The best way to see the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy is by boat. While you can hire a water taxi or a gondola, the slower and cheaper vaporetto Number 1 is a good choice. The Grand Canal is over 2 miles long and features three bridges.
The section of the Grand Canal between the train station and the Rialto bridge offers scenic views of century-old palaces. Museums in this area include the Natural History Museum, International Gallery of Modern Art and the Giorgio Franchetti collection.
From Rialto to the Accademia bridge, you will travel past the lively Rialto area, Riva del Vin, Ca' Rezzonico and the Accademia galleries. The last section of the canal, from the Accademia bridge to San Marco, is quite dramatic where Santa Maria della Salute towers above the mouth of the canal with its white Baroque facade.
From the train station to Rialto
On your way down the Grand Canal, from the train station to the Rialto bridge, you will travl under the Scalzi bridge and pass several churches as well as numerous palazzi facing the water.
Among the palazzi open to the public are the following:
- Palazzo Labia houses frescoes by Tiepolo.
- Fondaco dei Turchi is home to the Natural History Museum.
- The church of San Stae features works by Piazzetta and Tiepolo.
- International Gallery of Modern Art and the Oriental Art Museum are located in the Ca' Pesaro palace.
- The local fish market is located in the Pescheria.
- Ca' d'Oro houses the Giorgio Franchetti collection.
Accademia to San Marco
Once you pass under the wooden Accademia bridge, you will get begin to see the huge dome on top of Santa Maria della Salute. On your way to San Marco, you will travel past the palazzo that houses the Peggy Guggenheim collection. Santa Maria della Salute lies near the mouth of the Grand Canal, featuring an imposing white facade and a huge dome. Across the canal from the church lie two of the city's best luxury hotels: Hotel Gritti Palace and Hotel Europa and Regina. Read our romantic gondola ride to see photos of the Venetian bridges.
Rialto to Accademia
The Rialto area is one of the busiest parts of the city. The locals shop at the fish market while tourists sit on the banks of the canal. While traveling down this area of the Grand Canal, keep your eyes on the the colorful facades of various palaces, gondolas passing by, and the architectural details of the Rialto bridge.
Shortly after the bridge, the canal bends sharply until you reach Ca' Rezzonico. Just before the wooden Accademia bridge, you can see the Accademia galleries which house the largest collection of Venetian paintings in the world. Browse hotels in Venice and read our 1 Day Vacation in Venice.