How many days in Venice will be enough, you ask?
If you’re thinking about visiting this romantic city, stay tuned. This guide will provide the answer along with itineraries for one, two, and three days in Venice. On top of that, I’ll be sharing tips for getting around Venice and planning your trip.
How many days in Venice?
How long should you spend in Venice? I believe 2 days is perfect for Venice, especially if it is your first visit. There will be enough time to visit Venice’s main attractions such as St. Marks Basilica, St. Mark’s Square and Ponte di Rialto.
Planning your trip to Venice
The city of Venice is often placed on the podium of the most beautiful cities in Italy, along with Rome.
Its beauty aside, Venice is also a historical and unique city. It is composed of 117 small islands, connected by a series of bridges and separated by a network of canals.
As you are probably aware, it is also one of the largest tourist destinations in Italy.
The best time to visit Venice is from September to November when the tourist crowds have dispersed and the hotel rates are lower. It does get a bit chillier in these months but the quiet canals make it worth wearing a few extra layers.
1 day in Venice
Is your time in Venice limited to 24 hours? Perhaps you have time only for a quick stop en-route to another destination. Nevertheless, with just one day in Venice, you can enjoy the picturesque scenery and visit some attractions.
There are a few things one simply must experience in Venice. The most famous of them is the Grand Canal, the largest and most important of all the canals of Venice. It runs through the city and divides it into two. It can be crossed by vaporetto or traghetto, or simply on foot, via one of its four bridges: Ponte di Rialto (the most charming and ancient of the city), Ponte dell’ Academia, Ponte degli Sclazi, and Ponte della Constituizone.
St. Mark’s Square is the only proper piazza of Venice. It’s also the lowest place in the city, so when there is “acqua alta” (sea tide rise), it is the first place to flood. The most important buildings in the square are the St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Correr Museum, the Campanile (the basilica’s bell tower), and the Torre dell’ Orologio.
On the upper balcony of the Torre dell’ Orologio, two bronze Moors play the hours. During the Epiphany and the Ascension, a procession of Magi presided over by an angel comes out every hour, a spectacle that you shouldn’t miss!
St Mark’s Basilica was once the center of Venetian religious life. Its construction began in 828, to house the body of Saint Mark which would be brought from Alexandria. Although the entrance is free, some of its areas require ticket purchase: the Museum (where you can see the original sculptures of the Horses of Mark), the Treasury (a collection of gold and silver from the sack of Constantinople), and the Pala d’ Oro (an altarpiece made of precious stones).
Still situated in Piazza San Marco is Doge’s Palace. Originally a 9th-century fortified castle, it was rebuilt after a fire and used as a fortress and prison. It combines byzantine, gothic, and renaissance architectural elements, and within it, there are paintings by Tiziano, Tintoretto, and Bellini. It was from here that the notorious Casanova fled through the roof in 1756.
The Correr Museum is the most important museum in Venice. It narrates the history of the city from its foundation to its induction to Italy in the 19th century. It houses paintings, sculptures, furniture, naval instruments, and more.
The Campanile is the tallest building in Venice, standing 98.5 meters high, and has the most beautiful view of Venice. The original bell tower also served as a lighthouse for navigators. At the top, there’s a golden statue of the angel Gabriel, and five bells, which played distinct roles during the Republic: the “Marangona“, the largest, rang when the working day began and ended; the “Malefico“, the smallest, announced executions; the “Nona” rang at midday, the “Trottiera” summoned the “Maggior Consiglio” members, and the “Mezza terza” announced a Senate session.
2 days in Venice
If you’re staying for a weekend, you can capture the atmosphere of Venice and visit more attractions in the city of water. Start from the one-day itinerary above, and continue your second day with this two-day Venice itinerary.
An interesting place to visit is the Gallerie dell’ Academia which has the largest collection of Venetian art in the world, containing masterpieces by painters such as Tiziano, Veronese, Canaletto or Bellini. It is an excellent stop for Renaissance lovers as its most celebrated piece is probably Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, which illustrates the ideal proportions of man.
