Santa Maria Formosa

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Santa Maria Formosa: Our most recommended tours and activities

Venice Walking Tour: Power of the Republic

1. Venice Walking Tour: Power of the Republic

Learn the 1,000-year history of the Republic of Venice – traditionally known as La Serenissima – from the 8th to 18th centuries, and see all the main monuments on a guided walking tour. Admire the Renaissance church of Santa Maria Formosa and hear fascinating stories about the Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo, where 25 of the doges of Venice were laid to rest. Hear about the role of the Great School of Charity and Captains of Fortune, see the house where Marco Polo lived and pass the historic Teatro Malibran. Return to Piazza San Marco via the Mercerie between the Rialto and San Marco districts. Enter the Doge's Palace to explore the seat of political power during the republic and see masterpieces of art in the splendid rooms. Marvel at the gold staircase and cross the Bridge of Sighs from the inside. End with an optional visit to a glass furnace.

Venice: Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Basilica Ticket

2. Venice: Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Basilica Ticket

Take part in this small-group tour of Venice to see the best tourist spots and hidden gems. See the Bell Tower and Clock Tower, St. Mark's Square, and get an in-depth tour of St. Mark’s Basilica. Start your tour by strolling through St. Mark’s Square, equipped with complimentary headphones so that you can follow every word of your local guide. Listen as your guide discusses the major monuments including Doge's Palace, Bridge of Sighs, the Bell Tower, and the Clock Tower. Head into St. Marks Basilica for a special tour. Walk through the famous church as your guide describes the history of the church and shows you the intricate mosaics and Byzantine architecture. Afterward, leave St. Mark's Square behind to admire a very different Venice. Visit Santa Maria Formosa, Calle Paradiso, Castello district, and areas known only to the locals.  Explore a world of narrow alleyways and meandering canals, punctuated by delicate bridges, and hidden architectural gems.  Hear stories about the Venetians who created this city from nothing.

Venice: Doge's Palace and St Mark's Basilica Walking Tour

3. Venice: Doge's Palace and St Mark's Basilica Walking Tour

Discover the unparalleled beauty of the floating city of Venice with an early entrance to Doge's Palace, fast-track access to St Mark's Basilica, and a guided walking tour to Rialto Bridge. Go back in history and marvel at the creativity and sophistication of the Venetians. Get the privilege of a priority entry to Doge's Palace before the normal public. Appreciate the magnificent works of art adorning the walls of this Venetian Gothic Architectural masterpiece. Then, cross the Bridge of Sighs that connects the palace to the prisons. Next, gain skip-the-line access to St Mark’s Basilica and bask in the beauty of one of the best-known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture in the world. Get access to its rooftop to enjoy panoramic views of Venice from the top. After your visit, continue to the historical St Mark’s Square as your guide shares stories behind all the monuments that surround the gorgeous square including St Mark’s Clock Tower, St Mark’s Campanile, Correr Museum, and the Marciana National Library. Then, follow your guide on a walking tour through the narrow alleyways and bridges of Venice. Pass by iconic monuments such as the Square of Santa Maria Formosa, Square of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, The Courtyard of Million, and Square of San Borrtolomio. Finally reach the true heart of Venice, the Rialto Bridge, which crosses the Grand Canal in the midst of the town's main shopping area. Experience the hustle and bustle of the shops and feel free to indulge in some shopping or savor Venetian delicacies at the surrounding cafes and restaurants.

Venice: Private Ghost Tour and Gondola Ride

4. Venice: Private Ghost Tour and Gondola Ride

Venture into the darker side of Venice on a private ghost tour after dark, and hear stories from its bloody past as you creep down dank alleys that still fire the imagination. Meet your guide in the shadows of the church of San Giacomo di Rialto, before walking to the Rialto Bridge. They will take you through a mass of spooky alleys, telling of the spirits that lurk in hidden doorways along the way. Learn about the ghosts of the Campo della Fava. Go to Marco Polo’s house and hear about his Chinese wife. Visit San Gallo, site of one of the most terrible murders in the history of the city, and where the famous sculptor Antonio Canova died. If that’s not enough to get your heart racing, take a 30-minute gondola ride through the network of silent canals. Keep your nerve as the only noise you hope to hear will be the sound of paddles touching water… Your guide will continue to spook you as you sail under the Bridge of Sighs, where captured criminals took their final walk. Cruise into the Campiello Querini, and see the Bell Tower in Santa Maria Formosa, designed to scare off the Devil. End at Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, where the ghost of the Doge continues to haunt the city to this day!

