The perfect day in Venice
How to spend your time if you have only one day in Venice
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Note: This is the itinerary to follow if you actually have one full day in Venice. I say that because many of you will be arriving in Venice by plane or by train, in which case—sad to say—you don't actually have a full day to spend here, since much of the morning will be spent traveling and finding your hotel.
Below is the itinerary if Venice is just another stop on your itinerary and you genuinely have a full day to spend. (This separate page has a one-day itinerary for those arriving in Venice by late morning or early afternoon and headed out of Venice tomorrow morning.)
Take a tour
If you prefer an expert guide for your sightseeing in Venice, here are some walking tours from our partners that cover many of the top sights in Venice:
• Skip the Line: Venice Walking Tour with St Mark's Basilica
• Small-Group Tour: Best of Venice Walking Tour and Grand Canal Water Taxi Ride
• Skip the Line: St Mark's Square Highlights Tour
• Skip the Line: Venice in One Day
• One-Day Venice: An Introduction to the City
• Skip the Line: Venice Walking Tour with Doges Palace
• Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade
• Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade with Dinner
• Venice Walking Tour and Gondola Ride
Kill two birds with one stone by being at the Basilica di San Marco before it opens at 9:45am; that way you (a) get to see its treasures and the thousands of square feet of glittering mosaics swathing its interior, and (b) won't have to wait in a long line, which can stretch the wait to as long as an hour or more later in the day.
Don't dawdle too long, however, because you have to be next door at the Doge's Palace by 11:35pm to take your (pre-booked) "Secret Itineraries" tour for an insider's glimpse into the hidden offices, courtrooms, archives, and prisons from which the true Venetian Republic ruled for 900 years.
Grab a light lunch on your way over the Grand Canal to tour the Accademia, the major painting gallery in town, packed with Old Masters, and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, decorated with dozens of Tintoretto paintings.
Spend the evening before dinner just wandering aimlessly around Venice's labyrinth of alleyways. After dinner, sit on Piazza San Marco to listen to the dueling trios playing for the tables in front of competing chichi cafes.
Oh, and at some point—either when you arrive or as you are preparing to leave—be sure to hop aboard the no. 1 or no. 2 vaporetto line to for a poor man's cruise of the Grand Canal between Piazza San Marco and the Ferrovia (train station) or Piazzale Roma (car park).
Or, of course, you can take a gondola ride. Yes, they're touristy, yes they're overpriced, and yes they're hackneyed, but if you can put all that out of your mind, they're also pretty cool, relaxing, and romantic—and who wants to go all the way to Venice and not ride in a gondola anyway?
- This is merely a blueprint. You really should spend your time on whatever catches your own interest. Some people would rather get a root canal than spend several hours in the Accademia, but for others an afternoon of Old Masters would rank as the highlight of their trip. Same goes for shopping, or gondola rides, or cramming a dozen churches and museums into a single day: heaven for some, hell on earth for others. For some less-famous sights to visit, check out Reid's List: Venice.
- Keep in mind that you may have to adjust these itineraries in case one of the days you're in town happens to fall on a Monday (when most museums are closed) or a Sunday (when many things are closed, and those that remain open tend to operate on shorter hours).
- Also keep in mind that these are maximal itineraries, designed to cram as much a reasonably possible into the time allotted. There's no down-time built in for relaxation—which you really should have. You're on vacation, after all. I suggest using these but maybe dropping a sight which interests you less (or curtailing your time at a couple of sights) in order to carve out from some free time to just sit at a cafe, writing postcards and watching the carnival of Italian life swirl past.
- Consider daily tours: Prefer to leave some of the planning and information-providing to a professional? Consider signing up for a guided tour—doesn't have to be a standard bus tour; our partners at Viator.com offer loads of neighborhood and thematic walking tours, private guides, and other fun ways to explore the capital as well. » more
- Full-day itineraries for one, two, or three days in Venice
- "Arriving" itineraries for one, two, or three days in Venice
- Top sights in Venice
- Venice layout
- Venice tours
- Italy itineraries
This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in May 2012. All information was accurate at the time.
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