Piazza San Marco

Landmark / Shopping Area / Square
Piazza San Marco The most heavily trafficked tourist area in Venice – and hub of the delightful winter Carnevale scene – the beautiful Piazza San Marco is an historic square featuring everything from high-end boutique shopping and art to... Venice Italy 45.433982 12.338333
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Piazza San Marco - Landmark | Shopping Area | Square in Venice.
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Emma

Party Earth Review The most heavily trafficked tourist area in Venice – and hub of the delightful winter Carnevale scene – the beautiful Piazza San Marco is an historic square featuring everything from high-end boutique shopping and art... ... read full review

  • Hours:

    24/7

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth Piazza San Marco Review

The Scene

The most heavily trafficked tourist area in Venice – and hub of the delightful winter Carnevale scene – the beautiful Piazza San Marco is an historic square featuring everything from high-end boutique shopping and art to...

The most heavily trafficked tourist area in Venice – and hub of the delightful winter Carnevale scene – the beautiful Piazza San Marco is an historic square featuring everything from high-end boutique shopping and art to upscale restaurants and bars.

Although the square is filled with vacationers snapping pictures during the day, the scene calms down significantly by 10pm, when mellow groups tend to gather to share the magnificent scene and a bottle of wine before moving on to the bars and clubs.

The nighttime atmosphere in the vast piazza is quite special, as the impressive buildings loom rather mysteriously in the gloom, and the sounds of symphony orchestras compete with the gentle lapping of the water on the embankment.

Every detail seems to combine to create the perfect destination for an intimate moonlit stroll, a nighttime photo shoot, a drink at one of the historic upscale cafés, or a laid-back evening of people-watching.

The sheer romance of the piazza has inspired many a lover, so visitors shouldn't be surprised to find couples dancing in the dark.

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Tip from Emma:

Piazza San Marco turns into an open-air festival during the winter Carnevale. With its live dance and musical performances, an endless supply of warm mulled wine and sweet Venetian donuts, and thousands of costumed partiers, very little can top this genuine Venetian experience.

  • Crowd

    Affluent, stylish types looking for a romantic scene, and music-loving travelers and hippies, all ages.

  • Entertainment / Music

    There are usually two or three orchestras playing simultaneously outside the various cafés and restaurants. Staged festival music during major Italian holidays.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    The eateries around the square tend to have limited but expensive menus.

  • Prices

    Prices are inflated in this tourist-heavy area.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Any night after 10pm.

  • Close By

    Iconic establishments Caffè Florian and Caffè Quadri are located on opposite sides of the square and offer expensive fare served in beautiful 15th- and 16th-century surroundings.

