One Day In Venice, Italy: An Itinerary For First-Time Visitors

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Got One Day in Venice? Here’s What To Do, See, Eat, and Drink!

Want to explore Venice but feeling a little short on time? Whether you’re just flying through on a stopover flight or heading down on a day tour from Lake Garda, there is tons to see in Venice in a single day.

In fact, if you only have one day in Venice – you might feel a bit overwhelmed with all there is to do and see!

Luckily, you’ve got yourself a Venice travel guide with a one-day itinerary right here! We have been to Venice before – but it was years ago – so we asked Laura from She Who Wanders for her travel blogger opinion.

Laura recently spent a few days in Venice for the first time (and explored the city thoroughly), so she has a pretty good idea of what a first-time visitor might want to explore, eat, and drink!

So, from visiting top sights like Rialto Bridge to eating premium Italian gelato, here’s Laura with her one day in Venice itinerary!

Getting Around Venice In A Day

white dome building with brown building beside on canal bank with boats in grand canal one day in venice italy
You’ll rely on boats to get around – generally! // Photo: Laura O.

Generally, Venice (the historic city centre) is a confusing city to navigate. The transport systems are fine but the fact that things are on islands with defined routes to get between them can add extra time to your travels if you don’t plan ahead.

Besides walking between things on the same island, you have to hop on vaporettos (ferry boats) to get to other islands. Think of them as city buses. You can check out the official ACTV website for maps, prices, and schedules.

If you are in Venice for a day, it might make sense to buy a multi-ride day pass instead of single tickets each time (depends on how much exploring you plan to do). This way, you don’t have to worry about transportation when you head to other islands like Burano (see below).

This pass is also good for land and water so if you take buses on the mainland (like to/from/around Mestre and Venezia-Mestre train station) you’re covered, too!

One Day In Venice Itinerary

blue water with red boat and tower behind one day in italy
The Venetian Lagoon awaits you! // Photo: Laura O.

Okay, so having covered how to get around to see all these great sights and attractions, let’s dive into the actual itinerary for Venice in a day!

Of course, there is more than one way (probably hundreds of different ways) you can fill a day in Venice. This itinerary mixes the top sights with some food and lesser-known places to visit!

Also, before we dive in – just in case you did end up looking for a place to stay (because you fell in love with Venice and wanted to stay a night or two), you can get started searching for hotels and other accommodations in Venice here.

The historic centre of Venice is divided into six “sestieri” – or districts – with many of the top attractions found in San Marco or San Polo.

If you are looking for an elegant hotel, Antica Locanda al Gambero might do the trick – and they have breakfast!

Speaking of breakfast, Ca’ Angeli is a bed and breakfast with water views of the Grand Canal. For an authentic stay, also check out a guesthouse like Ca’ Pedrocchi in the heart of San Marco.

Wake Up Activity: Sunrise at Piazza San Marco

couple walking through square with tower and sun behind st marks square venice one day in venice
The morning sun at the Square. Perfect. // Photo: Laura O.

There’s no chance that if you’re visiting Venice, even for a short time, that you won’t cross paths with Piazza San Marco.

This square is in the heart of the city and a hub for so much history, culture, and people. It’s usually busy, but there is an easy trick to get the best views and dodge the crowds – head off for sunrise!

You’ll find the gorgeous tiled pavement without a million other feet stomping around – and if the weather Gods are on your side, you’ll have the most beautiful light and be able to soak in all the history and gorgeousness to yourself.

Plus you might even get to see a fabulous fashion photoshoot or a wedding photoshoot. I’m not sure if it was even real (see photo above), but the bride looked like she was straight off the catwalk. Only in Venice, I’ll give you that!

Brunch/Breakfast at an Italian Cafe

After a sunrise wake-up, the next thing you’ll need is fuel – so do yourself a favour go get a classic Italian breakfast. For this, I had to give some options since people can be picky with what they eat for breakfast!

If you want more of a sweet breakfast (think pastries), then head for Rosa Salva. Located close to the Square, you’ll find an array of sweeter eats with Italian coffee.

Address: Sestiere di S. Marco, 950, 30124

For another authentic place, check out Caffe Brasilia. It’s a bit farther from the Square, but you’ll find this little shop that does savoury and sweet eats as well as cocktails at night! They do fresh juices and have a few outdoor chairs for you to enjoy.

Address: Rio Terrà dei Assassini, 30124

Finally, to stay right on the Square for the experience, head over to Caffe Florian. Established in 1720, this Baroque-style cafe is full of ornate decoration and is the second oldest cafe in Europe (second only to Cafe Procope in Paris).

Because of the location and the fame, prices are going to be higher, but you can check out the official website here to see if it’s for you!

