Planning your first trip to Venice can be exciting but also very intimidating when you only have 24 hours to see this historic city. With one day in Venice, you have just enough time to see the highlights and stroll the canal.
Table of Contents:
- About This Venice Itinerary
- One Day in Venice
- One Day in Venice Itinerary (The Top Sights)
- Early Morning (8 AM to 11 AM)
- St. Mark’s Basilica and Campanile (San Marco Basilica)
- Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
- Bridge of Sighs
- Midday Exploration & Rialto Bridge (11:30 am – 1 pm)
- Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
- T Fondaco Terrace
- Early Afternoon to Evening (1 pm – 5 pm)
- Vaporetto Ride on the Grand Canal
- Ponte dell’Accademia
- Teatro La Fenice
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection
- Late Evening: Dinner & Drinks (5 pm+)
- Off The Beaten Path Options
- Art Lovers Options
In this Venice in a day guide, we cover the top attractions to see, how to get around the city, which district to stay in, and how to plan your time.
There are also optional areas for you to explore in this guide.
If you’re more interested in art than architecture, you might want to skip one of the bridges and visit the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
If you prefer to spend your trip dining on local cuisines, we have options for you as well. Check out our guide to Venetian food and drinks before you get to the city.
Spend some time thinking about what interests you the most before visiting Venice.
- Do you want to spend the top sights in Venice, such as St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, or the Grand Canal?
- Would you prefer to skip the touristy sights and visit one of Venice’s many historic but quieter corners?
- Maybe you want to try and mix both by seeing a few key sights and spending time wandering the romantic canals.
- Venice is famous for its artists, so maybe you want to take the time to see some of the most important pieces.
In this itinerary, we advise you on all four options to help you see Venice in a day.
25 Best Places to Visit in Italy
Spoiler Alert: Venice made our top 25 must see places in Italy. Click the link below and see what other cities made the cut.
About This Venice Itinerary
I’ve been to Venice four times as of 2023. First, in 2017 on a solo trip to Italy, again in 2019 with a friend, then in 2021 with my fiance, and again in 2023 with my wife and in-laws.
Each time has been unique and memorable. While the city no longer floods as it did during my 2017 and 2019 trips, adventure is there for those willing to search for it.
As a returning visitor who has spent close to 30 days in Venice, I understand what top sights you need to see and how to best organize your time.
I also found a few hidden gems (great views of the Grand Canal, the best food in the city, and more) that I can’t wait to share with you in this Venice itinerary.
Remember that Venice is one of Italy’s most visited destinations, placing third behind Rome and Milan.
This means that the more popular sites can be difficult to see during peak hours and in such a time crunch. Trust us; the Rialto Bridge isn’t much fun when thousands of other tourists are cramming on it for a selfie.
The local public transportation, the Vaporetto water bus will help you get from district to district quickly so you can rest your legs for touring museums and the basilica. Here’s our guide to navigating Venice by water taxi.
Fortunately, only a few sites in Venice require an admission ticket.
Buying tickets ahead of time will drastically reduce the wait and ensure you see everything you want.
We included all of the links to book your tickets in this guide.
Finally, all of the times in the schedule are rough estimates to give you an idea about timing your day.
They will likely change as more people start traveling again and highly depend on what time of the year you visit.
I did my best to anticipate waiting and visiting times, but they will differ depending on the day and time of the year you visit. Check our month-by-month guide on the best times to visit Venice.
VENICE TOURIST TAX: As of January 2023, Venice charges a daily fee to visit the city. It is meant to weed out “cheap tourists” who overcrowd the streets and don’t add to the local economy. This fee is still being ironed out but is expected to cost anywhere from 3 to 10 euros (about $3.20 to $10.60) per person to access the city.
One Day in Venice
- Is One Day Enough to See Venice?
- Venice’s Six Districts
- Best Time to Visit
- Top Sights Itinerary
- Off the Beaten Path Options
- Art Lovers Options
Is One Day Enough for Venice?
Is one day ever enough to visit a city – even one as walkable as Venice? The answer is mixed. You can see the top sights with a good strategy and an early start, but you will miss out on what makes Venice so magical.
Most of what I love about Venice is exploring the smaller canals and back alleys. I’ve stumbled across some great gems by just wandering around.
That said, you are here because you only have one day in Venice. So let’s look at the city and what you can explore.
Want to get a taste of Venice without spending time researching where to go? Venice Food Tours takes the guess work out of exploring restaurants.
Overview of Venice
Venice is made up of the six sestieri (districts) and each of them has its own quirks and reasons to explore.
Most of the main tourist attractions are in San Marco. It is the heart of tourism and home to Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge, and more. Chances are, when you think of Venice, you think of San Marco.
If you’re interested in art, you’ll be spending a lot of time in Dorsoduro. It houses two of the most important museums in Venice (Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Gallerie dell’Accademia). It is also home to the impressive Santa Maria della Salute.
