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The floating city of Venice is packed with a historical and architectural Renaissance flair that goes unmatched worldwide. And let’s not forget the main attractions like impressive art collections, bustling squares, famous bridges, and beautiful churches that you’ll find dotted across the city.
There’s so much to see and do here; that’s why you’ll need at least three days of travel in Venice. Luckily for you, this 3-day itinerary for Venice covers all the major attractions, expert tips, and where to stay during your trip.
Major Attractions in Venice
With only three days in Venice, it’s important to note down all the major attractions so you can plan your trip accurately. These sights are most likely packed with tourists and may require more exploration time.
St Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
Being one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe, Saint Mark’s Basilica has been the beating heart of public interaction and religious life in the city for more than a millennium. The church is located in St Mark’s Square, right next to Doge’s Palace.
St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
One of the most beautiful piazzas in Italy, this bustling square is where tourists and locals gather to soak up the incomparable atmosphere. The best way to do that is take a seat at one of the historic cafes and linger over your coffee. Take as long as you like, the price of your coffee is steep but it’s worth it to admire the passing foot traffic, domed basilica, Doge’s Palace and the bell tower.
Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
The Doge’s Palace is one of the most historically significant landmarks of Venice. The impressive display of Gothic-style architecture combined with the regal interior makes this attraction a must-see when visiting Venice.
Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)
The most famous bridge in Venice, the Rialto Bridge is also the oldest of only four bridges spanning the Grand Canal and one of Venice’s prominent architectural marvels. The bridge has been rebuilt several times after incidents of fire and collapse.
Although about 150 canals run through Venice, the Grand Canal is the largest and garners the most impressive views. This over two-mile-long channel is excellent for a gondola ride, as it gives you splendid views of Doge’s Palace and the Rialto Bridge. Take vaporetto 1 the entire length of the Grand Canal for one of the best cheap things to do in Venice.
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Thanks to its striking dome that’s visible from all over the city, Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is one of the most postcard-worthy places in Venice. The church is an unmissable landmark in Venice because of its excellent positioning at the entrance of the Grand Canal.
Day One – Explore the Attraction-Filled San Marco District
San Marco is where you’ll find most of the main Venice attractions. The district is always buzzing with large crowds due to its array of international restaurants offering multilingual menus and charming side-street cafes.
You’ll also see landmarks like St Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge, St Mark’s Square, and Campanile di San Marco (belltower) in this area.
Espresso + Breakfast
Start your 3 days in Venice, Italy, the right way with a cup of espresso and a classic Venetian breakfast. Caffè Florian is a gorgeous, historic coffee spot just a skip away from Palazzo Ducale. The cafe boasts a Neo-Baroque setting with century-appropriate furniture and murals.
The best part about having breakfast at Caffè Florian is enjoying the atmosphere and passing foot traffic in the Piazza San Marco from the restaurant’s expansive outdoor terrace.
Walk Along the Grand Canal
While most tourists opt for a gondola ride along the Grand Canal, it isn’t the only way to explore the best Venice highlights. Another great way to experience this waterway is by walking along the attraction-filled waterfront promenade beside the canal.
You’ll see the best of Venice up close, like the Doge’s Palace’s elaborate white and rose-colored marble facade. Or you could walk along the Grand Canal promenade in the Dorsoduro district and see the Santa Maria della Salute in all its glory.
If you have the time, we recommend walking along the promenade on both sides of the canal, as each side offers unique photo opportunities.
Gondola Ride + Rialto Bridge
If you don’t feel like walking about five miles around the Grand Canal, why not do as the Venetians do and hop on a relaxing gondola ride instead? Not only will you see the highlights of your Venice itinerary, but you may also enjoy a serenade with traditional music as you admire the views.
Besides seeing the grandeur of Doge’s Palace, you’ll also get a glimpse of the Basilica di Santa Maria and the Basilica S.Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari’s iconic bell tower. Standing at almost 230 feet tall, this church’s bell tower is the tallest in Venice, after the one at St Mark’s.
Another thing you’ll tick off your Venice itinerary is the captivating Rialto Bridge. As the locals call it, Ponte di Rialto has been the city’s commercial hub for centuries connecting the San Marco and San Polo sestieri.
Today, Rialto Bridge is a popular hotspot for photos. It’s also a stone’s throw away from the Rialto Market, where you can buy the freshest fruits, vegetables, and catch of the day. The Rialto Market is open daily (except for Sundays) from 7:30 am until late afternoon.
Explore St Mark’s Square and Lunch
St Mark’s Square is the most iconic place in Venice. As the city’s most significant and busiest marketplace, Piazza San Marco boasts several Venice landmarks like the Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Campanile di San Marco.
