How To Spend 1 Day In Venice: The Perfect Itinerary

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Are you looking for the perfect 1 day in Venice itinerary? If you’re short on time, there are a lot of places to visit Venice in 1 day! It might not give you the time to explore deep, but you can definitely see some of the highlights that make this floating city so special.

When people think of Venice, they often imagine a city of romance and mystery. And while that is certainly true, there is much more to see and do in this amazing city. With so much to explore, it can be difficult to know where to start, especially if you only have one day in Venice, Italy.

That’s why we’ve put together this one-day Venice itinerary – so you can make the most of your time in one of the most beautiful cities on earth!

One Day In Venice: What Can You See In 1 Day?

Venice is one of my favourite cities in Europe... so far. It’s impossible not to love the floating city, with the maze of canals, the paths and bridges connecting it all together and of course the incredible architecture.

Arriving in Venice makes you feel like you have just stepped onto the set of a movie about some ancient water city. Not so far from the truth, I guess.

We only had a couple of days to spend in the Venice area during our visit and in fact, it was really only one day in Venice overall. It was part of a whirlwind guided tour through Europe, 2 months before our wedding.

What we did know when planning this trip was that Venice was a must-see destination, along with Rome. All the other countries and cities we saw were really just bonus add-ons, so long as we got our Italian highlights.

While more than a day would have been great, there is a lot you can see and do during a 1 day Venice day trip!

This Venice one-day itinerary will help you make the most of your short visit.

In a hurry? Here’s The Summary

VENICE ONE DAY ITINERARY

venice canal from gondola.

Now that we’ve gone over the logistics of planning your 1 day Venice itinerary, it’s time to get into the fun part – the actual itinerary!

We recommend you get to Venice really early to start your day so that you do have plenty of time to fit in the best Venice attractions without rushing!

Before all the tourist boats arrive is also the perfect way to enjoy a leisurely stroll through Venice.

St. Mark’s Square

view of st marks square from san marco campanile.

As you walk, make your way toward one of Venice’s iconic landmarks – St. Mark’s Basilica.

As a common starting point when visiting Venice for one day or more, St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is where the action begins. Try not to get lost amongst the growing crowds as you admire the iconic structures that surround the square.

On one side, the water is lined with Gondolas and boats. Beside you, St. Mark’s Basilica in all its grandeur, standing opposite San Marco Campanile, and the line of cafes and restaurants in front.

You could spend your entire day seeing everything in this one spot.

St. Mark’s Basilica & Doge’s Palace

If it is high on your list, visit St Mark’s Basilica at the opening so you don’t have to spend a long time waiting in line.

This Byzantine church is one of the most beautiful in all of Italy and definitely worth a visit. If you want to go inside, be sure to dress modestly as there are strict clothing regulations in place.

The best way to do this is with a 2-hour guided tour of both St Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. That way you can skip the queue and learn all about these incredible Italian structures from an expert guide.

Check out this highly rated tour that starts at 10AM on available days.

Rialto Bridge

view of rialto bridge from side.

Start by making your way toward the Rialto Bridge – one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Venice. This bridge spans the Grand Canal and is one of the busiest areas in the city.

If you want to get a good view of the Rialto Bridge, we recommend taking a water taxi or gondola ride down the Grand Canal.

As you walk across the Rialto Bridge, take a moment to soak in the stunning views of Venice. On one side, you’ll see the bustling market area and on the other, you’ll get a glimpse of some of the city’s most beautiful architecture.

Once you’ve crossed the Rialto Bridge, take a stroll through the nearby market area. Here, you can find everything from fresh produce to souvenirs. Be sure to haggle with the vendors for the best prices!

Gondola Ride

simon and holly on a gondola ride in venice.

No trip to Venice would be complete without a ride on one of the city’s iconic gondolas. These long, narrow boats are a staple of Venetian life and offer a unique way to see the city.

It’s a cliche tourist attraction, but we loved every second of our gondola ride. Enjoy the relaxing ride through canals and under bridges and if you are lucky enough, you may even get serenaded while you ride.

The best part of exploring by boat is seeing areas of Venice you would not have seen on foot, and having a glimpse of how Venetians live. I loved seeing people coming and going by boat right to their front doorsteps.

Our gondola ride also gave us the chance to see a few of the other sites we did not have time to see up close, like the Basilica of Santa Maria, before arriving back in the main canal.

Most gondola rides go for around 30-45 minutes, so you will need at least an hour to account for lining up and waiting. Ours was pre-booked so no massive lineup with other tourists.

