So you are planning for a longer Italy itinerary and you would love to spend 2 days in Venice, but don’t know where to start. If you are wondering how much time you would need in the city, let me say that with a 2 days itinerary you could get to see most of the important tourist attractions.
I have been to Venice already 3 times, but I regret not spending the night because you can only scratch the surface with only one day on your hands. That’s why I strongly encourage you to allocate 2 days for Venice. And I will help you plan the perfect itinerary, with maps, and all the information you might need.
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2 days in Venice itinerary – everything you should know
No matter if you are visiting Italy for the first time or you are returning because you’ve loved the country as much as I do, there are some questions you might need the answer to.
As mentioned before, I have already been to Venice 3 times and will continue going back since I simply cannot get bored of the city on the water. There is something special about it, from the beautiful old cafes to the luxurious hotels hosted in Italian villas, and the history-packed streets and buildings.
How to get to Venice
Venice is one of the most visited towns in the world, not only in Italy, thus you can imagine how easily reached it should be. As a matter of fact, Venice is served by 2 important international airports, 2 train stations, and boat buses.
Getting to Venice by Plane
If you are traveling by plane from outside of Italy or not, you will be landing at either one of the following 2 airports: Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE), or Treviso Airport (TSF).
Usually, low-cost flights land at Treviso, which is a little bit further away than Marco Polo airport, but that is not always the rule.
Getting to Venice from the airport is easy, no matter where your flight lands.
From Marco Polo Airport there are a few easy ways to get to your hotel in Venice:
- by Water Taxi Transfer – you will have enough space for your luggage, the taxi will leave you at your hotel, but you will have to share the ride with other tourists. Book your transfer here!
- by bus to Venice City Center – this is the option you might want to consider when traveling on a budget because this is the cheapest option. Buses run every 20 minutes, the ride takes roughly 20 minutes, and you will have access to Wifi. However, take into consideration the fact that you will have to walk from Piazzale Roma to your hotel. Book your bus ticket here!
- Private Water Taxi Transfer – if you would rather travel alone and are in Venice for a special occasion, you will want to splurge on a private transfer. Book your transfer here!
- By Public Transportation – bus number 5 connects Marco Polo airport to Venice city center in Piazzale Roma. Depending on the traffic, the ride takes around 30-45 minutes and makes other stops along the way. The other option by bus would be the ATVO blue bus, much faster since it doesn’t make additional stops along the way. Alilaguna is the water public bus, that will leave you in Piazza San Marco.
While Treviso Airport is located further away from the city (roughly 40 kilometers away), it is still well linked to Venice and you won’t find it difficult to get to the city.
- by Express Bus – one of the cheapest options, you should definitely look into this. Book your transfer here!
- by airport shuttle bus to Mestre Train station, and from there to Venezia Santa Lucia by train
- ATVO bus – the public bus makes several stops, goes through Venezia Mestre, stops at the Santa Lucia train station, and ends in Piazzale Roma. See timetables here!
Traveling by car? Can you drive into Venice?
If you have planned for a longer itinerary around Italy and you are planning to rent a car, you might want to do that after you have visited Venice. That’s because no cars are allowed inside the city.
Another option would be to choose a hotel with parking facilities, on the outskirts of Venice. You can also choose to stay in Venezia Mestre, from where you can get to the city by train.
Getting to Venice by Train
This is another easy option if you are traveling from other towns in Italy. All trains will take you to Venezia Mestre and from there you can take the train to Venice Santa Lucia.
How to get around Venice
As mentioned above, there are no cars allowed inside the city, thus you won’t have too many options to get around Venice.
The good news is the city is not so big, thus you can walk to most of the important tourist attractions.
On the other hand, there are various lines of “water buses” that will take you anywhere you want. Even to other island.
The best option would be to get the Venice Public Transport Pass for 48 hours. You will get unlimited use of the public transport (ACTV vaporetti and buses) in Venice, Lido, and unlimited use of train R and RV in the municipality of Venice.
When is the best time to visit Venice?