Inside St Mark’s Basilica, you’ll be greeted by ornate golden mosaics, gorgeous frescoes, and relics of St Mark himself. Interestingly, the Basilica di San Marco was initially built as an extension of Doge’s Palace.
The Campanile, on the other hand, is the tallest structure in Venice, standing at 323 feet. During your guided tour, you’ll get an opportunity to climb the church’s bell tower and get stunning panoramic views of the Floating City.
One thing you won’t have to worry about when visiting St Mark’s Square is food! With numerous cafes, restaurants, and bars, you can enjoy tasty Venetian cuisine while people-watching and soaking up the atmosphere.
For a luxe lunch, stop by Caffè Quadri in St Mark’s Square for their amazing lasagna bolognese, then head over to Harry’s Bar for a Bellini cocktail.
Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs
Built with Venetian and Gothic influences, the Doge’s Palace is one of the must-see attractions on a Venice itinerary. The Doge’s Palace is where you’ll find the largest room in Europe, the “Grand Council Chamber,” and a collection of ceiling art, mosaics, and paintings.
The structure you’ll see today was rebuilt in 1340. Doge’s Palace was formerly the residence of the Doge, the highest authority in Venice at the time. Palazzo Ducale was also the seat of the Venetian government, where governing council meetings were held.
Later, in 1923, Doge’s Palace became a museum. Today, anyone interested in learning about Venetian history is welcome to see the museum on a guided tour or with a Venezia City Pass.
Next to the Doge’s Palace, you’ll spy the famous Bridge of Sighs. This enclosed baroque-style bridge is made of limestone and has stone-barred windows. It was built around 1600 to connect Doge’s Palace with the New Prisons. It is said that the Bridge of Sighs got its name from the lamentation of prisoners as they were taken away.
Pizza at 1000 Gourmet Venezia
Wrap up your first of three days in Venice with one of the best pizzas in town. Located just two minutes from the St Mark’s Basilica, the 1000 Gourmet Venezia serves the best variety of handmade pizzas, including gluten-free and lactose-free options.
Expert Tips for Your First Day in Venice
- When exploring San Marco, take advantage of a self-guided walking tour or hop on a private water taxi and experience the district at your own pace.
- If a gondola ride around the city is too expensive, catch a Vaporetto — a water taxi that’ll get you around Venice swiftly.
- The canals in San Polo offer an excellent alternative for a gondola ride that is less expensive and less crowded.
Day Two – Hidden Gems in Dorsoduro, Santa Croce & Cannaregio
Day two of your three days in Venice itinerary takes you through all the unique sights and hidden gems in Venice. Art lovers will enjoy the university district of Dorsoduro. It is a vibrant place filled with indie shops, galleries, quaint eateries, and vintage boutiques.
Santa Croce is more laid-back and offers some off-the-beaten-track sights. This district is more residential, so you’ll find kids playing in the piazzas after school.
The Cannaregio district is the best place to stay and explore Venice on a budget, thanks to its large size and lower-priced hotels.
Coffee and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Start your day with a cup of coffee and pastry from historic Caffè Poggi, just a short walk from the church in the Dorsoduro. Then, make your way to the stunning sight that is Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.
Popularised by its magnetic dome and elaborate white facade, this church was built in 1631 to celebrate the end of the plague epidemic. The Santa Maria della Salute Church holds a special spot in Venice. It’s located right at the mouth of the Grand Canal, across Doge’s Palace and San Marco Square.
It’s the second most significant church in Venice after Saint Mark’s Basilica. You can explore this church for free, but parts of the tour may require tickets. As with many religious sites in Italy, your knees and shoulders should be covered before entering this basilica.
Marvel at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a modern art museum and a popular tourist attraction in Venice, thanks to its position along the stunning Grand Canal. The museum boasts an impressive collection of 20th-century masterpieces ranging in style from Surrealism to Cubism and Abstract Expressionism.
As the museum is where the heiress’ former residence is, you’ll also get to see a collection of Peggy Guggenheim’s personal belongings. You must have a ticket to tour the museum. Once you’re pleased with the art inside, step out to the stunning sculpture garden for a stroll.
Accademia Bridge and Campo Santa Margherita
While Rialto Bridge is where most tourists flock for photos and views of the Grand Canal, Accademia Bridge is the perfect alternative to avoid crowds. This wooden arch bridge is one of only four others that cross the Grand Canal.
The Accademia Bridge was built in 1854 during the Austrian occupation and was later rebuilt in 1923. It connects San Marco and the university district of Dorsoduro at the southern end of the Grand Canal. This bridge is a great palace for taking postcard-worthy photos, with the Santa Maria della Salute as the backdrop.
After taking photos at the Accademia Bridge, head to Campo Santa Margherita — a bustling square in the heart of Dorsoduro. During the day, the public square hosts farmer’s markets, cafes, restaurants, and a place where kids play football after school.
