So you’re planning a trip to Venice, Italy? Let’s say you only have three days (or less) to spend in Venice. You’re in Europe and there are so many cities and countries listed on your bucket list. But Venice has always been at the top of your list, right? Whether you’re coming to Venice from Milan or traveling to Venice from Rome, you will likely be a bit tired and weary of the walking that is required when you visit this pedestrian city.
So, after checking in to your hotel, hostel or bed and breakfast, it’s time to get started on your three- day trip to the magnificent and charming city that is Venice, Italy. Don’t be in a rush, though, as some of the more popular Venice tourism sites such as St. Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Cathedral should be visited initially during late evening hours (or early morning hours) when the crowds have ceased. After freshening up in your hotel, you are now ready to set out for your first afternoon in Venice.
First on the itinerary, however, is a trip on over to three of the islands just north of Venice via water bus or taxi. These are Murano, Burano and Torcello Islands. Murano is known for its glass blowing and, although somewhat touristy, it is well worth your time to observe the art of glassmaking at the Museo del Vetro. Whilst you’re at it, purchase some glass art in one the adjacent shops; you won’t regret your purchase which will serve as a reminder of the lovely Murano Island.
Now how about some sun and swimming? Forgot your swimsuit? No worries. Take a water taxi and relax on the beaches of Torcello or Burano Islands and wade in the clean and hot water of the Adriatic Sea. Now that you’re relaxed, consider taking a self-guided tour through the streets of Burano, complete with colorful homes that paint their way along the island’s canals. After that, take a water bus on over to Torcello Island. This is the smallest and least inhabited of the three islands (with a population of less than 100). If time, visit one of the churches on the island: the Church of Santa Maria Assunta or the Church of Santa Fosca.
Catch the last water taxi back into Venice and take advantage of the quiet nightlife before you check back into your hotel for the evening. Now you’ll see why this itinerary has you visiting certain areas at night since the night-time lights are spectacular! But first, if you are staying at the Do Pozzi Hotel, dine at the hotel’s restaurant, Da Raffaele.
Otherwise, set your grumbling stomach at ease and grab a bite to eat at Harry’s Bar. While there, and if your budget permits, enjoy a glass of Venetian-famous bellini which is a combination of sparkling white wine and peach puree. These signature cocktails cost a whopping €14 a glass. For an adult beverage that is equally Venetian but much less pricey, order a spritz al bitter – a local mixture of prosecco, soda and Campari. Another refreshing beverage is Aperol, which is a local favorite, for only €2.
So now it’s getting late. Perfect. Stroll to St. Mark’s Square (in Italian it is called Piazza San Marco). At this time of night, you’ll be able to walk leisurely near the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), the Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Cathedral) and the Campanile. (Likewise, if you’re an early bird, go to Piazza San Marco before 8:30 a.m.)
Photos of Venice never looked lovelier! Not to mention no strangers or other tourists in the frame. And the pigeons might even be sleeping. You can always go back the next day but you’ll have to pay admission for one of the tours. Conclude your stroll under the arches of the Procuratie. A perfect ending to a perfect day! Time to turn in.
Once you’re fully rested, you’ll wake up to a beautiful morning in Venice! Time to put those comfy shoes back on and get ready for a full day. After breakfast, The Grand Canal is beckoning you in its entire splendor. The Grand Canal, Venice’s major thoroughfare, crosses Venice and measures 4 kilometres, dividing into two parts. Venice is plenty old, but The Grand Canal is even older. It is shaped in an S-reverse and can reach 5 metres deep and 70 metres wide. A comfortable ferry-boat tour leaves from the Santa Lucia Station and arrives to Saint Mark Square.
Even though you were up late last night, you took the advice to arise early and begin your tour before 8:30 a.m., right? Oh, I see. You indulged in one too many bellinis? Earnest Hemingway would understand since Harry’s Bar was one of his haunts!
So expect some wait times as you return to St. Mark’s Square to tour Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Cathedral. Visit Basilica di San Marco (St Mark's Basilica) which is the church where St. Mark is buried. While there, enjoy its spectacular Byzantine architecture. Nearby is Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) which is renowned for its resplendent paintings and other art works by Italian maestros. Tour the Campanile where photos of Venice capture panoramic views of the city. Count on a full day for these tours. And don’t forget to tour the Torre dell’Orologio to see the clock tower.
Weary but fulfilled, enjoy a 16th-century exceptional Venetian meal with Italian wine at Le Bistrot de Venise, which is located between St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge. Here patrons dine on homemade lasagna with lobster and crustacean's sauce, one of the restaurant’s various specialty meals.
Speaking of the Rialto Bridge, walk off your luscious dinner by strolling across the bridge. Nearby is the renowned Bridge of the Constitution, better known as the Calatrava Bridge. Next is the Bridge of Sighs, which was not named as such from romantic sighs as one crossed over, mind you, but from the sighs of those who were condemned to death while viewing the fantastic city of Venice, Italy, one last time on their way to prison confinement.
Next go on over to the Scala Contarini del Bovolo near Campo Manin. Inserted in a small courtyard, you will find a compelling staircase within the palace. The climb is well worth it as it results in the most panoramic view of the city of Venice. Okay, enough walking for one day. Now it’s time to head back to the hotel for another night of sound sleep.
