A three-day itinerary for Venice

How to get the most out of just three days in Venice

This is the itinerary to follow if you actually have three full days in Venice.

If, on the other hand, you will be arriving in Venice that first day by plane or by train, much of that first morning will be spent traveling and finding your hotel. (To that end, here is a 2.5-day version of the itinerary below designed for those who won't be able to start sightseeing until midday).

If you will be leaving Venice part-way through your third day, either opt just hit one or two of the outyling islands (or spend just an hour on each, depending on how early you have to leave town), or swap: Spend Day 2 on the outlying islands, then on your third and final day do as much of the "Day 2" itinerary as you can before leaving (feeling free to drop a sight or two and/or shorten up the time spent at some sights so you can move more quickly and fit in more).

Venice's Greatest Hits: The Doge's Palace, St. Mark's, & a gondola ride

08:40

Since the Campanile di San Marco (bell tower) actually opens before the basilica itself, hit this one first for stupendous city panoramas from the top. (Though please note that, in winter, it does not open until 9:30am, so adjust accordingly.)

Take a bit less than half an hour for the elevator ride up, photo ops at the top, and the ride back down—because you want to be in line at the Basilica of St. Mark's before it opens at 9:45am to avoid the long lines.

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

09:30

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. Before getting in line, don't forget to drop your daypack at the nearby place designated for this (described in detail on the St. Mark's page).

Go ahead and fork over the small, separate admission fees to see the Pala d'Oro altarpiece and to visit the Marciana Museum upstairs (great close-up view of the mosaics from the balcony level).

Time to spend there:
 
75 min

11:00

Wander over to take a look at the Piazza San Marco's lovely Renaissance Clock Tower, with its 24-hour clockface/horoscope marker and two bronze figures who ring the bell at the top.

Time to spend there:
 
10 min

11:11

Be at the Doge's Palace before the 11:35am start time to take your (pre-booked) "Secret Itineraries" tour, which in 75 minutes gives you an amazing insider's glimpse into the hidden offices, courtrooms, archives, and prisons from which the true Venetian Republic ruled for 900 years.

Time to spend there:
 
75 min

12:50

The tour pops you back into the main part of the Palazzo Ducale. Take another half hour for a quick spin on your own through the palazzo's public rooms, smothered in paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and other giants of the Venetian Renaissance.

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

13:35

There are several great places to grab a quick lunch nearby. I recommend the simple yet hearty and authentic fare at Osteria a la Campana hidden in plain sight on the main drag headed north toward the Rialto.

Time to spend there:
 
75 min

15:00

After lunch, tour the Ca' d'Oro, a glorious private palace on the Grand Canal now turned into a museum and art gallery.

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

16:00

Cross the fabled Rialto Bridge, a Renaissance stone span lined by shops. Pause at the top for the classic Grand Canal shot.

Time to spend there:
 
10 min

16:20

Take a few minutes to wander the stalls of the Rialto Market on the far (S. Polo) side, then thread your way south through the S. Polo district to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

16:40

Pop in to admire the dozens (yes, dozens) of spectacular Tintoretto paintings in the amazing Scuola Grande di San Rocco, basically a Renaissance frat house for Venetian bigwigs, all dark wood and big oil paintings in a suitably clubby atmosphere.

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

17:30

The area between the Scuola Grande and the Rialto Market is filled with many excellent cicchetti bars. Hit several of them in a cicchetti crawl, sampling snacks and glasses of wine or a spritz in each.

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

18:20

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?

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

19:10

Congratulations. It's been a long day, stuffed with art and history. Time to celebrate by digging into a sumptuous meal—seafood, if that's your thing, because it certainly is Venice's.

Time to spend there:
 
90 min

Art museums, the Grand Canal, and getting lost

08:50

Venice has its fair share of monuments, museums, and decorated churches, but frankly just about the best thing you can do with your second morning is ignore all the sights and just wander the streets aimlessly.

If you can, try to get lost. Honestly. I do it all the time, and it's great. You'll stroll past slowly decaying Gothic palaces decorated with pointy Byzantine windows, stumble across pocket-sized campielli (squares) where local kids are kicking a soccer ball around a medieval well, and duck into the shade of a tiny bar to share a glass of wine with the well-weathered locals. Ahhhh; perfect.

You can seek out secondary sights if you like. Or shop for Murano glass or Carnival masks. Pop into random small churches. Grab an espresso from a bar. Just experience Venice.

