Itinerary for 2 Days in Venice

One of the most popular articles on this site since its inception remains my suggested two-week itinerary in Italy. And since there’s a contingent of visitors to that page who clearly crave more detail (just scroll down to see all the comments I’ve gotten asking me to opine on itineraries!), I thought I’d start breaking out that itinerary into a few articles concentrating on each point along the way.

Toward that end, here’s the first in a new series, since it’s the starting point for my two-week itinerary – what to do with your two days in Venice.

Quick search for flights to Venice:

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Two Days in Venice

venice2days1I know that the vast majority of travelers think of Venice as a day-trip destination, either taking the train in from another Italian city or pulling in to port on a massive cruise ship. Whenever people listen to me, I always recommend against this.

For starters, the cruise ships are doing damage to the Venetian lagoon (and therefore the city itself), so if you can avoid cruises that have Venice as a port of call you’re already doing the city a great service. But beyond that, the magic of Venice is much harder to experience when you have very limited time and when you aren’t spending the night. The best times of day in the city – without question – are the early morning (before the day-trippers arrive) and the late evening (after the day-trippers leave).

If you’re driving to Venice and back (which I don’t recommend, by the way), you have more flexibility to get there early and leave late for a long day-trip – but if you’re relying on public transport, your options aren’t going to allow you to get bewitched by Venice. So take my advice, spend at least one night (not on the mainland, either) and plan on two full days in the city.

Day One in Venice

You’ve just arrived by plane into Venice’s Marco Polo Airport, and it’s relatively early in the day. You’ll gather your bags and pull your groggy self toward the exit. You’ve read about how to get from Venice Airport into Venice, and you’ve decided which method of transportation makes the most sense for you. You’re also armed with the necessary information from your hotel or hostel, who told you which vaporetto (water bus) stop was closest to their front door.

In most cities, your first order of business upon arrival is to chuck your stuff in your room and get back out to actually see the city. In Venice, you get to see the city before you even see your hotel. Assuming you’ve cleverly chosen a water transport method, secure a place by a window so you can see Venice come into view as you make your way across the lagoon from the airport. If you’ve splurged a bit on a water taxi, you’ll appreciate the ability to poke your head out of the top of the boat so you can really get a look at things. Have your camera ready. You’ll need it.

After you eventually check into your Venice hotel and put your bags down, resist the urge to crash for a nap. I know you’re jetlagged, but I hope the impossibility of the canal city has captivated you upon your entry and you’re eager to explore. Because that’s what you’ll spend the rest of the day doing.




venice2days4Depending on when you’re visiting Venice, you may find that the lines to get into the city’s top sight – St. Mark’s Basilica – aren’t too long when you wander by. If that’s the case, jump at the chance to visit this amazing church. It’s my favorite church anywhere (so far, at least), and it’s worth an hour (if you visit all the mini-exhibits within the basilica, that is, including taking the steep staircase to the roof where you can look over the square).

If you’ll be in Venice duruing the high season, you might look into booking a free reservation time to get into St. Mark’s Basilica – it’s free to enter, and free to book the entry time. You get about a 15-minute window in which to enter, and you just show your reservation code to the guard to bypass what can be quite a long line.

Along with a spin through St. Mark’s, the other attractions to visit during your first day in Venice are the Doge’s Palace (right next door to St. Mark’s, and worth the admission if for no other reason than it’s the only way to walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs) and the Campanile (bell tower) in front of St. Mark’s (you can take the elevator to the top for a view over the basilica), but otherwise your first day in Venice should be spent getting as utterly lost as you possibly can.

I’m serious.

venice2days3See the direction the bulk of the crowd is going? Turn left. Or right, if left would put you in a canal. And keep walking. Find another crowd? Go the other way. Keep walking until you find those quiet back-streets of Venice, where Venetians live and work and shop. It won’t take long, I swear. It’s just that most people don’t bother to give it a try.

