Recommended Venice Itinerary for 1, 2 or 3 days in La Serenissima

Grand Canal Venice Itinerary

A tried and tested Venice itinerary. Follow this guide to make the most of one, two or three days in Venice, Italy and answer the question: how many days for Venice? Updated Dec. 2021

Venice is world-famous and while busy, one of the most beautiful and unique cities in the world and a must-have stop on all Italy itineraries.

Deciding to visit Venice as part of your Italy trip is usually easy however, it is not quite as easy to decide how many days to stay in Venice.

With only a certain amount of time to see the country, how many days are enough to visit Venice, so you can properly see the city without taking away from other destinations?

This is the question I am going to answer in this article.

On this page, you will find my recommended Venice itinerary to spend one, two or three days in Venice, so you can decide for yourself what length of stay works best for you.

This is the Venice itinerary we followed the last time we visited Venice and I created it so we could experience all the best things to see in Venice, even if just with few days to explore.

To make the most of your time, don’t forget to also check our guide to the best areas to stay in Venice, so you can minimise transport time and truly see the best of Venice with ease.

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How many days in Venice?

I recommend you spend in Venice one to three days, the exact length depending on your interests and how many of the city museums you would like to visit.

At a glance, this is what you can do with 1 to 3 days in Venice.

  • With one day in Venice, you can see the area of Rialto and San Marco, the Grand Canal and take a gondola trip
  • With two days in Venice, you can see Rialto and San Marco, Venice’s Ghetto and the beautiful island of Burano
  • With three day is Venice you can see Rialto and San Marco, Venice’s Ghetto, Burano, Giudecca and one of two Venice museums.

Find below my details itinerary for all these options.

Venice itinerary cover photo with Canal Grande

Your perfect Venice Itinerary: what to do with one day in Venice

If you only have one day in Venice you probably want to see the main landmarks, have a taste of what going on a gondola is like and have some great photo ops.

If this is the case, this is the itinerary for you!

We arranged our stay in Venice following these directions and while you would need extra days to really see all we considered ‘essential’, we ended up with a great idea of the city.

Morning: Discover Cannaregio

Start from Venezia Santa Lucia train station and follow Strada Nuova towards the city center.

The Strada Nova itself is lined with shops, restaurants and cafes and in its first stretch, it is very busy.

Don’t let the crowds discourage you!

Very soon you will find yourself crossing a canal and, on the left, the area of Cannaregio opens up.

This ‘sestiere’ (Venice neighborhood) has a gorgeous local feel to it and despite its proximity to the station is almost untouched by tourists.

All it takes it to wander a couple of minutes into any of the streets to the left of Strada Nova and you find yourself in a magical world of tranquil lanes and secluded squares.

It is the ghetto, a beautiful area full of history dating back to the XVI century.

Make sure you stop in one of its coffee places and to take your time to take some photos of the canals without the crowds.

This is also a lovely area for a meal: you will find several restaurants and you can choose between a full meal, cicchetti (the Venice equivalent of tapas) or even a stop in a local bakery (forno).

We chose this last option and had a wonderful freshly made focaccia with prosciutto – cheap and delightful!

Gondola in Venice - Venice itinerary

Board a gondola

Rejoin Strada Nova and walk down until you see signs for the Ca D’oro (one of the most famous ‘palazzi’ in Venice, a gorgeous elaborate building over the Grand Canal)  and the ‘traghetto’.

Traghetto in Italian means ‘ferry’ but the Venetian interpretation of a ferry crossing is way more charming than what the word suggests.

‘Traghetto’ in Venice is a shuttle service between one side of the grand canal to the other and the mean of transport of choice is a gondola!

While the full gondola experience sets you back about 80 euro for 40 minutes, the traghetto experience is much shorter and cheaper: the gondola will carry you across the water in less than 5 minutes for 2 euro per person (kids under 6 go free).

We can argue about the value for money of the deal, but it sure is a fun experience.

Without breaking the bank, you get to sit in a real gondola and get a taste of what a full-ride may be like.

We found this was a good option for us since our kids would have likely found it hard to stay still for the full experience.

See Rialto Market and Bridge

The gondola leaves you at the Rialto market, where a busy fish market takes place in the morning and from there you need to keep to your left to reach the famous Rialto Bridge.

Rialto is the most iconic bridge in the whole of Venice and one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and, because of this, a bit of a nightmare to visit.

While we were there, repair works were in progress so we had no chance of getting any decent shot of it, but the real problem was the crowd.

The bridge is simply jam-packed and the fact that at its base you have a massive Hard Rock Cafe doesn’t do much in making you connect with the real heart of the city.

Rialto is, to me, Venice at its best and its worse and all I can say about it is that I am glad I managed to see more than just the touristy spot as they really do not do to the city any justice.

