Get a great overview of Venice with time left to explore on your own. Your professionally guided tour begins in world famous Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square), the principal square in Venice. As a central landmark and gathering place for Venice, Piazza San Marco is extremely popular with tourists, photographers, and pigeons. The Piazza originated in the 9th century as a small area in front of the original St Mark's Basilica. It has been the location of the important offices of the Venetian state and the seat of the archbishopric for centuries.
You will stop to view the outside of St Mark's Campanile, the bell tower which is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city. The tower is more than 320 feet tall, and stands alone in a corner of St Mark's Square, near the front of the basilica.
Next you will 'skip the line' to tour inside Saint Mark's Basilica, the cathedral of Venice. Your tour price includes a special pass for quick entrance into this world famous cathedral. Originally it was the private chapel of the Venetian rulers dating back to 828 A.D. For its opulent design, gilded Byzantine mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the building has been known by the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of Gold).
Next, you will leave the square and crowds behind to discover the "real Venice ". You will enter a labyrinth of narrow passageways and alleys where an enchanting city of meandering canals punctuated by delicate bridges awaits you. You will learn about illustrious Venetian characters like Marco Polo as well as more common citizens, that made this city of stone such a vibrant and magical place.
Please Note: Bags and backpacks are NOT allowed inside St. Mark's Basilica. Please do not bring any bags with you, as you will not be allowed to enter the Basilica with them. The Basilica is sometimes closed unexpectedly due to high water or religious ceremonies. On those occasions when St. Mark's Basilica is open with high water, skip-the-line tickets will not be accepted, as all visitors have access to the church through only one door.
This tour departs from the St. Mark's Square area and ends in central Venice, near the Rialto Bridge. Depending on your ship's docking location, a vaporetto, water shuttle, or walk may be required. Transportation between your ship and St. Mark's Square is not included in the tour price.
We had an excellent walking tour with the guide Frederica. She was so knowledgeable about Venice and St. Mark's. We were able to skip the line to enter St. Mark's. I am not someone who normally enjoys tours of churches, temples etc., as I have seen so many, but her explanation and intimate knowledge of St. Mark's made the entire tour worthwhile. She also provided a lot of information on local life in Venice, its culture, the people and we strolled down some back neighborhood streets.
Reviewer: Cheryl Friedlander
Tour guide was patient, explained the history and was excited to share his city with us.
Reviewer: Stephen Jones
Our guide was great and being able to get into St. Mark's without waiting in line was a bonus. We never did get to see the Rialto Bridge.
Reviewer: NY Mari
This tour was a great overview of Venice for the first time visitor. The highlight was skipping the line at St. Mark's and being in the Basilica for the one hour of the day that the lights are turned on (who knew it was only lit for 60 minutes a day??) Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining. I would recommend this tour to begin your visit in Venice.
I really liked the headsets used on the tour to hear the tour guide!