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One day in Venice Itinerary: How to see Venice in a day

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Venice is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in Italy. It’s filled with canals, gondolas, and beautiful architecture that will make your heart skip a beat. You won’t find another city like it on earth! If you are wondering what to see in Venice in a day, you must read this guide as we will share all the tips in our one day in Venice itinerary!

Venice in one day itinerary

Experience all of Venice’s charm as you glide along its waterways and discover why everyone loves this incredible city. From stunning views of St Mark’s Square and the Grand Canal to hidden alleyways where time has stood still for centuries – everything about this trip will be unforgettable! 

Let us help you plan your perfect holiday in Venice Italy!

One day in Venice Itinerary: What to see in Venice in a day

How to spend one day in Venice: Guide to Venice in a day

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Venice in one day itinerary: At a glance

  • Breakfast by the canal
  • Head to Piazza San Marco
  • Go inside the St. Mark’s Basilica
  • Join a guided tour of the Tour the Doge’s Palace
  • Soak in the views from Riva Degli Schiavoni
  • Wander through the pretty lanes of Venice like Dorsoduro or San Polo
  • Go on a Gondola Ride 
  • Sunset from the Rialto Bridge
  • Head to T Fondaco Rooftop 

Venice is located in the northeastern part of Italy, and it is the capital of the Venezia province and the Veneto region. The canals, the gondolas, and the architecture are all amazing in Venice. You’ll never want to leave! 

Gondolas and boats docked in Venice

And there are so many ways to get here – from water taxis to buses and by train. Here is how you can get to Venice:

  • Train: The best way to arrive in Venice is by train. We reached Venice’s Santa Lucia Train Station from Roma Termini. 
  • Bus: Bus is also an option. Venice has a bus terminal as well.
  • Airport: Venice is home to a small airport called the Marco Polo Venice Airport, and from there, you can either take a bus or boat to reach the city centre of Venice. Here is a shared water taxi and shuttle bus that you can book.

There are so many things to do in this beautiful city including shopping, dining out, and sightseeing, and it is in fact compact to get around with public transportation or by walking along the canals. 

Hotel Papadopoli

We recommend staying at a central place like Hotel Papadopoli Venezia so that you can access all the sightseeing areas on foot.

If you love history then there are plenty of museums here that will keep your interest piqued for hours on end. And if you love photography every nook and cranny will make you grab your camera – every so often! Venice is just breathtaking. 

This one day in Venice itinerary assumes that you are already in the city, and ready to explore in the morning! 

Breakfast by the canal

Wake up to a nice warm breakfast by the canal side. 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 lot of variety, is prepared fresh and there are canal views to enjoy in the morning. 

We enjoyed a nice latte and egg breakfast with croissants here!

After a nice breakfast, make your way to the landmark Piazza San Marco.

Head to Piazza San Marco

Located in the heart of the Old Town of Venice, Piazza San Marco is a large public square. It is lined with some of the important landmarks in Centro Storico in Venice like the St Mark’s Basilica, and the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale). 

The Piazza was used as a central gathering place for Venetians in the past. Today it is still a meeting place for visitors to the city, and for tours’ starting point!

Girl with a flying dress at the St Mark's Square in Venice
At the St Mark’s Square Venice: Venice in a day

Many of the buildings here date back to the 11-14th century and it showcases some of the amazing architecture that was built and used by Venetian merchants who returned from their travels to Constantinople.

Once you step inside the piazza, the Basilica with the towering Campanile (bell tower) will impress you. It truly reflects the grandeur of this UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Campanile Tower in San Marco Piazza (daytime)

As you wander about the square, stop for photos, play with pigeons, and check out the heritage buildings from the outside. There are shops and restaurants surrounding the square, so you can even grab a drink (or two) from here. Make note of Caffe Florian, which is a popular cafe at the square. 

After exploring the square, head to the St Mark’s Basilica.

Go inside the St. Mark’s Basilica or Basilica di San Macro

St. Mark’s Basilica is an iconic and the most recognizable symbol of Venice. It is a Roman Catholic church, dating back to the 12th century. 

With stunning Byzantine architecture, St Mark’s Basilica is a masterpiece. It is believed to have been built over the remains of Saint Mark. This Basilica is dedicated to him, and you will see his tomb as soon as you enter through the heavy bronze doors. 

Lining up for St Mark’s Basilica

The church is home to some incredible art pieces including paintings by Tintoretto, Veronese, Titian, and more! You can also see some wonderful mosaics depicting Christ’s life story inside this magnificent building. Be sure to take lots of pictures because they will definitely turn out great!

As admission to the Basilica is free and it is a popular landmark, so expect it to be busy and crowded. 

