The 5 Best Tours of St. Mark’s Basilica [2022 Reviews]

While Venice is all-around known for its rich history and beautiful architecture, there are certain pieces that manage to stand out. St. Mark’s Basilica is one, if not the most, important church in Venice.

Located right next to Doge’s Palace, it’s always been at the center of life in the city. Created over a period of 800 years, you’ll find all kinds of mosaics, mostly of gold, inside!

We’re here to bring you the top St. Mark’s Basilica tours available so you can see and learn about it all!

Best St. Mark’s Basilica Tours

 St Mark's Basilica Tours plus Venice Walking TourLegendary Venice St. Mark's Basilica with Terrace Access & Doge's PalaceSt Mark's Basilica After-Hours Small Group Tour w/ Optional Doge's Palace
editors choice
Venice Walking Tour plus Doge's Palace & St Mark's Basilica TourLegendary Venice St. Mark's Basilica with Terrace Access & Doge's PalaceSt Mark's Basilica After-Hours Small Group Tour with Optional Doge's Palace
Departure Point:Calle larga de l'Ascension , Calle larga de l'Ascension, 30124 Venezia VEPza San Marco, 76 , P.za San Marco, 76, 30124 Venezia VEPza San Marco, 76 , P.za San Marco, 76, 30124 Venezia VE
Departure Time:9 amVariety AvailableVariety Available
Duration:4 hours3 hours1.5 to 3.5 hours
Includes:Skip-the-Line ticket to the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica, qualified tour guide, ticket to musem & terrace, personal headsetsLocal English-speaking guide, skip-the-line ticket for St. Mark's Basilica, headsets when necessary, exclusive access to the balcony of St. Mark's Basilica, pre-reserved ticket to the Doge's PalaceProfessional guide, after-hours St. Mark’s Basilica tickets, Doge’s Palace tickets (if option with Doge Palace selected), small groups of 20 people or fewer

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking


Quick Answer: The 5 Best St. Mark’s Basilica & Doge’s Palace Tours

  1. Venice Walking Tour plus Skip the Lines Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica Tours
  2. Legendary Venice St. Mark’s Basilica with Terrace Access & Doge’s Palace
  3. St Mark’s Basilica After-Hours Small Group Tour with Optional Doge’s Palace
  4. 4-Hour Venice guided walking tour with Doge’s Palace & St Mark’s Basilica
  5. Venice Super Saver: Skip-the-Line Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica Tours plus Venice Walking Tour

St. Mark’s Basilica Tour Reviews

1. Venice Walking Tour plus Skip the Lines Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica Tours

Venice Walking Tour plus Skip the Lines Doge's Palace and St Mark's Basilica Tours

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Departure: Calle larga de l’Ascension , Calle larga de l’Ascension, 30124 Venezia VE
  • Departure Time: 9 am
  • Includes: Skip-the-Line ticket to the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, qualified tour guide, ticket to musem & terrace, personal headsets

This tour is easily one of the most popular in all of Venice, probably because it perfectly combines 2 of the best-selling tours at a reduced price. If you want a great way to orient yourself on Venetian culture and history, this is not one to miss.

The Venice Super Saver: Skip-the-Line Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica Tours plus Venice Walking Tour is incredible! Start by meeting your guide and the rest of your group outside the Royal Gardens located in central Venice.

You’ll walk together to Doge’s Palace at St. Mark’s Square which is quite close. Now, the fun begins! While you admire the fantastic Gothic architecture outside, your guide will begin telling you all about the very extensive history of this area.

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There’s typically a pretty long line of people waiting to get in, but your group will skip straight to the front so you can spend your time wisely.

Once you enter, we’re sure you’ll be just as enamored as we were! This can certainly be overwhelming, but your guide will take the lead.

Follow them through the palace’s opulent public rooms which come fashioned with all kinds of mosaics, including a lot of gold! Not to mention various famous paintings by Renaissance artists, Tintoretto and Veronese.

As you walk through, you’ll learn about the powerful doges who ruled over Venice for centuries. Their scare tactics in governing play an important role in the Republic’s history and even modern-day life in a way.

In fact, you’ll even get to walk across the legendary Bridge of Sighs and into the network of prison cells where “enemies of the Republic” were held.

After that, you’ll then head into St. Mark’s Square and see some of Venice’s most well-hidden gems! The San Zaccaria Church and Campo Santa Maria Formosa are 2 of the most notable, though the knowledgeable guide’s stories about the history of these areas is really the cherry on top.

