1 Day in Venice
After a magical couple days in the Dolomites, we headed south to spend 1 day in Venice! Venice is a city built on more than 100 islands and has no roads, only canals, which is crazy and makes exploring it extra unique. We had heard that Venice is super overcrowded due to cruise ships docking there daily, which is true, but with an early wake up call and some planning, we had such a fun day walking around the canals, eating lots of food and gelato, and seeing the major sights. In our opinion, 1 day in Venice was enough to see all of the major attractions we wanted to see, so we are basing this guide off of our experience in the city, but if you have more time, check out our “if you have extra time” section at the end!
PS: For more Italy ideas, watch our Italy vlog series and check out the rest of our Italy guides:
- 4 Days in the Dolomites
- 1 Day in Matera
- 2 Days in Positano
- 3 Days in Rome (Coming soon!)
- 2 Days in Florence (Coming soon!)
Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
Tips for a Great Trip
- Our biggest tip of the trip: get up early! The cruise ships arrive between 8-9 AM everyday, which is when things start to get crazy. Hit the town by sunrise and you’ll be rewarded with empty streets and beautiful weather. If you like photography, we recommend visiting a few of your “must see” spots this early to snap some photos without people in them. 🙂
- Book tickets in advance and buy skip the line passes whenever you can! As we mentioned, Venice is really busy and the lines for some places can be really, really long. It’s worth a little bit extra to avoid the chaos.
- You must cover your shoulders and knees when entering churches, such as St. Mark’s Basilica.
- We could never find anywhere to sit down. In fact, it’s illegal to sit down in a lot of places in Venice, such as steps, the bridges, and Piazza San Marco.
- Carry a water bottle with you and fill up with the city’s fountains. We loved that we could get free and delicious water all over Rome from their fountains!
General Italy Tips
- Wake up early to beat the crowds. It’s 100% worth it!
- In Italy, they do not drink lattes (especially flavored ones) or many of the other coffee drinks we are used to in the US. The main drinks to order are: an espresso, macchiato, or a cappuccino (but only before 10:30 AM). We drank lots of macchiatos and loved them! Coffee is also way cheaper than in the US! You also usually drink your coffee and then pay, which is different than we were used to.
- Tipping is not expected in Italy like it is in the US. Some places do charge a small service fee or charge a little more for table service though.
- There is a rumor that gluten and dairy sensitive folks can eat gluten and dairy in Europe. Kathryn is gluten free in the US (and doesn’t eat much dairy) and decided to test the theory and felt fine the whole trip (and we ate a TON of gluten)!
- If you’re driving, make sure to get an International Driving Permit. You can get this from AAA for only $20. Make sure to bring your actual driver’s license with you too!
- We highly recommend getting an internet plan for your phone or SIM card. Relying solely on wifi can be a bit stressful at times and it’s worth the cost to be able to use your phone freely. We also suggest downloading offline Google Maps so you can use maps without eating up data.
- Buy an adapter before you go! Also, make sure your hair dryer and straightener (and other electrical items) are dual voltage. We took this hair dryer and this straightener with us during the trip and they worked great!
- None of our Airbnb’s had keypads so we had to meet the hosts in person, which wasn’t a huge deal, but this can be a tad trickier if you arrive somewhere late so keep that in mind. You also have to pay a tourist tax for all Airbnbs (this should be in their listing) and they will ask to see your passport, so don’t be alarmed when they ask!
- Bring Euros! We used Euros WAY more than we thought we would. We took out some Euros at our bank beforehand to ensure we had some on hand, but then used bank ATMs the rest of the trip (the ones in actual banks, NOT the ones just on the street in the big cities—those will charge you massive fees). We ended up spending around 500 Euros in cash over two weeks. In the smaller cities, don’t expect everywhere to take a credit card, but even in some of the larger cities, some gelato spots or restaurants only took cash. You also need some coins handy if you want to use public restrooms.
- If you’re staying at Airbnbs and need somewhere to store your bags, we recommend checking out Bagbnb. We have used this in many cities and it is a huge help!
- Sometimes restaurants/coffee shops/gelato spots weren’t open when Google said they would be (and we never knew why). We ran into this issue in almost every city, both big and small. We learned to not trust Google for hours and to not get too set on going somewhere because there was a chance it wouldn’t actually be open. Being flexible is key!
Where to Stay
It’s no secret we are big fans of Airbnb! We love getting to experience a city like a local by staying in an apartment. We rented an Airbnb in Venice and loved having the comforts of home, like a full kitchen. Our Airbnb was a bit of a walk to the main sights, but for under $100/night during peak season, we couldn’t complain!
PS: If it is your first time staying at an Airbnb, click this link to get $40 off your first stay!
If you’d rather stay at a hotel in Venice, here are a couple good options to consider! Warning: hotels are a bit more expensive than Airbnbs!