Lunch Break

Wander away from the main tourist centre and Piazza San Marco and find yourself somewhere quiet for lunch. We avoided dining anywhere too close to St Mark’s Square to avoid the expensive prices and huge crowds and found plenty of delicious options.

Stroll Through The Streets

holly on an orange bridge in venice.

Getting lost is something you need to do, even if you only have one day to spend in Venice.

After lunch, we went for walk with no particular destination in mind. We wandered along narrow pathways and bridges, over canals and through tunnels. This was one of our favourite parts of the day, just the two of us away from the massive crowds and chaos.

We enjoyed taking photos and sharing our thoughts on this amazing and beautiful city. Those are always my favourite travel moments – having those ‘What if we lived here?’ conversations and seeing how different life is compared to back home.

San Marco Campanile

San Marco Campanile from the ground on a clear day.

It doesn’t take long for the crowds to start arriving at Venice, fairly early in the day.

Unfortunately for us, we should have planned our day out in advance because our hesitation upon arrival that morning meant we missed the chance to go inside St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica San Marco) and Doge’s  Palace.

The lineup was massive within about half an hour of our arrival. Not uncommon since we were visiting during Summer.

Had we waited, we would have missed out on so much else so it was a sacrifice we grudgingly made.

Thankfully the lineup to take the elevator up the top of San Marco Campanile was much more reasonable so in the afternoon this is what we did.

You get some of the best views of Venice and beyond from up the tower, and it’s the perfect photo opportunity.

We spent quite a while enjoying the sights from the tower, seeing many of the attractions we would not have time to explore up close.

view of venice from San Marco Campanile.

Our tip would be to head to St. Mark’s Basilica as soon as you arrive if you are keen to go inside, to avoid the massive lineup.

Get this out of the way first up, so you have the rest of the day to explore. Otherwise, like us, you may need to settle for admiring it from the outside, which thankfully is still pretty amazing!

Enjoy Dinner and Venice By Night

For dinner, we dined at a quaint little restaurant that we stumbled upon by accident further away from the tourist hub. It was a long windy walk between buildings and over bridges to find it.

The food was amazing. All 5 courses of it!

After that, it was our final chance to enjoy the wonders of this charming and unique floating city before heading back to our hotel.

One day in Venice is not nearly enough, but we did make a good go of it, seeing the highlights and a few unexpected treasures along the way.

If you have the time, you can also explore St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace on an evening tour. This is a great option for after the day tourists have left for the day.

Alternative Venice 1 Day Itinerary

If you want to change up your plans from the above, consider the following itinerary instead:

Tips for visiting Venice in one day:

  • Plan your visit before you arrive so you know what you want to see most
  • Head straight to St Mark’s Basilica or Doge Palace if you are keen to go inside, before the queues get too long
  • Or consider a pre-purchased guided tour through St Mark’s and Doge Palace to bypass the queues entirely.
  • Find a gondola service away from the main tourist area – usually cheaper
  • Food is also cheaper outside the main piazza area
  • Avoid the dodgy fake handbag salesmen – we were warned by our tour guide that tourists can be fined for purchasing the fakes
  • Enjoy Venice by night – far fewer crowds
  • Take your photos of St Mark’s Square earlier in the day as by the end of the day, the amount of litter and rubbish littering the square is not very appealing.

Best Things To Do In Venice With Kids

If you are visiting Venice with family, there are plenty of things to do in Venice with kids! Some of these Venice activities we have already mentioned above:

  1. Take a Gondola Ride: A gondola ride through the canals of Venice is a magical experience for kids and adults alike. They will enjoy gliding along the waterways, passing under picturesque bridges, and taking in the beautiful views of the city.
  2. Visit St. Mark’s Square: St. Mark’s Square is the heart of Venice and a great place to explore with kids. They can marvel at the stunning architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica, watch the pigeons in the square, and even climb the Campanile for panoramic views of the city.
  3. Explore the Doge’s Palace: Kids will love exploring the Doge’s Palace, a grand historic building with secret passages, opulent rooms, and beautiful artwork. They can learn about the fascinating history of Venice and even cross the iconic Bridge of Sighs.
  4. Take a Boat Ride to the Islands: Venice is surrounded by several islands, such as Lido, Murano and Burano, which are easily accessible by boat. Kids will enjoy exploring the colourful houses and glass-making traditions in Murano, the charming lace-making and vibrant houses in Burano, or simply relaxing on the sandy beaches of Lido.
  5. Get Lost in the Streets: Venice is a city of narrow, winding streets and hidden squares. Encourage your kids to get lost with you as you explore the labyrinthine alleys, stumble upon quaint shops, and soak up the authentic Venetian atmosphere.
  6. Enjoy Gelato and Venetian Treats: Treat your kids to delicious gelato from one of the many gelaterias in Venice. They can also try traditional Venetian snacks like cicchetti (small tapas-style dishes) and fritole (fried sweet pastries).
  7. Ride a Vaporetto: Take a ride on a vaporetto, which is a water bus that navigates the Grand Canal and other major waterways in Venice. Kids will enjoy the unique experience of travelling by boat and seeing the city from a different perspective.
  8. Shop for local wares: Shopping is also a favourite activity for families; from souvenir shops to the local market, there’s something for everyone.

