Piazza San Marco

Your visit to Venice would not be complete without spending time at Piazza San Marco. As the main square in the city, and the only one referred to by locals as a true ‘piazza’, it’s the cultural hub of Venice, packed with historic sights, restaurants, cafés and shops.

Arriving at Piazza San Marco from the Grand Canal, you’ll be greeted by the archways of St. Mark’s Basilica. The striking cathedral, an example of Byzantine architecture, has some beautiful mosaics inside. Visit the Loggia dei Cavalli to see the Gothic design details up close, and don’t miss out on a visit to the sanctuary or the treasury. Look out for the image of Madonna of Nicopeia in the basilica’s chapel before coming back out into the square.

Next to the cathedral you’ll see the impressive Doge’s Palace with its patterned walls, white arches and intricate Gothic details. Go inside to see the beautiful golden staircase and paintings by Bellini, Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto. Explore the courtyard, stand underneath the Foscari Arch, and climb the Giant’s Staircase.

The 15th century clocktower, Torre dell’Orologio, is another must-visit sight at Piazza San Marco. Climb the tower to reach the roof terrace and get a closer look at the two bronze figures who strike the bell each hour. Look out for the signs of the zodiac and phases of the moon on the clock face too.

After visiting the main landmarks at Piazza San Marco, go and relax with a coffee at one of the many cafés on the square. Florian and Quadri have both been at St. Mark’s since the 18th century.