BEST 2-DAY VENICE ITINERARY
If you’re planning a trip to one of the most unique cities in the world, a.k.a. Venice, this post will help you plan your trip. Find out about the best things to do in Venice in 2 days – where to go and what to see plus many essential travel tips.
Venice is different. Yes, it is quite touristy but it is unique. I felt so much love that I revisited Venice, and all I can say: the city doesn’t disappoint, and it is one of the most beautiful places in Northern Italy.
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR VENICE IN 2 DAYS
This 2-day Venice itinerary will help you plan your trip – find out about the best things to do in 48 hours or a little less, plus many travel tips for your trip.
Why Visit Venice?
Located in the northeastern part of Italy, Venice offers some of the most picturesque streets and houses you can imagine. It seems to me that Venice is for people who love strolling through streets and enjoying life while not doing so much else.
Every corner has its charm and magic, and the Venetians do their best to welcome tourists friendly. And of course, there are the canals, bridges, and gondolas.
- Inhabitants: More than 250,000
- Location: North-East of Italy
- Language: Italian, though many have basics in other languages (English, German, etc.)
- Currency: Euro
Is Venice Expensive?
- Small cafes invite you to enjoy authentic Italian coffee and espresso. Some restaurants, however, charge ridiculous prices for beverages. So do the cafes near the main attractions like the Piazza San Marco, Rialto Bridge, Palazzo Ducale or the Basilica di San Marco. Do you want to enjoy a bottle of coke or cappuccino in those cafes? You’ll pay around 9€ to 10€ for one beverage (a bottle of coke).
- The good thing about Venice is: it is not expensive everywhere. If you aren’t willing to pay those overcharged prices, you have to look for one of the restaurants and cafes on the side streets. There you pay only about 1/3 or even less.
- While I can ́t recommend the cafes near the tourist spots, I surely love the main tourist attractions. If you stroll through Venice, you will cross them eventually. So, you do not have to buy tickets for every attraction – Venice is beautiful even if you visit it on a budget.
- Though Venice enjoys worldwide fame, it isn’t geographically big. So, there is no need to spend much on transportation. Since Venice is car-free, you will get around via gondola or water taxis. You might need a day ticket for a trip to the island of Burano. Other than that, you can save money by walking.
- Water: Bring your bottle and refill it with fresh water from water fountains. Although there aren’t many water fountains providing fresh water, it’s an inexpensive option that allows you to save a bit of money here and there.
Where to Stay for 2 Days in Venice
I visited twice. Once I stayed on Venice Lido (an outer island), which meant we had to take a boat to get to Venice. It was a beautiful boat ride, and Lido was cute, so I would not mind staying there again. The other time I stayed outside of Venice and did take a bus to get to Venice. However, for some reason, I cannot recall where exactly I stayed. So, here are some other accommodation tips for Venice.
- Luxury Hotels in Venice: Venice has some great 5* hotels like the Gritti Palace with a lovely view of the Grand Canal. You can check the prices for the Gritti Palace here.
- Mid-range Hotels in Venice: Travel back in time to the 18th century at Antica Locanda Sturion Residenza d’Epoca: antique furniture, silk wallpaper, and views of Rialto and Grand Canal. Check out the prices for this hotel here.
- Budget Hotels in Venice: The family-run Hotel Locanda Ca’ Foscari offers some hotel rooms with ensuite bathrooms, as well as cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms, at a good location close to a Vaporetto ferry stop. Check out prices here.
- If you plan to travel by train or need even cheaper accommodation, consider staying in Mestre, the first large city on the mainland. The ao Hotel Venezia Mestre is conveniently located near the train station. Recently built, it provides comfortable rooms as well as dorms, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Check out the prices here.
Best Time to Visit Venice For 2 Days
But the most important advice I can give for a Venice trip: select your travel time wisely.
If you visit in July or August, it will most likely be full of tourist crowds. Venice is always busy, but at that time, it gets crazy.
If you have a sensitive nose, you’ll mind the smell in those months as well. Well, does Venice really smell? I am not sure if it is just a myth or true, but it is said that it smells terrible when the canals are drained in the summer months.
I visited Venice twice: Once in May/June and the other time at the end of September. I assume it was a perfect time to enjoy Venice because I did not notice any smell. It was quite busy but not as crowded as I have seen in pictures from July and August. The weather was also pleasant – it can get hot in the summer months.
So, I suggest visiting at the end of September or even October or in spring.
If you want to see the other side of Venice you could visit during the carnival.
Is 2 Days in Venice a Good Amount of Time?
