Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world – and rightly so! The historic Italian city is truly one-of-a-kind. Boasting picturesque canals, winding alleyways and centuries-old buildings, it is loved by locals and the millions of visitors it receives each year alike. Venice has lots to see and do, and if you too are planning a visit, you are likely wondering how many days in Venice you should plan into your itinerary.
Ideally, you should plan to spend at least 3 to 4 days in Venice to allow you to see the main attractions, as well as visit some islands and even, go on a day trip.
The options of things to do in Venice are almost endless, and itineraries can look very different depending on personal interest. Let it be history, food or nightlife – Venice has something for everyone! However, with this vast number of things to do, it is understandable that you might feel overwhelmed as to what you should be prioritising.
During my visit to the city, I managed to create an itinerary for my 4 days in Venice that allowed me to explore the city and its surroundings. Hopefully, it will give you some inspiration to make your own plans and aid you in deciding how many days in Venice is enough.
How Many Days in Venice?
To decide how many days to spend in Venice, you must decide before your visit what is important to you. It is possible to see some of the city in one day, but to really soak in the city and its offerings you should plan in at least 3 to 4 days in Venice.
Venice is a walkable city, and a lot of the main attractions are located around the San Marco area. However, during peak season, Venice is also a bustling city. An average of 24 million people visit the city each year. Delays while walking the narrow streets and queues outside and within the main attractions are likely during these times, all of which mean that you might not be able to achieve all you desire within one day.
It is also important to note that there are no roads or cars in Venice as it is made up of several islands connected through canals. While there is public transport in the form of boats, you either need to plan in how much time you will spend walking (make sure to invest in comfortable walking shoes!) or using public transport to get to your destinations.
To do the city justice, I would recommend planning in at least 3 days in Venice. This will allow you see the main attractions, as well as soak in the other areas outside San Marco such as San Polo and Cannaregio and give you enough time to also visit the islands surrounding the city.
Spending 4 days in Venice would furthermore allow you to explore the Veneto region and other cities such as Treviso or Verona – the city in which Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was set in.
Getting To and Around Venice
Venice can be reached through two airports. One is outside Venice in the mainland city of Treviso, and Marco Polo is just across the lagoon. Both airports are connected to the city through public transport.
You can also book a private transfer if you prefer to have a stress-free journey from the airport.
Should you be looking to get closer to your accommodation from Marco Polo airport, the blue Alilaguna line boat service stops at several points across the central lagoon such as Fondamente Nuove in Cannaregio and San Marco within about half an hour. If your Venice trip budget allows it, there are also shared water taxis that will take you directly to your hotel.
It is also possible to arrive to Venice by train from a nearby city such as Bologna, Milan or Florence, it’s best to book tickets in advance to get the best fares – you can click here to browse train routes and availability.
There are no roads or cars in Venice. The public transport system consists entirely of boats run by the ACTV network. Boats often serve several stops along the Grand Canal as well as providing access to the islands outside Venice such as Burano or Giudecca.
Services run very frequently – usually every 10 to 15 minutes within the hour – and you will often be sharing your ride with locals and other travellers alike. Detailed timetables can be obtained directly from ACTV. The company also offers its own app for iOS and Android that makes scheduling trips a lot easier.
While there is public transport in Venice, it is definitely possible to see Venice entirely on foot. Walking along the narrow alleyways and canals is what inspired the real feeling of being in Venice for me. Most districts are connected through bridges and Venice also has quite a few street signs to keep you on track. It is easy to get lost, but that is almost the best thing about it.
Overall it is still quite easy to get from one place to another by walking. Especially if you are trying to see the main tourist attractions around San Marco, it is possible to do entirely by foot. However, it is worth noting that there are stairs – lots of them, in fact.
Venice by foot is going to be more tricky if you have trouble using stairs or have a pram with you. I have seen people lifting wheelchairs and prams across these steps, but it is something you need to be aware of if you are considering navigating Venice by foot.
2 to 4 Days in Venice Itinerary
So, you are going to Venice, but what to do? During your first 2 days in Venice, you will want to try and see as much of the city as possible. Luckily, it is definitely possible to tick off many popular tourist sites and explore many of the cities charms and quirky attractions within 2 days.
