Many people flock to Venice each year to experience the canals and bridges. With many names such as the “City of Bridges”, “City of Masks”, and “City of Canals”, it’s not hard to see why Venice is such a popular tourist destination. However, with over 60,000 tourists milling around the city each day, it can get claustrophobic and difficult to enjoy the city. But fear not, because there are many gorgeous day trip options from this great water city for you to make an escape. Here, I am going to introduce you to my favorite.
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The Best Day Trips From Venice
The City of Love, Verona is best known as the setting of Shakespeare’s tragic play Romeo and Juliet. Only an hour or two by train from Venice, Verona’s train station Porta Nuova is only a twenty minutes’ walk from the historic center.
You can spend the day chasing Romeo and Juliet’s literature footsteps. Some of you might have watched the movie Letters to Juliet, and it’s my pleasure to tell you that Club di Giulietta really does exist. Run by a group of volunteers in the heart of the old town, you can visit and drop off a letter for one of Juliet’s secretaries to reply.
The most famous spot is doubtlessly Juliet’s House. It is believed that if you rub the right breast of Juliet’s statue you’ll find a fortune in love. For the more dedicated fans, you can also visit Juliet’s tomb just outside of the old town in the Fresco Museum. Many famous poets and writers had also made this pilgrimage since reading Shakespeare’s play.
If you are not a fan of the tragic love story, there is also plenty to see such as the Roman history of the city. The ancient Roman Amphitheater still holds plays and concerts, and there’s no shortage of ancient gates and churches around. If those are too mainstream for you, there are also some hidden gems in Verona that I had discovered during my month-long stay there as Juliet’s Secretary. The most unmissable spot is Castiel San Pietro for sunset!
Technically the three islands belong in the Municipal of Venice, however, it wouldn’t be a post on day trip from Venice without mentioning them. You can take a public ferry from Venice or join a group tour to the three islands, each famous for something. Murano is known as the city of glass, there is also a gorgeous round Byzantine Church to visit.
Burano is officially the city of lace, however, it is more well-known for the colorful houses. As for Torcello, it was actually the original settlement of the Venetians, however, due to a plague, they abandoned it and moved to the current mainland.
There are less than 10 people living there but the island is well worth visiting to see the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Inside is a golden mosaic of the Last Judgement from the Byzantine era. There is also a parapetless bridge on Torcello, one of the only three in the whole of Venice.
Between Verona and Venice lies the university town Padua and a big train stop between the two. The University of Padua is one of the most historic academies in the world where the astronomer Galileo was a lecturer. Despite having some of the best architectural gems I’ve seen, it is less well visited by tourists.
An example is Prato della Valle, one of the largest public squares in Europe, with a small canal and stunning statues. Another star attraction is the UNESCO heritage Cappella degli Scrovegni, with its fresco cycle of the Life of Virgin and the Life of Christ,which is a true piece of art.
If you like plants, don’t miss the oldest academic botanical garden that had been running since the mid-16th century. Again, the train station is only ten minutes or so from the town and you can still find many traces of Veneto Republic’s rule here.
Slightly further afield is the secret town of castle Mantua. You would have to change trains in Verona, but I assure you it is well worth the extra effort to get to this town. Much smaller than the previous two, it houses three castles and three lakes. So whether you want to discover some more history or enjoy nature, you can get the best of both worlds there.
The latest Romeo and Juliet movie adaptation had shot some of the scenes here (as well as Padua), with the Room of Giants in Palazzo Te being particularly memorable. A room with rounded corners making one seamless canvas, the Greek mythology of the fall of Giants was painted in exquisite detail. Another beautiful artwork is the Parthenon at Castello di San Giorgio, with the ceiling fresco depicting the Pantheon in Rome with angles looking down.
Bluewater, green vegetation, and snow-capped mountains in the distance: that’s Lake Garda, the perfect destination to spend a day outdoors after some sightseeing in Venice. The shores of the lake touch Veneto, Lombardia, and Trentino Alto Adige and they offer plenty of picturesque towns and villages, trekking trails, Mediterranean scrub, forests, olive groves, and bathing beaches.
The lake covers a surface of 370 square kilometers, so it’s impossible to explore it in just one day! One of the towns you cannot miss is Sirmione, in Lombardia. It’s famous for its perfectly preserved medieval castle (with a real drawbridge and crenelated walks) overlooking the lake in a panoramic position.
Another attraction you can visit there is the famous Catullo Cave, which is not an actual cave but an archeological site featuring the ruins of a Roman villa. You can easily reach Sirmione by car in about 1h30 from Venice (public transports are too slow to make it in one day). If you prefer a vibrant and trendy tourist resort, choose Desenzano, in Lombardia: entertainment, shopping, restaurants, and cultural attractions are enough to spend a whole weekend there!
Don’t miss one of the best bathing beaches of the entire area and a walk along the scenic waterfront. You can reach it with an easy 1h30 drive from Venice. If you prefer to stay in Veneto, choose Peschiera del Garda, a lovely medieval town located around the confluence of the Mincio river into the lake. It is a fortified town enclosed by walls and protected by a fortress and a majestic entrance gate. You can reach it at about 1h30 from Venice.
Prosecco is a white wine typical of Northeastern Italy and specifically produced in Veneto. Its vineyards are mostly located on the hills north of Venice where you can spend a day walking in nature and visiting many picturesque villages.