 

Tour Information & Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


2. Legendary Venice St. Mark’s Basilica with Terrace Access & Doge’s Palace

Legendary Venice St. Mark's Basilica with Terrace Access & Doge's Palace

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure: Pza San Marco, 76 , P.za San Marco, 76, 30124 Venezia VE
  • Departure Time: Variety Available
  • Includes: Local English-speaking guide, skip-the-line ticket for St. Mark’s Basilica, headsets when necessary, exclusive access to the balcony of St. Mark’s Basilica, pre-reserved ticket to the Doge’s Palace

Next, we bring you a slightly shorter tour which is the Legendary Venice St. Mark’s Basilica with Terrace Access & Doge’s Palace. On this excursion, you’ll be able to see 2 of the most famous structures this city has to offer, as well as the fascinating history behind them.

With various start times available, it’s a great way to fill in some time during a gap in a busy day! What’s cool about this tour is that the guides are clearly very knowledgeable.

They provide stories and facts that you simply wouldn’t be able to get from just reading up on it on your own. Definitely bring along some comfortable walking shoes and some sunglasses, however! Start out with your tour group and guide at the Piazza San Marco, where you’ll get to really take it all in.

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Surrounded by incredible architecture on 3 sides, this square is a very important place in Venice’s public and religious history. Your guide will lay out what you can expect from the next few hours, and provide insight into the course of Venetian history.

Walk a few steps over to the Basilica di San Marco, where you all get to skip past the line and straight inside. Don’t forget to check out the exterior first, where your local guide will tell you all about the Gothic construction.

Once inside, you’ll get to see the astonishing opulence of the mosaics, the gold details, and more. Oh, and you’ll be treated like a VIP and have terrace access – something most people never get to experience! From here, you’ll see some of the best views overlooking the Doge’s Palace, Venetian Lagoon, and Piazza San Marco.

Next, venture on to the Doge’s Palace where you’ll also get to skip the line and head inside! This is a rather somber experience, where you’ll learn about how the Doge’s used brutal tactics to control the republic. Then, you’ll cross over the Bridge of Sighs and learn about its dark history.

 

Tour Information & Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


#3 St Mark’s Basilica After-Hours Small Group Tour with Optional Doge’s Palace

St Mark's Basilica After-Hours Small Group Tour with Optional Doge's Palace

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 1.5 to 3.5 hours
  • Departure: Pza San Marco, 76 , P.za San Marco, 76, 30124 Venezia VE
  • Departure Time: Variety Available
  • Includes: Professional guide, after-hours St. Mark’s Basilica tickets, Doge’s Palace tickets (if option with Doge Palace selected), small groups of 20 people or fewer

We really don’t have enough good things to say about St. Mark’s Basilica After-Hours Small Group Tour with Optional Doge’s Palace Tour. If you want a VIP look into the basilica and other historical areas close by, this one is really hard to beat.

No tourists, no crowds: just you and the rest of your small group will have behind-the-scenes access to these incredibly significant places!

Start by meeting with your guide and the rest of your group at the Piazza San Marco, where you’ll admire the exterior of the Basilica di San Marco before heading inside.

Then, everyone will head inside where you’ll be the only ones there. The dim lighting really ads to the experience, along with the sheer silence inside. It’s a much different experience without the crowds!

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Take a look up close at the gold walls, the incredible paintings, mosaics, and so much more. Your guide will speak candidly about the history behind the building and the events that took place there. Trust us, with such an old basilica, there is a lot to talk about!

Next, you’ll get to visit the Doge’s Palace (only if you’ve selected this option). This late entry tour includes not only the palace, but the armory, new prisons, council rooms, and frescos of Palazzo Ducale.

You’ll learn about the dark history behind these spaces, and how the Doges ruled with an iron fist. The Bridge of Sighs is also included in this option, where you’ll explore the deep, dark prison cells.

While this is all fascinating on its own, the incredible guides really make this tour an unforgettable one. You can tell you passionate and knowledgeable they are on the history, and it’s truly infectious.

 

Tour Information & Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


#4 4-Hour Venice guided walking tour with Doge’s Palace & St Mark’s Basilica

4-Hour Venice guided walking tour with Doge's Palace & St Mark's Basilica

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Departure: Calle larga de l’Ascension, 1256 , Calle larga de l’Ascension, 1256, 30124 Venezia VE
  • Departure Time: 9 am
  • Includes: 4-hour guided tour with a local and professional guide, live tour commentary in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, personal audio system, headset for tour commentary, entrance fees and skip the line

Next up, we bring you the 4-Hour Venice Guided Walking Tour with Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica. This tour covers exploration of 2 of the most important landmarks in Venice.

