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10 of the best things to do in Venice during the Venice Film Festival

By Isabella Matthews   Last Updated: 28 March 2023

Discover our pick of the best attractions, activities and things to see and do in Venice when attending the Venice Film Festival on a luxury yacht charter

Every year, the Venice Film Festival transforms the city into a hub of culture, theatre and art.

Add in a roster of Hollywood A-listers and celebrity guests, and it's all too easy to see why this thrilling event is the prime candidate for a glitzy event yacht charter

Whether you want to enjoy the Venice Film Festival as part of a superyacht charter or you'd like a guide on how to attend the event like a VIP, we can help you get the most out of your time at the festival.

Read on to discover all the best things to see and do at the Venice Film Festival.

1. Sight-see in St Marks

The main hub of Venice is St Mark's Square,  a cultural landmark that attracts thousands of visitors to the city. 

To truly bask in the beauty of Venetian culture, enter the Basilica and gaze at its ornate domed ceiling and finery.  From here, wander through to the Doge’s Palace and take a secret tour to view the hedonistic lifestyle of the Doge of Venice.

St Marks Basilica in St Marks Square Venice. The Doge's Palace from the Grand Canal in Venice
The bridge of sighs over a canal in VeniceSt Marks Square with shops, the Campanale and St Marks Basilica in the background

Most tours will also allow guests to cross the infamous Bridge of Sighs, following in the footsteps of prisoners who were led across the bridge in the 1600s. 

Afterward, brave the heights of the Basilica Capanale for an incredible panoramic view.  Then, consider venturing to the Arsenale and the Jewish Quarter to see another side to Venice's varied past. 

2. Sip a Coffee in Caffe Florian

In the heart of St Marks Square, Caffe Florian is a real gem of the city. 

Believed to be the second oldest coffee house in the world, its prime location offers an unbeatable spot for people-watching and taking some time out between sightseeing. 

The cafe's commanding interiors are equally as impressive as the views. Nodding to a Neo-Baroque decadence of 1700's Venice,  the space is enlivened by gilded stucco, Renaissance artworks and ornate detailing. 

Previous guests include Queen Elizabeth, Charlie Chaplin and Madame de Staël.

3. Enjoy an aperitivo in style

During the Venice Film Festival, be sure to take the time to indulge in an afternoon aperitivo.

Plenty of A-listers will be doing the same, and Harry's Bar will no doubt be a popular stop-off during the festival. Known as the birthplace of the peach-prosecco Bellini, Harry’s Bar is one of the finest bars in the world.

Its rich history and elegant decor have proven so significant that the bar was declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 2001.

The bar's unassuming exterior is what makes it so exclusive.  Only found by those who seek it,  the gold sign glittering behind cast-iron windows and the glow of light from inside the legendary frosted glass doors merely allude to the wonders inside. 

If Harry's Bar is looking busy, there are plenty of attractive alternatives on the cards. Take a seat on the terrace of Gritti Palace and watch the world go by, or opt for a touch of decadence at the bar of the Aman Hotel Venice. 

4. Join the Hollywood elite at a premiere

Anne Hathway wears a grey gown on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival
Hollywood starlet faces cameras wearing a black one shoulder diamonte dress at the Venice Film FestivalA leading man faces cameras on the red carpet wearing a black suite and red tie at the Venice Film Festival

Despite being one of the most popular and widely celebrated events in the film calendar, the Venice Film Festival is easily accessible to guests. 

Live a night amongst the Hollywood elite in a dreamy location, experiencing some of cinema's finest creations this year.

Visitors can enjoy the most exciting cinema of the year in public screenings featured across the city from 9am until 10pm throughout the festival.

There are various packages available to gain access to invitation-only events, for example, the gala dinner. 

Attending a premiere is a wonderful opportunity to blend in amongst the starlets.

5. Explore forgotten treasures by island hopping

Surrounding Venice there are many delightful small islands perfect to visit on a private yacht charter. Two that should not be missed are Burano and Murano. 

Famed for its eponymous colorful blown glass creations, Murano is a small island and predominantly has one strip for visitors to see.  With coffee and gift shops galore, be sure to bask in its chic understated beauty.  Incredibly peaceful, it is easy to feel as if no one else is on the island at all.  Slow down and escape from the bustle of Venice for a few hours.

Burano, on the other hand, has a livelier atmosphere.  The streets are lined with uniquely colourful houses and are certainly a sight to be seen.  

