You’ve got just a few hours – maybe a day – to discover Venice? Here’s the page for you! “The perfect day in…Venice” provides information about THE things to see and do in a day.
Venice starts early – so should you! Personally, I try to squeeze in some running. Before 7:30 in the morning Venice is pretty empty, so it’s the perfect time to take this postcard picture of San Giorgio Maggiore from the San Zaccaria landing. Or the St. Mark’s Square without any tourists – it’s magic, just try!
7:00 – 8:00
Italians prefer a small breakfast – just cappuccino and some pasticceria or Brioche. If you’ve got a hotel that serves breakfast, then probably it’s easiest to go for it. However, there are many nice breakfast places and cafes around – just look around the corner. Particularly nice is the very traditional Premiata Pasticceria F.lli Rizzardini, about 10 minutes to walk from either the Rialto in Calle dei Meloni. Another adress to remember is Le Café Venecia, right on the Campo Santo Stefano Square. At the backdoor of the cafe very good breadrolls and sweets are sold for takeaway – in case you’re staying at one of the numerous apartments in Venice and would like to prepare your breakfast yourself. And if you do some running in the morning: just get the fresh bredrolls on your way back home.
8:00 – 10:00
Fortified for the morning, the first stop is the Rialto market, starting around 8 a.m. and being busy mainly in the morning. There’s a hall for fish and another for fruits and vegetables, and locals do shop here. A really vibrant atmosphere. Around the market halls there are lots of shops (including inevitable tourist traps at the Rialto bridge). Take a second coffee at the square next to the market and watch the people coming and going.
Next station: Saint Mark’s Cathedral. On your way you’ll cross the famous Rialto Bridge.
Stop for a minute and enjoy the view of the Grand Canal:
From don’t go straight to St Marks, but make the small detour via the small, but fine Renaissance church Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli – just a short glimpse.
10:00 – 12:00
From the Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli it’s then just a 15 minute walk to the famous Saint Marks Cathedral, which opens around 10. The queue in front of St Marks is usually shorter in the morning, although it might not take too long to get in anyway.
Enjoy the nice view from the balcony over the Grand Canal and the island of San Giorgio Maggiore:
Visit the famous four horses on the balcony above St Marks Square – famous due to their intersting history. The Horses of Saint were sculptured probably in the 2nd century BC by a Greek sculptor and displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople (today: Istanbul). After the looting of Constantinople by the Venetians and other Crusaders during the fourth crusade in 1204, the horses were brought to Venice. To enable their transport, the Doge Enrico Dandolo ordered the heads to bet cut from the bodies. In Venice, the heads and headless bodies were mended by the addition of collars, and the horses were displayed in 1254 on the façade of the St Marks Cathedral. After his conquest of Venice in 1797, Napoleon deported the horses to Paris and displayed them on the famous Arc de Triomphe. After his defeat, the horses were brought back to Venice and the St Marks Cathedral in 1815. And there they are – still. However, since the 1980ies no longer on the façade (these horses are replicas), but inside the basilica, due to threatening damage by air pollution.
For “further reading”: the Doge Enrico Dandolo, the horses and the St Marks Cathedral play an important role in Dan Browns thriller “Inferno”.
12:00 – 14:00
Getting hungry? Fine, because lunch is approaching. Hopefully the weather is fine – then you’ll find a nice place to sit outside. There are lots of small inviting places in the vicinity – you’ll just have to leave the “tourist race course” between St Marks Square and the Rialto bridge. Just 10 minutes away, there’s the very nice square of Campo Santa Maria Formosa or – just a little bit further – the equally nice square of Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo. And many nice restaurants and trattorie on the way.
We liked particularly the Spaghetteria 6342 A Le Tole Pizzeria. And since you’re already there: take a quick look into the churches.
14:00 – 16:00
OK, ready for a busy afternoon? If not – just walk back to the hotel (should be about 15 minutes from St. Giovanni et Paolo) and have a nap! Then you’ll just have to decide whether you’d like to skip the art or the scenic walk at Dorsoduro.
No rest required? Then it’s time for a little bit of art – either modern at the Palazzo Grassi or more traditional at the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
To get there, take a (short) detour, avoid the crowds at St Marks Square (that’s the shortest way according to google maps) and go via Calle Sant’ Antonio – it will take you just 5 minutes more. Roam through the small alleys and enjoy the atmosphere.
If you opt for modern art, the place to go is the Palazzo Grassi. Being privately owned by the French Billionaire Francois Pinault (husband of actor Salma Hayek), Palazzo Grassi exhibits an exceptional collection of modern art. My personal favorite in Venice and a lot more spectacular than the famous Guggenheim branch in Venice! Here just a few impressions from inside:
If you like the “more traditional” art, you will also find an excellent collection at the l’Accademia, and sometimes very interesting special exhibitions. When passing the l’Accademia bridge (after Palazzo Grassi or before the Gallerie delll’Accademia), enjoy the view and take some pictures of the Grand Canal – it’s one of the best scenic views!
16:00 – 16:30
Even the nicest art exhibition is exhausting after a while. So time for a coffee – or do you prefer a bit of the famous Italian ice cream? Then it’s just a few minutes from the l’Accademia (and a few more from Palazzo Grassi) to the Gelateria lo Squero.
