A complete itinerary for 3 days in Venice (+ map, PDF, how to skip the lines at Doge’s Palace and Saint Mark’ Basilica, and how to get to Murano and Burano islands).
Venice (Venezia) is among the most picturesque cities in Europe. It’s one of the places you must include to your itinerary when visiting Italy.
Venice is the capital of the Veneto region in northeastern Italy. Built on more than 100 islands, linked by small pretty bridges, the city is surrounded by water. There are no cars, no bicycles. The only transport is water busses and of course your own feet.
With its tiny picturesque alleyways, meandering canals and charming piazzas, Venice looks like a place taken from your dreams. It’s almost inevitable not to fall in love. I visited the city, having very low expectations because of its touristic fame. And I’m not gonna lie, but Venice took my heart away.
3 Days in Venice itinerary
Looking for 3 perfect days in Venice? Well, this walking itinerary is all you need to plan your time and spend a lovely extended weekend.
Being so popular, you can imagine that Venice is super touristy (even off-season). But have no worries! I created this 3-day Venice walking itinerary in such a way to minimize the waiting time in lines.
Find a map of this 3-day itinerary for Venice (with all attractions and restaurants’ websites) at the end of the blog post.
Already have a hotel booked? Then check your hotel’s location and make sure it’s in a good area (see my guide to the best area to stay in Venice).
3 days in Venice, Italy (the perfect itinerary)
- Day 1: Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs, Acqua Alta bookshop, Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo
- Day 2: Basilica of Saint Mark, St. Mark’s Campanile and Clocktower, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Accademia Bridge, Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute
- Day 3: Day trips from Venice – Murano and Burano
For my trip to Venice, I used this DK Eyewitness Travel Guide. I love their travel guides, as they have practical information, walking tours and a durable map!
3 Days in Venice – Day 1
Have breakfast at Farini
08:00 AM – 08:30 AM
Start the first day with delicious croissants and coffee at Farini. Try the croissants with pistachio filling and the ones with ham.
Enjoy the view from Rialto Bridge
08:30 AM – 08:50 AM
Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) is one of the most popular spots in Venice. It gets super busy with tourists during the day, so try to get there as early as you can.
It is the oldest bridge that crosses the Grand Canal and connects San Marco and San Polo districts. Stop at the middle of the Rialto bridge to enjoy the marvellous view of the Grand Canal. It’s like being in a painting by Canaletto.
You’ll find numerous shops on the bridge where you can browse for souvenirs like Murano glass products or jewellery. They will be closed so early in the morning, but don’t worry, you’ll get here back later in the day.
Plus, you’ll probably cross the bridge at least several times during your stay in Venice even if you don’t want to. It’s one of the main bridges over the Grand Canal.
Discover the Doge’s Palace
09:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) was the seat of the Venitian Government for centuries. It also served as a residence of the Doge, the person with the highest political position in the Venetian Republic. The last doge was Ludovico Manin, who abdicated in 1797 when Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Venice.
As you walk through this impressive palace, you’ll find yourself surrounded by Renaissance masterpieces and beautiful golden ceilings. You can tour most of the building on your own.
Some parts of the palace are accessible only with a guide (you have to book in advance the so-called Secret Itineraries Tour).
In the season this tour sells out quickly, so book as early as you can. Note that the tour covers only a part of the palace. After the tour, you can explore the rest of it on your own (without a guide, no additional ticket required).
See the famous Bridge of Sighs
11:40 AM – 12:00 PM
Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) is a 17th century covered bridge. It connects the courtrooms in the Doge’s Palace with the adjacent prison. The bridge got its name from the prisoners who sighed at the last glimpse of daylight they saw before being moved to the prison.
Bridge of Sighs is, in fact, a part of Doge’s Palace. You’ll walk across it during the tour of the palace. However, it’s not possible to marvel at the beautiful bridge from inside the building. The Bridge of Sighs is best seen from Ponte della Paglia.
Taste the delicious pasta at Baci & Pasta
12:00 PM – 02:00 PM
Start the lunch with some tasty tiramisu at I Tre Mercanti. They offer different variations of the famous Italian dessert, as well as the classic one. Don’t miss the pistachio tiramisu, it’s heavenly!
For the main meal, go to Baci & Pasta. They serve delicious homemade pasta and ravioli, that you can combine with different sauces. A great spot for a quick bite!
Visit the unique Acqua Alta bookshop
02:00 PM – 02:30 PM
Acqua Alta bookshop (Libreria Acqua Alta) is one of the most unique book stores in Europe. It’s a must for every book and cat lover.
