San Marco is the beating heart of Venetian tourism, and here you'll find the main attractions. After visiting San Marco make a trip to the Castello district, the largest district in Venice with many hidden attractions known only to locals.
The heart of San Marco is undoubtedly San Marco Square with the Basilica, the Campanile and the Doge's Palace. These three attractions will fill a half day. Visiting the square will be like stepping into a dream. Once you've finished your sightseeing and enjoyed a coffee at the Quadro or Florian cafés, take a souvenir photo of San Marco Column with the lagoon as a backdrop. There, on the lagoon quay, look for a friendly gondolier, get a route suggestion, haggle over the fare and then enjoy a gondola ride. A gondola ride is a must if you visit Venice and have time to spare.
Once back in San Marco Square head to the Bridge of Sighs for some souvenir photos. From there walk along the romantic Riva degli Schiavoni with its magnificent lagoon landscapes. After the Rio della Pleta, cross the Ponte del Sepolcro and look for the Sotoportego dei Preti with its beloved brick heart. Stop here and look for a restaurant where you can eat something typically Venetian, there will be plenty of choices.
After lunch perhaps walk through Campo della Bragora, cross Ponte Storto and take a souvenir photo at Ponte del Purgatorio, a tribute to the poet Dante Alighieri. A few steps away you will find yourself at the Arsenale di Venezia, in the heart of the Castello district. The Arsenale was a ship factory known as far as the distant ports of the Orient. Today the Arsenale is not only a tourist attraction but also the venue for the Venice Biennale. From there take a vaporetto from the Arsenale and get off at one of the two stops Giardini or Giardini Biennale, it's always nice to jump on a vaporetto! Once off the vaporetto, stroll through the gardens created by Napoleon, which now house the 29 exhibition pavilions of the various countries.
Take a vaporetto again, get off near San Marco Square and with the help of our map look for a bacaro where you can have something to eat and drink.
If you are a ship lover we suggest you visit the Naval History Museum in Venice, an almost compulsory destination if you love ships.