One Day Itinerary Venice: In my opinion, there’s no such thing as touristy places; they’re just bad travelers. If you come to Venice, I think you owe it to yourself and to this magical place to get up early in the morning and see Venice in its true state. In this magical light, as the fishermen are going out, experience absolute peace and quiet.
Foreign, this incredibly historic place is one of the most magical experiences you can have in all of Italy. So today, I’m going to give you the formula of how to have the next best trip of your life right here in Venice.
Where is Venice Italy?
Venice is in the region known as the Veneto, east of Lombardia and north of Tuscany and Rome. As a whole, Venice is made up of 118 islands scattered throughout a lagoon. The Venice of our travel dreams is the main fish-shaped island. Most visitors don’t explore outside of this island, but Murano and Burano are two of the most popular islands and make for a really great day trip.
The city of Venice will start to impose a special three Euro tax for travelers arriving by car, bus, train, or cruise ship. For those travelers staying the night, they will be exempt from this tax as it will be covered by accommodation. How and when this tax will be imposed still yet remains to be seen.
How to Get to Venice from the Airport (VCE)
The main airport for Venice is Marco Polo International Airport. It’s actually on the mainland, so you have to take a water bus or a taxi to reach Venice’s main island.
How to Get to Venice by Train
The easiest way to get to Venice is by train. It’s on the main high-speed train line that connects Milan, Venice, and Rome. From Rome, it’s about a four-hour train ride. Tickets can easily be purchased online via the Trenitalia or Italo apps.
If you’re taking the train to Venice, you need to be aware that there are two main train stations. The first is called Venezia Mestre; it’s on the mainland, but do not get off here. Venezia Santa Lucia is the last stop for Venice and where you should get off the train.
How to Get Around Venice by Boat
As soon as you walk out of the train station, you have canals right in front of you, and you have this incredible Venetian architecture. But you’re probably wondering how exactly you get around this city, and I’m going to show you how to do that just now.
If you’re arriving in Venice from the train station, you’re going to want to know how to manage the different water taxis, gondolas, and boats. It can all be sort of confusing. So first of all, a vaporetto is a water bus, and those are the biggest boats that you see going up and down the canal. The smaller boats are called traghetto, and they typically dart across the canals, and those stops are a little hard to find. The most expensive option is going to be taking a water taxi. From the train station, a water taxi to Saint Mark’s Square will typically cost you around 100 euros.
So, this is the ticket office right behind me. It’s on the left-hand side as soon as you exit the train station, and if you’re using public transportation, this will be your first stop. A single ticket is 7.50 euros, and you have to validate that ticket before you get on. My advice is if you’re here for a day is to get a day pass. It costs 21 euros. If you’re here for two days, that’s 30 euros. So, you can see that there’s some really great savings in buying the actual pass because then you’re pretty much footloose and fancy-free and have your run of the city, hopping on and off the boats by simply tapping your card as soon as you walk in.
We created the perfect route for Venice and plan to get you from A to Z. Check out the blog for great information on maximizing your time and increasing your fun before we start our day.
Breakfast at Cafe Florian
Cafe Florian is one of the most historic cafes in all of Venice, dating back to 1720. You’re gonna pay a whopping 10 to 15 euros for a cappuccino, but what you get for it is incredible views of Saint Mark’s Square and St Mark’s Basilica, and a full-on orchestra that’s about to play.
St. Mark’s Bell Tower
In Venice and one of the most famous piazzas in all of Italy, we know it today as the city’s epicenter. So it’s hard to believe that there was an orchard growing right here and a small canal running right through it. It wasn’t until the 12th century that the square we know today began to take shape.
The large Bell Tower or Campanile is 323 feet tall, making it the tallest structure in all of Venice. The original Bell Tower collapsed in 902, just around its 100 Year birthday. As a result, the form you see today is a copy of the original, built over 10 years from 1902 to 1912. You can take an elevator to the top for epic views for 8 Euros.
Tour of Doge’s Palace
So there are two sorts of travelers: those who stand in line and those who don’t. If you book your tickets online ahead of time or book a tour, you can skip this long queue and go right on in with your tour.
