Ah Venice! It’s one of the most magical cities on Earth. There’s really no other place like it and I recommend seeing the floating city at least once in your lifetime. And do it soon, before it’s gone.
Cruise ships have already been banned (and for good reason), but there’s no guessing when the government will limit the number of tourists let on to the islands.
Although I always recommend several days here, many visitors only have one day in Venice. It’s tight, but you can make the most of it and see some amazing sites.
If you’re trying to see Venice in a day, be sure to do the proper planning before you go, and also ask yourself if you’d rather relax and explore the archipelago, or if you want to see the most iconic Venetian sites.
Don’t have time to read a bunch of reviews and blog posts?
Here are some of our top picks for visiting Venice:
Our Favorite Hotels in Venice:
- Hotel Cavaletto (budget)
- Hotel Concordia (mid-range)
- Baglioni Hotel Luna (luxury)
Our Favorite Tours in Venice
- Venice in a Day (great if you’re short on time)
- Hidden Gems in Venice (great if you want to get off the tourist track)
- Venice Food Tour with a Local (great for foodies, eat like a local)
- Book a Photoshoot (capture your memories, discount code: WANDERLUST)
Pro Tip: In an order to promote more sustainable travel, Venice is considering implementing a new booking system which may begin next year. Learn more about the Venice booking system here.
The Best Tours to take with just 1 Day in Venice
If you don’t want to plan out every hour of your one day in Venice, booking a tour might be a good idea. There are some great small-group tour options in Venice. Trust me, it’s easy to get lost on these islands, and having a guide really helps bring the city to life!
Venice in a Day with Walks of Italy
I love Walks of Italy. They have small, local-led group tours all over the country and specialize in unique and intimate experiences. On this tour, you will see the city by land and water and can acquaint yourself with the history of Venice, explore the back alleyways, ride an iconic gondola down the canals, see Marco Polo’s residence, walk across the Bridge of Sighs and the grand Rialto Bridge, and tour St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doges Palace.
The best part of this tour is that you will be able to skip the line at all the attractions. This is especially important if you are visiting Venice during the high season. You don’t want to spend your one day in Venice standing in line!
The Best Things to do in Venice in a Day
If you don’t want to take a tour, and just want to spend the day exploring the city on your own, here’s what I recommend doing with one day in Venice.
1. Start your day with a walk around Venice’s beautiful canals
The canals of Venice are one of the most iconic features of the city. Stretching for over 150 miles, the canals weave their way through the entirety of Venice, connecting all of the different neighborhoods and districts. A walk along the canals is a must-do when visiting Venice, and there’s no better way to get a feel for the city than by putting on your comfortable shoes and exploring.
The best time to explore the canals is first thing in the morning before the hordes of tourists descend upon them. Start your day at Barbaria de le Tole, one of the busiest canal intersections in Venice. From there, you can head west towards the Rialto Bridge or east towards San Marco. We recommend taking the eastward route so that you can end your day with a gelato (or two) in one of the many cafes lining San Marco square.
As you meander your way through Venice’s narrow alleyways and cobblestone streets, you’ll get a sense of what life was like centuries ago. Make sure to peek inside some of the small shops selling everything from handmade masks to Murano glass jewelry. And don’t forget to wave hello to all of the Venetians out and about on their daily errands. They may look like they’re in a rush, but they’re always happy to share a smile and a quick chat.
There’s no better way to spend a day in Venice than by getting lost in its labyrinthine network of canals. With over 150 miles of canals to explore, you could easily spend weeks walking along them and still not see everything. But even if you only have a day, we guarantee that you’ll fall in love with this unique city and its charming inhabitants. So put on your comfortable shoes and start exploring!
2. Stop for lunch and try all the incredible Food in Venice
Venice is full of fantastic and uniquely Venetian food that you must try even if you only have one day in Venice. I have a list of all my favorite foods in Venice here.
3. Spend the afternoon exploring the city’s churches and museums
Churches and museums in Venice are some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sights in the world. from the stunning architecture to the incredible artwork, there is so much to see and do in Venice that you could spend days exploring everything this amazing city has to offer.
Church of Santa Maria della Salute
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Venice is the Church of Santa Maria della Salute. Also known as “the Plague Church”, this magnificent structure was built in 1631 to thank God for sparing the city from a devastating outbreak of the plague. The church is incredibly ornate, with marble floors, walls covered in frescoes, and an immense dome that towers over the entire building. Visitors can also climb to the top of the bell tower for breathtaking views of Venice and the surrounding lagoon.