Despite this, Rialto is a must-see in Venice and I do recommend you add it to your Venice itinerary for a full city experience.

Rialto Bridge Venice

Marvel at Fondaco de’ Tedeschi

Once you cross the Rialto bridge, head left and be prepared for a bit of a treat, the ‘Fondaco de’ Tedeschi.

Here you have what looks like a big, elegant shopping center and indeed, this is a paradise for shopping lover, however, there is more to it than meets the eye.

Before becoming a chic retail space, the building was the old German free port and its incredible architecture mixes perfectly its old building charm with the modern needs of the shops it now hosts.

The building develops over several floors, each of them opening up to a main central courtyard and lit up by elegant and colorful lights.

If the view over the inside wasn’t enough, the building also has a panoramic terrace that you can reach with a lift.

Entry to the terrace is free but ticketed: go early to get your spot as you may be asked to come back in a few hours.

Stop at Vizio Virtu’

From Fondaco de’ Turchi it is a short stroll to Piazza San Macro, but if you like chocolate, stop at the chocolate maker Vizio Virtu, near Rialto on the way.

This is a gorgeous chocolate shop where you can taste chocolate in all forms, including one made following the traditional recipe.

This is a wonderful coffee/chocolate stop, perfect to regain your strength after the long walk!

Finish at St Mark’s square

One of the most famous squares in the whole world, St Mark is nothing less than spectacular.

We visited Venice in December and got to St Mark’s square at that special time of the day when the sky is a perfect tint of blue and the lights of the old lamps start to come on.

No matter where you turn beauty is all around you.

Venice fun fact: did you know that St Mark’s is the only piazza in Venice? In Venice, what other cities call piazza are called campi (Campo San Polo for instance) and what other cities call ‘via’ (street) Venetians call ‘calle’. St Mark’s square is the only exception to the rule and its name in Italian is ‘Piazza San Marco’ 

St Mark’s basilica is the area with some of Venice’ most famous attractions, namely Basilical di San Marco, the Doges’ Palace and the Bridge of sights.

If you are interested in a visit, I recommend you book skip the line tickets as the crowd can be intense.

San Marco venice

Venice in 2 days: itinerary for day 2

If you have 2 days in Venice you have a few options.

Venice day 1: as above

On your first day, I would follow the itinerary defined above and that will touch on main landmarks such as Rialto and San Marco.

Venice day 2 morning: Santa Maria Formosa area

If you only have two days in Venice, the second day will come with a decision to be made: you can either spend it visiting the city’s stunning museums or exploring more of the city.

If you decide to go exploring, I recommend you choose the area around Campo Santa Maria Formosa, in Venice city center.

Here you have a beautiful public library with an architecturally significant interior by Carlo Scarpa and the High Water Bookshop, a place worth snooping around if you like books, quirky spaces and bohemian atmosphere.

Eat lunch in the area and then head to Burano.

Venice day 2: afternoon on the islands

I highly recommend you spend this second day in Venice exploring the lagoon islands.

The most interesting islands for tourists are Murano and Burano and you cannot go wrong with any of them, they are all wonderful!

Murano is the biggest of the three and it is famous for artisan glass workshops producing home decor items, jewellery and any beautiful blown glass creation you can dream of.

Some of the workshops are open to visitors and perfect if you want to learn about an ancient technique or bring home a unique souvenir.

Burano is a little further out and it is smaller, yet immensely charming.

Small and colorful, it can be visited in a matter of hours and is a photographers’ dream, thanks to its colorful houses and atmospheric canals.

You can read here >>> our complete guide to Burano here.

You can visit Burano on your own or find great tours of the Venetian islands here

The acqua alta bookshop!

Venice in 3 days: 3 days in Venice itinerary

With 3 days in Venice, you have some time to take it easy and unwind.

Not that 3 days are enough to see everything, but following the Venice itinerary in this post I do think 3 days will give you a good idea of what Venice has to offer and what are the main reasons to come back.

With 3 days in Venice, I would follow the itinerary outlined above and will then spend the third day wandering around San Polo, joining a tour and shopping.

Day 1: as above

Follow the itinerary above to stroll along Cannaregio, Rialto and San Marco.

Day 2: as above

Spend the morning exploring a museum and then head out to Burano. Time your visit to catch the sunset on the lagoon while on the way back.

Day 3 in Venice: morning in San Polo

During our third day in Venice, we decided to dig a little deeper into what the city has to offer and enlisted the help of a local company called Wanderjack to explore what we hadn’t seen yet.

They brought us to explore the area of San Polo and this was a wonderful addition to what we had seen before.