Perhaps the most underrated area of Venice, Cannaregio, is the old Jewish Ghetto and is home to some of the best restaurants in Venice.
Click here for our guide to Cannaregio and the Jewish Ghetto.
Lightly more residential than the other districts, San Polo is still home to some great sights, chiefly the Rialto Market and Rialto Bridge.
Called “the soul of Venice”, Santa Croce is the main transportation hub of the city. Outside of San Marco, it’s usually the busiest district in Venice. The bus station, parking garages, and train station are all located here.
Castello is the largest of the six districts and is home to many local Venetians. If you’re looking to take a break from the tourist crowds in the heart of Venice, Castello is a fantastic choice to unwind.
Best Things to Do With One Day in Venice
If you only have one day in Venice, there are a few key sights you won’t want to miss. This includes churches, palaces, and museums that will give you a taste of the Venetian culture.
What’s on Your Venice Bucket List?
We wrote the guide on the top things to do when you’re in Venice.
We recommend trying to see any combination of the following:
- Grand Canal
- St. Mark’s Square
- St. Mark’s Basilica
- Doge’s Palace
- Bridge of Sighs
- Rialto Bridge
- Gondola Ride
- Campanile di San Marco
- Venetian canals
- Pote dell’Accademia
Suppose time permits, or you want to skip out on any of the places above. In that case, these are also really great options: Teatro La Fenice, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Scala Contarini del Bovolo, and the Libreria Acqua Alta.
Best Time to Visit Venice
The best time to visit Venice is during the shoulder seasons, between April and May or September and October. The weather is milder than in the summer, but the city still offers plenty to do and see with the added benefit of fewer tourists.
However, if you’re looking to avoid crowds almost entirely, consider visiting during the winter months. You’ll find that many of the city’s attractions are practically empty!
Having visited Venice during all four seasons, the best time to visit is from late April through May. Unfortunately, you’ll miss Venice Film Festival (August-September) and Venice Carnival (February), but the weather is nice, spring break is over, and crowds are manageable.
When is the rainy season in Venice?
The rainy season in Venice typically runs from October through April. However, the city experiences relatively little rainfall compared to other destinations in Italy. So even if you visit during this time of year, don’t let the rain deter you from exploring all that Venice has to offer!
How often does Venice Flood?
Usually, during the winter months, Venice experiences what is known as an ” Acqua Alta” or “high water” about three to four times per year. This is when the tide rises higher than normal, and the water level in the canals rises, flooding the streets and squares of Venice.
While acqua altas are typically not dangerous, they can be disruptive and inconvenient. If you’re visiting Venice during the acqua alta season, pack a pair of rain boots or water shoes!
What to Pack for a Trip to Venice
No matter what time of year you visit Venice, remember to pack comfortable shoes! You’ll be doing a lot of walking, and most of the streets are uneven.
It’s also a good idea to pack a light jacket or scarf, as the weather can be cool even during the summer months. If you’re visiting during the winter, pack a coat, warm pants, and thick socks.
And finally, don’t forget to pack your camera! Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and you’ll want to make sure to capture all its beauty.
One Day in Venice Itinerary (The Top Sights)
This is the list you choose when you have to see Venice’s top tourist destinations.
With this itinerary, you won’t have time for leisurely strolls along the canals or a long lunch break, but you will see a lot of Venice in a compact amount of time.
If nothing else, make sure to see these Venice landmarks:
Early Morning (8 AM to 11 AM)
During the early portion of your day, we’re taking you to beautiful St. Mark’s Square. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting the city as it houses two of the most important structures in the city: St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace.
It is far and away the most visited location on the island, so grab an espresso and brioche from a local cafe and start your morning early (here are some tips on Italian coffee).
St. Mark’s Basilica and Campanile (San Marco Basilica)
If St. Mark’s Square is the most popular tourist attraction, it’s largely due to St. Mark’s Basilica and neighboring Campanile (huge bell tower). The basilica is known for its beautiful Byzantine architecture, as well as its gold mosaics and artifacts, whereas the Campanile offers one of the best views of Venice.
The best time to visit St. Mark’s Basilica is early morning before the crowds start to form. Visiting later in the evening is possible, but you should book a tour in advance to bypass the long lines and see this magnificent structure uninterrupted.
Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
A personal favorite, Doge’s Palace is another popular tourist attraction that can get wildly crowded depending on the time and season you visit. As it sits mere steps from St. Mark’s Basilica, they should be viewed together.
The palace was the home of the Doge of Venice, the supreme ruler of the Venetian Republic. There were 120 Doges, and they were elected for life by the Venetian nobility. They led the Republic from 726 to 1797.
Today, the palace is a museum, and visitors can explore the many rooms and artworks on display.