For a variety of hotel experiences, consider staying at one of Venice’s unique hotels. One such hotel is the Ca’ Pisani located in the exquisite Dorsoduro neighbourhood on the other side of The Grand Canal from St. Mark’s. This is the perfect place to stay since the Guggenheim Museum is right next door to this hotel.
The fourth and final bridge in Venice, Italy is the Accademia Bridge, which crosses The Grand Canal and is just a brief jaunt from the hotel’s front door. The Ca’Pisani Hotel includes a restaurant to enjoy a nourishing breakfast before another exciting day of Venice tourism, and can be reasonably priced depending on the season.
To begin your final day in Venice, the Guggenheim Museum hosts one of the largest collections of modern art all of Europe. In this museum you’ll find works of art by the greatest artists from the early 1900s such as Pollock, de Chirico, Picasso, Kandinsky, Brancusi and Duchamp. One of the most interesting Guggenheim collections is the Gianni Mattioli’s. So for a mere 12€, your eyes will have quite the feast of Peggy Guggenheim’s collection. Peggy Guggenheim was born in the United States and was an heiress and art collector with a taste of promotion for up and coming modern artists.
Ready for some more walking? Well, of course you are! Your reliable feet will now take you on the most orthodox of all strolls along the La Passeggiata Alle Zattere (the walk in Zattere). Another feast for your eyes embraces the boats and ships as they sail along The Great Canal. The walkway ranges about 1 kilometre beginning at Stazione Marittima San Basilio up to Punta della Dogana where the Canal arrives at the Bacino di San Marco. A southern walkway, you can soak up the sun and warm breeze. Be certain to stop by Nico’s which serves premium Italian ice cream and other delectable treats.
So now that you’ve spoiled your lunch, the next stop in the itinerary will be to the Church of San Zaccaria. Very large, it is nestled in the quiet Campo San Zaccaria, just off the waterfront and to the southeast of St. Mark’s Basilica. The artist Alessandro Vittoria was buried in the church, with his tomb a self-portrait bust. The Church of San Zaccaria dates back to the IX Century and its wall aisles are lined with paintings by Angelo Trevisani, Tintoretto and Giovanni Bellini, among many other Venetian artists’ works.
Now that your appetite and your thirst is at an all-time high, visit the Skyline Bar, situated on the top floor of the Molino Stucky Hilton Hotel which is located on the island of Giudecca. This is a few minutes by boat from Piazza San Marco in Venice. The trendy Skyline roof-top bar affords its patrons a spectacular view of Venice. Other bars and restaurants are located in close proximity for the most discriminating palates.
If your funds are (understandably) dwindling by now, the parks are free. Parks? Yes, there is greenery in the gardens of Venice that offer a quaint and peaceful area in which to have lunch. The Venice Historic Centre is divided in six public gardens spread all over the city. There are six gardens, most notably the located south of St. Mark’s Square, after the Palazzo della Zecca. The pier runs alongside San Marco. All of the gardens in Venice were built as per Napoleon’s orders when his Army knocked down buildings. Situated by the Piazzale Roma, the Napolean Garden is the first park you come upon.
Another option for lunch is near the Rialto Bridge and the Piazza San Marco where there are several trattorie (particularly around Dorsoduro). Here you can get a set lunch menu (menu operai) for a very affordable price.
After lunch, attend a Vivaldi Concert at the Church of San Vidal or experience a shortened adaptation of La Traviata at Musica Palazzo. Next, consider touring the Correr Museum. Teodoro Correr was an avid Venetian art collector in the 1700’s who, during the years of the republic, purchased great works of art from noble families who were forced to sell their art. When he died, Correr donated all of his art to the City of Venice. Tickets are only 13 €.
Before leaving Venice, take time to visit the Rialto Market to purchase fresh produce, herbs or spices, along with an affordable bottle of Italian wine from Nave do Oro (off license). Observe the bartering among locals and traders. Then settle in to a nice spot for a late afternoon picnic and people-watching while reflecting on your trip to Venice, Italy. You might even be able to listen to a free orchestra at Caffe Florian.
If you travel to Venice in February or March, you will be sure to enjoy the famed Venice Carnival, which is a city-wide event filled with contagious merry-making as the locals don masks and costumes in age-old tradition. Boats are anchored to one another with dancing and music that carries on into the late-night hours. If you travel to Venice in September, the historical regatta fills the canals with magnificent and colorful boat races. And, every two years, the La Biennale di Venezia is held which is an international art exhibition.
These are just a few itinerary suggestions for a three-day trip to Venice, Italy, which can be broken down into a two-day stay. For a one-day stay, it’s difficult to pinpoint the most recommended activities or events, but most short-term tourists lean toward the museum tours.
Unique hotels in Venice include the Abbazia Hotel; the Charming House; the Hotel Palazzo Priuli; the Palazzo Barbarigo; the Ca’ Maria Adele; and the Hotel Ca’ Pozzo which all range in price.
As you can see, there is a variety of things to do in Venice. For a three-day trip or less, it is best not to exhaust yourself. While you take in the sights and sounds of Venice, it is best to combine some rest, relaxation and even a little bit of sleep in your luxurious hotel during your Venice travel. Enjoy!