As far as tickets go, there is a skip the line ticket of 3 euros to guarantee entry at a certain time. If visiting the Saint Mark’s museum, Pala d’Oro, the Bell Tower, and the Treasury, there is an entrance fee. 

Interior of the cathedral at St Mark's Basilica
Interior of the cathedral at St Mark’s Basilica

We recommend booking a guided tour combining fast track entry to Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Doge Palace. This ticket also includes access to the terrace (for amazing views of the square).

St Mark’s Basilica opens at 09:30 am. This tour starts at 10:00 am and lasts 3 hours (including time at the Doge Palace). 

Keep in mind people line up as early as 08:30 am to take photos and enter the Basilica. If you wish to explore on your own, we recommend heading there right after breakfast so that you are in there as soon as the gates open.

Join a guided tour of the Doge’s Palace

Up next is the Doge’s Palace. The Palace was first built in the year 1340 by the Doge of Venice (doge was like an administrator) and had been renovated and modified as time went by.  

View of Doge palace with gondolas in Venice, Italy

The palace has many areas including a museum. The oldest part of the Doge Palace overlooks the Venetian lagoon. There is a lovely courtyard and its north end has the St Mark’s Basilica, which used to be the Doge’s chapel in those days.

We recommend the guided tour of the Doge Palace to learn about its history – THIS was the seat of administration and governance of the maritime power. Along with the political history, we are sure you will love the stunning gilded ceiling and various frescoes and portraits by Tintoretto, Veronese, and Bella.

Inside Doge Palace

By booking this tour, you can check off 4 things from your Venice one day itinerary – St Mark’s Basilica, terrace access, Doge’s Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs. Yes, towards the end of the tour, you will cross the infamous Bridge of Sighs that links to the New Prisons and also learn about its history.

The earliest tour starts at 10:00 am, so you will be done by 1:00 pm, just in time for lunch!

Tours to consider:

Soak in the views from Riva degli Schiavoni

Before heading for lunch, stop by the Riva degli Schiavoni. This is the centuries old waterfront area in Venice’s Centro Storico area. 

View from Riva degli Schiavoni

Riva degli Schiavoni is a lively promenade, and you can imagine how it looked in the 9th century when sailors and vessels would dock here, and bring cargo from all over the world. The waterfront used to be filled with market stalls where merchants would sell meat and dried fish.

Today these stalls are replaced with shops and restaurants. 

Girl in red dress at the Venice waterfront

Riva Degli Schiavoni runs from San Marco for a couple of kilometres down to Arsenale. You will get a ton of Venice Instagram spots right here as you make your way to various neighborhoods along the canal. 

The view over to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore is one of the most recognizable here! So don’t forget to snap a photo! 

Wander through the pretty lanes of Venice like Dorsoduro or San Polo

After breaking for lunch, walk around the quaint lanes of Venice. We spend a couple of hours crossing various bridges and also stopped for photos and gelato!

There are 2 neighborhoods that we particularly liked. For 24 hours in Venice, we recommend choosing just one. And depending on your pace and how much you wish to walk you can make this activity as long or short, as you like. 

Note: You can also pick one neighborhood for lively nightlife and dining before signing off your 1 day Venice itinerary.

Dorsoduro

This is a popular neighborhood in Venice and is known as the University District. 

It is located across the Grand Canal from San Marco and borders Santa Croce and San Polo to the north. Dorsoduro is home to a number of major art galleries and museums that are worth checking out! 

Views of Dorsoduro

The popular Gallerie dell’Accademia is also located in this neighborhood. Gallerie dell’Accademia is an art gallery and museum showcasing pre-19th-century art. There is a stunning bridge – Ponte dell’Accademia; and the nearby Accademia boat landing station was used for the Vaporetto water bus to get there. 

Dorsoduro is also home to some amazing trattorias, and nightlife to enjoy – so this is even perfect for dinners in the evening. 

San Polo

San Polo is another Venetian neighborhood that we recommend checking out. This is the smallest area in Venice and one that is full of centuries-old lanes of historical significance. 

Girl in San Polo neighborhood

One of the highlights of San Marco is the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (church). With only 24 hours in Venice, if you want to add another Basilica, ensure it is this! Frari is the largest church in the city, and it is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary.

San Marco also has some of the best restaurants, and a product market – so this is also an excellent choice for dining. 

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

Go on a Gondola Ride 

Many visitors to Venice do not like the Gondola ride – they deem it touristy, and expensive! But hear us out, Venice is a touristy place, and exploring the City of Canals from the waters makes for a unique experience – like no other destination!

View of the Grand Canal from the water - gondola ride
View from our gondola ride

And with close to 5 million visitors per year, everything in the city is touristy!

