One Day In Venice: Itinerary + Tips For An Epic Day

one day trip to Venice

Venice for many is a bucket list destination. It first came to my attention when I was about 8 watching the honeymoon from hell movie ‘Just Married’. The canals, gondolas, narrow streets and food made me hungry to experience it. It is possible to explore Venice in just one day, this itinerary has all the information you need to make the most of the day.

Is One Day In Venice Enough?

Honestly, no! It is a city best explored slowly, taking in all the unique sights. In addition it gets very busy therefore many places you likely want to see will involve queuing for long periods. Therefore, you are going to have to make sacrifices on places you want to visit. However, if you only have one day to explore Venice then it is better than never visiting at all. You will get to see a lot but it might feel quite rushed.

How To Get Around During Your One Day in Venice

Venice is perfect for walking, compact and picturesque. Especially if you are visiting for a one day trip to Venice I think walking is the best way to get around.

Your other option is to take a water bus also known as Vaporetto. Line 2 takes you to St Marks Square and is the most popular water bus for tourists.

I recommend purchasing tickets before you arrive to save time. Buy water bus pass.

One Day In Venice Itinerary

1. Explore Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco is one of Italy’s most famous squares, known by Napoleaon as the “drawing room of Europe” due to its beauty. It is a must see spot in Venice.

Pizza San Marco has many noteworthy attractions with St Mark’s Basilica, Torre dell’Orologio and the Doge’s Palace located here.

I would recommend visiting before noon because it gets extremely busy and you do not want to waste your one day in Venice queuing.

2. St Mark’s Basilica + the Doges Palace

No one day in Venice itinerary is complete without a visit to St Mark’s Basilica, the largest church in Venice. The exterior is decorated with sparking mosaics statues and images while the inside boasts 85,000 feet of mosaic, marble columns and floors, and incredible ceilings that depict angels and Christian scenes. You could spend the day just looking at the murals on the ceilings, there are that many!

St Mark’s basilica is located beside the Doge’s Palace, the former residence of the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice. It is here you can walk across the famous bridge of sighs and golden staircase.

Many tours combine both the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. A tour also helps you skip the line and could potentially save you hours which is important when you only have one day Venice.

3. Campanile di San Marco

Campanile di San Marco

The bell tower of St Marks Basilica stands out on Piazza San Marco, it is the tallest building in Venice after all (98.6 m to be exact). It was built to be a lighthouse for sailors and collapsed in 1902, only to be restored (exactly as it stood before its collapse) in 1912.

If you want panoramic views of the city, climbing this tower is a must. The queues were not bad on the day and time I visited (Thursday at 11:30am in July), but I did notice at about 4pm there was a long but fast moving queue. An elevator will take you to the top where you will see spectacular views of the city. It does get a bit crowded up there but if you wait a little you will get a good spot for some photos.

Tickets for St Marks basilica do not include this, therefore you will need to purchase a separate ticket.

4. Gondola Ride

It is hard to imagine a trip to this city without the experience of a gondola ride. We choose a Gondola just in front of Rialto bridge but it might be worth it to check some out that aren’t in front of a famous landmark. It was a nice ride but I did feel disappointed by it. The views from the gondola were amazing and the stillness of the very narrow canal corridors were quite calming. However, here is why it is important to choose your gondolier carefully.

Our gondolier was constantly shouting (not sure if this is something they all do but I did not see it) and was spitting into the canal. He would then shout at me “Lady, Lady – look over there”. It kind of took away from my experience, I would have preferred a quieter journey.

Additionally before coming to Venice I read it was €80 per Gondola in the day and €100 per Gondola at night and we could ask what route we wanted to take. Our gondolier stated it was €80 for the grand canal and €100 for the quieter ones. I feel we were conned because I have not read that anywhere else. But for the sake of €20 we just sucked it up.

4. Librairie Acqua Alta

Might seem strange to have a book shop on a one day in Venice itinerary post but this place is very cool! It is a 7 minute walk from St. Mark’s square and is such a unique spot. Inside there is a staircase made of books, a gondola and bath tub filled with you guessed it … books! There are also a few cats they make an appearance every now and then.

6. Walk everywhere!

I think the best thing to do when you are somewhere for a short while is to wander, just walk around. You will end up stumbling upon lots of cool things rather then going into every museum.