Those on a superyacht charter can enjoy pottering in the lace shops or exploring hand-blown glass studios. Afterward, be sure to sample some delectable Venetian pizza and take a saunter through the colourful maze of buildings in the town.

6. Brunch in style at Restaurant Terrazza Danieli

Staff laying tables at the restaurant Terrazza Danieli

Nestled on the top floor of Hotel Danieli is the stunning restaurant Terrazza Danieli.  

A hotspot with the stars, the breakfast terrace overlooks the Serenissima (a panoramic view from the Grand Canal to Saint Marks basin) creating an all-encompassing, breathtaking vista across Venice. 

The interior is equally as luxurious, adorned in red velvet and wooden panels in an ode to the Venetian Doge, lending the space a warm and inviting ambience.

Outside, the decor allows the views to be the main attraction, with cast iron chairs adorned with simple red roses creating a romantic and intimate setting. 

The popular brunch spot offers an extensive selection for guests paired with bottomless sparkling wine. 

7. Relax in the romance of a gondola from St Marks Square

No guide to Venice is complete without an iconic gondola ride. Gondola’s from St Marks Square are a must for an awe-inspiring excursion. 

Cruise along the iconic streets of Venice looking out over the Basilica, or enjoy a relaxing insight into Venetian life by exploring Venice's residential streets. 

The ambience is as romantic as it is relaxing. Complete with a singing gondolier, the trip is unforgettable.  

If timed correctly you can catch the sun as it sets behind the Basilica di Santa Maria della Statue on the return trip via the Bridge of Sighs.

8. A night of glamour at the opera

Stunning interior of La Teatro Fenice in Venice, ItalyBeautiful sconces adorn the walls of La Teatro Fenice in Venice, Italy
Stunning interior of La Teatro Fenice in Venice, Italy

Founded in 1792, the stunning opera house saw the debuts of operas from a host of world-renowned composers including Guiseppe Verdi and Britten.

Architecturally impressive, the theatre has a unique style containing multiple boxes rather than the traditional amphitheater layout.  As a result, each guest has an entirely unique experience and connection with the performance in privacy. 

Unlike any other opera house, the walls are adorned in ornate golden design complementing the divine sky-blue ceiling embellished with delicate paintings.

The theatre's in-house operas are breathtaking, often classical in an ode to the masquerade history.  

La Teatro Fenice provides the ultimate evening of sophistication and elegance with its world-class opera and concerts.  Even to simply marvel at its beauty, anyone in Venice should visit here to take a look.

9. Indulge in fine dining at the legendary Loconda Cipriani

Residing in the neighbouring island Torcello is the famous Locanda Cipriani. Still under Cipriani ownership, the iconic inn provides delectable cuisine and is a beloved cultural relic of Venice.

Steeped in old tales and legends (many of which have proven true) Locanda Cipriani is a quintessential part of a Venice getaway, particularly during the Venice Film Festival where it can only be assumed a host of famous guests will dine. 

Previous guests include writers such as Ernest Hemingway who stayed for a month in 1948, actors including Al Pacino and Lizza Minelli and legendry singers Bette Davis and Mick Jagger, to name a few.  

Torcello itself deserves to be explored, and with a population of less than 100, it has preserved much of its Old World beauty and rustic charm.

10. Dine under the stars along the Grand Canal

Picture taken from the centre of the grand canal, the rialto bridge in the background. Restaurants and shops line the streets at night in Venice

A more casual experience compared to the luxury offered in Venice, take a night to relax under the stars and dine along the Grand Canal.

The Grand Canal is lined with restaurants, each specializing in different fish delicacies. Wander along the port enjoying the setting sun and bustling atmosphere until you find that perfect choice.

Enjoy home-cooked Italian comforts surrounded by one of the finest views Venice has to offer.

Watch the sun set and the stars come out in a delightful small restaurant guaranteed to have a joyous ambience.

As the evening draws to a close, stroll across the iconic Rialto Bridge. Aside from the hustle and bustle of the day, guests can appreciate its beauty and craftsmanship while taking time to admire the scenic view.

Sun sets behind doges palace in Venice.  Street lamp is centre with the view across the canals behind
View across the grand canal from a balcony a gondola moves in the centreHands climbing out of the water onto a building as part of an art exhibit in Venice

Ready to start planning your dream superyacht charter during the Venice Film Festival? Read our complete guide to Venice Film Festival yacht charters

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