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Venice is one of the most picturesque places in the world thanks to its colorful buildings and winding canals. It’s also rich in history, culture, and cuisine which makes this city one of the most sought-after places in the world to venture to. If you’re planning to spend 2 days in Venice this itinerary will help to ensure you stop at some of Venice’s top highlights and get to experience this incredible city to the fullest.
How to spend 2 days in Venice things to do and see
2 Days in Venice: Day One
Climb Up the Campanile di San Marco
The Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Campanile) stands at 325 feet tall and towers over the Piazza San Marco. Built in the 12th century this tower is believed to have once served as a watchtower for the city. On top of this tower is the iconic Gabriel weathervane that shows the direction of the wind flying over the lagoon and piazza. To get a fantastic view of the piazza, you can climb up to the top of this tower. While you’re up here you’ll be able to see some of the original bells that once rang out when it first opened.
Explore St. Mark’s Basilica
A short walk away from St. Mark’s Campanile is the historic St. Mark’s Basilica. This incredible cathedral was first built back in the 9th century and has gone through various renovations throughout the centuries. Serving as Venice’s official cathedral since 1807, this building is designed with stunning domes, carved marble, and mosaics, some of which feature 24-carat gold-encrusted into them. As you walk around the interior of the cathedral you’ll be able to view beautiful frescos, artifacts, and the Cupola of the Prophets which is St. Mark’s tomb. While it’s free to enter, if you want to see certain artifacts, like the dazzling Pala d’Oro (a golden altar with rare gems carved into it) you’ll have to pay.
Tip: To avoid the long queues book a skip the line guided tour to St Mark’s Cathedral.
Stroll Through the Piazza San Marco
The Piazza San Marco is the main square in Venice, Italy and is packed with history. This was where prominent Venetians once gathered when the city was a major maritime force to discuss trade and politics. You can gaze around at the exteriors of historic buildings that line the square like Doge’s Palace, and look out at to gondolas in the lagoon. The piazza also offers numerous cafes, like the Gran Caffè Lavena. This historic café offers many different meals, cocktails, coffees, and sweet treats you can enjoy while listening to the sounds of pigeons cooing or the bells chiming from the nearby bell tower.
Known locally as the Palazzo Ducale, Doge’s Palace was built back in the 14th century. This structure features incredible Gothic architecture and now serves as a local museum. You’ll find many art tours and exhibitions you can view inside it. There’s even a special tour that will allow you to explore the secret parts of the Palace, like its attic, courtyards, and hidden chambers.
If you are planning to visit both St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Doge’s Palace this skip the line 2 hour walking tour will save you both time and money.
Browse Through the Gallerie dell’Accademia
Situated in a former church, the Accademia Galleries is home to many pieces of pre-19th century art and paintings created by local artists like Tintoretto and Guardi. You can browse through its collection of these historic artworks or view a few of the other exhibitions they offer. When you’re done, you can visit its bookstore where you can buy books that tell more behind the history of the paintings you saw. Reservations are needed to get in so it’s a good idea to plan in advance if you want to visit this museum.
Visit the Rialto Bridge and Market
As your first day in Venice winds down, you can end it with a beautiful walk across one of Venice’s oldest bridges. The Rialto Bridge was built back in 1588 and features over 3 different walkways on it you can take to get various views of the canal and city. After crossing it, you can stop by the nearby Rialto Market which sells fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish.
2 Days in Venice: Day Two
Explore the Peggy Guggenheim Museum
Situated on the edge of the Grand Canal, this museum was once a former Palace and home to Peggy Guggenheim, a lover of modern art. Inside you’ll find a wide collection of modern art pieces and interesting collections you can browse through like The Sculpture Garden.
A Grand Canal cruise to the lagoon islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello will be a magnificent trip to take. You can buy a ticket at a local Vaporetto (waterbus) and then hop on board where you’ll then be escorted to view these beautiful islands. At Murano, you’ll be able to view their glass-making skills and even see the church where it’s believed the bones of a slain dragon are buried in. As you float along to Burano, you’ll be able to see the vibrant fishermen houses that are scattered throughout it and see firsthand this island’s love for seafood and lacemaking. Torcello is a little bit of a more tranquil island compared to the others and you’ll be able to view some mosaics and ancient structures here.
