20+ Free Things to do in Venice in 2024

Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and, sadly, one of the most expensive cities to visit.  However, that isn’t to say that you can’t visit Venice on a budget, as there are lots of free activities in Venice you can do without breaking the bank.  Instead of just the top 10 free things to do in Venice, I’ve got more than 20 free things to do in the city, to help you enjoy everything Venice has to offer for free.  From churches and museums to bookshops, gardens and incredible views, you’ll find it all here!

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Know Before You Go to Venice

Before travelling to Venice, check if you have to pay the Venice Access Fee, which applies to day trippers to Venice on certain dates starting in spring 2024.  This official page has more information.

Overnight guests do not have to pay the fee, as they already have Tourist Tax included in their accommodation.  If you need accommodation in Venice make sure you book in advance as hotels can sell out.


$$ Hotel Antiche Figure – opposite the station, friendly staff and great service. 

$ Albergo Marin – great value for its location next to Grand Canal close to the railway station.

$ Ostello S. Fosca in the centre of Venice or Anda Venice a fantastic hostel in Mestre 

🚌 Pre-book your transfer from Marco Polo Airport to Venice by bus or water taxi 

How to Make the Most of Venice on a Budget

I love finding free things to do wherever I travel, and you can have a fabulous time in Venice with a very limited budget.  However, one of my top Venice travel tips is to compromise and save money on some things, so you can afford to splurge a little on a unique experience that you can’t do anywhere else. 

For example, I saved money in Italy by staying in a hostel and doing lots of free activities in Venice, so I could treat myself to a food tour and a glass jewellery making class.    

If you have the cash to spend, don’t miss out on these top activities and attractions in Venice:

The Doge’s Palace is probably the most popular thing to do in Venice, you can check availability for your dates here:



Around have some excellent Venice walking tours which are a great budget-friendly way to get to know the city with the help of an online interactive guide.  You are in control of the schedule so you have the flexibility of exploring at your own pace while learning more than you would do without a guide.

Or you can browse more paid tours and activities in Venice here.  I use GetYourGuide to book tours and tickets as I love how you can choose from a variety of options to find the best for you, comparing prices and reading reviews. 

Using GetYourGuide means you also get immediate confirmation once you’ve booked which is perfect for last-minute plans, and when you book in advance you can cancel up to 24 hours before the activity in case your plans change.  However, If you prefer to use Viator you can find tours on Viator here.

That said, no matter what budget you have, you can still have an amazing time in Venice, and have some unique experiences you will remember forever without spending lots of cash! 


TOP TIP: If you want to stay connected in Venice without high roaming charges, consider getting an eSIM for Italy so you have access to data on your phone wherever you go.  Jetpac Italy eSIMs are valid in 28 countries and come with free airport lounge access if your flight is delayed – just make sure your phone has eSIM capability before you buy. 

So now let’s see all of the fabulous free things to do in Venice that you don’t need any money to enjoy:

Essential Free Things to do in Venice

Although I highly recommend spending AT LEAST 2-3 days in Venice, to give you time to properly explore, if you only have one day in Venice, these are the essential free Venice attractions that you cannot miss, without spending a penny!

St Mark’s Square

The most famous square in Venice, the iconic Piazza San Marco is free to visit.  Go early in the day or late in the evening to avoid the worst of the crowds.  Remember that buying anything from the cafés around the square is very expensive though!

The rules for #VisitRespectVenezia are also very strict here due to the number of people in and around the square so if someone official-looking asks you to stop doing something, then stop!  You’re not allowed to sit on the floor or steps anywhere around the square, don’t feed the pigeons and don’t buy any fake goods from the street sellers. 

Apart from that, admire the Basilica and the clock, consider going up the Bell Tower (€15 for tickets to go up the tower, skip-the-line tickets are available between April and October only) for great views of the city and take a moment to enjoy the orchestras playing at the cafes, even if you don’t buy anything.

TOP MONEY SAVING TIP: If you do want a coffee, then go to the counter in a cafe and pay for a coffee there which is much cheaper than sitting at a table in the square.