Venice: Morning Walking Tour

5. Venice: Morning Walking Tour

Explore Venice through its narrow calli (alleys) and encounter countless bridges and picturesque squares at the heart of the city's social scene. Follow a professional guide on an unforgettable journey through the history of the "Serenissima" and discover famous sites and hidden gems. Get an animated description of majestic St. Mark’s Basilica in Piazza San Marco, and learn the function of the Doge's Palace. Hear about the ornate St. Mark's Clocktower and the 3 connected buildings of the Procuratie. Then, make your way to the Campo Santa Maria Formosa to see the Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo, where all of the city's doges were buried after the 15th century. Go to the Scuola Grande di San Marco (“Great School of Charity”) to hear about the "Captains of Fortune," and then head back through the San Marco sestiere (district) to see the Teatro Malibran. Stroll down the famous Mercerie, the historic heart of commercial life in the city and now one of the main shopping streets of Venice between the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco.

Venice: Walking Tour with Doge’s Palace and Basilica Entry

6. Venice: Walking Tour with Doge’s Palace and Basilica Entry

Meet your guide and enter the breathtaking Doge’s Palace. The guide will escort you through its stunning rooms where the Doges lived and decided the fate of the glorious Venetian Republic. Admire the Golden staircase and incredible artwork by famous Italian artists such as Tiepolo and Tiziano. You will cross the Bridge of Sighs to go inside the cold and dark Venetian prisons, where the Casanova was held. Next, the guide will bring you to St. Mark’s Basilica, also known as the Golden Cathedral, thanks to its stunning mosaics made of pure gold. Here, you will discover its long history. The beauty of this five-dome Basilica will certainly impress you. Visit the Basilica's terrace with a copy of the famous horses, the St. Mark's quadriga, and admire the most beautiful view of the heart of Venice: St Mark’s Square. Discover St. Mark’s Museum and admire objects of various kinds and origins belonging to the Basilica, including the original quadriga which was moved from the terrace after the last restoration. After a break for lunch, join a guided walking tour departing from St. Mark’s Square. Admire the city's main monuments such as the Clock-Tower, Procuratie Vecchie, and the Bell Tower. Then you will visit the famous Campo (square) Santa Maria Formosa, the house of Marco Polo, The Church of San Giovanni and Paolo, and the Rialto Bridge with its traditional market. At the end of your activity, you will have the opportunity to take the free optional tour of a glass factory very close to Saint Mark’s square. This brief 20-minute tour features a glass crafting demonstration. Please follow the instructions that the staff will provide to you locally. You may visit the other magnificent locations around St. Mark’s Square such as Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, and the Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana.

90-Minute Walking Tour of Venice

7. 90-Minute Walking Tour of Venice

Explore the incomparable architecture of Venice on a 90-minute walking tour of its major highlights, and discover a few hidden gems along the way. Departing from the spectacular St. Mark’s Square, dominated by the Basilica of San Marco, head off after a brief introduction to admire some of the most beautiful architecture in Venice. An experienced guide will escort you through the streets recalling the millennia of the Serenissima Republic as you walk from Piazza San Marco to Santa Maria Formosa and the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, referred to as the "Pantheon of Venice.” Pass the charitable Scuole Grandi (Great Schools of Venice) and hear about the heroic deeds of the famed Captains of Fortune. Discover where Marco Polo lived and worked in Venice, and admire the Teatro Malibran, one of the city’s most historic opera houses, where ancient and modern history meet at a wonderful corner of Venice Return to San Marco through the Mercerie, providing a vital connection between the Rialto and San Marco, and now the main shopping street in Venice, which you are free to explore at the end of your tour.

