2 Days in Venice, Italy
Being one of the most popular Italian cities to visit, I had heard a lot about Venice prior to planning a trip there. But I’ll admit, most of what I heard was negative. “The food is bad.” “It’s a dirty and gross city.” “There’s nothing charming about it.” “You should skip it.” These are all things people had told me.
Because of this, I contemplated visiting for a while. In fact, if it hadn’t been the best place for us to fly into, I might have not given it a chance. But this simple moment of fate took me to Venice with low expectations and left me extremely surprised. During my recent trip to Italy, I only spent two days in Venice but rest assured, I’d go back again.
In this 2 day Venice itinerary, you’ll find things to do in Venice, the best places to eat in Venice, where to stay, and other important details for planning a trip to Venice.
Where is Venice?
Venice is an Italian city located on the east side of Northern Italy in the Veneto region. It is often called “the Floating City” or the “City of Water” because it was built on a collection of over 100 small islands in the Adriatic Sea.
When is the Best Time to Visit Venice?
Venice in the Spring
Average High Temperatures: 58-75℉ (14-24℃)
Average Low Temperatures: 39-54℉ (4-12℃)
I personally think that spring is one of the best seasons to visit Venice. The crowds are a little less and the temperatures are mild. March can still be a little chilly and shops tend to close earlier than in April or May.
Venice in the Summer
Average High Temperatures: 81-86℉ (27-30℃)
Average Low Temperatures: 61-65℉ (16-18℃)
Other than Venice Carnival which is held in February, summer is the most popular time to visit Venice. It’s also the hottest months although less hot than other major cities in Italy due to its proximity to the water. Because of the crowds, summer in Venice wouldn’t be my first choice, but I also understand that it’s busy because that is when summer breaks are often happening around the globe. Therefore, if the only time you can visit Venice is during the summer that’s okay! Just make sure you drink a lot of water, bring sunscreen, light breathable layered clothing, and book everything you can in advance!
Venice in the Fall
Average High Temperatures: 55-77℉ (13-25℃)
Average Low Temperatures: 39-57℉ (4-14℃)
Fall in Venice is the start of shoulder season, temperatures are milder and the summer crowds tend to slow down more and more as the months progress. If I hadn’t visited in the spring, fall would have been my next choice of when to visit Venice. If you plan on visiting in November, keep in mind that water levels can rise during this time and Venice can experience flooding so pack some wet weather gear if you plan to visit during this time.
Venice in the Winter
Average High Temperatures: 47-50℉ (8-10℃)
Average Low Temperatures: 30-32℉ (-1-0℃)
In the winter you can expect mild winter weather and far fewer tourists (with the exception of Venice Carnival in February). This is also the time of year in which Venice can occasionally experience some flooding so that’s something to keep in mind. I suggest packing rain boots if you plan on traveling during this time, especially in November or December. In my opinion, I don’t think visiting Venice in the winter is a bad idea if you don’t mind the chillier temperatures since you can save on hotel costs and visit the popular sights without as many crowds. Just keep in mind that museums, restaurants, and shops close up earlier than in the warmer months.
Venetian Holidays & Festivals
Although this section may not be applicable to your 2 days in Venice there are holidays and festivals when restaurants, attractions, and shops close down so I would say that it would be best to avoid traveling to Venice during this time unless you want to visit Venice for a specific event, such as Venice Carnival.
- New Year’s Day: January 1
- Epiphany: January 6
- Venice Carnival: Held mid-February. One of the largest carnival celebrations in the world.
- Maundy Thursday: (date varies).
- Easter Monday: First Monday after Easter (varies by year).
- Liberation Day and St Mark’s Day: In Venice, St Mark is the patron saint of the city, so a festival is held in his honour and the Italians also celebrate the end of the Nazi occupation.
- Labor Day: May 1
- Republic Day: June 1
- Festa del Redentore: Third Sunday of July.
- Ferragosto: August 15th.
- Historical Regatta (Regata Storica): First weekend in September.