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is one of the most important and best-decorated buildings in Venice. Its construction dates back to the early 16th century and it is for Venice what the Sistine Chapel is for Rome. Its Michelangelo was Tintoretto, which decorated the Scuola’s walls and ceilings for over 20 years!
Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute‘s dome can be seen from several spots in the city. It was built to celebrate the end of the plague, which wiped out a great portion of the population of the Venetian Region.
On November 21st, the Venetians celebrate the Madonna della Salute. Through an improvised bridge, the faithful approach the Santa Maria della Salute to pray.
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is perhaps the most remarkable church in Venice. Its humble exterior hides a majestic interior, whose most important elements are the painting “Assumption of the Virgin” of Titian, the mausoleums of Antonio Canova, and Titian (the first amazes for its pyramidal shape, size, and impressive sculptures) and the altarpieces of Bellini.
Whilst on the church tour, you can’t really miss Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo. It’s the biggest church of Venice, built by Dominicans over the span of nearly a century. In its vast interior, there are the tombs of 27 dukes who found their resting place. Amongst the basilica’s most important masterpieces are paintings by renowned artists Giovanni Bellini, Paolo Veronese, and Giovanni Battista Piazzetta.
3 days in Venice
If your schedule allows for 72 hours in Venice (or more), and you’ve visited all the main attractions, I’d recommend ditching the map and getting lost on purpose. It’s a fantastic way to soak in the vibe of Venice and get a glimpse into the life of locals. Consider it an adventure!
Of course, you can also venture to less-visited spots, like Lido di Venezia, the closest island to Venice. This popular summer destination is a great place to take a rest while observing the shore. Or perhaps try your luck at the casino! This island is also known as the setting for the annual Venice Film Festival.
Another smaller island nearby is San Giorgio Maggiore, the most photographed Basilica in Venice likely due to the gondolas passing in the lagoon in front of it.
You might also want to check out Burano, an island located north of Venice, famous for its colorful houses and lace production. Legend says that sailors painted them in vibrant colors so that they’d be easier to reach on foggy days.
Day trips from Venice
In case you’re staying in Venice for a longer period, I’d invite you to explore beyond the city limits. Maybe venture out to Padua, nice for a morning visit, or the romantic city of Verona, home to star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet.
Here are a few other options for great day trips:
- Lake Garda
Getting around Venice
Venice is a really small city where it is possible to walk from one end to the other in about 30 minutes.
Much of this island’s charm lies in the fact that it is surrounded by water, so taxis, ambulances, and police vehicles are aquatic.
- Vaporettos play the role of urban buses, traversing the Grand Canal.
- Traghettos are comfortable and economical gondolas used to cross the Grand Canal through places where there are no bridges.
Although nowadays they only serve touristic purposes, gondolas were once the main means of transport in Venice. A gondola ride is most definitely expensive, but it’s worth it for the unique experience of enjoying an enchanting scenery while being serenaded by the gondolier.
Travel tips for Venice
Learn some Italian: As Venice is a major tourist destination, most people you encounter can communicate in English. However, they will always appreciate you giving Italian a try, even if you just say “ciao” (hello/goodbye) and “grazie” (thank you).
Pack a pair of rain boots: As I mentioned before, floodings are a reoccurring phenomenon, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Visit Gelateria S.Leonardo: Enjoy the best gelato flavors of Venice at a reasonable price.
Other Venice FAQ
Is one day enough for Venice? One day is enough to hop on a gondola ride and visit some attractions in Venice such as St. Mark’s Basilica.
Is 2 days enough for Venice? Two days is perfect for first-time visitors in Venice. You can visit St. Mark’s Square and explore museums and churches.
Can you spend a week in Venice? A week is more than enough time to see all the Venetian landmarks and make some day trips. It might even be too long, as there isn’t much nightlife and entertainment in Venice.