You only have one day in the famous lagoon city Venice and don’t want to miss the most important things to do? With this guide you can simplify the planning of your city trip and get valuable tips. Now imagine: A gondola sails under the famous Rialto Bridge down the Grand Canal towards San Marco – and you soon in the middle! Let’s not waste time! Here you will learn what you should consider when traveling to the city of Doges and Winged Lions and how to make the most of your 24 hours in Venice.
What do you learn in this article?
BIG5 Things to do in Venice
You don’t want to miss any sights? Find all the tips and your checklist for the city trip to Venice here:
BIG5 Venice – Speed Date
Strolling over the countless bridges and canals of the lagoon city is simply impressive – postcard motifs on every street corner!
The endless tourist crowds that hopelessly clog all small paths and bridges. The city is just not designed for that
The early bird catches the worm! Explore the city before the crowds of tourists in great lighting conditions
Spend the day waiting in long lines before the main attractions – especially during the high season of the cruise ships
Don’t tell your mother:
The many pickpockets are especially “dangerous” for tourists – so be careful with your valuables
BIG5 Venice – Rapid Fire Q&A
- A short trip to Venice, how many days should I plan? – You can discover the BIG5 of the city in one day to venture into less known corners, but you should plan for 2-3 days
- No secret that Venice is overcrowded, go there anyway? – Unfortunately yes, the small alleys and bridges are not designed for the large tourist crowds and crusaders. Nevertheless, a visit to the lagoon city is worthwhile, you should have seen the picturesque scenery
- Do you have to pay many admissions? – It depends on your personal interests, the city partly looks like a large museum, in which you can admire many things without separate admission
- Should I book some activities in advance? – Yes absolutely! Otherwise you run the risk of spending valuable vacation time in the queues.
- What is your best savings tip for Venice? – The tap water is drinkable and there are many wells to refill on the way
BIG5 Venice – Orga
Best travel time
In general, spring & autumn are recommended until October. The weather is still warm, but the peak tourist season has eased somewhat. The last time I visited Venice was in February and it was an absolute hit: not so cold, not too hot, not too many tourists – and NO cruise ships.
Arrival & Departure
Visa: Check here whether you need a visa for Italy with your passport
- Flight: Many airlines fly directly to “Marco Polo” International Airport (IATA: VCE)
- Flight: Aeroporto di Treviso (IATA: TSF) is particularly popular with low-cost airlines
- Bus: Buses and cars can go to Piazzale Roma, from there you can only take the water taxi (“Vaporetto”)
- Train: Santa Lucia train station is connected to the mainland and is located directly on the Grand Canal
- Car: To Venice over the Ponte della Liberta bridge and park in one of the 3 large car parks Tronchetto, Garage San Marco and Autorimessa Comunale Parking
Next it goes to … Milan, Rome (by my friend Sam), Slovenia or Croatia
Recommended location: It is best to choose accommodation in the lagoon, but away from the tourist crowds, e.g. in Cannaregio. Generally, accommodations directly in Venice are expensive. If you want to save, you spend the night on the island of Lido (15 minutes to St. Mark’s Square) or on the mainland in Mestre, for example, near the train station (€ 1.30 for the train journey).
- Budget: Anda Venice Hostel (Via Ortigara, 10, 30171 Mestre; ~ 20 € dormitory; DR ~ 60 €), affordable, well-equipped hostel near Mestre train station
- Medium: Combo Venezia (Campo Dei Gesuiti Cannaregio 4878, 30123 Venice; from € 50 dormitory, from € 150 double), great atmosphere in an old Jesuit monastery in a convenient location in Cannaregio
- Medium: Sunshine Relais Venice Central (Ponte del Megio 1666A Piano Terzo scala A, Santa Croce, 30135 Venice; from € 100 double), well-equipped apartment in a central location
- Medium: Luxury Venetian Rooms (Calle de l’Angelo 5309, Castello, 30122 Venice; from 120 € double), dreamlike historical rooms right in the heart of Venice
- Noble: Hotel Donà Palace (San Marco 391, San Marco, 30124 Venice; from 300 € double), luxurious 4 * hotel only 2 minutes walk from San Marco in the very center
In Italy you pay with euros (EUR)
Withdraw money: There are ATMs everywhere in the city for withdrawing money conveniently
Beer indicator: around 4.00 euros for a small beer (0.33l) in the restaurant; Wine ~ 3.50 euros
Cost of a taxi: The water taxi Vaporetto costs a proud 7.50 euros per 75 minutes; You can easily travel with a ticket booked upfront.
