For many people, Venice is only seen as a place to spend a day – arriving early by train or cruise ship, and leaving before dinner to head onto the next city or port. Of course, it’s not a big place, so it’s technically possible to see all the “must-see” sights in that short amount of time. But, as I’ve mentioned half a gajillion times on this site, if you don’t give Venice at least the benefit of one overnight stay, you’ll never fall in love with the city. So, while you’re staying for at least a couple of days, why not make it 3-4 and throw in a day trip from Venice while you’re at it?
Truthfully, using Venice as a home base and taking day trips from the canal city isn’t always the most ideal way to see the area. For one thing, hotels and hostels in Venice tend to be on the expensive side of things, so you’ll likely be paying more for your accommodation than you would in the surrounding area. But the convenience of reducing the number of packing/unpacking routines you have to perform during your vacation may make that worth it to you – I know it’s a big factor for me when I’m planning my trips. Another drawback may be the cost of airfare – that you’re less able to find cheap flights to Venice than you are to a larger airport like Rome or Milan. But if Venice is already on your itinerary, the city’s airport is (in my opinion) one of the best entry points into the country. So if you’re going to pay the extra to fly into Venice, you might as well stay a little longer! And luckily, there are plenty of great day trips from Venice that make staying a couple extra days in this glorious city even more worthwhile.
Did you know you can book discounted shore excursions in Venice without going through the cruise line? And that they’ll guarantee to have you back at the ship in time for depature? Find out more: Discount Shore Excursions from Venice
Here are just a few day trips from Venice you can take:
- Lagoon Islands – Probably the easiest day trip in Venice is to make a tour of the islands in the Venetian lagoon. Visit Murano for glass-making demonstrations, Burano for lace-making lessons, and Torcello for the lack of crowds. And don’t forget the Lido beaches in the summer.
- Verona – This lovely city is about 1.5 hours from Venice by fast train, and is the home of not only the Romeo & Juliet story but also a spectacular Roman arena.
- Ravenna – If you liked the mosaics in the Basilica di San Marco in Venice, then you’ll love the mosaics in Ravenna. It’s easy to see the main sights in a 3-4 hour stop, making this a good (if long) day trip.
- Lake Garda – Many of the towns along this northern Italian lake are easily reached via train from Venice, and it almost doesn’t matter which one you choose. If you get bored before you’re ready to return to Venice, just hop on another train and visit the next town!
- Asolo & Castelfranco – Asolo boasts a gorgeous hilltop setting and Castelfranco Veneto is a pretty fortified town; Asolo is tough to reach without a car, but Castelfranco is on a railway line.
- Treviso – About a half-hour from Venice by train, this city has its own network of canals and some churches worth exploring; but it’s mainly just a nice escape from the tourist crush.
- Padua – Also just about a half-hour from Venice by train, this city is home to a major university and is therefore youthful and energetic, as well as a great city for art lovers.
- Trieste – This city on the tip of the Friuli region is a long day-trip from Venice (it’s about a 2-hour trip on the train one-way), but it’s a charming port city that’s influenced by several cultures.
- Vicenza – The US military base near Vicenza may be all you’ve heard of in relation to this city, but it’s an hour from Venice by train and you won’t find much evidence of the base in the city itself. It’s a pleasant place and usually quite crowd-free.
- Tour of Palladio Villas – The work of legendary architect Andrea Palladio can be seen all over the Veneto region, and there are several organized day-trips that will let you tour some of the more prominent Palladio villas in the area.
- Veneto & Friuli Wine Tours – While Chianti and Barolo may be more famous in terms of Italian wines, the Veneto and nearby Friuli regions have lots to offer wine lovers. Many companies offer organized day trips to area wineries, complete with tastings.
- Cortina/Dolomites Tour – The stunning Dolomites mountains aren’t that far from Venice, and you can either join an organized tour or just get a train to Cortina d’Ampezzo and explore one of the pretty resort towns in the region.
- Brenta Canal Cruise – Haven’t had enough of being on the water after a day or two in Venice? Hop on a one-day cruise from Venice to Padua on the Brenta River. It’s a great way to see many of the area’s beautiful historic villas.