The best places to take photos in Venice, Italy
Ah, fair Venice - so much history, and beauty - and so many great photo opps, too! Are you planning a trip to Venice? Then here are the best places to take photos in Venice!
If you are planning a trip to Venice, get ready for a full-on visual assault on your eyes. You will literally find something interesting to shoot at every turn. I have said that many times about other places, but in Venice it’s magnified even more. Each twist and turn leads you to another canal, where you will find boats parked, a gondola drifting by, and some laundry hanging out to dry. It’s amazing. I Want to go back just writing about it!
If you love architecture, history, churches, water for any sort of reflections, textures of brick and stone, bridges and more then Venice is the place for you. You will find copious amounts of amazing things to point the camera towards. There is a farmer’s market on the list, too! I discovered so much here in Venice and it’s all worth photographing.
I highly recommend bringing several batteries for your camera and a LOT of memory cards. I found myself walking a little and shooting, then walking and shooting some more. I stopped a LOT, which is sometimes hard to do in the narrow streets and alleys of Venice, but throw caution to the wind, wait for the tourists to pass, and get your shot. You’ll be glad you did!
Nonetheless, especially in the half-light of late afternoon and early evening, I easily set up my tripod and fired away in many places. In the really touristy, crowded areas (such as St. Mark’s Square) it is very difficult to get a scene devoid of people, unless you can wait all night or get up incredibly early. But other than that, I found many little streets, alleys and other spots where I could blissfully fire away without the crowds. It was heaven.
So without further ado, here’s the list of the best places to take photos in Venice, Italy. Note that these are in no particular order. In other words, this is not a ranking, just a list. All of these spots are excellent and well worth finding. I encourage you to explore these spots and definitely drift away and find your own amazing spots - the city is full of them!
1) Piazza San Marco/Saint Mark’s Square and St. Mark’s Basilica
As I said above, this is not a ranking, but I put St. Mark’s Square first mostly to get it out of the way. Yes, it’s beautiful and well worth seeing. But it’s basically the center of tourism in the city, and it gets really crowded. There is some amazing architecture here, both on the cathedral and in the piazza surrounding it. I highly recommend wandering around and finding interesting and unique views, although of course you have to get a wide shot of the whole thing, too. :-)
2) The Campanile in Piazza San Marco
Once in Piazza San Marco, you can’t miss the huge bell tower there. While you can incorporate it into photos of the broader scene, it’s also nice to isolate it and zoom in on just a portion of it. You can also climb to the top for fabulous views over the city.
3) The Florian Bar in Piazza San Marco
While you are doing the wandering in Piazza San Marco that I recommend above, you will come across The Florian Bar which is tucked away there. I walked past it and promptly turned around and went back to investigate further. Luckily it wasn’t too busy so I stuck the camera in and took several shots. This view however is outside of the Florian Bar, which you can see on the left. There are just so many compositional possibilities in this area!
4) San Giorgio Maggiore
This beautiful little island sits across the lagoon from St. Mark’s Square and is home to the lovely church you see there. While I did not cross over and see it up close, the photos you can capture of it from Venice, with the gondolas in the foreground, are quite beautiful. This long exposure allowed the boats to blur out - purposefully - while maintaining focus on the distant church. The stunning sunset didn't hurt. ;-)
5) Palazzo Ducale - The Doge’s Palace
This gorgeous palace sits in St. Mark’s Square and is right next to St. Mark’s Basilica. A former palace turned museum, the exterior architecture is absolutely gorgeous and well worth taking some shots of. You can find a lot of interesting angles to shoot it from as well.
6) The Bridge of Sighs
This famous bridge connects the Doge’s Palace to the prison and was the route prisoners took to their cells. The name comes from the idea that prisoners would sigh at their last view of Venice prior to imprisonment. It’s quite a popular spot (as are all the others) so depending on time of day and year you may have to “wait your turn” to shoot it. It's also gorgeous at blue hour.
7) The Riva Degli Schiavone
This is a lovely and beautifully wide-open promenade that is right between St. Mark’s Square and the waterfront. It is full of gondolas, gift and snack stalls, and tourists. However, I stuck around until blue hour and it got much quieter, and more beautiful when the lights came on. It's nice to hang out here a bit to get a little elbow room in a city that generally feels pretty tight.