Tens of books and magazines are stacked in a gondola in the middle of the store. This is not only for attraction, but also to keep the books safe during the regular flooding. And it’s almost impossible to miss the cute cats lying lazily around.
At the back of the store, you’ll find a small charming staircase made of old books.
See the doges’ tombs at Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo
02:30 PM – 03:00 PM
Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo is the largest church in Venice. From the 15th century onward the funeral services of the Venitian doges are held here. The church houses the tombs of 27 doges. The vaults that stand out the most are the ones of Alvise Mocenigo and Pietro Mocenigo.
As most of the churches in Venice, there is an entrance fee (€4 per person).
On the charming square, where the basilica is located, you’ll also find the impressive Scuola Grande di San Marco. Once being among the greatest schools in Venice, today the building houses a small medical museum.
You can skip the museum unless you don’t have a deep interest in medicine. Yet, don’t miss to take a look at its beautiful white marble facade.
Take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal
03:20 PM – 04:30 PM
Taking a gondola ride along the Grand Canal is a must-do while in Venice. Nothing can be compared with cruising on the canals and enjoying the gorgeous Venice from a different perspective.
You can find gondola piers almost everywhere. However, I’d recommend taking your gondola around the Rialto Bridge (it’s the most popular spot). The gondola ride is usually about 30min and you can share the boat with up to 6 people.
Check the route with your gondolier in advance, because not all gondolas cruise along the Grand Canal. And you don’t want to miss the beautiful Venetian palaces along the canal.
Another option is taking a boat tour with a local guide. You’ll explore the winding canals of the city in a private motorboat passing along St. Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge and many more. The tour ends at the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, where you can climb the Bell Tower for stunning views.
Another alternative is to take the water bus (called Vaporetto). It’s a much cheaper alternative to the gondola (not so romantic though). Yet, you’ll be able to see the fabulous Venetian palaces along the canal. Take water bus line 1 or 2, both run frequently between St. Mark’s Square and the train station.
Have dinner at Cantina Arnaldi
For dinner, I’d recommend you heading to San Polo district. It’s less touristy than San Marco, but still close to the main sites. In the area, you’ll find many nice restaurants and aperitivo bars.
Cantina Arnaldi is a great place for a meat and cheese platter accompanied by quality wine. They also offer delicious pasta and lasagna (if you are hungrier).
A day in Venice is not complete without some gelato. For the best gelato in the city, head to Gelato di Natura. It’s a fine artisan Italian gelato prepared with quality ingredients.
More ideas for your 3 days in Venice – Day 1
Create your own carnival mask
Join this Carnival mask-making workshop and create your own mask under the guidance of an experienced craftsman. You’ll also learn about ancient techniques of creating masks from papier-mâché.
Church of Santa Maria Assunta – I Gesuiti
This little Baroque church from the 17th century is a hidden gem. With its interior covered in green, gold and white marble, the church is utterly breathtaking. The entry fee is only €1 per person.
Enjoy the view from T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace
T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace (T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi) offers an amazing view of the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. And it’s completely free to visit the terrace.
The only disadvantage is that you have to book in advance a certain time slot for your visit. Only 70 people are allowed at one time and visits are limited to 15min.
3 Days in Venice – Day 2
Have a coffee at Marchini Time
08:30 AM – 09:00 AM
Start your day in the Italian way – with a cup of coffee and a delicious pastry at Marchini Time.
Marvel at the Basilica of Saint Mark
09:15 AM – 10:30 AM
Basilica of Saint Mark (Basilica di San Marco) is one of the city’s most popular attractions. And there is a reason why!
This 9th-century basilica is one of the most stunning churches in all of Italy. Covered with impressive mosaics, white marble, gold and precious stones, it will leave you speechless. Once a private chapel of the Doge, the basilica is the city’s cathedral since 1807.
Among its treasures are Horses of Saint Mark and Pala d’Oro (a golden altar encrusted with 2000 precious stones). And while it’s free to visit the church, you have to pay to see the mentioned treasures.
If you don’t book a guided tour (or just want a quick look inside), reserve a time slot for your visit to skip the lines. You have to pay €6 for the reservation (the entry to the basilica is free). Note that in this case, you have to pay additionally to see each of the basilica’s treasures.
The lines are always long, so go early (see opening times here). You can’t bring a backpack or luggage and of course, your knees and shoulders must be covered.
To see the interior of the basilica illuminated, visit it from 11:30 AM to 12:45 PM on weekdays or during liturgical celebrations on Sundays.
