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2 days in Venice itinerary: Explore Venice in a weekend

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Do you want to explore Venice in a weekend? We know it can be hard to decide what to do in such a beautiful city in Italy. From exploring San Marco Piazza and St Mark’s Basilica to taking a gondola ride, our 2 days in Venice itinerary will help you see all the best parts in a short period of time!

The floating city of Venice: Venice weekend itinerary

You won’t want to miss out on any of these incredible attractions during your stay in Venice. To make things a little easy, we have included a free map in this 48 hour Venice travel guide, so don’t forget to save it and use it on your trip! 

2 days in Venice itinerary: Explore Venice in a weekend

Venice weekend itinerary

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Snapshot: Venice 2 day itinerary 

  • Day 1 of 2 day Venice Itinerary: San Marco Piazza, St. Mark’s Square, Doge Palace & Bridge of Sighs, Riva degli Schiavoni, Rialto Bridge, gondola ride, T Fondaco terrace
  • Day 2 of 2 day Venice Itinerary: Day trip to Venetian Islands (Burano, Murano & Torcello), wander San Marco district OR
  • Day 2 of 2 day Venice Itinerary (alternate option): San Polo district (market and Frari), Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, Castello (Libreria Acqua Alta), Dorsoduro (Gallerie dell’Accademia)

Venice is located in the northern part of Italy. It is the perfect blend of art and culture! 

Venice 2 day itinerary

Known for its stunning architecture world-famous canals and epic gondola rides, Venice is a unique experience in itself. It completely transports you to a different environment – into a dreamy land of sorts, where everything seems perfect and oh-so-beautiful! 

Getting to Venice

Venice is the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region. The city is made up of a series of islands, connected by bridges and canals. Venice is also famous for its amazing history – it was once a powerful maritime republic. 

Waterways and canals in Venice: 2 day itinerary

The floating city of Venice is a must-see destination for any traveler.  From the lively island of Murano famous for its glassblowing to the tranquil island of Burano famed for its lace-making, there’s something for everyone in Venice’s islands. 

To kick start your Venice 2 day itinerary, plan to arrive in the city the night before. When traveling internationally, you can either touch down in Rome (largest airport – Roma Fiumicino Airport) or Milan (Milan Malpensa Airport)

And then from there hop on a high-speed train to get to Venice. 

  • Rome to Venice is 3 hours by train
  • Milan to Venice is 2 hours and 20 minutes by train
High-speed trains to Venice
High-speed train to Venice

Venice also has a small international airport, Venice Marco Polo Airport. In order to get to the city centre from the airport, you can ride a shared water taxi, bus, or private transfer. 

  • Venice Marco Polo Airport to Center hotel: This is a shared taxi booking. Note that you can only carry 1 luggage and carry-on, and extra fees apply for additional bags on a shared ride. Book your transfer here
  • Express Bus: From Marco Polo Airport to/from Venice City Center you can choose an Express Bus. Click to reserve your spot
  • Treviso Airport to Mestre and Venice by Express Bus: Book a seat here

Where to stay in Venice? Best areas in Venice for sightseeing 

For hotels and accommodation in Venice, we recommend staying in a central area like Grand Canal or Santa Lucia train station. 

Districts in Venice

Venice is made up of 6 districts or sestieri. They are Cannaregio, Dorsoduro, San Polo, San Marco, Santa Croce, and Castello. You can opt for accommodation in any of these neighborhoods and then walk down to the prime attractions in Venice. 

Now, if these areas are booked, and expensive then opt to stay in the Mestre neighborhood. Hotels in Mestre will be cheaper as compared to the centre.

