Getting St. Mark’s Basilica tickets is easier than you may think. Continue reading for more information on how to plan your visit and make the most of it.
When you think of over-tourism, Venice is probably one of the cities your mind travels to. It’s a fact: this is a city that probably gets more tourists than it can truly manage. And whether they stay just for a day after disembarking a cruise-ship or spend a few days wandering around, chances are the first place they will go to is St. Mark’s Square, or Piazza San Marco, as it is called in Italian.
Right on the square, you will find some of the most important landmarks in town: Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica and St. Mark’s Bell Tower. All of them are a must-see and attract lots of visitors every day, and should you want to visit, the inevitable outcome is that you may end up standing in line for quite some time before you manage to actually get in.
While visiting St. Mark’s Basilica is actually free (like all other churches in Italy), you may want to consider some options that, for a fee, will allow you to skip the line at the entrance and save some precious time.
In this post, I will explain all the ways to get St. Mark’s Basilica tickets and skip the line. Don’t worry – not all of them involve paying. I just want to make sure you have all the options lined out.
Make sure to also read my posts “How To Get Doge Palace Tickets And Skip The Line” and “17 Incredible Things To Do In Venice.”
Why Visiting St. Mark’s Basilica Is A Must-Do In Venice
I have lost count of how many times I have visited Venice. It’s a city I never tire of, even though it can get incredibly crowded. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, Venice is the most unique city in the world. The only city in Italy that gets more visitors than Venice is Rome, but keep in mind that Rome is a much larger city!
St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the most important tourist attractions in town, its main landmark. You will certainly try to flock there as soon as you get to town, to at least see it from outside.
Although a Basilica stood in this exact spot already in the 9th century, the current church was built in the 11th century, and it used to be the private chapel of Venice’ Doge. The church is built in Byzantine style. Back when it was designed and built Venice was a major connecting point between east and west and this obviously shows in the design of the building.
St. Mark’s Basilica is said to host the remains of St. Mark’s. One thing worth noting is that these remains were actually stolen in the 9th century. They used to be in Egypt and had to be smuggled out of there to be brought back to Venice.
Upon visiting the Basilica, you will be noticing the marvelous mosaics, that date back to more than 800 years ago. These are best seen when illumination inside the church is on (from 11:30 am.to 12:45 pm on weekdays and during mass on Sundays and holidays). You’ll also be able to see all sorts of treasures and paintings.
As I have said at the very beginning of this post, visiting St. Mark’s Basilica is free. So why should you get St. Mark’s Basilica tickets for it? Because, to put it simply, it is crowded and unless you have tickets arranged beforehand, you will have to stand in line for a long time – which is a real nuisance if you are in Venice for just a short time.
Continue reading to discover how to skip the lines at St. Mark’s Basilica.
Are you in a rush? Book one of these St. Mark’s Basilica tours:
- Exclusive Alone In St. Mark’s And Doge’s Palace Tour – this highly recommended night tour takes you to Doge Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica without the crowds. It costs €129 but it’s worth every cent.
- Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica skip the line tour – a great tour that costs €79. A bit shorter than the one above, but a very valid option.
- Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica with terrace access tour – the most budget friendly option at €69, but it is a GetYourGuide Originals so quality is guaranteed.
Continue reading for useful tips on getting St. Mark’s Basilica tickets and visiting St. Mark’s Basilica.
4 Ways Of Getting St. Mark’s Basilica Tickets And Skip The Lines
There are several ways of getting St. Mark’s Basilica tickets. Whether you want a budget friendly solution or a more in depth visit, here I will tell you all the options available.
Way N. 1: Make reservations via the official website
This is the official website of St. Mark’s Basilica. Between 1 April and 2 November each year, you can book your St. Mark’s Basilica tickets there. It’s the most budget friendly option as visiting is still free – you just have to pay a €3 booking fee. Children up to 5 years old go in for free, but make sure to add them to your reservation. You don’t even have to print the voucher – just show the confirmation you get via email. Reservations can be made up to 10 minutes before the intended time of the visit. I think it can’t get any better than that.
Way N. 2: Go on a guided tour
I am the biggest fan of guided tours. What I love about them is that the only things I have to worry about is booking them and showing up in time at the meeting point. Other than that, guided tours are completely hassle free. Someone else is going to reserve the tickets, a well trained guide will dodge the crowds so that even the most visited attractions won’t feel overwhelming and you get a lot of insightful information that will make the visit a more valuable one.
Tours of St. Mark’s Basilica start at only €4 – if you opt for the one with the audioguide. Otherwise, they cost €32 or more. They normally last a minimum of one hour depending on whether they include other attractions or not. You can book them on 3rd party booking sites, which give you the advantage of very flexible cancellation policies and great customer service, with someone available pretty much 24/7 to answer your questions.
These are the best guided tours of St. Mark’s Basilica:
- St. Mark’s Square and Basilica interior with audio guide – the most budget friendly option, costing just €4.
- St. Mark’s Basilica guided tour – at €32, this tour lasts one full hour and will uncover the secrets of the most beautiful church of La Serenissima.
- Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica skip the line tour – this tour lasts two full hours and costs €79. It also goes to Doge’s Palace.
- Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica with terrace access tour – GetYourGuide Originals tours like this mean quality and exclusivity, and great guides. It costs €69 and also goes to Doge’s Palace.
- Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour & St. Mark’s Basilica – this great tours by Walks of Italy is the most in depth one. It lasts more than 3 hours and costs €82.
Make sure to read my post A Completely Honest GetYourGuide Review for more information on third party booking sites.
Way N. 3: Visit at night
For an exclusive way of visiting St. Mark’s Basilica, without the crowds, you may want to join a guided night tour. These are usually limited to smaller groups and a bit more expensive than day tours, but if you want to have the church to yourself they are definitely great!
You can book tours via a 3rd party booking site. These are the best options:
- Exclusive Alone In St. Mark’s And Doge’s Palace Tour – this great tour by Walks of Italy allows you to visit Doge Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica without the crowds. It’s rather expensive as it costs €129 but it’s probably the best one around.
- St. Mark’s Basilica after hours – this tour costs €89 and lasts 1.5 hours. You only visit the Basilica. It starts at 9:00 pm.
Way N. 4: Go to mass
If you are religious, attending mass at St. Mark’s is a once in a lifetime experience. The only downside to it is that you can’t really explore the church during the service. But here’s a tip: if you are in no rush, attend the earliest service and then stay along afterwards to browse the church as you wish.
And here is another tip: most people visit St. Mark’s Square and the Basilica in the morning, so if you go there around lunch time (after 1:00 pm) chances are there will be less people.
Other Useful Information For Visiting St. Mark’s Basilica
Book in advance
There is a Latin saying that goes like this: “repetita juvant.” It means it’s worth repeating. So let me say it one more time: although visiting St. Mark’s Basilica is free, you are much better off making advanced reservation. Even the official website of the Basilica points out that it is much better, as lines can be present and – especially in the summer, with the heat and humidity you are likely to experience – a real nuisance.
How to get to St. Mark’s Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica is located in Piazza San Marco. You really can’t miss that and I am sure you won’t have a hard time getting there. Anyways, these are the vaporetti you should take to get there:
From Piazzale Roma and Santa Lucia Railway Station: Lines 1, 2 and 51.
From Lido di Venezia: Lines 1 and 52.
The Basilica is open to visitors Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm and from 2:00 to 4:30 or 5:00 pm on Sundays and national holidays, depending on the season. You can’t explore the church during mass, but you’ll be allowed to sit and listen to the service.
The Bell Tower is open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm in the winter season (October 1 to March 31) and from 8:30 am to 9:00 pm in the summer season.
Mass takes place every day at 8:30 am; 10:00 am; and 6:45 pm. On Sundays, there is an extra service at 12:00 pm.
The best time of year to avoid the crowds at St. Mark’s Basilica
Venice is usually crowded year round. The summer time is by far the worst season to visit if you are bothered by crowds. Shoulder season ie from November to January may be a bit better, but keep in mind the weather may be miserable at times. February and – depending on the year – also March are busy too as Venice Carnival takes place.
Prices for St. Mark’s Basilica tickets
Unless you go on a guided tour booked via a third party booking site, the Basilica is free to visit. If you do decide to make reservations via the official site, there will be a €3 reservation fee.
St. Mark’s Bell Tower tickets cost €8 for adults, €6 for visitors between 6 and 18 years of age.
Everyone visiting St. Mark’s Basilica will have to go through security checks. My tip is not to bring any bulky items as that will slow down the security process and you may be asked to deposit them anyway.
Photography inside St. Mark’s Basilica
You aren’t allowed to take photos or to film inside St. Mark’s Basilica.
Accessibility of St. Mark’s Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica is fully accessible to wheelchair users and people with disabilities. No dogs are permitted except for guide dogs.
Make sure to dress modestly when visiting St. Mark’s Basilica. This is a place of worship so make sure to cover your shoulders, chest and knees.
Luggage storage facilities
You aren’t allowed to bring bulky items inside St. Mark’s Basilica, but you can leave your stuff at the deposit in Ateneo San Basso, located in Piazzetta dei Leoncini, right in front of the Gate of Flowers.
Other attractions near St. Mark’s Basilica
The area of St. Mark’s square is packed with interesting places to visit. Make sure to explore Doge’s Palace and all the St. Mark’s Museums, such as Correr Museum and the Archeology Museum, and to go up St. Mark’s Bell Tower for stunning views of the city.
Further readings about Italy
If you are planning a trip to Italy, these other posts may be useful:
- 17 Reasons To Visit Italy As Soon As Possible
- 37 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome
- The Perfect Itinerary For 3 Days In Rome
- 13 Fantastic Day Trips From Milan
- A Great Itinerary For A Summer Week In Trentino
- 5 Short But Rewarding Hikes In The Dolomites Of Trentino
- 67 Extremely Useful Travel Tips For Italy
- What To Do And What To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Italy