Venice Piazza San marco
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How to see Venice in a day: the one day in Venice itinerary you’ll love

One day in Venice itinerary: see the best of Venice in a day following our detailed itinerary with Venice’s main attractions, local areas, best lunch restaurants and photo spots!

I love Venice and always recommend staying at least three full days in the city to enjoy it.

However, sometimes you don’t have that time and, no matter how much you may want to stay longer, you can only take a day trip to Venice, with less than a full day to see it all.

If this is you, you’re in the right place!

While I won’t pretend you can see ‘everything’ in Venice in a day, getting a first sense for Venice even in a few hours is possible.

However, there is a BUT!

If you only have a day to see Venice, chances are that you will want to spend your time at the ‘must-see’ or what are perceived to be the must-sees.

Unfortunately, this means that you will find yourself in the same spot as all the other day trippers, which in Venice account for huge numbers.

So huge, in fact, that many people who see Venice in a few hours leave thinking it is ‘not a real place’, it is ‘like Disneyland’ and ‘completely overrun’.

Indeed, if heading to the top Venice landmarks is all you fo with your day, there is a high chance that this will be your experience too.

However, with some insider tips, you can minimize the effect of crowds and maximize the chances of having a nice day in Venice.

Insider tips are what I am sharing here today: In this Venice in a day guide, you’ll find my favorite way to spend one day in Venice and avoid the crowds.

This guide is based on my personal experience: I have been to Venice so many times, with the kids and without, that I have seen the great, the good and the ugly of it, so I believe I have the knowledge to recommend what to do and what to avoid.

This one-day guide to Venice is for first-time visitors who want to get an overview of the city.

If you are an art lover with a specific history in Venetian art, then I would recommend a completely different approach and plan the day around a visit to the Accademia or other museums of interest, treating the city only as an add-on to that.

If you want to see the city of Venice in a day, however, read on!

Good to know: this itinerary foresees walking and the use of the Vaporetto (water bus) either once or twice in the day. You do not need to buy an expensive vaporetto pass for it: single tickets are sufficient.

Venice in a day with kids

This itinerary works well for all ages. if you have very young kids, I suggest you also read >>> my tips for visiting Venice with a toddler, as a complement to this guide.

How to spend a day in Venice step-by-step itinerary: Arrival

If you are going to Venice on a day trip, you will likely arrive by train at Santa Lucia station, where my itinerary commences.

I recommend you take in the stunning view from the station as you step out of the arrivals hall and then take the bridge to cross the Grand Canal.

Grand Canal in Venice and church with green dome - this is the view you see as you step out of Santa Lucia Train station in Venice Italy
This is the view that opens up in front of you as you step out of Santa Lucia Train Station in Venice

From here, wander through San Polo, using academia as your arrival point.

The walk takes about 30 minutes or so and allows you to get a first feel for Venice without the crowds.

You don’t need to follow a precise itinerary to get to your destination, just use google maps to ensure you are heading the right way.

On your walk, you will find canals, bridges, hidden corners and ‘campielli’ (Venice’s squares).

Depending o the exact route you take, you may even get the chance to see the church of ‘I Frari’, which is wonderful and has Canova’s tomb.

Alternative if you prefer to walk less: if a 30 min walk is not for you, you can take the Vaporetto (water bus) to Accademia instead and follow this itinerary starting from there.

Quiet Venice canal in San Polo, on the way between the station and Accademia area


Once you are in Dorsoduro, the neighborhood of the Accademia Museum, I recommend you stop for a light lunch in Osteria Ai Pugni.

Osteria ai Pugni is a wonderful and delicious Venice’ bacaro, an eatery where you can have local small bites and drinks.

Address: Fondamenta Gherardini, 2836, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

You have bacari everywhere in Venice but I love this one in particular as the food is delicious and the staff lovely.

Also, it is just in front of Ponte dei Pugni, which is peculiar: have a look at it and see if you can identify markings in the shape of feet.

These markings signal the positions where fighters would stand during a traditional and ancient Venice event: a fight with people trying to push one another off the bridge!

A Venice hidden gem you may not have known about!

