Venice is such an incredibly distinct place, there really is nowhere else quite like it. During my recent visit to this fun floating city, my only regret was not getting to stay longer.
If at all possible, I recommend staying more than one day in Venice. However, I know that sometimes things just don’t work out that way. This was my own predicament when I visited back in April, but at the time I didn’t realize how much I was going to love it here. Honestly, though, Venice is totally worth it, even if it’s just for a day.
So if you’re planning your trip to Venice and you’re short on time, this article is for you.
How to get around Venice
One of the best things about visiting Venice is getting to ride around on the waterways. There are a couple of options for getting around once you arrive. Most visitors will get around in one of three ways – take a gondola, find a water taxi, or board the Vaporetto, or water bus. Here’s a quick breakdown on each of these options:
- Gondola: Gondola rates in Venice are standardized and set by the city. Rides start at 40 minutes and cost 80 Euro before 7:00 p.m. or 100 Euro after 7:00 p.m. If you’d like to extend your time beyond 40 minutes, you will pay 40 Euro for each 20 minutes before 7:00 p.m. and 50 Euro for each 20 minutes after 7:00 p.m. You can request to go pretty much anywhere during your time, though most will head down the Grand Canal and under the Rialto Bridge. If you decide to splurge on a gondola ride, be sure to bring along a bottle of wine to share with your partner while floating down the canals.
- Water taxi: Taking a taxi in Venice is similar to taking a taxi anywhere in the world, except you’re on a boat. Taxi fares in Venice start at 13 Euro just for stepping onto the boat, plus an additional 1.80 Euro for each minute of travel or 1.20 Euro for each minute sitting idle. You’ll be able to get around fairly quickly via the water taxis, but you’ll definitely pay for it.
- Vaporetto: The Vaporetto is basically like a city bus only, you guessed it, it’s a boat. This method will take a bit longer to get around, but it’s a lot of fun and a lot more affordable than the other options. The Vaporetto will cost 7.50 Euro for a one-way ticket. However, you can purchase a full day pass for 20 Euro, a two-day pass for 30 Euro or a 3-day pass for 40 Euro. Weekly passes are also available if you’re lucky enough to be staying that long.
Please Note: Prices referenced above are current as of September 2018.
Top 10 Things to Do in Venice in a Day
1. The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is the main waterway weaving in a backward S like shape through Venice. It’s a sight you really just have to see for yourself. There are all kinds of boats and people moving in every different direction. If you sit back and observe for a while, you’ll see there actually is a method to this madness.
The Grand Canal stretches 2 miles long and averages about 16 feet deep. It starts near the Santa Lucia train station and ends at the basin of San Marco. The canal is lined on both sides with churches, palaces, hotels, and businesses. This will be your primary route to your hotel if you are staying in the heart of the action. The best way to truly experience the Grand Canal, and Venice for that matter, is to get yourself on a boat and get moving.
2. The Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is the most iconic and most visited landmark in Venice. It’s a beautiful stone arch bridge and one of only four that spans the Grand Canal. It also happens to be the oldest, having been built all the way back in 1591. There are stores and souvenir shops along the bridge, but I recommend you hold off on your shopping here as this is one of the most expensive areas in all of Venice. Right next door to the bridge you’ll find a fish market and vegetable market, both bustling with chefs and locals getting their food for the day. Unfortunately, the area around the Rialto Bridge also happens to be one of the most congested. If you’d like to see the bridge up close and walk around in this area, plan to get here early to avoid the crowds.
If you’d like to get a great picture of the Rialto Bridge, the best place to do this is from the Grand Canal. You’ll get a great view from either the Vaporetto or your gondola as you make your way down the canal.
3. The Rialto Market
Just next to the Rialto Bridge you can find the famous Rialto Market. Inside the market, you’ll see local vendors selling fresh fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more. It is believed the Rialto Market has been happening since all the way back in 1097, so it’s an important part of the culture and daily life in Venice.
If you plan to visit the Rialto Market, I recommend arriving as early as possible. Both the produce market and the fish market open at 7:30 a.m. The produce market is open every day except Sunday and the fish market is open every day except Sunday and Monday.
4. Piazza San Marco
One of the other main attractions in Venice is Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square in English. The highlight of Piazza San Marco is Basilica di San Marco. The basilica is absolutely stunning and well worth taking the time to visit. The piazza itself is also a fantastic spot for photos, especially at night when the basilica is all lit up.
In addition to the basilica, Piazza San Marco is lined with cafes serving food, wine, and coffee. The outdoor patios have plenty of seating and guests can enjoy live classical music while enjoying the spectacular view. Prices at these cafes will be high, but you can always just order a coffee or glass of wine.
5. Basilica di San Marco
The unique architecture of the Basilica di San Marco, or St. Mark’s Basilica, makes it both iconic and remarkable. This is one of the most visited sites in all of Venice for obvious reasons, so if you’re looking to get photos without the crowds, you’ll want to get up very early in the morning.
If you’d like to see the inside, the basilica is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with the last entrance time scheduled at 4:45 p.m. There are some days when access to the basilica is restricted due to religious services, especially on Sundays and holidays.
