Get ready for a day in Venice that you will not forget! Is one day in Venice enough? Well, for sure you can see all the highlights of your bucket list. Find in this itinerary the Venice things to do including hotspots in Venice to visit in one day from early morning to the evening. We will show you around to the prettiest bridges, canal views and a romantic place for food. Don’t wait any longer and book for your one day in Venice!
The famous city in Italy is not famous without a reason. Having visited the country on multiple occasions previously, Venice was yet another experience. Even though it is given that the city is struggling with mass tourism and UNESCO World Heritage list of “World Heritage in Danger“, it should still be a bucket list item. However, it would be good to be aware of the issues Venice is facing with cruise ships and noise disturbance, to show your respect to the city and its residents.
We could conclude that Venice will not give you the traditional Italian vibes and the food will maybe not be as spectacular as in other Italian regions, due to the restaurants being tourism-driven. However, it is going to give you scenery that is unique on its own and very spectacular. The city is an open-air museum for any type of traveller. And if we may be so honest, maybe Venice should be called the real city of love! So so so much romance is hanging in the air here!
Without a doubt, there is no place like Venice!
Looking for any other travel alternatives in Italy? We got you covered with multiple other recommendations, Check it out in our Italian travel blogs section
Venice travel tips
Every destination requires different travel tips, the same for Venice. Because this city is unique in its own way with such a main focus on the water!
- Bring proper shoes: you will walk many many many steps. Do not underestimate this! The city is pretty compact, but does require you to make the needed KM’s.
- Pack light: really, you don’t want to walk around with big suitcases through the small alleys, crowds and bridges.
- Have an accommodation in the city center: for one day we advise you to stay in the city center and not in Mestre on the mainland. This will save you time.
- Start you days early: and by early we mean really early. We started our walks around the city in some occasions at 6 where the city is so peacefully! Around 10AM the crowds start coming in. We totally understand that 6 is just a no go for many, what about starting at 8-ish?
- Watch out for the pigeons: it is clear that we have some very spoiled pigeons in Venice. They jump on you and your food without any hesitation to just grab whatever bite they can get. Cover your food when sitting on a terrace, some restaurants also give you a net to put over your food.
- Do not visit during the winter months: it might sound attractive to avoid high season costs. But nothing like that is true as the city experiences high waters and floods during these months that might require you to walk through water as high all the way up to your hips. Nah? Doesn’t sound that attractive right?
More tips coming soon!
Itinerary for a day in Venice
Now, what must-see in Venice can you experience in a day? Let’s be honest, it is not the ideal situation to have only one day if you are a real explorer as you might be in a rush or just tick off a must-do in Venice list. If you wish to wander around and love getting lost, you should visit a minimum of 3 days. Which we did and more itineraries for 2 and 3 days will follow soon.
However, visiting Venice for a day is possible if you wish to see only the highlights or if you just do not have more time. These highlights might also be enough for a first-time visit. Venice is a perfect destination for a road trip through Italy or to combine together with a road trip in Northern Italy or the Dolomites. If you do wish to visit Venice in one day, do keep in mind that it will be an early morning (start around 8 AM) to ensure you can discover all and avoid the crows in some places. Feel free to pick and mix according to your liking. We will give multiple options of things to do in Venice in one day. Now let’s jump right into it!
1. Visit St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
The biggest square and main point of Venice is St. Mark’s square. This is the moment that you will realize that you are really in Venice! Here you will find some of the prettiest buildings in Italy even! You will soon recognize the St. Marks Basilica or the tower in the middle of the square, The architecture and the many arches will grab your attention and especially the eye for detail. Have a walk around in the early morning and check out some of the smaller alleys around. Before you know the mass tourism and groups are arriving.
It all looks even so romantic from the smaller alleys towards waters with gondolas (Riva degli Schiavoni) and lovely views. If you really wish to have a nice experience, be here for sunrise already as the orange glow will give a magical touch to this main point of interest in Venice.
This square is a perfect place for breakfast or a cup of coffee this morning, but keep your budget in mind. We did enjoy a drink at Cafe Florian, the oldest cafe in the world (1720). The views are perfect and in the afternoon they have lovely live music with a piano and violin. But yes, we paid easily 9 euros for one coke.
2. Saint Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
This is the most important Cathedral in Venice and absolutely stunning looking at the architecture. You will automatically focus your attention on this building, even if it is from far or in front. The use of details and mosaic (more than 4000 square meters) is just perfect with a great balance of the use of colours. Don’t just stand in front, see it from all angles as there is some special element everywhere.
