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Courtesy of Andreas Koch / EyeEm/Getty Images

1-day Itinerary in Venice

Explore the best things to do in Venice in 1 day based on recommendations from local experts.

Day 1

  • 1
    #3
    Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
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    #3 in Venice
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Several centuries ago, if you wanted to cross the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge was the only way. There are now four major bridges that cross the canal, but Rialto is by far the most famous. The bridge's current incarnation is the handiwork of Antonio da Ponte, who beat out Michelangelo and Palladio for the job. Antonio da Ponte's name translates to "Anthony of the Bridge," and he built the Rialto Bridge entirely of Istrian stone after it collapsed multiple times from previous designs. Predicted to fail by critics, the bridge still stands and is considered an engineering marvel.  

    Recent visitors recommended enjoying the bridge either early in the day or after sunset, as they said it becomes quite crowded toward midday. Still, most say the lovely views from the top are worth any crowd maneuvering you have to do. Others recommend skipping the crowds altogether and enjoying the view of the Rialto Bridge from the water in a waterbus. Access to the bridge, which connects the neighborhoods of San Marco and San Polo, is free 24/7.  

    10 minute walk
  • 2
    #2
    Grand Canal
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    #2 in Venice
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Considered to be the main street of Venice, the 2-mile-long Grand Canal is one of the city's most popular and highly photographed attractions. Recent travelers recommend hiring a gondolier for a romantic (but expensive) row along the canal. If you're hoping to do this option, plan to fork over between 80 and 100 euros (about $95 to $120) for the ride. Many others suggested hopping aboard the vaporetto, or the public waterbus, for a much cheaper experience. Vaporetto line No. 1 travels down the Grand Canal, stopping in the six sestieri, or neighborhoods, along the way. Travel experts strongly recommend purchasing a Venezia Unica City Pass if you don't plan on walking the entirety of your trip due to the high cost of one-way fare (7.50 euros, or about $9). Perpetual crowds have the potential to put a damper on the experience, so consider taking a ride during the evening for a quieter, more atmospheric ride. 

    Whichever mode of transportation you chose, travelers agree that the Grand Canal is a magnificent attraction and must be experienced during your trip. 

    15 minutes by ferry; 20 minute walk
  • 3
    #4
    Teatro La Fenice
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    #4 in Venice
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Teatro La Feniceis one of Italy's most popular opera houses, and one that has almost faced its demise from not one, but three big fires since opening in 1792. Locals and visitors alike joke at the name (which translates to Theater of the Phoenix), and how it has coincides with the theater's unfortunate history: like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, La Fenice has lived on. 

    Although recently renovated, it still has an Old World feel with decadent, intricately designed gold interiors outfitted with plush, red velvet chairs, making it the perfect setting to take in the auditory/visual pleasure of classic Italian opera. There are also a variety of dance – particularly ballet – and music performances scheduled throughout the year. For those with a tight itinerary, the theater offers day tours. 

    5 minute walk
  • 4
    #1
    St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
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    #1 in Venice
    Churches/Religious Sites, Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This elaborate church sits on the popular piazza by the same name. The church was built in honor of St. Mark the evangelist, whose remains were stolen from their home in Alexandria, Egypt, and hidden in barrels of pork and cabbage leaves by a couple crafty Venetians, intent on bringing him to rest in Venice.  

    Crafted from many different styles of architecture, today its opulence shines from nearly every corner – from the four bronze horses that guard the entrance to thousands of square feet of mosaics to the Pala d'Oro. If you look closely at the church's center gable, you can see a statue of St. Mark along with Venice's emblem: a lion with wings.  

  • 5
    #6
    St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco)
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    #6 in Venice
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    St. Mark's Square, or Piazza San Marco, is considered by many to be the heart of Venice. As the largest square in Venice, St. Mark's Square is the only "piazza" in the city. All other squares are campo. Lining the square are multiple historical sites including St. Mark's BasilicaSt. Mark's Campanile and Doge's Palace, as well as a number of restaurants, making it the perfect spot for leisurely people-watching and wine sipping. Along with intricate architecture and hearty plates of spaghetti carbonara, visitors will also be met with throngs of tourists, pigeons and vendors selling souvenirs. If you hoped to pick up a gondola hat or a carnival mask during your trip, this is the place you will find them. 

    Recent visitors stress to visit St. Mark's Square either early in the morning or late in the evening simply because of the crowds. With many tours of the city starting at the piazza, it is always busy during the day. Being a constant hub of activity, the restaurants and shops in the square are very expensive. Visitors suggest walking a few streets away from the square to find more reasonably priced meals and souvenirs. Despite the prices, some visitors said grabbing a coffee was worth being able to sit comfortably in the action and take in the surrounding architecture. You'll find St. Mark's Square in San Marco; it free to access 24/7.

  • 6
    #5
    Campanile di San Marco
    View all Photos
    #5 in Venice
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This particular bell tower was constructed in the early 20th century, as a replica of the 16th-century original. The original structure provided the optimal setting for Galileo Galilei's presentation of the telescope; it also served as a stage for tight rope walkers who would humor the doge with their feats during the Flight of the Angel celebration. Today's campanile is used for sightseers desiring a Venetian panorama – though one with few canal views; oddly, since most of the canals are obscured from its 325-foot height. 

    Most visitors say the attraction is well worth your time and makes for a great photo. To avoid crowds, travelers say it's best to go early in the morning or later in the evening. 

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