Diving into the Doge’s Palace, it was built to show the power and wealth of the Republic of Venice that lasted for a thousand years. Kiara is about to show me what once was the most powerful half acre of Europe. We start outside with the impressive giant staircase, flanked by two giant marble statues of Mars and Neptune. The architectural propaganda gets more intense as you head inside, beginning with the golden staircase and then moving on to various painted and frescoed rooms of the Doge’s private apartments. We then get to the impressive collegia.
So Kiara was just telling me that this room is the full collegia, and it’s where the Doge and the rest of his counselors would meet foreign dignitaries.
So this is the most important room in the whole Doge’s Palace – the Great Council Chamber. The Great Council’s Chamber, and you were saying earlier that this is an original beam behind us, right? Yes, wow. Venice was known as the Most Serene Republic, and this was the most important room in the whole country. The Doge would sit underneath this impressive Tintoretto painting and preside over the nobles that were gathered here. Almost 3,000 people could fit in this room. This gilded hall was also the place where the Doge was elected.
Who would have thought that you get excellent views of Venice from the prison Bridge.
Tour of St. Mark’s Basilica
Venice’s main church or Cathedral is the Tour of St. Mark’s Basilica, next to the Doge’s Palace, and it is so unique and extraordinary that it is called a basilica by the Catholic church. In 1958, the patriarch of Venice was elected Pope John the 23rd, who became a saint in 2014. Saint Mark’s Basilica is an incredibly important site that you can’t miss when you’re here in Venice. It was built in the 11th century and is a testament to the Byzantine architecture of the time but also the relationship that Venice had with the east. The remains of Saint Mark are right behind me, and there’s incredible art throughout the church. It’s a very, very popular site that thousands of people see each day.
Especially when you’re on a tour, you would stand near to the tomb of Saint Mark, whose relics this church was built around and who’s the patron saint of Venice. But Kiara is going to show me something special, and if you book a private tour, you can actually go around and see the Pala De Oro and see the golden Altarpiece and get a little bit closer to the actual relics.
Remember, admission to the church is free. It’s all the extra things that you need tickets for. My tour allows me to skip the line, comes with a passionate guide, and allows me to get up close to cool things like the Altar and includes admission to the museum, which is upstairs. So these are the cavali of San Marco, and Kiara was kind enough to bring me up here on a private tour to show me them because they were constructed 300 years before Christ and they were meant to be on top of the Hippodrome in Constantinople. They were brought back to Venice in 1204 and stood outside of Saint Mark’s Basilica as a symbol of what Venice had done in the Middle East.
There are over 400 bridges here in Venice, but only four across the Grand Canal. The first one is the Rialto Bridge. It marks the geographical center of Venice and also the shortest point of the Grand Canal. You know there’s been a bridge here since the 11th century, but very famously in the 16th century, there was a competition to redesign the Rialto Bridge, and what we see today is the result of that competition. The Rialto Bridge takes you to the Rialto neighborhood where there’s a fish market and lots of really cool lively things to see and I just kind of love this particular viewpoint of the Rialto Bridge. Let’s go.
Rialto Fish Market
I made it to the historic Fish Market here in the Rialto neighborhood. I’m gonna step inside because these guys are working-class guys just like me. It’s a lively atmosphere, but more importantly, they know where to get the local cichetti around this neighborhood.
So, there isn’t just only fish at this market; there’s also fruit too. So if you can’t stand the smell of fish, come next door to the fruit market, pick up a snack, and now you have a really great snack or picnic right along the Grand Canal.
Cantina Do Spada
So, I made it to Cantina de Espada, and this is where Alessandro recommended I get some cicheti, and it’s not surprising to me because this is one of the historic cichetiarias in the area. Cicheti are small bite-sized morsels of goodness, typically made of seafood, served all over Venice. Overall, these small plates are inexpensive and a great way to try a variety of foods.