Oh, and put down the map for now. Maps in Venice are almost entirely useless, and you can’t get too lost, anyway. You’re on an island, after all, and you can always ask someone to direct you back to St. Mark’s Square or the Rialto or something major and find your way from there.

Later in the evening of your first day in Venice, swing by the Rialto Bridge – it’ll still be kind of crowded, but it’s sometimes less busy at night when the day-trippers have left. And this is a great time to take that leisurely “cruise” along the Grand Canal on the #1 slow vaporetto water bus that I listed as one of my 20 things everyone should do in Italy.

If you found St. Mark’s Square unbearably busy earlier in the day, walk back through one last time late at night – and I mean late, if you can keep your eyes open, like on your way back to your hotel from dinner. Venice isn’t a nightlife town, so when restaurants close up it can get eerily quiet. Walk through those weird back-streets you found earlier. Walk to the edge of the islands and look out over the blackness of the Venetian lagoon. Listen to the water lapping against the edge of this city that shouldn’t exist, and whisper thanks that it does.

And sleep well.

Day Two in Venice

You’ll get up early on your second day in Venice, partly because you want to soak in the city as it’s waking up and getting ready for the day-trippers and partly because you’re still jetlagged. Whatever, go with it – it’ll work to your benefit in Venice.

If you’re out and about early enough, you may get treated to the city’s custodians sweeping up yesterday’s detritus in St. Mark’s Square, or Venetians doing their morning shopping near the Rialto Bridge at the city’s market (some of which is on boats). Yes, this is a real city where real people live, although the number of Venetians in Venice declines dramatically every year.


The way I see it, you’ll have two main options for how to spend your second day in Venice. If there are other sights (like the Guggenheim Museum or the Accademia) you want to see but missed on your first day’s wanderings, or if you loved your wandering so much that you felt like the sun set too soon, then by all means spend your second day much like your first. Since it’s easily the best way to spend time in Venice, there’s nothing wrong with just strolling aimlessly for two days.

venice2days5If, on the other hand, you’re feeling restless and want to see something else, you can spend a good part of the day on an excursion visiting the three major islands in the Venetian lagoon. Murano is famous for glass-making, Burano is famous for lace-making (and it’s brightly-painted houses), and the remote Torcello is where the city of Venice got its start.

Murano is the most popular of the three, so you won’t really be escaping the crowds there – and you might be sucked into a half-hearted glass-blowing demonstration that spits you out in an overpriced gift shop (it’s not all bad, but be wary of people luring you into free demonstrations). Burano is a little less crowded, and its multi-colored houses can’t be beat for almost dollhouse-like cuteness. Torcello (pictured at the right) is my favorite of the three, mainly for its seclusion and the stunning mosaics in its old cathedral.

Whatever time is left after your lagoon excursions can easily be taken up with more wandering – especially since you’re probably going to get lost a few times on your way to one place or another.

If you’ve got a working mobile phone in Italy and you like scavenger hunts, you might want to give the whaiwhai game in Venice a try – this could be especially fun for a group to play to give your wandering a little bit of structure.

Then at some point later on your second day in Venice, you’ll get on a train and wave goodbye to the crazy canal-filled city. And if you’ve done it right, you’ll already be trying to figure out when you can return.

>> And if you’re following my recommended route, your next stop is the Cinque Terre for two days – so here’s how to get from Venice to the Cinque Terre. Hint – the train is your best option, and by booking tickets in advance using the box below you’ll get the best rates Trenitalia has to offer.

More Useful Information for Visiting Venice

These articles are full of more tips you’ll need for your stay in Venice, no matter how long you’re there.

photos, top to bottom, by: Honza Soukup, xiquinhosilva, jeffk, Alex E. Proimos,

42 thoughts on “Itinerary for 2 Days in Venice

  • Lesley W

    I have a question, we’re leaving for Rome and Venice for our honeymoon in one month. Any ideas/opinions on the Lido in Venice? Good beach, not worth it, etc? Your website is amazing by the way. I’ve been stalking it for like a week now! You’re awesome! 🙂

    Lesley W.