Restaurants, Bars & Cafés
- Pizzeria da Zorma (Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2712): Inexpensive take-away pizza and eat comfortably right on the canal – do it like the locals!
- Al Timon (Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2754): Delicious chichettis (Venetian tapas) and good wine in a great atmosphere
- Al Covo (Campiello de la Pescaria, 3698): Considered one of the best seafood restaurants
- Niki Bar (Calle Traghetto Vecchio, 2884): Recommendation for a delicious breakfast
- Pistacceria Rizzardini (S.Polo Campiello dei Meloni 1415): A paradise for lovers of sweet treats and – important to me – the best Venetian café of the del Doge brand
BIG5 Venice – Activities
- Explore St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) with the adjacent basilica, bell tower (Campanile di San Marco) and Doge’s Palace
- Use the local water taxis (Vaporetto) and drive along the Grand Canal – keep your camera handy!
- Glide with a gondola over the winding canals of the lagoon city – kitschy, but still an experience! For 31 euros per person or 95-150 euros per gondola certainly not a bargain, but you can share the price with other guests (up to 5 seats). Inexpensive alternative: The crossing with an equally swinging traghetto, without romantic flair, but a similar experience.
- Visit the imposing St. Mark’s Basilica
- Stroll across the Rialto Bridge with its many shops
Special recommendation: Experience the “Carnevale di Venezia“, the famous Carnival in Venice
BIG5 Venice – Photo spots
- Canal Grande from the Ponte dell’Accademia – with the church of Santa Maria della Salute in the background
- Great panorama of the city and St. Mark’s Square from the bell tower of the Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore – without having to wait in line
- Piazza San Marco with the basilica of the same name and the Campanile (bell tower)
- The Rialto Bridge itself from a variety of perspectives
- The Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) with a gondola passing through
BIG5 Venice – Things to do off the beaten track
- Squero di San Trovaso – a boatyard worth seeing
- The district of Cannaregio – less touristy and great for discovery tours
- Park and area around Via Guiseppe Garibaldi
- Burano Island – great colorful houses and fewer tourists
- The Lido – a little out of the way and therefore less touristy with great neighborhoods for discovery tours
BIG5 Venice – Culinary Journey
- Chichetti – Venetian tapas
- Spaghetti al Vongole – with mussels
- Seafood of all kinds – you are almost in the sea!
- Crostini – toasted bread topped with Italian sausage and cheese
- Fegato alla Venexiana con Polenta – Venetian style liver with polenta
BIG5 Venice – Communication
In Italy you speak Italian.
- thank you – grazie
- yes – si
- no – no
- hello – Ciao / Buon giorno
- goodbye – Ciao / Arrivederci
BIG5 Venice – Helpful Websites / Links
- Official website of Visit Venezia
BIG5 Venice – Overview map for your city trip
Explore the best things to do in Venice
“We where staying in Venice” – ehh … “Paris” is the correct text of the famous chart hit, but “La Serenissima” turned my head a little. Come on a discovery tour through the lagoon city, here you will learn how to spend a perfect day.
A perfect day in Venice 🇮🇹 – here is your overview:
Best suited for screenshots 📷📝
Your morning in Venice
- Rialto Bridge & Grand Canal
- St. Mark’s Square
- Basilica of San Marco
- Campanile de San Marco
- Doge’s Palace
- Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri)
- Via Guiseppe Garibaldi and the surrounding area
Your afternoon in Venice
- San Giorgio Maggiore with bell tower
- Ride on the gondola or the traghetto
- Ponte della Academia – great photo spot
- Squero di San Trovaso – old boat yard
Your evening in Venice
- Authentic dinner, e.g. in the Cannaregio district
- Evening walk through Venice at night
In addition to the BIG5, I have summarized the things to do in Venice and the circular route for you in an overview map:
Click on the icon at the top left to use the full range of map options!