- All Saints’ Day: November 1
- The Feast of Our Lady of Health: November 21
- Feast of the Immaculate Conception: December 8
- Christmas Day: December 25
- Giorno di Santo Stefano (St. Stephen’s Day): December 26
How to Get to Venice
Getting to Venice by Plane
If you are flying into Venice you are most likely flying into Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) which is 5 miles (8 km) outside of the city. After arriving there are many different ways to get to the city center of Venice
We chose to take the ATVO bus from Venice Marco Polo Airport to Piazzale Roma which is a direct route that takes around 20 minutes and offers underneath storage for your luggage. A ticket is €10 one-way and you can purchase them ahead of time online, at an ATVO ticket office, or at the automatic ticket machines in the baggage claim area of VCE or outside of the ATVO bus stop. We read that occasionally the ticket machines at baggage claim don’t work well so I opted to purchase my ticket ahead of time because you don’t have to select a departure time just a date. But if you need more flexibility you can get try the ticket machines or go directly to the ATVO office at the airport.
ACTV Public Bus
The ACTV bus is a public bus (no. 5) that also takes you from VCE to Piazzale Roma. The advantages of taking the ACTV bus over the ATVO bus are that it’s slightly cheaper (€8, one-way or 15 round-trips) and it runs every 15 minutes. However, it does make multiple stops before reaching Piazzale Roma so the journey is longer at 30-45 minutes and there is no underneath storage for your luggage so you’ll have to bring it on the bus.
Water Taxis are one of the most unique ways to get to Venice from Marco Polo Airport but also the most expensive. They typically cost anywhere from €100- €150 (flat rate) depending on the location you want to be dropped off at and how much luggage you have. However, if you are traveling with a larger group, this can be a worthwhile experience because each water taxi can hold up to 10 people. Because of their small size, they also have the ability to take you directly to your hotel, even if it’s located on the water.
In order to book a water taxi, you’ll head to the taxi desk in the airport arrivals area once you leave your plane. They are located on the same pier as the water buses so make sure you check that you are booking the right ticket. The water taxis are smaller boats with wood and the water buses are larger yellow boats.
Alilaguna (Water Bus)
If you want to travel to Venice by water but don’t want to spend the steep price for a water taxi then an Alilaguna water bus is a great option. The Alilaguana water buses connect from VCE to Piazza San Marco which is on the other side of Venice from Piazzale Roma. Tickets cost €15 one-way and the journey usually takes a little over an hour so if you have some time and want to take the scenic route, this is the perfect way to do so. You can purchase your ticket on their website ahead of time (they often offer discounts online) or you can purchase it from a ticket machine at the airport.
Why not the train?
Getting to Venice by train from Venice Marco Polo Airport is incredibly ineffective. Although there is a train station in Venice it does not have direct connections to the airport therefore you’d have to take a bus part of the way and transfer. It would be much faster and easier to take one of the options above!
Getting to Venice by Train from Another City in Italy
If you are traveling to Venice from another city in Italy (or somewhere else in Europe) you can most likely get to Venice easily by train. Both Trenitalia and Italo, the two Italian train companies, have routes to Venice from other cities in Italy but keep in mind that Italo usually only has routes from other major cities while Trenitalia has lines for both major cities and many smaller areas.
The station you’ll look for when purchasing a ticket to Venice is Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia or just Venezia Santa Lucia. If you try looking for “Venice” you won’t find it since all of the station names are in Italian.
You can purchase your train tickets at any train station, online, or on the Trenitalia or Italo apps. There are also third-party websites that you can purchase tickets from that occasionally offer discounts but sometimes you have to exchange them at the station so be sure to get to the station early if that’s the case.
One important thing to remember when traveling by public transportation in Italy whether it’s between cities or from sight to sight is to validate your ticket. For tickets purchased in advance online or on one of the apps, you do not need to do this step because your ticket is already validated. However, if you purchase your ticket at a station you will need to do this or risk getting a hefty fine. Don’t worry, these small green machines to validate your tickets are all over the stations and it only takes a moment!
Transportation in Venice
Walking in Venice
Because Venice was built on water, there are no roads in Venice, only canals and footbridges so in order to get around Venice you’re going to do a lot of walking. Thankfully, Venice is a very walkable city. But keep in mind that although it is smaller than most major cities, it can still take you 30+ minutes to walk somewhere so plan accordingly with the timing of your activities when creating your Venice itinerary.
Getting Around Venice by Water
Vaporetto (Water Buses)
Water buses not only run from Marco Polo Airport (VCE) to the city center of Venice, but they also run within Venice. They are also useful if you plan to visit Burano or Murano. A one-way ticket is valid for 60 minutes and costs around €7. Water buses typically run daily from 4:30am-12:30am.
