St Mark's Square & Basilica, Venice

Piazza San Marco and attractions in St Mark's Square, Italy

Entrance to St Mark's Basilica Venice
Impressive architecture: entrance to St Mark's Basilica, Venice

An overview of St Mark's Square 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 it's the natural magnet to head for upon arriving.

However, the only way to get to St Mark's Square is by water transport or at least an hour's 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.

There are several museums and attractions in and around St Mark's, the most popular being Doge's Palace and St Mark's Basilica.

St 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 website linked below.

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

St Mark's Basilica - official website

Venice st mark's


venice st mark's basilica
St Mark's Basilica skip-the-line entry with 1-hr guided tour

• Guided tour of St Mark's Basilica • Live guide in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish  • Access to terrace if selected • Small group up to 20 people

St Mark's Square

St Mark's Square Venice
Number one tourist destination in Venice: St Mark's Square

St 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.

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

Venice Doge's Palace
Doge's Palace

Until 1797, the Doges ruled the Venetian Empire and Doge's 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 Doge's 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.

Doge's Palace - more details

Venice doge's palace


venice doge's palace
Choose from a range of tickets including fast track, or in combination with St Mark's Basilica etc

• A range of ickets available including fast track • Add on St Mark's Palace, Museum, gondola tours, etc • Small group options available

Venice walking tour


venice walking tour doge's palace
Guided tour with entrance to St Mark's Basilica & Doge's Palace + gondola ride

 • Skip-the-line entry to Doge's Palace • Entry into St Marks Basilica • Gondola ride • Profesisonal art historian guide • Small group tour

Popular museums and attractions in St Mark's Square

The Correr Museum

The Museum is laid out in various sections that offers fascinating insight into the Art and History of Venice.

The first section includes the Napoleonic Wing itself, a nineteenth-century palace for kings and emperors. Here the luxurious Neo-classical rooms house a noteworthy collection of works by the greatest sculptor of the age, Antonio Canova (1757-1822).

National Archaeological Museum of Venice

Home to an important collection of ancient sculptures, including some significant original Greek sculptures. There are also bronzes, ceramics, gems and coins, which includes ancient Egyptian and Assyrian-Babylonian items.

Biblioteca Marciana

The library, by Jacopo Sansovino, was built and decorated to welcome the Greek and Latin codices donated to the Republic of Venice by Cardinal Bessarion in 1468.

It containts precious manuscripts, like the Breviario Grimani from the fifth century and the World map of Fra Mauro, and ancient editions, including those of Aldus Manutius.

The Grand Canal & walking to St Mark's Square

The Grand Canal is 3.8 km (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.

The link below covers directions of the main walking route to St Mark's Square from the train/bus stations.



venice city centre
Guided walking tour of Venice with entrance to St Mark's Basilica

• Skip-the-line access to St Mark's Basilica • Cruise along the Grand Canal on a water taxi ride • Learn about historical Venice from your guide • Small group up to 17 people

Venice bridges


venice gondala ride
Guided tour with entrances to St Mark's Basilica & Doge's Palace, gondola ride & Murano & Burano islands visit

 • Skip-the-line entry to Doge's Palace • Skip-the-line entry to St Marks Basilica • Round Trip Transportation to/from Murano & Burano Island • Professional guide • Glass blowing and lace making demonstrations • 30-min gondola ride • Small group tour

Gondola rides from St Mark's Square

Venice Gondola in front of St Mark's Square
Venice Gondola in front of St Mark's Square

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

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 


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

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

Orientation of St Mark's Square plus tour of Basilica

From €32

Skip the Line: Doge's Palace Fast track Guided Tour (1 hour)   

See the best of Doge's Palace

From €57

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

See the best of Doge's Palace + St Mark's Basilica

From €79

Private Best of Venice Walking Tour with St Mark's Basilica 

2 Hour Walking Tour of 'hidden Venice' + St Marks with skip the line basilica tour

From €173
Best Of Venice Tours

Skip the Line: Venice in One Day Including Boat Tour 

3-hr combination walking and boat tour of Venice with Grand Canal & St Mark's Basilica

From €121

Skip-the Line Doge's Palace, St Mark’s Basilica Tours + Venice Walking Tour & Gondola ride

Experience all the highlights of Venice around St Mark's Square in 1 day + gondola ride

From €110

Skip-the Line Doge's Palace, St Mark’s Basilica Tours + Venice Walking Tour, Gondola ride & Islands visit

Experience all the highlights of Venice around St Mark's Square in 1 day + gondola ride + Murano & Burano Islands visit

From €138

Venice Gondola Rides  

A selection of gondola ride opportunities in Venice

From €31

Murano, Burano and Torcello Half-Day Sightseeing Tour  

Tour the outer islands of Venice by boat

From €26
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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