    • Gloria

      Hello, We are flying out of Philadelphia and are staying in Tuscany area for a week with other couples. After that we’d like to go to Venice for two nights. Is it best to fly into Rome and out of Venice and is train the best mode in between? Thank you.

      • Jessica Post author

        Hi, Gloria:

        The major airport in Tuscany is in Pisa, so if you can manage to fly directly into Pisa and then out of Venice you’ll probably be happiest. That said, prices on tickets into Rome are more likely to be cheaper. So if Pisa is too expensive, then yes – into Rome and out of Venice works pretty well for your itinerary.

        For getting between your two destinations, it depends where you’ll be in Tuscany – but chances are good the train is going to be your best bet. If you’re staying in a town with no train station, that won’t work, but you could get a bus from that town to the nearest town with a train station and then take a train up to Venice.


  • Jessica Post author

    Hi, Lesley:

    I’m glad you like the site! 🙂

    I’ve not been out to the Lido beach (I’m not much of a beach girl myself), but it’s definitely a popular spot for some people. If you really want to get some beach time in and you won’t have another opportunity during your trip, then I think it’s a fine option. If you’ve got time in Rome, there are beaches that are day-trip distance away. You can see some of them listed in this article about day trips from Rome:

    I hope that helps!

  • Lesley W.

    Jessica, thank you for the quick response. That is a big help. We will be in Rome for 3 days so most likely won’t do a day trip since we’ll want to make the most out of the time we’re there, then train ride to Venice and Venice for 4 1/2 days. We’ll probably head to the beach (Lido) for a few hours just to check it out. Depends on if we want to break free from getting lost in Venice to go over there 🙂 I’ll say it again, this website is absolutely amazing. GREAT tips!!!!!!


  • Jessica Post author

    Having the Lido nearby makes it easy to pop over for part of a day if you’re in need of some beach time, but it’s also nothing to feel guilty about if you so enjoy Venice that you don’t want to leave. 🙂 Have a great trip!

  • Rejane

    Hi, Jessica, I am very glad I found your website durign my searches for an itinerary for 8 nights in Italy. My husband and I are planing to go to Venice, Florence and Rome, and to spend 2, 3 and 3 nights, respectively. We are gonna get our flights with our miles from American Airline and it seems that they don’t fly to Venice. So, instead, we booked our tickets to arrive in Milan and, from there, go immediately to Venice. But I am not sure on what would be the best way to get to Venice from Milan. Could you please give us you opinion? We should arrive in Milan early in the morning. Thank you!

  • Tom W.

    You’ve nailed it. Even after nine visits, we will still wander and get lost just to see what we find. The catch of our last trip was freshly roasted coffee right across the street from the best chocolate gelato we’ve ever had on Strada Nuava.

  • Jessica Post author

    I’ve never had earth-shatteringly-good gelato in Venice, but I hear rumors of one place that does a chocolate gelato extremely well. Maybe you found it. 🙂

  • Yereth

    HI Jessica,
    My husband and I are planing our trip to Italy we plan on taking our daughter who will be 10 , I really want her to enjoy this trip is there any suggestions you can give me as to were to take her. I really want her to enjoy each moment we plan on visiting Rome, Venice, is there top destinations for kids?


