of the city. Plus, you’ll get to ride in a gondola. Travelers praise the tour guide and compliment the food and wine chosen. Tours are typically offered Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.
Tickets cost approximately $100 per person for both children and adults. Children must be at least 6 years old to join the tour. Intrepid Urban Adventures offers several different foodie tours, including one that focuses on Venetian coffee and bakeries.
Venice Kayak – Natural Tour
Price: Adults from 110 euros (about $110); kids from 80 euros (around $80)
Duration: 3 hours
Kayak your way through the Venetian lagoon on this three-hour tour. You’ll leave the city behind and immerse yourself in nature while your guide 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 $110) for adults and 80 euros (around $80) 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.
Friend in Venice Private Tours – Venetian Experience
Price: From 120 euros (about $120)
Duration: 2 to 6 hours
This is a fully customizable tour that takes travelers to the lesser-known areas of Venice away from the busy city center. Along the way, your guide will teach you about Venice’s history and answer all your questions about their city. Children are welcome on the tour, though the company asks that you advise them ahead, so they can tailor the tour to keep the kids’ interest. Tourgoers say guides are friendly, engaging and intelligent.
Tours run for two, three, four or six hours; prices are tiered based on the length of your tour and start at 120 euros (about $120) for up to four people. Friend in Venice Private Tours offers a number of other themed Venice tours, such as an exploration of Marco Polo’s Venice and the city’s cuisine.
Food Tours of Venice – Jewish Ghetto Food Tour
Price: From 105 euros (about $105)
Duration: 4 hours
Explore all there is to both see and eat in Venice’s Jewish Ghetto along this four-hour tour. This foodie excursion stops at more than six eateries for samplings of pasta, gelato, wine, baked goods and more. The route also takes travelers past historic synagogues, over the oldest bridge in Venice and through the city for spectacular evening views. Tour-takers say the food was plentiful and delicious, and they highly recommend the tour.
Tickets cost about 105 euros (about $105) per person, regardless of age. Tours run Saturday to Thursday at 4 p.m. Food Tours of Venice also offers a Rialto Food Tour, among others.
Gray Line/Park View Viaggi – Inside Venice: Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica
Price: Adults from 90 euros (about $90); children from 80 euros (about $80)
Duration: 2 hours
Breeze past the crowds of tourists waiting to see both the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica with this skip-the-line tour. During your two-hour sightseeing journey, you’ll see important works of art and prisons inside the Doge’s Palace and discover the Pala d’Oro altarpiece and more works of art at St. Mark’s Basilica. For many reviewers, the promise to skip the line at these crowded attractions proved worth the ticket price. The knowledgeable guides also earn praise from tourgoers.
Tickets cost approximately 90 euros (about $90) for participants 15 and older and 80 euros (about $80) for children 6 to 14. Children 5 and younger can tour for free. Tours start at 10:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. daily and are offered in English, French, Spanish and German. Gray Line also offers wine tours, boat tours and island tours in Venice.