Things to do in Venice in one day, Italy

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Since I was born I've heard about things like "this city is the nothern Venice", "this city is like Venice", "this city is inspired to Venice", etc. etc. Well I can say only one thing: Venice is unique and no city can be compared to that, because it is the only city in the world built upon the sea or the lagoon (and also islands). So if you have just one day and you want to have a tour of this unique city you're in the right place, also because I come from its region so I'm really proud to write down this little guide and itinerary. This is a guide written from a local (I've been to this wonderful city approx. 150 times so....): let's list the things to do in Venice in one day! :-)
Diaries of an explorer

Are you ready?
Clearly most of the people or tourists that get to Venice start their trip from the railway station Venezia Santa Lucia. You cannot even imagine how many people I guided and everytime I was observing their face as soon as you leave the railway station and their expression when they start admiring the scenography in front of them...as if they were in a movie. No it's not a movie: it's the reality and that facial expression is for sure democratic - from the poorest to the richest everyone is impressed of it.

1) The first attraction we can see it's the Ponte degli Scalzi, one of the 4 main bridges that cross the main Canal Grande.
Diaries of an explorer

You can go to the top of the bridge and enjoy your first incredible landscape of this fantastic city.
Diaries of an explorer

2) Now you have two choices: or crossing the river and explore the labyrinth around the Basilica dei Frari and get lost in the narrow streets, called "calli". Since one day is not so long time, I would rather opt for the more comfortable Strada Nova, that leads faster to Rialto, without losing the incredible charm of Venice.

Before starting the real tour, at the beginning of the Strada Nuova, there are two interesting things: one is the tourist office, where you can get all the info, and the other one is the Pasticceria Dal Mas, a place where I would recommend you to stop for a delicious coffee and one of their bakeries or pralines, since it's one of the best chocolate shops in Venice.
Diaries of an explorer

The Strada Nova (or new street) is one of the most important streets since it is a faster way to reach Rialto. Since there are less bridges than usual, it can be a good itinerary also for those who have deambulation problems. However, if you have a wheel chair, it is better for you to take a vaporetto (the Venetian bus) and reach San Marco.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

Venice is plenty of magnificent buildings: you can find the best ones along the Canal Grande. However, you can find them also along the streets. The main feature of the buildings, houses and palaces is for sure the Venetian arch, that you can easily recognize by looking at this facade.
Diaries of an explorer

Another feature of the city is for sure the breathtaking views you can enjoy when you walk along the Venetian calli: the mix between water and the old buildings.
Diaries of an explorer

And another one...one of the most important carnivals in the world: look at this shop that sells the typical Venetian Masks. By the way, do not forget to read also, if you want to know more about it, the posts regarding the Carnival of Venice.
Diaries of an explorer

3) Once arrived in Campo Santa Sofia, here you can find one of the tips I can give you. If you don't want to spend 80 Euros per person for a ride in the typical Venetian ship, the gondola, you have always the possibility to cross the Canal Grande for 2 euros. In Campo Santa Sofia you can find one of "attraversamenti".
Diaries of an explorer

4) So let's cross the Canal Grande in your little gondola ride and then let's approach to the famous bridge of Rialto! Finally here we are in front of one of the most iconic symbols of the city: Ponte di Rialto, with its 24 meters arch. Here you can see all the shops along the bridge and when you can get to the top, you will have to wait for a little bit since every tourist or traveller will love to take pics to the Canal Grande and its palaces. It's not mistery that here you find the most enchanting palaces of the city, since they were the residence of the most powerful Venetian families when Venice was one of the most influencial and powerful states.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

5) Around Rialto there are so many interesting things to see that in a day it's almost impossible to see, so let's stay focused on our itinerary that leads to one of the most beautiful squares in the world, Piazza San Marco

6) It is the pumping heart of Venice, symbol of the ancient power of the Serenissima Republic (the oldest republic ever) and its guardian, the Doge (Duke). The first attraction you can see is the beautiful Basilica of San Marco.
Diaries of an explorer

This is a masterpiece of the Romanic and Bizantine architecture and it is one of the most visited attractions in Venice. Normally it is recommended to book before if you do not want to wait for more than one hour to visit it: you can do it by clicking here
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

Over the entrance you can also see the famous four horses, stolen after the fall of the Byzantine Empire.

It is also recommended to check the opening times as they can be different according to the month you are visiting. You can have also an overview of all the prices here.

7) On the leftside of the Basilica there is the famous St Mark's clocktower. Here the two Mori ring the bell every hour with their hammers.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

8) You can also see Piazza San Marco from above by visiting the Belltower ( Campanile di San Marco). The ticket costs around 8 euros per person and you can enjoy the seesight over the 5 domes of the Basilica or over the entire square and over the city. You can find more info here. If you aren't scared of heights, I recommend you to take the lift and enjoy this sight. The belltower is also the starting point of the Angel's flight during the Carnival.

9) After the Basilica and the Belltower, now it's time to visit also the stunning Doge's Palace or Palazzo Ducale. It's absolutely a place you can miss, a masterpiece that seems to be light despite its form. The colours, white and pink, make it really smooth and probably one of the best palaces in the world. 
Diaries of an explorer

Here you can see the balcony where the Duke was used to appear in public, or after his election.

