During your one day in Venice (or 4 days in Venice if you’re extra lucky):
Take a gondola ride back in time and experience the rare, ancient beauty of a city that is unlike any other; a city filled with ancient palazzi and enchanting churches that peacefully sit along the shores of the adjacent, Venetian Lagoon.
Wander through Venice’s many, narrow backstreets and discover historic, neighborhood churches that are lined with mesmerizing Veroneses and priceless marble.
A trip to Venice isn’t all charm and wonder since Venice has become a tourist mecca of sorts.
Expect long lines, selfie-sticks as far as the eye can see, and painfully overcrowded streets.
If you have just one day in Venice, then you need to make the most of it and plan ahead by purchasing tickets to top Venice attractions.
Unless you’re visiting in the dead of winter, prepare for the city to be exceptionally crowded, especially if you’re visiting some of the best beaches in Venice in the summer.
You can easily avoid the crowds by getting up early and doing as much as possible as early as possible, something that isn’t too difficult since public transportation starts at 8:00 AM and top attractions begin to open up at 8:30 AM, at least throughout the summer.
Before you can even begin to plan your perfect, one day in Venice itinerary, let’s first figure out how to get there in this ultimate Venice travel guide.
Continue on, my faithful comrades in travel, as we discuss the finer points of Venice transportation!
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Where to Stay in Venice
JW Marriott Resort and Spa is a sprawling, high-end resort that sits on a charming lagoon that is nestled behind Giudecca. Just a 15-minute boat ride from St. Marks Square, this hotel is home to the largest spa in Venice and sits on a vast estate filled with olive groves, vegetable gardens, and a small chapel that was redesigned for weddings. There’s also a roof-top pool and the Michelin-star rated restaurant, Dopolavoro. Rooms start at $479 per night.
Palazzo Barbarigo is an elegant hotel that is hidden within the charming alleyways of Venice and that overlooks the vast beauty of the Grand Canal. This exquisite hotel offers guests an ultra-chic, upstairs bar as well as magnificent rooms with refined, art deco decor, that start at $351 per night.
Moderately Priced Hotels
Lagare Murano was once a glass factory on Murano that has since been converted into a bright and airy hotel with hardwood floors, floor to ceiling windows, and beautiful art created by local glass-blowers.
With 118 rooms that surround a charming, central courtyard, this hotel is perfect for anyone looking to escape the crowds of Venice and enjoy the quiet charm of island life for a bit (rooms start at $179 per night).
Gio and Gio Bed and Breakfast is this uber-chic home with three, exquisite rooms (starting at $188 per night) that pay homage to Venice’s past with antique fabrics and furniture that are all snazzed up with some modern drapes, lamps, and appliances. Just think modernity with a touch of historic beauty. This bed and breakfast is also perfectly situated in the center of Venice and is just a five-minute walk from St. Marks Square. Therefore, don’t let the small size of this place deter you. Sure, the owner lives on-site, but you have total privacy and the freedom to come and go as you please.
Generator Hostel looks out over the entire city, from Giudecca island, and provides guests with fantastic, panoramic views of Venice.
Once a grain warehouse, this building has since been converted into an industrial-chic hostel with exposed brick, beamed ceilings, and super cozy armchairs. Factor in the friendly atmosphere, which is enhanced by daily movie screenings, karaoke nights, and live DJs, and you have the perfect, budget hotel in Venice.
And while you can snag a dorm room for as little as $34 per night, you can also enjoy one of their five, private rooms, with ensuite bathrooms, for MUCH less than the cost of a standard hotel room in Venice.
Anda Venice Hostel has a fantastic, central location that makes it easy to visit many of Venice’s top attractions. Plus, the hostel itself offers guests a beautifully modern design aesthetic that extends to all of the 6, 7, or 9-bed dormitories. All come fully equipped with ensuite toilets and separate showers, so no more waiting in line for the bathroom.
There’s also a fully-equipped, communal kitchen, a breakfast area, an on-site bar with plenty of indoor seating, and outdoor patios where you can sit and mingle with travelers from around the world. And with dorm rooms that start at just $25 per night, the price really can’t be beat.
