Home » Europe » Italy

One Day in Venice: How to Spend the Perfect 24 Hours in Venice

  • by
A deserted St. Marks's Square with St. Mark's Cathedral and Campanile in Venice.

Venice has captivated visitors for centuries and the city seems more like a stage set than a city. A city of visual delights, it fires up the imagination and has been endlessly portrayed by writers, painters, and philosophers. While one day in Venice isn’t enough to explore what the city has to offer, it still accords you enough time to get a fair impression of the place. Here are our recommendations on the best things to do in Venice in one day.

Please note that this article contains affiliate links. Learn more about it on our Disclosure page. We use ads to support our small business – we hope you don’t mind them too much.

Getting To Venice

People boarding a bus leaving for Venice at Marco Polo Airport. PC: Sorbis/Shutterstock.com

If traveling to Venice by air, the nearest airport is Venice’s Marco Polo airport, located 10 km (6.5 miles) north of the city. Venice is supplemented by the smaller Antonio Canova airport at Treviso, 40 km (29 miles) northwest of Venice.

The most atmospheric and traditional way to Venice from Marco Polo airport is by sea. Alilaguna operates several routes to Venice. The journey to Venice takes about an hour and will get you closer to your accommodation. 

If your budget allows it, private water taxis operating from Marco Polo airport to Venice take about half the time and will take you directly to your hotel. This is handy if you have more luggage but will cost well over 100 EUR. A cheaper yet convenient alternative is to take a shared water taxi that will also drop you off directly at your hotel.

Marco Polo airport also has a direct bus service to Venice’s Piazzale Roma (the closest point to Venice’s attractions accessible by car or bus) that takes about twenty minutes. This is a quicker and cheaper alternative to the lagoon crossing.

Treviso airport also has a direct bus to Piazzale Roma which takes approximately one hour. In order to avoid queuing at the airports,  I strongly suggest booking a ticket in advance.

It is also possible to reach Venice by train from a nearby city such as Bologna, Milan, Verona, or Florence. Check Trenitalia to book tickets in advance to get the best fares.

If you’re coming to Venice by car, you ought to know that parking in the city is prohibitively expensive. The closest car parks to the city center are at Piazzale Roma or on the Tronchetto, linked to Venice by boat and bus. Garage San Marco or the public ASM Garage at Piazzale Roma are probably your best bets.

How To Get Around During Your One Day in Venice

Cars and bicycles are not permitted in the historic core of Venice, and the absence of traffic makes exploring Venice on foot a great pleasure. It only takes approximately 45-60 minutes to cross the city from north to south on foot (provided you do not lose your way of course).

Nearly all the attractions we’ve included in our one-day itinerary of Venice are within comfortable walking distance of each other. I would strongly recommend wearing comfortable footwear as a day’s sightseeing can be enervating.

However, if you don’t feel like seeing everything on foot, you can make use of the vaporetti, public waterbuses that form the backbone of Venice’s public transportation system. The Vaporetto lines #1 and #2 will be most useful when sightseeing in Venice.

A single Vaporetto ticket costs 7.50 EUR and is valid for 75 minutes from the time of validation. If you plan on using the vaporetti more, then you can even get the 24-hour ticket (20 EUR). The day ticket is also valid on the buses in Marghera and Mestre on the mainland.

Tickets for the Vaporetti are available at most boarding points, Hellovenezia/ACTV offices, newsstands, and some bars, shops, and tobacconists displaying the ACTV sign. You can also pre-book your ticket online, which I found to be most convenient.

Your One Day in Venice Itinerary

Given that Venice is endowed with plenty of fantastic places to see, time flies away quickly with all the walking, stopping for photos, and gazing at all the beauty around you. You must plan your visit well otherwise looking back in hindsight, you may beat yourself over how much you have missed. 

For this one day in Venice itinerary, I have included some of the major attractions in the city. For your convenience, this post includes a free map that highlights Venice’s main points of interest. You can find the addresses of the attractions by clicking on the icons in the map. 

This is a pretty packed itinerary that will eat up most of your day. You really should spend your time on whatever catches your own interest. The earlier you start your day the more time you’ll have to see the attractions.