Should you have the option to stay for 3 days in Venice, you can then also learn more about the surrounding islands and their cultural heritage. Of course, it is hard to narrow down exactly what to see and do, especially if you are looking for some activities outwith the typical sightseeing ‘agenda.’ Hopefully, this itinerary will inspire and help you choose how many days in Venice is enough for your trip.
Day 1 – See the Highlights of Venice
Start your day at Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
The bridge is probably one of the most famous sights in Venice in terms of how often it has been pictured in photographs. It stretches over the Grand Canal connecting the areas of San Marco and San Polo. Do not cross over just yet this time. Just stand and marvel at the beautiful architecture gaze on to the Grand Canal in front of you.
The bridge can get quite busy at times, so if you feel too overwhelmed by crowds when on the bridge, be sure to take a stroll down one of the side steps and walk along the grand canal. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from there should you not have had breakfast yet or be needing a coffee top-up.
My recommendation would be to keep your eyes peeled when looking down the side streets between restaurants. Tucked away down the darker alleyways, apart from the hustle and bustle and crowded tourist hotspots you will often find a bacaro – a traditional Venetian bar.
These bars are usually a lot more ‘stripped back’ and also come with less of a tourist price tag. They are also a great way to meet some locals and get your first glimpse at what Venetians do.
From the bridge, you will want to make your way towards the San Marco area, as many of the cultural and historic tourist sites are located there. If you have time for a detour, try and visit the Libreria Acqua Alta.
The unusual bookstore has shot to fame more recently as pictures of tourists posing within it have become prominent on social media, but it is definitely still worth a visit due to its one-of-a-kind concept. The bookstore sells new and used books that are shelved on gondolas, boats and other random items. Old books themselves have been turned into part of the store. One great feature is the book staircase one can climb to take a look over the canal.
Stroll along St. Marks Square (Piazza San Marco)
Make sure that while you are walking along the area to not rush or ignore your surroundings. The streets are quite narrow, but you will find many great shops and eateries tucked among them.
We tried some of the best chocolate and gelato I ever had all while making our way around San Marco and had a chat with a Venetian local while standing squeezed against an on-street coffee bar for a midway espresso. That being said, try and be considerate of the locals and let people pass beside you in the narrow streets.
When you arrive at Piazza San Marco, take a moment to take in the scene and breathe. Piazza San Marco does really make you feel like you stepped back in time (despite the potentially large tourist crowds). The open square is surrounded by an arcade of shops and beautiful architecture.
Right in the centre of the square, you will find the Basilica di San Marco. The building boasts some beautiful architecture – it is held up by dozens of marble pillars that are all a different colour – and features some paintings on its exterior which showcase Venice’s cultural heritage. The church can be visited by tourists (you can book skip-the-line tickets here), but there are some days when it is closed for worshippers only.
Around the Piazza, you will find the Museo Correr – a museum full of historical and cultural artefacts housed in the Napoleanic wing of the Piazza. The square is also home to the famous Café Florian. This renowned café comes with a hefty price tag, but it is a century-old establishment, and for many, it is worth the splurge. It serves up anything from prosecco to coffee and food.
Turning away from the square towards the shore, you will find the Doge Palace. It was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Venetian Republic but is now a museum. If you walk along the shoreline and the outside of the palace, you will reach the famous ‘Bridge of Sighs’.
The bridge was built to connect the newly built prison beside the Doge palace with the interrogation rooms of the court within the palace. It is said to have its name as it was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment.
Click here to book advanced skip-the-line tickets for the Doge Palace & Museo Correr. If you’re planning to visit even more museums during your days in Venice, then this Museum Pass gives you entry to eleven museums, including the ones mentioned above.
Find yourself a good view
You have now successfully marvelled at the historic architecture of Venice and have ticked off some of the ‘must-see’ sights. But it is not time to relax just yet. Venice is not only beautiful to walk around in.
There are also many great viewpoints to marvel at the city from above. Right in St. Marks Square, you have the San Marco campanile – the bell tower on the Piazza San Marco. Unfortunately, the wait time to actually be able to go up the tower is often very long.
However, there are some great alternatives to skip the queue: The Fondaco dei Tedeschi is located next to the Rialto Bridge and now houses a shopping centre (Duty-Free Venice) with a rooftop that gives excellent views overlooking the city.