While it does sound pricy, it’s one of the things that Venice is known for. These gondolas have existed since the 11th century. Only 400 of them remain active today, and they are available for tourist hire. 

Now enjoying a gondola ride doesn’t have to be expensive. Here is what you need to know about hiring gondolas in Venice 

  • Standard gondola rides in Venice have a fixed cost 80 euros for a private 25-30 minutes tour
  • At night, however, the cost of a gondola ride is 100 euros for a private 25-30 minutes tour. These rates are fixed, and cannot be negotiated
  • You can reserve tickets online, but it is not necessary as you will find plenty of options when you are in the city 
  • You can join a group/share a gondola ride for a cheaper rate. Group gondola rides are shared by 5 guests

After doing a private tour, we can share that there is no way to see many amazing parts of Venice without this gondola ride. It was actually very beautiful, and with the lovely breeze blowing…ahh…it was priceless! 

My photoshoot!

Riding the gondola also gives you a different angle from the water and you get a much better view of many structures. Great for pictures – I even did a private photo shoot on a gondola! 🙂

Trust us, there’s no better way to see this magical place than by a gondola! You can use a water taxi and Vaporetto (public water bus) to experience a ride on the Grand Canal, but the traditional gondola ride is hard to beat! 

If you are staying in areas by Maestre, you will be using the Vaporetto to get to the Grand Canal area. 

Take a look at these gondola options available on GetYourGuide, listed below. Sometimes they run specials and offers on their site. If you wish to go on a shared ride, it may not be a bad idea to book it so that have a group to go with. 

Gondola navigating through narrow alleys
Gondola navigating through narrow alleys

Private Gondola Ride: We opted for this ride, and started from Campo San Luca, and discovered Gothic façades of palazzos, smaller alleyways, and many smaller bridges, and more. You can book this ride here

Another option is to start from the gondola station, located in front of Hotel Bauer (close to Saint Marco’s Square). This is a popular starting point, you can reserve it here online.

Shared Gondola Ride: There are a lot of options for shared rides with and without commentary or a guide.

  • Shared ride without commentary: This is one of the cheapest gondola rides available. It is valid for 30 minutes, and shared by 5 other guests. Check out the current price here
  • Shared ride with commentary: This is a 35 minute shared gondola tour (5 guests). Live commentary is provided in English and Italian, and many other languages via a mobile app. Check availability here

We recommend doing this activity for your one day Venice itinerary (a must!). You will truly appreciate the city’s network of canals and admire its resilience and how it survived over the centuries. This will surely tempt you to return to Venice!

Sunset from the Rialto Bridge

We wanted to leave the iconic Rialto Bridge for last. During the day, as you wander about, eat, or enjoy the gondola ride you will catch a glimpse of the Rialto Bridge, which is a good thing. 

Rialto Bridge from the promenade

Because in the evening, you should walk across the bridge, whilst soaking in the views of the Grand Canal, and the beautiful sunset! 

Salil and I have this picturesque image of Venice in our living room, and it was a delightful (and a memorable) moment to see it come alive right in front of our eyes – it was STUNNING!

View from the Rialto Bridge to the Grand Canal
We have had this exact shot (in a painting) hang in our living room for years

If you don’t know this already, the Rialto Bridge or the Ponte di Rialto is the oldest bridge in Venice. It opened in the 16th century. Rialto is a stone arch bridge built over the Grand Canal. 

The bridge connects the neighborhoods of San Marco and San Polo, and it is accessible 24/7.

Head to T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace (optional)

Located near the Rialto Bridge is a retail space – T Fondaco dei Tedeschi by DFS. You can head to their rooftop terrace for a spectacular view of Venice. To access this terrace, it is completely free, but you do need to reserve a time for your entry. 

Use this website to reserve a time slot (15 minutes). We recommend visiting in the evening so that it is not too bright during the day for photos!

Alternate option: Visit the Rialto market, located northwest of the Rialto Bridge in the district of San Polo. 

After this jampacked one day Venice itinerary, sit by the canal for a romantic dinner, or head to the San Polo neighborhood to hang out!

Venice in one day walking map

Use this free Google Map to enjoy your stay in Venice for 24 hours! 

Venice Walking Tours and other tips

When you only have a day in Venice, a guided tour is worth the money. It ensures you cover the popular city highlights, and with a guide in tow, you won’t be wasting time – waiting in the queue, etc. 

If you LOVE our one day in Venice itinerary above, there are 3-4 things you must do!

Bridge of Sighs and Gondola ride

If you are after this popular photo spot in Venice aka Libreria Acqua Alta, then skip the San Polo and Dorsoduro neighborhoods, and instead head to Castello, where this unique bookstore is located (Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa)!