Below I have compiled a list of the best things to see in Venice over the course of one day:

  1. Rialto Market
  2. Rialto Bridge
  3. Pastries at Pasticceria Tonnolo
  4. Frari Church
  5. Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
  6. St. Mark’s Square
  7. St. Mark’s Bell Tower
  8. St. Mark’s Clocktower
  9. St. Mark’s Basilica
  10. Doge’s Palace & The Bridge of Sighs
  11. Boat Trip Along the Grand Canal
  12. Eat Cicchetti at Osteria La Squero
  13. Gondola Ride
  14. Santa Margherita Square

1. Rialto Market

Assorted seafood on display at the famous Rialto Market in Venice.

Start your one day in Venice as the locals by visiting the historic Rialto Market (Rialto Mercato). Located on the western banks of the Grand Canal, this sprawling market is a hive of activity. 

The Rialto Market has been in operation for centuries and while today’s market is much more modest than that of Venice at its peak, it is still one of the liveliest spots in the city. The market consists of the Pescheria section (fresh fish and seafood), and the Erberia section (fresh fruit and vegetables).

Local produce at the Erberia includes artistic piles of peaches, cherries, baby artichokes, red radicchio, and asparagus. In the adjoining fish market, foodies can find enormous pleasure in the profusion of sardines, eels, squid, soft-shell crabs, swordfish, clams, and other species of seafood on display.

People shopping for vegetables and fruits at the famous Rialto Market in Venice.

The Rialto Market was one of my favorite places to see in Venice and it’s enchanting to see the locals go about their daily lives, selling or buying local produce. The sheer bustle of this place was intoxicating and as such, it is a photographer’s delight!

The Erberia (vegetable market) is open from 07:30-13:00 (Monday-Saturday) and the Pescheria (fish market) is open from 07:30-13:00 (Tuesday-Saturday). To experience the Rialto Market in full swing you should arrive early in the morning.

2. Rialto Bridge

Beautiful woman on the Rialto Bridge in Venice with the Grand Canal in the background.

Undoubtedly one of the must-see sights in Venice, the majestic Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) marks the geographical center of the city. The bridge spans the Grand Canal with a strong, elegantly curved arch of marble, and is lined with shops selling silk ties, scarves, leather, and jewelry.

Venice’s oldest bridge initially began life as a wooden pontoon bridge in the 12th century. However, the present version is a late 16th-century design by Antonio da Ponte. 

The Rialto Bridge now consists of a single stone-arch span that supports a broad rectangular deck carrying two arcades of shops. Until the 19th century, this was the only link between the two sides of the Grand Canal.

If you’re able to navigate your way through hordes of tourists crawling over the Rialto Bridge, you’ll enjoy superb views of the Grand Canal in both directions.

3. Pastries at Pasticceria Tonnolo

Delicious pastries on display at Pasticceria Tonnolo in Venice.

You shouldn’t visit Venice without eating pastries in the morning. After you’ve gotten a visual feast in the Rialto area, head to Pasticceria Tonnolo for a shot of strong espresso and some delectable Italian pastries. Sicilian cannoli or French cream puff. 

Although there are many great places to grab pastries in Venice, Pasticceria Tonnolo is our favorite one. This late-19th century confectionery is an institution in the Dorsoduro district and a favorite among the locals, a fact affirmed by the never-ending queue of customers. 

The types of pastries and baked goods you can choose here are plentiful, and the prices are kept affordable. Sweet tooth connoisseurs will go gaga over Tonnolo’s oozing chocolate croissants, tantalizing brioches, silky pastries with cream filling, doughnuts, and buttery bussolai biscuits from Burano. 

If you’re visiting Venice during Carnival season, you can even try the famous frittelle – deep-fried dough balls with a soft cake-like interior and crispy outer layer.

Pasticceria Tonnolo is open from 07:00-13:00 and 15:00-20:45 on all days except Wednesdays. Don’t be put off by long lines in the morning, the staff is efficient and you won’t be waiting long. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the vast choice, just ask one of the staff for assistance.

4. Frari Church

Known among locals as “I Frari”, the 14th-century Gothic Frari Church (Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari) is one of the major points of interest in Venice. Not only is the church one of Venice’s largest, but its brick bell tower is also one of the city’s tallest.

Built by the Franciscans (who emphasized prayer and poverty), it’s not surprising that the church is austere both inside and out. Yet it houses priceless canvases by Titian and Bellini to tombs of doges and artists such as Canova.