I have a traditional ombra, and you know this isn’t a real heavy wine but it was meant for the fishermen who were coming back at the end of the morning, and they would stand under the Campanile of Saint Mark’s Square, let’s say under the shadow, and that’s exactly what ombra means – the shadow. And this is still the tradition here in Venice.
Cicheti can be either fried or grilled. Traditionally, you’ll see a lot of the fried. This here is a zucchini flower stuffed with cod and cheese, and this is anchovy and mozzarella.
Oh yeah, wash it down with a little ombra. Some money, this is a Venetian experience, man. Loving this.
If you love art as much as I do, don’t miss the Church of the Ferrari and the school La Grande di San Rocco. They’re both next to each other and just 10 minutes from Cantina dospada. I know that I’m feeling it, but I’m definitely too ombra deep, you know, into this little walk, making this walk very manageable.
Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Standing outside the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, also known as the Friar’s Church, this Franciscan church in Venice is a treasure trove of world-class art. In this church, you get to see art as it was meant to be seen, featuring masterpieces by Donatello. Just around the corner lies the Sistine Chapel of Venice, housing 50 paintings by Tintoretto in one place. Let’s explore this artistic marvel.
One of the masterpieces in this church is “The Assumption of the Virgin” by Titian. Unveiled in 1518, it shocked the Franciscan friars with its vibrant colors and full-bodied portrayal of the Virgin. The piece foreshadowed the mannerist movement. There’s a small admission charge of three euros, and visitors are advised to dress modestly. Don’t miss the statue of Saint John the Baptist by Florentine great Donatello and the masterpiece by the Venetian Renaissance artist Bellini. If you squint hard enough, you might confuse Saint Benedict with Sean Connery.
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Scuola Grande di San Rocco
Next door to the Frari Church is the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, which many consider to be the Sistine Chapel of Venice. The school charges 10 euros, which is a small price to pay to see over 50 paintings; they’re all creations by Venetian master Tintoretto, who is one of the most prolific painters of all time. The jaw-dropping collection starts on the ground floor and ends in the grand hall, which contains giant canvases.
A quintessential experience in Venice is a ride on the iconic Venetian Gondola, the most famous water highway in the world.
So far, I’ve never experienced a private gondola ride, as they tend to be a bit on the pricey side. However, I highly recommend booking in advance to secure your preferred time, ensuring a hassle-free experience. By paying in advance and presenting your voucher, you can smoothly board the gondola.
Currently, I’m enjoying excellent views of Saint Mark’s Bell Tower. According to Pierre, our guide, very few canals offer such a picturesque line of sight to the bell tower. The gondola I’m on is a five-year-old classic Venetian craft, costing about 40,000 Euros. Its craftsmanship showcases iconic black paint with gold touches, embodying the romantic essence of Venice.
Romance aside, being alone on a gondola is far better than being a third wheel, although having Josh with me does add a touch of companionship. The gondola ride provides a unique perspective of Venice’s beauty, making it an unforgettable experience.
Eating in Venice
When in Venice and hunger strikes, you’re in for a treat with numerous chaquetti bars scattered throughout the city. These bars offer an array of small plates, often accompanied by refreshing drinks. Sometimes referred to as bakaros, these establishments, including quaint kiosks, provide a delightful snacking experience.
Despite Venice’s reputation for touristy restaurants, hidden gems like Ristorante Antico Gatoleto exist. Located in the canarello district, it’s surprising that the lack of crowds allows for a serene dining experience. Here, I’m savoring clams and spaghetti in a charming square, accompanied by a sip of Prosecco—a true taste of Venetian delight.
For those exploring the Castello or San Marco neighborhood, Enoteca Osteria San Marco is a go-to spot. Offering Venetian comfort food, like seafood ragil served with pasta, the flavors are exceptional. Washing it down with one of their recommended white wines completes the dining experience with sophistication.
As my phone battery dwindles, I decide to go old school and navigate Venice using the famous yellow signs, leading me back to the San Marco Costello neighborhood. The nightlife in Venice tends to be low-key, but one standout venue is The Bra Bar. This establishment combines unique decor, expertly crafted drinks, and friendly service, making it a lively and enjoyable place to unwind.