Piazza San Marco User Reviews

Average rating:
A Taste of Venice
Colin W. Nov 19, 2013
Venice is not that big of a city, being able to walk most, if not all of it in one day. One memorable spot beyond the obvious architectural and historical beauty is San Marco's Square, which is where all the people are or end up being. Plenty of options for authentic Italian cuisine during the day and even more venues for drinks once the night rolls around. Being heavily populated, it is easy to mingle with the locals and find out where the best bars are or what clubs to go to including night raves at the college center, but that's a whole other story. So, when in Venice, you have to meet San Marco.
Looking for a knock off bag? Want to be stalked by random men carrying flowers? Go to Piazza San Marco!
Natalie M. Oct 16, 2013
In all seriousness, this place is incredible. If you are in Venice, it's definitely a must see. The square is encapsulated by fabulous shops (window shopping, anyone?), and some of the most fantastic tourist attractions in Venice. However, do be aware that the touristic aspect of Piazza San Marco does draw a plethora of "con artists" of sorts and not so legal street vendors. There is tons of food, shops, and lots of touring to be done. It can get a bit expensive though...if you want to find cheaper (but still oh-so delicious) Italian food, walk for a bit and you can find an array of delicacies. If you really want to tourist hard, make sure to grab a Spritz with your aperativos before dinner. I spent a summer drinking Spritz and I miss them so...And then there is the fashion. Venice will make you "ooh and ahh" every time you turn a corner. Walking around Piazzo San Marco, you can get a taste of many of the fabulous fashions that Venice has to offer. While I'd certainly put aside some time to explore Piazza San Marco and other big attractions, let yourself roam and explore the smaller streets between Venice's historic buildings. To truly do as the Venetians do, roam the streets, veer from the canals,and let yourself be in total awe of the exquisite, one of a kind Italian exquisite architecture.The city truly comes alive when you let your travel to-do list go and simply enjoy the city and all it has to offer!
Try to go there at night
Devon M. Aug 17, 2013
Piazza San Marco is one of the most famous landmarks in the city of Venice. It has history, it has beautiful buildings, but most of all, it has people. The piazza is always incredibly crowded with people waiting in line to enter the church or the bell tower, making it almost impossible to walk around (especially in the summer heat). While it is worth seeing the historical landmarks here, make sure to at least visit the piazza at night as well. The place transforms into a beautiful array of lights and music. People eat dinner in the (expensive) trattoria's and ristorante's surrounding the square while they are serenaded by bands on platforms in the middle of the tables. The sight is breathtaking, and the drop in temperature and the number of people will make it worthwhile. The people attempting to sell you roses or toys that light up and shoot into the air can get a little annoying, but if you can get past it this can be one of the most beautiful and romantic parts of your trip.
Pleasantly decadent
DrBeata A. Jun 26, 2013
I love Venice. Old houses, channel and fragment perfume, pigeon sh*t, tourists, crowd.The Negro seller wants to sell Prada bag, which he took over 150 but he gives it to YOU only over 100.You should pay for the music on the San Marco , for the smell of food not yet .Throbbing piles of the commercial city , and You enjoy it . Pizza, wine, fashion, history.
Half Fairy Tale, Half Tourist Trap
Lindsey B. Apr 1, 2013
The Piazza San Marco is one of the most popular spots in Venice, and it's not hard to see why. Home to St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, the Correr Museum and a smattering of restaurants and shops, the piazza is a testament to the grand empire Venice once was. However, with the great amount of tourists that visit the city every year, this spot can become overcrowded and overwhelming. It is best to visit the piazza in the early morning, before 8 a.m., so you can see it in all its glory. Without the tourists, you'll have the opportunity to take in the beautiful details of the buildings, from the winged lions scattered across the square to the way the morning light bounces off the gold mosaics of the basilica. You'll also be able to be first in line to tour the amazing gold-encrusted cathedral, a proud example of Venetian Gothic architecture and the decadence Venice once enjoyed. I also recommend climbing to the top of the campanile to get a view of Venice that you won't get anywhere else. After touring the historical buildings, you can grab an espresso at one of the cafes and then hop on a gondola for a unique tour of the rest of the city. Piazza San Marco is the best place to start a day in Venice, and it is also a great place to end it. When night falls, return to this spot to enjoy the beautiful music of the restaurant bands and the romantic glow of the lights. After a busy day, the mellow romance of the square will remind you why Venice is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world.
Beware of Pigeons
Maggie R. Apr 1, 2013