Some of the hotel recommendations include,

  • Palazzo Veneziano – Venice Collection: This is a lavish 4-star property, located in the neighborhood of Dorsoduro. Its location is perfect for sightseeing in Venice, and you will also find many bars and restaurants nearby. Read traveler reviews and check current availability
  • Hotel Papadopoli Venezia: This is a 4 star hotel located by the canal in the sestiere Santa Croce area. The property is perfect as you are minutes away from the Piazzale Roma bus terminal, and Santa Lucia Train Station. And the best part – the hotel also has a private deck from where you can arrive directly by boat or water taxi. Click to view availability here
  • Hotel Campiello: This is a good value 3-star hotel, located close to San Macro Piazza, and many other sightseeing areas. Check availability here
  • Campanile Venice-Mestre: If you wish to stay away from the centre, then consider Mestre. Campanile Venice-Mestre is a 3-star property with nice amenities, restaurants, and public transportation nearby. It is also priced well! Find out more about Campanile Venice Mestre

Note that the city of Venice charges a tourist tax, which is levied per person, per night and is collected by the hotel, upon check out. It is paid in cash. The tax is 3.50 euros for 3 star hotels, 4.50 for 4 star hotels, and 5 euros for 5 star hotels. 

Getting around in Venice and nearby Venetian Islands:

Once you are in Venice, you can rely on water taxis, buses (travel from Maestre or Santa Lucia station), and of course, you can hop on the gondola for an epic ride. 

If staying in the city centre, you can walk pretty much anywhere in Venice. And then use the Vaporetto to get to the Venetian Islands nearby. 

You might like: Walking tour of Venice with a local

Here is our suggested 2 day itinerary for Venice,

Day 1 of 2 days in Venice Itinerary: San Marco Piazza, St. Mark’s Square, Doge Palace & Bridge of Sighs, Riva degli Schiavoni, Rialto Bridge, gondola ride, T Fondaco terrace

To make the most of your weekend in Venice, you have to start early 🙂 

Head to a canalside cafe for breakfast, and then make your way to the landmark San Marco Piazza or St Mark’s Square. 

Piazza San Marco

San Marco Piazza is one of the most beautiful squares in Venice. It is home to the iconic St. Mark’s Basilica, its bell tower, Doge Palace, museums, and the waterfront nearby.

Girl at St Mark's Piazza in Venice in a day itinerary
St Mark’s Square

With St. Mark’s Basilica and the Campanile bell tower right there to admire, this is a must-visit spot for any traveler. Do climb up the tower for some great views of the city’s red roofs.

If you didn’t eat yet, stop by one of the two popular cafes at St Mark’s Square – Caffè Lavena and Caffè Florian. Caffè Florian is the oldest cafe in Venice, dating back to the 18th century. These cafes will be a tad expensive, but it is worth it for the views and ambiance around them. 

St. Mark’s Basilica

St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the most beautiful and iconic churches in the world. Although it is not the oldest or the largest church in Venice, its Byzantine architecture and stunning interiors pull any traveler to it. 

St Mark’s Basilica

The Basilica is the most important religious site in the city. It is dedicated to honoring the remains of St. Mark that were brought from Alexandria. Whether you’re admiring the gold mosaics or listening to the Venetian choir, this basilica will leave you in awe.

With its intricate designs and beautiful setting on the waterfront, St. Mark’s Basilica is a must-see for anyone visiting Venice.

Low angle view of the interior of the cathedral at St Mark’s Basilica

The Basilica opens at 09:00 am (seasonal opening hours apply), and you can see people line up there. So ensure you get there as soon as doors open. 

Doge Palace

Doge Palace is one of the most iconic buildings in Venice, which is located at St Mark’s Square. The palace was originally built as a residence for the Doge (the supreme authority of Venice. Doge was like an administrator) and has been extended and modified over the centuries. 

View of Doge palace with gondolas in Venice

Today, it’s home to a variety of museums and art galleries, as well as some stunningly opulent rooms. So step back in time and experience the grandeur of Doge Palace!

This iconic Venetian landmark has been standing since 1340, and its majesty is unmatched. 

Inside Doge Palace

We recommend booking a 3 hour tour of the complex which includes a combined guided tour of the Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica. The tour also walks you to the Bridge of Sighs. 