Many people visit Venice for one day – especially the people who arrive via a cruise ship. You can surely get a glimpse in one day, but I recommend visiting Venice for two days. Within 36 or 48 hours, you can also do a trip to at least one of the other beautiful islands close by, and you can see Venice when the crowds have not arrived/have gone (early in the morning, and after 6 pm).
- If you want to do a couple of day trips from Venice, plan a few more days to explore the great places in the area.
- For the day trips, you might want to rent a car. Here are some tips for driving in Italy.
WHAT TO DO IN VENICE IN 2 DAYS ITINERARY
Enough talking, here is how to spend two days in Venice.
DAY 1 OF 2 DAYS IN VENICE
Ideally, you start your day 1 at Piazza San Marco. From there, you’ll move on to other attractions. I will not mention any specific places for taking a break or having lunch – after 2-4 attractions though you might want to stop and have something to eat though.
STOP 1: PIAZZA SAN MARCO
Piazza San Marco (in English, St Mark’s Square) is one of the places that gets the most crowded. Thus I recommend getting there early, before the crowds arrive.
Piazza San Marco is the city’s largest square and contains famous buildings such as St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. Napoleon called it “the world’s most beautiful drawing-room.”
The main square of Venice used to be the place to discuss politics and trade business. Besides the historical buildings (some mentioned below) there are also many restaurants and cafes, but keep in mind that it is costly. If you are on a budget, skip a coffee here (10€ or more is common) and have it in one of the side streets instead.
- The Piazza is easy to find if you follow the signs – or type in Piazza San Marco on your phone to get there.
STOP 2: BASILICA DI SAN MARCO
The Basilica di San Marco, also known as Saint Mark’s Basilica, is probably the most famous building on the Piazza San Marco. The church is named after Saint Mark, whose body is kept here. Actually, it was built in the 9th century just for this purpose.
The oldest mosaic on the facade dates back to the 13th century and is in the lunette above the far-left portal – depicting St Mark’s stolen body arriving at the basilica. Stolen body? Some Venetians stole the body of Saint Mark from Alexandria and brought it back to Venice in the 9th century, and then the church’s construction began.
Since then, it has undergone many renovations. Before it became Venice’s cathedral in 1807, it was the Doge’s private chapel.
It looks impressive from the outside – and surely also from the inside.
We did not go inside, but you can book a tour if you are interested to see the incredible interior. To get in, you have to stand in line – probably the longest lines in Venice. Even early in the morning, the lines are crazy already. You can also visit the San Marco Museum, the Treasury, and the Golden Altarpiece (Pala d’oro).
- Entrance to the basilica is free (donations are welcome). However, it might take hours to get in. So, you should be there early – when it opens at around 9:30 am there might already be a line.
- Alternatively, you can buy a skip the line ticket (and enjoy the guided tour) to have more precious time for exploring the city itself.
- Open from Monday through Saturday from about 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 2 to 4 or 5 p.m.
- On Sunday mornings, you can attend mass but cannot wander around.
- The basilica’s museum is open daily from around 9:30 am to around 4:45 p.m.
- Dress modestly (keep knees and shoulders covered)
- The museum entrance is around 5€, entrance to the Pala d’oro costs 2€, admittance to the Treasury is about 3€
STOP 3: CAMPANILE DI SAN MARCO
The Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Campanile) stands at 99 meters and is one of the best places to visit in Venice in 2 days. This belltower was built in the 12th century – and rebuilt several times between the 12th and 14th centuries, but the campanile took on its definitive appearance only in the 16th century.
In 1902 the campanile suddenly collapsed – but in 1912 the new one was inaugurated.
Apart from all that: The views from the top are still outstanding. Like so many other places in Venice, it is very popular – and lines can be long and crazy. If you don’t book tickets in advance, I suggest being there early, so you don’t have to waste too much precious time in line.
- Around 10 am, the lines were still short (in September, though), and I got up without waiting for long.
- While there are stairs, you can only use the lift to reach the top. So, it does not include climbing many stairs to admire all of Venice and its lagoon. It is impressive and definitely worth the money and was one of my many highlights.
- If you buy your ticket at the tower and accept standing in line, you pay 8€ – a bit more if you want to skip lines. Check out prices here.
STOP 4: PALAZZO DUCALE (DOGE’S PALACE)
Most people recommend visiting the Palazzo Ducale as it is imposing. I would have loved to visit the museum, but the crowds scared me away, so I preferred looking at it from outside only. The Doge’s Palace, built in the 14th century, is also located on Piazza San Marco and was the residence of the Doge of Venice (the elected main leader in former times). However, at times it was also partially used as a prison. Nowadays, it houses a museum offering many exhibitions.
The building is an excellent example of Gothic architecture. If you decide on buying a ticket for the Doge’s Palace, you can find out much about the history and the design (which is beyond amazing) and walk through the place that is now a museum.