  • Jessica Post author

    Hi, Yereth:

    I don’t have children, so I’m not the best person to ask about traveling in Italy with kids. This article on the site gives some tips for visiting Rome with kids:

    My impression from talking to traveling parents I know is that Italy is excellent for kids. I’d suggest you check out the Ciao Bambino site – – and the Rome With Kids book may help you, too –


  • Bob Moran

    Hi Jessica: Love the website, too good to be true with all the tips, great insight and funny presentation. Do you have any experience with tour guides…small groups mainly, so we can hear the presentations? Thx much, Bob

  • Jessica Post author

    Hi, Bob:

    I love the folks at Context Travel. They aren’t all over the world, but they’re well-represented in Italy:

    Their groups are no more than 6, I believe, and the guides – they call them “docents” – are knowledgeable and gifted communicators, so you feel smarter after a tour without feeling like you’ve been sitting in a boring class. 🙂


  • Heather Reilly

    Hi Jessica- you helped me out awhile back when I was first planning my upcoming trip to Italy. FYI- my 2 week trip will be as follows (2x nights Venice, 4x nights Florence, 4x nights Rome, 3x nights Positano). I can’t contain my excitement…..I’m sure you understand.

    Anyway, the point of my writing you here is that I’m leaving next Friday (9/2) and just discovered that the Regata Storica is taking place while I’m there. It seems like a pretty cool event. Have you ever been? What are your thoughts on this? Do you think this will have any negative implications on our stay that weekend? Looks like they sell tickets so you can watch the Regata from a seat, but do you know if it’s something you can just pop by and watch?

    I’d love to hear your take on this and any insights or tips you may have.


    • Jessica Post author

      Hi, Heather:

      Yes, I can totally understand how you can’t contain your excitement! I’m excited FOR you! 🙂

      I’ve not been to the Regatta Storica (would love to see it someday), but I think the biggest issue would be with accommodation. If you already have that settled, then I wouldn’t worry about it negatively impacting anything. You might have more difficulty getting around in certain parts of the city – the main bridges may be crowded, water buses may be busier – but away from the Grand Canal it might even be quieter.

      I’m not sure about where you can watch the Regatta, but I would be surprised if it were only from paid seats (or balconies overlooking the canal). It’s hard to make the Grand Canal un-seeable from all angles. 🙂

      Have fun!

  • Angela M

    We will be traveling to Rome, Florence, Venice in the beginning of December. We will be spending 3 days in each city. Do you think that we will have a problem with lines at this time of year? Do we need to pre-arrange admission into the most popular attractions, or will be be fine without them? Any other travel suggestions for us?

  • bas


    I plan to go to venice this weekend i will be arriving by train stay nearby hotel near mestre
    i know its winter not good time to go venice,i may come again
    But this time what i could see and is it ok to go to lido beach this time

    Also i heard and excited to see nudist beach or spa is ther any in venice and during month of january do people to go beach for swimming etc


  • bas

    Thanks Jessica from your information i could make better plan to spend time in venice
    visiting important places mentioned by you i will put on my itenary if i get time want to know
    is there any co-ed massage/spa where can have some excitement in venice i am not looking for strip or night club but naturist coed spa or resort

  • Dan Lewis


    I am taking my wife to be on our Honeymoon to Italy and I am following your itinerary. The first question I have is how to get from Venice to Cinque Terre. I looked at the train schedule and it takes about 6 hours. Do I do this on Venice Day Two or Cinque Terre Day One?


      • Dan Lewis

        Jessica, this doesn’t make sense to me. Your itinerary discusses leaving Venice in the afternoon of Venice Day Two and arriving mid-day in Cinque Terre on Day One. How is that possible? The only thing close to this is leaving Venice at 3pm and arriving in Monterosso at 9pm. Is that what you are suggesting?

        • Jessica Post author

          Sorry, Dan, I may need to amend my post – I’m remembering my own first trip to Italy in 2001, when I made this exact journey, but it’s likely the train schedules have changed. I’d suggest you take out the word “afternoon” and just look at all the train schedules for Venice-Cinque Terre on that day.

  • Diana

    Hi Jessica, I am travelling to Italy at the end of March with my family. I started planning the 10 days vacation by the help of your website. we will visit Milan, Venice and then leave to Vienna in Austria. So since we are going to listen to your advice and stay over night in Venice I want to ask you if you know something interesting for kids to do there I have two kids one of them is 9 and the other one is 6. I think they will like the glass making demonstration, and riding Gondole but I wonder if there is something else they would like?! I think that you will receive many questions from me in near future, as long as I am amazed by your website and how rich with well organized information I really trust you to be my source of information.

