Ultimate Venice 1 day Itinerary: Detailed Itinerary and Top Sights

September 26, 2023

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If you only have one day in Venice, you’re in the right place. We recently traveled across 8 Italian cities and we’re sharing a perfect 24 hour Venice itinerary. This guide includes all the top sights, how to get to the city, best activities, best places to stay, the best time to visit, and a Venice walking map (via google maps) planned out for you! We can’t wait for YOU to experience the magic of Venice.

Venice is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world with gondolas, balconies, and amazing architecture. Someone wise once said, “variety is the spice of life.” Venice takes this motto to a new level. You could spend a month here and find something new to do each day, but for any day trippers — don’t worry, a few hours is enough for our Venice highlights reel if you plan it right!

We were utterly captivated by Venice, with its enchanting labyrinth of winding canals, intricate bridges, and charming piazzas. The city’s unique architecture, characterized by graceful palaces that seem to float on the water, left us in awe at every turn. Here’s our 24 hour Venice itinerary that you can use to plan your trip in less than an hour.

Our Top Italy Recommendations
Before we dive into this guide, here are few things you can’t miss on your trip to Italy!

Essential Italy Resources

Traveling to Italy soon? There are a lot of travel companies out there, but some are better than others. After unforgettable trips to Italy, here are some of our favorite websites and resources for planning once-in-a-lifetime vacations.

🌅Book Tours & Attractions: GetYourGuide is the best site for comparing and booking experiences with the best Italy tour companies.

🗺️Hotels + Vacation Rentals: We always use this site for hotels. They have an easy-to-use platform and great rewards. When we’re looking for a vacation rental, I compare Vrbo and Airbnb.

🚣‍♂️Most-dos in Italy: No Italy vacation is complete without a visit to the quintessential Venice and MILAN. Go to Venice to take a private romantic gondola ride, and enjoy the spectacular Milan Duomo cathedral terraces.

🚙Rental Cars: We use DiscoverCars, a highly-rated platform for booking rental cars around the world. It has a flexible free cancellation policy & often offers free additional drivers. 

✈️Find Flights: Use Trip is a highly rated platform to find the best deals on flights, and save big on your biggest expense of a trip. 

🚄 Book a Bus/Train/Transfer: We love using this site to book easy airport transfers, rides, and delivery in all countries. The drivers are pre-vetted and professional.  

🛡️Get Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is essential for any trip! I use VisitorsCoverage, which has affordable rates and coverage for many counties and adventure sports.

📶Best International Phone Plans: Use this company to get an eSIM for phone coverage while traveling—without getting a SIM card.

How to Get to Venice

Let’s start with the basics. Where is Venice and how do you get there? Venice is a city in the Veneto region of Italy. After researching tons of options – we’re will give you fastest, safest, and most efficient way to get there!

The closet airport to the city of Venice is Marco Polo Airport (VCE), which is only a 20-30 minute bus ride away from the city. Book your flights to Marco Polo Airport (VCE).

The easiest way to get from the airport to the heart of Venice is by Express Bus. We highly recommend pre-booking your tickets with this Marco Polo Airport: Express Bus Transfer to/from Venice City Center ticket. It costs only 11 euros per person for a one way ticket, which is a steal! Avoid standing in line for tickets, and book it online.

All you have to do is book the ticket here, and print out your ticket or show your mobile ticket. The ticket can be used for the entire day as there is an express bus usually every 30 minutes, so you don’t have to worry if your flight is delayed. And if you end up changing your travel dates, you can always cancel or reschedule up to 24 hours in advance. We loved this easy-to-use Express Bus for flexibility and reliability!

The Express Bus is super comfortable, air conditioned, has free wifi-onboard, and only takes 20-30 minutes to reach Venice. The bus is a direct bus from the airport and drops you off at Piazzale Roma near the train station. This is the quickest and most affordable way to reach Venice from the airport, without sacrificing comfort. From Piazzale Roma, ZERO cars or taxis are allowed inside the actual city. You can continue to your hotel on foot, or by water bus or water taxi (both located right next to the drop off point). We went by foot.

If you’re coming from another Italian city (such as Florence or Cinque Terre) and visiting Venice as a day trip, you can easily take the train. Learn the best apps to download for your Italy trip, including which apps we used to book all our train tickets for 8 Italian cities in under 30 minutes!

