On the top of many travelers’ bucket lists is Venice, Italy, the charming and historic sinking city, one of the most iconic and easily-recognized places on Earth.
While it’s harder and harder to escape the well-worn tourist path in this famous city, especially with just a few hours to spend here, even spending just visiting Venice in one day will inspire you.
In this ultimate guide to how to spend one day in Venice, learn how to visit Venice in a day: the attractions you can’t miss, restaurants you should book ahead, and spots for the most beautiful photos. Plus, check out these recommendations for how to spend a few extra hours in Venice if your Venice itinerary will allow for it.
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Venice in A Day
While you won’t be able to see all of Venice in one day, you’ll be able to see some of the main city sites and get a good feel for the city’s character.
As you plan your trip, make sure that you consider what is most important to you – would you rather take in just a few key attractions and spend the rest of your time exploring the city’s winding streets? Or hit the excellent museums? You’ll need to prioritize your time as you consider how to spend just one day in Venice.
Venice is quite walkable, making getting around Venice is quite easy – you won’t be navigating around cars, after all! – but you’ll need to walk a fair amount to see the best of the city in just a day.
Consider how you can organize your time and the order of the attractions you’d like to see to make your routes the most direct. Depending on where you stay in Venice, you might be able to organize this Venice itinerary in a more convenient way for your location.
How to Get to Venice
To make the most of a short Venice itinerary, start by planning how to get to Venice. Compared to other cities, the logistics of even getting to Venice are a tad more complicated, due to the very nature of the city.
For most visitors, the best way to get to Venice is by train. You can take the train directly from your city of origin if you are already in Italy, or arrive by plane at Marco Polo airport and from there take the bus to Venice. Book your bus from the Venice airport to the city in advance to save time as you get ready to enjoy your day.
What To See in Venice in 1 Day
As you consider what to see in Venice in one day, you’ll likely want to prioritize the great classic attractions of Venice, those that must be seen at least once in a lifetime.
Most visitors will want to start their day early by visiting the center of historic Venice and its most emblematic attractions, including Piazza San Marco and the surrounding buildings: the Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and Campanile di San Marco. If you book tickets ahead of time, you should be able to visit all these attractions by lunchtime.
Looking for easy skip-the-line tickets to these attractions? The hours-long waits during the high season often mean visitors can’t visit everything they’d planned. Booking ahead will allow you to visit them all without waiting in long lines:
- Doge’s Palace Skip-the-Line Ticket
- San Marco Basilica Skip-the-Line Ticket
- Doge’s Palace and San Marco Basilica Skip-the-Line Tickets & Tour
- Gran Teatro la Fenice Skip-the-Line Ticket
In the afternoon, climb to the top of Scala Contarini del Bovolo (it looks a bit like a magical tower for its shape), and reach the Accademia Bridge from which you can enjoy the most scenic view of the Grand Canal.
The view seems like a painting, practically too good for even the best photograph to capture.
From the Accademia Bridge, you can head towards the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. From here, you arrive at Punta della Dogana, where you’ll have two options: the gondola ferry to Piazza San Marco and then from there on foot to the Rialto Bridge, or you can go there directly on foot from there.
Finally, enjoy the view of the Grand Canal at sunset from the terrace of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. And if you still have energy, treat yourself to a gondola ride before or after dinner – this can be one of the best things to do in Venice at night!
You may not be able to do everything in this itinerary; evaluate what interests you the most and if there are other things you’d prefer to do in Venice. These are some of the main attractions in Venice, well worth visiting when exploring Venice in a day.
Piazza San Marco
The very first place you arrive when you visit Venice in one day is certainly St. Mark’s Square, unquestionably one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. Napoleon called this square the most beautiful living room in Europe, and can you blame him?
Take your time exploring, taking in the unique views from every corner to get all the incredible views.
The Procuratie are the buildings with arches and arcades surrounding the square, making it even more spectacular. With San Marco Basilica behind you, the Procuratie Nuove (New Procuratie) is on your left, and the Old on your right. The Napoleonic Wing stands in front of you.
Under the New Procuratie is Caffé Florian, the famous and historic café in Venice and the oldest café in the world, dated 1720. Here the prices are crazy, even by expensive Venice standards, but consider drinking a coffee here and taking in the square as a unique experience.
St. Mark’s Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica – also called Basilica San Marco – is part of the beauty of Piazza San Marco, but the inside is simply spectacular. A church composed of many styles (Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque), it’s a unique destination whether you’re an art and architecture buff or not.
The church’s interior will leave you speechless, so don’t settle for a view of the facade. Entrance tickets include a routine visit and can be booked in advance online. You can see the splendid Pala d’Oro behind the altar or the Loggia dei Cavalli – the terrace facing the Piazza – in addition to the standard admission.