Climb St. Mark’s Campanile
10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
St. Mark’s Campanile (Campanile di San Marco) is the bell tower of Basilica of Saint Mark. Built somewhere in the 12th century, it functioned both as a lighthouse and a bell tower at the same time. Today’s building dates from 1912 after the collapse of the old one in 1902.
It’s possible to climb the tower for spectacular views of Venice. The entrance fee is €12 and there is a lift to take you up to the top. To skip the long lines, book tickets to the tower in advance here.
Admire St. Mark’s Clocktower
11:30 AM – 11:50 AM
Located on St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Clocktower (Torre dell’Orologio) is another site that you don’t want to miss. Built in 1496, the clock shows the time, the phase of the moon, and the dominant sign of the Zodiac.
Taste the panini at La Bottiglia
12:00 PM – 02:00 PM
For lunch stop at La Bottiglia. You can choose between delicious panini or ham and cheese platter. Whatever you choose, don’t miss to combine it with some Italian wine.
Marvel at Scuola Grande di San Rocco
02:00 PM – 03:00 PM
Scuola Grande di San Rocco is one of Venice’s hidden gems. This 15th-century historic building houses over 60 paintings of Tintoretto. It’s a must for every art lover.
The entrance fee is €10, but do pay a little more for the audio guide to fully appreciate the artworks.
Enjoy the view from Accademia Bridge
03:20 PM – 03:40 PM
Accademia Bridge (Ponte dell’Accademia) is one of the four bridges over the Grand Canal. And it’s also one of the few wooden bridges in the city. From here you can enjoy an excellent view of the Grand Canal and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.
The biggest plus is that Accademia Bridge is less crowded than Rialto Bridge. So, if you look for a good photo opportunity, this is the place.
Visit the plague Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute
03:50 PM – 04:20 PM
Located on the mouth of the Grand Canal, this is one of the city’s most beautiful churches. Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute is built as a votive offering after a bad outbreak of the plague in 1630.
There is no entrance fee, so take your time and visit the beautiful basilica. Most of the art and objects inside are devoted to the Black Death.
Also, don’t miss the views from this island towards St. Mark’s Square and Doge’s Palace. Especially if you’re in the area at sunset.
Taste the cicchetti at Cantine del Vino già Schiavi
Finish the day in typical Venetian style – with cicchetti and wine. Cicchetti is the local finger food (a must-eat while in Venice). Try the ones at Cantine del Vino già Schiavi – a small local wine bar (called bacari).
More ideas for your 3 days in Venice – Day 2
Visit the Venetian palace of Ca’ Rezzonico
Ca’ Rezzonico is a fabulous palace, one of the few that still can be visited today. This 18-the century palace once belonged to one of the city’s old noble families. Today, it’s a public museum that houses the Museum of eighteenth-century Venice.
If you want to experience the Doge’s Palace on a smaller scale, Ca’ Rezzonico is the place.
Modern art at Peggy Guggenheim Collection
If you’re interested in modern art, don’t miss the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The museum is housed in the former home of the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim. On display is her personal collection that includes masterpieces from Cubism and Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism.
You can book your skip the line ticket here.
Enjoy a concert at Teatro La Fenice
Teatro La Fenice is one of the most beautiful opera houses in all of Europe. La Fenice in Italian means phoenix. The theatre is named in this way because as the mystical creature it has also risen from its ashes twice.
To see La Fenice you can either attend a concert or visit it with a guide (or audio guide). You can book your skip the line ticket here. To learn more about its fascinating history, take this guided tour of La Fenice.
Climb the tower of San Giorgio Maggiore Church
Church of San Giorgio Maggiore is located on the waterfront of Piazza San Marco. This is the place where you can enjoy the most beautiful views of the famous square. All you need to do is to climb the church’s bell tower.
There is a small fee (about €5) to get to the top of the tower. In order to get to the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, you have to take a water bus to the S. Giorgio terminal.
3 Days in Venice – Day 3
The third day in Venice is all about island hopping. The two most popular islands are Murano and Burano, known for their crafts.
To get there you have to take a water bus. I’d recommend you buying an Actv day ticket that is valid for all water buses in Venezia, Lido, Murano and Burano. You’ll save a lot (the price is almost equal to 2 regular tickets and you’ll need at least 3 for the day).
Taste the pastries at Panificio Crosera
08:00 AM – 08:30 AM
Before heading to your island adventure, stop for a quick bite at Panificio Crosera. It’s a great local bakery offering delicious pastries.
See the glass factories at Murano
09:00 AM – 12:00 PM
The small island of Murano is about 10min away from Venice by water bus. Murano is best known for its traditional glass blowing. There are tens of glass factories and shops on the island.