As you can imagine, they’re usually packed with tourists but on this excursion you don’t have to worry about waiting in line! You’ll meet up with your guide in St. Mark’s Square, where you’ll all take a moment to admire the surrounding monuments.

They’ll fill you in on relevant history, as this square also has been the hub of many cultural and religious moments. Next, you’ll start on your walking tour portion of the tour. This is always a fun time, as you’re in the fresh air and get to follow your guide around all kinds of little alleyways, canals, squares, and more.

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They’ll show you some of the little hidden gems and all the interesting nooks and crannies. After, you’ll return the St. Mark’s Square and skip ahead of the lines to go inside Doge’s Palace.

Your guide will provide interesting commentary about the intense history behind this place while you check out the opulent halls, and other architectural masterpieces such as the Golden Staircase, Bridge of Sighs, and artwork by notable Venetian artists like Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese.

Next, stop at St. Mark’s Basilica, where you’ll once again skip the line and head inside this magnificent Byzantine wonder. Check out the lavish design, gold walls and ceilings, mosaics, and even the private chapel of the Doges of Venice.

 

Tour Information & Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


#5 Venice Super Saver: Skip-the-Line Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica Tours plus Venice Walking Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Departure: Giardini Reali , P.za San Marco, 30124 Venezia VE
  • Departure Time: Variety Available
  • Includes: Professional English-speaking local guide, guaranteed to skip the long lines to Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, headset to hear the guide clearly when more than 8 participants in the group

This next tour is one that you can take and feel confident that you’ve seen a large amount of the most popular sights in Venice. Not only that, but you get a chance to explore other areas of the city’s hidden gems, winding streets, and more.

Do yourself a favor and check out the Venice Super Saver: Skip-the-Line Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica Tours plus Venice Walking Tour! This 4-hour experience allows you to view 2 of the most iconic attractions, skip the lines, while still saving money! This really is one of the most efficient ways to see the city.

Start by meeting your guide outside the Royal Gardens, located in the center of the city. You’ll all walk together to the Doge’s Palace in St. Mark’s Square, which is pretty close by. Learn a bit about how this Byzantine palace came to be, and how it’s held up for almost a whopping thousand years!

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Next, skip the line to get inside and head straight into the palace where your guide will tell you all about how the artwork was made.

Listen to their commentary as you explore the ornate public rooms which are decorated from floor-to-ceiling with gold adornments and mosaics. You’ll even get to see paintings from Renaissance artists, Tintoretto and Veronese.

Further on, you’ll learn about the doges who ruled over the Venetian Republic with power and fear. Cross over the Bridge of Sighs, which is quite the architectural masterpiece itself. You’ll then see the connected network of prison cells where anyone who the Doges deemed their enemy was locked up.

After, you’ll head into the light of St. Mark’s Square, where you’ll have a little break to do whatever you want. Perhaps grab a coffee or delicious snack at one of the many places surrounding the square.

Next, you’ll then meet up again and learn about the basilica, then take an “off the beaten path” route through Venice. Here, you’ll get to see many treasures that a lot of people don’t see. These include the San Zaccaria Church, Campo Santa Maria Formosa, and “Hidden Venice”.

 

Tour Information & Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


Venice Tour Guide

best doge's palace tours

Getting There –

If you’re looking to fly directly in to Venice, you’ll fly into either Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) or Treviso Airport (TSF). However, VCE is the city’s primary airport and you’re likely to find more flights that serve this one. Treviso is about an hour north of Venice, so it’s not quite as convenient.

There are various airlines that have direct flights to Marco Polo Airport, but the majority are just during the high season (spring, summer, autumn). Delta Airlines, US Airways, and Alitalia all are great options.

Getting Around –

We hope you enjoy walking, because that’s genuinely the best form of transportation in Venice. While there are plenty of canals that also work well in many cases, walking is just the most efficient.

Water – You can travel the canals to get from point A to point B through vaporetto or water bus, water taxi, or gondola. The gondola is a bit expensive, so outside of going on a gondola ride you may not want to use them as your main source of transportation. However, the vaporetto/water bus is pretty cheap. Depending on where you are, you may even have to take a vaporetto to get to your destination!

Bus – If you’re heading from the VCE airport to the Venice city center, we recommend taking the ATVO bus (Venice Airport Bus Express).