Where to stay in Venice

Our favorite place to stay in Venice is the quiet neighborhood of San Marco. It’s just a 10 minute walk from St Marks Square and Rialto Bridge. Our favorite place to stay is in Master Venice Apartments in San Marco, a luxurious apartment with a fully equipped kitchen, tucked away in quiet corner. Find your perfect place to stay in Venice below:

Venice in One Day – Full Itinerary with free travel maps

Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco Square, Saint Mark’s Basilica and Bridge of Sighs

Explore Venice Early in the Morning (6am-9am): Venice is a super touristy city where it gets super crowded during most of the day and evenings. However, you can still enjoy the stillness and magic of the beautiful city if you decide to travel early in the morning. We decided to start our day early in the morning at 6 am and guess what? We had the entire city to ourselves – no tourist traps, no hoards of tourists, no other people in our photos. Just us, the birds and Venice. It was magical to experience the city where we got to see the streets light up in the morning glow, birds soaring blissfully, and with gorgeous sunrise falling on the gorgeous Venetian architectures.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Venice-Canals-at-Sunset.jpg

Sunrise along the canals of Venice

Save the following iconic places for where you must visit to make your trip memorable. Remember to make a ton of memories and take photos!

The Best Spots to include in your Venice Itinerary:

  1. Rialto Bridge
  2. Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square) with view of the San Giorgio Maggiore church
  3. Saint Mark’s Basilica (Museum)
  4. St Mark’s Bell Tower
  5. Ponte della paglia and Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs)

Pro Tip: Save this google maps map with all the location spots to easily plan your Venice trip! Send this guide so that you can always refer back and easily open google maps on your phone. You can easily sign up with a google maps account using your gmail.

Venice Grand Canal with view of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Saint Marks Square, Venice
Famous Venice Canals

Italian Breakfast at Farini Café | Croissants & Coffee! (9am)

It’s time for some coffee and croissants! When in Italy, you should always start your day with some coffee and croissants. Our absolute favorite breakfast cafes was Farini. There are multiple locations and our favorite was the one located 3 minutes walk from Rialto Bridge. They offer varieties of sandwiches, croissants and coffee. We even came back at lunch to try their square pizzas (also delicious)! Pick the best combination, you can never go wrong. Prices were super reasonable starting at 1.5 euros for croissants and 3 euros for a cafe latte. This specific location had outdoor seating too, so you can soak in the city vibes.

Corssiants and Coffee at hidden gem cafe in Venice
Man enjoying coffee and croissants in Venice, Italy

Basilicia de’ Frari, Campo San Polo, San Giorgio Maggiore, Doge’s Palace

Book a Hidden Venice Small Group Tour (11-1pm): It was time to explore the city from a local perspective. We picked a Hidden Venice small group Airbnb experience, where an amazing expert local guide will guide you through a 2 hour walking tour. We wanted to explore secret hidden spots, and our tour guide was a local who loved her city and an amazing story teller. You will walk away understanding the history and culture of Venice. If you are someone who doesn’t want to do an early morning exploration, then you can consider doing this experience instead. They will take you to following places:

  1. San Pantalon Church
  2. Scuola Grande di San Rocco
  3. Basilica de’ Frari 
  4. Campo San Polo
  5. Rialto Bridge – the famous romantic white stone bridge in Venice
  6. Marco Polo’s House
  7. Campo San Giovanni e Paolo – famous for its Church
  8. San Marco Square with view of the San Giorgio Maggiore church and Doge’s Palace
View of the San Giorgio Maggiore church from San Marco Square

If you want to explore the hidden side of Venice, booking a Venice Small Group tour was one of the most interesting highlights of our trip. There are tons of free walking tours out there, however we feel the free ones are always overcrowded, try to cater to a general audience, and just never hit the mark for us. We to add smaller morning tours (less than 8 people) in your Venice itinerary where you get to learn from the local tour guide, their stories growing up in the city, and their perspectives on the local culture. Here are other great local tours and activities we recommend to book in your Venice itinerary:

Rialto Bridge, the most famous bridge in Venice

Eat Fresh Baked Pizza and Pastries in Venice!

Eat Fresh Baked Pizza for Lunch (1:30-2:30pm): Time to try out some freshly baked Pizza!!! We ended up trying Pizza slices from different shops along the way from Rialto Bridge to San Marco Square. There are many good restaurants and small shops where you can get fresh oven baked Pizza. One such place was Crazy Pizza and it was indeed crazy, where you can get take out Pizza and enjoy your slices while sitting near Rialto Bridge.

