This 48-hour itinerary is perfect for those that would like or have already booked a weekend break in Venice. We have written it as if you arrived on a Friday afternoon and left on Sunday at approximately the same time.
If you are going to Venice any other day of the week, we suggest taking a look at the opening hours of the attractions you would like to visit, since these could vary slightly.
Despite not having a lot of time to explore Venice’s museums and palazzos the day you arrive, you will have more than sufficient time to discover some of the city’s most emblematic landmarks.
We suggest heading to Piazza San Marco as a starting point for a brief visit of Venice. St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is probably one of the most famous squares, along with St Peter’s Square in the Vatican City. The Piazza houses remarkable buildings like St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. You will enjoy visiting these two buildings during the following day.
After walking around St Mark’s follow the signs (or use a map) to Rialto Bridge, the oldest and most magical of Venice’s bridges. Stroll through the neighborhood’s narrow streets with small canals and enjoy the city’s unique atmosphere and architecture.
After a short walk around the city center, it will probably be time to stop and have a Spritz, the most commonly drunk aperitif in the north of Italy before enjoying a delicious Italian meal.
The next day we recommend getting up early to make the most of the first whole day in Venice.
The first day begins bright and early in Piazza San Marco at 9:30 am. We recommend visiting the Doge’s Palace with its exquisite rooms and decoration, its bloodcurdling prison and the beautiful Bridge of Sighs.
When you leave the Palazzo Ducale, head to the most important religious edifice in Venice, the Basilica di San Marco. As well as visiting the temple’s interior, you can also climb to its balcony where you will get a stunning view of St Mark’s Square.
Straight after visiting the Basilica, we recommend exploring the Campanile. This structure is the Cathedral’s bell tower and is the symbol of Venice, thus it is one of the most photographed buildings in the Serenissima. You will get an incredible bird’s eye view of the whole of Venice from its observation deck.
The next stop is Campo Santa Margherita, which you will get to if you head south towards Dorsoduro district. This square is extremely lively, as it is usually packed with students and young people, since this neighborhood houses the Ca’ Foscari University. Some of the best and inexpensive pizzerias of Venice are located in this Campo.
Once you have indulged in a delicious pizza, keep walking south until you come upon the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Focused on pre-nineteenth century art, this museum gallery is one of the largest in the world. After visiting the Gallery, continue in the same direction (south) until you see the impressive Santa Maria della Salute, one of the city’s most famous churches. The temple is worth exploring and has a very particular story, since it was built to commemorate the end of a terrible plague that hit Venice during the seventeenth century.
Afterwards, take a water bus to the sestiere Cannaregio, which is situated to the north of the Grand Canal. Get off at “Ferrovia” (which is Venezia Santa Lucia railway’s vaporetto stop) and here, cross the Ponte delle Guglie and walk to the Jewish Ghetto, a wistful area where the Jews were forced to live during the Venetian Republic.
Heading back southwards, take the street Fondamenta della Misericordia and enjoy a stroll through this striking canal stretch, which is very lively during the evenings. Cannaregio offers tourists charming little canals, pretty houses and some of the town’s most interesting churches. It is one of the most authentic sestieri with a great atmosphere.
After the walk, you will probably find yourself right back at St Mark’s Square where you can stop and and have a drink in one of Venice’s most popular cafés: Caffè Florian or Caffè Quadri. Both coffee shops are inviting and cozy and offer a great view of Venice’s principal public square.
Once you are well rested, head to the Grand Canal and take a romantic and fascinating ride on a gondola before night falls.
The average gondola ride lasts 40 minutes, by which time you will probably be hungry. We recommend having a traditional Italian meal in one of Venice’s restaurants and then have a heavenly ice-cream for dessert.
If you would like to discover Venice’s museums in depth, you can make the most of the second day to do so. Otherwise, if you are not a great fan of museums, we suggest taking a water boat to some of the most interesting islands in the Venetian Lagoon.
If you prefer the second option, the day begins bright and early in the vaporetto stops: Fondamenta Nuovo or San Zaccaria. Here, take the Vaporetto LN line to get to the island of Torcello. Torcello offers various attractions like the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, founded in 639, and its Campanile. To get a great view of the island and the Lagoon, we recommend climbing to bell tower's observation deck.
After visiting Torcello,take the same water bus LN line to the island of Burano, one of the prettiest and most colourful enclaves. If you are hungry, we recommend having spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams), an Italian classic, which is very popular in Burano.
Next is Murano, also known as the Glass island, thanks to its popular glass-making. You can still visit some of its glass factories.
Before saying goodbye to this magical city, we suggest heading to Piazza San Marco to see it one last time and enjoy its grandeur.
There are several ways of heading back to the airport depending on where you fly from. If you depart from Treviso Airport, you can take a vaporetto to Piazzale Roma and take the bus from there. From Marco Polo Airport, you can either take the same water bus to Piazzale Roma and from there a bus, or you can take a Alilaguna vaporetto directly to the Airport.
If you are fortunate enough to stay longer in Venice and have followed our itinerary, there are still many other attractions to visit in the city, as well as nearby charming cities such as Padua and Verona to discover.