St Mark's Square and Basilica - Free Things to do in Venice
St Mark’s Square and Basilica – Free Things to do in Venice

Basilica di San Marco *Now Costs €3 to Enter*

The Basilica di San Marco used to be one of the most popular free things to do in Venice, but there is now a small €3 entry fee, which I still think is well worth it.

The queues for the Basilica San Marco in St Mark’s Square can be off-putting, but they do move relatively quickly.  Inside, the roof is made up of intricate golden mosaics and breathtaking decorations, which you can admire as you shuffle around the church following the line of people. 

You aren’t allowed to take any backpacks or large luggage inside, these have to be deposited at a free baggage storage centre separate from the Basilica, so leave your bags BEFORE you join the queue. 

You’ll also need to dress conservatively (no short shorts or skirts, no bare shoulders), if the staff deem your clothes inappropriate you will need to buy a €2 cover-up as you go inside.  Keep hold of it if you plan to visit other churches in Venice. 

No photography is allowed inside the Basilica, but I did see a lady with mini binoculars to see the details in the mosaics.  Inside the Basilica there are three optional extra things you can choose to pay for; the treasure of St Mark, the Pala d’Oro (€7), and the museum which also includes access to the terrace for views of St Mark’s Square and a close-up view of the roof mosaics.    

St Mark's Basilica in St Mark's Square - Free Things to do in Venice
St Mark’s Basilica in St Mark’s Square – Free Things to Do in Venice

Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge is another of Venice’s landmarks that you cannot miss. Find a spot along the canal on one of the jetties alongside the bridge for that classic Venice photo, or take one of the Vaporetto water buses which pass under the bridge to see it from the water. 

Rows of shops line both sides of the bridge, originally here to help the locals pay for the building of the bridge, now to serve tourists with a never-ending thirst for souvenirs from Venice.  It’s another place to come early to beat the bulk of the crowds. 

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Rialto Market

The Rialto Market is one of the last remaining markets in Venice and is sadly under threat as most visitors don’t buy anything from here.  The locals who remain in the city still come to the market in the morning to buy fresh fish, fruit and veg, so come and see the produce, buy something for lunch or a snack and enjoy. 

Various Bacari bars around the market serve great food too, so it’s a great place to come for lunch.  

Rialto Market Fish Stall - Free Things to do in Venice
Rialto Market Fish Stall – Free Things to Do in Venice

Bridge of Sighs

So-called as this was said to be the last opportunity for a breath of fresh air that prisoners had before heading between the courtrooms and the prisons, the Bridge of Sighs is now much less depressing and is a popular photo spot in Venice, especially if you can get a shot with a gondola drifting underneath.

As well as taking a picture of the bridge, be sure to turn around and look out across the water to San Giorgio Maggiore Island which is another gorgeous view. 

Views from Accademia Bridge

One of the most famous and certainly one of the best views of Venice, the Ponte della Accademia crosses the Grand Canal and leads to the splendid Galleria della Accademia art museum.  Stroll across and admire the vistas along the canal up to the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute. 

The Gallerie dell’Accademia usually charges €15.00 entry fee for adults, but it is free to visit on the 1st Sunday of the month if you happen to visit Venice then!  Entry is free all the time for under 18s, and early risers can save €5 with an early morning ticket between 8:15 AM and 9:00 AM.

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from the Ponte dell'Accademia - Things to do in Venice in One Day
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from the Ponte dell’Accademia

Free Walking Tour in Venice

As much as I love wandering the streets on my own, sometimes you really need a local guide to show you what is what and share some fascinating facts about the city.  I took a free walking tour with this company and enjoyed exploring a different area of Venice. 

Remember that although these tours are technically free, tipping your guide is greatly appreciated!

Free Things to do in Venice off the Beaten Track

Here are some of my favourite free things to do in Venice that you might not have considered before.  I’d recommend spending several days in Venice so you have time to step away from the crowds and find some hidden gems which you can enjoy for free.

