How To Spend One Day in Venice: 12 Best Things to do

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Discover how to spend one day in Venice to see and do as much as possible in a limited amount of time.

Venice is tiny! So tiny that you can walk from one end of the island to the other in only an hour. Despite Venice’s small size, this guide for Venice in a day is power-packed with all the things you can do to ensure you hit all the best spots in the city. It includes free things to do in Venice, paid things to do, Venice public transportation and Venice food!

Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and one of the top stops with one week in Italy, so no matter what you will have an amazing time. It is also one of the best places to visit on a European girls trip!

With many reasons to visit Italy, visiting Venice for a day should not be a problem. Also, be sure to check out this interactive walking map of Venice for your adventures!

(Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and you may even receive a small discount. See disclosure for more information.)


HOW TO SPEND ONE DAY IN VENICE

FREE THINGS TO DO IN VENICE

View The Grand Canal

  • Open Hours: All hours

Tips

  • Head there in the morning to avoid crowds (I suggest you leave your accommodation at 7 AM)
  • Avoid shopping for souvenirs in this area as prices are inflated
  • Bring a map with you as your phone’s GPS is not accurate in the maze of Venice streets
  • Find a restaurant or cafe along the edge of the canal for a meal or snack. This is a great place to watch and observe Venetian life

The Grand Canal is the main waterway in Venice that splits the city into two parts. This waterway, along with other smaller waterways, is the main transportation system in Venice.

As a result, you will see an abundance of traditional gondolas and other water vehicles (although not nearly as many as gondolas) on this canal. The canal is lined on both sides with beautiful churches and stunning architecture, so a walk along the edges is very lovely.

The Grand Canal can get quite busy later in the day, due to it being right in the middle of the city, and a very popular tourist spot. Therefore, I suggest heading there bright and early to get some photos without the crowds.

The Grand Canal bridges at four points in the city, the oldest and most famous bridge is the Rialto Bridge.


Rialto Market

  • Open Hours: Tuesday to Saturday – 7:30 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Location: Campo della Pescaria | Vicino il Ponte di Rialto, 30125 Venice, Italy

Tips

  • Head here early in the morning as vendors start selling at 7:30 AM and by 11 most of the fresh produce is gone.
  • If you don’t like the smell of fish avoid this market
  • If you’d like to experience the Rialto Market to its fullest try out the Food Market Tour. Which is an Italian culinary adventure around the market with a local guide, food & wine tastings followed by a short Gondola ride across the Grand Canal

The Rialto market is not only historic but a local favourite! If you start your morning near the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge this is the best place to make your next stop. It is always bustling with activity and is a great way to see Venice locals going about their daily routines. There is so much to see in this market; from fruits and vegetables, to fish to carnival masks.

Although the fish smell may detour some, I think heading to any local market in a city is a great way to experience the culture secondhand.

As you can tell there are a ton of amazing and unique experiences to have in Italy!

Recommended Tours:


Rialto Bridge

  • Open Hours: All hours
  • Location: Sestiere San Polo, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

Tips

  • Be prepared to take some photos here, the bridge and the view from it are amazing
  • Avoid shopping for souvenirs in this area as prices are inflated
  • If you want to capture a photo on the bridge, head here early in the morning. By midday, it is too busy to get any good photos without people walking through them.

The Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in Venice. This is due to its rich history and amazing design. It offers an incredible view of the Grand Canal and after approximately 10 AM it gets very busy.

If you want a photo without crowds make this your first stop of the day, and maybe head back in the evening to overlook the Grand Canal in all its splendor during a different time in the day.

From the top of the bridge, you can get some of the best / cutest photos too! I spent a lot of my one day in Venice looking for cute photo spots and this one is pretty high on the list.


St. Mark’s Square / Piazza San Marco

  • Hours: All hours
  • Location: St. Mark’s Square

Tips:

  • Be prepared to face a large crowd of people. If you hate crowds avoid this area or go during off-hours
  • The restaurants in St. Marks Square are quite pricey. Instead of splurging on food and drinks at such a main tourist attraction, save some money and head to a restaurant on a side street
  • If you want to go to an attraction you should purchase skip-the-line tickets. These allow you to enter the most popular attractions without having to wait inline
St. Mark's Square

Piazza San Marco is the most famous and visited place in Venice. It is the main square in the whole city and it holds a very rich history and various important buildings. Some of which are: the Church of Saint Mark and the Clock Tower.

When I visited the square it was absolutely packed, but the architecture of the church made it worth it. I found it quite enjoyable to walk around the square and take in all the rich history and beauty.

If you want, you can visit some of the buildings – church, clock tower, museums – for a tour. Personally, I’m not really a museum or tour person and prefer to explore things outside instead of spending hours inside. But, if you prefer to dig deeper into the history of a city while you travel this decision is all yours! Just remember with only one day in Venice you must spend your time wisely.


T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace

  • Hours: June & August: 10:15 AM to 8:15 PM, April & May + September & October: 10:15 AM to 7:30 PM, November – March:10:15 AM to 7:15 PM
  • Location: Rialto Bridge, Ramo del Fontego dei Tedeschi, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy

Tips:

  • Make a reservation beforehand (up to 15 days beforehand)
  • Arrive on time as they are very strict with their reservations
  • You will be walking through a department store to get here but fear not, you are going the right way!

