There’s no place in the world like Venice, it’s an incredible city.
With the most picturesque streets and houses you can imagine, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views every moment you’re in Venice. It’s a city built in another time, when access to water meant access to money.
Venice is small enough to wander in just a few days, but if you’re really short on time, like I was, you can cover a lot of ground in one day.
I arrived in Venice on a Saturday morning at 10 am and left the next day on a 12 pm train back to Milan. One day was just enough time to get a feel for Venice, and to ensure it remains at the top of my travel list- I don’t know when I’ll make it back to Venice, but I’m eager to explore more of the city while I’m living in Europe.
Short on time in this magical city like I was? Here’s how I’d recommend spending your time in this romantic, gorgeous destination.
One Day in Venice
After checking into our Airbnb in the Dorsoduro area, we decided to wander the neighborhood for a bit before grabbing lunch. Dorsoduro, in comparison to San Marco, is much quieter. It feels residential, but there are still plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants to pop in and out of.
If you’re into art, the Guggenheim is in this area- we didn’t have time to check it out, but I’ve heard good things about the collection.
Heading into the afternoon, we stopped at Al Bottegon for cicchetti. What are chiccheti? Venetian tapas. Loved this local wine shop, it’s known as one of the last authentic Venetian places- so glad we found it for lunch. Try the ricotta and pumpkin, fresh flower and egg, or brie with anchovy. Also, the house wine here costs €1. For less than €11, we shared a delicious lunch on the canal. Win.
Next up, we wandered toward the Grand Canal, also known as the main ‘street’ in Venice. Watching the gondolas and boats go back and forth on the canals was one of my favorite ways to pass the time. 🙂
We headed towards the Rialto Bridge, which wasn’t hard to find- it was packed with tourists. Not one for situations with a lot of people, we crossed the bridge and headed to the Rialto Market to browse Venice’s fresh produce and seafood.
On our way back to cross the bridge, I spotted a side corner, where I snapped a great ‘from below’ pic of the bridge.
Next up? Gelato break.
I’d heard Suso Gelatoteca was the best in Venice, and it sure didn’t disappoint. I tried the tiramisu and stracciatella- so, so good.
Since we were nearby, we headed into T Fondaco del Tedeschi, a luxury department store, with a free panoramic view of Venice. The catch? You need to get a ticket with a time stamp, which specifics a time to return. Luckily, our wait was only 40 minutes, so we headed downstairs and had an Aeprol spritz at the lobby bar while waiting.
So glad we waited because the views were unbelievable. To one side, you saw half of the Grand Canal and the sea in the distance, and to the other side, more of the Grand Canal and city’s red-tile roofs.
Wandering back through the city, we headed towards Piazza San Marco, stopping for a slice of pizza from a small window shop with a few locals lined up outside. I don’t remember the name of the shop, but there’s a bunch in Venice- choose one where you see locals, and you’re almost guaranteed a good slice.
St. Mark’s is often called the heart of Venice- it’s a great place to people watch and admire astounding architecture.
The piazza is home to Basilica San Marco, one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Lines to get inside the basilica are often long, but you can reserve ahead of time online.
Also in the piazza, the Campanile di San Marco (bell tower). The tower dates from 1912, it’s an exact replica of the previous tower. We didn’t go up on our first day, but vowed to return in the morning.
With a little over an hour to spare before dinner, we wandered side streets some more, and stumbled across the Acqua Altra Liberia, a unique bookstore. Here, the books are piled in gondolas, and there’s even a staircase of books you can climb for great views of the adjacent canals.
We waited outside of Osteria Alla Staffa for it to open and were rewarded with one of the only non-reservation tables. I had caprese salad and seafood linguine, both were amazing.
Post-dinner, we headed to Al Remer to watch the sun set over the Grand Canal. Here, you can walk up to the bar and grab a drink to take outside to the pier. It’s also a restaurant, and the food looked great.
In the mood for one more drink, we walked over to El Sbarlefo and savored one last spritz before calling it a night.
Exhausted from catching an early train to Venice the day before from Milan, we slept in and didn’t leave our Airbnb until 9 am. Our Airbnb served breakfast, so we enjoyed a croissant with Nutella before heading out.
We headed straight for the bell tower in Piazza San Marco. By the time we got there, we had to wait ~20 minutes to go to the top, but it was so worth it. Unlike a lot of the monuments with aerial views in cities across Europe, there was a lift in the bell tower, which made it super easy to get up and down quickly.
This was one of my favorite things we did in Venice- the views of San Marco and surrounding islands were incredible. Highly recommend if you have nice weather while you’re visiting.
In the mood for a snack, we headed to I Tre Mercanti for what we were told was the city’s best tiramisu. So good.
With a few hours to pass before heading back to Milan, we wandered around back streets and bridges. Venice is a city in which maps are helpful, but not fun. There’s something delightful about following narrow streets to tiny piazzas and canal ways.
As a final goodbye to Venice, we stopped at Estro, a wine bar, for a final spritz.
On My Next Trip
- Taking the Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour
- Enjoying Venice’s public transport system by water, the vaporetto. We walked everywhere, but the public transport boats zip around Venice and can help save you time
- Indulging in a gondola ride down the Grand Canal. Often hailed as a ‘can’t miss’ experience, we passed on this in favor of wandering side streets and seeing more of Venice on foot
- Murao: The Island of Murano is famous for its glass furnaces, many of which are free to visit
- Burano: The Island of Burano may be the further away from Venice, but strolling amongst its colored houses makes it worth the journey