This area owes its charm to the perfect combination of natural elements and human contribution in the shape of terraces built to grow vines. The main towns are Valdobbiadene, (“the Prosecco Capital”) and Conegliano where you can stop for lunch and enjoy some wine tastings in a local farm or winery.
There are plenty of scenic places around and you can enjoy a couple of stops along the way. For example, you can take a picture of the Molinetto della Croda, which is an old mill dating back to the XVI century that’s been recently restored to show how it worked in the past. Other picturesque stops are the medieval Follina Abbey with its beautiful cloister of San Salvatore Castle in the village of Susegana.
The best way to enjoy your visit is to drive around the countryside and stop whenever you see something you like! You can reach Conegliano in about 45 minutes from Venice.
Instead of exploring another town, visit one of the outer Venetian islands located in the middle of the lagoon! Venice Lido is a lovely, elegant, and refined neighborhood where the worldwide famous Film Festival takes place in late summer.
You can easily reach Venice Lido by waterbus in about 45 minutes from the train station. It’s a popular area among locals searching for some peace and relaxation during the weekend and it’s never too crowded, unlike other central neighborhoods. If you happen to be there in summer, jump on the occasion to sunbathe and have a swim (there are a couple of free beaches near San Nicolò and Murazzi).
Anyway, the view is worth the trip in every season and you can spend a couple of hours strolling by the sea and enjoying some sea breeze. If you love architecture, you’ll have the chance to take some pictures and to closely watch plenty of Liberty buildings giving Lido its aristocratic vibe.
Do you know Palladio? He is one of the most famous Italian architects of all time and he built some magnificent villas and palaces in Veneto. Art lovers cannot miss Vicenza, since every monument and the public building was designed by Palladio himself! He was a Venetian architect and set designer who lived in the XVI century giving rise to a cultural phenomenon named “Palladianism” and especially widespread in the UK.
One of its best works is the Palladian Basilica, which is not a church, but the center of local political power. It was built in 1549 and it was extremely costly at that time, having almost emptied a marble quarry! Another important building is the Olympic Theater inspired by Roman theaters and built in 1580.
You’ll find Palladio’s masterpiece just outside Vicenza: Villa La Rotonda, a temple-villa with a circular plan reminding of the Roman Pantheon with a beautifully painted vault. You can easily reach Vicenza by train in 45 minutes or by car in about 1h10.
If you are a wine lover, don’t limit your tastings to Prosecco but ask for a glass of Amarone too! It is a typical local red wine only produced in the countryside around Verona. The whole area is named Valpolicella and among the many picturesque places, you can visit, choose San Giorgio, which was included in the list of the most beautiful Italian villages.
San Giorgio is entirely built in limestone and its elevated position makes it particularly impressive and suitable for your pictures. If you prefer to spend a day in nature, visit the Molina Waterfall Park to walk among streams, waterfalls, and lush vegetation. To enjoy a typical lunch, head to Gargagnago, also named “Amarone Village”: it is the heart of Amarone production other than the perfect base for a trekking tour in the countryside.
If you still have some time, visit Villa della Torre in Fiumane and the Shrine of Madonna di La Salette from where you can watch the sunset on the hills. Rent a car to drive around at your own pace and reach Valpolicella in 1h30 from Venice.
The Dolomites are the winter sports paradise for Eastern Italy, just like the Alps for the Western Regions. They cover the northern tips of Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Trentino Alto Adige and they offer miles and miles of pristine nature, fresh mountain breeze, and trekking trails other than countless sports facilities and recreation opportunities.
If you want to combine the sea of Venice with some mountain landscapes, reach Belluno: from there, you can take the Alta Via 1, a series of trekking trails suitable for everyone (info at Parco Nazionale Dolomiti Bellunesi)) and offering some amazing postcards views. You can reach Belluno with an easy 1h drive from Venice.
Another mountain destination that is relatively close to Venice is Monte Grappa: here you’ll have the chance to learn more about some of the most important battles fought during WW1 and WW2 by the Italian army. If you don’t mind driving for a couple of hours, reach one of the most famous mountain resorts in the Dolomites: Cortina D’Ampezzo. Many scenic trails are waiting for you, like the ones to Sorapiss Lake or to Fanes Falls.
The capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia is an interesting and vibrant city that you can easily reach by train from Venice (the journey takes 2h). The long Austrian domination and the geographical proximity with Slovenia give Trieste an international and cosmopolitan vibe. At the heart of the city, visit Piazza Unità d’Italia, an elegant square overlooking the sea and lined with the main historical public buildings.
Before leaving the city center, don’t miss a stop on the Molo Audace (the main pier) to enjoy some sea breeze and take some pictures. If you only have 1 day to visit Trieste, focus on two of its main historical attractions: Miramare Castle and Risiera di San Sabba.
The first one was the residence of the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg who built this beautiful mansion overlooking the sea with an idyllic garden for his wife Charlotte. The Risiera was the only Nazi concentration camp on Italian soil: prisoners were kept inside a former rice processing plant and you can still visit their cells.
If you still have some time, you can either climb to the top of San Giusto Hill to visit the homonymous cathedral and castle or spend a couple of hours in the Revoltella Museum to enjoy some modern art.
Nam Cheah is a third culture millennial who spent half her life in Hong Kong and the other half in UK. Planning to make the most out of life, she documents her passion to laugh, travel and eat on her suitably named blog: Laugh, Travel, Eat. When she’s not doing any of that, she’s either catching up on TV while online shopping or writing her novels.
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