- The line you see in the picture is for the Basilica di San Marco. However, the Doge’s Palace lines aren’t much shorter (usually, they are a bit shorter).
- You cannot buy a single ticket for the Doge´s Palace, but the ticket will also include the entrance to some museums nearby, and the cheapest is 25€.
- You can skip the lines by buying tickets in advance. I seriously think I would have enjoyed Venice even more with more planning and purchasing tickets in advance.
STOP 5: GRAND CANAL
You actually cannot miss the Grand Canal – the main “street” in Venice. Well, it is not a street as we know it. To be more precise, the Grand Canal is one of the busiest water-traffic corridors, where lots of gondolas, boats, etc., provide public transport with some lovely hotels, shops, and restaurants lined up.
It is more than 3 km long and between 30 and 70 meters wide– with an average water depth of 5 meters. No, swimming in the canal is not allowed at all.
It is such an interesting and unique place. If you walk along the Grand Canal – or do a boat cruise or gondola ride – you will see wonderful historical buildings – some date back to the 15th century.
I love the Piazza in Venice, but I really adore the Grand Canal. This, of course, is crowded, too, but strolling the Grand Canal gives you the feel of being in the most extraordinary city in the world.
Food and drinks here are overpriced, too. This is a good place to eat if you are not on a budget and don’t mind paying a bit extra for the view.
STOP 6: RIALTO BRIDGE
The most famous bridge is the Rialto Bridge (Venetian: Ponte de Rialto), which can get quite crowded but is still worth visiting.
Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal (built in the late 16th century). Its unique shape has made it a popular photo spot – so another must-see for your 2-day Venice itinerary. There are also shops on the bridge, where you can get souvenirs (like the typical Venice masks). On the one side, there is even a small space where you can actually sit down and observe the people and gondolas even if you don’t visit a restaurant.
STOP 7: GONDOLA RIDE
For many tourists, a gondola ride is obligatory. A ride is about 80-90€ during the day – one boat accommodates up to six people. To be honest, I am sure if a gondola ride is worth the money. So, I did not do it at all. If it is on your bucket list or you do not have a budget, then it surely is a great experience. Book your gondola rides here to get the best deals and save money.
This first day in Venice is busy – and you will probably be exhausted. But with only 2 days in Venice, we do not have much time to waste. Venice is such a beautiful city, and there are great places nearby for your itinerary.
DAY 2 OF 2 DAYS IN VENICE
For the second day in Venice, I recommend doing a trip to one or two of the places I mention below.
STOP 1: BURANO
A must-visit place in Venice in 2 days is this stunning tiny island: Burano.
You might have seen these extremely colorful houses on social media, and if you have time, I recommend visiting Burano.
The small island is located northeast of Venice and is easily accessible by a ferry- a Vaporetto, which is the main form of transport in Venice and quite affordable.
- It takes about 40 minutes to get there by water taxi from Venice.
- You should plan for at least 2 hours to stroll the tiny island.
- Otherwise, find here some guided tours for your trip to Burano from Venice.
- Find out more about getting to Burano and what to do and see there. Click here to read my blog post on Burano.
STOP 2: MURANO
Another place you could squeeze in your Venice itinerary is Murano – a smaller island near Burano. It is renowned for its long tradition of glass-making. Check out tours for a glass factory here.
You can easily combine a trip to both islands and get there by the same Vaporetto.
The good thing is that you can decide quite spontaneously – so on your way from Burano to Venice, you could still choose whether you want to see Murano or not.
ALTERNATIVE STOP: VENICE LIDO ISLAND
If you have some more time, I recommend heading to Venice Lido Island. It is an 11-kilometer-long barrier island in the Venetian Lagoon. Lido has a beach and some cafes, hotels, and shops. I think, it is worth a visit. However, with 2 days here, you might have to skip it because Burano is actually even cooler.
From Venice, you can take a Vaporetto to/from Lido. It takes about 20 minutes to get there, and you will see a completely different side of Venice.
Then your 2 days in Venice are up! Following this Venice itinerary, you have seen the main sights but also got to see many different sides of Venice and its surrounding islands.
- For more places to visit in Northern Italy, click here.
- If you would like to find out about Venice in the winter, click here.
CONCLUSION: WHAT TO DO IN VENICE IN 2 DAYS
Venice is known as an excellent place for love birds and honeymoons. Without a doubt, it is a very romantic destination and perfect for a quick get-away for couples. However, Venice is NOT ONLY meant for love birds.
It is a great place for everyone – you have historic sights, colorful houses, and more that you will see if you follow this itinerary.
2 days in Venice are enough to explore the city. I hope this itinerary has helped you plan your trip! Enjoy and stay safe.