Visit the Libreria Acqua Alta Bookstore

An atmospheric, medieval-themed book store hides in a 13th-century underground space. Hidden along Venice’s streets, this unique bookstore is home to a treasure trove of new and used books.

Climb the staircase made out of damaged books to enjoy an idyllic view, and don’t miss out on taking a photo at the fire escape, which opens out to the canal. Make friends with the many furry cats the bookstore owners have adopted!

Book a Venice Photoshoot to remember your day in Venice!

Book a Venice Photoshoot Including a Gondola Ride (4-6pm): Booking a Romantic Photoshoot was one of the best decisions we did for our Italy trip. If you want an ICONIC Album and Instagram worthy shots of your vacation, this is the photoshoot to book! Our local photographer Devin was absolutely incredible, and showed us beautiful magical spots of Venice, while avoiding tourists. Not a single person appeared in the background of our photos. Here’s the exact photo package we booked – Insta-Venice, Iconic photoshoot while exploring the city.

Doing a photoshoot in Venice is a must do activity! If you want to surprise your partner or just love taking beautiful pictures, consider picking this Insta-Venice Iconic Photoshoot AirBnb experience. Devin, our guide and local photographer knew all the beautiful and secret spots to take romantic pictures. Even though we went out on a peak tourist time, Devin showed us the best secret spots for taking pictures with no one in the background! Above all it was so helpful and efficient as Venice can be a bit of a labyrinth maze, however Devin navigated us through the secret streets very smoothly. A professional photoshoot is a must-do for any Venice itinerary!

Couple shows us the best Venice itinerary and romantic photoshoot locations
Beautiful woman at Venice canals
Best couple photo spots to include in your Venice Itinerary
Best spots to include in your Venice Itinerary

We love connecting with local guides and photographers to learn more about their upbringing, traditions, perspectives, and their cultures. Equally important you can create your dream iconic album of your vacation!

Take a Gondola Ride along the Grand Canal with views of Santa Maria

The most iconic and romantic thing to do in Venice is to take a Gondola ride! It was one of our bucket list experiences to sail through these canals over a gondola ride and see the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and skyline view of Venice. Venice is made up of approximately 118 islands which are connected through picturesque canals and you will see gondola’s stands all over the place. It’s an unique experience where a local Gondolier (wearing striped shirts with a hat) will row the Gondola standing up through the narrow canals of Venice.

Pro Tip: The city of Venice sets a standard hourly rate across all gondola rides. As of September 2022, it is 85 euros per ride (30 minutes). This helps both tourists not get scammed, and local Gondoliers to make a standard wage. This is relief so you don’t have to bargain!

Stunning views of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from the Venice Grand Canal

Pro Tip: You can pre-book your private Gondola ride here or go directly to any Gondola stall you see along the canals. We recommend to book in advance to save time, and avoid the stress of tourist traps and scams. If you opt not to pre-book, just make sure you agree on the standard rate set by the city of Venice before you hop onto your gondola ride.

Eat Gelato Ice-Cream at Gelateria Gallonetto (Best Gelato in Italy)

best gelato in venice
woman eating the best gelato in venice

If you are in Venice, you cannot skip eating Gelato! We ended up finding one of the best Gelato ice-cream spots (a hole-in-the-wall local’s favorite), called Gelateria Gallonetto. We typically avoid eating sweets due to our healthy lifestyle, however we make exceptions for trying authentic and local sweets. The Gelato here was the BEST we had in Italy. When we ate the first bite of Gelato we were just blown away with its richness smoothness and how it melted away so fast in our mouths. They offer varieties of flavors to choose from! We ended up loving the Pistachio flavored Gelato the most.

Pro Tip: This little Gelato shop is loved by locals and tourists alike, it’s easy to miss it so here’s the exact google maps location. We’ll also compile a Venice walking maps via google with all the locations we share at the bottom of this blog post.

Romantic Dinner at Punto G (7pm)

We found an amazing restaurant called Punto G on the Fork app, it’s one of the vegetarian friendly restaurants. They serve one of the best creamy cheesy ravioli we ever had, it’s a must try place.

Pro Tip: Did you know that you can reserve restaurants in Italy and end up getting a 25-50% discount? Yes you heard it right! Download the Fork app to reserve restaurants from our list of the best apps to download for your Italy trip!