Other than that, here are a few other tours that are worth looking into, depending on your travel plans!

Rome to Venice: If you are visiting Rome, you can also do a Venice day tour via high speed train and check off popular attractions. Read our guide on 4 days in Rome itinerary

Florence to Venice: Visiting Florence? You can also visit Venice on a day trip. Check it out here

When in Venice, you can also opt for a City walking tour (1 to 3 hours) to check out various areas and landmarks. Or you can book a 2.50 hour food tour!

Extending your trip to Venice? A day trip to the colorful town of Burano and Murano is a must. We booked this tour, which also included time in Torcello!

Visiting Venice in 24 hours: Travel Tips for first time visitors 

Here are a few quick tips to help plan your trip to Venice. 

Venice is located in the northern part of the Italian peninsula. It is served by a small Marco Polo Venice Airport. When traveling from the United States, Canada, or elsewhere in the world, consider flying to Milan or Rome in Italy. 

Both these Italian cities will have better flight connectivity and frequencies. Once you are in Rome or Milan, connect to Venice via high speed trains. We arrived in Venice from Roma Termini (to Santa Lucia Venice Train Station or Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia) and left for Milan (Milan Centrale Station) via Frecciarossa trains. 

Venice restaurant by a cafe
Venice Restaurant by the canal

In terms of currency and budget, Venice accepts Euros. Both cash and credit cards are accepted. We paid by card at the restaurants, and for transportation (water bus, local buses, etc). The gondola ride was paid for in cash. 

For the best accommodation option for 1 day in Venice, opt for a central location. Staying at the Santa Lucia Train Station, or St Marco Square will be expensive. Ensure you book hotels ahead of your trip!

Here are a few hotel recommendations,

  • Hotel Papadopoli Venezia: This is a lovely 4 star hotel by the canal, in the heart of Sestiere Santa Croce area. You are also minutes away from the Piazzale Roma bus terminal, and Santa Lucia Train Station. All rooms are stunning with 18th-century Venetian furnishings. And the best part is that the hotel has a private deck and from where you can arrive directly by boat or water taxi. Click to view availability here
  • Hotel Cà Zusto Venezia: Another center favorite, Hotel Cà Zusto is housed inside a historic building. Its location is nice – about 5 minutes’ walk from the Riva di Biasio Vaporetto water bus stop, Santa Lucia Station and 20 minutes from Piazza San Marco. Rooms are elegant and clean with all modern amenities.  It offers elegant rooms with air conditioning. Click to book a stay here
  • Campanile Venice-Mestre: If you are staying in Venice for an extended period of time, then Mestre neighbourhood is a great option. It is about 15 -20 minutes from Santa Lucia train station. Campanile Venice-Mestre is a clean and an affordable accommodation. Rooms are nice, and the hotel has a restaurant on-site. Check room availability and prices here 

In the Mestre neighborhood, you will also find nice hostels. There is a bus stop, and lots of eateries nearby (of all kinds!). 

With all of your trips, ensure to get travel insurance!

Can you walk Venice in a day?

As a city, Venice is really compact. Although there are tons of things to see, stop for photography, or get lost in historical sites, it is possible to walk across Venice in a day, quickly checking off all the sightseeing spots. 

Nearly all of the prime attractions in Venice are a 15 to 25 minute walk from the Rialto Bridge or St.Mark’s Square.

How much time do you need in Venice?

To explore the primary landmarks in Venice, one day is enough. However, we recommend 2 days in Venice so that you also venture to the prettiest Venetian Islands, namely Murano and the colorful town of Burano. You can explore them in 4-5 hours, and then visit the Gallerie dell’Accademia and a couple of churches. 

With only one day in Venice, visiting additional museums, churches or islands will be too tight, definitely, it will be rushed! 

When visiting in the off-season, where rains are a possibility (like Venice in November), 2-3 days are a must, as rains and floods could dampen your spirits on a quick 1 day trip to Venice. 

Is one day in Venice enough? 

If your goal is to check off popular touristy areas, then one day in Venice is enough to accomplish this. 

Our Venice in a day sightseeing plan does exactly that – spend 3 hours exploring the St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge Palace, about an hour on a private Gondola ride, walk one of the historic districts and soak in the sights of the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge!

These are touristy spots, and it can be done in one day in Venice!

Should you visit Venice? Yes!

Venice is one Italian destination that should be at the top of your list because it has something for everyone no matter what your interests may be. Whether it’s food, art, or history – whatever it is – Venice has got it all and more! 

Visiting more of Italy? Read our helpful Italy travel guides below:

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One day itinerary for Venice

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