Main Vaporetto Lines
- Line 1: This is the most popular line for sightseeing. It travels down the Grand Canal from Piazzale Roma to Venezia Lido stopping along the way to Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge.
- Line 3: Piazzale Roma to Murano.
- Line 7: Piazza San Marco to Murano.
- Line 10: Piazza San Marco to Lido.
- Line 18: Lido to Murano
Traghetti or ferries are large gondolas that are used to cross the Grand Canal and cost around €0.50 one-way, the ride is short but this is a nice alternative to riding a gondola if you are traveling on a smaller budget.
Speaking of gondolas, people might be wondering why I didn’t include gondolas as a mode of transportation in Venice and while I will cover more about gondolas later on in this post, the reason I don’t mention them here is that most of the time the pick-up point is the same as the drop off point. You could ask your gondolier if they are willing to drop you off somewhere else. Just be prepared to pay more than the typical flat rate if they do.
Things to Consider Shopping for in Venice
Venice is known for a number of traditional items that you can purchase as souvenirs on your two days in Venice! Here are just a few I recommend considering. P.S. If you know that you plan to purchase something breakable be sure to bring some bubble wrap with you when you go!
- Carnival Masks: Of course, one of the most popular souvenirs to buy in Venice is a Venetian mask! They are often handmade, beautifully decorated, and can range in cost. If you don’t want a regular mask most shops have small ones that are easier to transport and perfect for decorating with. I even saw a mask shop that made mini masks with magnets on the back.
- WHERE TO BUY: La Bottega Dei Mascareri
- Burano Lace: Burano is a small island just next to Venice that is known for its lace. Although you can take a short day trip to Burano to purchase lace goods, you’ll find many shops in Venice that sell lace items from there.
- Murano Glass: Similar to Burano, Murano is another small island next to Venice except this one is known for its world-famous glass. Again, you can visit there on a short day trip but there are shops in Venice that sell glassworks from Murano if you are short on time.
- Door Knockers: I’m kicking myself that I didn’t seek out a door knocker while we were in Venice. I don’t know why but I’ve always found them intriguing as well as different unique knobs for furniture.
- WHERE TO BUY: Fonderia Artistica Valese
Things to Know About Venice
Venezia Sestieri – Districts/Areas of Venice
- San Marco: This district is the heart of Venice and home to many famous landmarks including Piazza San Marco and Doge’s Palace.
- Cannaregio: Cannaregio is the largest district in Venice and home to the Jewish Museum of Venice which shares the history of the Jewish Quarter.
- San Polo: The Rialto Market and Campo San Polo are located in this district. It is also where the Rialto Bridge connects and is often a quieter part of the city.
- Dorsoduro: This fun district is where the university is located and is home to many unique bookshops and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
- Santa Croce: Here you’ll find the Museum of Modern Art, San Giocomo dell’Orio Square, and it’s also where the bus station is.
- Castello is one of the lesser visited districts in Venice but don’t let that stop you from visiting. You can find the Naval History Museum here and some great Venetian restaurants.
Where to Stay in Venice
One thing to know before booking a hotel in Venice is that most hotels do offer air conditioning but many only turn it on from May (at the earliest) until September. When we visited in early May temperatures were starting to get warm and our hotel had not yet turned on the AC so it was a bit warm. Just make sure you check with your hotel when booking if you are visiting in late spring or early fall.
Budget Hotels in Venice
Venice isn’t the most budget-friendly city to visit in Italy however there are some decent hotels that are more affordable. Alloggi Barbaria has very basic rooms but is noted as clean, has A/C, and is centrally located close to many popular landmarks and restaurants. Another budget-friendly hotel in Venice is
Luxury Hotels in Venice
The St. Regis Venice is one of the best luxury hotels in Venice. Not only is this hotel absolutely luxurious, but it is just steps away from Piazza San Marco giving a great canal view and making it incredibly convenient to access most of the things to do in this 2 days in Venice itinerary.
If you want to stay closer to the center of Venice the Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel is another great option for luxury accommodations in Venice. In the front of the hotel, there is a gorgeous garden facing one of the Venetian canals and is also home to GLAM Restaurant, a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Family-Friendly Hotels in Venice
Because Venice is a historic city, larger, family-friendly hotels can be a bit more challenging to find. But there are some accommodations that can host up to six people. Two of these hotels are Palazzo Veneziano and Hotel Dell’Opera which have larger rooms perfect for families.