I highly recommend this “unusual walking tour” that takes you to areas off Venice off the beaten track.

Fun activities to do during one day trip to Venice

Venice: Small Group Pasta and Tiramisu Class – learn the secrets to making pasta and tiramisu like a local.

Venice: Four Seasons Concert Ticket at Vivaldi Church – this starts at 7pm so only suitable if you are leaving late. Listen in the place where Vivaldis music was composed.

Venice: Photoshoot at Piazza San Marco – a very personal souvenir, includes editing.

Venice: Carnival Mask Workshop – carnival masks are sold all over Venice, if you fancy a challenge you can try making one yourself.

Where to eat during one day trip to Venice

All of this walking around during your one day trip to Venice requires you to have enough energy. I have picked some of the best “to go” food spots in Venice that I think you will love. Click on the locations to save to your google maps.

Fresh Pasta to go: fast + fresh pasta to go! Choose any pasta and sauce combination. Comes in a handy box so you can eat and sight-see.
Price: €6 – €9
Location: Calle de l’Orso, 5529, 30124

Baci & Pasta: another on the go pasta option. Famous for their gnocchi, I hear pumpkin is the best! They also have gluten free options.
Price: €8 – €15
Location: Campo Santa Marina, 5902/a, 30122

Colussi Il Fornaio Ltd: family owned bakery, great place for an affordable croissant. Also serve tarts, cakes and savoury goods.
Price: Approx €2 for most pastries.
Location: Campo S. Luca, 4579, 30124

Bar Pasticceria Ballarin: coffee and pastry served on a marble counter. I recommend trying a cannoli here!
Price: €2 – €5 for coffee and pastry
Location: Calle San Crisostomo, 5794, 30121

Farini: serving pizza by the slice, many options to choose from.
Price: €4 – €5 per slice
Location: Calle Seconda de la Fava, 5602, 30122

Don’t like my suggestions? Try a street food tour with a local.

Tips to get the most out of your one day trip to Venice

Be flexible with your plans – Have alternative plans just in case it rains. Have a few options up your sleeve so you do not lose an hour frantically googling “best things to do in Venice in the rain”.

Plan your route – Know the most optimised route, check if there are any noteworthy streets or buildings you could check out in-between activities.

Do not try to see it all – A day trip is always a bit of a sacrifice, you can either try see it all but not really experience anything or you can see a little but experience a lot. Seeing all the top historical sites will result in a day of queuing, instead pick 2 to 3 things, take your time to take it all in.

Book in advance – for the big attractions make sure to book in advance and choose skip the line tickets. Yes this is generally more expensive but can save you more than an hour on busy days.

Pack smart – a portable phone charger, portable fan, spf and pre-downloaded offline maps. Also have some cash on you, not all shops and cafes take card.

Arrive early – I know this is an obvious one but the earlier you get there the more time you will have to explore

Venice canals

Best time to visit Venice

Winter (December – February): Averages of below 10°C with the possibility of light snow. January is the coldest month with averages of 4°C.

Spring (March – May ): Averages of 12°C, low humidity. The rainiest season in Venice, possibility of high tide (Acqua Alta) where the streets flood.

Summer (June – August): Averages of 28°C , very hot & humid with some thunderstorms. Peak tourist season, expect long queues.

Autumn (September – November): September & October is still warm between 25 + 18°C however, late October the weather cools to approximately 12°C and this is the rainiest month.

I think September is the best time to visit to avoid the large crowds that Summer sees. You also will still have nice temperatures to explore.

Getting to Venice from Lake Garda

Option 1 – Direct bus: The company are ATV, a return journey from Riva del Garda costs €45 taking approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes. It goes every Tuesday and Thursday. However, the bus only operates between 13/06/23 to 28/09/23. The bus stops in lots of towns in Lake Garda, please see schedule here.

Option 2 – Tour: Air conned bus that will pick you up at your accommodation, private boat with tour guide to Saint Mark’s square, and free time to explore on your own. This is the easiest option taking approximately 3 hours to reach Venice. However, this is the most expensive option. Book tour to Venice.

Option 3: Bus (B332) to Rovereto Piazzale Orsi Stazione Fs Train to Stazione Verona Porta Nuova (FR8507), and Train (8973) to Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia.
The whole journey takes 3 hours and 14 minutes. Check out times.

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