Getting into Venice (Venice Transportation)
Getting to Venice from the Airport
If you’re traveling to the city via Marco Polo airport for your one or 3 days in Venice:
The most scenic way to enter the city is by water taxi. The waterfront is just one level above arrivals and is well marked by appropriate signage.
To avoid long lines for tickets, be sure to purchase them before you arrive (click here to purchase water taxi tickets).
If you’re traveling to Venice on a budget, you can use the Alilaguna (Click here to purchase water bus tickets), which stops at numerous points around the city and departs from the same location as the water taxi.
Getting to Venice from the Train Station
If you’re traveling to Venice by train:
Your train will arrive at the Santa Lucia train station, which is within walking distance of the city center.
If you’re exhausted from your journey, you can also walk over to the nearby canal and catch either a water taxi or Vaporetto into Venice (If you plan to visit Venice for more than a day, consider purchasing the Vaporetto Pass since it’s cheaper than buying individual tickets).
***DO NOT DRIVE TO VENICE! Not only is Venice a vehicle-free city, but traffic along the main roads leading into Venice is horrendous (These roads often resemble parking lots, not roadways). Plus, once you FINALLY do get to Venice, you have to find parking outside the city, which is expensive and hard to come by.***
The Ultimate One Day in Venice itinerary
(Venice is an easy city to navigate since it takes about an hour to walk across this entire, Italian metropolis. Therefore, to save money, try to walk as much as possible (Also bee sure to wear a pair of comfy hiking boots since you’ll be on your feet all day). You can also use a traghetto to get across the Grand Canal if you don’t want to search for a bridge. The journey takes about a minute and costs about $1.)
Included in this guide are several top attractions that you definitely need to explore during your one day in Venice (There are also some great things to do in Venice on a budget if you’re a little strapped for cash).
If you find yourself a bit ahead of schedule, I’ve also included some additional points of interest so that you can continue your Venice sightseeing.
The Venice attractions you visit will depend on your personal interests and how much you actually to cram into a single day.
If you do enjoy shopping, please remember that most retail stores close between 2 PM and 4 PM.
The Campanile (St. Mark’s Basilica Bell Tower)
***If you’re in search of a delicious breakfast, walk over to Campo Santo Stefano and try Bar all’Angolo (S. Marco, 3464, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy). The coffee is fantastic, the staff are helpful and friendly, the prices are great, and the food is delicious. Plus, they start serving at 6:30 AM, which is perfect if you want to start your one day in Venice early.***
Starting at the heart of the city, in the Piazza San Marco, you’ll find the Campanile tower (also known as St Mark’s Basilica Bell Tower).
To really enjoy the exquisite vistas from the top, you’ll probably need to spend at least 45-minutes here.
Originally built as a lighthouse in 1173:
The Campanile survived until 1902 when the foundations gave way, and the entire structure collapsed.
Rebuilt later that year:
The modern tower still stands and offers visitors breathtaking, panoramic views of the surrounding city (The views are so good that this is where Galileo introduced his telescope to Doge Leonardo Dona).
I’m also sure that you’ll be delighted to know that yes, there is a very modern elevator that will take you all the way to the top (three cheers for modern technology).
I would definitely purchase skip-the-line tickets to St. Mark’s Basilica since lines here can be quite long.
Please be aware that while yes, the five bells at the top are truly magnificent, they are also quite loud when they ring on the hour, every hour.
Try to avoid booking a ticket just before the top of the hour and your eardrums will thank you, well, if they could actually talk.
While you’re here:
Do ake some time to savor the beauty of St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica San Marco).
Before entering the building though:
Please know that bags and backpacks are not allowed into the cathedral and must be placed in the luggage storage area at Ateneo San Basso, which is free but does have long lines.
Photography is not allowed in the Cathedral but visitors are permitted to carry a camera. Guests also must respectful with their attire and cannot enter the church with either shorts or bare shoulders.
Now, depending on how much you enjoy Cathedrals:
You could whizz through this building in 15-minutes, or entrench yourself in the building’s mesmerizing beauty for well over an hour.
