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How to Spend One Day in Venice, Italy

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If you only have one day in Venice, don’t worry; you can still see many of the city’s top sites.

As one of the most romantic and historic cities in Italy, you can’t miss out on a visit to Venice. It’s located on the water, has terrific food, and is filled with so many fun activities for all ages.

When we visited Venice for the first time, we were finishing off a week-long Italy itinerary and only had a day there before heading off to London. So, we are proof that you can truly see everything here in just a day. You just have to plan your time wisely and stay as centrally as possible.

Below, learn how to spend one day in Venice, Italy!

How to Get to Venice

color buildings on a canal

Luckily there are a variety of ways that you can get to Venice. Most people will fly in, especially if coming internationally! Venice Marco Polo Airport is the airport near Venice.

From the airport, you can either take a boat or a bus to get to Venice. The boat option is a bit more expensive, while the bus is more budget-friendly. We opted to take the bus since we were on a tight budget during our trip to Venice.

The train is the last option, which is more likely if you are coming from elsewhere in Italy. We took the train from Florence to Venice, and it brought us right there, which was perfect. Plus, the ride was so scenic.

How to Around to Venice

gondola boats tied up next to the shore

There are a few ways to get around Venice, depending on your budget and how much time you have. You can either walk (which is what we did), take a water bus (Vaporetto), or take a private boat.

Walking is definitely the best way to see Venice, as you can explore all the narrow streets and alleyways. As a pro tip, don’t trust what’s on your phone’s map app. Often, technology will think you can go a certain way but you can’t.

Pick up a hard copy of a map at a shop or see if your hotel has one. With one day in Venice, you don’t have time to get lost!

A water bus (Vaporetto) is a cheap and convenient way to get around Venice. There are different routes, and you can buy tickets depending on your needs. The downside is that it can be crowded, and you may have to wait a while for a bus.

A private boat is the most expensive option, but it is also the most convenient. You can hire a boat for a specified amount of time, and you can go wherever you want.

Where to Stay in Venice, Italy

large canal with buildings on either side

To be completely honest, with just one day in Venice, you need to stay in Venice. So many people opt to stay on the mainland, which means you have to start your day a bit later. By staying right in Venice, your day starts the second you wake up.

We stayed right in Cannaregio during our visit to Venice, which allowed us to enjoy the city before it got super busy in the morning from all the tourists. We loved it, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Find a few great places to stay at in Venice below!

Generator Venice

If you want a super budget-friendly place to stay, consider Generator Venice. It’s on Giudecca Island and has a variety of shared rooms as well as private ones if you want a more private stay. There are many great amenities on-site, like a cafe and incredible views of the nearby Grand Canal.

Click here to check out current rates for Generator Venice!

two women smiling together

Kosher House Giardino dei Melograni

For a mid-range accommodation, consider Kosher House Giardino dei Melograni. It’s in Cannaregio which is the area we stayed in during our trip (unfortunately the actual property we stayed at has since gone out of business). This hotel has modest rooms and is a short walk from the train station.

Click here to check out current rates for Kosher House Giardino dei Melograni!

Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice

Obviously, we had to include at least one luxury accommodation. A great option is Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice, which is right by St. Mark’s Square and has rooms that look like they were built for royalty. Guests can enjoy a bar, a restaurant, and a top-notch location.

Click here to check out current rates for Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice!

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One Day in Venice Itinerary

Finally, it’s the part you’ve been waiting for; how to see Venice in a day.

Start the morning at a local cafe

Begin your 24 hours in Venice by stopping by a local cafe. Just head to whatever one is closest to your hotel, so you can beat the crowd of tourists as all of them start to come over for the day. Try whatever your heart desires, but make sure you get enough food to get through morning exploring!

We stopped by a quaint little cafe and ordered two cafe macchiatos and also treated ourselves to a tiramisu. So tasty!

Walk over to St Mark’s Square

Next, make your way to St. Mark’s Square. This is the most popular place in all of Venice for a reason, so you’ll want to head over there earlier in the day. It gets absolutely crazy the longer the day goes on!

St. Mark’s Square, or Piazza San Marco, is the main plaza in Venice. Take some photos (this is one of Venice’s best Instagram spots), take in the view, and get ready to do some exploring as the city continues to wake up!

See the Bridge of Sighs

gondolas going down a small canal

While you’re in St. Mark’s Square, stop by the Bridge of Sighs. This historic bridge connects the prison to Doge’s Palace. Those who had committed a crime walked across this bridge and took one last look out at Venice, letting out a sigh as they went.

It’s usually impossible to miss this little bridge because there’s always a large crowd of people looking at it!

Go inside St Mark’s Basilica

people standing in front of a historic church

This historic cathedral opened in the 11th century and will take your breath away. The exterior has beautiful detailing that will leave you in awe. However, it’s even more beautiful on the inside, so do it!