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Giardini – Enjoy the Gardens of Venice

The gardens of Venice are a lovely place to escape from the crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet or have a picnic on the grass and are severely underrated compared to the other major landmarks in Venice.

The Giardini della Biennale are busier, especially in Biennale season when visitors flock to the art exhibitions in the pavilions, but walk further along and you’ll come to the Remembrance Park, a large green area shaded by pine trees.  Take a seat and enjoy a cool breeze from the lagoon. 

Keep an eye open for seabirds who make Venice their home, I watched a cormorant diving for fish as I sat in the cool shade. 

You’re more likely to be among locals here than tourists, so see if you can spot the book exchange box in the park, a welcome reassurance that local people do still live in Venice!  If you didn’t bring a picnic, head to the splendid Osteria da Pampo for a tasty seafood lunch.

Lush green grass and trees in Remembrance Park offer cool respite from the rest of Venice
Lush green grass and trees in Remembrance Park offer cool respite from the rest of Venice

Gondola Spotting

This simple and picturesque activity is one of my favourite things to do in Venice.  Gondola spotting is ridiculously easy as there seems to be hundreds of gondolas floating down every canal.  Find a bridge with a pretty backdrop and snap a classic Venice scene.  It’s free, and arguably more enjoyable than paying for your own gondola ride!

READ MORE: How To Get The Best Gondola Ride in Venice for your Budget

Basilica Santa Maria della Salute

This beautiful church provides a gorgeous backdrop for photographs all along the canal, and up close it is just as stunning.  It is free to visit inside, but a strict conservative dress code is in place so dress appropriately by covering your shoulders, chest and legs, or bring your cover-up from St Mark’s Basilica. 

Two Gondolas in front of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Don’t Take a Gondola in Venice Just Watch Them!

San Giorgio Maggiore Church

This lovely church is like an art gallery inside, as the walls are adorned with paintings.  Pick up an information card which has details of the artwork around the church, including one of Tintoretto’s last paintings “The Last Supper”.  The €6 charge to go up the bell tower is also well worth the money, for incredible views of Venice and the surrounding lagoon.

Glass Exhibition in the Stanze del Vetro

Behind the San Giorgio Maggiore Church, you’ll find a glass museum which offers free tours of their exhibitions, starting from April 2024.  English tours are at 11am every day, and Italian tours at 4pm, no booking required.  There’s air conditioning inside and a free bathroom too.    

The Glass Exhibition behind San Giorgio Maggiore Church
The Glass Exhibition behind San Giorgio Maggiore Church

Musical History Museum

One of the few free museums in Venice which doesn’t charge an entry fee, the Museo della Musica is inside the lovely San Maurizio Church and houses a collection of historical musical instruments from the 1600s to the 1960s and a section about the Italian composer Vivaldi.  

The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 1,00 p.m. and from 2,30 p.m. to 7,30 p.m.  Audioguides are available for a small fee, and you can also book paid guided tours for the special collections.  Check the official website here for more details. 

Shopping Centre Views

At the Fondaco dei Tedeschi shopping arcade, you can enjoy one of the best views in Venice without paying a penny.  You’ll need to book your 15-minute time slot in advance here, then head up to the top floor where you can enjoy a 360° view of Venice, including the Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square from above.

The Grand Canal from the Fondaco dei Tedeschi rooftop terrace
The Grand Canal from the Fondaco dei Tedeschi rooftop terrace

Explore the Jewish Ghetto Neighbourhood

The ‘Island of Venice’ is actually a cluster of islands made up of city blocks separated from each other by canals. In 1516 Venice’s Jewish community was confined to one such island called the ‘Ghetto’, as this was where iron was gettato (smelted).

Still the centre of the city’s small Jewish community, this tranquil district centring on the square of campo del Ghetto Nuovo betrays little of the hardship of life here in former years. In the square, you can visit the Museo Ebraico, or book a tour of the neighbourhood including a visit to a synagogue.  