Things to Eat & Where to Eat in Venice
When most people think of Italian food pasta and pizza immediately come to mind, and while those are popular, Italian cuisine varies greatly by region. Venetian cuisine is very different from other places in Italy. In fact, you won’t find as much pizza here and pasta dishes will be a little different.
Because rice is commonly grown in the Veneto region, risotto is a popular dish in Venice. Being in a lagoon, you’ll find a lot of seafood dishes like mołéche, small crabs that are a Venetian delicacy in the spring. Cicchetti is another Venetian dish that means “small plates” or “side dishes.” It usually consists of small open-face sandwiches with seasonal vegetables, seafood, or egg on top.
Torrefazione Cannaregio is a specialty coffee shop that has pastries and a wide coffee menu. You can even find things like lattes or even a flat white here, which is not as common for Italian coffee shops. Torrefazione Cannaregio also imports high-quality beans from a number of countries and they grind them fresh for each cup of coffee brewed.
Location: Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2804, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
One of Venice’s oldest and most popular pastry shops is Rosa Salva. They have a few locations in Venice and you can stop by any for a quick pastry or espresso. While they do have lunch items, I recommend getting a pistachio pastry, a bussolà which is a traditional Venetian cookie, or zaeti, a raisin polenta cookie for a small breakfast or snack during the day.
Location: Campo S.S. Giovanni e Paolo, 6780, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Acqua e Mais
For a light lunch or snack to share, I recommend Acqua e Mais which has to-go containers of fried seafood for around €11. The mixed seafood comes with shrimp, squid, octopus, fish, and polenta.
Location: Campiello dei Meloni, 1411-1412, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Vini da Gigio
Vini da Gigio was our favorite in Venice. It is a cozy trattoria that specializes in Venetian dishes and has a fabulous wine selection. Since crab was in season we tried lightly fried mołéche (small crabs) along with the squid ink risotto with cuttlefish.
Location: Sestiere, Calle Stua Cannaregio, 3628A, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Another place we enjoyed in Venice was Nevodi which is another traditional Venetian restaurant except they also have a sister restaurant that serves pizza. I recommend their pasta dishes and getting a variety of Cicchetti.
Location: Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1788/89, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Things to Do in 2 Days in Venice
Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)
Palazzo Ducale also referred to as Doge’s Palace is one of the most impressive Gothic architectural sites in Venice and also holds much of Venice’s history. It was originally built in 1340 as the residence for the Doge of Venice, the former supreme ruler of the Republic but today is a living museum of Venice’s history. Over the years it has had additions and renovations over the years until becoming a museum in 1923. In addition to being the residence of the Doge, Doge’s Palace was the center of politics and public administration for the Venetian Republic until it fell in 1797.
Today when you visit the museum you can see many of the rooms restored to their original glory and purpose. Since the palace is quite expansive I recommend going on a self-guided audio tour with one of the audio guides available for rent or book a guided tour for a more interactive experience. During your tour, whether self-guided or with a guide, you’ll visit the Museo dell’Opera, the Courtyard and the Loggias, Doge’s Apartments, Institutional Chambers, prisons, and the armory.
Location: P.za San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs was built in 1614 to link Doge’s Palace to the new prisons. Although the bridge itself has beautiful architecture, it is incredibly sad and dehumanizing. It is referred to as the “Bridge of Sighs” because it refers to the sighs of those imprisoned who would journey over the bridge and see their last look of freedom from the small window. When you walk through Doge’s Palace and tour the prisons, you’ll actually walk across the Bridge of Sighs to see the same view those imprisoned saw, but make sure you take a short walk from the square to view the bridge from the canal.
Location: P.za San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Hours: Outside open 24 hours.
With our ticket to Doge’s Palace, we received free entry to Museo Correr which is located just on the other side of Piazza San Marco. Inside the museum, you can find historical and artistic artifacts in the forms of sculpture, painting, furniture, and more that tell the story of Venice from its beginning to the 19th-century unification with Italy.
Location: P.za San Marco, 52, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Hours: 10am-6pm daily
Cost: €25-30 (included with Palazzo Ducale ticket)
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute was commissioned in 1631 to celebrate the end of a widespread plague that killed a number of people in Venice. It took 56 years to build and was completed in 1687. One of the most unique factors of this baroque church is its octagonal design.