Walking – Venice’s cobblestone streets are wonderful for taking a calm stroll through the city and exploring. We recommend instead of using a map, you watch out for the landmark signs which are easy to spot.

Where to Stay –

Each Venice neighborhood or sestiere has its pros and cons. So, think about for a moment what your priorities are. Do you want a quieter location that’s farther away from the main tourist sites or do you want to be in the middle of all the hustle-and-bustle?

San Marco – This is tourist central, and is really the center of Venice, too. Here, you will find the infamous St. Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge, and the meeting point for most of your gondola tours! If you want to be close to pretty much all of the hottest spots and restaurants, this is the neighborhood to stay in.

Luckily, there’s something for every budget, here. Hotel Serenissima is the most affordable while still maintaining good quality. Hotel Firenze is a step up, and located very close to St. Mark’s Square. If you’re going all out, Gritti Palace is the hotel. Luxury doesn’t even begin to describe this place, and its jaw-dropping views!

San Polo – This is yet another central Venice neighborhood, and the fact that Rialto Bridge is located smack dab in the middle draws a lot of tourists. However, if you just want to walk out of your hotel and into the biggest tourist draws then you’re in the right place!

Ca’ Angeli Hotel is a mid-range hotel with beautiful Grand Canal views, and the Rialto Bridge is literally a 7-minute walk away. Santa Lucia Station is also just a few minutes away walking, making it much easier to get around.

Dorsoduro – Dorsoduro is another top neighborhood, as it’s still pretty close to the top attractions while still far enough that you don’t have to worry about tons of crowds or noise. For us, this is one of the best choices you can make. You’re very close to Accademia, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Campo Margherita, Zattere, and more.

Pensione Accademia – Villa Maravege hotel is a great midrange option with some beautiful views of the canal. If you want something a bit more affordable (but absolutely stunning!), check out Hotel Ca’ Nobile Corner. For the best of the best, Palazzo Veneziano is the way to go.

Santa Croce – Here, you’ll find all the main transportation hubs, like Piazzale Roma bus station, tons of ferry terminals, and even massive parking garages! While Santa Croce doesn’t have many tourist attractions, it’s much cheaper here and offers some insight into the authentic local way of life. Not to mention, it’s still quite convenient to hop on a water taxi or bus and get anywhere else in just a few minutes. If you choose to walk, St. Mark’s Square is just 20 minutes away!

Restaurants and Eating Out –

As you can imagine, Venice is definitely a city where good food is prevalent on just about every street corner. However, it’s also a city where you really need to plan where you eat. Just like any other tourist-heavy city, you can easily fall into eating at overpriced tourist trap restaurants if you haven’t done your research. If you can, definitely make reservations as soon as you can.

Osteria alle Testiere – We love the way this charming restaurant showcases the city’s history as a global trading center. It may be ultra-small (only 10 tables in the whole place!) but it’s worth it. It doesn’t have a Michelin star, but it’s fresh and delicious. Each day’s menu goes off of the closely-located Rialto Market’s fresh catch, and you can expect dishes like delicate spider crab, big mantis shrimp, and other seafood delights. Don’t forget to try the Bronte Pistachio Flour Cake!

Corte Sconta – Located on the main island near Arsenal, it’s a lovely courtyard environment with a fish-heavy menu featuring traditional dishes like sarde in saor (sardines marinated in vinegar). Their Venetian-style tuna with white polenta perfectly combines an array of interesting textures and flavors.

Il Paradiso Perduto – If you enjoy the thought of eating delicious seafood at large, shared tables with locals then Il Paradiso Perduto is a spot you need to hit. Located in a kind of basement, it’s rustic yet everyone seems friendly and buzzing with positive energy.

Trattoria Ca d’Oro alla Vedova – Are you a meatball fan? If you aren’t, you will be after coming to Trattoria Ca d’Oro alla Vedova. With copper pots hanging from the ceiling, it has a very rustic, young, quirky vibe that is also a pleasant environment to be in. The Polpetta crispy meatballs are a must-try, but their local pasta with anchovies and parsley is also delicious.

Osteria La Zucca – This place is one of the top vegan and vegetarian spots for locals and tourists, alike. However, even if you aren’t into vegan food, you have to come here for the pumpkin flan!

Nightlife and Entertainment –

Venice isn’t a really party-heavy city. While there are plenty of bars, pubs, and even some nice clubs to choose from, it’s not the main event. We recommend checking out Venice Jazz Club, BAR El Borrachero, and Piccolo Mondo Disco.