Along the exterior:
You’ll find elaborate mosaics, on the building’s many facades, that are adorned with a beautiful gold that shimmers in the sunlight.
You’ll be treated to gold leaf mosaics that cover the entirty of the ceiling and whose beautiful rivals that of the Sistine Chapel.
At the center of the Basilica:
There is an exquisite, golden altar, known as Pala d’Oro, that is embellished with awe-inspiring gemstones like pearls, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.
And while the Cathedral itself is free to enter:
Wait times can exceed 45-minutes. That’s why, between the months of April and November, I would definitely get a fast track ticket (€3) since you don’t want to spend your limited amount of time waiting in line.
Please be aware of the fact that not all areas of the cathedral are free to enter.
If you wish to visit Saint Mark’s museum, Pala d’Oro, the Bell Tower, or the Treasury, there is a separate entrance fee for each.
The fees aren’t a lot, but they can add up, especially if you’re on a budget.
Treat Yo’self to a Coffee in St Marks Square!
Once you’ve finished exploring the Basilica:
Enjoy a relaxing coffee break at one of the many cafes that sorround St. Mark’s square.
Are the prices absurdly expensive?
Absolutely! But dining at one these enchanting cafes really is the best way to experience the beautiful atmosphere and ambiance of this iconic, Italian piazza.
Three of the most famous cafes in St. Marks Square are:
Caffé Florian – Located at the far end of the square, away from the Basilica, the marvelous interior of this cafe makes it one of the beautiful cafes in the world.
Caffé Quadri – Located near the clock tower, this cafe has a Michelin star and is well worth a stop for a coffee, even if it will set you back almost €20.
Caffé Lavena – Known for its iconic yellow chairs and fabulous, in-house orchestra, this cafe is the perfect spot to sit back, relax, and enjoy the music.
St Doge’s Palace
If you can manage to tear yourself away from the magnificence of St. Mark’s Square, it’s just a short, 3-minute walk to St. Doge’s Palace.
One of the most famous landmarks in Venice:
This palace has been converted into an exquisitely beautiful museum, with a wonderful exterior that is adorned in gothic style architecture, charming open balconies, and lovely, patterned brickwork.
Once home to the Doge, or senior-most elected official in Venice:
The last doge abdicated his power in 1797. However, it wasn’t until 1923 that the building was transformed into a museum that the general public could visit.
Walk inside and you’ll find elegant staircases, gilded ceilings, and stunning marble interiors.
Since words totally fail to capture the true wonder of this place, you’ll just have to visit for yourself to really appreciate its awe-inspiring beauty.
Since St. Doge’s Palace an enormous building:
You could easily spend a half a day here.
At a minimum, definitely visit the government rooms, the courtyard, the Palace Armoury, the Bridge of Sighs, and what was once the Doge’s private apartment.
Along the way:
You can admire some enchanting artwork and sculptures, as well as some elegant furnishings and stunning, interior decor.
Since lines to enter the Palace can get quite long, especially during the summer, definitely try to purchase your priority admission tickets well in advance.
Once you’ve finished with the state apartments:
Head downstairs, towards the Bridge of Sighs, and into the prison block.
You’ll find a delightful cafe with delicious food, a fantastic view of the bridge, and reasonable prices (at least for Venice).
After you’ve finished lunch:
You can either tour the Palace’s many prison cells and secret passages, or you can continue on with this one day in Venice itinerary, and visit one of the most beautiful places in the entire city.
The Grand Canal
Because Venice is most well known for its gondola-filled canals:
Anyone visiting for the first time absolutely must explore the Grand Canal by boat.
The cheapest way to do this is by using one of the city’s many Vaporettos.
Simply board Vaporetto number one or Vaporetto number two (an express boat with fewer stops) at any of the three stops near Piazza San Marco (San Marco Vallaresso, San Marco Giardinetti, or San Zaccaria).
Once on board:
Just sit back, relax, and prepare to disembark at Ferrovia Santa Lucia, near the train station.
Simply meander through Venice’s quaint side streets, take in the beauty of the immortal, Rialto Bridge, and make your way back towards the city center.
