The Grand Canal in Venice is a main waterway through the city. If offers great scenery, pleasant gondola rides and more to visitors and locals alike. As Venice’s ‘Main Street’ the Grand Canal is a must see. The Rialto Bridge and other spectacular sights mean that no visit to this lovely Italian city is complete otherwise.
One option is to take a short stroll and see the Fondaco dei Turchi, Venice’s Natural History Museum. Built in the 13th century, this magnificent structure provides one of the great views from a gondola. It also has many interesting items within to explore. Though parts are still under construction, there is a section with dinosaurs and a small aquarium. It also houses the Correr Museum.
A ride along the Grand Canal can easily be the highlight of a trip to Venice, and there are several ways to go about it.
Gondola rides are ever popular, despite their somewhat high price. Groups up to six can board and split the price. Sights along the leisurely trip include the Basilica di San Marco, the Campanile, the Doge’s Palace and much more. Making arrangements through your hotel is one way to avoid haggling.
But there are other vehicles that cross or navigate the Grand Canal as well. The vaporetto, or water taxis, are small boats that travel along all of the city’s canals, including the Grand Canal. Like bus lines in other major cities, they are numbered and have distinct starting and stopping points. Pick up a free map when you reach Venice and you’ll quickly locate a route you’d like to travel.
Passenger boats, called traghetti, generally only go from one side to the other, but they can still be a fun (albeit, short) ride. There are only a few bridges that cross the Grand Canal along its 2 mile/3 km length. These old gondolas move visitors from one side to the other without requiring a long walk to one of the bridges. Since the canal ranges from 30-70m (100-230 feet) wide, your trip can vary in length.
If you travel along the waterways at night, you’ll have a chance to peer into some of the palaces that have large, well-lit arches. You’re close enough to get a very good view of the highly decorated interiors. Many find this a good way to decide which they’d like to explore further during the day.
Another very fun option is to take one of the water taxis to any of the nearby islands. Visitors can see famed glass works, churches and more on Murano and Burano, Lido and Torcello. Beaches similar to the Hamptons in the northeast U.S. offer visitors everything from warm sun to cool drinks.