Best restaurants to include in your Venice Itinerary
man dining at the best restaurants to include in your Venice Itinerary

Save Our FREE Venice Walking Map

Be sure to bookmark this page and save this FREE Venice walking map with the best places to visit in Venice, pinpointing every must-visit location. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, our meticulously curated map is your key to unlocking the essence of this enchanting city. Get ready to immerse yourself in the rich history, culture, and beauty of Venice, as every corner and canal awaits your exploration!

Looking for more Europe itineraries? Check out our Florence guide, Cinque Terre guide. Also check out this amazing Naples guide from my friend Sabrina, and this 2 week itinerary in South Europe by my friend Mary.

Book Your Venice Activities:

It’s no secret, we LOVE booking activities on GetYourGuide and highly recommend it for your Italy related trips. We found there was a wide variety of activities from nature to city exploration. We recommend always choosing private tours for the optimal experience. All activities have a generous 24-48 hours cancellation policy, and rescheduling is easily done by logging onto the app.

What are the Best Luxury Hotels to Stay in Venice?

Now that you have the perfect Venice itinerary, let’s help you find the perfect place to stay. Venice is a city where every corner is steeped in history, culture, and romance. If you’re only there for a couple of days, you’ll want to stay somewhere central but in a quiet street away from the crowds. We stayed at Master Venice Apartments in the neighborhood Santa Croce, and we absolutely loved it. It was a 5-20 minutes walk from main tourist sights, quiet, fully equipped with a kitchen and tucked away from the late night clubs and tourist crowds. We’d recommend to book it in a heart beat!

For those seeking an incredible hotel stay in this timeless city, we’ve curated a list of the top 8 luxurious hotels. We definitely recommend splurging on a luxurious stay especially after walking all day in Venice. If you want to stay closer to main tourist spots, you can’t go wrong with San Marco, San Croce, or San Polo. Discover your dream Venetian getaway below:

1. Master Venice Apartments (our go-to choice in Venice)

  • Description: Nestled in a quiet alley just 10 minutes walk from St Marks Square, Master Venice combines modern luxury with classic Venetian design. A fully stocked kitchen, air conditioning, two luxurious bed rooms and a living room, this classic town house offers a blend of comfort and sophistication.
  • Neighborhood: San Marco
  • Why People Love It: Guests are captivated by the its comfort, beautiful details, quiet location, and proximity to St. Mark’s Square.
  • Price Range: 150 – 250 euros per night
  • Link to Hotel

2. Excess Venice Boutique Hotel

  • Description: Excess Venice Boutique Hotel combines modern luxury with classic Venetian design. Each room tells a unique story, offering a blend of comfort and sophistication.
  • Neighborhood: San Marco
  • Why People Love It: Guests are captivated by the personalized service, canal views, and proximity to St. Mark’s Square.
  • Price Range: 200 – 400 euros per night
  • Link to Hotel

3. The St Regis Venice

  • Description: The St Regis Venice, housed in a 16th-century palace, offers opulent accommodations with contemporary amenities. The hotel boasts stunning views of the Grand Canal.
  • Neighborhood: San Marco
  • Why People Love It: Visitors adore the exquisite design, butler service, and the Michelin-starred restaurant.
  • Price Range: 400 – 800 euros per night
  • Link to Hotel

4. Radisson Collection Hotel, Palazzo Nani Venice

  • Description: The Radisson Collection Hotel, Palazzo Nani Venice, is a historical gem along the Grand Canal. It combines Venetian charm with modern elegance.
  • Neighborhood: San Polo
  • Why People Love It: Guests appreciate the unique heritage, breathtaking views, and the tranquil courtyard.
  • Price Range: 250 – 500 euros per night
  • Link to Hotel

5. Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience

  • Description: Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience offers a journey into Venetian history. This restored palace offers luxurious rooms and a quiet retreat from the bustling city.
  • Neighborhood: Cannaregio
  • Why People Love It: Visitors love the immersive history, charming courtyard, and the chance to experience a different side of Venice.
  • Price Range: 150 – 300 euros per night
  • Link to Hotel

6. Be Mate Ponte di Rialto

  • Description: Be Mate Ponte di Rialto offers stylish apartments with a modern twist. It’s a perfect choice for those seeking space and independence in the heart of Venice.
  • Neighborhood: San Polo
  • Why People Love It: Visitors appreciate the apartment-style living, well-equipped kitchens, and the convenience of being close to the Rialto Bridge.
  • Price Range: 200 – 400 euros per night
  • Link to Hotel