If you’re short on time, you can skip the Loggia dei Cavalli, though the view is spectacular and well worth the ticket price if you have the time. no matter how short your Venice itinerary, make sure you get the add-on to visit the Pala d’Oro- it’s splendid.
The Basilica of San Marco is open for visits from 9:30 am to 5:15 pm, with the last admission at 4:45 pm. You can also go up to the bell tower in the Piazza during the same time frame. The view is stunning – a highlight of a trip to Venice, so make sure to work it into your itinerary!
A visit to the stunning Doge’s Palace is a must for visitors to Venice. This building was the seat of Venice government, so get ready for opulent rooms, incredible architecture, and even great views. Booking in advance is a must, as the line to enter can stretch on for hours, even during the off-season.
The ticket for the Doge’s Palace also gives you the right to enter the Correr Museum, impressive though perhaps not worth your time with just a short time in Venice.
Allow no less than two hours to visit the Doge’s Palace, if you have an audio guide or if you stop to read the signs. In the Sala del Maggior Consiglio – where the Doge was elected – you can admire the gigantic canvas by Tintoretto, one of the largest in the world.
You’ll feel like you’re walking through a maze as you explore countless impressive rooms, walk up and down stairs, and even have the opportunity to cross over the Bridge of Sighs.
Bridge of Sighs and Riva degli Schiavoni
Once you’ve crossed over the Bridge of Sighs on your visit to the Doge’s Palace, head outside to view this iconic bridge. This bridge was the path of prisoners preparing for judgment and punishment from the prisons.
Whether you have visited the palace or not entered it, the photo of the Bridge of Sighs is a must if you visit Venice in one day. The best view is from the Ponte della Paglia, which leads to Riva degli Schiavoni, the Venice waterfront. The Ponte della Paglia is the very crowded one next to the Doge’s Palace from which everyone admires the Bridge of Sighs.
Depending on how long you have left before lunch, proceed to Riva degli Schiavoni. Once you’ve taken in the views of the gorgeous architecture on the walkway and the waterfront views, you can start looking for a lunch spot after a full morning of sightseeing.
The Accademia Bridge is one of the four bridges that allow you to cross the Grand Canal. This wooden bridge is very beautiful itself, but the view it offers over the Grand Canal is the true highlight.
Taking in this incredible view is one of the things to see in Venice in one day – don’t miss it! And if you stay in the city for several days, come back several times.
Enjoy the view and cross the bridge to enter the Dorsoduro neighborhood. At this point, if you still have time, you can reach the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, built after a plague epidemic that hit the city of Venice in the 1600s, and Punta della Dogana.
If you’re an art lover, consider reorganizing your itinerary to make room for a visit to the Guggenheim Collection, just around the corner. This is one of the world’s great art collections, not to be missed even if you’re seeing Venice in a day or two.
The Rialto Bridge for centuries was the only bridge that allowed you to cross the Grand Canal, the waterway that crosses the heart of Venice and is overlooked by splendid buildings. It’s a must when visiting Venice.
In addition to being the oldest, the Rialto Bridge is also the most beautiful and connects the San Marco district with that of San Polo. If you spend any time exploring Venice on food, you’ll likely cross a few times. With more time available, it is also worth exploring the famous Rialto market.
Venice in Two Days
If you’re able to spend a bit more time in Venice, you’ll have the chance to explore even more destinations – or have a bit more room for breathing and exploring within our Venice in one day itinerary.
Part of the attraction of Venice is wandering its twisting streets and historic neighborhoods, so make sure you have plenty of time for this simple – and free – pleasure if you have more time here.
Alternatively, you could choose to explore Venice in a day and a half while exploring the neighboring islands as a half-day trip. The islands of Murano and Burano are stunning and memorable destinations worth a visit.
Murano is the most popular with children because it is the closest and because watching the artisans working the glass is truly fascinating. Burano, with its stunning and vibrantly colored buildings, is always a splendid excursion, though spending closer to a full day here is best to do this charming island justice.
Often overlooked by visitors in favor of Murano and Burano, the island of San Giacomo is very close to Venice, and another excellent choice for an excursion from the city. In San Giacomo, travelers can climb the bell tower to admire St. Mark’s Square from another perspective.
One Day in Venice
Even if you have only one day in Venice, you’ll be able to see plenty and enjoy a full day of exploring this world-famous destination.
Though any extra hours you can spend in Venice will undoubtedly help you enjoy it even more, following this itinerary for enjoying Venice in a day should help you plan a perfect day in this unforgettable city.
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.