It is easy to fall in love with Venice. The city offers a melange of attractions and activities that cover art, history, culture, architecture, and everything in between.
The floating city, built on a lagoon, is one of the most romantic travel destinations in the world. There really is something special about this charming city that draws an increasing number of travellers, year after year.
If you’re planning a short break in Venice, here’s an activity-packed, 3-day itinerary that will surely make your trip worth your while.
Day 1 – Basilica di San Marco, Doge’s Palace, and a Gondola Ride
Start your day in Venice by visiting one of the city’s most popular attractions, the Basilica di San Marco, or St. Mark’s Basilica. Located on Piazza San Marco, the church was built in the 11th century and features exquisite domes and spires but what really grabs people’s attention is found inside – think thousands and thousands of square feet of gold mosaics. Its interiors is so luxuriously decorated that it’s often called the Chiesa d’Oro or the Church of Gold.
Inside the church, you will also see gold altarpiece called the Pala D’Oro. The gold and silver altar is adorned with close to 2,000 gems like pearls, garnets, emeralds, amethysts, sapphires, and a lot more.
The basilica opens at 9:45 am but you’ll have to be there way earlier than that because the lines are so long. You also have the option to climb up the Basilica’s bell tower, called the Campanile di San Marco, to enjoy spectacular views of St. Mark’s Square.
Also, please remember that you need to dress appropriately to enter the church, so be sure that your knees and shoulders are covered. For security reasons, bags, especially backpacks, are not allowed inside.
Soon after, you can head to the Doge’s Palace, or Palazzo Ducale, a massive structure built in Venetian Gothic style that is still on Piazza San Marco. It is one of the city’s most important landmarks and it used to be the official residence of the Doge of Venice and the seat of political power during the Venetian Republic. Today, the palace is home to one of the city’s most impressive museums where you’ll find artworks by Tintoretto, Tiziano, and Veronese.
After exploring the Doge’s Palace, you can go ahead and try the city’s restaurant scene. Just pick a restaurant clustered around the palace and try classic menu offerings like antipasti, spaghetti alle vongole, and tiramisu or castagnole for dessert.
After lunch, you can just spend some time wandering aimlessly around Venice. You’ll have so much fun exploring the alleyways. The city is full of character that you’ll definitely stumble upon something interesting. Wander around for a few hours to cover more ground during your 3-day visit.
At dusk, make your way towards the Grand Canal for a must-do activity in Venice, a gondola ride. Take a spin around Venice’s maze of canals on board a gondola worked by a gondoliere. For 30 to 45 minutes, discover Venice’s intricate network of bridges and canals and take in the magnificent views of the sunset as you glide through the city’s waterways.
End your first day in Venice with a delicious Italian meal – we suggest seafood because it is what the city is famous for. The city is also home to many great pizza places so you will never go wrong with Pizza Margherita as well. Try Antico Forno on Ruga Rialto. Their pizzas hit all the right spots – delicious and affordable. They are open until 9:30pm.
See two of Venice’s architectural gems and most iconic attractions with the Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica (Skip the line) Tour. Aside from the skip-the-line ticket, the services of an experienced guide and a personal audio system are also available during the tour. For a fabulous first day in Venice, complement your tour of the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica with the Gondola Serenade Tour. Experience a romantic 30-minute Venetian gondola ride through the canals of Venice as your gondolier serenades you with Italian songs.
Day 2 – Rialto Bridge & Market, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and Accademia Galleries
Kick off your 2nd day in Venice by visiting the iconic Rialto Bridge and Rialto Market. The Rialto Bridge is a stone bridge that dates back to 1592. The most centrally located spot in Venice, the 28-metre long bridge is a favourite gathering place for tourists and locals in Venice.
From Rialto Bridge, walk northwest towards San Polo district to reach your next stop, the historic Rialto Market. The market is a great place to get a feel of the local of way of life. Enjoy the lively atmosphere and catch a glimpse of people as they buy and sell fresh seafood and local produce. When you’re done exploring, there are many trattorias nearby so you can have brunch or breakfast. It is best to visit Rialto Market really early when it is fully stocked as activity slows down by noon and stalls close around 2pm.
Venice is home to a plethora of museums, many of them housing the most amazing collection of artworks ever created. Aside from the Doge’s Palace Museum, also worth a visit during your vacation is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection where you’ll discover Venice’s bustling contemporary art scene. The museum of modern art features a phenomenal collection of artworks. You’ll see works by Max Ernst, Picasso, Miró, Dali, and other famous artists. There’s also a man-on-horseback bronze sculpture by Tuscan sculptor Marino Marini in the garden.
After the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, proceed to the Accademia Galleries – one of the world’s greatest museums – set in the Sestiere Dorsoduro district. Housed within the former Santa Maria della Carità church and Scuola della Carità convent complex, the gallery has one of the finest collection of Venetian paintings from the 14th to 18th centuries, including Veronese’s Feast in the House of Levi, Tintoretto’s The Stealing of St. Mark, Carpaccio’s Cycle of St. Ursula, Titian’s Pieta, and Bellini’s Madonna and Child.
Make the most out of your short vacation in Venice with the Venice City Pass. Enjoy free entrance and discounts to a wide range of attractions and activities, including museums, basilicas, gondola rides and island tours. There are three types of passes available – starter, classic, and best pass – so you can choose one depending on what you have planned for your vacation. All passes are inclusive of airport transfers and free access to public transport.
Day 3 – The Islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello
On your third and last day in Venice, explore the outlying islands of the Venetian lagoon! There are many islands to choose from but if you have to pick a few because you’re pressed for time, then choose Murano, Burano, and Torcello.
Murano is famous for its glass factories, stunning churches, and its Glass Museum while Burano is known for its picturesque coloured houses, painted in contrasting colours. The fishing village is also well-known for its centuries-old lace-making industry. Burano’s hand-tatted lace is just exquisite and you should stop by the Museo del Merletto, also called the Burano Lace Museum, to learn more about the industry and its history.
From Murano, you can visit Torcello, a small island at the northernmost part of the Venetian lagoon. Its most popular attraction is the Basilica Di Santa Maria Assunta, a cathedral known for its 11th and 12th centre Byzantine mosaics.
The Murano, Burano, and Torcello Islands Tour is perfect for travellers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of Venice. Aside from boat rides to and from Venice’s outlying islands, the half-day tour also includes a visit to a glass blowing factory where you can watch a master glassblower create artful pieces out of molten glass.