Venice is an absolutely beautiful city, and its crowning glory is the Piazza San Marco. The most memorable moment of my time in the plaza, however, is having the misfortune to come between a pigeon and its call of nature. Pigeons flock to the piazza in hundreds, so watch out! But don't let that ruin your experience--you can let them perch on your arms if you're feeling bold, throw them bread crumbs, or just ignore them altogether. The imposing basilica in the piazza is beautiful, and well worth the wait in line. The atmosphere is amazing, and the majesty of the interior is breathtaking. After the hustle and bustle of the piazza, it was nice to slip away into the peace and quiet of the basilica. One of my favorite attractions in the piazza was the little Venetian glass shops that dotted the outer walls. Artisans sell everything from huge, elaborate pieces to tiny animal figurines. It was fun to spend an afternoon wandering through the shops and admiring the craftsmanship and detail put into each piece. There's plenty of food right by the piazza as well, and many places to sit and enjoy the day. I was there during an afternoon rehearsal for a classical music group, so I was able to listen to them practice while enjoying a delicious gelato. I absolutely loved Piazza San Marco, and it's definitely got a little something for everyone.
Nice but beware
Kendall H. Feb 24, 2013
I went to Venice this year for the opening weekend of Carnival. On Saturday it was raining so the Piazza San Marco was empty apart from the hoards of people crowded under the buildings near the shops. Because of the weather there wasn't much activity on the square. My friends and I needed some Euros so we asked a few shop owners where an ATM was and they all pointed us in the same direction. When we got home from that weekend we all found out that our accounts had been hacked! So a warning to all: be wary of the ATMs in Piazza San Marco. The next day the weather was beautiful and it seemed like the whole city was in Carnival mode! People were out in full costume, or at the least, a mask bought off of a street vendor. They prices for everything were relatively decent and this is coming from a college student! I enjoyed my time in Venice but there is so much more to do besides shopping and walking around San Marco's. Take a free tour or a gondola ride or go visit Murano while there and once again, be careful about where you take out money!
Despite the crowds and prices, still a great visit!
Pamela G. Feb 23, 2013
Venice is well-worth a trip even from across the world but don’t expect serenity as the city bears a stronger resemblance to Disneyland than anything featured in the Diane Lane film “Under the Tuscan Sun.” Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) might as well be re-named the Piazza Space Mountain for the amount of tourists and vendors that crowd in each day and the accompanying pigeons in search of food from all-too-generous travelers. But don’t let the crowd discourage you too much as the plaza’s majesty and appeal, much like Venice in general, is undeniable. Every square inch from the Basilica San Marco to the Palazzo Ducale to the cobblestones connecting it all will make you understand why millions each year are willing to bear the crowds and hefty Venetian prices to spend a few hours in this grandiose plaza. The star of the plaza is obviously San Marco’s Basilica, a worthy escapade regardless of your religious inclinations. It’s free to the public though you’re likely to wait anywhere between ten minutes to an hour or more depending on the time of day you visit. Earlier is better! It’s easy to forget you’re going into a religious institution when you’re enjoying an Italian gelato in the sun but the basilica’s guards will swiftly remind you that ladies should have their shoulders and legs covered (no tank tops and only shorts and skirts well below the knees are allowed). This is nearly impossible in the summer time but they’re more than happy to sell you cloth shawls and makeshift skirts for 2 euro each in the name of modesty. Overall, a great deal for seeing one of Europe’s top basilicas. The rest of the plaza is less financially forgiving and you can expect to pay at least 20 euro for entrance into any of the other attractions including the various museums that line the plaza. Fortunately, in a city like Venice one doesn’t have to enter a museum to see artistic or architectural excellence as the city’s landscape already has so much to offer. Though the plaza is bustling with cafés, all of them are very expensive and you can expect to pay around 8 euro for just a coffee at the famous Caffe Florian. If you’re on a budget you’re better suited buying a coffee or gelato at one of the stands just outside the plaza and eating it while window shopping along the plaza’s edges. Careful not to sit down though or one of the many guards is likely to remind you that sitting anywhere in the plaza is strictly forbidden, unless you’re drinking an 8 euro cup of coffee of course. For a softer side of the Piazza San Marco, visit the plaza at night and breathe in the music and romanticism often stifled by the crowd. You'll have to skip the attractions but it's the closest you'll come to tranquility in this lively and beautiful city.
pigeons and tourists
Sam R. Dec 13, 2012