Right near the Rialto Bridge and Rialto Market, there is a beautiful rooftop that offers FREE panoramic views of Venice. This is a really interesting stop during your one day in Venice to see the city from a new angle. I found it a little hard to find this place, but for reference, it’s inside a high-end department store and on the fourth floor. If you see a bunch of expensive items, you’re in the right place.


Dorsoduro

  • Hours: All hours
  • Location: Area of Venice

Tips:

  • Head to Calle Sant’Agnese to do your souvenir shopping. The prices here are reasonable and the workers won’t pressure you into sales.
  • Check out San Sebastiano Church. This church is adorned with paintings on the ceilings, walls, organ shutters and all around the altar.
  • Go to Venice’s modern art gallery: Peggy Guggenheim Collection (€14).
  • Head to a bacaro for lunch, and enjoy a classic Venetian bar that serves small snacks.
  • For some cheap food and drinks head to Osteria al Squero, where you can find €1 crostini and wine from €1.20 a glass.

After a morning of visiting the busiest tourist spots in Venice, escaping to the area of Dorsoduro will be a welcome relief. This area holds the “real Venice” without all the tourists that have flooded into San Marco. This area is one of my favourite in the whole city! Mainly because I hate the crowds of the other areas, but also because this area is so authentic.

There’s also so much to do here! You could spend a lot of time here if you’re interested. If your planning on taking home some souvenirs this is the perfect place to find traditional silk slippers or a funky Carnevale mask.

There’s also an abundance of Churches such as San Sebastiano, and since they are further from the city center they are considerably less busy than more known ones. Also, if you’re into modern art or classic Italian restaurants, you will find some of the best options here in Dorsoduro.

Since you only have one day in Venice I suggest budgeting around 3 hours to spend here, although this depends on what you want to see most during your short visit. If you have extra time consider heading to Murano, Burano, and Torcello Islands. They are equally as beautiful and worth the visit.

However, you should be sure to see more of Italy than just Venice to experience all of what this beautiful country has to offer!


Basilica Di Santa Maria Della Salute

  • Hours:  Sun-Sat: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Location: Dorsoduro, 1, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy

Tips:

  • Although the entrance is free, it is suggested to leave a donation
  • If you aren’t into viewing Churches from the inside then get a view of this lovely Church from across the canal
Basilica Di Santa Maria Della Salute

The Basilica Di Santa Maria is a stunning Catholic Church located right on the Grand Canal. The exterior is a postcard-perfect, and the interior has various beautiful pieces of artwork. If you happen to walk by I suggest entering to check it out, it’s free after all.


PAID THINGS TO DO IN VENICE

St Mark’s Basilica

  • Hours:  Mondays through Saturdays 9:30 AM until 5:00 PM & Sundays until 4:30 PM (5 PM in the summer).
  • Location: Piazza San Marco, 328, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy
  • Cost: €27

Tips:

  • Purchase Skip line tickets to avoid waiting in line for hours (these tickets are listed below)
  • If you wear shorts and a tank top you will not be allowed in, be sure to dress modestly (covering your shoulders and a longer skirt). You can also pack a small shawl to put over your outfit to help cover u
  • Backpacks and big bags are not allowed in the Church so avoid bringing them

St. Marks Basilica was built in the 9th century to bury St. Mark. It is made out of beautiful white marble and decked out in so much gold that it is nicknamed Chiesa d’Oro (Church of gold).

Inside the church, there is an altar decked out in over 2000 gems such as sapphires, rubies, pearls, emeralds and many more. It is highly recommended to talk a guided tour through this church to understand the rich biblical history of this Basilica.

Recommended Tour


Venice Gondola ride

  • Hours:  9 AM – 9 PM
  • Location:  Unnamed Road, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
  • Cost: €27

Tips:

  • Take the Gondola ride in the evening for a very romantic ride around Venice
  • Purchase tickets online to avoid the hassle while you’re there
  • Spend €10 extra euros to receive a serenade while you ride for an extra special adventure through Venice

Finish your one day in Venice by hopping onto a gondola and taking a 30-minute cruise around the beautiful city of Venice. This is one of the most quintessential Venetian activities that everyone should consider doing. It’s the perfect activity for resting after a busy day of exploring and just soaking in the iconic canals.

The best time to take a gondola ride is early in the morning or in the evening. I prefer in the evening when the sun is setting and the city turns more romantic. If you pay an extra €10 the gondolier will serenade you while rowing you through the city. This is a one-of-a-kind experience and definitely something you will never forget.

After a romantic ride, I suggest you head to a lovely Italian dinner to finish off the day. At the end of this article, I have listed some amazing Venice restaurants to give you some inspiration!


Venice Boat Tour

  • Hours:  9 AM – 6 PM
  • Location:  Diverse Locations
  • Cost: €10

Tips:

  • Download the timetable before you arrive
  • Know where all the pick-up points are so you can plan where you will get on and off beforehand
  • Buy tickets before you arrive to ensure you have a spot on the boat

Venice is a city made up entirely of canals, therefore, one of the most efficient and best ways to get around is by boat. There are companies that off hop on hop off tours all day throughout the city of Venice.

