Venice / Attractions / Canal Grande & Rialto Bridge

Canal Grande & Rialto Bridge Venice

The Ponte di Rialto over the Grand Canal in Venice Italy

Rialto bridge

Visit the Grand Canal in Venice by boat tours or walk across the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge). Things to do around the Grand Canal in Venice.

Tours Rialto Bridge & Canal Grande

Visit the Canal Grande:

The best way to discover the Grand Canal is by tours from the water. There are a number of ways to explore the Grand Canal by boat or gondola. Your options:

  • By waterbus (Vaporetto): From the train station to St. Mark's Square (or vice versa), take Line 1 of the public water bus ('Vaporetto') ). You can buy a '75-minute ticket' (buy tickets online), in less than half an hour you can enjoy all the buildings along the Grand Canal from the Vaporetto.
  • Tours by gondola: Rent a private gondola (from 80 euros) or take a short Grand Canal tour with a shared gondola across the canal (from 32 euros). In this article you can read more about gondola rides in Venice.
  • Tours by motorboat: For 30 euros you can enjoy the sights around the Grand Canal with a motorboat and led by a tour guide (info and bookings).

Discover Venice from the Grand Canal

The Grand Canal – or Canal Grande – runs through the hearts of Venice. Seen from North to South, the Grand Canal starts where the highway and railway end, in the Santa Croce district. Then the canal flows between the districts Cannaregio and San Marco, and then continues to flow between the districts San Marco and Dorsoduro.

During the day, the Canal Grande is a wonderful place to explore Venice from the water. You will see the buildings that all rise above the water directly on the canal, often with their own mooring place. You can enjoy the coolness and the breeze above the water when the temperature rises in the summer. It's also the easiest way to get to most tourist attractions that are probably on your list. Or depart for a diner or opera from your hotel with an authentic gondola to arrive in style.

At night, the Grand Canal is a truly enchanting place with all the lights from all the boats on the water and the lights of the houses along the canal. Those who love romance, take the gondola together with his or her sweetheart to a small restaurant and enjoy the special atmosphere of Venice. At sunset, the water turns dark blue, just like the sky. With a cardigan in the summer, the breeze on board is manageable. You can not only explore the Grand Canal from the water, but also from “land”. How about visiting the bridges that connect the various parts of the city? There ar four bridges cross the Grand Canal (from North to South). The Rialto Bridge is the most famous one, but the others are also interesting to visit:

Canal Grande VeniceThe Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute on the Canal Grande
Venice canal tourThe Ponte della Costituzione next to the train station

1. Ponte della Costituzione

The Ponte della Costituzione is located between the Santa Croce district and Cannaregio district. This modern looking bridge is close to the train station and car park at the end of the road to Venice. When you walk across this bridge your safety is guaranteed as the balustrade is high. The wall between the floor of the bridge and the balustrade is made of glass, which gives you a good view of the water and both quays. The steel construction of the bridge is fitted with frosted glass floor panels, so that it does not look like a massive bridge.

2. Ponte degli Scalzi

The Ponte degli Scalzi is another bridge located between the district of Santa Croce and Cannaregio, but only a bit further from the train station. You will find piers for mooring all along the canal, but at Ponte degli Scalzi they are near the bridge. Its construction is more traditional than that of the Ponte della Costituzione and from the highest point of the bridge you have a wonderful view of the many colored boats and gondolas that cruise the Grand Canal.

Rialto bridgeThe famous Rialto Bridge over the canal
Bridge Venice ItalyThe bridge Ponte degli Scalzi

3. Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)

From the easternmost point in the San Polo district, you can walk via the famous Rialto Bridge into the northernmost point of San Marco district. The covered bridge dates back to the 16th century and is therefore the oldest of the four bridges in Venice. On both sides of the pedestrian bridge you will find plenty of shops with souvenirs and jewelry. Originally this bridge was a floating pontoon, but due to the growth of the adjacent Rialto Market traffic also increased, so they decided to build the bridge made of wood. In the past, the bridge could be raised from two sides, so that ships that protruded above the bridge could pass through. The shops on the bridge were added in the 15th century.

The bridge has endured a lot, because not only has there been a fire, but the bridge has also collapsed several times due to the large number of visitors that the construction could not withstand. During the last time that the bridge was rebuilt, various architects paid a lot of attention to a sustainable construction. Despite critics thought that this stone bridge wouldn't last long, it's still standing. Today it's even at the top of the tourist list of Venice attractions. Tip: next to the Rialto Bridge are two other nice sights:

  • Mercati di Rialto: The fresh food market of Venice with a covered fish market and numerous vegetable and fruit stalls where the Venetians get their daily fresh products. Best to visit in the morning to taste the atmosphere (more info Rialto Market).
  • T Fondaco dei Tedeschi: An exclusive shopping center with many luxury products. From the roof of this shopping center you have one of the best views of Venice. The rooftop is free to visit, but you must reserve in advance (more info T Fondaco dei Tedeschi).
Rialto market Canal GrandeThe Rialto Market in the early morning
Grand Canal VeniceAmazing view from the top of T Fondaco dei Tedeschi

4. Ponte dell’Accademia

In terms of construction, this bridge is made of wood and metal and therefore looks very different from the other three bridges. You can see that this bridge is often photographed by tourists. The lantern on the bridge brings extra atmosphere.

Other places of interest along the canal

In addition to these four impressive bridges, there are – depending on your interest – more beautiful places and attractions to visit. There are several palaces, such as Ca' d'Oro and the Ca' Rezzonico. In the Palazzo Vernier dei Leoni you can view the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. There are also churches worth seeing, such as the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, a spectacular Baroque-style octagonal church.

Canal GrandeThe Ponte dell'Accademia connects the Dorsoduro district
Traghetto VeniceCross the canal with a Traghetto

Crossing the Grand Canal? Take a traghetto

The traghetto was created especially for crossing the canal. As a result, within Venice you not only have the four well-known bridges that connect the parts of the city, but also seven crossings per traghetto. This is an old gondola stripped of all its bells and whistles. After a refurbishment, it will be used as a means of public transport at fixed crossing points. So make no mistake, getting on this gondola will not give you a whole tour of Venice. There is no guide available to tell you about all places of interest between start and end point. The gondola only takes you from one point to another at the same height of the canal. Venice residents stand when they grab the traghetto, but don't be ashamed to sit down if your legs are wobbly. Using the traghetto will only cost a few euros.

Where is the canal in Venice?

Venice Rialto Bridge
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