The Bridge of Sighs is one of the iconic Venice Instagram spots. This is where prisoners were taken from their cells across the canal and into the courtroom without being seen by anyone else. 

Bridge of Sighs

Legend has it that if a couple kisses underneath the bridge while riding the gondola, their love will be eternal.

St Mark’s Campanile tower for epic views over Venice

As part of this tour, you can also climb to the San Marco bell tower to soak in an uninterrupted view of the city of Venice. With a ticket, you can go up and down the bell tower exclusively via lift (no steps). 

Beautiful views from Campanile di San Marco

Note that in some months, due to extreme weather conditions, access to the tower may be suspended. You can book tickets here for the Basilica, palace along with Terrace Access

Waterfront of San Marco Square

Riva degli Schiavoni is the waterfront area, located near the San Macro Piazza. After the guided tour, go on a stroll here and snap some photos before settling down for lunch. 

This location is perfect to capture everything that Venice is known for – waters, gondolas, and its beautiful architecture! Don’t forget to admire San Giorgio Maggiore Church which is seen from across the canal. 

Read: How to spend one day in Venice

Lunch and Rialto Bridge

Plan to get to the Rialto Bridge area next, as there are a lot of places to eat and shop nearby. We recommend sitting by the Rialto Bridge for lunch, choosing a restaurant or cafe – opposite Riva del Ferro, or by the promenade. 

Rialto Bridge from the Promenade
Dining by the canal in Venice
Lunch/cafe by the canal

The Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous and beautiful bridges in Italy. It spans the Grand Canal and connects the San Marco and San Polo districts in Venice. 

The bridge was originally built in 1524 to replace an older wooden bridge that collapsed, but it has been rebuilt several times since then. Don’t forget to take in the view of the Grand Canal and the gondolas. 

Go on a gondola ride

A gondola ride in Venice is one of the must-do activities. And this is one of our favorite memories from our Italy itinerary

Venice gondola ride

You can choose a private ride (35-45 minutes), or a shared gondola ride (shared by 5 other guests with or without a commentary). 

We opted for a private gondola ride with a photoshoot, and it was a beautiful experience. With a gondola ride, you can discover iconic landmarks and smaller alleyways – and this will allow you to appreciate the beauty of Venice, a city built on canals!

Gondola rides in Venice

A gondola experience can be expensive, but you can surely save money by booking a group ride. GetYourGuide runs specials on rides, so do check it out.

If you are hiring a gondolier at a station, remember that fares cannot be negotiated, as it is fixed by the government. Ensure you carry cash, and pay once the route is completed. 

Pro-tip: An evening or sunset gondola ride is not only romantic but also very relaxing after a day’s sightseeing! 

T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace 

After the ride, if you are not tired, head over to the rooftop of T Fondaco – a shopping complex. And enjoy an amazing view of the city from above. 

T Fondaco is located near the Rialto bridge. Accessing the terrace is completely free, but reservations are required ahead of time. You can book your 15 minute viewing slot online!

Day 2 of 2 days in Venice Itinerary: Day trip to Venetian Islands (Burano, Murano & Torcello), wander San Marco district

For day 2 of your Venice itinerary, we have two different options for you. You can either take a day trip to the colorful Venetian Islands of Burano, Murano, and Torcello or explore more of Venice. 

We have done both and enjoyed it all as part of our 3 day Venice itinerary. So yes, you can surely explore both, but you will need 6 to 8 hours for each.

Venetian Islands – Burano, Murano and Torcello 

Now, let’s go over the first itinerary option – to Venetian Islands. 

Venice landmark, Burano island canal, colorful houses and boats

You can visit up to 3 islands from Venice on a day trip. In order to get to the islands, water buses or Vaporetto is the main mode of transport. A guided tour is also an option, and the transportation happens on a water bus!

We recommend starting early (right after breakfast) to make the most of your day. 

Opt for this 5.5 to 6 hour day tour, so that you can cover all three islands quickly. 