St. Mark’s Basilica does have a small admission fee of a few euros, but it’s worth paying to go inside. The first admission is at 9:30 a.m., and as the day goes on, the lines get longer.

Keep in mind that just like with many other churches and places of religion in Italy, you do have to follow the dress code to be let in. Your shoulders have to be covered, and you can’t wear shorts.

Do a guided tour of the Doge’s Palace

side of a palace on a clear day

Doge’s Palace is one of the most iconic buildings in Venice, and a guided tour is the best way to learn about its fascinating history. These tours, like the Secret Itinerary Tour, are literally about an hour or so long, but it’s so worth it.

To make sure you can make the most of a day in Venice, be sure to call ahead of time and reserve tickets, so you don’t end up disappointed.

Your guide will take you through the grandiose rooms, explaining the significance of each one and pointing out some of the artwork and architecture along the way.

View from Riva degli Schiavoni

gondolas coming in and out from the water

One of the best views in all of Venice can be seen at Riva degli Schiavoni. Just walk right past the Doge’s Palace, and you’ll be at the spot. Look out, and you’ll see what I mean!

Walk along the edge of the water here as you look out and take in the view. Don’t forget to bring your camera because you won’t want to miss this!

This is also a popular spot to see people on gondolas having fun as they explore the city. There are also gondolas here that you can take if you want, but the itinerary does include taking a gondola later on!

Grab an easy lunch

arancini in a plastic container

After taking in the view at Riva degli Schiavoni, you’re probably ready for lunch. There are tons of spots where you can sit down and enjoy a meal if you want, but I recommend just grabbing some easy street food. This is the perfect way to try some Italian delicacies.

The one thing we for sure wanted to eat was arancini, one of our favorites! We found a quaint little shop that sold them for just a few euros, so we tried one of those. We also had some pizza, but there are sandwich shops, places to have to-go pasta, and more.

By eating this way, you give yourself the ability not to lose much time with just one day in Venice.

Eat a gelato!

two gelatos with a waffle chip on top of both

Top off your lunchtime activity by having gelato. There are many gelato shops in Venice, but we ate at Gelato di Natura twice during our visit and absolutely loved it. They always put a cute little waffle piece on the top, too.

When picking your gelato shop, make sure you pick one that has natural-colored gelato and doesn’t have the gelato stacked super high. That’s how you know whether it’s authentic or not!

Explore Libreria Alta Acqua

inside of a book store on a canal

Once you enjoy lunch and dessert, make your way over to Libreria Alta Acqua. This book shop is filled with tons of books that are situated in gondolas. You may be thinking – that’s cool! But it’s actually to help to protect the books during any Venice floods.

When you visit, be on the lookout for the owner’s cats. You can often find them hiding in bookshelves, sleeping in the gondolas, or just wandering around. They are so incredibly cute!

Another of the best views in Venice can actually be seen here out the back. There are a bunch of steps made out of books (yes, you read that right) and you can look out and see the most beautiful canal by walking up them.

Rialto Bridge

large white bridge over a canal

Next, pop on over to the famous Rialto Bridge. This is one of the most photographed spots in all of Venice. This bridge is way bigger in person than you think it is!

The bridge was built in the 16th century and goes across the Grand Canal. It’s also one of the older bridges in Venice but of course, has had lots of construction over the years to keep it stable.

For a great photo of the bridge, be sure to walk a little bit past it. We took this one from a restaurant right next to it!

Go on a Gondola Ride

gondolas rowing people along a thin canal

As your one day in Venice is starting to wind down, it’s time to do a bucket list Venice item: go on a gondola ride. These can pretty much be found all over the city, so they are not hard to find.

Keep in mind that gondola rides aren’t cheap, and they normally start at around 80 euros. Prices are higher if you want to do it during sunset, so keep that in mind.

The rides are fun though, and it’s a great way to see Venice from a different perspective. Your gondolier will also share fun facts about the city as you go through it!

Eat dinner at Ristorante Pizzería Al Faro

gnocchi, bruschetta, and carbonara on white plates

Finish the night off by dining at a local restaurant, like Ristorante Pizzería Al Faro! This is where we ate during our day in Venice, and we loved it. They specialize in seafood, which Venice is known for, but we ended up getting pasta just because we were in the mood for it after so much exploring.

We tried pesto gnocchi and carbonara, plus had some tasty bruschetta, too. No matter what type of Italian food you want, it’s on the menu here! Plus, they have ample outdoor seating.

If you want to do anything else in Venice, be sure to check out the Grand Canal at night!

This post was all about how to spend one day in Venice. Don’t forget to save this post for later, and enjoy your trip!

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