Venice: St. Mark's, Walking Tour and Gondola Combo

8. Venice: St. Mark's, Walking Tour and Gondola Combo

Discover Venice from land and water on a combined half-day tour of 3 distinct itineraries; a walking tour from St. Mark’s Square to the Rialto Bridge and market, a 30-minute gondola ride on some of the smaller canals and a guided visit to St. Mark’s Basilica. First, meet your guide near St. Mark’s Square for a walking tour from St. Mark’s to the Rialto Bridge. Your guide will reveal the magic and history of Venice outside some its most famous buildings. Admire the Byzantine façade of St. Mark’s Basilica and the imposing Doge’s Palace before you depart. Head towards Campo Santa Maria Formosa to learn the story of one of the most beautiful churches in Venice. See the former home of the explorer Marco Polo, and pass the Malibran Theatre, known for having the most extravagant stage in the city. Finally, walk to the Mercerie to discover a fascinating array of narrow streets where the valuable goods brought to the city from distant markets were sold. The second part of the tour includes a gondola ride to discover some new and not very well-known areas of one of the most beautiful cities in the world! The gondola tour will let you discover the Basilica della Salute, one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture, which offers a different perspective view according to the point from which it is observed. Re-group outside St. Mark's Basilica to skip-the-line to see its gilded interior around 30 minutes after the conclusion of the gondola ride. Learn the history of one of the world’s most iconic cathedrals, getting up-close to its gilded mosaics and the rarely seen Pala d’Oro (Golden Pall), one of the most accomplished works of Byzantine art. Get advantage of this combined tour, which covers three fascinating itineraries at a lower price than purchasing the individual ones!

All-Inclusive Tour: Doge Palace, St Mark's Basilica & Square

9. All-Inclusive Tour: Doge Palace, St Mark's Basilica & Square

This walking tour will give you a comprehensive introduction to some of the most spectacular sights in the city, and includes a guided tour of both the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. Setting off from St. Mark’s Square, with views of the Grand Canal, you will head through the narrow streets, laced with lovely canals and crumbling, historic houses. Stop and pause at sights such as the Chiesa Santa Maria Formosa, where the Holy Virgin is alleged to have appeared disguised as a voluptuous woman. Visit the former home of one of the city’s most famous sons at Marco Polo’s House, and walk through the Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo, the second largest square in Venice. Return to San Marco through the Mercerie, and go inside the Palazzo Ducale, the seat of Venetian political power for centuries. Walk through splendid rooms lined with masterpieces of art. Your guide will show you the halls of power and then take you to the Bridge of Sighs, where the harsh reality of that power will come to life. End your visit at St. Mark’s Basilica, one of the most majestic cathedrals in the world. View masterpieces of Byzantine art, savor the beauty of the cathedral’s gold mosaics and marble inlays, and admire fine examples of religious art in the Treasury.

Venice: 1.5-Hour Walking Tour

10. Venice: 1.5-Hour Walking Tour

Starting in St. Mark’s Square, this atmospheric walking tour will whisk you away from the crowded streets into the treasure filled pockets of the Castello area. A qualified guide will walk you through the hidden squares, winding canals and historical buildings providing you with a perfect introduction to the origins, symbols, traditions, architecture and life in present day Venice. The tour will start with a historical introduction of St. Marks’s Square and its architectural delights, allowing you to discover the history of the majestic St. Mark’s Basilica, the illustrious Doge’s Palace, once the seat of the power of the Republic of Venice, and the extraordinary, Renaissance clock tower. Leaving the square, you will be guided into the residential Castello area, allowing you to discover this part of Venice in all of its elegance, through its labyrinth of narrow alleys known as calli, its many bridges, winding canals and wide picturesque squares called campi. Discover campo Santa Maria Formosa and campo San Giovanni & Paolo, with its stunning Basilica, where the doges of Venice were buried. At the end of your walking tour, come back with your local guide in San Marco's square passing through the Mercerie, the shopping connection street between Rialto and San Marco.

Other Sightseeing Options in Santa Maria Formosa

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What people are saying about Santa Maria Formosa

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 967 reviews

Our tour guide was organised and very knowledgable about the history of Venice and the walking tour was a wonderful way to learn so much in a short time about this beautiful place. It made our 2 days in Venice extra special. The tour included some ‘off the tourist’ routes along quiet alleyways and showed us that there are hidden gems just paces away from the hustle and bustle of St Mark’s Square. Entry into the Basilica was just as it said, we skipped a very long line of people queuing outside in the hot sun! Again we were given a very compressive overview of the cathedral’s history. I can highly recommend this tour, Brava!

didnt grab ladies name but excellent guide. we were few mins late as got lost but she was very accommodating and very knowledgeable. highly recommended

We had a very nice lady who lives in Venice and explained her city to us very well. Highly recommended

Natalia showed us Venice and gave helpful recommendations along the way. The tour was just great!

Very good tour, there were only four of us with a lot of background knowledge.