Venice is one of the most unique cities in the world. Ancient painters spent their entire lifetimes trying to commit its beauty to paper. I had forty eight hours to do the same.
I spent two days running through its cobbled streets, camera swinging and mouth agape. In the immortal words of Cady Heron from Mean Girls, when it comes to the number of Instagrammable places in Venice the limit doesn’t exist. I accidentally pressed the shutter while tripping over my own foot – smooth! – and the resulting image honestly deserves to be hung above the mantelpiece of my future mansion.
But with so many photogenic spots to choose from it can be easy to get distracted and miss the real gems. That’s why I’ve put together this list of the top Instagrammable places in Venice. It includes information on where to find them, when to photograph them and how to avoid the crowds. Are you ready? Andiamo!
1. Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
The Rialto Bridge is one of only four bridges crossing the Venetian Grand Canal, which means it’s very hard to photograph without people on it. One option – as with all these locations – is to visit very early in the morning. My preferred solution is finding a clever angle.
I found a little pier right in front of the bridge that made the people on it look like baby ants. It’s right next to the vaporetto stop and usually empty. Gondolas do occasionally stop there, in which case it’s good manners to get out of their way. Otherwise snap away!
2. Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri)
But there’s another famous bridge in town! The Bridge of Sighs is pretty from the front, but the vantage point in the photo above is much more unique. You’ll need to get away from the busy promenade and venture out early in the morning to make it happen but isn’t it oh-so-worth-it?
3. The Grand Canal
I doubt anyone leaves town without getting a photo of the Grand Canal. It’s what makes Venice, well, Venice! One of my favourite views of it is from the top of Rialto Bridge although I’ll be the first to admit that my pose in the image above isn’t necessarily the safest.
There’s no need to get up early in the morning for this photo. There’s something about those intricate houses painted ochre by the sunset that makes my heart feel all fuzzy.
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4. Little canals
The Grand Canal may be what you come to Venice for but its baby sisters are what makes you stay. The air is full of intrigue as gondolas glide across the aquamarine waters. Looking over the railing of whichever bridge you’re standing on it’s almost possible to mentally edit out the hordes of tourists breathing down your neck.
My favourite photo of the little canals is the one above. Italy, gelato, muted colours… does it get any better than this? I got the ice cream at a place called Suso Gelatoteca and it’s 100% vegan. Winning!
5. Gondola ride
Although I already mentioned them I think gondolas deserve a category of their own. A 40 minute gondola ride will set you back €80 which was more than my onward flight from Venice to Madrid, but it was still worth it to me.
I used to think of a gondola ride as one of those bucket list experiences you only do with an engagement ring in your pocket… now I say treat yo’ self! It’s not quite as romantic as photos make it seem because you’re never alone but it’s unforgettable regardless.
6. Support by Lorenzo Quinn
This Biennale sculpture is only going to be on display until 26 November 2017, but I just had to include it. It’s been in Venice for less than a year and has already become an iconic sight in its own right.
You’ll find these giant hands resting against the Ca’ Sagredo Hotel. The message is very near and dear to my heart – Lorenzo Quinn crafted the perfect visual reminder of rising sea levels and the threat they pose to Venice. But whether you’re looking for a social critique of humans’ ecological footprint or just think it makes for a pretty picture, this is an installation you shouldn’t miss.
7. Scuola Grande di San Rocco
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is mainly known for its collection of Tintoretto’s paintings. But it also has gorgeous ceilings that will make your followers green with envy. I haven’t actually visited myself so don’t have any shooting tips to share – if you’ve been please let me know how you liked it in a comment below.
8. Scala Contarini del Bovolo
If you want to get a unique view over the Venetian skyline, walk up the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. Its arcade provides a sweeping vista of the city’s rooftops and not that many Instagrammers seem to have discovered it yet.
The tower also looks beautiful from the outside – its spiral staircase made its international film debut in Orson Welles’ 1952 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello.
9. St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
St Mark’s Square is truly the beating heart of Venice. Sadly tourism has attracted some tackiness, mainly in the form of flashing toys flying through the air. Seriously – who even buys those things?
All that aside the square is probably most beautiful at night. The buildings light up as classical music infuses the air and make for a stunning image, granted you’ve brought a steady tripod. If not just go out and shoot during the day. It’s hard to go wrong here!
10. Doge’s Palace
Same as above, but I wanted to shine the spotlight on Doge’s Palace specifically. The Gothic style structure looks like something straight out of a fairy tale, making it one of the most photographed sights in the city. I doubt I’m the only one disappointed that it’s not called Dog’s Palace though…
11. St. Mark’s Basilica
Soft orange hues, flocks of pigeons and non-existent crowds – that’s Venice at its finest. I absolutely love the above photo of St. Mark’s Basilica! To get the sunburst effect make sure the sun is partly obstructed and set your aperture as high as it can go (at least f18).
12. Riva Degli Schiavone
Riva Degli Schiavone is Venice’s busiest waterfront, covering the outcrop right behind St. Mark’s Square. The view of moored gondolas swaying gently underneath the moonlight will forever be etched on my heart. I definitely prefer this scene at night but, once again, I dare you to take a bad photo of it!
13. Burano Island
One of the most Instagrammable places in Venice isn’t actually in Venice – it’s 40 minutes away by boat. Burano Island is an old fishermen’s village that’s home to a vibrant lace-making industry. But from a photographer’s perspective the biggest draw is the fact that it’s basically a giant rainbow come to life!
I’m currently working on a whole separate post about Burano so stay tuned to find out more about it. You can follow me on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss my latest articles – and in the mean time feel free to check out my video guide to the island below.
I hope you enjoyed this article! Do you have any favourite Instagrammable places in Venice I missed? Let me know what they are in a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.