7. Ca’ Sagredo Hotel

  • Description: Housed in a 15th-century palace, Ca’ Sagredo Hotel marries history and luxury. Located in Cannaregio, it offers serene canal-side views and access to the Rialto Bridge.
  • Neighborhood: Cannaregio
  • Why People Love It: Visitors are captivated by its rich heritage, sumptuous interiors, and the tranquil ambiance.
  • Price Range: 200 – 450 euros per night
  • Link to Hotel

Venice in 1 day FAQ

We hope this 1 day in Venice itinerary guide helped you to plan your trip of a life time! Here are a few additional questions you may have around visiting Venice.

When is the best time to visit Venice?

Timing your visit just right can make a big difference in your Venetian experience. Venice is a year-round destination, each season offering a unique charm. Spring (March to May) paints the city with blooming gardens and pleasant weather, perfect for sightseeing. Summer (June to August) blesses Venice with long sunny days and lively festivals, but it also brings large crowds and higher prices. Although this won’t matter if you travel early in the mornings (like we do). Fall (September to November) offers mild weather and fewer tourists, making it an ideal time for exploring at your own pace. Winter (December to February) wraps Venice in a serene, magical atmosphere, but some attractions may be closed, and the city experiences occasional flooding.

Our personal favorite time to visit Italy is the last week of August to end of September. The weather is sunny, and the whole city is bathed in the glorious yellow light. It’s less crowded, prices are fair, and the weather is not burning hot compared to June to August. We travel early in the morning starting at sunrise so we generally do not experience the large crowds in the afternoons. Choose the time that best suits your ideal vacation by taking your preferences into account, including weather and crowd density.

Should I stay overnight in Venice? How many days is enough in Venice?

Venice is a walkable city, but a one-day visit might feel rushed. Ideally, spend at least 2 days to explore the main sights, experience the gondola rides, and get lost in the charming backstreets. If you have limited time, a one-day trip can still be rewarding by prioritizing must-see sights and using vaporetto water buses for faster travel between locations.

How to Get Around Venice in a Day? 

While Venice is a walking city, Vaporetto water buses are a great way to cover more ground quickly. Consider single tickets or a day pass depending on your itinerary.

What are the Must-See Sights for a One-Day Venice Trip? 

Prioritize iconic landmarks like Piazza San Marco, Doge’s Palace, and the Rialto Bridge. For stunning views, climb the bell tower or explore St. Mark’s Basilica.

Gondola Ride: Splurge or Skip? 

Yes! a gondola ride is a quintessential Venetian experience, and absolutely worth it.

Where to Find Delicious Venetian Food (Fast)? 

Look for “Cicchetti” – small, savory snacks perfect for a quick bite. Explore local bakeries for fresh pastries or grab a slice of “Pizza al Taglio” (pizza by the slice).

How do I avoid crowds in Venice? 

Aim for early mornings or evenings, especially around Piazza San Marco. Explore less-frequented districts like Cannaregio or Dorsoduro for a calmer experience.

Is Venice Expensive? 

Coming from the United States, we were surprised Venice is actually more affordable than we had thought. Coffee, snacks, and restaurants were more affordable than most major cities in the USA. For example, a cup of quality coffee at a nice cafe costs $3 vs in the USA, it would cost $6. Same with pastries. For accommodations, there are luxurious options to affordable options for every kind of traveler, whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic get away, or a family.

Are Comfortable Shoes a Must-Have in Venice?

Absolutely! Venice is a pedestrian city with uneven cobblestone streets and bridges. Comfortable shoes are essential for navigating the city efficiently and enjoying your day.

More tips to plan your perfect Italy trip:

  1. Bri says:

    Great suggestions! I love the itinerary planner you’ve included here.

  2. Natalie says:

    Always wanted to go on a gondola ride and wish I had a gelato right now. Amazing that you can do so many things in Venice in such a short amount of time! enjoyed the post and the gorgeous photos.

  3. Natascha says:

    Interesting read! I never thought about booking a photo shooting in a city. But actually, I like the idea. I am not good at taking pictures of myself or my partner or us as a couple. But I would like to have some nice pictures. Great pictures, by the way!

  4. Melanie says:

    85 euros for a 30-minute gondola ride sounds steep, but I’m sure it’s worth it. It’s the iconic Venice activity!

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