Bridge of Sighs

According to legend, convicts would sigh as they walked this bridge before being imprisoned in the Prigioni Nuove.

TravelCurious Tip

The Bridge of Sighs is definitely worth getting up early for – the crowds during the afternoons can be unbearable.

It may not have the bold modernity of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or the sheer size of the Golden Gate Bridge, but the understated little Bridge of Sighs is unquestionably one of the most famous in the world. It is built of gleaming white limestone, standing out clearly against the swirling emerald-green water below, and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms of the Doge’s Palace.


A Little White Sigh

The bridge’s unusual name comes from an old local legend. Supposedly, convicted men being led from their interrogation cell to prison, or to death, would gaze out the windows of the bridge and would sigh miserably, realising that they were glimpsing the beauty of Venice for the final time. A charming picture indeed, but sadly untrue. For one thing, there is almost nothing to see from that angle – even the most determinedly nostalgic prisoner would struggle to muster a sigh looking out at the bare walls of the Rio di Palazzo. Moreover, the days of the executioner were long over by the time the bridge was built, and the cells were mostly occupied by petty criminals.


Regulating Eternal Love

Fortunately, it is not the view from the bridge, nor the number of summary executions, that draw the crowds to this spot. It has become an internationally recognised symbol of romantic love. It is said that if a couple kiss while drifting on a gondola beneath the bridge at sunset, then they will bask in the glow of eternal love. These rather specific requirements caused amusingly unromantic and heated arguments between beneath the bridge for several years, until, in the true spirit of love, access to the canal below was limited by the authorities.


Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Venice
Doge's Palace
Originally home to Venice’s most powerful man, this Gothic masterpiece is one of the city’s top attractions.
St Mark's Basilica
Formerly the Doge’s chapel and famous for its sumptuous design, the Church of Gold will leave you breathless.
Porta della Carta
This 15th-century gate was constructed as the entrance to the Doge's Palace.
Scala d'Oro
The Golden Staircase at the Dodge's Palace.
Doge's Palace prisons
The palace has been used from the residence of the Doge to the prison of the Venetian republic.
Scala dei Giganti
The inner courtyard's stairs that led to the doge's private quarters are flanked by huge statues of Mars and Neptune.

Related Tours

Venice in a Day: Private Tour including St. Mark's & Doge's Palace

Whether you are a first-time visitor or you want to make the most of your time in Venice, this full-day tour is the perfect opportunity to see the most popular highlights as well as off-beaten-path landmarks. Discover the architectural and artistic highlights of Venice in a day including St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, the Rialto Bridge, and more!

On your private tour, you will:

  • Visit the centuries-old Venetian market for fruit and fish, that sits along the Grand Canal;
  • See the Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge crossing the Gran Canal, famous for its artisans and shops selling jewellery, linens, Murano glass and more; 
  • Explore the picturesque neighbourhood of San Polo, and visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the largest church in the city that boasts masterpieces by Titan, Giovanni Bellini and Donatello as well as the body of Antonio Canova;
  • Discover Campo Santa Margherita, one of the liveliest in the city, filled with bars and restaurants it is a popular hangout spot for the locals;
  • Walk through the Dorsoduro neighbourhood and cross the famed wooden Accademia bridge, which offers two of the most iconic views of the Gran Canal;
  • Take a stroll down the neighbourhood of San Marco home to the Fenice Theatre, the Scala Contarini del Bovolo spiralling "snail" staircase and of course the famed St. Mark's Square;
  • Take in the grandeur of St. Mark's Square and its magnificent buildings, including the Clocktower and the Belltower;
  • Step into St Mark’s Basilica to admire the extensive gold mosaic decorations, and hear the story of how St. Mark's body was laid to rest here after Venetian merchants stole it in Egypt and brought it back to Venice;
  • Visit the magnificent Doge’s Palace, the former seat of the Venetian government and home to the Doge, the highest official of the republic of Venice for more than 1000 years (tickets included);
  • End the tour in a less-touristic area of the city, Campo Santa Maria Formosa, where your guide can suggest dining options or can help you get on a Venetian gondola.


This tour is all about making sure you experience the best of Venice in a single day –nearly an impossible task. You will see the world-famous St Mark’s Square— probably one of Italy’s most iconic locations and Venice’s largest urban open space.

This square is enclosed by the astonishing St Mark’s Basilica and the magnificent Doge’s Palace. Not only will you visit St Mark’s Basilica but also explore the Doge’s Palace, which rises majestically above the waters of the Grand Canal on St Mark’s Square. It remains one of the best examples of Venetian gothic architecture.

Your guide will be sure to show you the highlights, including the Rialto Bridge, famed as the oldest bridge to cross the Grand Canal, its arcade full of small souvenir shops is the best place to buy beautiful Venetian masks and feathers.

You will also visit the breathtaking building of the Frari Church, and the Accademia bridge, and expertly navigate the charming alleyways of the neighbourhoods of San Polo, Dorsoduro, San Marco and Castello.

At the end of your tour, your guide will be sure to give you expert recommendations on how to spend an evening in Venice –from a gondola ride to the best spots for dinner. 