Another option is the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. This beautiful mansion is hidden away down one of the side streets not far from St. Marks Square. Even if you decide not to climb the stairs, it is definitely worth a visit just to see the unique exterior of this building.
If heights are not for you, you do not need to worry. Soak up Venice’s beauty by walking along the shoreline instead. Overlooking the lagoon is very serene, especially at sunset! If you walk towards the area of Castello, you will soon find yourself in a park far away from the hustle and bustle of San Marco.
Try some local cuisine and unwind
Have an Aperol Spritz (or two) paired with some cicchetti – the Venetian version of tapas. These are small bits of bread with a selection of different toppings and are seen as snacks to have before dinner by Venetians.
If you are looking for something more hearty than cicchetti, you will find plenty of selection, but keep in mind that the area of San Marco comes with a higher price tag. Our favourite place in the area was Osteria la Staffa (located down a side street about five minutes from the square).
If you are looking for some entertainment (and do not mind the price tag), then there is often some live music playing in St. Marks Square at night, and you can enjoy it while seated in one of the outside tables of one of the restaurants.
Day 2 – Explore Venice’s Neighbourhoods
Explore San Polo
Again, start your day at Rialto Bridge but this time cross over into the area of San Polo. What you will notice straight away is that the area itself is a.) much quieter and b.) much cheaper.
Close to the bridge, you will find the Rialto Fishmarket. Let your senses guide you there..it is easy to find! It is definitely worth a visit even if you do not intend to buy anything. The selection of fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables and other offerings is eye-opening (and mouth-watering).
The area of San Polo is beautiful. Walking along you have the same narrow streets as in San Marco but will also find many big open squares and colourful buildings. Breakfast in San Polo is a lot cheaper, and there is an excellent selection of local cafes to choose from.
The area also has a great selection of museums and beautiful churches. Grouped together in one corner of San Polo you will find a museum dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci, a beautiful church and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco – an art museum featuring a ceiling covered in paintings and gold.
The neighbourhood of Dorsoduro houses several great museums and beautiful walks along the canals. It is one of the most picturesque places in Venice, in my opinion, and the further bonus is that you are sharing your space with far fewer people. Being a student area, the nightlife in Dorsoduro is said to be fun as well. A further benefit of the area being popular with students is that it is also cheaper.
In terms of museums and things to do, it is definitely worth visiting the Accademia Art Gallery and the Peggy Guggenheim collection. Both are absolutely outstanding art galleries. The Accademia Art Gallery is more focused on fine art and traditional Venetian art, where the Peggy Guggenheim collection concentrates on European and American art of the first half of the 20th century.
If you walk along, you can sit on the steps of Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute. Likely you will have seen the building already when looking across the bay from the shores of San Marco. See if you can spot some places you visited yesterday!
Cross over the Accademia bridge back to the area of San Marco
The wooden structure of the bridge might pale in the shadows of what you previously saw when walking along the Rialto Bridge, but it is still lovely in its own way – especially the view you get of the Grand Canal! The bridge is also less busy than the Rialto Bridge, so if you are looking to get a snap of you overlooking the Grand Canal, then this might be your best shot.
Across the bridge, you are back in the area of San Marco and can maybe tick off some other sights that you missed yesterday. One you should visit is the Teatro La Fenice. It has housed several great operas in the past and still has many shows on today. There are guided tours available so you can get a glimpse of the beautiful, gold-engulfed interior.
Walk to Cannaregio and enjoy the nightlife among Venetians
We stayed here during our visit, and from our first day onwards we loved this area. It is always bustling with locals chatting over a glass of wine, and there are so many great bars, eateries and shops! It even has a supermarket that is situated in an old theatre. It is here where you will get to enjoy life like a true Venetian.
To end your busy day, pick a spot you love to gain a further taste of Venetian cuisine. If you are feeling adventurous, why not try a famous local dish: Spaghetti al Nero di sepia – squid ink spaghetti. You will get this dish in many Osterias. It depends entirely on you whether you want to sit beside a canal or in a market square or down a small side street to end your day exactly how you like it.
We also found a fantastic Jazz Bar tucked down one of the side streets, so it is good to just keep your eyes peeled while walking along.