The best time to visit Doge’s Palace is in the morning, as the crowds tend to get larger as the day continues.
If you plan to visit Doge’s Palace in the evening, 5:00 pm is the latest you are allowed to enter the grounds.
We highly recommend reserving a ticket in advance because you’ll likely still have to wait in line due to security screenings.
Bridge of Sighs
For Fans Of: History, Architecture
Address: P.za San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Despite being the smallest bridge on our list, the Bridge of Sighs is no less popular amongst tourists.
This iconic enclosed bridge was built in the 16th century and spans the Rio di Palazzo.
It’s most famous for connecting the interrogation rooms of Doge’s Palace (left in the image above) to its dungeons (right in the image above).
You can take in everything the Bridge of Sighs offers in less than 5 minutes, so there’s no reason not to go (it also happens to be just feet from the Palace).
Enoteca Al Volto is the oldest wine bar in the city and made it onto our list of the 20 best restaurants in Venice. In our review, we noted that the spaghetti and clams were some of the best in the city.
If you’re looking for something a little lighter, Pasticceria Marchini Time offers fantastic cappuccino and espresso with a great selection of local pastries.
Both options are within walking distance from St. Mark’s Square.
Midday Exploration & Rialto Bridge (11:30 am – 1 pm)
One of the best experiences in Venice is simply walking along the canals and taking in the beautiful architecture. Having traveled to nearly every part of Italy, Venice has some of the most elaborate and stunning homes and storefronts.
While they are a bit pricey, taking a gondola through the canals of Venice is an experience worth doing. They’re located in most of the city, but the best are near St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge.
How Much Does a Gondola Ride Cost?
If you book your gondola before sunset, the city of Venice sets the rate at €80 per 40 minutes. If you plan to take one after sunset (7 pm) than the price is €100 per 40 minutes. That price is per gondola, not per person. So if you have a family of four, it will still only be €80.
Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
For Fans Of: Architecture, Views
Address: Sestiere San Polo, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
The Rialto Bridge is one of Venice’s most iconic landmarks. This covered footbridge features many high-end shops that run down the center of the bridge (similar to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence).
The bridge spans the Grand Canal and offers stunning views during sunset and sunrise. It’s worth visiting both sides of the bridge for a unique look at the city.
T Fondaco Terrace
If you’re looking for stunning views of Venice, then be sure to visit the T Fondaco Terrace. It sits along the Grand Canal right next to the Rialto Bridge and offers panoramic views of the San Marco and San Polo districts.
Like most things in Venice, the best time to visit the T Fondaco Terrace is early in the morning or late at night when fewer people are around. Regardless of when you go, this terrace gives you a chance to take some amazing photos!
Visits to the terrace are free of charge, but it’s still important to book your visit in advance via their website (listed above).
You’re only allowed to stay on the terrace for 15 minutes per person, so you can squeeze this into your plans pretty easily.
Early Afternoon to Evening (1 pm – 5 pm)
Vaporetto Ride on the Grand Canal
Most cities have taxis and busses to get you around. Venice has the vaporetto (or water bus) to get you from Point A to Point B.
We’ll be taking the No. 1 or No. 2 vaporetto from the Rialto Bridge to the water bus station next to Ponte dell’Accademia. A one-way ticket is good for 75 minutes and only costs 7.50€ per person.
It’s a cheap and fun way to navigate the canals.
For Fans Of: Architecture, Views
Address: 30100 Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
The Ponte dell’Accademia is one of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal. The bridge is made of wood and offers stunning views of the canal and surrounding Venetian architecture.
If you look to the east along the Grand Canal, you’ll see the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, a 400-year-old church that came in as number 7 on our list of the top things to see in Venice.
Speaking of which, let’s head there next!
Santa Maria della Salute
The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is the most iconic church in Venice. It’s the one most people associate with the island and for good reason.
It is prominently displayed at the entrance of the Grand Canal and is one of the first things you see when entering by boat or train.
The church is known for its large, white dome, visible across the Venetian lagoon.
It’s home to two of Venice’s most famous works, Assumption of Our Lady and The Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple by Luca Giordano.
Teatro La Fenice
Teatro La Fenice is Venice’s most famous theatre and is well known for its opera performances and rich history.
The theater was destroyed by a fire three times, the most recent being in 1996. It was rebuilt and reopened in 2004 after going under a complete renovation.
Tours are offered daily and are relatively quick at 90 minutes. If you’re pressed for time, or you want to skip the tour for a late lunch or early dinner, there are plenty of great restaurants in the surrounding areas.
We think the tours are worth it as they include an audio guide that covers the history of the building and its most famous performances.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is Venice’s most divisive museum and one of its most popular.