16:30 – 18:00
Enough walking for the moment? Great, because you should definitely experience the typical Venetian public transport: the Vaporetto. Walk from the Gelateria to the Ca’Rezzonico Vaporetto terminal and take line 1 in the direction of the central train station. The line ends there and starts the same way back to the Lido. Stay on board until the station “Salute” is reached. You will pass twice through the Grand Canal, which gives you great views of the bridges and the famous buildings along the canal:
Get off at “Salute”, which is located almost at the tip of the Dorsoduro peninsula. Walk around the peninsula and enjoy the spectacular view of St Marks Square on the opposite side of the Grand Canal, and the Giudecca island on the other side of Dorsoduro.
Sometimes, one of the huge cruise ships will pass between Dorsoduro and Giudecca (the island next to Dorsoduro), which is also spectacular, though a bit strange. Ten or more stories high – these ships make the churches along the canals look like miniatures…
18:00 – 19:00
Short break! Take the Vaporetto line 1 (direction “Lido”) to St Marks Square (or San Zaccaria, depending on where your hotel is located) in order to avoid a long walk back to your hotel. Take a rest and get ready for dinner!
19:00 – 22:00
You’ve tackled quite some kilometers on foot today, so a nice dinner is well deserved. My favorite dinner place is the small restaurant Naranzaria right off Rialto – excellent food (for many years already) despite a location suggesting the opposite. Supposed appropriate weather, you can nicely sit outside, directly next to the Grand Canal and to the Rialto Bridge.
Just keep in mind that you will have to reserve a table next to the Canal in advance. Before dinner you might like a “stopover Aperitif”? There are several places on your way – I liked the Tarnowska’s American Bar (but you’ll sit inside) or the outside tables of Le Café Venecia (yes, the one that sells breadrolls in the morning), with a nice view of the hustle and bustle on Campo Santo Stefano.
An alternative, if you’re still up to culture for the evening: try to get tickets for the famous Venice Opera house La Fenice, and have a short dinner before.
La Fenice burned down in the 1996, but has been rebuilt as exact replica of the original and re-opened in 2004. Maybe you even manage to get tickets for La Traviata, an opera by Verdi that had had its premiere in 1857 in La Fenice.
22:00 – ?
I expect you will prefer a more quiet finish after a busy day? Then the Bar at the famous Danieli Hotel is just what you need. And it’s only meters away from your hotel bed! Relaxed atmosphere, live piano music and excellent cocktails (not cheap, but worth the money) complete…
…the perfect day in Venice!
And finally, some general hints for your visit to Venice:
How to get there?
There are two Airports close to Venice, and a Train station in Venice. If you can go there by train – great for your CO2 footprint. And you’re right in the city.
If you’re coming by plane, you will have two options: “Marco Polo airport” and “Treviso Airport”. Although Treviso seems a bit further away, the connection to Piazzale Roma (close to the Venice train station) by bus is good, fast and cheaper (22 Euros return ticket) than the transport from Marco Polo airport (see below).
Where to stay?
There are six quarters in Venice, and each is nice in its own way. However, for a short stay the area around St Marks Square (preferably close to one of the Vaporetto stations of San Marco or San Zaccaria) might prove most efficient to get around in a short time. Almost all lines stop at San Marco (St Marks) and San Zaccharia. So, if you’d like to have the Vaporetto alternative in addition to walking (that you’re going to do anyway), then look for something around the San Marco or San Zaccharia station. There are several nice hotels nearby – more expensive ones like the famous Danieli (also a nice Bar, see above!) or the equally famous Gritti Palace, but also some more affordable like the Savoia & Jolanda or the Londra. A very cost-efficient alternative: hundreds of apartments, in every size and for any wallet. Just search in Tripadvisor. Close to the train station and Piazzale Roma there are the reasonably priced Hotels Alecchino or Tiziano.
Best travel time:
Don’t go in Winter to avoid the tourist crowds. Venice is attractive at any time of the year – thus tourists are going there any time. We tried in once in February – it was almost as crowded as in June or September. Disadvantage when going in Winter: it’s certainly too cold to sit outside. Not that there are no nice places to sit inside, but…there’s nothing like sitting at the Grand Canal during a mild summer evening. My suggestion is: go in late spring (May, June or early autumn (September, maybe October).
Transfer from the airports:
from “Marco Polo” Airport the options are: by Bus, by Vaporetto (by Alilaguna) or by private boat. If you can afford it – go by your own private boat. It’ll cost you around 100 Euros (i.d. around 80 Euros more than the other options) – but what a feeling! Bus as well as Alilaguna boat will cost you approx. 15-17 Euros one way.
from Treviso Airport (e.g. Ryanair) there’s a bus going directly to Piazzale Roma, close to the Venice train station. A one way ticket costs 11 Euros. According to the bus schedula the trip takes more than 1 hour, but when I used it this July (2019), it just took us 30 Minutes – which is a lot faster than the bus or boat trip from Marco Polo!
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts; I pay for all my trips myself.