Choosing the best time for your vacation is extremely important, especially in Italy. Unfortunately, you cannot really skip the crowds in a place like Venice, but you can choose a period with nice weather.
I wouldn’t go during winter or summer, temperatures are either too low or too high. Being on the water, Venice has a humid climate and you will feel both extremes more intensely.
April, May, and October might be the perfect months for me when it comes to visiting Venice.
The Carnival takes usually place during February, but needless to say Venice gets incredibly crowded on those days, and prices skyrocket. On top of that, the weather is cold and you cannot really enjoy the city to the fullest.
Where to stay in Venice
While you cannot expect to stay in Venice on a budget, if you know where to look for you will find great options.
Venice neighborhoods in a nutshell
When you choose where to stay in Venice, you will want to understand first the city’s neighborhoods.
If you are traveling on a budget, you will want to stay in Venezia Mestre, a different city 10 minutes away from Venice.
Cannareggio is the area around Santa Lucia train station stretching all the way to the Rialto Bridge, a bit less crowded than the city center. It is also an area packed with restaurants, shops, squares and canals.
Castello is where you will want to stay if you like peace and quiet. There won’t be quite as many restaurants to choose from, but you will get to have a taste of the authentic Italian way of living. It is also the place to be if you are planning to go on a day trip to Murano and Burano.
San Marco and San Polo are the heart of the city, with most of the important landmarks, but also most of the crowds. As expected, these are also the most touristy and expensive places you could choose to stay in while in Venice.
Hotel Danieli a Luxury Collection – it had to be first, top of the list, just because it might be one of the most famous hotels in Venice. A few minutes away from San Marco Square and Grand Canal, the hotel has a rooftop terrace from where you can enjoy your drink with the Doge’s Palace insight. Have I convinced you yet?
JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa – Stay on your private island in Venice. Does that sound like a dream? And yet it can come true if you book a room at this beautiful resort on the island of roses (Isola Delle Rose).
Hotel Antiche Figure – not another 5* stay in Venice, but with a charming old Venetian flavor, only a few minutes away from Venice Santa Lucia train station, and a great price tag for Venice. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a room overlooking the canal.
Hotel Olimpia Venice, BW Signature Collection – a nice hotel with an enchanting garden where you will enjoy your Italian breakfast. Guests have rated it as “great value for money”. Choose to stay here when you travel as a couple or with your family because they have different types of rooms. The hotel is hidden in Santa Croce where you won’t be bothered by crowds.
Chiara Lodge – only a few minutes walk from Venezia Mestre Railway Station, you can stay in an authentic Italian villa and live like locals, while still seeing one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Are 2 days in Venice enough?
Ideally you would spend 2 nights in Venice in order to have 2 full days to explore the city, and that, in my opinion, would be enough.
Of course, if you want to also see some beautiful colorful places, you might want to add an extra day.
However, if you are only here for Venice and its main attractions, 2 days should be enough time.
The Venice Pass
What is the Venice Pass and should you consider getting one?
The truth is, whether you spend your money on the pass or not depends a lot on the number of tourist attractions you plan to visit during your stay.
If you would only like to see 1 or 2, it would be cheaper to get individual tickets. However, if you would like to see most of the included attractions, you will be saving overall.
What does the Venice Pass include?
- Skip The Line entrance to St. Mark’s Basilica
- Access to Pala D’Oro
- Skip The Line entrance to St. Mark’s Museum
- Access to the terrace with overview on St. Mark’s Square
- An audio guide
- 30 minutes shared gondola ride
- 20 minutes walking tour
- Access to the Doge’s Palace
- Access to Bridge of Sighs
- Access to the Archaeological Museum and Marciana National Library and other places
Things to do in 2 days in Venice
Start your day with a coffee at Caffe Florian
One of the most Instagrammable cafes in Venice, set in the perfect location right in Piazza San Marco. You simply couldn’t have a better start of the day.
It will impress you to know that this is the oldest coffee shop in Europe, opened at the end of 1720. Start your day with some specialties that have stood the test of time.