This square is so busy and covered in tourists that its not fun. It also floods periodically and smells like something dying. Its fun with Wellies but if you haven’t prepared for Noah’s Flood then it’s not fun. The cafes here are ridiculously overpriced and the music is overkill. If you want the real Venice experience go along the water towards the arsenal area, its a really nice part of town that isn’t flooded with picture-taking slow-walking tourists everywhere. Its the best part of Venice and no one knows about it and no one goes there because they all get stuck with the pigeons back in St. Marks square.
A perfect piazza
Tara R. Dec 9, 2012
There are almost as many tourists as pigeons in San Marco most times of year, but both groups have good taste. Even for Venetians, there is something awe-inspiring about San Marco, and most will speak reverentially of their “perfect square,” with the gloriously gold Basilica, the view of the Adriatic sea, and the palace of the Doge. Many of the cafes will have live musical performances—they’ll charge a coperto, or cover charge, but if you don’t spend an exorbitant five euros on a cappuccino, you can still sit on a public bench and get the San Marco experience. Aqua alta—when the sea floods Venetian streets—make San Marco an extended puddle, with reflections that are spellbinding.
Obvious must-see
Jody P. Dec 3, 2012
So, if you are planning a trip to Venice, I'm sure Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark's Square, is somewhere near the top of your list. It is a can't miss sight. This is a place that has been in tons of movies and is always depicted as a bustling square full of hungry pigeons. Well, real life does not disappoint. There are literally tons of pigeons everywhere cooing and searching for dropped pizza crumbs. There are some restaurants and shops in the square but I would avoid them as they all seemed overpriced due to the high concentration of tourists in the area. Definitely check out St. Mark's Church as it is amazing and afterwards wander around the check out the street performers in the square.
People Watching
Brooke T. Nov 29, 2012
The Piazza is very crowded, but for a reason! It’s beautiful and is the true center of the maze-like city of Venice. It’s a great starting point to grab a pizza or a glass of wine before you go exploring the canals. There are many outdoor cafes to sit at and people watch and most of the cafes have live jazz and piano players. Sitting and observing everyone, from tourists to fashionistas, is a great way to see different sides of the city. There are about as many pigeons as people, but they only add to the ambience of the piazza.
THE TRADITIONAL VENICE EXPERIENCE
Roseann F. Oct 6, 2012
Visiting the San Marco Square during the daytime is an exceptionally exciting experience. Not only will you appreciate the ancient architecture and openness of the square, but you’ll marvel at the pigeons. They’re friendly and hungry . . . and everywhere. After dinner in the evening, strolling through the narrow scenic streets of Venice with its breath-taking architecture is both relaxing and sensual. Arriving at the Piazza San Marco, when the pigeons seem to have disappeared for the day, is the perfect conclusion to a special, romantic evening in Venice. There, you’ll see intimate tables with elegant table cloths and candles surrounding the perimeter. The smell of fabulous Italian pasta permeates the air from the plethora of restaurants outside the Piazza. You’ll hear different types of music (classical, opera, pop, etc.) being played in various areas inside the open square. It’s amazing how the melodies seem to move with you as you explore; although there’s music everywhere, you’re only aware of the sounds in the area you’re in. As you sip on a glass of wine, you realize how lucky you are to be in the city of canals, enjoying the evening just as hundreds of thousands of others have for many centuries.
Carnevale
Nick T. Aug 22, 2012
My take on St Mark's may be skewed because I visited during Carnevale, but it was one of the most amazing sights I have witnessed. Imagine a square with thousands of people dressed up in costumes, partying and taking pictures with live music playing all day. Now take that picture and put it inside one of the most beautiful piazzas in Italy with its ever recognizable architecture bordered by the most famous of the Venetian canals, the grand canal. In terms of getting to the Piazza you can either take a ferry or gondola which are both scenic and the quickest mode of transportation, but a bit expensive on a student's budget. The other option is to walk the winding streets of Venice over the bridges and by the classic shops. This will take at least a half hour to arrive at St. Marks, but if you're not in a hurry I would recommend it.
A Lot of Birds
Gabe L. Aug 7, 2012
I went to this Piazza when it was pouring rain. It was almost too hard to walk because of how soaked I and everyone else was getting. The sight itself is an architectural masterpiece. I could have probably spent hours admiring the building had it not been for the pouring rain. Later the weather did clear up a bit and we passed it again. My suggestion would be to watch out for the pigeons, they are not afraid of people. I walked across the square on one flew onto my shoulder. Other people had 10 to 15 pigeons hanging out on their arms. If you're not a fan of that stay clear.
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