The area is beautiful, quiet and with many treasures (includingi Frari church, with a Canova monument and art by Titian).

Its location between Cannaregio and Rialto also makes it easy to reach and explore in a morning.

While we discovered this area with a guide, you can easily enjoy it on your own too.

Walking here, you will quickly find yourself back close to Rialto, which in turn puts you in the perfect position to spend the afternoon in Venice city center of to to explore farther afield,

Venice day 3 afternoon

In the afternoon, we took our time to explore the city center at our own pace.

We went back to the Rialto area and then ventured to the area of La Salute: this is a place with wonderful views and the perfect place to end three days in Venice.

Other things you can do in Venice in 3 days

Our activities were geared towards striking a balance between sightseeing and keeping the kids happy.

If you have older kids or are traveling on your own, there are additional things you may want to consider.

A Venice food tour: Venice has some of the most interesting and varied cuisines in the whole of Italy.

The food of choice here is ‘cicchetti’, small bites usually accompanied by a glass of wine of a spritz: they come in the form of tartines, fried fish, cheese bites, vegetable fritters and much more.

Consider taking a cicchetti tour with a local in Venice city center or get a little off the beaten path and discover a really special part of Venice and its food and wine tradition with a food tour in Sant’Erasmo.

Visit a museum: Venice has wonderful museums, so many that you can spend your three days just discovering them all.

For the most popular, such as Peggy Guggenheim, I recommend booking tickets in advance.

Smaller galleries can usually be visited just showing up at the door.

Practical tips for 1 to 3 days in Venice

We spent 3 days in Venice and stayed in the Cannaregio area. We used:

Accommodation: Hotel Due Leoni (mid-range)

Transport: mostly, we walked but found the transport travel card useful for the occasional ferry hop

Guidebook: Lonely Planet Venice and the Veneto (Travel Guide)

Time of year: this trip happened in winter but you can follow the same itinerary in all seasons. You can find what to expect weatherwise in Venice each season here.

What to pack for Venice Italy?

Venice is cold in the winter and hot in the summer so you will need to pack accordingly.

In summer, pack light dresses and summer tops but do bring a shawl to wrap around your shoulders or bare legs if planning on visiting churches.

Also, from May to October, make sure you pack a sun hat, sun cream and mosquito repellent as mosquitoes here are fierce!

If traveling to Venice with kids, make sure you keep offering them water as the humidity will make them sweat and overheat easily.

If you are traveling with very little ones, consider that Venice can be hard with a stroller: find our recommendations for lightweight strollers and all terrain strollers we found worked well in Venice here.

In winter, pack layers, warm jumpers, a winter jacket, scarf, hat and gloves.

In all seasons, make sure you pack very good walking shoes: in Venice, ou will find yourself walking a lot and good, broken-in walking shoes are a must.

Avoid heels and go for runners or good rubber sole sandals in summer or low heel boots in the winter.

You can find my top picks of tried and tested shoes for Italy travel here

You can find our recommendation for the best luggage for Italy travel here.

Additional Venice Itinerary resources and tips

  • Best luggage for Italy – all our tried and tested recommendations
  • Omio – Handy website for Train and Bus connections across Europe
  • Booking.com – My go-to resource for accommodation (hotels, apartments and specialty lodging) with good deals and excellent cancellation policies
  • LuggageHero – Large selection of luggage storage options for bags-free day trips
  • GetYourGuide: booking platform for attraction tickets and day tours
  • Lonely Planet: my one and only go-to travel guide provider
  • AutoEurope: handy comparison website for the best car rental deals

I hope you enjoyed our Venice itinerary and it helped you plan your perfect stay! Safe travels!

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4 thoughts on “Recommended Venice Itinerary for 1, 2 or 3 days in La Serenissima

  1. Svetoslav Dimitrov says:

    Ciao, Marta!

    What an amazingly detailed post! I pinned it. I was only for a couple of hours in Venice and could not feel its true beauty, but at least I got a whiff!

    Have a happy Friday!

    • Marta - Learningescapes says:

      Ciao!! So glad you liked the post, I hope it wasn’t too long: I am very Italian when it comes to words, I like to use many of them 🙂 If you are in the area again, I hope you can stay a little longer and lose the crowds, it makes all the difference. Any nice trip planned soon for you?

  2. UK Visa Online says:

    This is such a detailed and helpful post. We already have a plan to visit Venice this year I’m not sure about the date but I think this coming autumn. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Clazz says:

    Wow, what a detailed post! Thank you. I’m going to Venice next month and I’m really hoping the weather holds up! I’m really interested in that 5 minute gondola ride… I’d never heard of doing that before, and I know it wouldn’t be as fulfilling as a 40 minute one, but the price difference is just insane. Hmmmm!

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