Before entering, follow the side of the church around, and take in its simple Gothic brick facade. Inside, you’ll almost immediately be confronted by the beautifully carved Rood Screen that divides the worship area and the nave.

Take a moment to admire the fascinating inlaid woodwork of the Monks’ Choir. Crafted in the 15th century, the three-tiered stalls are carved with bas-reliefs of saints and Venetian city scenes.

However, the cynosure of all eyes in the Frari Church is Titian’s great Assumption of the Virgin. This petite altarpiece that seems to glow from within depicts the triumphant ascent of Mary while the 12 Apostles are left gesticulating in wonderment below.

The other Titian masterpiece here is the Madonna di Ca’ Pésaro (on the left wall, between the third and fourth columns). This, along with Giovanni Bellini’s Triptych of the Madonna and Saints and Vivarini’s St. Mark Enthroned, are among the church’s finest works of art.

Don’t miss Canova’s pyramid mausoleum and Baldassarre Longhena’s rather bombastic funerary monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro. The funerary monument shows four figures of African galley slaves in black and white marble supporting a massive triumphal arch on their shoulders. 

The monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro in the Frari Church in Venice. PC: Alla Iatsun/Shutterstock.com

Doge Giovanni Pesaro’s sculpture is flanked by the four allegories of Intelligence, Nobility, Wealth, and Study, which allude to the exploits and merits of the doge. The lifelikeness of the sculptures of the monument is amazing.

The Frari Church is open from 09:00-18:00 (Monday-Saturday) and 13:00-18:00 (Sunday), last admission at 17:30. The entrance to the church costs 3 EUR (free for children up to 11 years of age). Do not skip the Frari Church as it is most certainly worth seeing.

5. Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo

Tucked away in a maze of alleys, the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is definitely one of the hidden gems in Venice (if there is such a thing). It is renowned for its stupendous early Renaissance spiral staircase set into a circular Byzantine-style tower.

In Venetian dialect, bovolo means “snail shell”, appropriate to the spiral shape of the stairway. The palace, with its ascending rows of round-headed arches, is the only one of its kind to be found in Venice today.

You can also see the presence of late-Gothic architecture in the palace through a rich decoration with floral motifs on the facade. If you’re feeling up to it, you can climb the 112 steps to the top for attractive views over Venice (although I wouldn’t recommend it since you might be pressed for time). 

The Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is open daily from 10:00-18:00. The entrance costs 7 EUR.

6. St. Mark’s Square

Panoramic view of St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) in Venice.

Once called “the world’s most beautiful drawing room” by Napoleon, St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is by far Venice’s most impressive piazza. It has been the heart of Venetian life since the early days of the republic and throughout its long history, St. Mark’s Square has witnessed countless pageants, processions, political activities, and Carnival festivities.

Home to many of the stellar attractions in Venice, St. Mark’s Square is elegantly proportioned, with colonnades on three sides, and interestingly the ‘square’ is actually a trapezoid. 

The square has always been overcrowded, and foreigners have always made up a sizable proportion of the crowds. Yet despite all its pomp, it still manages to be harmonious. Strolling around St. Mark’s Square and soaking in the atmosphere is one of the essential things to do in Venice and will leave you with an enduring travel memory.

7. St. Mark’s Bell Tower

The red-brick St. Mark's Bell Tower (Campanile) in Venice.

At 98.6 m (323 ft), St. Mark’s Bell Tower (Campanile) is probably the most recognizable landmark in Venice and also the tallest structure in the city. Having begun life in the early 10th century, over the years it has served as a lighthouse, gun turret, and belfry. 

Today’s tower was masterfully rebuilt in 1912 to its 16th-century Renaissance design following its clamorous collapse in 1902. Take the lift to the top to access one of the most spectacular views across Venice.

Pro Tip

The famous Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei used the Campanile as an observatory to study the skies and it was here in 1609 that he demonstrated his telescope to the Lords.

Panoramic view of Venice from the St. Mark's Bell Tower (Campanile).

On a clear day, the breathtaking view includes the Lido, the lagoon, and the mainland as far as the Alps, but, strangely enough none of the myriad small canals that snake through Venice.

St. Mark’s Campanile is open daily from 09:45-21:15 (last admission: 20:45). Tickets cost 10 EUR (free for children up to 6 years of age). Going to the top of the Campanile is totally worth the price of admission as you won’t get a better aerial view of Venice. 

