Best things to do in Venice (2 day itinerary)

Discover Venice

Best things to do in Venice (2-Day Itinerary)

Venice, one of the most beautiful and extraordinary cities in the world. The entire life takes place at the water, along the famous canals. The special architecture, characterized by the many small bridges and canals on which the typical Venetian boats sail, make the cityscape so unique. In this post, I’ll give you the best things to do in Venice (2 day itinerary) including photo spots and a recommendation for a charming, authentic AirBnb. You will discover all the top sights, but especially one or two insider tips and the areas away from the crowds.

My recommendation is to plan at least two full days. In this time the given route is well doable. While the main sights can all be seen in one day, an excursion to the colorful island of Burano and the authentic Venice away from the hot spots is planned for day two. If you want to take a little more time or book a guided tour, you can plan your stay with 3 days.

The Accommodation - Bed & Breakfast Le Terese

This accommodation is something special and an I consider it an insider tip. The double room with a view of one of the oldest canals in Venice is located in the Dorsoduro district near the university and thus quiet and away from the hustle and bustle. At the same time, all the famous sights can be reached on foot. It is clean, very charmingly furnished and offers an authentic experience in the lagoon city. In this neighborhood you will mainly find locals. Nearby is also the Campo Santa Margarita with a great selection of bars, small cafes and affordable restaurants. For just 3,- EUR you can drink a delicious Aperol here. The hostess of Le Terese also has great restaurant tips and other insider recommendations. I found staying here is a really good base for a 2 day itinerary.

You travel with more than one person? Not a problem! At Le Terese you can now rent a really nice modern apartment for 4 guests. Check out the reviews on AirBnB and see that Le Terese is a real gem for your stay in Venice!

Getting there: Located in Dorsoduro, Le Terese is ideally suited for arriving by plane in combination with the shuttle bus, as well as arriving by train or bus. It is only a few minutes walk from the bus station, the train station and various car parking facilities.

Day 1 - San Marco & San Polo

Ponte dell’ Accademia, St. Mark's Square and St. Mark's Basilica

After breakfast at Le Terese, you start off to Venice’s classics and must-sees in the San Marco and San Polo districts. I recommend starting very early to get to St. Mark’s Square before the crowds. On the way from Dorsoduro to San Marco you first walk along the Zattere promenade along the water and cross the Ponte dell’Accademia. Here you already have the first highlight: a beautiful view of the Grand Canal. In the distance you can already see the beautiful Santa Maria della Salute with its blue-grey dome roof. Arriving at St. Mark’s Square, you will immediately notice the imposing St. Mark’s Basilica and the St. Mark’s Tower. You should definitely plan a visit to the St. Mark’s Tower, because the view over the city and the roofs of the cathedral is impressive.

Tip: Book your tickets in advance to avoid wasting your time standing in long queues (skip the lines and get your tickets here!).

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Doge's Palace, Ponte della Paglia & Bridge of Sighs

One of the most beautiful buildings in Venice, located right next to St. Mark’s Basilica and mostly at the waterfront, is the Doge’s Palace. The architecture of the palace with its many columns, pointed arches and elaborate decorations against the backdrop of the canal with its Venetian gondolas swaying in the water is simply beautiful to behold. Right next to the palace you will find the Ponte della Paglia, from which you can see the famous Bridge of Sighs. The Bridge of Sighs is the connecting bridge between the Doge’s Palace and the prison. It got its name because of the idea that prisoners on their way to the prison could take a look at the lagoon and freedom from this bridge for the last time with a sigh.

Secret tip: My favorite photo spot in Venice!

One of my favorite views and photo spots is close by! To visit turn into Salizada S. Moise street from St. Mark’s Square (the side just opposite the main entrance of the Duomo). Walk past the designer stores across Campo San Moise and you will soon find Calle Traghetto Vecchio. Here you’ll get the most beautiful view of Santa Maria della Salute. The jetty and the many Venetian boats with the impressive cathedral on the other side of the water is a beautiful photo motif. The fact that just a few meters from the absolute busy St. Mark’s Square you can find this special place hidden in a small side street makes it even more magical. Here you can almost only hear the boats splashing on the water through the swell. 

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Scala Contarini del Bolvolo & Rialto Bridge

Continue north through the alleys of San Marco to the next highlight and one of the most famous landmarks of the city: the Rialto Bridge. Halfway there, hidden in a small alley, you will find the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo. It is a palace known mainly for its special architecture and its scala (spiral staircase). For about 7,- EUR you can visit the beautiful spiral staircase up to the dome and will be rewarded with a view over the city. 

From the Scala Contarini del Bolvolo you can reach the heart of Venice in 5 minutes. The Rialto Bridge connects the districts of San Marco and San Polo and was once the city’s most important trading center. From the bridge you can enjoy an incomparable view over the Grand Canal. Conversely, the view from the shore to the bridge is also an absolute highlight. There is always a lot going on here! Grab yourself a fresh coffee or a delicious ice cream and take a seat right at the canal and watch the hustle and bustle on and along the water.

Cicchetti: Venetian Snacks that keep you going

Getting hungry? In this well-visited area there are of course numerous restaurants. Delicious snacks and pastries can be found, for example, very close to the bridge at Farini. Tip: If you prefer to try something traditionally Italian, you should definitely make a detour to Cantina do Mori. Here you can get the typical Venetian cicchetti. These are small snacks and side dishes such as topped baguette, cheese, olives, grilled vegetables and more. The small delicacies can be enjoyed both outside and inside with a delicious glass of wine in an authentic atmosphere.

