St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)

#1 in Best Things To Do in Venice
St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) picture1 of 3
St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)2 of 3
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Key Info

Piazza San Marco, 328

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Churches/Religious Sites, Museums, Sightseeing, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
5.0scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

This elaborate church sits on the popular piazza by the same name. The church was built in honor of St. Mark the evangelist, whose remains were stolen from their home in Alexandria, Egypt, and hidden in barrels of pork and cabbage leaves by a couple crafty Venetians, intent on bringing him to rest in Venice.  

Crafted from many different styles of architecture, today its opulence shines from nearly every corner – from the four bronze horses that guard the entrance to thousands of square feet of mosaics to the Pala d'Oro. If you look closely at the church's center gable, you can see a statue of St. Mark along with Venice's emblem: a lion with wings.  

Many consider the basilica to be a must-see attraction while in Venice. Others said that though the lines to enter tend to get long, they move pretty quickly. To avoid the perpetual crowds, heed the advice of past travelers and plan to arrive right when the church opens. 

Keep in mind that backpacks aren't allowed inside the basilica and photography/videography is prohibited. Clothing should also be appropriate for a place of worship. Hours vary throughout the year, but generally the basilica is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 or 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; on Sunday, it's open from 2 to 4:30 or 5 p.m. The basilica's museum is open daily from 9:35 or 9:45 a.m. to 4:45 or 5 p.m. Admission to the basilica is free, but to enjoy the museum, you'll pay 5 euros (about $6); entrance to the Pala d'oro costs 2 euros (less than $2.50); admittance to the Treasury costs 3 euros (about $3.50). To skip the lines, you can also book an advanced ticket for 3 euros (around $3.50), which previous visitors highly recommend. For more information, visit the church's website.

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Type
Time to Spend
#2 Grand Canal

Considered to be the main street of Venice, the 2-mile-long Grand Canal is one of the city's most popular and highly photographed attractions. Recent travelers recommend hiring a gondolier for a romantic (but expensive) row along the canal. If you're hoping to do this option, plan to fork over between 80 and 100 euros (about $95 to $120) for the ride. Many others suggested hopping aboard the vaporetto, or the public waterbus, for a much cheaper experience. Vaporetto line No. 1 travels down the Grand Canal, stopping in the six sestieri, or neighborhoods, along the way. Travel experts strongly recommend purchasing a Venezia Unica City Pass if you don't plan on walking the entirety of your trip due to the high cost of one-way fare (7.50 euros, or about $9). Perpetual crowds have the potential to put a damper on the experience, so consider taking a ride during the evening for a quieter, more atmospheric ride. 

Whichever mode of transportation you chose, travelers agree that the Grand Canal is a magnificent attraction and must be experienced during your trip. 

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