Pro Tip

During the high tourist season, visitors have been known to wait hours for entrance tickets, with queues stretching several hundred meters long. To avoid wasting potentially hours of sightseeing, purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended.

8. St. Mark’s Clocktower

Standing gracefully on the north side of the Piazza, the beautiful St. Mark’s Clocktower (Torre dell’Orologio) is a sight to behold. The richly decorated Renaissance clock tower was built in the late 15th century.

The gilt and blue enamel clock was designed with seafarers in mind and displays the phases of the moon and the Zodiac. The bell on the tower’s roof terrace is struck on the hour by two bronze Moors. According to Venetian legend, stroking the figures’ exposed private parts confers sexual potency for a year!

If you’re in Venice on Epiphany or during Ascension week, you’ll witness the clock’s star marquee attraction – statues of the Magi appear out of the clock on the hour, accompanied by a procession of angels.

Trivia Tidbit

In recent times, the population of Venice (historical center) has fallen below the 55,000 mark, having shrunk by over two-thirds since the 1950s. Venice’s permanent population is experiencing a slow but inexorable decline as many young Venetians prefer to move to the mainland with the convenience of a car, not to mention lower house prices, cheaper shopping, and fewer tourists.

9. St. Mark’s Basilica

Exterior of the majestic St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica San Marco) in Venice.

No day of sightseeing in Venice would be complete without visiting the remarkable St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica San Marco), a glorious reflection of the city’s Byzantine connection and a symbol of Venetian glory. Arguably the most exotic of Europe’s cathedrals, it is decorated with gold mosaics and eastern treasures.

Shortly after St. Mark’s body was smuggled to Venice from Alexandria, Egypt in 828, the first church of St. Mark the Evangelist was consecrated in his honor. After the original St Mark’s was burned down during an uprising, Venice rebuilt the basilica two more times and the present incarnation was completed in 1094.

Modeled after a basilica in Constantinople, Venice’s sumptuous basilica was constructed on a Greek cross plan with five cupolas. Over the course of many centuries, modifications were made to the church, with columns, statues, and mosaics added to enhance its opulence.

The facade of St. Mark’s Basilica is sublime and you can’t help but be blown away by the succession of domes, double rows of arches, intricate doorway carvings, spires, marble statues, and glittering mosaics. Interestingly, of all the mosaics decorating the entrances and upper portals, the only original is The Translation of the Body of the Saint above the door on the far left.

Watch out for the mosaics in the lunettes depicting St. Mark’s stolen body arriving at the basilica from Alexandria, allegedly smuggled under slices of pork. Before going in, take a close look at the four horses above the central portal.

The cavernous interior is exquisitely gilded with Byzantine mosaics, many made with 24-carat gold leaf fused onto the back of the glass to represent divine light. These were added over some 7 centuries and cover every inch of both ceiling and pavement.

Two golden domes vie for your attention: the Pentecost Dome, which shows the Descent of the Holy Ghost as a dove, and the Ascension Dome, featuring Christ in Glory surrounded by Apostles, angels, and the Virgin Mary. 

For a closer look at many of the most remarkable ceiling mosaics and a better view of the Oriental carpet-like patterns of the pavement mosaics, go upstairs to the Galleria.

Located behind the main altar lies St. Mark’s Basilica’s greatest treasure – Pala d’Oro. The magnificent medieval screen, created in the 10th century by medieval goldsmiths, is made up of 250 panels, each adorned with pearls, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts, and enamels. 

Also worth a visit is the Treasury, with a collection of the crusaders’ plunder from Constantinople and other icons and relics amassed by the church over the years.

Pro Tip

Dress modestly because the guards at St. Mark’s Basilica’s entrance prohibit entry to anyone in scantily-clad attire—shorts, sleeveless shirts (and shirts too short to hide your belly button), and skirts above the knee.

St. Mark’s Basilica is open from 09:45-17:00 (Monday-Saturday) and 14:00-17:00 (Sunday, until 16:00 November-Easter). Admission to the basilica is free, but to enjoy the St. Mark’s Museum (La Galleria), you’ll pay 7 EUR; entrance to the Pala d’Oro costs 5 EUR; admittance to the Treasury costs 3 EUR. St. Mark’s Basilica is definitely worth the hype.

To avoid the crowds, I would recommend signing up for a guided tour that offers skip-the-line access to the church  (especially if you’re visiting the next attraction on our list).