Visit the Campo Santa Maria Formosa to see the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo
The Campo Santa Maria Formosa is another city square in Venice, Italy and is home to this magnificent church. Known locally as San Zanipolo, the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo was finished in 1430 and is one of the largest churches in Venice. You can walk inside to view its stunning architecture, pillars, and remarkable mosaics and frescos. You might also be able to view the urn of where it’s believed the skin of a 15th-century Venetian general Marco Antonio Bragadin is kept.
Take a Gondola Ride or a 1 Hour Boat Tour to the Grand Canal
Depending on your preferences, you can take either a gondola ride or a one hour boat tour to the Grand Canal. A gondola ride is a very romantic way to see the city as a gondolier will take you through the winding canals so you can experience the city in a unique way. You can have either a private or shared gondola and can even pay a little extra to have a gondolier sing for you as you cruise through the canals. These rides last about 30 minutes but you can pay for a ticket that lets you have a longer ride. Keep in mind that if you want to have a ride at night it will also cost a little more due to its popularity.
A boat tour to the Grand Canal lasts about an hour and you’ll be taken out on a small boat to see the various attractions this city offers. You’ll be able to see the bridges and other historic structures while learning about their history from your guide.
Stroll the Streets
Before your trip comes to an end in this city you’ll want to take a quick stroll around the many meandering streets this city has. You’ll be able to find shops, beautiful bridges, and incredible views of the city by doing so. There are also plenty of out-of-the-way shops and restaurants you can stop in to grab a bite to eat or some fresh gelato from. Keep in mind that the streets can be a little tricky to navigate, so pay close attention to the signs posted around them.
Best time to visit Venice
The best periods to visit Venice are:
- December & early January to enjoy the Christmas Holidays and the festive atmosphere of the city.
- April & May to find perfect weather, bright sunny days and a cheerful spring atmosphere
- October & November to admire the fog on the canals and the lagoon and visit Venice at your own pace without the usual crowds of tourists
Worst period: summer (too hot and crowded).
How to get to and from the airport
By bus: the fastest and cheapest way to reach the city center. You have 2 options:
- Venice Airport Bus Shuttle (ATVO Company): the journey takes 20 minutes and the cost is 8 euro. Rides are very frequent (one every 20 minutes). Have a look at this option here.
- Aerobus N° 5 (ACTV Company): it belongs to the local urban bus network and the journey takes 25 minutes. The cost is 8 euro and you’ll find a ride every 15 minutes.
By steamboat (“Vaporetto”): a 100% authentically local experience. Alilaguna Company offers a service connecting the airport to the city center and the islands. There are 3 lines (blue, orange and red) according to the final destination. The only downside is the 10minute walk from the airport to the dock. The cost is between 8 and 15 euros, according to your destination. An interesting option is a 24h or a 72h ticket costing respectively 30 or 65 euro.
By water taxi: several local companies offer this service including pick up from the arrival hall of the airport, shuttle transfer to the dock and a private ride to your final destination. The cost is about 100 euro and the journey takes about 30 minutes. A cheaper option is a shared water taxi costing about 30 euro, like this one here.
By a traditional taxi: ask for the flat fee of 40 euro allowing you to reach Piazzale Roma!
From another airport: you can choose to land in Treviso, which is close to Venice. From there you can take a shared bus to reach Venice in less than 1 hour! The cost is 12 euros.
How to get around Venice
The best way to explore the city is to walk your way through its narrow alleys (named “calli”) and enjoy the views and the unique architectural feature of this city. If you prefer to use public transports, the best ways to move around are tramways and steamboats.
- Tramways: T1 line is the most useful one for tourists and you can find a map here. The ticket costs 1,50 euro and you can buy a cumulative ticket valid for 10 rides (14 euro) or a 24h, 48h or 72h ticket too.
- Steamboat: it’s the most popular way of getting around and it has many stops in every area of the city. The most useful lines are 1 and 2 and the cost is 7,50 euros per ride. Although it’s a bit expensive, a steamboat ride will allow you to take some amazing pictures from the canals. To save some money, choose a 24h, 48h or 72h ticket or this option here. Here you’ll find the map of the steamboat lines here.
