The Grand Canal in Venice is one of the world’s most famous thoroughfares. And with good reason: it’s one of the most beautiful streets in the world.

This one canal is a trip through a thousand years of history and empire The Venice Grand Canal is  lined with grand palaces, or palazzi, magnificent hotels and some of the most beautiful churches in Europe.

Image of gondolas on the Grand Canal near San Silvestro, Venice

It’s crossed by just four bridges, and is by far the busiest canal in Venice. Yet even here there are quiet corners, pockets of Venice off the beaten path in the unlikeliest of places.

Image of a reflection in a waterbus station in Venice Italy

The journey from one end to the other – on the number 1 vaporetto or waterbus – is one of the best public transport journeys in the world.

Enjoy it from wherever you are in the world, on our virtual Venice Grand Canal tour.

The newest bridge over the Grand Canal is the Ponte della Constituzione, which links Piazzale Roma bus station with a walkway to the railway station. It’s also known as the Ponte Calatrava, after the Spanish architect who designed it.

Image of a vaporetto or waterbus on the Grand Canal in Venice

A view from the Ponte della Constituzione. The vaporetto, or waterbus, is the most popular way of travelling along the Grand Canal. The church with the green dome in the background is San Simeone Piccolo.

Image of the Tolentini church from the Grand Canal in Venice Italy

This view, from the Ferrovia or northern side is of the Tolentini church in the setiere of Santa Croce.

Image of San Geremia church and the Grand Canal in Venice Italy

The next bridge over the Grand Canal is the Ponte degli Scalzi, named after the Baroque church of the Barefoot Sisters next to the Ferrovia or railway station.  This is the view from the Scalzi bridge down the Grand Canal, with the district of Cannaregio and church of San Geremia to the left.

Image of Ca' Pesaro palace on the Grand Canal in Venice Italy

Just after San Geremia, the Cannaregio Canal meets the Grand Canal to the left. This is a view down another canal in Cannaregio, the Rio di Noale, the Ca’ Pesaro, an impressive modern art museum on the Santa Croce (south) side of the Grand Canal.

Image of the Ca' d'Oro palace on the Grand Canal in Venice Italy

Ca’ d’Oro, the House of Gold, is one of the most beautiful buildings in Venice, even without its original gold façade. It’s one of the best examples of Venetian Gothic architecture, along with the Doge’s Palace in St Mark’s Square. The Ca’ d’Oro now houses the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti.

Image of Ca' Favretto Hotel San Cassiano Ca' d'Oro palace on the Grand Canal in Venice Italy

Ca’ Favretto is a 15th century palazzo on the south side of the Canal. It’s one of many luxury hotels on the Grand Canal. This hotel is right next to the famous Rialto fish market.

Image of the Rialto Bridge from Cannaregio in Venice

The Rialto bridge, or Ponte di Rialto, is the oldest bridge in Venice. It was built in 1571, and the distinctive arcades along either side still house craft and jewellery shops. This is the view from the Cannaregio side.

Image of a gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice at sunset

The view from Rialto isn’t bad either. Here it is at sunset, looking down towards the bend that leads to San Marco.

Image of the Rialto Bridge Venice at night

Another view of the Rialto bridge, this time from the Riva del Carbon on the San Marco side.

Image of a traghetto crossing the Grand Canal in Venice

If you want the Venice gondola experience without paying 80 euros for the pleasure, you can use catch a traghetto across the Grand Canal. This is the Sant’Angelo traghetto. These boats are mainly used by locals. They are among the most convenient ferries in Venice, offering several short-cuts around Venice.

The final bridge over the Grand Canal is the Pont dell’Accademia, named after the renowned art gallery next door. It offers one of the most iconic views of Venice, down to the end of the Grand Canal and the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute.

Image of Santa Maria della Salute church in Venice at night

Salute dominates the south-eastern end of the Grand Canal, its distinctive silhouette an unforgettable sight. Here it is at night from across the Grand Canal.

Image of Santa Maria della Salute church

This is Santa Maria della Salute on a glorious winter morning, from the Dogana traghetto stop outside Harry’s Bar.

Image of San Giorgio Maggiore church in Venice Italy during a spectacular dawn

After the Punta della Dogana, the Grand Canal opens out into the Bacino di San Marco, or St Mark’s Basin. As you leave the Grand Canal, the lagoon opens out before you. If you disembark at one of the San Marco vaporetto stops, turn back and look across the water to Andrea Palladio’s stunning church of San Giorgio Maggiore.