St. Marks Basilica & Doge's Palace: Private Venice Half-Day Tour

If this is your first time visiting Venice, this is half-day tour is the perfect experience to discover two of the city’s must-see sites: St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace, and to explore the best of the city of canals in a short amount of time.

On your private half-day tour, you will:

  • Step into St Mark’s Basilica, the cathedral of Venice built to house the remains of St. Mark's, and famously decorated with shimmering mosaics;
  • Explore the magnificent buildings of St. Mark's Square, including the Renaissance St. Mark's Clocktower, and St. Mark's Campanile, the tallest structure in Venice and one of the city's most recognisable symbols;
  • Visit the Doge’s Palace, built in Venetian gothic style, the former residence of the Doge and the seat of the Venetian government;
  • Learn about the sophisticated ruling system of the Republic of Venice as you stand in the opulent Chamber of the Great Council, one of the largest rooms in Europe, decorated by some of Venice's most famous artists such as Gentile da Fabriano, Bellini and Titan;
  •  Walk in the footsteps of condemned Venetians, as you cross the Bridge of Sighs that connects the Doge's Palace interrogation rooms to the New Prison;
  • Enjoy a leisurely walk through Venice, step off the beaten tourist path and explore magnificent Campi (squares) and charming alleys and often missed gems, like the Aqua Alta Library, the house of Marco Polo, and the Church of Miracles;
  • Cross the Rialto Bridge, Venice's oldest and most famous bridge, and end your tour with magnificent views of the Grand Canal.


Your tour begins with a wow – at the heart of the world-famous St Mark’s Square. Probably one of Italy’s most iconic locations and Venice’s largest urban open space, this square is enclosed by the stunning St Mark’s Basilica and the absolutely magnificent Doge’s Palace, both of which you will visit with your private guide.

The Doge Palace was built in 812 and is celebrated as one of the best examples of Venetian Gothic architecture in the city. Right next to the Doge’s Palace in St Mark’s Basilica, deemed an icon of Italian art and culture; it is indeed one of the city’s top highlights.

Then, your guide will take you off the beaten path for a leisurely stroll as you head towards Venice’s most iconic bridge - the Rialto. Famous for being the oldest bridge to cross the Grand Canal, its arcade full of small souvenir shops.

After walking across this fantastic bridge, your tour will end with magnificent views of the Grand Canal where your guide will give you great recommendations for the best food spots during your stay.

The Best of Venice: Private Tour including St Mark’s Basilica

Discover the best of "La Serenissima" and immerse yourself in a Venice that is not just gondolas, but a city of canals with many grand palaces such as Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), unique museums and impressive churches like St. Mark's Basilica.

On your private tour, you will:

  • Explore the famous Rialto Markets and take a stroll down the famed fish market of Venice, which has been taking place here for nearly 1000 years;
  • Cross over the iconic Rialto Bridge, designed by the architect "Anthony of the Bridge" in the late 1500s, and take in spectacular views of Venice's Grand Canal;
  • Step away from the main tourist path to enjoy some of the city's best sights, such as the gem-like Church of Miracles and quaint Aqua Alta Library, self-proclaimed the "most beautiful bookstore in the world";
  • Take a stroll down Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, one of Venice's most important squares;
  • Admire the Basilica of San Giovanni e Paolo, one of the biggest churches in Venice and the official church for the funerals of the Venetian Doges;
  • Marvel at the magnificent Renaissance facade of the Scola Grande di San Marco, originally the home of a major Venetian confraternity, and today the city's hospital;
  • See the Equestrian Statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, the first of its kind standing on three feet;
  • Admire the iconic view of the Venice lagoon from the waterfront promenade of the Riva Degli Schiavoni;
  • Stop by the Doge's Palace, the seat of the government of the Venetian Republic, known as "The Most Serene Republic of Venice", which existed for 1100 years and was once the greatest naval power in Europe;
  • Stand in awe of St. Mark's Square and the 99-meter-high Campanile (bell tower) of St. Mark's, once a lighthouse to guide ships;
  • Enjoy a guided tour inside St. Mark's Basilica, the former political and religious centre of the Republic of Venice, magnificently decorated with golden mosaics completed in the 12th century.


Trace the city’s fascinating beginnings, learn about its failed defence against the plague and unearth its dark secrets. Your journey will take you through Venice’s grandest central district. The architecture is sublime, the excitement rejuvenating and the atmosphere unique.

You will begin your tour walking towards Venice’s pre-eminent bridge- Rialto Bridge. Famous for being the oldest bridge on the Grand Canal, its arcade full of small souvenir shops is the best place to buy beautiful Venetian masks and feathers.

Your private guide will give you the history of the markets, as they have been operating for over seven centuries. Stroll around the bustling Rialto Markets, a picturesque shop primarily selling fish and vegetables. Take in all the sights, sounds, and smells of the market.

Venture through the most magical streets and canals of San Marco, and pass the iconic St Mark’s Square. Probably one of Italy’s most iconic locations and Venice’s largest urban open space, this square is enclosed by the astonishing St Mark’s Basilica and the magnificent Doge’s Palace.