8) All the gondolas along the promenade (The Riva Degli Schiavone)
While on the promenade, be sure and capture shots of all the gondolas. They are lined up EVERYWHERE along here and your opportunity for interesting photos is pretty much limitless here. I shot this one from a little bridge, but you can see all the gondolas lined up there. You can walk up to them and fire away easily for all sorts of interesting shots.
9) The Rialto Bridge
This is the oldest and probably most famous of the bridges that cross the Grand Canal (there are only 4 of them) and is pretty crowded, day or night. I shot it several times and despite some scaffolding in place due to various improvements it was receiving, I found it beautiful and interesting, even if I had to work to find ways to hide the construction. I just couldn't get really close for a photo of it, so here I incorporated it into the broader scene.
10) The view from The Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal
In addition to shooting the bridge itself from a distance, be sure and stop at the top of the bridge and fire off in pretty much any direction. It’s a gorgeous view of the Grand Canal and despite the crowds gathered here, it’s well worth shooting. There is always a gondola or two going by!
11) The Rialto Market
Just a short stroll from the Rialto Bridge, over into the San Polo side of the Grand Canal, there is a bustling and quite nice farmer’s market that occurs on what seems like a daily basis. In addition to fresh fish, you will find all sorts of produce and other products. If you enjoy farmer’s markets, this is a great one. It's a wonderful place to practice a little street photography.
12) The view from The Accademia Bridge
This was a shot that I dreamed of prior to arriving. I had read about the view from this bridge and just had to get here myself. While the sunset didn’t end up being completely magical, it was still a wonderful experience to stand here, chat with other photographers, and soak up the view. I stuck around into blue hour and also did some long exposures here, with the lights of passing boats blurring out as they cruised by.
13) The view from a gondola ride
Yes, you have to pay to get this view, but it can be really pretty in the right light, and of course it’s quite fun to do. Gondolas are everywhere. We picked one up on the Grand Canal right by the Rialto Market, though the majority of the ride was on smaller canals nearby, which was great. When we emerged back into the Grand Canal, BAM! Sunset was on and it was beautiful! This is a great way to get a close-up tour of the little waterways that are everywhere. Expensive but fun.
14) The view from the bridge at the train station
The last view I got of Venice was this one as I headed to the train station. We clambered over the fairly steep bridge, suitcases and all, and once settled on the other side, I took a couple of minutes to run back up here and fire away. I just loved the view, and it’s a fitting way to end a visit to this amazing city.
15) Santa Maria di Nazareth
This beautiful church is right next to the train station, which is exactly how I found it. We arrived a bit early for our train when we were leaving Venice, so I popped in here to take a look. It’s just gorgeous so of course I fired a few! Look at this place, it's crazy amazing!
16) Just about any canal view, anywhere
Honestly, I shot SO MANY canal shots that I could not possibly tell you where they were, much less find them myself if I was there again. But that doesn't matter, because there are just amazing views at every turn, so keep walking and shooting and you will be rewarded! I was feeling a little artsy when I made this one, so I added a texture to it.
17) Just about any view of the Grand Canal, as long as there are gondolas in it ;-)
I found so many of these little scenes in Venice. I would wander and wander, and when I caught a glimpse of what looked like a wide canal (which could only be the Grand Canal), I would head that direction until I found it. Usually there were gondolas tied up nearby and the whole thing was just a visual feast. It's just a very colorful city.
18) Find some laundry hanging somewhere...
Well, this may not be bucket list material per se, but you know you will shoot it when you find it. I was looking for stuff like this when I got to Venice, and luckily you don't have to look too hard! I have a LOT of photos like this one. Laundry is hanging out everywhere, so if you find this stuff interesting you will be pretty happy!
19) All the little interesting architectural bits and scenes...
There is just so much to see and shoot in Venice. You just have to go see for yourself. Before arriving I sort of thought it would be the "big stuff" only but in reality there are amazing photo opps waiting around every corner and down every crooked little street. Wandering a bit aimlessly is the best way to enjoy it all.
20) So many plazas, so little time...
I found so many little plazas as I was out wandering. While I have no idea what they are called, you can't miss them. Go down a street and you will find one. Usually it will have a cafe or two in it, but sometimes they are fairly empty. Fire away. Repeat. I found this to be just about the best way to experience Venice. Steer yourself away from the crowds and you will be glad you did.