    • Jessica Post author

      Venice gives people permission to wander aimlessly, and I think for kids as much as adults it’s sort of like a life-size maze. I’ve heard of parents making up games that keep kids engaged while everyone is enjoying “getting lost” in Venice – things like finding the same number on every street you turn down, or counting bridges. I think kids would likely enjoy the vaporetto rides, especially if they got a spot with a good view. If they’re not afraid of heights, taking the elevator to the top of the Campanile is pretty fun as well.

      I haven’t asked personally about this, but you might stop into the tourism office in Venice and see if they have anything specifically for kids (I know Florence’s TI did for awhile, Venice might as well).

      This article is specifically about Rome, but some of the same tips will apply to Venice:

      And there’s a scavenger hunt called “whaiwhai” that’s in several cities, including Venice, if you want something more formal:

  • sharon

    hi am visiting venice for two days. would like to see the leaning tower of pisa on the third day as our flight is late at night. is this possible from venice? how much would it cost? whats the cheapest way to see another city close to venice. The gondola trip is expensive so I was thinking to see another city instead.any help would be appreiciated.

    many thanks

    • Jessica Post author

      First off, I’d suggest you look at a map of Italy to see how far apart Venice and Pisa are – Pisa is definitely not considered a day trip from Venice. It’s more of a day trip from Florence. Could you get to Pisa and back to Venice in time for a late-night flight? Perhaps – but I’m not sure I’d recommend it. You can find out how long the trains would take, and how much tickets would cost, by putting in your trip itinerary (Venice Santa Lucia station to Pisa Centrale) into this train booking tool:

      If you’re just looking for good day trip options from Venice, here are some suggestions:

  • Paul


    Your 2 week travel Italy itinerary is very interesting. I notice you travel by train to Monterosso but start your hiking from Riomaggiore. What is the best way from Venice to Riomaggiore?
    How much has the tragic flooding damaged the tourist industry in the area?


    • Jessica Post author

      There are slow trains that connect all 5 towns on a regular basis, but not all the faster trains stop at all 5 – that’s why I list the destination as Monterosso. You can just hop off the train there and wait for the next slow train that stops at Riomaggiore. Here’s more information about getting from Venice to the Cinque Terre:

      The flooding in the region has done extensive damage, so I wouldn’t make any plans to visit the Cinque Terre until at least the spring – and even then, I’d double-check before leaving to find out what the status is of the villages themselves and the hike. There’s a good chance repairs will still be going on through next summer.

  • Annette

    Hi Jessica,
    My husband and I are going to Italy this May for our 25th wedding anniversay. Friends of ours went last year and went on a two week bus tour. We thought that this was the way to go….until I found your website! I spent 4 hours going through your website and I’m so thrilled with what you have done and the amount of detailed information. Our plan now is going to follow your suggestions (because I love how you think and how detailed and comprehensive they are) and do it ourselves. I can’t believe that we were even considering doing a bus tour. You have got me so pumped to plan, book and explore Italy on our own. Thank you.
    Now I do have one question. When you leave the villa or hotel for the day, and on that day you are touring etc. but are also leaving your villa and checking out and checking into another villa in another region, what do you do with your luggage while you are still touring that city before moving onto the next city? Thanks again for all of your wonderful information.