But a gentle independent wander around this atmospheric area will be just as rewarding.

Acqua Alta Book Shop

This fabulous secondhand bookshop has become famous on Instagram for its book staircase and gondola filled with books, but don’t be put off.  Come here in the morning or over lunchtime when you won’t have to wait for your photo opp and you can explore the labyrinth of books in relative peace. 

Also, if you would love a photo in a gondola but don’t want to pay €80 for the privilege, Acqua Alta has a gondola moored outside where you can pose for free!  Donations for the bookshop cat’s food are greatly received in exchange!

Me Getting My Free Gondola Fix at the Liberia Aqua Alta
Me Getting My Free Gondola Fix at the Liberia Aqua Alta
A Unique Gondola Bookshelf in Acqua Alta Bookshop
A Unique Gondola Bookshelf in Acqua Alta Bookshop

Window Shopping

Venice has some fascinating shops, and no, I’m not talking about the tourist tat for sale everywhere.  I mean real shops where dedicated artisans sell their handmade and Venetian products like Carnival masks, intricate Murano glasswork, paintings by local artists, shoes, leather goods, and more. 

Venezia Autentica has a list of local shops which they say are carefully selected after making sure they are owned and run by local people and are selling high-quality authentic goods.  If you are looking for a lasting memory of Venice, buy something from a Venetian that you know isn’t a cheap import or fake!

Visit the Venice Arsenale

The Arsenale is a former shipyard in Venice which played a crucial role in the maritime power of the city.  It hosts exhibitions during the Venice Biennale, and usually costs €5 to enter although you can explore the outside and get a feel for the history for free.

Spot Filming Locations 

Venice has played a part in various films over years, so you can spot some famous filming locations such as The Church of San Barnaba which featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as the exterior of the library where Indy found the tomb of one of the brothers with the tablet sharing the location of the Holy Grail.  

Indiana Jones and Dr Schneider climb out of a drain in the square in front of the Church, and you can clearly see the facade in the background.  Inside the church is the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, not a library!  Other famous films shot partly in Venice include Casino Royale, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and The Talented Mr Ripley, although the locations are harder to spot.

The Church of San Barnaba in Venice
The Church of San Barnaba – A Famous Venice Filming Location

Free Things to Do in Venice Lagoon

If you’re looking for cheap things to do in Venice that only need a small amount of cash, Venice isn’t the only island in the Venice Lagoon, and these day trips from Venice will take you away from the crowds of the city for no more than the cost of a Venice transport ticket.

Lace Makers & Colourful Houses on Burano

Burano is a must-see in Venice and combined with Murano and Torcello, a visit to this colourful island is a fantastic day trip from Venice.  You’ll need a vaporetto transport to get here, after that you can stroll around to your heart’s content. 

The fishermen’s houses here are all brightly coloured to make it one of Venice’s most beautiful places to visit and admire the beautiful houses that are guaranteed to cheer you up on the dullest of days!

There is a small lace museum that has lace-making demonstrations in the mornings (€6 entry fee) and a lot of the lace shops also have ladies working on their creations where you can watch for free. Burano lace is renowned for its intricacy and fine details, so this is also a great place to buy gifts for your loved ones back home.  

Colourful houses in Burano Island in Venice
Colourful houses in Burano Island in Venice

Glass Blowing on Murano

The island of Murano became the glass-making centre of Venice in 1291 when the Venetian Republic ordered all furnaces to be moved from Venice due to the high risk of fires.  The glass-making traditions continue today, and if you want to see the masters at work creating real Murano Glass, then this is the place. 

Some of the glass factories have free demonstrations, others charge a minimal fee of around €3 euros. 

Lido Beach Day

Few people consider Venice a beach destination, but the island of Lido has several miles of sandy beaches to enjoy.  To get there you’ll need a Vaporetto transport ticket, but once you’re there you can spend the day sunning yourself and enjoying the beach. 

Lido is also where the Venice Film Festival is held every September, turning this relatively quiet island into a hub for film stars and makers from all over the world.  Bike hire is available if you’re feeling adventurous or take your own bike on a ferry from the mainland to explore more of the island. 