10. Doge’s Palace & The Bridge of Sighs

The attractive facade of the Doge's Palace in Venice. PC: Svetlana Day/Dreamstime.com

Standing between the St. Mark’s Basilica and St. Mark’s Basin is the resplendent Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), undoubtedly one of the major highlights of Venice. The palace is a magnificent combination of Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture and was the official residence of the 120 doges who ruled Venice from 697 to 1797.

Like St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace has been rebuilt many times. The present incarnation was built between the 14th and 16th centuries on the foundations of a 9th-century fortress. It sports elegant twin facades with pink-and-cream stonework above an arcade of columns with 36 sculpted Istrian stone capitals.

Given that there is quite a lot to see in the Doge’s Palace I’ll only mention the highlights. 

Beautiful woman posing in front of the Staiway of the Giants in the Doge's Palace in Venice.

Upon entering the Doge’s Palace, you’ll find yourself in an immense courtyard with some of the first evidence of Venice’s Renaissance architecture, including Antonio Rizzo’s 15th-century Stairway of the Giants (Scala dei Giganti), flanked by statues of Mars and Neptune. Visiting dignitaries would ascend the marble-lined stairs to the palace.

The main tour of the palace interior begins in the staterooms on the second floor, which are richly furnished with gilded stucco work and are home to some of the finest paintings and sculptures in the ducal collection. The walls and ceilings of the principal rooms were richly decorated by the Venetian masters, including Veronese, Titian, Carpaccio, and Tintoretto.

The richly adorned Senate Chamber in the Doge's Palace in Venice. PC: Scaliger/Dreamstime.com

One of the most impressive interior rooms is the richly adorned Senate Chamber (Sala del Senato). It is the room where the Venetian council (made up of the doge, his advisors, members of the judiciary, and senators) formulated policy. 

Also on the second floor is the splendid private armory, in which some extremely gruesome weapons are displayed. The tour then leads down to the first-floor state rooms.

One of the most fascinating rooms on the first floor is the Shield Room (Sala del Scudo). This intriguing room is littered with painted wall maps from the 15th to the 18th centuries and features two huge 18th-century globes in the center.

It is also here that you will come across the most resplendent sight in the Doge’s Palace – the Great Council Hall (Sala del Maggior Consiglio). This vast hall (large enough to hold 2,500 people) is where Venetian citizens assembled to elect doges and debate state policies in the early days of the Republic.

Covering the whole of one end wall is Tintoretto’s Paradiso. Measuring 7×22 m (23×72 ft), it is said to be the world’s largest oil painting, containing some 350 human figures.  Portraits of the first 76 doges line the cornice beneath the ceiling; note the black veil which represents the 14th-century doge Marin Falier (he was beheaded for treason in 1355).

The dank prison cells inside the Doge's Palace in Venice.

From here the tour takes you to the prison cells, which are reached by the legendary (albeit slightly overhyped) Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri). The notion that Venice’s second-most famous bridge takes its name from the sighs of prisoners stealing their last glimpses of freedom as they made their way to the executioner’s block stems more from romantic fiction than hard fact.

Pro Tip

For the best views of the Bridge of Sighs, go to the Ponte Della Paglia (Bridge of Straw) on the Riva Degli Schiavoni promenade.

Fun Fact

Giacomo Casanova, the notorious Italian libertine, was one of the most illustrious ‘guests’ of the prisons of the Doge’s Palace. He was imprisoned in the Doge’s Palace in 1755 on charges of being a Freemason and spreading antireligious propaganda. Even more famous than his conviction is his escape as he was one of the rare few to escape the Doge’s Palace maximum-security jail. On the night of October 31, 1756 Casanova and another prisoner executed an ingenious escape through the roof.

The Doge’s Palace is open daily from 08:30-19:00 (April-October), and 08:30-17:30 (November-March). I highly recommend purchasing a ticket for the Skip-the-Line Tour to avoid losing valuable time queueing in long lines at the Doge’s Palace. However, due to the security checks at the entrance, there can still be a queue nevertheless. The wait is worth it, though!

11. Boat Trip Along the Grand Canal

Magnificent architecture along the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy.

You just can’t visit Venice and leave without taking a boat trip along the Grand Canal, the city’s majestic “highway.” Snaking its way through the city with a double curve for some 4 km (2.5 miles), the banks of the Grand Canal are lined with around 200 ornate palaces and grand houses, most built between the 14th and 18th centuries.