Good to know: in this area, you also find the excellent squero, the workshop where they build and repair gondolas!

Address: Squero San Trovaso, Dorsoduro, 1097, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy

squero san trovaso gondola workshop in Venice

Afer lunch walk to punta della dogana

After lunch, I love walking in and around Dorsoduro and exploring.

Things not to be missed here are:

>>> Le Zattere, the lovely and large walk with views over the Giudecca canal. Try Venice’s traditional ice cream at Gelateria Nico here!

>>> San Trovaso squero, the workshop building gondolas

>>> Campiello Barbaro, an adorable small square close to the Peggy Guggenheim collection.

>>> Punta della Dogana – beside the church of La Salute, this is a wonderful view point from where you can catch a lovely view of San Marco. A great photo spot!

Gondola Traghetto to San Marco

The best way to reach San Marco from the other side of the water is by getting onto a gondola traghetto.

You may have heard of gondolas as tourist vessels to rent by the hour.

However, gondoals in Venice also have another use: that of helping people cross the Grand Canal in spots without bridges!

The traghetto is a public service and costs 2 euros per person.

The crossing only takes a few minutes, and it is a fantastic and cheap way to get a gondola experience when you are short on time (or money, or both!). Plus, you don’t need to book!

So, if you only have one day in Venice and do not have the time or budget for a full gondola ride, you don’t have to compromise: just take the traghetto!

If you prefer to stay off the water, head back to Ponte dell’Accademia: the view from the bridge is breathtaking!

View of Venice from Accademia Bridge with boats and the Church of La Salute in the background

Admire San Marco and Doge’s Palace

St Mark’s Square, Basilica and Doge’s palace are among the main landmarks in Venice, the other one being Rialto Bridge, which you’ll see later in his itinerary.

San Marck’s Basilica and Doge’s palace are beautiful and used to be the center of power in historical Venice.

You can visit them both inside; however, if you need to see Venice in a day, I believe it can be worth skip the visit and focus on the outside only.

Need to know: This area is by far the busiest in Venice and it may end up being too busy for an enjoyable stay. However, the basilica and palace are so unique ad so beautiful I believe they must be included in a Venice visit, even just for a quick glimpse.

If you are lucky to be in Venice on a quiet day, even better; they are spectacular!

Before you leave this area, walk along the Grand Canal and ensure you catch a quick glimpse of the famous Bridge of Sights.

Maybe even take a photo of the gondolas with the view of San Giorgio Maggiore – one of the most popular photo spots in Venice!

Vaporetto back via Rialto

From San Marco, you will be able to take the Vaporetto back to the station and see Rialto Bridge from the boat.

The bridge is wonderful; however, the crowds here are so intense you often cannot even walk on it!

This, plus the fact that the bridge’s architecture is easier to appreciate from a distance, makes me recommend seeing Rialto from the Vaporetto rather than on foot.

Busy Rialto Bridge

Station and departure

At this point, I believe you be ready to get back home.

If you have additional time, I recommend you venture into the area of Cannaregio for a drink.

Cannaregio is the area with the old Venice ghetto (stunning) and also has many bacari so you’ll have no difficulties finding a place for a spritz! Order it with select rather than Aperol or Campari for a real local taste.

Additional resources to plan your day in Venice

>>> If you want a local guide to the city, we recommend Lucia of Venice Walks and Tours: tell her you found her on MamaLovesItaly! We used her for a kids’ tour but she is an excellent guide for all ages.

>>> If you want to know what to order, find here our guide to traditional foods from Venice

>>> If you need help with Venice transport, find here how to get around Venice

>>> if traveling with kids, find here Fun and interesting facts about Venice for kids and here >>>> our full guide to visiting Venice with kids

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Marta Correale is an Italian mama of two. Born and raised in Rome, Marta has a passion for travel and especially enjoys showing off Italy to her kids, who are growing up to love it as much as she does! A classics graduate, teacher of Italian as a second language and family travel blogger, Marta launched Mama Loves Italy as a way to inspire, support and help curious visitors to make the most of a trip to Italy and learn about Italian culture on the way.