Address: Piazza San Marco, 57, 30124

Wherever you go, get your coffee and/or pastry and just have a morning rest as you watch the city come to life – you’ve got a big day ahead!

Top Attractions at the Square: Explore the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica

Morning Activity: Burano Trip

green yellow and blue houses in burano italy
Colour, colour, and more colour! // Photo: Laura O.

Sunrise – check, Breakfast- check, Coloured houses? Coming right up! Grab the Number 12 Vaporetto from nearby St. Mark’s Square and ride 45 minutes to a rainbow coloured island.

The houses on Burano are all painted the most vibrant colours to ensure that n the dense fog that can fall on the island the fishermen would be able to locate their house easier when they were coming home from sea.

The island is quite sleepy in the earlier parts of the day. That makes visiting during that time a relaxing experience versus the later hours of the day when lots of cruise ship passengers opt for an excursion there.

Wander through the alleys and see fresh laundry out on the line between magenta and yellow houses. Watch as the island comes to life with men off to work and the ladies off to the marketplace to cook up something scrumptious for dinner.

boats in blue canal with colourful houses lining edges burano italy one day
Burano is an island you need to check out… // Photo: Laura O.

I spent a lot of time just staring at peoples houses which in another place could sound terribly weird, but everyone’s house was just so beautiful, and the gardens just throw it all over the top.

Trust me, you’ll be wanting to make Burano home when you see it for yourself. You can also navigate the Islands of Burano, Murano, and Torcello on a half-day boat tour if you don’t want to do it on your own!

Lunch at Dal Moro’s

Back on the main island of Venice, if you find yourself starving and need a quick and delicious lunch, make sure to check out Del Moro’s.

This is the first fresh pasta to go location in the World with fresh-made pasta and sauces daily all to go!

Pick your pasta, pick your sauce and watch your lunch come to life behind the counter. Grab it all in a take away box and head off with a great meal that won’t break the bank.

Walk around the corner to the canal and take a seat to watch the world go by and chow down on the pasta lunch of your dreams!

Oh, and if you’re feeling extra hungry or just love to indulge during your holiday, then definitely get the tiramisu! Check out their website to learn more.

Address: Calle Casseleria, 5324, 30122

Afternoon Activity(s): Explore San Polo District

So you’re fed, fueled and ready to take on the afternoon, but where to go? Look no further than the San Polo district. Here are a few of my suggestion for things to check out in the area!

Rialto Market

orange roofs and blue canal form above Fondaco dei Tedeschi terrace one day in venice italy
You can see the Market to the left on the Canal bank! // Photo: Laura O.

If you like food, you should definitely check out Rialto Market. On most days of the week, you’ll find countless fresh produce and fresh fish stalls.

You’ll be able to pick up incredible ingredients to create your own Venetian feast, or maybe just wander through the stalls imagining what life would be like if this was your local market.

Discover the Italian Market on a Rialto Market food tour and wine with a local!

Location: Campo della Pescaria

Rialto Bridge + Grand Canal

white decorated rialto bridge over blue canal Venice italy one day
The famous Rialto Bridge! // Photo: Laura O.

Located right on the banks of the Grand Canal, once you look behind you, you’ll be greeted by the majestic Rialto Bridge.

It is one of four of the oldest bridges to span the Grand Canal, and with its vibrant white facade high above the water, you’ll be hard-pressed to miss it.

Crossing the bridge can be quite the feat since ultimately this is one of the most touristy locations in Venice and at midday can become quite overrun with other people.

However, you really do get a sense of how impressive it is when you can see how many people it holds.

To dodge the crowds a little stick to the market side of the bridge and dangle your legs above the water while watching the boats go through the archway.

Or even better, grab a table near the water at one of the many cafes/bars, order a well deserved Aperol Spritz and soak up the views from there.

Fondaco dei Tedeschi Rooftop Terrace

red clock tower over orange rooftops one day in venice italy
The views from the rooftop terrace at T Fondaco dei Tedeschi // Photo: Laura O.

At this point, you’ve made it most of the day, and if things are on your side, you’re likely to be gifted with a good sunset (fingers crossed).

Even if that’s not the case, you won’t want to skip out on a fabulous rooftop view, will you? I didn’t think so! When you go across the bridge away from the market you’ll come face to face with a massive department store – T Fondaco dei Tedeschi.

This place is a mecca for all things insanely expensive and luxurious, but you’re not here for the shopping – your wallet will thank you. What you are here for are the views!

You can reserve a time slot before you visit online, or you can go into the store to customer service and book in a time slot for free to get access to the rooftop.

While you only have 15 minutes (sad, I know), you’ll be gifted with a 360’ view of Venice from high above everything and everyone.

Open from 10:30 am – 8 pm through most of the year (seasons do affect this schedule) you’re guaranteed to find a time slot that best fits your schedule.