Since you only have one day in Venice if you want to make sure you have time to visit a list of locations look into this option as it will bring you to various attractions around the city efficiently and with great views along the way.


The Gritti Palace

  • Hours:  12 PM – 6 PM
  • Location: Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
  • Cost: Depends on what you purchase

Tips:

  • Try to dress a little nicer here as it is a very fancy hotel
  • The cocktails are very expensive but the cheapest bottle of wine is €40, which is quite reasonable considering the location
  • Sit on the edge of the terrace so you can get a photo with the beautiful background

This was actually one of my favorite stops during my one day in Venice adventure. I loved how beautiful the hotel was, and the view from the restaurant terrace where we ordered and drank our wine was astonishing.

Something else that really stood out to me was how kind the staff was! My best friend Jess accidentally knocked over a full glass of red wine and it went all over the floor and splashed onto some of the white table cloths.

She tried to help clean but they wouldn’t let her. Then they actually brought her a piece of chocolate because they could tell she felt really bad (and a whole new glass of wine!). This was above and beyond customer service and something I really appreciate in the hospitality industry. I highly suggest putting this stop on your list.


Doge’s Palace

  • Hours: April 1st to October 31st – Everyday 8.30 AM – 7:00 PM (last admission 6:00 PM)
    November 1st to March 31st – Everyday 8.30 AM – 5.30 PM (last admission 4.30 PM)
  • Location: Doge’s Palace, Piazza San Marco, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy 
  • Cost: €60

Tips:

  • Try to get to the palace in the morning as it is considerably less busy
  • You are not allowed to take photos in most rooms – especially flash photography. If you are a photo junky keep this in mind
  • If you like going off the beaten path I suggest you purchase the secret itineraries tour, with this you gain access to additional rooms that are not part of the regular tours
  • Doge’s Palace is quite expensive. If you know you want to go to various museums I suggest you get the Museum Pass (which provides access to Doge’s Palace + 10 other museums in Venice)
  • Check out the Bookshop and Cafe inside the Palace

Doge’s Palace is an architectural dream! There is a refreshing combination of contemporary art, Renaissance masterpieces, breathtaking entrances, grand staircases, and stunning rooms that will all leave you amazed. If you are an art lover or want to experience something magical, this is the place for you.

In addition to the beautiful architecture, it holds the largest canvas in the world made by the famous artist Tintoretto. If that’s not enough excitement, you can also walk across the Bridge of Sighs, the bridge prisoners used to walk across to have their last look at Venice before serving their sentence. A guided tour is recommended in order to experience all this historic building has to offer.

Recommended Tour:

Additional Information

Venice Public Transportation

Venice Water Bus

Since Venice is made up almost entirely of canals the main mode of transportation is water taxis. These are also called Vaporetto or waterbus. If you don’t want to walk the canals, you are in need of assistance, or you want to make the most of your one day in Venice the water bus is an affordable and efficient way to get around.

A water bus ticket for 75 minutes costs €7.5.

Venice Food

Italians take their restaurants very seriously. There are so many delicious restaurants to choose from in Venice that can fit all desires. Therefore, I have chosen some of the best to make the choice easier. All options serve Italian cuisine because when in Rome do as the Romans do right?

  • Osteria al Squero
    • Address: Dorsoduro, 943-944, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
    • Price: €
    • Serves: Cheap bacari (small snacks) of Venice
  • H2 NO
    • Address: Campo S.Silvestro, 1105, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
    • Price: €
    • Serves: Fresh food, organic wine, craft beer
  • Corte Sconta
    • Address: Calle del Pestrin, 3886, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy
    • Price: €€€
    • Serves: Seafood
  • Estro – Vino e Cucina
    • Address: Dorsoduro 3778 Crosera, Calle S. Pantalon, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
    • Price: €€
    • Serves: Over 500 types of wine
  • Antico Dolo
    • Address: Ruga Rialto, 778, 30175 Venezia VE, Italy
    • Price: €€€
    • Serves: Classic Venetian dishes
  • Gelatoteca Suso
    • Address: Calle della Bissa, 5453, 30124 San Marco, Venezia VE, Italy
      Price: €
      Serves: Delicious gelato

Where to Stay in Venice

I highly suggest you book with booking.com when visiting Venice. Anywhere on the little island is a great choice because everything is within walking around and there is not a bad area to be in. Use this map to check out some of the accommodation prices!

Booking.com

Planning a trip to Venice can be stressful. Check out how to plan a stress-free trip to Venice to make your experience more enjoyable!

Full Day Tours


All these things to do in one day in Venice may seem daunting but fear not! It is actually very manageable if you budget your time right. Just so you know, Venice is so small and many of these activities take 5 minutes so I was done seeing everything I wanted by 2 PM ( after heading out at 7 AM)!

Are you traveling more of Italy after Venice? Don’t forget to read the best places in Italy for a holiday.

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Love,

SSW

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