To best avoid the tourist crowds, head deep into the residential neighborhoods of Castello (especially in the eastern half); northern Cannaregio, especially the Ghetto (the medieval Jewish quarter); and La Giudecca, another large Venetian island, largely residential not connected to the rest of Venice by any bridge.

Now that you've recharged your mental batteries and drunk in some of Italy's dolce far niente ("the sweetness of doing nothing"), you are nearly ready for some hard-core art appreciation. But first: one of the world's greatest cheap cruises: 

11:00

Find the nearest vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal to hop aboard the no. 1 vaporetto headed down the canal toward San Marco. You will glide past palazzo facades, cats posing in Gothic windows, candy-striped mooring poles, and all the boat traffic of the world's busiest main street made of water. Make sure you sit up in the open prow for the best views. Get off at the SAulte stop, the last stop on the right side the the Grand Canal before it opens up into the bacino.

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

11:45

The lovely baroque church of Santa Maria delal Salute dominates the tip of Dorsoduro. Take a few minutes to peek inside. 

Time to spend there:
 
10 min

11:56

The nearby Peggy Guggenheim museum houses one of Europe's best galleries of early modern works from the 20th century, including Picasso, Dalí, Chagall, Miró, Mondrian, Brancusi, Duchamp, Kadinsky, Giacometti—not to mention works by Peggy's one-time hubby (Max Ernst) and by her most famous discovery (Jackson Pollock).

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

13:00

Have lunch at the family-run Trattoria Ai Cugnai, ruled by a gaggle of Venetian Aunties (sisters-in-law, actually) who turn out authentic home-cooking.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

14:05

Visit the Accademia Gallery for its stupendous collection of Old Masters paintings, on of the best in Italy. Venetians (naturally) reign, with canvasses by Titian, Tintoretto, Giovanni Bellini, Paolo Veronese, Paolo Veneziano, Giorgione, and Carpaccio.

Time to spend there:
 
90 min

15:45

If you find you still have the time (and energy), try to squeeze in a visit to the Ca' Rezzonico, another historic patrician palace restored with a small painting gallery devoted to daily life in 18th-century Venice.

Time to spend there:
 
35 min

16:35

Continue north into San Polo to the glorious barn of a church called I Frari, packed with artworks by Titian, Bellini, Donatello, and more—plus the grandiose tombs of Neoclassic sculptor Antonio Canova and Renaissance Titan Titian.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

17:20

End your day in Venice just wandering aimlessly around Venice's labyrinth of alleyways. Or take a load off and sit on Piazza San Marco to listen to the dueling string trios and piano players playing for the tables in front of competing chichi cafes.

18:45

Find your own special place to eat. This is Venice, so every restaurant will be at least half filled with tourists, but you can still find a good one.

Just remember: Venice is unlike the rest of Italy, where 7pm is considered an early dinner. In Venice, it's about normal for starting dinner, and many restaurants shut their kitchens before 9pm (whcih is when, in southern parts of Italy, things are just getting going).

Explore the outlying islands

08:30

It's time to get out of Venice—or at least the tourist-ridden downtown part of the city. Take your third day to do perhaps my favorite activity all of Venice: a circle tour of the best outlying island in the Venetian lagoon.

09:00

To catch a vaporetto to Murano, head either to San Marco (no. 4.1 or 4.2) or Fondamente Nove (nos. 12, 13, 4.1, or 4.3). The ride from Fondamente Nove take 30 minutes less, but if you happen to be closer to San Marco, the walk to Fondamente Nove will take around half an hour anyway, so you might as well grab the 4.1 or 4.3 at San Marco, take the longer way around, and relax.

Murano is the birthplace of that famous Venetian glass. Check out its glass factories, shops, and glass museum, as well as a pair of pretty little churches.

Time to spend there:
 
110 min

09:45
11:35

Have lunch on Murano at the Trattoria da Romano.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

12:00
★☆☆
 (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
€€€
Da Romano
Venice: The Northern Lagoon
 
13:19

Continue on to the candy-colored houses of Burano. Just spend the hour until the next ferry departure wandering around this pretty island.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

15:00

Vaporetto no. 9 shuttles every 15 minutes between Burano and Torcello, a laid-back island with a spectacular church, small archaeology museum, and pretty pathways.

Time to spend there:
 
120 min

17:12

Head back to Venice proper and relax until its time for dinner.

What the grey and blue time bubbles mean

Since this itinerary takes into account travel time (walking, taking the Métro, driving, whatever):

  • The times in grey circles are the times by which you need to start moving in order to go to the next stop.
  • The times in blue circles are the times by which you should arrive at that stop to begin the fun.
 