The collection includes an amazing array of modern art, including works by its most influential painters:
- Jackson Pollock (The Moon Woman and Enchanted Forest)
- Pablo Picasso (On the Beach and The Studio)
- Paul Klee (Portrait of Frau P. in the South)
- Salvador Dalí (Birth of Liquid Desires)
- Giorgio de Chirico (The Red Tower)
This museum is more than just art, as part of the attraction is getting to know Peggy Guggenheim’s life and the work behind gathering her impressive collection.
Make sure you book a ticket ahead of time using the link above.
Late Evening: Dinner & Drinks (5 pm+)
Many tourist attractions close at 6 pm (unless you book nighttime tours), so it’s time to explore the canals at sundown and grab dinner!
20 Best Restaurants in Venice
No matter where you are in Venice, there’s great eating nearby. Here are our top choices for each district.
As this itinerary drops you off near the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in the Dorsoduro district, we recommend trying Ristorante La Bitta, Ai Gondolieri, or Lineadombra.
The first option is affordable and offers some amazing non-seafood options. The latter two are fine dining experiences with exquisite menus, but you’ll need to book a reservation before your stay in Venice.
If you’re open to walking, our favorite restaurants are in the Cannaregio district. Regardless though, Venice has some of the world’s best options to choose from.
Off The Beaten Path Options
This option is for people who want to see Venice at their own pace, don’t feel the need to check sights off of their list, and prefer to enjoy some of the more subtle locations of this beautiful island.
If this sounds like you, we have some suggested sights and areas to check out.
Cannaregio is my favorite part of the city. It feels the most lived-in, it’s far enough away from San Marco that you won’t get loads of tourists, and it’s home to my two favorite restaurants in Venice:
While in Cannaregio, be sure to stop by Campo del Ghetto Nuovo. It is the oldest Jewish ghetto in Venice and was home to many Jews for nearly four centuries.
See Venice wrote a great article that covers many of what makes Cannaregio special.
Since Giudecca isn’t attached to the main island, it’s less busy than most of Venice.
While in Giudecca, make sure you visit Artisti Artigiani del Chiostro. Today it is home to workshops and studios of artists who primarily work with metal and glass, but it was once the Convents of Cosma e Damiano.
Giudecca is a beautiful island with many interesting places to see if you’re willing to explore.
Museo Storico Navale di Venezia
The Museo Storico Navale di Venezia is a museum that is devoted to the history of the Venetian Navy. It is located in Castello and features a collection of ships, models, and paintings.
The naval museum is the lesser-visited museum in my experience, so it’s perfect for people who want to beat the crowd and learn about the maritime power of the Republic of Venice.
There’s also an ancient shipyard of the Republic that you’re allowed to explore.
Art Lovers Options
Regarding art, Venice is often overlooked. It’s fairly understandable when Florence and Rome are just a train ride away, but some pieces in Venice can’t be missed.
After all, Venice was home to some of Italy’s greatest painters:
- Giovanni Bellini
- Paolo Veronese
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
The Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is a stunning church in the San Polo district of Venice. It made our list of the most beautiful cathedrals in Venice and you’ll quickly understand why when you visit the city.
While the exterior isn’t as elaborate as Santa Maria della Salute, the interior holds Titain’s Assumption of the Virgin and Alvise Vivarini and Marco Basaiti’s St. Ambrose and Saints. Two masterworks by some of the finest renaissance painters.
We spent an hour looking around the church as it also holds paintings by Palma il Giovane, Bernardino Licinio, and Dettagli dell’Opera.
At just €5 to enter, it’s a bargain.
The Gallerie dell’Accademia is Venice’s most impressive art museum, and it’s easy to see why once you walk through its magnificent marble entryway.
The museum is home to a collection of Venetian artists, including works by Titian, Tintoretto, and Canaletto, as well as Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (good luck on seeing it though, as it’s hardly ever on display).
Yet, as recognizable as the artists may be, the Gallerie dell’Accademia is surprisingly empty each time I go.
Some other artists you’ll find in the museum include:
- Veronese (whose The Feast in the House of Levi is shown above)
Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art
Home to a collection of modern art, including works by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Wassily Kandinsky, Ca’ Pesaro is worth adding to your itinerary.
The museum is a marble waterfront palace in Santa Croce and has both a permanent collection and temporary exhibitions spread out through its three-story 17th-century Baroque building.
It took us around 90 minutes to walk through, but that was mostly because I took my time when looking at works by Gustav Klimt, Auguste Rodin, and Medardo Rosso.
We also stopped to enjoy the Museum of Oriental Art on the third floor. It’s one of Europe’s largest collections of Japanese art from the Edo period.
If you’re short on time, you can see most of the “important” works on the first floor.
Venice is an amazing and unique city that everyone should visit at least once in their life. While it may seem like there is too much to do in such a short amount of time, if you follow this itinerary you will make the most of your stay. From riding in a gondola to eating authentic Italian cuisine, you will create memories that will last a lifetime. What are your must-do’s when visiting Venice? Let us know in the comments below!