The Doge's Palace has some columns where the people who were in jail could get the freedom if they were able to jump from one column to the other one with only one foot and without touching the next column or falling down. This exercise was so difficult that almost anybody was able to do that.

The ticket costs around 19 Euros: for me not a good choice, since once you could pay around 7-8 Euros. This ticket allows you to visit other museums in Venice, but if you are visiting the city for one day maybe you're not interested in these museums. Anyway you can find all the info here.

You will see stunning halls and also the jails.
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When you approach to the lagoon you can see also the surroundings, like la Giudecca and the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

San  Giorgio Maggiore was also painted by the famous Monet, who fell in love with Venice: same feeling I got when I go to the capital of my region :-)

10)  Last but not least, just close to the Doge's Palace, there is the famous Ponte dei Sospiri or Bridge of Sighs. The Bridge of Sighs is called this way due to the whispers of the prisoners of the Doge's Palace: it is told that when the wind blows you can still hear their voices, complaints and shout.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

After the visit to the heart of Venice, let's now go back and explore other interesting parts and also go off the beaten tracks.

Leaving Piazza San Marco from the northwestern side, you can easily reach the Bacino Orseolo dominated by the luxury hotel Albergo Cavalletto Doge Orseolo


Diaries of an explorer

If you follow the Sotoportego del Cavalletto, a typical Venetian sotoportego, you can walk along one of the narrow streets of the city.

Diaries of an explorer

11) Following Calle Barcaroli and Calle Fuseri and finally reaching Calle Locande, you find a sign that takes you to Scala Bovarini del Bovolo. This is an off the beaten path place: a little tower of Pisa and called the hidden treasure of Venice. It is located not far from Campo Manin and it is a mix between Renaissance, Gothic and Byzantine buiding. You can now visit the building and its rooms ( Oratorio dei Cruciferi, Sala del Tintoretto e Sala della Musica). The tickets costs 7 Euros and please check the opening times here. Maybe you can skip the visit and
Diaries of an explorer

12) Left the Scala, you can come back to Campo Manin, and later take again Calle della Mandola and then again Rio Verona until you find another landmark, the fabolous Teatro La Fenice. After the Teatro La Scala in MilanFenice in Italian means phoenix and a fire in 1996 destroyed or damaged most of the theatre due to an electrical problem under the roof. Well, the theatre like a phoenix came back to its magnificence from its ashes. The recent but now legendary story gave to this already known theatre,

Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

It is really worth a visit! :-) You can find opening times, prices and the eventually to get information about the opera's by clicking here.

Probably for one day it is enough...we visited a good mix of the main attractions and some hidden gems like the Scala Contarini al Bovolo. You can follow the indications of the following map if you want to come back to the railway station: you can take the vaporetto at Sant'Angelo.



If you need the .gpx of this map for your smartphone, please contact me and I will send it to you via e-mail.

Now it is time to focus on the practical things and also enjoy the culinary Venice:

Where to eat:

  • A real local never eats in Piazza San Marco: it is too a place for tourists - so normally when we go to Venice we choose two options: bakeries or small osterie out of the main touristic routes.
  • In Venice, you eat the cicchetti, similar to Spanish tapas but made by local ingredients. Normally you can eat them together with a gotto de vin (ombra) - a small glass of wine.

Travel tips:
  • To visit the Basilica of San Marco, you need to book in advance or you could wait for 30 - 60 minutes to visit it.
  • You should not miss the Palazzo Ducale (Duke Palace), to have the panoramic view from San Marco towerbell and the visit to the Teatro La Fenice.
  • If you still have time, you can also visit the Scala Contarini al Bovolo.
  • To shorten the time from the railway station you can always opt for the vaporetto (The Venetian Bus) and reach Rialto and San Marco. Personally i think that it can also be a nice experience to see Venice from its channels.
  • If you are on a budget, do not miss the opportunity to cross the Canal Grande on a gondola to feel the experience to be there. 
  • A gondola tour can cost up to 80 Euros per person: it is a nice experience and even better a romantic experience.
  • Another thing that locals do is the tour of bacari; it is the tour of the typical Venetian bars - I already recommended one above: the Bacareto da Lele. I will write a specific post about it.
  • Venice by night is a thing you cannot miss since it is even more charming.
  • If you are thinking about joining the Carnival of Venice, please my relevant posts, about the opening and the closure. From Sunday to Mardi Gras, it is a big challenge to visit the city. I would recommend to avoid those days since the city is over crowded.

Where to sleep:
  • Budget accomodation: if you prefer sleeping in dorms you can opt for the Generator Venice located in the island of Giudecca. Prices around 20-30 Euros per night per person (breakfast not included). In 10 minutes vaporetto ride, you can get to San Marco.
  • A good alternative is Venezia Appartamento,  a studio located at 800 meters from the central railway station (Venezia Santa Lucia), prices around 65 Euros per night. Please consider that you will be charged 27 Euros per stay for cleaning expenses.
  • Medium budget: Locanda Cà Le Vele located at just 1 km from Piazza San Marco, breakfasr included and particularly recommended, prices around 105-150 Euros per double room per night.
  • Luxury budget: Hotel A La Commedia, located at just 200 meters from Rialto Bridge in a historical and recently renovated palace, with a terrace and a nice view over Venice. Breakfast included and prices around 280 - 325 Euros per night per double room.

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