Arrive safely: Your arrival in Venice
The journey to Venice via the Marco Polo airport and the small provincial airport Treviso is very pleasant – and can also be super cheap. Those who disregard the expensive direct shuttle buses to Piazzale Roma and instead take the combination of local bus and train from Treviso Centrale save some money for the next espressos in the city – without really wasting time.
Of course, the EU is helping enormously with free roaming these days, and being able to use Google Maps for short to plan the next steps for the luxury at Italian bus stops is simply terrific. Gone are the days when I had to go armed with dozens of screenshot printouts to find the right stop, the right connecting train and the right turn-off to the hotel. Goodbye to slip management!
The journey to Venice by car is similar: you drive over the Ponte della Liberta bridge and park in one of the 3 large car parks Tronchetto, Garage San Marco and Autorimessa Comunale Parking on Piazzale Roma.
Everyone has the Venice images in their heads, crisscrossed by countless canals, but it is a special moment when you leave Santa Lucia train station or Piazzale Roma and really stand almost directly on the canal. And after a few meters on foot, the first photo motif, the steep Ponte degli Scalzi, is already waiting.
If the hotel is too far away for a walk, it is best to take a water taxi. If several trips are foreseeable, the purchase of a day ticket can be worthwhile.
Depending on the time of day of arrival, you can go on a sightseeing tour, a short orientation walk or just for dinner – tomorrow is early morning!
Things to do in Venice in the morning
One thing in advance: It is highly recommended that you get up very early in Venice and stroll through the empty streets BEFORE breakfast. St. Mark’s Square with the unique basilica, the Campanile di San Marco and the Doge’s Palace as well as many other well-known sights gain additional beauty in the light of the rising sun. In addition, you won’t be able to experience the city as relaxed in the next few hours.
If the hotel does not offer breakfast, or at least does not offer sufficient breakfast, I can recommend Niki Bar, Pistacceria Rizzardini and Pistaceria Tonolo for a more extensive option.
But especially when there is little time in the city, you should spend as little time as possible waiting and eating extensively – except in the evening. If you want to go fast, there is a well-stocked supermarket in Cannaregio (Cannaregio nn. 1939-1952, Campiello de l’Anconeta) for a good supply of fruit and filled baguettes.
A hint for the bargain hunters: The tap water in Venice is drinkable. There are many drinking water fountains in the city where you can refill your water bottle for free!
Things to do in Venice: Through the alleys of the lagoon city
First of all, you should get a feel for the city with its narrow streets, over 100 islands, around 150 canals and more than 400 bridges. To do this, walk to St. Mark’s Square.
For orientation on the way, where you can lose track of everything in the bustle: To get to St. Mark’s Square, first follow the signs “PER RIALTO“, then “PER S. MARCO“. The way back is always “PER FERRAVIA“, ie towards the train station.
Depending on the location of your accommodation, you will automatically pass the Rialto Bridge. The many shops on the bridge do not give the impression of standing in the middle of the canal. Here you will find great photo spots like in the middle of the bridge with a view towards San Marco down the Grand Canal – an absolute postcard motif with the colored houses to the left and right of the Canal as well as the many boats and gondolas.
Have a look around the area around the Rialto Bridge! it is particularly crowded here, but there are other great sights such as the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto with its imposing clock from the 15th century.
No cars or trucks drive in Venice’s old town and so the countless canals are the linchpin and the whole life designed for it. The “garbage truck boats” with small cranes are always nice to watch.
St. Mark’s Square – the tourist epicenter of Venice
We continue to St. Mark’s Square – through narrow streets and the crowds of large travel groups. Certainly not a pleasure, but this is today’s Venice. There are many highlights to discover from St. Mark’s Square: the impressive Basilica of San Marco, the clock tower with the winged lion, the bell tower Campanile di San Marco, the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana and the colonnades of the surrounding museums. On the other side of the Doge’s Palace is the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), over which convicted prisoners had to go to prison from the court. The following applies throughout the city: You can always see the large crowds of people where a famous photo motif is hidden.