Remember to plan your itinerary with breaks in between to rest, enjoy gelato, and soak up the charm of Venice at a leisurely pace.

Best Tours Of Venice

If you’ve only got a short time to see Venice, taking a Venice tour is one of the best ways to see the top attractions.

A walking tour is a wonderful way to explore the canals and learn some of the city’s history.

Here are some of our recommended tours in Venice:

  • This best of Venice tour is a walking tour that includes St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doges Palace, and the Grand Canal with a gondola ride. You will learn from a local guide and have skip the line entry.
  • See the most popular landmarks in Venice with this walking tour that also includes a Murano and Burano Island boat visit. The day includes St. Mark’s Basilica, Doges Palace, and a gondola ride
  • If you’re more of a foodie, do this eat like a local 3-hour food tasting tour instead. Go beyond pizza and pasta with seafood, homemade gelator, regional wines and Venetian cookies.

There are also some wonderful day trips possible from Venice if you are staying longer, such as a day trip to the Dolomites in North-East Italy, where you will see some more of the incredible scenery.

Planning Your Venice Day Trip

view of venice in afternoon from a water taxi.

A day trip to Venice can be done as part of a guided day tour, or make your own way there. This 1 day Venice itinerary is one you can plan yourselves so you have the flexibility to do and see what you please.

How To Get To Venice

If you are visiting Venice from elsewhere in the world, the nearest airport is Marco Polo Airport. From there, you can take a water taxi or bus to Piazzale Roma, which is the main transport hub for Venice.

If you’re coming to Venice from another city in Italy, the best way to get there is by train. Venice’s main train station, Santa Lucia Train Station is located on the northwestern edge of the city. There is also a bus terminal and car parking located at Piazzale Roma. From here, you can take a water taxi across to Venice.

The Best Time For Visiting Venice

The best time to visit Venice is during the shoulder seasons, which are April-May and September-October. The weather is milder during these months and there are fewer tourists to contend with. We visited during August and it was chaotic being the busy summer tourist season.

Where To Stay In Venice

If you do decide to extend your stay in Venice beyond one day, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from. There are many hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals located throughout the city or a short boat ride away if you are visiting Venice by car.

Staying close to San Marco Square or Rialto Bridge are best for sightseeing but can get a little pricy.

TIP: Use the map below to find the best deals for your stay in Venice. Insert your travel dates and group size and you will see what is available for your budget.

FAQS For Visiting Venice

How do you get to Venice?

The best way to get to Venice is by flying to Marco Polo Airport and taking a water taxi or bus to Piazzale Roma, which is the main transport hub for Venice.

When is the best time to visit Venice?

The best time to visit Venice is during the shoulder seasons, which are April-May and September-October. The weather is milder during these months and there are fewer tourists compared to summer.

How many days do you need in Venice?

To get a good feel for the city and explore its main attractions, it is recommended to spend at least 2 to 3 days in Venice. This will allow you to visit iconic sites like St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, take a gondola ride along the canals, explore the picturesque neighborhoods, and visit popular landmarks such as the Rialto Bridge and Doge’s Palace.

One day in Venice was not enough for me and one day we will go back, with plans to stay on the island itself rather than on the mainland.

While we may take that opportunity to visit the popular sites we missed this trip, mostly I want the chance to experience a little bit of everyday life living in a city surrounded by water and to really get in there and see the lesser-known areas so often forgotten.

Italy is a beautiful country rich in culture, incredible food and such a long history. You will want to spend as long as you can exploring the different cities and stops along the way. And if you have the time, here is an Italy Itinerary- 10 Days, to make your planning easier.

We hope this one day in Venice itinerary helps you plan your own fun day in the floating city!

What would be at the top of your list if you could only see Venice in a day?

1 day in venice itinerary.