Being one of the most instagrammable locations in Venice, the views along the Grand Canal are so wonderful that many visitors ride the boats back and forth, soaking up the atmosphere. 

The parade of palaces bordering the Grand Canal represents some of the finest architecture of the Venetian Republic. Look out for architectural wonders such as Ca’ d’Oro, Ca’ Rezzonico, Palazzo Balbi, and the Santa Maria della Salute.

I wouldn’t normally recommend taking a gondola ride on the Grand Canal as it’s far too busy and noisy. A much better alternative is to take a 1-hour motorboat tour on the Grand Canal, where you will see the bustling Venetian waterfront and iconic historical landmarks.

However, for the best value-for-money experience of cruising along the Grand Canal, hop aboard the Vaporetto #1 for a 40-minute ride. Vaporetto #2 travels the same route, but it skips some stops and takes 25 minutes, making it hard to sightsee. You can also pre-book your ticket online, which I found to be very handy.

Pro Tip

To beat the crowds, start from either Piazzale Roma or San Marco Ferry Terminal late afternoon or evening. For the trip of a lifetime, try and grab the front-row seats on Vaporetto #1.

12. Eat Cicchetti at Osteria La Squero

No 24 hours in Venice should be allowed to go by without sampling cicchetti, small snacks that are best described as the city’s answer to Spanish tapas. 

Cicchetti are local finger foods that include crostini (small bruschetta/toasted open-faced sandwiches), panini (small sandwiches on crusty rolls), tramezzini (triangular white bread half-sandwiches), and polpette (fried balls of meat, tuna, cheese or potatoes).

These beloved local appetizers are topped with a tempting variety of seafood, cured meats, eggs, cheeses, and vegetables. Though Venetians normally consume cicchetti as an accompaniment to pre-dinner evening drinks, they can be eaten all day long, and make for a substantial snack. 

Some of the very best cicchetti in Venice are found in the informal, hole-in-the-wall bars(bacari) and casual eateries) (osterie). called bacari. Here, cicchetti are traditionally washed down with an ombra (local vernacular for a small glass of red or white wine) though you can also have them with beer or an Aperol Spritz. If you’re on a budget and looking for cheap eats in Venice, cicchetti are the perfect go-to option.

One of my favorite places for eating cicchetti is Osteria La Squero in Dorsoduro. This atmospheric little wine bar is always packed with locals and tourists alike looking to fill their stomachs with La Squero’s scrumptious assortment of cicchetti.

If you’re interested in finding out where to get the best cicchetti in Venice, check out our article on the 12 best cicchetti bars in the city.

Also, if you prefer not to eat and drink alone, and want to hobnob with some locals, you can even go on a Venice Street Food Tour. Led by knowledgeable, enthusiastic local foodies, the tour introduces you to Venice’s vast cicchetti repertoire and takes you along the city’s confusing backstreets.

13. Gondola Ride

People aboard traditional gondolas on a quiet canal in Venice, Italy.

Taking a gondola ride along Venice’s canals is a rite of passage for most visitors to the city. Seeing Venice from the seat of a gondola is an unforgettable experience and shows you an entirely different perspective of the city! 

As mentioned earlier, as beautiful as the Grand Canal is, its waters are way too crowded and choppy for that perfect gondola ride in Venice. The best gondola ride in Venice can be experienced on some of the quieter and serene smaller canals where it will feel more intimate, exclusive, and romantic.

A gondola ride doesn’t come cheap and will set you back around 80-120 EUR for the ride. If you are traveling with family or friends, the cost per person will be cheaper – five is the maximum number of passengers. 

As much as a gondola ride in Venice costs, it is still definitely worth it. You get to see the city the way it was meant to be seen and it’s an activity that you can truly only enjoy properly in Venice (the “gondola rides” at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas don’t count).

There are a number of gondola ranks throughout the city with plenty of gondoliers in striped shirts and beribboned boater hats waiting for business on bridges and squares. However, to save precious time looking for a gondola, it’s best to book a gondola ride in advance.

However, if you feel that the gondola ride doesn’t fit in your budget or is simply not worth it, don’t fret. For a much cheaper experience, take a ride on the traghetto. 