Day 3 – Visit the Surrounding Islands
Day trip to islands
Venice itself is made up of several islands connected through bridges and canals, but outside of the central city itself, you have other islands that are definitely worth a visit. There are several great islands to choose from which all have their own history and heritage. Examples are Burano – known for its beautiful lacework and colourful homes – and Murano – known for its beautiful coloured glassware.
Other islands include Giudecca, which is only a five-minute Vaporetto ride from busy San Marco but is by far quieter. If you already have an ACTV Vaporetto ticket for the day, you can use it to get to the islands surrounding Venice. Alternatively, you can choose from one of the many island tours available in Venice.
All islands have boats driving to them leaving from intermediate stops such as San Marco pier and Fondamente Nuove in Cannaregio and the journey time is often less than half an hour.
Go to the beach
If you had enough of the city life (or if you are someone who needs a day of lying in the sand somewhere to truly get that holiday feeling), you could visit one of Venice’s surrounding beaches. You can find beaches on the nearby island of Lido which again can be reached using your ACTV ticket.
Day 4 – Venice Day Trips
Taste some prosecco
Did you know prosecco is from the Veneto region? Now you do. Outside Venice in the Veneto region, you will find several excellent wineries, and you can book a day tour here to learn more about the region and enjoy a tasting!
Day trip to Treviso
The town of Treviso lies just outside Venice and is often entirely ignored due to Venice’s popularity. It is smaller than Venice, but also less dependent on tourism, meaning you will find fewer tourist traps and more culture. Treviso can be reached by train from Venice within about half an hour, and tickets cost around 10€ or less if pre-booked.
Day Trip to Verona
Verona was the city featured in Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – you can even visit the houses that are said to have been the inspiration for Romeo’s and Juliet’s residences.
Within the heart of Verona, you will find a fantastic amphitheatre that will remind you a little bit of the colosseum in Rome (or across the Adriatic in Pula, Croatia!) – sometimes there are shows you can watch within the theatre!
Overall, Verona is a charming city full of good food, architecture and nightlife and is a great day trip option from Venice! You can reach Verona easily by direct train from Venice within about an hour, and tickets cost between 15€ to 30€. It is also possible to book a guided day tour.
Where to Stay in Venice
Venice is one of the most popular cities to visit in Italy and therefore there are numerous places to stay in the city. Whether you’re looking for a dorm in a backpacker’s hostel or a plush room in a swanky boutique hotel, Venice has got you covered. If you’re wondering where to stay in Venice, have a look at these suggestions:
Combo Venezia — This locally-run hostel is an excellent place for those who are travelling solo or on a tight budget. Located in the Cannaregio neighbourhood, it is well-situated to explore the best of what Venice has to offer and is one of the highest-rated hostels in the city. They have both dorm and private rooms available and great facilities to help you meet other travellers. Click here to see their availability
Ca’ Angeli — This small, centrally-located hotel is an excellent place to stay if you have a slightly higher budget and are looking for a bit of luxury on your trip to Venice. Located in the San Polo neighbourhood, this small hotel only has 6 clean and comfortable rooms available and there is also an excellent breakfast included in the nightly rate. Click here to see their availability
Riva del Vin Boutique Hotel — This hotel, located within a stone’s throw of the Rialto Bridge, is the perfect place for those looking for a bit of classic, romantic luxury on their trip to Venice. There are a handful of chic and comfortable rooms available, a bar on site, and a great breakfast included in the nightly rate. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Venice hotels!
As you can now tell, there are so many great things to do in Venice, and hopefully, you will now have a better idea of some of the things you could do yourself. Venice is a genuinely magnificent city. If you are finding yourself wondering how many days in Venice are enough, then the real answer is subjective to what it is you want to see during your time in Venice.
If you only want to see a bit of the city and the main sites, then 2 days in Venice could be enough for you. But if you really want to explore not only the city but its surroundings, then you should spend at least 3 days in Venice. If you are looking to make some day trips outwith the city, then 4 days in Venice are recommended as each trip will likely take up a whole day.
I had the best time in Venice and cannot wait to return. Hopefully, I was able to share some of my excitement with you and help you build your own Venice itinerary.
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