If you can’t make it in the afternoon, try for first thing in the morning before most people are getting out and about. You can learn more and book your time on their website here!

Address: S. Marco, 5541, 30124 Venezia

Afternoon Break at SuSo Gelato

gelato in cone with cookie over venice canal one day in venice
WOW this looks delicious! // Photo: Laura O.

You cannot make a trip to Venice without treating yourself to traditional local gelato, and there is none better than SuSo.

Located not far from Rialto Bridge towards Piazza San Marco, this heavenly gelatoteca prides itself on using local ingredients, creating season offers and catering to the needs and wants of its visitors.

With over a dozen different flavours to choose from there is something for anyone, and as someone who visited 6 times in 5 days (yes you read that right) I can highly recommend trying the Opera flavour (if Nutella & Ferrero Rocher had a delicious baby) and the Manet, a local favourite of salted pistachio and gianduia-an Italian biscuit.

Oh and the cherry on top, it’s actually a biscuit. Yep, if the gelato wasn’t everything you wanted, they top every cone with a stamped biscuit to round it all off! You can pre-plan your flavour choice on their official website!

Address: Calle della Bissa, 5453, 30124

Early Evening Activity: Gondola Ride

bridge over canal with boats in front rialto bridge one day in italy
Does it get any more “Venice” than this? // Photo: Laura O.

Venice seems to get even more magical (if that’s possible) when night rolls in. Music starts flowing from restaurants and local homes, the smell of fresh food being made fills the streets, and the lights seem to twinkle just a little more than usual.

Bars that you never noticed before seem to be welcoming you in for a pre-dinner drink which is always welcome when you’re on vacation right?

If you’d rather do something else than get into the wine, you can opt for a gondola ride on the grand canal to watch dusk set on the water.

This was not something I personally did on my trip to Venice as I was travelling solo and the cost of 30-minute gondola ride can run you up to 80 Euro. However, if you’re in a group then it might be better to split the cost.

gondola boats with men standing on canal one day in venice italy
Pick a boat – any boat! // Photo: Laura O.

However, if your trip feels incomplete if you don’t set foot on a gondola, then do yourself a favour and walk a few streets back from places like Piazza San Marco or Rialto Bridge to avoid such a massive crowd and maybe haggle a deal with a gondolier for your trip.

If you want to take a ride, a shared gondola ride is a very popular option!

Dinner at an Authentic Venetian Restaurant

One quick thing to mention about dinner in Venice: If you’re looking to places like Yelp or TripAdvisor for dinner suggestions then you should also be booking tables at these places right then and there online. That’s because even in the slow travel months you might not be able to get a table.

This isn’t something I realized, and when I met a bunch of other travellers on my visit to Venice we wandered around for about an hour being turned away by quite a few places that said we needed to book in.

Seriously hungry and disappointed we were almost ready to drink our sorrows and dinner away when we came across a courtyard full of locals playing cards, kids playing football (soccer) and lovely music – and lucky lucky us they had a free table!

To avoid feeling like this when you visit Venice, definitely try booking in advance. Bacaro Quebrado and Osteria La Zucca are two really nice options to look into for a pleasant, memorable dinner!

Address for Osteria La Zucca: S. Croce, 1762, 30135 Venezia
Address for Bacaro Quebrado: Calle Larga dei Bari, 1107/A, 30121 Venezia

Evening Activity: Drinks or Evening Stroll

Okay, so it’s the evening now and you’re still in Venice. While the things you could do in a Venice evening are basically limitless, I’ve got two options for you: Drinks or an Evening Wander in Venice. 

Chances are if you’ve been of drinking age for a little while, you’ll know what a Bellini is. Well, wouldn’t you be surprised that the drink was actually invented in Venice!

That’s right, the cocktail made with Prosecco and peach purée or nectar was created in Venice in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, who was the head bartender and owner of Harry’s Bar at the time.

The now noteworthy drinking establishment hosts countless celebrities local and internationally known and is one spot you might want to check out.

Address: Calle Vallaresso, 1323, 30124

Finally, if you’re not in the mood to grab a drink, then grab your camera for a free option in the evening instead. Take a stroll through the city to see it all with a whole new perspective.

You might stumble onto some live music in the squares, street performers in Piazza San Marco or even a light show over the Venice Casino.

Related Articles

There is a lot to see in Italy so if you’re planning a bigger trip, check out these posts as well:

And there you have it, our sample itinerary for one day in Venice! Of course, it would absolutely not be possible to see everything in Venice in a single day.

That said, with a bit of planning, you can definitely see lots of great attractions. As usual, a massive thank you to Laura for sharing her travel knowledge. You can follow her wanders over at She Who Wanders for travels, pretty photos, and more! 

As always, Happy Venice Day Waddlin’,
– L&E

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