Each of the three islands can be visited via motorboat from the St Mark’s area, and you will get 1.5 to 2 hours in each spot. 

First off, head to the island of Murano, which is home to the famous Murano glass blowing factories.

Murano

The Venetian glassblowers have been perfecting their craft for centuries, and their work is some of the most sought-after in the world. 

If you’re looking for a unique souvenir to remember your trip by, then you should definitely check out the Murano glass blowing factories. You’ll be able to see some of the most skilled artisans at work, and also buy some of their creations.

When in Murano, do visit Basilica of Santi Maria e Donato, which is one of the oldest churches in the Venetian lagoon, dating back to the 7th Century.

Don’t forget to take a stroll through the quiet streets of Murano, admiring the beautiful architecture and enjoying the peace and tranquility of this hidden gem.

Next, explore the island of Torcello. Torcello is the northernmost island of the Venetian Lagoon. It is also believed to be the very first settlement in the Lagoon, and today it has about 17 residents. 

Torcello Italy
Torcello

Torcello is home to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which was founded in 639. Torcello Cathedral dominates the sky of the island, and it is a must-visit to see the Byzantine mosaics from the 11th to the 13th centuries. 

Burano Island is home to colorful houses with cutely painted walls, cafes, and shops! The island gets its unique look from fishermen’s houses that were painted in pretty and bright colors, making for an unforgettable sight.

Other than picturesque views, the island is known for its rare artisan lace worldwide.  

Colorful walls of Burano

If you want to book a trip to the Venetian Islands, then you can book it here

If you do not wish to do a tour, then opt for a ride to Burano via public transport. This is one of the prettiest and most colorful islands near Venice and is a popular one with visitors. 

San Polo district or sestiere 

After exploring the Venetian Islands, head back to Venice. As you disembark by the San Marco Piazza, you can also sit down and relax at a cafe or wander to the nearby district or sestiere of San Polo. 

This district is located on the west end of San Marco and across the Grand Canal (via the famous Rialto Bridge).

San Polo was a marketplace before and today it is home to pretty restaurants, cafes, and old churches. When in the area, do drop by the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari and the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto. 

After visiting these churches, sit down for a nice meal at a restaurant in San Polo, and there are lots to choose from. We are sure you will love the ambiance and moments of strolling and crossing various bridges and canals. 

Venice Itinerary 2 days: San Polo district (market and Frari), Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, Castello (Libreria Acqua Alta), Dorsoduro (Gallerie dell’Accademia)

Instead of a day trip to Burano and Murano islands, you can spend the entire day in Venice and explore a few districts. 

Wake up to a nice breakfast by the canal. We sat down at the Trattoria Agli Amici, which is a nice restaurant, located right in front of Hotel Papadopoli Venezia. The menu has a nice breakfast, which is freshly prepared, plus you can enjoy canal views as well.  

Hotel Papadopoli

After a nice breakfast, make your way to the San Polo district. 

San Polo district | Rialto Market and more

San Polo is one of the smallest districts in Venice. What we liked about this sestiere is that it is located right in the heart of the city, and yet offers a very different perspective of the canals and their many bridges. 

Take the time to wander the neighborhood in the morning, when it is quiet.  

Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari or the Frari, for short, is the largest church in Venice. It is located in the San Polo district and is one of Venice’s most important basilicas. 

Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

It has been restored many times, with restoration work continuing into the modern-day; yet it still manages to retain its humble charm which makes this location an ideal spot for visitors looking forward explore both history and art at every turn!

Other than the Frari, we recommend stopping at the Rialto Fish Market in the San Polo district (it is located about 10 minutes away from the famed Bridge). 

Scala Contarini del Bovolo

Up next is a palace with a unique stairway. Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is a small palace in Venice.

The Scala Contarini del Bovolo or the staircase leading to the palace is worth capturing for its epic views of Venetian rooftops. These stairs are known as the Scala Contarini del Bovolo due to their snail shape design!