You can visit the Cathedral on the inside which took over 800 years to complete to the state that it currently is. But potentially you can imagine the long lines for the free access. It is therefore advised to book a guided tour to get quicker access and also all the information and background stories of this impressive place. Do make sure that you wear proper clothing; you will not have access with bare legs or bare arms.
3. St. Mark’s Campanile belltower observation deck
After admiring the biggest square in Venice it is time to reach the highest point in Venice. Visit the historical tower St. Mark’s Campanile, which is also a very well known symbol for the city. The tower has quite a life story where it collapsed in 1902 and was rebuilt after. The tower is 99 meters high and provides you with a 360 degrees view over the city from the observation deck on top. Do not worry, you do not have the walk all the steps up, there is a lift available that is also attended by an employee. It only takes you a few seconds before you can enter this Venice viewpoint.
The fun fact here is that you are even able to see the Alps on clear days! That shows that the views from up here are endlessly beautiful. Besides that, you will also see the Venice labyrinth of all the small alleys around and canals with the many boats transporting people all around.
Be aware that it is highly recommended to buy your ‘skip the line’ tickets online before visiting. The entrance is located on the busy and very popular Piazza San Marco and therefore attracts a lot of people to the already long lines.
4. Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
A masterpiece of Gothic architecture as they say! One of our favourite buildings around the square and right in front of Cafe Florian and therefore perfect for that cup of coffee! The palace is a museum nowadays, sharing the great history of Venice and the building. Which includes a residential palace and political functions as well as a jail.
Unfortunately, we did not visit the inside, but seeing the pictures online this is definitely highly recommended!
5. The bridge of sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri)
One of the prettiest places to look at the canals and see gondolas coming and going. This entry point in the city centre is an important one with a great view of the Bridge of Sighs. This bridge becomes even more special when you know the story behind it.
The bridge connects the palace with the jail on the other side of the canal and the “sighs” refers to the sighs of prisoners being transported to jail after hearing their sentences in court. The bridge and the views from it were considered the last piece of freedom prisoners would see. Step by step through the bridge they would see their freedom disappear.
6. Take the Vaporetto (watertaxi) over the Grand Canal
A lovely and budget proof activity is to take the Vaporetto over the Grand Canal. Because we cannot express enough; Venice is prettiest from the water! So if a gondola ride is too expensive or if you are not interested we highly recommend using the water bus or water taxi as your water activity in Venice. You could also keep this in mind for the evening, the city looks gorgeous with the lights around the canal!
A one-way ticket is €7,50 per person no matter how many stops or distances you will travel. Now there are several options and routes to pick from. But considering that you are here only for a day and already in the area of the main square, you can start your boat trip best from st. Marks square towards the Central Station. Depending on your wishes you can stop at Rialto Bridge or go all the way to Central Station and take the boat, or walk back towards the Rialto Bridge again. Do note that this will take easily 30 minutes if you are on continuous walking speed.
From the boat, you have the most wonderful views of the buildings, movie scenes, bridges and small alleys. Make sure you stand outside in a corner or in the back of the boat for the best views.
7. Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
If you search online for Venice you will 100% sure see photos of the great white Rialto Bridge. Maybe even one of the prettiest bridges ever seen! Also, this bridge comes with quite a background dating back to the 12th century. The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges over the Grand Canal. It connects two regions; San Marco (tourist area) and San Polo (less touristy).
The Rialto bridge is perfect as a viewpoint over the Grand Canal. If you rather wish to admire the bridge itself, you can take place on one of the many terraces next to the water with great views of the vibrant area. Next to the Rialto bridge, you have many opportunities to catch a Gondola ride.
If you prefer to shop a bit you are also in the right area. There are several shops around, especially when walking back to St Mark’s Square from here. Another option is to experience the Rialto market or the Fish Market (also known from the movie: “The tourist” with Angelina Jolie).
8. Ice cream time at Suso!
The ice cream shop in Venice is ‘Suso’! And if you are not convinced yet, just have a look at the line waiting in front. Don’t worry, they work extremely hard there to get you your ice cream as soon as possible. There are many yummy flavours to pick from. And if you wish to have the best shot, run with your ice cream to the small bridge around the corner to shoot a photo with the ice cream and a canal in the back. Another thing we loved to do is to take the ice cream to the top of the Rialto Bridge or sidewalks along the Grand Canal to enjoy a little relaxing time with great ice cream and views.
