The 12 Best Venice Tours

Explore one of the world's most beautiful cities on these top tours.

U.S. News & World Report

The 12 Best Venice Tours

Best Venice Tours

Learn how artisans make their glass creations during City Wonders' tour through Murano. (Getty Images)

Note: Some tour providers on this list may have ceased operations due to COVID-19. 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 12 tours below as the best Venice has to offer.

City Wonders – Venetian Islands Tour: Murano Glassblowing & Burano Lacemaking

Explore two of Venice's most beautiful islands on this five-hour 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 $46 for adults and $40 for children 2 and older. Infants 1 and younger can join the tour for free. Tours run on weekends. Departure times vary by season, but most trips depart at 10 a.m. City Wonders also operates tours of the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica, among other Venetian hot spots.

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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 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 114 euros (about $135) for adults and 100 euros (about $118) for children. Tours run daily at 9 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.

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Food Tours of Venice – Jewish Ghetto Food Tour

Explore all there is to both see and eat in Venice's Jewish Ghetto along this four-hour tour. This foodie excursion stops at eateries for samplings of coffee, 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 90 euros (about $107) for participants 13 and older, around 80 euros (about $94) for ages 6 to 12 and are free for children 5 and younger. Tours run daily at 5 p.m. Food Tours of Venice also offers a Rialto Food Tour, among others.

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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 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. From April to October, the company offers night tours of St. Mark's Square.

Venice Bites Food Tours – Off the Eaten Path Food Tour

Discover the best Venetian cuisine on this four-hour, small group food tour. Across seven stops, you'll sample local specialties, such as cicchetti (Venetian appetizers), tramezzino (a sandwich), risotto, wine, the Venetian spritz cocktail and more. Travelers compliment guides' passion and say each stop is outstanding. Tickets start at 105 euros (about $125), and participants must be 14 years or older. Prices include all food and the five alcoholic drinks sampled on the trip. Tours are typically offered Monday through Friday and depart at 11 a.m. Venice Bites also offers a progressive dinner tour through Cannaregio.

Urban Adventures – Cicchetti & Wine Tour of Venice

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, drink four 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. Another highlight? You'll glide along a canal in a gondola during your tour. Travelers praise the tour guide and compliment the food and wine chosen. Tours are typically offered Monday through Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. Tickets cost approximately $106 per person for both children and adults; you'll also need 2 euros (about $2.50) in cash the day of your tour to pay the gondola fee. Children must be at least 6 years old to join the tour. Urban Adventures offers several different foodie tours, including one that focuses on Venetian coffee and bakeries.

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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 night is a wonderful time to see the cathedral and that guides are passionate and informed. Tickets cost around $110 for adults, $103 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 9:15 p.m. The company also offers a secret passages tour of the Doge's Palace, boat tours and food tours, among other options.

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Venice Kids Tours – A Thrilling Secret Journey Into the Doge's Palace

Ideal for families with kids ages 8 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. Tour prices start at about 30 euros (about $35), 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. Venice Kids Tours offers other family-focused activities, such as scavenger hunts, walking tours and boat tours.

Veneto Inside – Afternoon Private Gondola Ride

If your bucket list includes a gondola ride down Venice's canals, consider this tour. Veneto Inside offers a private gondola tour for up to six people, so you can relish the sights with your travel companions. The 30-minute tour ventures along smaller canals and takes you past several famous buildings before turning into the Grand Canal. Tour-takers report enjoying the gondola ride and appreciate being able to book in advance. Others wish the tour spent more time on the Grand Canal, especially given the cost of the excursion. The tour costs about 105 euros (about $125) for a maximum of six people. Afternoon tours depart multiple times daily from about 2:15 to 6:15 p.m., depending on the season. You can also book this tour for morning departures.

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Venice Kayak – Vignole & Sant'Erasmo

Kayak your way through the Venetian lagoon on this two-hour tour. You'll leave the city behind and immerse yourself in the nature surrounding the islands of Vignole and Sant'Erasmo with an expert guide leading the way. The company rates this tour as "easy," which makes it ideal for those new to kayaking. Tourgoers say this is a wonderful way to see the islands surrounding Venice and describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Tickets cost approximately 95 euros (about $113) for adults and 75 euros (around $89) for children 13 and younger. Tours are offered multiple times daily and depart from Certosa island. Venice Kayak offers daylong tours as well.

Friend in Venice Private Tours – Venetian Experience

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. 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 $140) for up to four people. The price also includes transportation from your hotel or other meeting point. Waterbus tickets and lunch are not included. 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. Friend in Venice Private Tours offers a number of other themed Venice tours, such as an exploration of Marco Polo's Venice and Venice artists.

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Gray Line/Park View Viaggi – Inside Venice: Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica

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 $97 for ages 6 and older, while children 5 and younger can tour for free. Tours start at 10:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Gray Line also offers wine tours, boat tours and island tours in Venice.

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