Traghetti (plural for traghetto) are large, unadorned gondola ferries that shuttle people from one side of the Grand Canal to the other. Of course, you won’t get the gondolier in the classic beribboned straw hat and it won’t come with the tourist services.

There are traghetto stations at eight different points along the Grand Canal where it isn’t easy to cross by bridge. A traghetto ride costs 2 EUR and is a great option if you want to ride a gondola without paying full price. 

14. Santa Margherita Square

Panoramic view of the atmospheric Santa Margherita Square (Campo Santa Margherita) in Venice, Italy.

If you still have some gas left in your tank, you can conclude your 24 hours in Venice by descending on Santa Margherita Square (Campo Santa Margherita). It is one of the most appealing squares in Venice and is a stage set for the comings and goings of the Dorsoduro neighborhood.

Unlike St. Mark’s Square, which is overrun with tourists, Santa Margherita Square belongs to the Venetians and retains a spirit of authenticity. Ringed by houses that date back as far as the fourteenth century, its cluster of market stalls, bars, and cafés, ensures that it is a hive of activity day in, day out.

As evening approaches, waste no time in occupying a table for a Spritz apéritif, prosecco, beer, or coffee. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more engaging spot for people-watching in Venice.

If you want to cap off the night with some gelato, head to Gelateria il Doge which is literally a stone’s throw away from Santa Margherita Square. This excellent gelateria is one of the best places to get gelato in Venice. 

The gelato here is exclusively made of organic ingredients and there are more than 15 flavors of creamy goodness to choose from.

Where To Eat in Venice

Though Cicchetti are a good alternative to fast food, you’ll also want to treat yourself to a leisurely sit-down meal while you’re in Venice.

It takes a little planning to eat well in Venice otherwise you’re bound to be disappointed. Dining in the areas around St. Mark’s Square, the main train station, and along principal thoroughfares should be avoided as overpriced tourist traps, grand cafés, and expensive established restaurants predominate.

But moving away from the San Marco area, dining experiences tend to be more authentic and you will generally see both the crowds (and the prices) trickle down. Try the districts of Cannaregio, San Polo & Santa Croce, or even Dorsoduro for decent, well-priced meals. 

As a rule of thumb, avoid places where lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese and pizza are all present on the menu as these aren’t Venetian specialties and the place is essentially a tourist trap.

Look for places with no menu at all or ones where it has hastily been scribbled on a chalkboard in Italian only. Finally, avoid places with cajoling waiters standing outside, and beware of restaurants that don’t display their prices.

Whatever the price range, Venice’s best restaurants are always busy, so it is advisable to reserve a table in advance. If restaurants don’t accept bookings, try to arrive early to avoid waiting in line.

Bear in mind that sitting down to drink in a bar or café in Venice can cost a lot more than standing at the bar, as there is a table charge, which can be high.

Where To Stay in Venice

Venice is an expensive place to stay and can hardly be said to have a  “low season.” You can’t go terribly amiss in terms of “good” areas in which to stay in Venice. 

The area in and around the district of San Marco is the most touristy and almost always more expensive. If you want to stay in less-trafficked surroundings, check out convenient but more tranquil locations in the districts of Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, and Cannaregio.

Once you get your bearings, you’ll find you’re never far from anything. You may, however, want to consider how close your hotel is to a Vaporetto stop.

For those on a budget in Venice, substantial savings can be had by staying in a hotel in Mestre or Marghera, or near the main airport, but you must count on at least 45-60 minutes each way until you get into the city center.

Hostel: Anda Venice Hostel, a hugely popular hostel in Mestre, located just two minutes on foot from the train station and within walking distance from the city center

Budget: San Lio Tourist House, unpretentious choice within 5 minutes of St. Mark’ Square and the Rialto Bridge

Mid-range: Four Points by Sheraton Venice Mestre, a reasonably-priced 4-star hotel in Mestre. A great option if you’re visiting Venice by car as the hotel offers free parking

Splurge: Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel, sumptuous top-choice pick in the district of Santa Croce overlooking the Grand Canal

Venice Travel Tips

Here are some essential things to know before you visit Venice.

1. Try to visit during the shoulder season: Visit Venice in April-May or October-November if you can as these months are generally a little less busy, but still have relatively decent weather. Prices are also cheaper, and everything is a little less overwhelming.

If possible, avoid visiting Venice in the summer from late June to early September when the crowds are at their fullest, hotel rooms are virtually at peak season, and the climate can be oppressively hot and clammy.

