Even in the heat of summer and tourist season, the “floating city” can’t be missed on your Italian itinerary.
I spent two days in the “city of canals” this past August, and those who say two days is sufficient have it all wrong. There’s so much to explore in the beating heart of Italy’s North.
Because I prefer to spend time outdoors, this two day Venice itinerary focuses more on what you can see outside, but that’s not to say a trip inside Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Campanile or Teatro La Fenice isn’t worthwhile. My guiding tip with 48 hours—spend them wisely!
Day one in Venice, Italy
Hydrate, wear comfortable walking shoes (we walked no less than 20 kilometers a day) and be mindful to respect the historic city you’re in. It’s no secret that Venice experiences overtourism, so please consider how best you can respect your surroundings.
Arrive (or wake up) and wander
First things first, you’ll need Google Maps to help you navigate the windy streets that maze to make up Venice. At any given moment you have the option to take the path less wandered which will surely bring you to a stunning bridge viewpoint. One of my favourite parts about Venice (especially after travelling to Rome, Florence and Cinque Terre) is that there are no cars, bikes or scooters competing for pedestrian space.
Grab an espresso, almond croissant and a slice of heavenly sourdough pizza from Majer, a brand built in and exclusive to Venice to fuel you up.
Visit the Mercati di Rialto (fish market) in San Polo
On your way to the Rialto Bridge, cruise through the lively fish market in San Polo to see what’s recently been reeled in, and if you’re lucky enough to have accommodation with a kitchen, find your feature for dinner.
Hop on the Vaporetto to see the Grand Canal
I wasn’t prepared to pay for a gondola, so instead I took the city’s public transportation option, the Vaporetto (water bus). From the Rialto Bridge, I hopped on and cruised my way down to the Tronchetto, then back to the Ferrovia, near my hotel. There are two lines. Line one stops 15 times, increaseing the total time on the bus, whereas line two stops seven times. Many online maps are tough to decipher—consult this crisp version.
The Vaporetto will run you $9.50 EUR per person for 75 minutes to hop on and off. Having come from Greece and Cinque Terre, I’d spent enough time on the water, and this option suited me fine.
Terrace with a view
The luxury department store, Fondaco dei Tedeschi, offers free access to their terrace for incredible panoramic views of Venice and the Grand Canal. Online reservations are a must, and sadly, we saw many people turned away without them. Book here, and arrive early to browse and enjoy the AC.
This was at the top of my list for our time spent in Venice. It reminded me of the seawall in Vancouver. People gathered to play sports and enjoy picnics, and we walked and walked eventually stumbling upon Pier Luigi Penzo Stadium, home of Venezia F.C. and the Venetian Arsenal. After such a long walk, sitting down to a smoked salmon and arugula pizza was a delight.
Take advantage of your rooftop
After such a long day on foot, we grabbed a bottle of prosecco from the mercato and enjoyed it on the rooftop of our hotel.
Day two in Venice, Italy
While you’ll miss out on Lido and Giudecca, you’ll see Murano, Burano and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore today.
Spend some time on Murano and Burano
Yet again you’ll cross the iconic Rialto Bridge to get to your boat tour of Murano, known for blown glass art and Burano, known for lace making and colourful fisherman’s houses.
I wouldn’t recommend spending much time on Murano, but Burano is a photographer’s dream with rich colours as far as the eye can see. I had my favourite gelato in Italy here—Gelateria Crema. It’s said that the best gelato is contained in tins, not on display. I recommend their local sugar cookie or mango flavour.
Take in St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
On your way back from the boat tour you’ll cross the excessively photographed Bridge of Sighs. Take a photo and keep strolling until you reach the remarkable Saint Mark’s Basilica. From there, peek inside Caffè Florian, Venice’s oldest coffee shop. An espresso will run you $8 EUR, and if you want whipped cream, bump that up to $15 EUR. As one resident advised, “rent is sky-high in St. Mark’s Square. That caffeine will cost you.”
Cannaregio & Campo of the Ghetto Novo
Refuel, then head out to the Cannaregio district and Campo of the Ghetto Novo, the the oldest of the three ghettos where the Jewish community in Venice used to live for nearly four centuries. The area feels different than the rest, of another time, and houses another Majer, in case you’re in need of a snack.
Cannaregio boasts oceanfront. I appreciated the ocean breeze, as I watched Italians saunter home from work and sip wine from their window sills, peering at the tourists.
Spot Banksy’s art in the Dorsoduro district
Pop by the Dorsoduro district to spot Banksy’s art, take in the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and enjoy a meal before saying so long to utopian Venice.
Wrapping up your time in Venice
We stayed in Santa Croce at a lovely, simple hotel, but if you’re looking for a touch more luxury, try Corte Di Gabriella, a hotel Andrew reviewed some time ago.
Venice was a special spot, and while I don’t typically return to places I’ve already been, I’d like to find myself in Venice again some day.
Deana is a writer, content marketer, operations manager, and big dreamer. For her, travel amounts to architecture gazing, market shopping and people watching at sidewalk cafés. Most importantly, when traveling she wanders endlessly on foot.