Activities, walks, & excursions links
Escorted tours links
Active tours links
Family tours links
Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for rail travel

English (inglese) Italian (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...train station la ferroviaria [or] la stazione lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah [or] lah stat-zee-YO-nay
ticket un biglietto oon beel-YET-toh
first class prima classe PREE-mah CLAH-say
second class seconda classe say-CONE-dah CLAH-say
one way solo andata SO-low ahn-DAHT-tah
round trip (return) andata e ritorno ahn-DAH-tah ay ree-TOUR-noh
Just the supplement Soltanto il supplemento soul-TAHN-toh eel sou-play-MEN-toh
Just a seat reservation Soltanto una prenotazione soal-TAHN-toh oo-nah pray-no-tah-tsee-YOH-nay
I have a Eurailpass Ho il Eurailpass oh eel YOO-rail-pahs
sleeping couchette una cucetta oo-nah koo-CHET-tah
berth in a sleeping car un posto nel vagone letto oon POH-sto nell vah-GOAN-nay LET-toh
track binario been-AR-ree-yoh
train treno TRE-no
car (carriage) carozza ka-RO-tza
seat posto PO-sto
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay
left luggage deposito bagagli day-PO-zee-toh ba-GAHL-yee
     
punch your ticket timbrare il biglietto teem-BRA-ray eel beel-YET-toh
Is this the right platform for the Rome train? E questo il binario per il treno à Roma? ay KWAY-sto eel been-AR-ree-yo pair eel TRE-no ah RO-ma? 
delayed in retardo een ree-TAR-do
strike sciopero SHO-pair-oh
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
City / Train station names
English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Main station
Rome Roma Termini
Florence Firenze Santa Maria Novella
Venice Venezia Santa Lucia
Milan Milano Centrale
Genoa Genova Porta Principe
Naples Napoli Centrale
Leghorn Livorno Centrale
Turin Torino Porta Nuova

Useful Italian for air travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)   Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
the airport l'aeroporto LAHW-ro-port-oh
the airplane l'aereo LAIR-reh-oh
terminal terminal TEAR-me-nahl
flight volo VOH-lo
gate uscita d'imbarco oo-SHEE-tah deem-BARK-oh
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
delayed in ritardo een ree-TAR-doh
on time in orario een oh-RAH-ree-yo
early in avanti een ah-VAHN-tee
boarding imbarco eem-BARK-o
connecting flight la coincidenza la ko-een-chee-DEN-za
check-in accettazione ah-chet-ta-zee-YO-nee
immigration controllo passaporti cone-TRO-lo pah-sa-POR-tee
security check controllo di sicurezza kohn-TRO-lo dee see-kur-AY-tzah
customs dogana do-GA-na
shuttle la navetta lah na-VET-tah
boarding pass carta d'imbarco kart-ta deem-BARK-o
baggage claim ritiro bagagli ree-TEER-oh bah-GA-lyee
carry-on luggage bagaglio à mano bah-GA-lyo ah MA_no
checked luggage bagalio bah-GA-lyo

Useful Italian for car travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
car automobile ow-toh-MO-bee-lay
scooter/motorboke un motorino oon mo-tair-EE-no
gas station stazione di servizio stah-zee-YO-nay dee sair-VEE-tzee-yo
gas benzina ben-ZEE-nah
diesel gasolio [or] diesel gah-ZOH-lee-oh [or] DEE-zell
Fill it up, please al pieno, per favore ahl pee-YAY-noh, pair fa-VOHR-ray
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the highway l'autostrada lout-oh-STRA-dah
...the state highway la statale [written "SS"] lah sta-TAHL-eh
...the road for Rome la strada per Roma lah STRA-dah pair RO-mah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
to cross attraversare ah-tra-vair-SAR-ay
toll pedaggio peh-DA-jo
parking parcheggio par-KEH-jo
road map carta stradale kar-ta stra-DA-lay
where can I pay the fine? dove posso pagare la multa DOH-veh Po-so pag-GAR-ray la MOOL-tah


Typical road signs / terms » more

English (anglais) French (français) 
Stop Stop
Exit  Uscita
Staffic light Semaforo
One-way Senso unico
Dead-end Strada senza uscita
Parking prohibited No parcheggio or parcheggio proibito
Pedestrian zone Area pedonale
Limited Traffic Zone (you pay to drive in) ZTL or Zona Traffico Limitato

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).