Murano is the place to buy glass souvenirs if this is your thing. Plus, most of the shops offer international shipping, so you won’t worry about transportation.
Beside the glass factories, dedicate some time to explore the island, too. Among its highlights are Torre dell’Orologio and Church of Santa Maria e San Donato.
Church of Santa Maria e San Donato is one of the oldest in the Venetian lagoon (dating from the 7th century). One of its treasures is a 12th-century Byzantine mosaic pavement.
Next to Torre dell’Orologio you can find a large glass sculpture. Sadly, it’s not possible to access the top of the clock tower.
How to get to Murano
The quickest way to get to Murano is by taking a water bus (Vaporetto) from the ACTV docks at Fondamente Nove. It’s about a 10min journey.
Have lunch at Versus Meridianem
12:00 PM – 02:00 PM
Before departing for the next island, stop for lunch at Versus Meridianem. This lovely restaurant, located right on the waterside, features great views of the lagoon.
Explore the colourful houses at Burano
02:40 PM – 04:30 PM
Burano is one of the most colourful towns in Europe. Take a stroll along the colourful fishermen’s houses and enjoy the beauty of the island.
Burano is also famous for its lace-making. There is a Lace Museum, which you can visit if you’re interested in lace craftsmanship. Or just explore the numerous lace shops on the island. It’s a great place to buy some authentic souvenirs (not only lace), produced by local craftsmen.
How to get to Burano
Vaporetto line 12 will take you from Murano to Burano (a 40min journey). It’s a little long journey from Murano (or Venice), but it’s totally worth the trip.
Taste the cicchetti at Birreria Zanon
Finish the last of your 3 full days in Venice with a dinner at Birreria Zanon. It’s a small local bar, located away from the crowds in Cannaregio district. Birreria Zanon serves the best cicchetti in the city.
More ideas for your 3 days in Venice – Day 3
Visit the beach resort of Venice
You may be surprised, but there is a beach in Venice. You just need to take the water bus to Lido Island (about 20min journey from Piazza San Marco).
If sunbathing is your thing, don’t miss the beach resort at Lido. You can also rent a bicycle and explore the island. Unlike Venice, where there are no cars or bicycles, Lido is friendlier to public transport.
Doge’s Palace – it’s the most popular attraction, so book tickets for the palace even if you’re visiting off-season. The ticket includes the Doge’s Palace, Correr Museum, National Archeological Museum and Biblioteca Marciana.
Saint Mark’s Basilica – the entry to the basilica is free. Nevertheless, I recommend you to book a time slot entrance that will allow you to skip the lines (which are hours longs). This costs €6, but it will save you a lot of time. You can book your reserved access to St. Mark’s Basilica here.
St. Mark’s Bell Tower – another popular attraction with long queues at St Mark’s Square. To see Venice from above, reserve your entrance to the Bell Tower in advance.
Getting around in Venice
To help you navigate, I created a map of this itinerary.
Getting around in Venice can be tricky. It’s not a big city, but it lies on 118 small islands connected to each other with bridges. This causes the main difficulty when getting around. You have to always look for a bridge to get from one place to another.
Another problem is the tiny streets, the whole city is like a big maze. It’s hard to find a particular restaurant or site. And don’t worry if you get lost, it’s inevitable. If you have the opportunity to use GPS walking navigation on your phone, don’t hesitate. This helped me a lot.
There are no cars and no bicycles in Venice. Luckily, there is a public transport that consists of water buses (called Vaporetto). Depending on where your hotel is, you’ll probably need to use the Vaporetto to get to your accommodation.
Note that your ticket must be validated each time before boarding the water bus. See the water buses timetables here.
Also, the Vaporetto is the only way to get to Burano and Murano islands. Yet, you’ll be able to get to most of the attractions on foot. Thus, prepare yourself for a lot of walking.
How to get to Venice
The central train station is Venezia Santa Lucia. Located at the northern edge of the city, it’s about a 30min walk to Piazza San Marco.
If you’re planning to travel by train through Italy, book tickets in advance (they are cheaper if you buy earlier). Check timetables and book train tickets online at Trenitalia official website.
If your hotel is somewhere near Piazza San Marco, I’d recommend taking the water bus. It will be very difficult to navigate through the tiny streets with luggage. Moreover, during the high season, it’s even impossible to walk through the people.
No cars are allowed in Venice. If you’re arriving by car, you can leave it at the parking lots at Piazzale Roma (see more info here). This is the closest point you can get to with a car.
From Marco Polo Airport
You have 3 options:
- The easiest option is to get a water taxi, that will take you directly to your hotel. You can book your water taxi here and arrive without hassle to the city. I’d recommend this option, especially if you have big luggage.
