How to climb St Mark’s bell tower in Venice?

Campanile San Marco | Musei Venezia

Thanks to an entrance ticket, everyone can see Venice from its highest tower, St Mark’s bell tower: it is in fact one of the few in Italy to have a lift and the view from the top is unmissable, with an enchanting view of the square and the city. The campanile is in fact set in the context of St Mark’s Square, which includes the basilica itself and the Doge’s Palace: a concentration of history, art and wonder over the lagoon.

How to get tickets to climb St Mark’s bell tower

By purchasing your ticket for the campanile di San Marco you will gain access to one of the tallest towers in Italy, at almost one hundred metres high. Built in the 16th century, it is known for one of Galileo Galilei’s great feats: the invention of the telescope. It was here that he made the first demonstration in the early 17th century.

The ticket will allow you to enter skipping the queue, but I recommend that you still arrive 10-15 minutes before the booked time. The lift also makes the visit possible for people with reduced mobility or in wheelchairs.

In summer the tower is open from 9 a.m. to 9.15 p.m. and in winter from 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The ticket also includes an app and an audio guide, which can also be used offline. Remember to bring along earphones to listen to all the information about Venice that the guide will give you, because they are not included in the entrance fee.

The ticket cannot be rescheduled, but it is possible, in the event of unforeseen events and changes of schedule, to cancel it by 11.59pm on the day before the visit by selecting the appropriate option at the time of purchase.

Combining the view from St Mark’s bell tower with a visit to the Doge’s Palace

With a combined ticket, at a discounted price, you can visit St Mark’s bell tower and the Doge’s Palace. You will thus enter two iconic buildings, symbolising the power of the Church the first and that of the Doges the second. Indeed, the Doge’s Palace has always been, in the various forms it has taken over time, a place of power and of Venetian magistracies.

The ticket also includes access to the other sites in the St Mark’s circuit, just show it at each entrance. In addition to the Doge’s Palace, you will therefore have access to:

  • Bridge of Sighs, which is located on one side of the palace and owes its name to the passage and sighs of the prisoners of Venice
  • Armoury
  • first floor of the Correr Museum
  • Archaeological Museum
  • Marciana National Library

To better organise your visit, I advise you to first check the individual opening times, which do not always coincide. The Doge’s Palace, in particular, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and on Sundays, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; the last entrance is an hour and a half before closing time.

The ticket allows priority access and the palace can also be visited by wheelchair users; audio guide or guided tours are not included. It can be cancelled with a full refund by 23:59 on the day before booking (if you choose this option during purchase), but cannot be rescheduled.

The Doge’s Palace is one of the best known symbols of Venice, together with the square on which it stands, St Mark’s Square. Built in the 9th century and then destroyed by fire, its structure and decorations follow the history of the Serenissima, from the 14th-15th century foundations, which give the palace a layout similar to the one we know today, to the Renaissance and Mannerist inserts. However, it remains one of the greatest examples of Venetian Gothic, and inside there are frescoes and works by artists such as Titian, Tiepolo and Tintoretto. Among the elements that most astonish visitors is the Golden Staircase, dating back to the 15th century and used for the entrance of the most prestigious guests.

Ticket for the bell tower and St Mark’s Basilica

The bell tower undoubtedly offers a splendid view of the city, but if you decide to climb it, you should not miss a visit to St Mark’s Basilica. This was built before the bell tower, now attached, and was only consecrated as a cathedral in 1807. It was previously used as the chapel of the Doge’s Palace.

If you choose to purchase the St Mark’s Basilica and Bell Tower ticket, you will have access to the ground floor, the museum and the church terrace, as well as the Pala d’oro area, which is located behind the main altar. An app with an audio guide on the city of Venice is included, which can be activated within one year of download and can be used for an unlimited time. Again, earphones are not provided.

With this ticket you can enter the church that houses the relics of St Mark, the city’s patron saint, skipping the queue, and you can choose at the time of purchase the option with free cancellation by 23:59 on the day before the visit. Rescheduling, however, is not possible. The cathedral is open to visitors every day from 9:30 a.m. to 9:15 p.m., except on public holidays, when it opens at 2 p.m.

Built in the 9th century to house the mortal remains of the patron saint, stolen in a daring manner by Venetian merchants in Alexandria, St Mark’s Basilica is characterised by the sumptuous decorations and mosaics inside. Destroyed by a fire at the beginning of the 10th century, the current structure dates back to the mid-11th century and here we find the greatest example of Gothic gold work that has come down to us, the so-called Pala d’oro (Golden Pall), decorated with about 250 cloisonnés enamels and almost two thousand gems and precious stones.

The ticket for St. Mark’s Basilica also includes entry to the St. Mark’s Museum, which, in addition to furnishings used by the doges for public functions and Flemish and Medici tapestries, houses the statues from the 2nd-3rd century B.C. once located in the Loggia dei Cavalli and now replaced with copies to allow better preservation of the originals.

Venice is known to be a city rich in art and walking through its calli can be like exploring an open-air museum. If you want to discover the works of art that lurk around every corner, don’t miss this guide on what to see in Venice, with the museums, exhibitions and places you should visit.

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