Venice is perfect for lovers. This is a city built on shifting moods with a language of its own and the home of the legendary lover, Casanova. That’s on the surface. The Floating City can be serene and frenetic, in your face and coy, all within a split second. Our tours of Venice let you experience it perfectly with your significant other.
Once a grand maritime republic, this city has never quite forgotten its past. The gothic buildings, canals and characters will tempt you with their romantic mystery.
Here are our suggestions for romantic activities for couples in Venice to make your vacation memorable.
1. Float Along the Canals
Any romantic experience in Venice must include a journey on the boat that Venice is famous for; the gondola. What can be more romantic than a gondolier propelling you down the aptly named Grand Canal in an elegant craft? Along this main stretch of water, you'll pass opera houses, palaces and churches. You'll also explore the smaller canals of the bustling districts, making this the ideal way to see the hidden side of Venice.
Finally, remember that you can explore Venice by day or by night on a gondola. Once the sun sets, the crowds thin out. After dark, one of the most romantic things to do in Venice is to explore its magic by moonlit water.
2. Go to the Carnevale
The masked balls of the city heighten the mysterious allure of Venice, making it a city that keeps its cards very close to its chest. The most famous event is Carnevale, celebrated every year close to Easter.
The city holds the largest Carnevale spectacles on Piazza San Marco. There are also celebrations, feasts and pageants held across the rest of the city.
The exciting spirit of Carnevale inhabits Venice all year round making it one of the most elegant cities in Italy. No matter what time of the year you arrive you'll see street fairs, parades and mask selling stalls. Masks have always been popular here. Couples use them for romantic encounters during festivities.
3. Eat and Drink Like a Venetian
Following on from the previous point, part of the romantic allure of Venice are couples in masks wandering through side streets to traditional Venetian establishments known as bacari. Here you’ll meet with real Venetians as they indulge in what they call the giro d’ombra.
This is similar to a pub crawl but with a lot more Venetian style. The emphasis is on socializing and exploring rather than overdoing it. Not only will you taste authentic Venetian food, but you’ll get a chance to hear the Venetian language, which is closer to French and Spanish than Italian.
For a quieter, more intimate experience of the culinary treasures in the Floating City, sample a food tour of the Jewish Ghetto to try the local Cicchetti (pronounced chi-KET-tee) morsels. These are anything from deep-fried mozzarella balls (a universal favorite) to artichoke hearts, meat and fish parcels or toasted crostini with various toppings.
4. Soak up the Sublime Art
Can there be anything more romantic than soaking up Italian art together? Art is practically on every canal corner in Venice. To make the most of your time make sure you factor in as much time as you can to visit a few places completely devoted to it in the city.
The Venice Biennale takes place over six months of the year, and imports art from all over the globe to be showcased in the Floating City. The foundation that curates the Biennale hosts a variety of events every year, so you’ll always find an art happening when you visit.
Another art must-see in Venice, especially for lovers of the Gothic style is the Doge's Palace or Palazzo Ducale as locals know it. This lavish museum, found off the Piazza San Marco, is a work of art built as the personal residence of the powerful Venetian dukes. If you take our Secret Itineraries Tour you will also discover that it was home to Casanova for a while.
In the Doge's Palace, you’ll find grand staircases guarded by Roman gods, gilded stucco ceilings and paintings by Titian and Veronese. You’ll also find an arcade of sculptures and the famous Bridge of Sighs that links the palace and the prison.
5. Explore St. Mark's Basilica by Night
Of all the places to see in Venice, St. Mark’s Basilica is the most romantic looking. The best way to see it is on an exclusive tour after dark when the church closes to the public. Wealthy Venetian businessmen secured this site in the 9th century to house the remains of St. Mark. Then they smuggled it out of Egypt in a cask filled with pork.
It’s staggering to realize that this basilica was originally a private chapel for a senior duke. It only became Venice’s official cathedral in 1807, after the demise of the Venetian Republic. In no small way, the onion-shaped domes and glimmering mosaics of the cathedral have contributed to the romantic appeal of Venice.
Extra Romantic Tours to Consider
Semi-Private Best of Venice - This is perfect if you want to see more of Venice in one day than most people see in a week. You’ll explore St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs and Doge’s Palace and still be free to spend the rest of your time in Venice together.
Full-Day Combo: Best of Venice & Venetian Islands Tour - After exploring the atmospheric streets and buildings, you’ll travel to the lagoon islands by private boat.
VIP Venetian Island Experience - Escape the city for a full day exploring the tranquil islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello, where life moves at a different pace to the city.
Venice is a city for all the ages. As alluring today, even with cruises swelling tourist numbers to record levels, it never reveals all its secrets at once. Just like at the height of its fame in the middle ages, Venice is still as rewarding and as romantic as it has always been.