It’s no exaggeration to say that Venice is a veritable treasure trove for art-lovers. Once the most powerful city in Italy, Venice has been an artistic powerhouse since the 1400s, evidenced today by a vast array of galleries, dazzling architecture and historic masterpieces.

Discover the city’s artistic side for yourself on one of our Venice cruises. Not sure where to start? Read on for our ultimate guide to Venice for art-lovers.

1. Gallerie dell'Accademia

This historic gallery (founded in 1750) is home to paintings completed between the 14th and 18th centuries by some of the great masters. Wander the airy halls to discover early Byzantine works as well as Renaissance pieces by artists such as Carpaccio and Bellini.

Speaking of Bellini, don’t miss his iconic Giobbe Alterpiece during your visit. Completed in 1487, this incredibly lifelike painting represents a version of Holy Conversation (an Italian Renaissance style) and features a decadent gold mosaic ceiling.

2. Basilica di San Marco

The Basilica di San Marco is arguably one of the most famous landmarks in the city. Its origin story is as gory as it is fascinating: it was built in the 9th century to hold the corpse of St Mark, which was hidden in a barrel of pork fat to transport it from Egypt to Venice. The Basilica is home to over 8000 sq metres of mosaics, many of which are made with 24-carat gold leaf. Look at for the three iconic gold domes inside the church. 

3. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection

This museum of early 20th century European and American art perches upon the banks of the Grand Canal in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the art collector Peggy Guggenheim’s former residence. Inside, you’ll find Peggy Guggenheim’s personal collection which includes significant works of surrealism, Cubism, Futurism and more. Make sure to take a walk around the outdoor sculpture garden.  

4. Orsoni

Discover the fascinating heritage of Venetian mosaic-making at Orsoni, a historic furnace in the Canareggio neighbourhood. The furnace uses time-honoured techniques in practice since 1888 to create smalti (small glass tiles) and gold mosaics. The Color Library is a must-see, where every colour of smalti (over 3,500) is carefully preserved, creating an enchanting rainbow.

5. The Biennale

As the name might suggest, the Venice Biennale takes place in the city every two years, celebrating international contemporary art. The festival lasts for a number of months and has been occurring in Venice for the last 120 years. There are two main sites to visit to experience the Biennale during your time in Venice. Giardini is in the east of the city, and is the spot where the Biennale first began back in 1895. It’s surrounded by verdant parks and features unique pavilions to showcase the art of different countries taking part. The second site, Arsenale, is a former shipyard and is home to over 20 pavillions.

6. Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana

The Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana isn’t your regular public library – it was founded in 1468, making it one of the oldest surviving libraries in Italy. It’s home to one of the world’s largest classical text collections in the world. The ceiling of the lobby is covered with 21 portraits selected by the masters Tiziano and Sansovino, while on the walls you can admire works by Veronese and Tintoretto.

7. Punta della Dogana

This unmissable arts museum is housed inside the Dogana da Mar, one of the oldest customs buildings in Venice. The building was first built in the 17th century to ensure all ships visiting Venice paid duties, and was revamped by the esteemed architect Tadao Ando for a 2009 opening. Inside, you’ll now find rotating exhibitions of exciting modern art from around the world.

The architecture of the building is just as arresting as the art within. Ando has carved windows into the old water gates to allow glimpses of passing ships, creating a space that both celebrates its sea-faring past and looks forward to an exciting future.

There are countless masterpieces waiting to be discovered in Venice. Be inspired by Venice’s artistic heritage on one of our Mediterranean cruises.

* From price is the lowest available fare, based on 2 people sharing.