Since there are no roads in Venice, renting a car is not really an option, so you get to take beautiful boat rides instead! After returning our Dolomites rental car at the Venice airport, we took an Alilaguna (a boat) to the city for €15 each/one way (or €27 each/round trip). We bought this ticket at the airport and just hopped on the first boat that came.
When we left Venice, we took a water bus from the city to the train station for €7.50 each. To get tickets for the water bus, download this app. We had some issues with the app working, just fyi, so we recommend testing it out beforehand. There are also some ticket offices at some of the stops, but not all stops have one, so you could always get a ticket in advance if you’re concerned! We used Google Maps to see what times the boats were and it seemed accurate to us.
During our time in Venice, we walked the entire day, which was a tad exhausting in the hot summer heat, but doable. However, if you need to give your legs a break, take one of the vaporettos! These water buses will get you across the city easily and with an awesome view. You could even take this for fun instead of spending a ton of money on a gondola ride. 🙂
- Wander around the streets of Venice at sunrise. It’s so magical to see the golden light hit the canals, watch the locals going to work, and having many sights to yourself! We walked by the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), wandered through Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge during sunrise and loved it! We also went by the spots later to get the true experience too!
- Grab coffee and a delicious pastry at Torrefazione Cannaregio. The pistachio eclair was SO good!!! This coffee shop is a bit of a walk from the main area, but we loved the Cannaregio neighborhood because it felt way less touristy than the rest of Venice. After your coffee, walk around for a bit and enjoy the quieter streets and local vibe.
- Explore Doge’s Palace. This is the number one attraction in Venice and was really fun to wander around. We loved seeing the swords, jail cells, and beautiful ceilings! We recommend getting your ticket in advance so you can skip the line!
- Wander around Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) and go up Campanile di San Marco! This is the iconic bell tower that you see from the square and the views from the top are incredible! Fun fact: Galileo demonstrated his telescope from up there.
- After a busy morning of sightseeing, it’s time for lunch! We’re big fans of street food/grab and go type spots in Italy and we loved Dal Moro’s! It’s fresh pasta that is served fast and in a box so you can eat as you walk. The bolognese and the pesto were both great! Another great spot for lunch is Farini, which is a local bakery with a few spots around Venice. We loved their pizza!
- Visit Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica). It is free to enter, but you can choose a time and get a skip the line ticket for €3. We highly recommend this! We ended up skipping the basilica because of the line and regret it. If you’re looking for a more unique basilica experience, our friends highly recommended the Basilica di San Marco after-hours tour!
- Now for the best part of the day…GELATO! We definitely went pretty HAM on gelato during our trip, but can you blame us? We went to Suso and Gelateria il Doge and loved them both! A couple other options are: Gelateria Ca’ D’oro, GROM (this is a large chain, but we hear it’s great!), and La Mela Verde.
- Walk across the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge), which is a bridge with shops on either side. This is extremely touristy, but the views from the bridge are nice and it’s one of those “must see” things in Venice.
- One of our favorite things to do was to just get lost in the canals. We felt like we had walked 75% of the city by the end of the day and it was fun to just explore and see what we could find. One cool spot to check out as you wander around is Libreria Acqua Alta. It’s a bookstore with a gondola full of books, two cool little outdoor areas, and some interesting book finds.
- Before dinner, we recommend trying a local Venice tradition called cichetti, which is similar to tapas in Spain. There are many bacaros (wine bars) around Venice that serve cichetti, each with slightly different options and it’s really fun to try a bunch of things for pretty cheap! A few good spots to check out are: Ostaria dai Zemei, Al Merca, Arcicchetti Bakaro, Osteria al Squero, or All’Arco.
- For dinner, depending on how hungry you are and how much you want to spend, here are a few options:
- There is no better way to end the day than by having more gelato! We averaged 2 a day in Italy and have no regrets! 😉
If you have extra time…
PASTRIES + COFFEE
- Caffe Del Doge
- Pasticceria Tonolo
- Pasticceria Rizzardini
- Pasticceria da Bonifacio
- Marchini Time
- I Tre Mercanti for tiramisu
- The number one thing we wish we could’ve done is visited one of the other islands. Burano and Murano are both very popular and aren’t hard to get to from the main island. Burano is known for having super colorful buildings and for lace making, while Murano is known for glass blowing. If you have a second day in Venice, we highly recommend going to one of the islands for the day!
- Walk around Mercati di Rialto (Rialto Market). We forgot about this until it was too late (it was closing for the day). You can see the days of operation and hours of the market here.
- Ride in a gondola. While it’s a very popular thing to do in Venice, it’s crazy expensive (€80 for 40 minutes), which is why we did not include it in our guide. As we mentioned above, taking one of the water buses gives you similar views for wayyy less, but it’s definitely not as “instagram-worthy.” 😉
- Visit The Dolomites! This was our favorite area of Italy and it’s only a 2-3 hour drive from Venice (depending on where you go). Check out our 4 Days in the Dolomites guide for some ideas!
Ready to visit Venice?
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