If you’re looking for a more romantic boat tour of Venice, then you can always book either a shared, or private, gondola ride through the Grand Canal.
If you do decide to take a gondola ride, be prepared to settle on a price before you board the boat.
You won’t get overcharged and can expect to pay about €80 for a 40-minute gondola ride.
***Gondolas can typically hold up to 6 people. So, the more people in your group, the more cost-effective this option will be.***
Trust me though;
A gondolla ride really is a uniquely Venetian way to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of this magical city.
More Things to do in Venice!
If you’ve got some extra time, or cathedrals and palaces just aren’t your thing, then try visiting some of these amazing places!
Rialto Bridge – After you’ve toured the Grand Canal, get off at Ferrovia Santa Lucia and walk back towards St. Marks Square. Along the way, you’ll cross the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) with its iconic arches and exquisite white stone. Its a superb feat of engineering and well worth seeing.
Rialto Market – Just a short walk from the Rialto bridge, you’ll find this vibrant market with vendors selling a wide variety of delicious, fresh produce (Closed on Sundays).
The Guggenheim Museum – If you’re an art enthusiast, then the Guggenheim Museum is the perfect place for you! Just hop on Vaporetto number one, or two, and get off at Accademia (you could do this as par of the grand tour canal route I mentioned earlier).
Housed in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, this museum is named for Peggy Guggenheim, a unique, patron of the arts who would publicly display her vast collection of contemporary paintings every summer.
With works by iconic masters like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, her legacy continues on with the Guggenheim Museum and its beautiful, on-site, sculpture garden.
Shopping in Venice (Most shops close between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM) – For authentic, handmade, Venetian masks, check out Ca’Macana on Calle Delle Botteghe near San Barnaba church. A fantastic little spot since its centrally located and just 15 minutes from St Marks Square.
For authentic Moreno glass, catch a 40-minute ride on a Vaporetto (line 4 goes from San Zaccaria) to the island of Moreno. Here, you’ll find plenty of shops, workshops, and masterclasses that all specialize in Moreno glass.
For clothes from Italian designers like Gucci, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana, head to Sal San Moise and Calle Larga XXII Marzo. You’ll also find some fantastic shops in between the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square.
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance!
Travel insurance is definitely one of the most boring things to discuss, but it’s a necessary evil since I want to save you from incurring a lifetime of international medical debt.
But I’ve been there.
I too have been tempted to save a few dollars (or yen, pounds, pesos, euros, etc.) by skimping on travel insurance.
As you get older, wiser, and slightly decrepit looking, you, begin to see the error of your ways.
So moral of this not-so-pint-sized lecture?
Always get travel insurance, even if it’s not from the company I recommend (COUGH…WORLD NOMADS TRAVEL INSURANCE IS THE BEST).
Why, you may wonder?
Well, as a travel mishaps maven, I’m someone who would literally, stumble over an escaped, rabid cheetah, during my one day in Venice, plummet down the side of a non-existent mountain, and end up in a full body cast, all after a quaint and leisurely stroll along the Grand Canal.
And while you probably aren’t quite as accident-prone as me, you also probably aren’t a psychic who can predict when and where you will need travel insurance.
You need to suck it up, put your big girl (or boy) pants on, and purchase some decent travel insurance.
But what is the best travel insurance out there?
Personally, I LOVE World Nomads Travel Insurance!
Not only do they cover you in almost any country that you might want to visit, (besides maybe Pakistan), but they provide a fantastic level of coverage, help you customize your plan, and even let you extend/change your policy while you’re traveling,
But, how do you know what plan to get?
If all of your gear is worth less than $1000, purchase the basic plan.
If you’re a travel blogger like me and carry a camera, laptop, tablet, and phone, all of which cost well over a $1000, then the explorer plan is the way to go since World Nomads will reimburse you for any gear that is lost or stolen while you travel (Plus, both plans offer emergency medical coverage of up to $100,000).
So, my fellow, wanderlust loving’ homie:
Go forth, buy travel insurance, and be the awesome human that I know you are.