Campo San Polo & Venetian Masks

Wander around Campo San Polo, discover the small boutiques in the neighborhood and just let yourself drift through the beautiful streets of San Polo. Before heading home or towards dinner, make sure to stop by the Tragicomica in San Polo. In this store you will find traditional costumes and especially the unique Venetian masks. The selection here is impressive!

Day 2 - Burano, Cannaregio & Dorsoduro

Colorful Island of Burano - Tips and how to get there

On day two, you will jump on a boat to visit the beautiful and colorful island of Burano for a half-day excursion. In the north of the city, line 12 runs from the Vaporetti station Fondamente Nova via Murano to Burano in about 40 minutes. A single trip costs about 7.50 EUR. If you’re booked into Le Terese, you can walk to Fondamente Nova in a good 30 minutes. A lot quicker, just around the corner on the Zattere promenade, you can alternatively hop on a Vaporetti departing for Fondamente Nova. The Vaporettis also stop at various sights, such as the Rialto Bridge. At Fondamente Nova you change to line 12. Make sure to secure a spot outside for the ride and enjoy the view of the city from the boat! 

Burano itself is not big – but so charming! The island is famous for its many colorful little houses, which are not only beautiful to look at, but also offer a popular photo motif. A visit to the island is therefore at the top of the list for many during a stay in Venice. So it’s worth getting up early and taking the first ferry to Burano.

Taking the Vaporettis around the city is a great way to see Venice from the water and to get around cost-efficient and easily. However, if you like to just sit back, relax and hop on a guided tour with more privacy as well, there is plenty of options. I personally love using Get your Guide to book experiences, tickets and tours for my travels. Find their best tours for Burano here.

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Districts Cannaregio & Dorsoduro - don't miss these areas during your 2 day itinerary!

Back by ferry to Fondamente Nova, from here it is perfect to explore the neighborhood “Cannaregio”. The Strada Nova is a well-known and busy shopping street with many stores and restaurants and therefore the main attraction. But just off this street, further north you will find less crowded places and beautiful alleys. In Cannaregio live a lot of Venetians, which is why you get an authentic impression of the city in the everyday life of the locals. Enjoy discovering the “real Venice”!

The best way to get back to San Polo, San Marco and Dorsoduro is to cross the Scalzi Bridge. A final dinner, for example at Campo Santa Margarita, or a romantic gondola ride is the perfect ending of your two days in Venice.

With this 2-day itinerary you will make the most of your stay. Enjoy this extraordinary city and experience all the best things to do in Venice!

Tip: Want to see more beautiful places in North Italy? Then check out this blog post providing a 7-day road trip itinerary giving you the perfect combination of mountains, lakes and city vibes in northern Italy.

Where to eat in Venice (tasty and affordable)

Campo Santa Margherita in the Dorsoduro district is recommended. Many bars, small cafes, bistros and affordable restaurants are located here and are also popular amongst Venetians. A good place to enjoy a dinner with locals away from the tourist spots and toast with a sparkling Aperol for just 3,- EUR. For a delicious ice cream on the go, head to Gelateria il Doge. If you’re staying at Le Terese, be sure to check out the hostess’ tips.

In addition, it’s always a great idea to sit down with a delicious pizza just at one of the canals and watch the hustle and bustle. 

The best Travel Time for Venice

Venice is one of the most romantic and extraordinary cities in the world and an absolute tourist magnet. Accordingly, a stay in spring or autumn – also because of the temperatures – is the best period to come for a visit. Also, since Venice is a popular weekend destination, it is recommended to avoid weekends, holidays and vacations. Otherwise, unfortunately, you will not see the beautiful city for the crowds which makes it hard to experience the romantic atmosphere in this city. Therefore, the right timing is everything! We arrived in spring on a Monday evening and left on Thursday afternoon. From Thursday noon, the city was already noticeably more crowded than in the previous days.

For the famous sights it is also worth getting up early. In the best case very early, because the alleys and canals of Venice fill up quickly. We got up at sunrise one day to experience St. Mark’s Square as empty as possible. It was worth it! The early morning hours offer you the authentic scenes of Venetians in this beautiful city and a very special atmosphere. The light in the early morning is of course also very different: soft and in this setting simply magical!

Tips for the Arrival and how to get around in Venice

The historic center of Venice is located on several islands in the Venice Lagoon. Basically, there are two ways to get to the city center: via the bridge Ponte della Liberta or via the waterway. 

Arrival options for Venice

Arriving by plane can be made either via Marco Polo Airport (VCE) or Venice Treviso (TSF). From the closer Marco Polo airport you can take the express shuttle to the city in only about 20 minutes for 10,- EUR (book your ticket here).

If you arrive by car, there are two different ways to park your car. Either you drive over the bridge Ponte della Liberta and park in Tronchetto or at Piazzale Roma, which is not very cheap. A cost-saving alternative is to park on the mainland in Mestre and then travel by train or bus across the bridge to the city. In Tronchetto there are also possibilities to park motorhomes and campers.

Traveling by train will also take you via the bridge arriving at Venezia Santa Lucia station as well as travel by bus ending at Piazzale Roma. Alternatively, there are water cabs and ferries that also serve other stops. Depending on the location of your accommodation, this can also be a useful way to get there.

Tip: Small luggage is a great relief in Venice. Due to the unique cityscape characterized by canals and bridges, you will also find many stairs in Venice. So if you don’t want to take a water cab to your accommodation and instead walk, a lighter carry-on suitcase or backpack is a good idea.

How to get around in Venice

Getting around the historic center is limited to walking and waterways, as there are no buses, trains or cars in the city center. A fun and popular way to explore the city is by Vaporetti: these water buses used as public transport take you to many sights. With the scenery, the ride is an experience in itself!

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