9. Explore the alleys of Venice – it is time to get lost!
From here you have a great starting point to discover other main parts of Venice. Depending on the time you have left, you could pick from the following neighbourhoods:
- From Rialto Bridge to Ponte dell’ Accademia: Walk through the main part of Venice, the neighbourhood San Marco. Do not go in a straight line but zigzag your way around.
- Cannaregio: less known, but very pretty! If you have the time, as you could spend a full afternoon here it might be better to suggest this for a second day.
- San Marco & Castello: walk around the ‘borders’ of these two neighbourhoods, with many lovely streets especially in the evening.
10. Take a Gondola ride
The Gondola ride is something you just cannot skip on this list! After saying for two days long that we would not do it, we did fall for it in the end. And we must say, it was a really nice moment together so close to the water in beautiful small canals. We highly suggest that you take the Gondola ride in the area from the Rialto Bridge. Therefore you will see the Grand Canal for one part and some of the most scenic small canals and alleys.
The ride is considered expensive. For 25-30 minutes you pay 80 euros for 2 persons. These are fixed prices and all set by the government, who also provide the license to the Gondolier to work. When we walked around in the early morning (8 AM) we did have some offers for cheap prices, however, we are not sure if this is actually possible as we did not get into their questions.
How to go to Venice
When you wish to visit Venice in one day you can either decide to come at least the evening before and stay one night in the city centre, or you come really for a day out from the mainland of Italy. There are several options to go to Venice; by car, train, bus and boat. However, we are only familiar with the car and train which are also the most convenient options so will describe these below.
With the car to Venice
Can you go to Venice by car? Yes, you can! But just not to the city centre as Venice is car-free. Even better, it is also bike-free and the only option for going around is by boat or foot. If you do decide to come in the car, you will need to park the car in one of the main parking lots just across the bridge from Mestre. This will cost you around € 35-30 euro per 24 hours. It is highly recommended to book in advance if you come in high season.
Another option to consider for parking is to park in the area “Mestre” just across the water on the mainland of Italy. This is mainly a business district but also offers a huge variety of hotels and transportation options. You might be able to book a hotel night including parking or find a cheaper parking lot in this area. The parking next to the train station of Mestre has rates around 20 euros per day. From here you have a quick connection to Venice by train or bus.
With the train to Venice from Mestre
It is very easy to go to Venice by train from Mestre train station. We arrived very late on the first night and therefore decided to sleep in Mestre first so we could also park our car there for the remaining days. The next morning we took a train from Mestre to Venice, which was very convenient due to the number of trains going per hour, the low costs of only around €2 per person and a train ride of only approximately 20 minutes! Do note that you will need to take the Vaporetto from here (costs and time) or you could walk which can take quite some time depending on your final destination in Venice.
From and to Venice you have also many trains going to other regions and big cities in Italy like Verona, Florence and Bologna. The trains are modern, very tidy and have air conditioning. No doubt this will give you a great transportation option!
Where to stay in Venice
Accommodation in Venice can be pretty expensive. You have hotels from all ranges from luxury to budget, as well as Airbnb and Bed & Breakfast. Be on time with booking and don’t wait last minute for the best deals. Do keep in mind that the hotel rooms in Venice are often small, or that they could have shared facilities like the bathroom. Check your booking properly before confirming the type of room.
If you go to Venice for only one day, we highly recommend you to stay in Venice centre itself and not in Mestre (mainland) as you might lose too much time for just a day in Venice. It is really the best option to wake up, walk out of the door and stand in the middle of the Venice buzz. Especially if you wish to avoid the crowds and be at the main points of interest early morning. However, we do provide you with two options:
- Mestre: budgetwise it could be a good idea to do book a hotel in Mestre area and take the train to Venice. We then highly recommend the hotel Campanile Mestre.
- Venice Center: we recommend you to look for accommodation in the San Marco neighbourhood or close to it within walking distance. From here you can easily access all places and stations for the Vaporetto. See below an overview of Booking.com and the hotels in the area:
Note: our content may include affiliate links for products we love. This won’t cost you anything, but it helps us to keep this travel blog updated and live.
This way we can keep inspiring you to explore and discover the world with our recommendations.
A day in Venice might be just what you need! Are you ready? What are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments!get in touch