St. Mark’s Basilica
Another must-see church in Venice is St. Mark’s Basilica. This iconic building is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Venice, and it’s easy to see why. The detailed mosaics that cover every inch of the interior are simply stunning, and the expansive echoing chambers make it one of the most unique churches you’ll ever visit. St. Mark’s Basilica is also home to several important works of art, including Michelangelo’s “Pieta” and Caravaggio’s “The Entombment of Christ”.
Museo Diocesano di Venezia
If you’re looking for something a little different than your typical church visit, take a trip to Museo Diocesano di Venezia. This Episcopal museum is housed in an opulent 16th-century palazzo, and it contains an impressive collection of religious art from Venetian artists like Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese. The museum also has a beautiful garden where you can relax after exploring its many rooms full of paintings, sculptures, and tapestries.
San Zaccaria Church
The next stop on our tour is the San Zaccaria Church. This beautiful church is one of the most iconic in Venice, thanks to its Gothic design and stunning stained glass windows. While the exterior of the church is certainly impressive, it’s the interior that will really take your breath away. Be sure to take a moment to admire the altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini before heading to the next stop on our tour.
Doge’s Palace Museum
No trip to Venice would be complete without a visit to the Doge’s Palace Museum. This magnificent palace was once the home of the Doge—the ruling official of Venice—and it’s easy to see why. From the intricately detailed ceilings to the lavish Gold Room, this palace is truly a sight to behold. The museum offers a self-guided tour that will take you through some of the most famous rooms in the palace, as well as provide some insight into Venice’s rich history.
4. Take a break in one of Venice’s many squares to people watch
A visit to Venice, Italy is not complete without spending time in one of the city’s beautiful piazzas. From people-watching to enjoying a leisurely meal, piazzas are the perfect place to take in all that Venice has to offer. Venice seriously has hundreds of small hidden piazzas around the city. Feel free to wander around and relax in one that you like. Here are some of our favorites.
Piazza San Marco
Perhaps the most famous piazza in Venice, Piazza San Marco is home to several important attractions, including St. Mark’s Basilica and the Campanile bell tower. The piazza is also a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike, making it the perfect place to enjoy a gelato or people-watch.
Piazetta di San Marco
The south side of the Piazza San Marco is connected to the lagoon by an open space called the Piazzetta di San Marco. It is situated between the Doge’s Palace and the Biblioteca Marciana (St. Mark’s Library). Recognizable by two mysterious columns, the Piazzetta has long served as a welcoming place to the city. You’ll see the columns when looking away from the sea towards the Piazza San Marco.
One of the columns features the famed winged lion of the Serenissima and the other depicts the warrior San Teodor, the first patron saint of Venice slaying a dragon. You’ll find lions all over the city of Venice.
The statue is regarded as a symbol of Venice’s multiculturalism. The head and bust are from statues of Roman empires and the armor is made of the same marble as the Parthenon in Greece. The statue shield is made from Istrian stone, and the arms, legs, and dragon are of marble from an island between the Black and Agean Seas.
Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo
The architecture and monuments in this campo make it one of the most beautiful squares in Venice. Subsequently, it bears the nickname Campo delle Maravege meaning “Square of Marvels.” The campo’s most impressive work of architecture is the Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint Giovanni and Saint Paolo constructed by the Dominicans during the 13th and 14th centuries. The temple is well-preserved thanks to massive restoration in the mid-20th century.
5. Finish your day with a romantic gondola ride under the stars
You can’t visit Venice without taking a Gondola Ride. Gondolas are truly a historic part of the city and have been around for hundreds of years. It’s pricey, but worth it and a must, especially if you only have one day in Venice. You can learn more about riding a gondola, the price, and how to find one here.
I hope this was enough information to help you plan your day in Venice and make the most of it! Whatever you choose to do, you’ll have a wonderful time in this beautiful ancient city.
Need More Info on Venice?
- The Best Things to do in Venice
- Where to Stay in Venice
- Venice Food Guide
- Venice Packing List
- How to Get Around Venice – Transportation Guide
- Venice with Kids
- One Day in Venice Itinerary
- How Much Does a Gondola Ride Cost
- How to Book a Photoshoot in Venice
- New Venice Tourist Booking System
- Paddleboarding in Venice
- Day Trips from Venice
- Venice Home Page