You will see the Doge’s Palace, built-in 812, which is one of the best examples of Venetian gothic architecture. Right next to the Doge’s Palace is St. Mark's Basilica with its gold mosaics and many domes will also be sure to capture your attention.

Your tour will finish with tickets and a tour of St Mark’s Basilica. Your guide will take you on a tour of the historic Basilica, deemed to be an icon of Italian art and culture.

Please note that St. Mark's Basilica is an active church and can be subject to unforeseen closures due to religious reasons. In cases of closure, you will be given alternative touring options.

The Doge's Palace of Venice: Private 2.5-hour Walking Tour
Discover the fascinating history of Venice by exploring the magnificent Doge’s Palace (in Italian Palazzo Ducale), the former residence of the Doge of Venice and one of the most popular attractions in the heart of the city with a private tour guide. The Venetian Gothic Style 14th-century building became a museum in 1923 and visiting its rooms is the best way to learn about the past of "La Serenissima".

On your private tour you will:

  • Meet your guide in St. Mark's Square, for an introduction to the area before entering the Doge's Palace;
  • Explore the Doge's Palace as you learn about the sophisticated government systems of the  Venetian Republic, also known as "The Most Serene Republic of Venice";
  • Get acquainted with the Doge's of Venice, elected for life, these chief magistrates were the leaders of the Republic for over 1000 years;
  • See the apartment rooms where the Doges resided while in power, and learn of their way of life and beliefs;
  • Take in the magnificent  Giants' (Scala dei Giganti) and Golden (Scala d'Oro) staircases, ceremonial masterpieces of their times, built respectively in the 15th and 16th centuries;
  • Explore the opulent government rooms, including the Venetian Senate Hall that could accommodate up to 200 people,  the  Collegio Hall with ceiling breathtaking decorations by Veronese, and Tintoretto's "Paradise" painting, believed to be the  world’s largest canvas painting, in the Grand Council Hall; 
  • Cross the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the interrogation rooms at the Doge's Palace with the New Prison, and learn how this famous bridge got its name;
  • End your tour with a visit to the dark prison cells where you will learn of the strict justice system of the Serenissima, which considered itself incorruptible and utterly impartial.

There is no better way to understand the power which Venice had over the overworld than by a private, guided tour of Doge’s Palace. 
 
For over a thousand years beginning in the eighth century, Venice was ruled by doges – elected magistrates who served for life. While the process for selecting doges changed throughout the millennium, the singular law was simply that no doge could pass his title on to a member of his own family. 
 
While the original wood structure burned down, the building which stands today is still a staggering 700 years old. From its ornate wood carvings to its larger-than-life facades, the palace is more than just a historical sight – it’s an architectural masterpiece and a visual feast. 

Whilst touring the palace, see works by Titian, Tintoretto, and Tiepolo amongst others.
Welcome to Venice: Private 2-hour Introductory Walking tour
Explore the best of Venice and see "The City of Canals" most popular highlights on this private 2-hour introduction tour with a professional tour guide, who will take you to on a journey to discover one of Italy's more picturesque and romantic cities. 

On your private tour, you will:

  • Explore the Rialto area, famed for its markets and of course the iconic Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge crossing the Grand Canal;
  • Navigate through Venice's maze of "calle" streets and canals with the expertise of your tour guide;
  • See Marco Polo’s house, and Santa Maria dei Miracoli Church, often described as the "Marble church" and "treasure chest" due to its precious marble decorations;
  • Stop in Campo San Giovanni e Paolo to hear about the "Scuole Grandi" (great schools) of Venice, confraternities founded in the late 13th century, as welfare and religious institutions that resembled present-day lobbies;
  • Walk along the Venetian lagoon waterfront and marvel at the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the interrogation rooms of Doge's Palace to the New Prison;
  • Learn of the Venetian Doges and the city's complex - and modern - ruling system as you take in the majesty of the Doge's Palace, the seat of the Venetian Government;
  • End your tour in the famed St. Mark's Square, the only "piazza" in Venice and learn the fascinating story of how St. Mark's body was brought to Venice and laid to rest in St. Mark's Basilica.

Trace the city’s fascinating beginnings, learn about its failed defence against the plague and unearth its dark secrets. 

You will begin your tour by visiting Venice's Rialto neighbourhood. Take in all the sights, sounds, and smells of the local markets before crossing the Rialto Bridge. Famous for being the oldest bridge on the Grand Canal. 

Venture through the magical streets and canals of Venice, step off the beaten tourist path to uncover the quieter side of the city, and end the tour in the iconic St Mark’s Square. Probably one of Italy’s most iconic locations and Venice’s largest urban open space, this square is enclosed by the astonishing St Mark’s Basilica and the magnificent Doge’s Palace. 

You will see the Doge’s Palace, built-in 812, which is one of the best examples of Venetian gothic architecture. Right next to the Doge’s Palace is another superb building that will be sure to capture your attention! 

x

Guides

Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.

Partners

Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.