View from Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo in Venice Italy – architecture background

The stairs lead up to a viewing platform with amazing views across the city!

You can take pictures from outside if you want, but there are lots of things to see inside Palazzo Contarrini del Bovolo including paintings and sculptures, so make sure not to miss out on your visit.

You will need tickets to visit the palace from inside. Tickets here

The palace is located in this small lane near Campo Manin at foot of Rialto Bridge and San Sabba church. 

Libreria Acqua Alta

From San Polo walk to the Castello district. The charming neighborhood of Castello is the largest of all the districts, and it borders St. Mark’s Square and contains luxury hotels, as well some casual bars. 

Libreria Acqua Alta

There are shops that line up the bustling Via Garibaldi with restaurants. You can break here for lunch (before or after your next stop of the Venice 2 day itinerary). 

Located in Castello, is the Instagrammable Libreria Acqua Alta. This bookstore, which literally means, “Book Store of High Water”  is one of the popular places in Venice to buy books and to check out the unique ambiance. 

It is often called the “most beautiful bookstore in the world”, with its over-stuffed rooms stacked with books, magazines, maps, and others in a colorful manner. 

Dorsoduro (Gallerie dell’Accademia)

Up is the district of Dorsoduro. It is a hip and trendy area in Venice where you can find cool restaurants, indie shops as well vintage fashion boutiques. After dark, it becomes an informal bar scene with young locals who enjoy drinking at these watering holes until closing time rolls around! 

One of the must-visit cultural destinations in this district includes Gallerie dell’Accademia which houses classic Venetian masterpieces like Canaletto paintings. 

Don’t forget to admire the Ponte dell’Accademia (bridge) nearby. 

If modern art excites your soul more than ancient artwork did then head over to Peggy Guggenheim Collection. This is the most visited museum in Venice. Book your tickets here

Two more attractions in Dorsoduro include the Ca’ Rezzonico – a palace, located on the Grand Canal with stunning interiors and frescoes, and the Santa Maria della Salute, a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica dating back to the 17th century. 

View of Santa Maria della Salute

Sign off for the day with a relaxed dinner of Venetian cuisine at one of the cozy cafes located at the Campo Santa Margherita. Campo Santa Margherita is a large town square located in the district of Dorsoduro. 

This plaza is considered to be the meeting point of the locals, and no wonder it is always bustling with activities! 

Is 2 days in Venice enough?

With 2 days in Venice, you can surely explore the city’s prime attractions at the San Marco piazza and some more – hidden gems, offbeat museums or take a day trip.

If you have a 3rd day, it is even better. With an extra day, you can check off everything that was listed in this Venice weekend itinerary. 

Venice 2 day itinerary: Sightseeing map

Travel Tips for Venice Italy 

Here are some quick tips for Venice,

  • Venice is located in northern Italy. Italy is an EU member and follows the Schengen agreement (for visa purposes)
  • Euro is the official currency in Italy. When in Venice, it is better to use cash for a water taxi, small cafes and to pay for a gondola ride. You will also need cash to pay for tourist tax at your accommodation
  • People speak Italian in Venice, including the gondoliers. But they do try their best to provide the best experience and many also communicate in English
  • In the months from October to December, Venice experiences some of the wettest days of the year. And during this time, you may witness a ‘high water’ – where central square is flooded. Venice in November is notorious for that
  • Although many consider the gondola ride and canalside cafes to be a tourist trap, we feel that it is worth experiencing them (if you have the budget). Nowhere can you float on centuries old waterways, or soak in the view of the iconic bridge as you dine! We loved it, and they are still our favorite memories from Venice! Expensive, but we enjoyed it!
Venice and its beautiful piers and bridges

Venice’s cute quarters are best captured by aimlessly wandering through its lanes. During our visit, we discovered bridges like Ponte de la Canonica, Ponte del Remedio, and Ponte Maria Callas for some amazing photos!

Secret piers and banks by popular hotels and cafes are great hidden gems for that epic Instagram photo. Also, don’t miss out on the ferry/Traghetto and gondola stations! 