Spend a Day By the Beach in Lido - Hand holding shells on Lido Beach in Venice
Spend a Day By the Beach in Lido Venice

Bonus Free Thing to Do in Venice

Get Lost/Walk the Streets

Probably my favourite thing to do in Venice is simply wander around and get lost.  The main streets in Venice can get choked with people, so do yourself a favour and turn off the ‘highway’ to find a quieter and more picturesque way to get where you want to go. 

The real beauty of Venice is in the quiet streets and alleyways where you can stumble across hidden archways, stunning views and local people just going about their business away from the hoards of tourists. 

I’ve found that a lot of people who complain about how busy Venice is only spend one day in Venice, so of course they end up following the crowds.  Take your time in Venice to explore and support local businesses off the beaten track, and you’ll discover a completely different side to “La Serenissima”.   

One of the best free things to do in Venice at night is just walk around, and take some beautiful photos of the canals and wonderful architecture.  As there are fewer boats around at night, you have a better chance of catching reflections in the water too.  

Reflections in the Canals of Venice - Free Things to do in Venice at Night
Reflections in the Canals of Venice – Free Things to Do in Venice at Night

Where to Stay in Venice

Hotels in Venice

Although staying somewhere close to the train station isn’t as convenient for St Mark’s Square, you won’t have to worry about moving heavy cases around the streets of Venice. 

Hotel Antiche Figure, for example, is just opposite the station and gets great reviews for the friendly staff, good location and great service. 

Albergo Marin is a good choice to get a mix of value and location, next to Grand Canal and 10 minutes walk from the railway station.

B&B Ca’ Bonvicini is a lovely bed and breakfast hotel just 7 minutes walk from Rialto Bridge if you would rather be more ‘in the middle’ of the action.  It gets great reviews for the traditional Venetian decor and friendly staff.


Hostels in Venice

I stayed at the fabulous Wombat’s City Hostel Venice Mestre, which is now sadly closed due to the pandemic.  It may reopen in future, but it’s not looking good at the moment.  However, there are other hostels in Venice if you are visiting Venice on a budget, take a look at these options:

  • Anda Venice:  a trendy hostel a short train ride from Venice in Mestre with excellent reviews
  • Ostello S. Fosca in the centre of Venice
  • Combo Venezia, set in the grounds of a 12th Century convent. 

You can also take a look at all of the hostels in Venice on Hostelworld.


Apartments in Venice

There are lots of options for Airbnb in Venice, but given how many locals have had to leave their homes, I would advise against getting a whole apartment for yourself.  A private room in a local’s apartment will help them to pay the rent, and help you to really feel like a local in Venice, as well as saving you money. 

This room in Venice with a terrace, for example, is a short walk from the train station and walking distance from the main sights in Venice.  Alternatively, try Homestay.com which has some options for private rooms in apartments in Venice, Mestre and surrounding areas.

If you do want a whole apartment, you can rent full homes on Vrbo like this lovely historic apartment that is close to the centre of Venice, or this apartment which has its own garden!  Booking.com also has a large selection of vacation rentals available too, browse available apartments here


What do you think will be your favourite of these free things to do in Venice?  Have I missed anything?  Please leave your comments below.

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20+ Things to do in Venice for Free


4 thoughts on “20+ Free Things to do in Venice in 2024

  1. Claire says:

    Thanks for reading Vyanna! You’re right, there is a lot to do in Venice without spending a penny. I hope you enjoy your trip there! Thank you also for the Insta follow 🙂 Best, Claire

  2. Vyanna says:

    This was amazing and very helpful! I feel like we could spend our two days in Venice doing mostly free stuff! Thank. you for taking the time to write this. I also followed you on Insta. Cheers!

  3. Claire says:

    That’s a good idea – there’s plenty of room for 4 people in a gondola – just make sure that the gondolier doesn’t see you finding people to pair up with, they don’t like it!

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