Visit the Doge’s Palace
Walking down the picturesque streets of Venice or sailing its canals, it might be hard to imagine that the city was the center of a vast empire once. For centuries it was one of the global centers of commerce, akin to what is now New York, London, or Hong Kong. The historical landmarks the visitors see today are a testament to that glorious history. And none is more symbolic of Venice’s imperial past than the Doge’s Palace.
Venice was a republic for more than a thousand years, and, as such, it was led by an elected official called the Doge. He was a kind of president per life with autocratic powers checked by the Minor Council or the Signoria.
To reflect the wealth and power of the Republic, the Venetians built a new palace for their leader in 1340, the current Doge’s Palace. Destroyed by several fires during the ages, the complex became even more impressive with each renovation and refurbishment. Today, it is one of the most recognizable landmarks globally.
As one might expect it, most people flocking to Venice will want to visit the palace. Thus, if you only have 2 days in Venice, you need to come prepared and book your tickets in advance.
Take a picture with the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri)
An enclosed bridge made of white limestones, the bridge’s name has a darker origin than its beautiful appearance might let on.
Built in 1600, the bridge connects the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace with the so-called New Prison of the city. The view from the bridge was the last thing condemned prisoners would see before their execution, so it is said that they let out deep sighs when they crossed it. Hence the name, the Bridge of Sighs.
Visit the St. Mark’s Basilica and climb the Campanille
Attached to the Doge’s Palace, Saint Mark’s Basilica dominates the famous square with the same name. It makes sense to have the seat of the spiritual power next to the residence of thetemporal ruler.
Interestingly, the church, the plaza, and their association with Saint Markoriginate in one of the most audacious break-ins recorded in history.
It is said that around the year 828, during a storm, a group of Venetian ships had to take shelter in the Egyptian port of Alexandria, then a major city of the Islamic Empire. During their stay, a couple of Venetian merchants regularly prayed at the tomb of Saint Mark the Evangelist. There, a local priest and a monk told them about the Islamic leader’s alleged plan to demolish the tomb. Worried about Saint Mark’s remains, the Venetians replaced them with the bones of another saint, Claudia, smuggling out the relics in a basked filled with pork meat—they knew that the Muslim customs officials wouldn’t touch the forbidden animal.Then, they left the port, sailing for their hometown.
On their return voyage, the Venetian ship was preserved from shipwreck by Saint Mark himself, who appeared and warned the sailors of the imminent danger ahead.
Once the holy relic arrived in Venice, the ruling doge, Giustiniano Participazio, ordered the construction of a new church worthy of housing the remains of one of Jesus’ companions. Thus, the first Venetian church dedicated to Saint Markwas constructed.
The building constructed by Participazio was damaged and then reconstructed by Dodge Pietro I Orselo at his family’s expense.
Doge Dominico I Contarini decided to reconstruct and enlarge Saint Mark’s in 1063, giving it its current-day appearance. The cathedral suffered later embellishments and renovations, the most prominent adornments being acquired by another criminal act, this time against a Christian Empire.
In 1198, Muslim armies retook the holy city of Jerusalem from the Christians. To liberate it, the pope called on the European nobles to join a new crusade. But, the easiest way to reach the Holy Land was by sea, Venice having the largest fleet at the time.
The leader of Venice, a 95 years old blind man named Enrico Dandolo, agreed to ship the crusaders if they helped him retake the city of Zara from the Kingdom of Hungary. So instead of fighting the Infidels, the Crusaders were busy battling a fellow Christian ruler. Unfortunately, worse was yet to come.
After conquering Zara, Dandolo convinced the Crusaders to backstab their most important ally, the Byzantine Empire. While the Byzantines were busy fighting the Muslims, the Crusaders sacked and pillaged Constantinopole, undermining the Christian cause out of immeasurable greed. To add insult to injury, Dandolo raided many Byzantine churches and public buildings. Some of the ill-gotten columns and reliefs now adorn Saint Mark’s Basilica, including the four bronze horses above its entrance.