Events in Venice in 2020
- January 6th: Befana boat race, which is a boat race on Canal Grande to celebrate the Befana Day (Epiphany). The participants are all dressed-up like Befana, which is a traditional folk figure bringing sweet treats to kids on this festive day.
- February 8th-25th: Carnival
- April 25th: Marks’ Day (patronal feast)
- May – November: Architecture Biennale
- May 31st: Vogalonga event. It is a traditional rowing boat race
- July 18th and 19th: Redentore Festival to commemorate the end of the plague epidemy of the XVIII century
- September: Film Festival
- October 25th: Venice Marathon
- December: Christmas markets
- December 31st: New Year’s Concert at La Fenice Theater and fireworks at midnight
Off-the-beaten paths places to visit in Venice
- Jewish Ghetto: the old Jewish Ghetto is not a popular tourist attraction, but it’s a nice and picturesque place telling the story of the former Jewish community. Jews have lived there from the XIV century to World War II and they were about 5000. The entire district is located on an island connected by a few bridges to the rest of the city and it also includes an interesting historical museum.
- Ca’ Dario Palace: this noble mansion overlooking the Canal Grande is said to be under a malefic spell because all its inhabitants had to face some tragedies, going from bankrupt to the assassination. Address: Campiello Barbaro 352
- Fondamenta delle Zattere: it is a nice walk along the Giudecca canal and you won’t find too many tourists there, so it’s a perfect place to relax and take some pictures of the lagoon. Address: Southern tip of Dorsoduro district.
- Tomb of Canova: if you love art you shall definitely visit the tomb of these famous artists. It is located in the Basilica dei Frari and you’ll immediately recognize it because it’s a marble pyramid. On its doorstep, you’ll see the crying statues of Painting and Architecture and a sad lion (the symbol of Venice) Address: San Polo 3072
- Acqua Alta (“high tide”) Bookshop: you’ll find this iconic bookshop in a narrow alley close to S. Marco Square. The owner decided to place all his books into a few small boats, gondolas and even a bathtub, in order to protect them from the damages deriving from the frequent floods and high tide. Address: Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa 5176b
- Gardens of Scuola Vecchia della Misericordia: this beautiful garden is hidden inside the ancient gothic cloister of Madonna dell’Orto church. Here you’ll find many roses, wisteria, cypresses, laurel, and oleanders. Address: Northern tip of Cannaregio district.
- Calletta Varisco: the narrowest alley of Venice is just 53cm wide! Address: close to Campo San Canciano
- Ponte dei Pugni (“punching bridge”): two local rival gangs used to fight on this bridge in the XVII century. The winners used to throw the losers into the canal below. In 1705, the governor of the city abolished these fights because they were getting too violent, but you can still see the footprints indicating where the rivals used to position themselves to start their fight. Address: Rio di San Barnaba
Where to stay in Venice
This hotel has been rated as one of the best over and over again and it’s a great choice if you want to immerse yourself in a little bit of art and culture. This hotel has one of the best locations in Venice and also offers normal amenities – heaters, flat-screen TV, and much more.
Hotel Rio is right in the center of Venice, so of course, you’re in extreme proximity to attractions like the Rialto Bridge and Venezia Santa Lucia Train Station. This is a perfect place to stay in if you’re in Venice to shop and the hotel has a satellite TV, WiFi, toiletries and a hairdryer.
Romantically beautiful and architecturally impressive, this hotel is dubbed as one of the top picks of Venice. The hotel enjoys some of the best hotel architecture in Venice and you also get all the amenities you might need at a hotel. As for the local location, the hotel is on Campiello Santo Stefano.
Enjoying incredible Baroque and neoclassical architecture and adorned with marbles, this hotel is also another pick for Venice. Apart from the restaurant on-site, the hotel is a 3-minute walk away from St. Mark’s Basilica and all rooms come with every amenity you may need.
Venice, or Venezia, is a remarkable place in the world. While 2 days in Venice certainly isn’t enough time to fully explore everything it has to offer, with this itinerary you’ll be able to experience the overall essence of the “City of Canals”.
If you want to print the above itinerary to take it with you, you can download the handy pdf I have prepared for you from the link below.