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Top 6 free things to do in Venice

Luxury interior of St Mark`s Basilica (San Marco) in Venice. It is one of the main tourist attractions of Venice.

Venice is a unique destination that pops up on an infinite number of travel bucket lists with good reason. Canals and gondolas, churches and palaces, festivals and Biennales – all of them contribute toward keeping Venice on the list of the most-visited cities in the world. 

The downside of being one of the most desirable vacation destinations is the price tag that inevitably brings – though we can’t deny that Venice is a pricey city, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of free (and almost free!) things to do while you’re there. So here’s our guide to the best bargain activities in the floating city.

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There’s no charge to enter the Basilica San Marco and wander around the central circuit © Viacheslav Lopatin / Shutterstock

1. Admire the gilded beauty of historic churches

Of course, a trip to Venice should always begin with a visit to Basilica San Marco and its richly decorated interiors. Entry to the Basilica is free (you have to pay to access its famous treasure), but unless you’re visiting during low season, it’s likely you’ll have to queue up before you can walk in.

And while Saint Mark’s Basilica is undoubtedly the city’s most famous church, don’t let its gold blind you to the other great religious architecture present on the Lagoon. You can visit the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, one of the most beloved by Venetians (you only have to pay to visit its internal museum), or the very ancient Chiesa di San Zaccaria (where for €1.50 you can descend into the flooded crypt).

A couple shopping together at an outdoor fruit market in Venice
Venice’s beautiful and bustling outdoor markets are a fun freebie activity in the city © LeoPatrizi / Getty Images

2. Wander through the abundant markets 

Walking among the stalls of the centuries-old Rialto market is definitely a unique and quintessentially Venetian (and Italian) experience. Divided into two sections, one for fruits and vegetables (in Piazza delle Erbe) and the other for fresh seafood (in Loggia della Pescheria), the market is located in the area around the Rialto bridge, in the sestiere San Polo. The same area turns into a wonderland of Christmas stalls and little shops if you happen to visit during the holidays.

And if you want to up your shopping game, you can always head to the Fondaco dei Tedeschi – once a warehouse for German merchants arriving in the Serenissima, it has been converted turned into a modern and sleek…

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