Go to Piazza di San Marco (St. Mark's Square). Its huge wide open spaces are such a contrast to the rest of the city. St. Mark's Church and Bell Tower are unique and gorgeous. The views from the top of the Bell Tower are spectacular. I spent several hours just relaxing in the square soaking all the beauty in. Watch out for the pigeons...if you have anything edible they will come after you!
The entire city is an art gallery
Fabulous facades and sculpture adorn almost every church and many of the other buildings. It is not necessary to buy a ticket to a museum to see great works of art. Just roam the city and gaze upon the wonderful buildings.
This is Janneke, Frans & John...
This is Janneke, Frans & John before some building on one of the islands. Diana is taking the picture. I don't recall on what island it was or what kind of building it was. But the weather was lovely, the beer was cold, so who cares!
The most salient...
The most salient fact about Venice is that it sits on an island actually, over a hundred of them. It is located at the end of a long road and rail causeway leading from the dreary mainland town of Mestre (which is technically a part of Venice). The main body of Venice (the six sestieri, see below) is crisscrossed by dozens of canals, chief among which is the broad Grand Canal that snakes grandly through the city, effectively dividing it in two, since the only fixed crossings are at the Rialto and Accademia Bridges. However, Venice also includes some major outlying islands, most notably the Lido, but also including Santa Maria Maggiore and the Giudecca on the southern edge, as well as colorful Burano, moody Torcello, and the glassblowing center of Murano in the lagoon north of the city center.
Despite its small size and population, Venice is divided into six administrative districts, or 'sestieri' (singular: sestiere), each with its own strong identity. San Marco, although its location at the 'end' of the Grand Canal is hardly central, is the hub of Venice, and is most likely to be clogged with tourists. Beyond San Marco is the quiet, mostly residential Castello district, home to the semi-abandoned Arsenale and Venice's only expanses of green. The other district on the right (east) side of the Grand Canal is Cannaregio, which houses the railway station and the mournful Jewish Ghetto. On the other side of the Grand Canal are tranquil Santa Croce, upscale San Polo, and the largest sestiere, Dorsoduro, which faces the Canal della Giudecca.
Venice has hundreds of atmospheric little streets, alleys and passageways, but their names are not used except when providing walking directions. Addresses in Venice consist of the sestiere followed by a number, which may or may not bear any relation to a building's physical location. Make sure to get detailed directions (preferably from the nearest landmark, e.g. the Accademia, the railway station, St. Mark's) before setting out. Fortunately, Venice is small enough that getting lost is rarely a serious issue; in fact, it can be fun, unless you're carrying a heavy suitcase!
In the Venice travel forum someone had asked if kayaking was allowed in Venice. So I was on the lookout when we traveled to there. Listen to this! We had just arrived to our apartment, I stepped out onto the balcony to see the view, looked down into our small canal, and there gliding beneath me was a kayak! A tandem (2 person). Then, later in the week, I saw a whole bunch of them kayaking around the Arsenale area. And then this picture of a guy kayaking on the grand canal.
I didn't see oodles of kayakers, but they were definitely out and about.