When riding a vaporetto (water bus) or gondola along the Grand Canal, look up as you round the bend by the fish market: One of Venice’s most iconic sights appears before you. The Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) has been a feature of the city since the late 1500s. It has a distinctive V-shape design, high stone arcades and balustrades from which tourists peek at the gondolas in the canal below.
The enclosed Rialto Bridge was constructed by the appropriately named Antonio Da Ponte (Antonio of the Bridge). Da Ponte beat the famous sculptor Michelangelo in getting the contract to build it. The Rialto replaced a late 12th-century bridge and combines practicality with beauty. The 24-foot (7.5-meter) arch is high enough to let ships pass beneath, while the symmetry of the arches and the heightened central peak have made this bridge an iconic image. Out of the 400 or so bridges that connect the islands of Venice, this is likely the most photographed.
As you approach the Rialto on foot, choose between the three walkways that lead to the top of the bridge. Two of the walkways are along the outer balustrades. One central passage runs between the inward facing shops, which sell local Murano glassware, jewelry and other crafts.
Street vendors and musicians lend the bridge a lively atmosphere. From the top, views of the Grand Canal curving into the distance beneath the shuttered windows of the Venetian homes and restaurants provide a classic photo opportunity.
The vibrant buzz of the daytime gives way to a quieter atmosphere at night. When the shutters go down on the shops, the bridge is illuminated by floodlights and reflections shimmer on the canal, providing the perfect backdrop for a romantic evening stroll.
The Rialto Bridge is halfway along the Grand Canal and connects the market district of San Polo with the tourist hub of San Marco. To get there take a vaporetto or gondola and get off at the Rialto stop, or walk north from the central St. Mark’s Square.
Located in San Marco, this townhouse accommodation is within a 5-minute walk of St. Mark's Basilica, St Mark's Campanile, and Doge's Palace. Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square are also within 10 minutes.
Located in San Marco, this hotel is steps from Procuratie Vecchie, St. Mark's Basilica, and St Mark's Campanile. Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Square are also within 5 minutes.
This family-friendly Venice hotel is located in the historical district, just steps from San Salvador Church and Rialto Bridge. St. Mark's Basilica and Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo are also within 10 minutes.
This modernised 17th-century building in Venice, formerly a convent and a palazzo, is 50 meters from Piazza San Marco, 200 meters from Bridge of Sighs and 300 from San Zaccaria Church.
Housed in an 18th-century building, this hotel is surrounded by restaurants, cafés, and shops, and lies 50 meters from St Mark's Square and 250 meters from Venice's Grand Canal.
This centrally located century-old hotel sits on Venice's waterfront promenade, busy with pedestrians, stalls, gondolas and ferries, just 100 metres from St Mark's Square.
Located in San Polo, this bed & breakfast is within a 5-minute walk of Pescaria and Rialto Bridge. St. Mark's Basilica and St. Mary of the Friars are also within 15 minutes.
Located in San Marco, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of La Fenice Opera House, St. Mark's Basilica, and Rialto Bridge. St. Mark's Square and St Mark's Campanile are also within 10 minutes.