In front of the basilica and the bell tower there are sometimes very long lines. If you don’t plan to be here early in the morning, I recommend booking tickets in advance that you can use to skip the beat. The surcharge is reasonable and your travel time is probably short enough that spending the day in a queue cannot be an alternative. I am definitely one of the last to take advantage of this offer in other cities, but it makes perfect sense here.
I personally recommend visiting the basilica with its impressive gold domes and mosaics, there is a better alternative for the bell tower in the afternoon.
Things to do in Venice: Stroll along Via Guiseppe Garibaldi
If you don’t want to enjoy the flair of famous cafes like Florian on St. Mark’s Square, don’t do it! Not only the drink price immediately brings tears to your eyes, there is also a one-time surcharge for the music. Expensive fun and really unnecessary. So head straight down the side streets for a little espresso. You take it here like most locals standing and only pay around one euro. Campo San Zaccaria is a nice place for this.
It continues along the waterfront, further and further away from the tourist hotspot St. Mark’s Square. It will be much more pleasant, both in terms of space and price. Via Guiseppe Garibaldi is particularly worth a visit, the street is much wider than before and conveys the flair of Tuscany. A marketplace with many locals, which can be recognized by carts for transporting purchases. There are also many cheaper restaurants for a well-deserved break – mostly with special lunch options.
From here you can make a nice dangle to the old arsenal, the old shipyard for warships of the once mighty sea and economic power Venice, Serenissima Repubblica di San Marco.
If you have some time, stroll through the Giardini delle Biennale, such green spaces are rare in Venice. From here, take the vaporetto to the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore.
This excursion can of course be shortened by taking a vaporetto directly from San Marco to the church.
Things to do in Venice in the afternoon
A visit to the church of San Giorgio Maggiore with its bell tower is the time and money-saving variant of the Campanile de San Marco. In addition, from here you can enjoy the panorama of the entire city – including the Doge’s Palace and San Marco – particularly well.
When in Rome … ehhh Venice! Do you really want to take the gondola ride in Venice? Then now is a good time! The best thing to do is to go back to San Marco, the typical route through the narrow streets and under the Bridge of Sighs is much more attractive than just over the Grand Canal or open water. A gondola can accommodate up to 5 guests and costs 95-150 euros. An individual pays around 30 euros, but has to wait for more passengers. Negotiating is usually hardly possible or not possible at all.
A cheap alternative is a short crossing with the traghetto. Significantly less romantic, with around 2 euros but much cheaper – and gives you a feel for what it’s like to drive a small boat across the canals.
You should not miss the view from the Ponte della Academia. A wonderful, famous photo spot with a view of the Grand Canal and the Church of Santa Maria della Salute.
If you still have some time, you can take a look around the less touristy artist quarter Academia or take a leisurely stroll through the alleys of other quarters. With a small dangle you will pass the Squero di San Trovaso, a gondola and boat yard still active today.
Things to do in Venice in the evening
End the exhausting sightseeing day with a good dinner. Don’t forget your reservation!
For this I can personally recommend the Cannaregio district. Away from the major tourist streets, everything here is a bit calmer – and therefore more authentic in many places. In the Pizzeria da Zorma you can get a cheap pizza and eat it right on the canal, perhaps with a glass of wine. It is available at the Trattoria Al Timon next door at the latest, and here, too, guests like to take their glasses and chichettis (Venetian tapas) outside.
Ok, it was a long day with a lot of kilometers run. I’m sure the cell phone pedometer shows a rash up today. Nevertheless: When the rush of tourists has subsided and the city is bathed in the pleasant light of the lanterns, many sights show themselves in a completely different light. So how about a little digestive walk through the streets towards San Marco?
A film tip for a cozy evening in bed: “The Italian Job” begins with a wild chase with boats through Venice’s canals …
Now you know how to spend a perfect day in Venice and what sights are waiting for you. You are well supplied with travel tips, things to do and know important photo spots in Italy’s famous lagoon city – buon viaggio 🇮🇹
If you have more time in this fabulous country, have a look at Krystianna’s collection of best places to visit in Italy.
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