2. Visit Venice with the right mindset: Travel with an open mind and be prepared for what to expect when visiting Venice otherwise it may lead to disenchantment. 

First of all, Venice suffers from massive overcrowding and these crowds could make murderers out of monks. I defy anyone to make their way around the city without thinking less-than-loving thoughts about their fellow man.

There’s practically no off-season in Venice and no matter when you visit, there’s always going to be a lot of people. Yes, some months are better than others but I think it’s important to be aware of this before you visit, or you could be chagrined with the sheer volume of tourists. 

Just ambling around the city can be painful, as you often find yourself queuing simply to walk over a bridge. This is exacerbated by the hordes of tourists trying to snap the perfect Instagram picture.

3. Visiting Venice isn’t cheap: Venice is also not a particularly cheap destination to visit, especially when compared to other European cities. Because of the cash the tourists bring to the city, and because of how heavily Venice depends on tourism, prices in Venice are exorbitantly high.

The city can be extremely expensive if you do everything, and will still run your wallet dry even if you don’t do everything. So, don’t be too surprised at the high costs.  

4. Travel light: One of the biggest errors travelers make when they come to Venice is bringing along an excess amount of luggage that they then have to drag (rather inconveniently) around town. 

Even if you’re planning to take a water taxi instead of walking around town with your luggage, you may be charged outrageous fees for each additional piece you have.

5. Stick to tap water: Ask for tap water (“acqua semplice” or “acqua da rubinetto”) or you will automatically get expensive bottled water included on your bill. Moreover, carry a water bottle so you can refill at any of the free drinking fountains throughout Venice.

6. Make use of the skip-the-line tickets: Given that Venice is almost on everyone’s bucket list, the city is perennially crowded. Although you will pay extra for a skip-the-line ticket, it will save you precious time and help make the most of your visit, rather than standing in 2-hour long queues to enter the most popular attractions.

7. Expect to encounter scaffolding: Restoration work is always taking place somewhere in Venice, and there is rarely any indication before you go in as to how much of the building is under wraps. It’s impossible to predict which buildings will be undergoing restoration in the near future so prepare to be disappointed – you are almost certain to come across scaffolding and barriers at some point.

8. Public toilets and accessibility: Venice is rather limited in terms of the number of public toilets (toilette, gabinetti), and they come with a charge of 1.50 EUR. You can find them at the airport, train station, in car parks and some main squares.

Although of a reasonable standard, public toilets may sometimes be short of paper, so it is a good idea to carry tissues with you. It’s cheaper to have a stand-up espresso (the cheapest option) at a bar or café and use their facilities. In addition, toilets are free in some museums and galleries.

9. Keep a close eye on your belongings:  Be aware of petty crime like pickpocketing, especially at railway stations, markets, and crowded sites. On public transport, particularly the tourist routes, hold your handbag or rucksack in front of you and be extra vigilant over your belongings when people are jostling to get on board. 

10. Venice & Flooding: Called the “acqua alta” (high water), the winter flooding of Venice is caused by the coincidence of low atmospheric pressure, south-easterly Sirocco winds, and natural high tides.

It has always been a feature of Venetian life and in autumn and winter, duckboards are a familiar sight in St. Mark’s Square and other low-lying areas of central Venice. The typical high water season lasts from October-January.

If you’re planning on visiting Venice during acqua alta, remember to bring waterproof boots and suitable items of clothing. Also, keep in mind that some popular attractions may not always be accessible.

11. Lay off counterfeit goods: It’s illegal for street vendors in Venice to sell knockoff handbags, and it’s also illegal for you to buy them; both you and the vendor can get big fines.

12. Do not swim in the canals: As tempting as it may seem during the warmer months, absolutely don’t swim in the canals. If caught, you risk getting thrown out of the city and you may need to pay a potentially hefty fine of 350 EUR.

Further Reading

That summarizes our comprehensive guide to spending one day in Venice. However, we reckon you’ll find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Venice!


Now, what do you think? How would you spend one day in Venice? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About Mihir

Hi there, I'm Mihir! I was born in India, raised there and in Australia before spending nearly a decade in Finland. I suffer from chronic fernweh and am always looking forward to a new adventure. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, cricket, and Australian Rules Football. Oh, there's also my partner in crime Jacky who's not too bad either 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.