Venice Jazz Club – This is such a classy place in line with much of the city’s history. They have a fantastic house quartet that plays the most famous jazz tunes as well as many modern ones. It’s a great little place to relax and enjoy a nice cocktail.

BAR El Borrachero – This is a very popular place with locals, and many students often come here on the weekends. It’s nothing big or fancy, but the tiny bar has consistently good drinks and food and the vibe is on point.

Piccolo Mondo – Touted as “the oldest and only disco in Venice”, Piccolo Mondo is a great time. Having started in the 60’s, it was originally named “El Souk” by Peggy Guggenheim when it was once an art gallery! It soon transformed into a cocktail lounge and then a disco and nightclub. Live music, DJs – they have it all!

Weather –

Weather will play a huge role in your Venice experience. While September to November tends to have the least amount of tourists and crowds, it’s for a good reason. When it starts getting colder, it can get pretty windy and flood a bit. For a city that relies so heavily on walking everywhere, this can put a damper on things. However, it can also rain quite a bit in the summertime but it’s just more pleasant because it’s warmer. Between October and January, Venice’s water levels rise quite a bit!

Attractions –

Where do we even begin? The great part about Venice is that it’s not so massive that you will feel like you missed out. Just walking around the center of the city, you’re likely to run into some of the top tourist attractions. However, let’s go ahead and cover them anyway.

St. Mark’s Basilica – As the city’s best-known church, it was originally the Doge’s private chapel. With Byzantine architecture and art brought back from Venetian ships after Constantinople’s fall, it’s absolutely stunning. The incredible Pala d’Oro altarpiece made of gold, features thousands of precious stones and gems. Really everywhere you look inside and outside this basilica is jaw-dropping.

Piazza San Marco – This is the city’s biggest square, surrounded by gorgeous buildings on 3 sides. This is the kind of place where people love to gather for chats, coffee, a nice walk around, or whatever else. Around here, you’ll find all kinds of cafes, cute ships, and of course, St. Mark’s Basilica. Just make sure that if you go in-between October to March, you know that this plaza basically turns into a lagoon.

Palazzo Ducale/Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs – The Bridge of Sighs isn’t open to public tours, but if you take a private tour you’ll be able to walk across and into the dark cells of the Prigioni. These prisons became known around the world because Casanova infamously escaped from here. Doge’s Palace is impressive on its own, with its gothic appearance and detailed architecture.

Ponte di Rialto – Built back in the late 1500’s, the Rialto Bridge is where the island’s first settlement was constructed! The bridge as we know it today was actually rebuilt from the original wooden bridge that collapsed. Now, the bridge supports two main streets and various shops.

Torre dell’Orologio/Clock Tower – This is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Venice. The clocktower comes with 2 bronze Moors which strike the big bell each hour. The face of the clock is beautiful, with the moon and zodiac glimmering against a blue background.

Santa Maria della Salute – Another one of the most famous churches in Venice, it looks like a painting! The Baroque church was built as a “thank you” for the plague ending in 1630! Due to the enormous heft of the structure, the architect, Baldassare Longhena has more than a million timbers driven into the floor of the lagoon before it could be fully constructed!

Scuola Grande di San Rocco – This White marble building was built in the 1500’s for a charitable society. Once it was completed, the 16th-century local artist, Tintoretto painted a central panel of the ceiling and later decorated the walls.

Tips –

  1. Venice is actually quite an elegant, stylish city. Trust us when we say that you’re going to stand out like a sore thumb if you come in more dressed-down or raggedy clothes. This isn’t the place to don gym apparel everywhere, though you should bring a good pair of sneakers or walking shoes. You don’t have to wear a dress or suit everywhere, but it’s always a good idea to have it handy.
  2. Bring an umbrella! It could realistically rain at any time in Venice, and while many hotels supply them, it’s not a bad idea to bring one along.
  3. Learn some Italian. No, you don’t have to become fluent before you arrive. Just learn some of the basics to be able to communicate and get around a bit easier.
  4. Don’t tip too little nor too much. Something between 5 and 10 euros when you’ve received good service is ideal.
  5. Don’t worry too much on having a set-in-stone plan. Just walking around Venice freely can be an amazing time. The narrow streets can be confusing and you’re likely to get lost at least a couple of times but you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised each time with what you find along the way.
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The Venice Walking Tour plus Skip the Lines Doge's Palace and St Mark's Basilica Tours is our Editor's Choice for the best St Mark's Basilica tour.

User Rating: 4.38 ( 3 votes)

Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.
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