Doge's Palace St Mark's Square Venice

Practical Information On One Of The Main Venice Visitor Attractions

>Entrance To  St Mark's Basilica Venice

Entrance To St Mark's Basilica Venice

An Overview Of Venice For The First Time Visitor

Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square) is the heart of Venice. As the largest square in the city St. Mark's Square has always been the location of important government buildings and other facilities central to the goings on in Venice. For first time visitors its the natural magnet to head for on first arriving.

However, the only way to get to St Mark's Square is by water transport or at least an hours walk from the railway station, car parks, bus stations and cruise terminals of Venice. We have separate pages covering exploring Venice by foot including notes on the walk from the bus and train station to St Mark's Square and using the Venice Water transport.

Saint Mark's Basilica

Basilica di San Marco (St Mark's Cathedral) is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic diocese of Venice. It is the one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture.

The cathedral declares the wealth of Venice over centuries with its domes and turrets and gold mosaic standing out over the square (and over much of Venice).

The cathedral is open to the public, (though very restricted opening hours on Sundays and other special occasions) and with seasonal variations.

Full details about the history of the cathedral, admission prices, tours available etc are at the official web site linked below.

For many the lingering memory is the view from the roof over St Mark's Square itself.

Saint Mark's Basilica - Official Web site

Saint Mark's Square

Saint Mark's Square as well as being the largest square is also one of the largest open spaces in Venice, a big contrast to the winding alleys and lanes within Venice where you are hemmed in by the buildings most of the time.

The square is at the end of the Grand Canal and the waterfront is a delight going eastwards, a wide promenade. In front of the square are the water bus stops and water taxi jetties as well as being the most popular location for taking gondola rides.

> St Mark's Square Venice

St Mark's Square

>Doges Palace St Mark's Square Venice

Doge's Palace

There are (expensive) places to have a coffee and people watch too.

North of the square are narrow streets full of shops leading towards the famous Rialto Bridge, or go west into a pocket of high fashion designer stores finishing with an extremely expensive Bellini at Harry's Bar. Along here you can cross one of the four bridges, Accademia Bridge to the slightly quieter south island of the city.

Doge's Palace

Until 1797, the Doges ruled the Venetian Empire and Doges Palace (Palazzo Ducale) was where they ruled from dispensing justice, taxes etc.

As you can imagine the Doges wanted to demonstrate their power and wealth so the Doges Palace is no bland government building, far from it.

Inside the palace is great art (paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese), majestic staircases, the Doge's apartments, the government chambers, the prison cells and the Bridge of Sighs amongst others.

We have a dedicated page looking at this major attraction.

Doges Palace - More Details

The Grand Canal & Walking To St Mark's Square

The Grand Canal is 3.8 kms (2.4 miles) in length and travels in an S shape between the two islands Venice is built upon.

The Grand Canal links the entry point to Venice for most (Santa Lucia Railway Station and Piazzale Roma) and St Mark's Square where it spills out onto the open ocean.

Nearly everybody arrives in Venice along the causeway from mainland Italy and are deposited by the bus or rail station which are next to each other. Your options are either to walk or to get the Venice Water Bus down the Grand Canal to Mark's Square.

Your options are either to walk or to get the Venice Water Bus down the Grand Canal. The link below covers directions of the main walking route to St Mark's Square from the train/bus stations.

Walking Notes To St Mark's Square Via Rialto Bridge From Train/Bus Station

Gondola Rides From St Mark's Square

The Venice Gondola is perhaps one of the instant images most people have when Venice is mentioned.

>Venice Gondala Traffic Congestion

Venice Gondola In Front Of St Mark's Square

Although you will come across gondola all over Venice, at least the parts frequented by tourists the most popular base by far are gondola departures from the waterfront at St Mark's Square.

Up to six people can share a gondola.

The city of Venice sets official rates for gondola rides, typically a rate for 40 minutes, then additional increments of 20 minutes. Seek out the official rates by all means, but don't expect the actual price to be exactly the same rate in your head - make sure you have an agreement on price before you depart. In the evening rates may climb.

From the busy gondola stops by St Mark's most gondolas will follow the same route in a circuit behind St Mark's Square along the narrow canals there. At busy periods the route can have the water equivalent of traffic congestion, (see image).

Venice Gondola Rides - More Details 

Tours & Fast Track Admission Tickets In Venice

St Mark's Square, Basilica & Doge's Palace Tours

Skip the Line: Saint Mark's Basilica Tour (1 hour)   €25.00

Orientation of St Mark's Square plus tour of Basilica

Skip the Line: Doge's Palace Guided Tour (1 hour)    €27.40

See the best of Doge's Palace .

Skip the Line: Doge's Palace Secret Itineraries Tour (85 mins)    €57.00

See the best of Doge's Palace with rare access to the Piombi attic prison and the Bridge of Sighs.

Skip the Line: St Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace Tour    €50.00

See the best of Doge's Palace .

Skip-the Line Doge's Palace, St Mark’s Basilica Tours + Venice Walking Tour    €76.50

Experience all the highlights of Venice around St Mark's Square In 1 Day

Skip-the Line Doge's Palace, St Mark’s Basilica Tours + Venice Walking Tour & Canal Cruise    €114.00

Experience all the highlights of Venice around St Mark's Square In 1 Day + canal cruise

Skip the Line: Best of Venice Walking Tour including Basilica di San Marco    €39.00

2 Hour Walking Tour Including Rialto Bridge + St Marks with skip the line basilica tour

Best Of Venice Tours

Skip the Line: Venice in One Day Including Boat Tour    €67.00

Three-hour combination walking and boat tour of Venice

Venice Tour Including Gondola Ride    €67.00

Morming or Evening tour of Venice concluding with a gondola ride

Venice Gondola Rides 

A selection of gondola ride opportunties in Venice

Murano, Burano and Torcello Half-Day Sightseeing Tour    €20.00

Tour the outer islands of Venice by boat

Venice Shore Excursions From Cruise Ships Docked

Cruise Ship Shore Excursions 

A choice of Venice tours independent of the pricey ship offerings

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