Click to get the map of the prettiest lanes and spots in Venice!

Venice Photo Spots

We have already covered a little bit about transportation to Venice. But we wanted to elaborate on its accessibility from other Italian cities by trains and buses below.

Most major cities in Italy have direct connections to Venice via high-speed trains or regional trains

We arrived in Venice from Rome, and then left for Milan via high-speed trains – you can read all about our 7 day Italy itinerary here. 

So we reached Venice’s Santa Lucia Train Station from Roma Termini. Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia is located in the northern part of the city. To get to the centre or to the neighborhood of Mestre if you are staying there, you can easily find ferry and Vaporetto terminals outside the station. 

Venice City Pass
Venice transport card

Venice has a Central Bus Station, which is located near Piazzale Roma, a large square. Piazzale Roma can be found at the end of the Ponte della Libertà and at the entrance of Venice. Ponte della Libertà is a road bridge that connects to the main island of the city. 

This area is also the only place in Venice where motor vehicles are allowed. All buses and trams from the mainland arrive here. 

Between the bus station at Piazzale Roma and the main station of Venice is the Grande Canal, which is connected by the new Constitutional Bridge aka Ponte della Costituzione. 

If you need bus or tram tickets to get to other areas near Venice, you can buy them at the station. 

You can also park your car near the Piazzale Roma.

If you fly to Venice and land at Marco Polo Airport, then you can take a bus to the heart of the city, to arrive at the square.

When we stayed in Mestre, during our trip, we took a bus to connect here.  

Can you walk in Venice?

Venice is a walkable city. To get to the city, you can use buses, trains, water taxis, etc. But once you are at the heart of the city, you don’t need a Vaporetto or a gondola to get around. 

You can pretty much, walk alongside the canal, promenade, and use bridges to cross over. Everything in Venice is nearby and located very close to each other!

Walking around Venice? Is it the best way to see Venice?

Venice is a city like no other, with its maze of canals and centuries-old architecture. The islands that make up the city are just as fascinating, and each one has its own story to tell. 

And by walking, you can discover hidden piers, alleys and amazing restaurants where you can relax. We stopped to try out different places to eat and their food, and also snapped beautiful bridges! 

Wandering through the different districts on foot, you can explore all that Venice has to offer. 

Don’t believe us? Go on a walking tour of Venice!

Can you do Venice in 2 days?

Here is what you can explore/see in Venice in two days. 

Day 1 of 2 day Venice Itinerary: San Marco Piazza, St. Mark’s Square, Doge Palace & Bridge of Sighs, Riva degli Schiavoni, Rialto Bridge, gondola ride, T Fondaco terrace
Day 2 of 2 day Venice Itinerary: Day trip to Venetian Islands (Burano, Murano & Torcello), wander San Marco district OR
Day 2 of 2 day Venice Itinerary (alternate option): San Polo district (market and Frari), Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, Castello (Libreria Acqua Alta), Dorsoduro (Gallerie dell’Accademia)

How do you spend 2 days in Venice?

When in Venice, we recommend using the first day to check off the city’s primary attractions like St Mark’s Basilica, Doge Palace and go on a gondola ride. On the second day, you can either explore Burano and Murano islands or visit some of the cathedrals and museums in the city!

How many days do you need in Venice? How many nights in Venice is enough?

3 days in Venice is a great time to see it all, from the iconic to the offbeat places, and more. With an extra day, you can chill at a plaza or canalside cafe. Venice is all about the experience, so you do need time to wander the districts, go on a relaxed gondola ride and soak in the views!

Built on a series of islands in the middle of a lagoon, Venice is an incredible city. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with stunning architecture and fascinating history. 

If you’re looking for an unforgettable vacation destination, look no further than Venice and its islands!

Read more of our Italy posts,

Pin: Discover all the amazing things to do do in Venice in 2 days

Venice weekend trip of 2 to 3 days

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