Be sure to check the schedule prior to your visit to be sure. Entrance to the basilica is free, but you can purchase an admission ticket ahead of time for a few Euro so you don’t have to wait in line. If you will be visiting during the summer months, I don’t recommend showing up without a ticket.
If you would like to access the bell tower, you can purchase a ticket in advance for 8 Euros. There is also a museum on site which can be accessed for 5 Euros. Again, advance purchase is recommended, especially in the summer.
6. Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s Palace was built in the Venetian Gothic style around 1340. The palace was originally a residence for the Doge of Venice but became a museum in 1923.
The Doge’s Palace museum opens daily at 8:30 a.m. and closes at different times depending on the day and season. In the off-season from November through March, the museum closes at 7:00 p.m. Between April and October the museum remains open until 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Full price tickets to Doge’s Palace are $25 Euros. Reduced tickets are available for certain guests.
7. Take a gondola ride
Taking a gondola ride through the canals is the most iconic thing one can do during a visit to Venice. However, the experience comes with a hefty price tag. The fees for gondola rides are set by the city of Venice so everyone is charged the same. Here is what you can expect:
- Daytime ride before 7:00 p.m. – $80 Euros (each additional 20 minutes is $40 Euros)
- Evening ride after 7:00 p.m. – $100 Euros (each additional 20 minutes is $50 Euros)
Gondola rides last 40 minutes when paying the base fare. To avoid the daytime heat and for the best lighting, consider taking an early morning or early evening ride.
You also may want to stop at a market before boarding your gondola. This way you can enjoy some wine while you’re floating through the city.
8. Santa Maria della Salute
The Santa Maria della Salute is a Catholic church and basilica in Venice city. The basilica sits right along the Grand Canal adjacent to Piazza San Marco.
The basilica was built as a result of the Black Death (Plague) that struck Venice in 1630. As a result of the devastating effects, the city vowed to construct a church dedicated to Our Lady of Health. The construction of the basilica lasted from 1631 to 1687. The art found inside the Santa Maria della Salute consists of works primarily inspired by the tragedy of the Black Death.
The basilica is open daily to visitors year-round from 9:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. On certain days and times, access to the basilic may be restricted for religious events and services.
The museum found inside the basilica has a small ticket price of $4 Euros.
9. Murano and Burano
If you have the extra time, consider making a partial day trip to one of the nearby islands of Murano or Burano, or maybe even both.
The island of Murano is famous for its glass-making. A few of the glass factories allow visitors to tour the facilities and learn all about the art of glass-making. There is also a glass museum where you can learn about the history and process of glass-making on the island. You’ll also find plenty of shops selling glass souvenirs.
The island of Burano is famous for its artisan lace making. There are many shops selling lace products if you’re looking for a unique souvenir to bring home. There is also a lace museum where you can learn about how the lace is made.
Visitors can get to both islands via the Vaporetto. However, if you’d like a more in-depth experience, guided tours to the islands are also available.
10. Explore the plazas, canals, and walkways
Part of the beauty of Venice is the maze of canals and labyrinth of narrow alleyways. I encourage you to spend some time just exploring Venice on foot and getting lost in the process.
Take your time to visit any shops that grab your attention or stop and admire the architecture. Venice is such a magical little place and I assure you, you’re going to really appreciate moving at your own pace and seeing what you can find on your own. Just be sure to bring that camera along with you. Like the rest of Italy, Venice is very photogenic.
Where to eat in Venice
Don’t believe all the rumors saying there is nothing worth eating in Venice. The picture above is proof that good food is out there. Sure this wasn’t my favorite meal in Italy, but it was still pretty darn good. Salad, pasta and wine, that’s all you really need. The place we tried is called Ristorante Rosa Rossa. If the weather is nice and it’s not too crowded, try grabbing a seat outside on the back patio. Aside from Ristorante Rosa Rossa, here’s a shortlist of a few other restaurants often recommended by the locals:
Where to find Gelato in Venice
As with anywhere in Italy, once you finish your dinner be on the lookout for Gelato. There are several Gelato places around St. Mark’s Square if you happen to be in that area. Though you’re likely to find Gelato shops just about all over the city.
- Gelateria Nico
- Boutique del Gelato
- Gelato Fantasy
- Gelato di Natura
- Gelatoteca Suso
While hours vary, most Gelato shops seemed to open around 10:00 a.m. and close anywhere between 10:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
Where to find coffee in Venice
If you’re looking for a cappuccino, you’ll find lots of decent coffee bars in Venice. Near Campo Sant Anzolo, you can get a cappuccino or espresso at Bar Spritz. They also serve pastries and sandwiches as well if you’re looking for a quick breakfast in the morning. I do not believe they have a website, but if you put their name in Google Maps, you will find your way.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this one day Venice itinerary and find the information useful as you are planning your trip.
Once you leave Venice you can head to several other incredible nearby cities. If you’re looking to escape the crowds like I usually am, consider heading north for a foodie trip in Trentino. If you’re heading south, don’t miss the art and culture of Florence with my Florence in a Day itinerary.
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Eden FitePart-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds
I help people use their vacation days to see the world.