    • Jessica Post author

      Annette, you’ve just made my day with this comment. I’m so glad WhyGo Italy has inspired you to plan your own trip! I’m confident you’ll be handsomely rewarded – please drop me a note when you get back, I’d love to hear how it all goes. 🙂

      As for your luggage, the vast majority of hotels will allow you to store your bags with them after you check out in the morning but before you leave town for the day. It means you’ll need to go back to your hotel before you take a train to the next town, but if your hotel is relatively central that shouldn’t be a big deal. You should see “luggage storage” or something like that as an amenity listed on the hotel’s website, and if you don’t – ask. Another option is to store your bags at the train station for the day, but not all stations have luggage storage offices, and they all cost more than leaving bags at your hotel for the day would cost (that should be free).

  • Annette

    Thanks for your response Jessica. I’ll look for ways to store our luggage. Since the last time I wrote you, I have spent hours and hours and more hours on your site. You have done such an amazing job. I am jumping out of my skin with excitement to tour Italy! Congratulations and thank you for all the work that you have done in putting all this wonderful information together. You have directly influenced all of our decisions (in a positive way) for our trip and I will certainly write when we get back.

    Once again…..thank you,


  • Jessica Eluskie

    Hi Jessica, my husband and I are heading to Italy in August for our 10yr anniversary and we plan on being there for just under 2 weeks. My husband has been there before and I will be a first timer. We think we have a master plan finally figured out but I was wondering if you could pass a long any suggestions as to pro’s or con’s or must see cities a long our path that might be a better choice. We have a lot to do on our list with not a lot of time.

    We plan on flying into Venice and staying 2 nights and renting a car, I then want to head to Bardi (near Parma) to check out the castle there. We would also like to stop and check out the Ferrari museum in Modena (not sure if we will have time for this though). From Bardi we will head on down to Pisa where we will plan on staying for the night, my concern with being on the coast and staying near the coast is that I have read the locals take holiday during the month of August? I think it might slow us down driving a long the coast and not knowing our exact schedule (depending on sight seeing if we make it to Pisa that night) or will we even get a room any where or would we be better off planning to stay further inland? Then from Pisa we will head to Florence for a few days, my husband has been here and knows most of the main sight seeing spots but any suggestions would be great? From there we will head down through Siena on down to the Saturnia thermal baths then we will hit the coastline. I found a few spots that I think are must see’s Tarquinia to see the tombs there and then the Castello Di Santa Severa. Then we are heading into Rome for about 5 days. I found a few small towns that look like would be decent stops but time wise I am not sure if they would be worth it and I would love to get some suggestions to see if maybe you can come up with the same. We had planned on driving through Siena but the more I read about it, the more I think we need to make time to stop, do you agree???

    Thanks for any help that you can offer, I did buy a new Canon Rebel T2i camera this week just for this trip, due to the overwhelming photo ops I believe we will have, so if there are some places that have some good photo ops I would to hear them (hopefully I will have this camera figured out by then) hehehe.


    • Jessica Post author

      I think a good place for you to start would be my first time visitor guide to Italy:

      Since I’m not a travel consultant, I don’t plan people’s itineraries – but I’ve covered many of the things you’re asking about on WhyGo Italy, so check through the links on that page. There are city/regional guides, tips on transportation, information about what to expect when traveling during each month, itinerary suggestions for 1- 2- or 3-week trips, etc. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, let me know!

  • Jessica Eluskie

    Oh I forget, I love all of your isight on here, I have been through it over and over and this is by far the best info I have seen.

  • Norman Hui

    Hi Jessica,
    I have left you message two days ago for I need your advise as I will be arriving the Maritime Station Terminal in the evening. I have planned to go to the Grand Canal after dinner and tour the city on the next day. Could you please tell me is it enough time for me to tour St. Mark Basilica and the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs and all the other famous places? Our ship is leaving Venice at 4pm so I have to go back by 3:30pm. Is it walking distance from the pier to St. Mark’s Square or what public transportation should I take? Thanks very much for your help.
    Best regards,

  • Akshata

    i and my hubby are bagpacking to Venice for 4 days… ur sight has been SO SO SO SO helpful and now i feel safe going there all alone without any tour guide and have a great trip… THANKS a TON


    Fab Job

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