Location: Dorsoduro, 1, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Hours: 9:30am-12pm, 3pm-5:30pm daily
Cost: Free to visit Basilica, Entry to the sacristy: Adults: €4, Students: €2
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
For fans of modern art, don’t miss the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. It is one of the most visited and important museums in Venice containing European and American art. This collection is located in the former palace where Peggy Guggenheim lived and dates back to the 18th century. After visiting the art collections inside the palace, don’t miss walking around the garden outside to view statues.
Location: Dorsoduro, 701-704, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Hours: 10am-6pm daily, closed Tuesdays
Cost: €16 adults
Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Campanile)
The Campanile di San Marco is the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica that is located in Piazza San Marco. It is also the tallest building in Venice, standing 323 ft (98.6 m) tall so you can see some fantastic views of the city from here. Many bell towers in Italy require visitors to climb a number of stairs but the Campanile di San Marco has an elevator that can take you straight to the top!
Location: P.za San Marco, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Hours: 9:45am-7pm daily
Cost: €10 adults, free for kids under 6
Basilica di San Marco (Saint Mark’s Basilica)
Another one of the most iconic spots in Venice is Basilica di San Marco which is a large cathedral located in the center of Piazza San Marco.
Although visiting the church itself is free, there are a few different ticket options for visiting the Basilica. You can visit only the church or add on to your experience by getting a combination ticket to the Museum – Loggia dei Cavalli and Pala d’Oro which I recommend to get the full experience.
Location: P.za San Marco, 328, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Hours: Sunday 2pm-5:15pm, Monday-Saturday 9:30am-5:15pm
Cost: Free to visit the basilica in the regular line, €3 Basilica (skip-the-line), €5 Pala d’Oro, €7 Museum – Loggia dei Cavalli.
Libreria Acqua Alta
If you’re a book lover like me you can’t miss Libreria Acqua Alta. This small bookshop has made quite a name for itself over the years for a number of reasons. There are a number of vintage titles to browse as well as small souvenirs such as postcards but another highlight is the photo spots located in the back of the bookshop and of course, the resident cats.
Location: C. Longa Santa Maria Formosa, 5176b, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
The Rialto Bridge is an iconic stone arch bridge in Venice that crosses over the more narrow part of the Grand Canal. It was built in the late 16th century and is the oldest bridge across the canal. While it was built as a pedestrian bridge and still remains one today where you can find a number of shops and merchants on the bridge.
Location: Sestiere San Polo, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Jewish Museum of Venice
The Jewish Museum of Venice is located in the historic Jewish neighborhood, Ghetto Ebraico, and is situated between two of Venice’s most historic synagogues. Inside the museum, you’ll find a wide selection of artifacts from the 16ht-19th centuries including ancient books and manuscripts, textiles, and more. Although the museum is smaller than some of the others in Venice, there is still a lot to see and learn from.
Location: Campo di Ghetto Nuovo, 2902, b, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Hours: 10am-5:30pm daily, closed Saturdays
Basilica S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari commonly referred to as the Frari, is the largest church in Venice. It is located in the Campo dei Frari within the San Polo district. The interior of the church is lavishly decorated with large-scale art pieces, two of which are altarpieces composed by Titian. In addition, this church has the only ornate choir screen still in place in Venice.
Location: Campo di Ghetto Nuovo, 2902, b, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Friday 10am-5:30pm, closed Saturdays
Cost: €5 adults, €2 children
Of course, you can’t visit Venice without taking a gondola ride. Yes, it’s touristy but absolutely necessary to do at least once! And before you ask me about gondola rides in Vegas, it is definitely not the same! Our Gondolier had been in the business for over 20 years and said that it takes four years of training to become a gondolier so it’s quite a rigorous process.
There are many places in Venice you can do a gondola ride but I recommend taking one on a more quiet canal outside of the Grand Canal simply because more motorized boats are on the Grand Canal and it’s a bit busier. If you want that romantic, quiet gondola ride picking a spot outside of the Grand Canal is your best bet.
Location: We did our gondola ride close to this location.
Cost: €80 daytime tour, €100 evening tour
We are so glad that we decided to give Venice a chance. It left us wanting more and we can’t wait to revisit to enjoy even more of this historic city on water.