One day in Venice is indeed a very short time. However, not judging the reasons, there are often times when people have very little time in hand. There is nothing as fun as to making the best of the available time. Let us assume you are in a situation as such and would like to get the best of Venice!
Venice is a small island and even just a single day will give you a great feel of this historic town! Let us say you are entering Venice after a train journey. In this case, you would get down at Santa Lucia, the last stop/station of all trains to Venice. The station is a busy one but will give you an excellent vibe of the floating city as soon as you are off the train.
Do read more on Trains in Italy –
When you walk to get outside the Santa Lucia train station, do check out some excellent short-eat places in the station. I enjoyed Pizzas and Desserts at Vyta Santa Margherita. It is a neat place and you will fall in love with it. They also have good hot beverages and a decent wine collection.
Just next to Vyta is GROM Gelato. Try the dark chocolate here before you walk outside to some scenic awesomeness.
If you are in Venice for just a day, please try to reach early so that you have the finest of your time.
Things to do –
1) First take a great picture of the excellent scene in front of you!
This is when you just can’t get enough of what you are doing and what you see. Spend no more than 10 minutes as you have a lot more ahead of you for the day.
2) Go and Buy a Vaporetto ticket
Whether you have time or you don’t, the best way to see Venice is by purchasing a Vaporetto Day pass. Okay you must have heard that walking tours of Venice are the best. Yes, that is true, no doubt! But to experience what real Venice is all about – the floating splendor, the essence of the gondolas, the intact aging buildings and more you need to ride along the Grand Canal. The best way to take this ride is by taking the Vaporetto (water taxi). You will find the ticket counters in from you outside the train station. If you see more than one ticket booth, just go anywhere you want and ask for a day pass. A day pass will let you travel unlimited times for 24 hours. It is a whopping 20 EUR, but nothing actually is Cheap in Venice!
3) Take the Grand Canal Tour in a Vaporetto – St. Lucia to St. Mark’s Square!
Once you buy the ticket, ask the ticket seller which is the right stop to wait for the next Vaporetto that would go to St. Mark’s Square via the Grand Canal. Basically, there are two routes to St. Mark’s Square. One takes the longer route which is equally pretty but the priority for the day would be to experience a ride in the Grand Canal to see the timeworn churches, hoary buildings, striking bridges and more. The Vaporetto would break at different stops and you can get down anywhere you want, see around a bit and hop back in the next Vaporetto going towards St. Mark’s Square.
Tip – if you are following this itinerary don’t get down anywhere on the way to St. Mark’s Square, instead do it on the way back to the train station!
4) Campanile di San Marco (Bell tower)
I generally don’t miss any sights from an altitude because I love getting the bird eye views of handsome towns. If you love such views too, you shouldn’t miss the Venice Bell tower.
It is absolutely worth the 8EUR up to the top. Although it opens by 9:30AM or so, the best time to be here is just before the sunset but you don’t have that choice during a tight time schedule!
5) St. Mark’s Basilica and Dodges Palace
Assuming you are at the Basilica by 10:30AM, you should spend no more than 40 -50 minutes seeing around so as to make sure that you reach Doges Palace before 11:30AM to take part in the guided tour which starts by 11:30AM. It is a tour that takes you through the secret chambers and hidden spaces of the Palace. If you reach at any other time, just take your own walking tour inside!
We didn’t do this tour but ensure you pre book this just in case it interests you.
6) Walk around St. Mark’s Square and have lunch
If you are not really doing any guided tours or let us say you are not a great devotee of history and Art, you will get out quick! Well, in that case, you should walk around St. Mark’s square, do some souvenir shopping (you can actually do this anywhere you like in Venice as the prices are more or less the same) and then have some lunch in one of the pretty picturesque places that attract you the most. Remember St. Mark’s square has many restaurants and few are just a rip off. Do some pre checking of the place if you have time but if not, don’t fret – You are here just for a day so enjoy your time eating at a place which visually appeals to you!
Tip – St. Mark’s Square is the place to be after the Sun is down. Most Cafes play excellent music hiring live bands.
7) Walk to the Rialto Bridge
After lunch, take a walk to Rialto. This will also make you feel happy about walking in Venice using several narrow pavements and bridges. It is just half a kilometer from St. Mark’s Square but if you wish you can just take a Vaporetto back in the same route – you see this is where the day pass comes handy!
Get up on that Rialto Bridge and take those picture perfect selfies to treasure for life! There are many Gelataria and eateries here and you may also shop for tiny souvenirs for keepsake!
8) Take a Gondola Ride!
Okay, just to be clear, we didn’t do this because we found it way too expensive (Over 100 EUR for 30 mins). Secondly it wasn’t very romantic to us in anyway. But, you should do it if you want to experience the Shakespeare-Venice emotion. The gondolas are beautiful and they also have options of taking a ride with a serenade.
If you are honeymooning, there is nothing as idealistic as being in a gondola with your spouse, listening to some remarkable Italian Music!
9) Check out some Art Galleries
Florence is the ideally the right city to spend time on this aspect. But if Art is your passion, you must spare an hour on this activity and visit the Academia Galleries.
Dinner should be around Rialto so that you have beautiful views of the well-lit canal and the surroundings. In Italy, dinners are often served after 7:30PM – which itself is early by all standard in the country. If you are getting late and have a train to catch, then I would suggest picking something at Vyta in the train station.
You can do a lot of things in Venice. One day is certainly very little time for this absorbing city! But for whatever reasons when you are short of time, you can give the above places a try! You may add or delete the attractions depending on your interests. For instance, if I were to go to Venice any time soon, I would spend my time walking and getting lost in the city and trying some quaint places for my meals. I wouldn’t do much of the touristy things because I am already done with those. But if this is your first time in Venice, do these things and you won’t regret!
If you wish to have inputs on whether to stay at Mestre or Santa Lucia while at Venice, do read –