- You can also take the Alilaguna water bus to Venice. Alilaguna stops at San Marco, Rialto, Fondamenta Nuove, and Guglie. It’s less convenient than the first option as then you have to walk to your hotel.
- The 3rd option is to take the ATVO express bus or bus ACTV line 5 to Piazzale Roma. From there you have to walk (if your hotel is in the area) or take a water bus to the closest location to your hotel.
From Treviso Airport
You have to take the ATVO express bus to Piazzale Roma and from there – the water bus.
Day trips from Venice
Take a Prosecco wine tasting tour
Prosecco is one of the most famous Italian wines. So, why don’t you spend a day exploring the wine-growing area of the Veneto region.
This Prosecco wine tasting tour includes a visit to a traditional winery, where you’ll learn all the secrets of prosecco production. Plus, there is a guided wine tasting at the end.
Verona is a gorgeous medieval city. It’s famous for its connection to Shakespeare’s tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. For more details take a look at my complete Verona day trip itinerary.
Located about 1 hour away from Venice by train, Verona is the perfect day trip. If you take an early train, one day in Verona will be enough to see the highlights. Don’t miss to buy the Verona Card (it will save you money and time)!
How to get to Verona
Take a train from Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia to Verona Porta Nuova (1h15min journey). From there it’s about 1.5km to the historic city centre.
Florence is one of the must-see cities in Italy. It’s known as the birthplace of the Renaissance. I’d strongly recommend spending at least 2-3 full days in Florence. There is a lot to see (take a look at my detailed itinerary for Florence)!
If you visit Florence on a day trip, the most you’ll be able to do is a walking tour of the historic centre.
How to get to Florence
Take a train from Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia to Firenze S. M. Novella (2h15min journey). From there is about a 10min walk to the historic city centre.
How many days in Venice
Are 3 days in Venice too much?
3 full days in Venice is the perfect amount of time to explore the city. You’ll need 2 days to see the major attractions including Doge’s Palace, Saint Mark’s Basilica and Bridge of Sighs. Also, you’ll have to dedicate one full day to Murano and Burano – most interesting islands in the Venetian lagoon.
There are 3 major attractions with huge waiting lines (unless you take a guided tour) – St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Campanile. The main problem is that the basilica, which can be visited quicker than the palace, opens an hour later than the palace. So if you decided to visit the palace first, after your tour, the lines for the basilica will be hours long. And vice versa.
The best way to avoid this is to visit these 3 attractions early in the mornings on two different days. In the afternoons, you can tour the less popular sights (museums and churches). The third day of this Venice itinerary is all about island hopping. I’ll show you what are the best islands near the city and how to get there.
What if I don’t have 3 full days in Venice?
If you have 2 days and a half, use the half-day to explore the city on foot and take a gondola ride. Also, I’d recommend you to visit St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace in one day. However, in this case, it’s better to take a guided tour for one of the sights (not to lose hours in waiting).
The second full day, spend in island hopping and tour Murano and Burano. It’s a unique experience, so don’t miss it even if you don’t have 3 full days in Venice.
2 or 3 days in Venice?
Although it’s possible to visit Venice in 2 days, I’d recommend 3 days (or at least 2 days and a half).
If you have only 2 days you have to prioritize which attractions are most important for you. Do you want to visit the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica or just a walking tour is enough? If you’re not into museums you can explore Venice in one day.
Another option is to skip Murano and Burano and dedicate all your time to Venice. In this case, you’ll have enough time to visit the most popular attractions.
Best time to visit Venice
Venice is one of the most visited cities in Europe. Having this in mind, you can imagine that the crowds are huge any time of the year. Yet, the least ideal time to visit are the months of August and February. And the problem is not only the high prices of accommodation during these 2 months.
During August not only the crowds are the biggest, but also the weather is hot with high humidity and lots of bugs.
The famous Venice Carnival (Carnevale) takes place every year at the end of February and beginning of March. If you’re not visiting the city because of this event, avoid February and March.
The winter (November, December and January) is the low season. However, the chances of flooding are higher. Also, it’s cold and wet and you’ll probably spend a lot of time outside. Taking a gondola ride won’t be pleasant, too.
What is the best time of year to visit Venice, Italy?
The best time to visit Venice is spring (April and May) and autumn (September and October). During these periods the temperatures are pleasant and tourists are less.
|I’m a full-time travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. I love to travel and to discover new places, cultures and food. I’m an expert in travel planning and I am here to help you plan your dream vacation.|