Although founded on theft and adorned with art stolen from the massacred Byzantines, Saint Mark’s Basilica is an impressive construction—it is both a monument to human greed and ambition and one heralding the teachings and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Once again, it is worth booking your ticket in advance since every time I’ve visited there was a line.
You have 2 options available:
Go on a romantic gondola ride
If you have made it all the way here, don’t skip the ultimate experience: a gondola ride on the romantic canals or Venice.
You will have plenty of picture opportunities, the gondolier might enchant you with a song, and you will also get to see the city from a different perspective.
On your second day in Venice you will have 2 options.
Either explore some of the less popular neighborhoods, admire beautiful buildings, and visit less popular museum. Or go on a day trip to Burano, and search for some of the most photogenic corners of Venice.
On the map, I have included a list of potential attractions to let yourself discover on your strolls through the streets of Venice.
One of the older palaces in the city, Ca’d’Oro is an impressive building on the Grand Canal’s waterfront. Finalized in 1430, it currently functions as a museum, the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti.
The Rialto is an area of Venice that has been the financial and trade center of the city. It is known for its monumental markets and the very instagramable Rialto Bridge crossing the Grand Canal.
Extra tip: Check out the Libreria Acqua Alta nearby
Another waterfront palace on the Grand Canal is Ca’Foscari, the palace of the Foscari family. It was erected by Doge Francesco Foscari in 1453 in the gothic style. Today, it is the main seat of the Ca’Foscari University of Venice.
If you’d like to marvel at how the wealthy have lived in the hey-days of Venice, you need to stroll along the Grand Canal, home of several palaces.
Overlooking the canal’s water, Ca’Rezzonico is a Venetian palace with an iconic marble façade. Built in the 18th century, it is a notable example of Venetian baroque and rococo architecture and interior decorations.
Currently, it functions as a musem dedicated to 18th-century Venice, displaying several paintings from leading local painters of the period, including Francesco Guardi and Giambattista Tiepolo.
Contarini del Bovolo Palace
Contarini del Bovolo is a small palace in Venice best known for its external multi-arched spiral staircase known as the Staircase of the Snail (Scala Contarini del Bovolo). The staircase leads to an arcade that provides an impressive city view so that you can snap some great photo shots in addition to the quirky staircase.
Teatro La Fenice
Considered one of the most important landmarks of Italian theater and opera, the Teatro La Fenice was the site of many premieres of works by Verdi, Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. Sadly, the building was severely damaged by an arson attack in 1996. However, it was successfully restored, continuing to host the art lovers since it reopened in 2004.
The Art Academy of Venice was founded in 1750, becoming the first insitution to study art restoration.In 1807 Napoleon Bonaparte refounded the institution by imperial decree, renaming it The Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
Today, visitors can marvel at masterpieces of Venetian painting up to the 18th century, including works by Tintoretto, Canaletto, and Titian. Probably the most famous piece in the collection is Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, albeit not on permanent display due to its fragility.
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Known locally as Salute (health), the Santa Maria della Salute is a Roman Catholic basilica. Given its position wedged between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, the Salute is visible when entering Saint Mark’s square from the water.
Santa Maria della Presentazione Church
Santa Maria della Prestazione is an important church in Venice, built on the waterfront of Giudecca Island. It is popularly known as La Zitelle since it used to be part of a complex that offered shelter to young maidens (zitelle in Italian) who had no dowry.
Other things worth doing in Venice
If you have more time in Venice or you would like to skip some of the above attractions, rest assured there is plenty to do in Venice.
Here are some activities, museums, and attractions worth looking into:
- Go on an excursion to Murano, Burano, and Torcello – you will get there by boat and will get to see a different side of Venice. See more here!
- Do a wine tasting – are you even in Italy if you don’t try some local wine? Each region has its specialty, and you should give Veneto wine a chance. See more here!
- Don’t feel like traveling all the way to Murano? Visit the Murano glass museum in Venice. See more here!
- Get lost in the Borges Labyrinth
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