At night, the marketplace comes alive, with university students flowing into the bars around the square. Campo Santa Margherita is also where a typical Venice food tour would end after passing through Piazza San Marco and Rialto Market.
Visit the Jewish Ghetto
The Jewish Ghetto is one of the most historically significant places in Venice. Located in the Cannaregio district, near the Santa Lucia train station, this quarter is one of the oldest in Europe.
More than 500 years ago, Jewish people were forced into these small pockets in cities across Europe, forcing them to create their own economy and culture – and they did. When exploring the quarter, you’ll find plenty of preserved synagogues, cemeteries, and authentic restaurants.
The Jewish Museum is a treasure trove in the quarter. It boasts a handful of public displays of textiles, ancient books, manuscripts, and images of the cycle of Jewish life.
You can deepen your understanding of Jewish history in Venice on a guided walking tour. As you meander through the tiny streets, you’ll come across delis, artisan shops, and galleries.
Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art and Gelato
The Floating City has numerous museums, art galleries, and sculpture exhibitions. After exploring the Jewish Quarter, head to the Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art in Santa Croce.
The marble-faced baroque palace boasts stunning collections of contemporary artworks, sculptures, and paintings from artists like Medardo Rosso, Paul Klee, and Kandinsky. Close by, you’ll find other prominent Venice art centers like the Oriental Art Museum and the Mocenigo Palace-Museum.
From there, your Venice itinerary takes you to the fabulous Gelato di Natura for a much-needed sweet treat. Try their tasty tiramisu gelato layered with biscuits.
Dinner at Poste Vecie
End your second day of 3 days in Venice with a gastronomical adventure at this charming, fresco-lined former post office turned restaurant. Poste Vecie is the oldest restaurant in the city and is known for its classic Venetian cuisine, splendid atmosphere, and excellent service.
The Antica Trattoria Poste Vecie is actually one of Venice’s hidden gems. Dating back to the 16th century, this restaurant was known to be visited quite frequently by the infamous Giacomo Casanova.
You’ll have to walk over a narrow, wooden bridge connecting the pavement to the Poste Vecie’s door to enter the restaurant.
Expert Tips for Your Second Day in Venice
- Take Grand Canal selfies or group photos from the Accademia Bridge, as the Rialto Bridge is often flooded with tourists.
- The museum, synagogues, and cemetery in the Jewish Quarter are closed on Saturdays and during Jewish festivities.
Day Three – Explore Castello + Day Trip to Murano & Burano
The Castello district may not be as famous as the San Marco area, but it is the largest of the six neighborhoods in Venice and is the perfect place to start the last of your three days in Venice.
Castello borders San Marco Square on one side and the Venetian lagoon on the other. This excellent positioning makes Castello the go-to spot for catching ferries to any nearby island.
Breakfast & Libreria Acqua Alta
Start day three in Venice with an espresso and croissant from Zanzibar Espresso Bar, just three minutes from the Libreria Acqua Alta. This magical bookshop is a popular hidden gem in Venice — hidden because you’ll have to traverse through tiny streets to reach this treasure trove.
The Libreria Acqua Alta is cozy, with books stacked high to the ceiling and packed in bathtubs and gondolas. You’ll occasionally also spot the cute bookstore cats running around.
Admire Relics at Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
The Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni dates back to the mid-15th century. The small school was built as a confraternity due to the growing number of Dalmatian immigrants in Venice, who were primarily merchants and sailors.
Today the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni offers virtual and guided tours of the school and museum. You’ll find numerous historical relics, flags, maps, paintings, and altarpieces at this spot.
Explore the Venetian Arsenal
The Venetian Arsenale is a striking complex of former armories and Byzantine shipyards clumped together. This represented Venice’s military, political, and economic power.
The massive structure was logistically and strategically placed to be protected from enemy attacks and to ensure that it was quickly supplied with wood from the forests of Cadore.
While today, the Venetian Arsenal is used for cultural events, exhibitions, and trade fairs, it’s also a popular attraction for tourists, thanks to its masterful architecture.
Visit the Venice Islands of Murano & Burano
The small island of Murano is about 10 minutes away from Venice via Vaporetto. This tiny island is one of the most picturesque in the Venetian Lagoon, boasting colorful houses along the canals and epic collections of Murano glass.
There are plenty of exciting things to see and do in Murano. You can go watch a traditional glass-blowing demonstration and admire the Basilica dei Santa Maria e Donato. While you’re at it, why not also visit the Murano glass museums on the island?
A little further away (about 50 minutes by Vaporetto) from Murano, you’ll arrive on the island of Burano. This island is smaller than Murano and is famous for its colorful houses, fishermen’s boats, and a fascinating lace museum.
One thing that differentiates Murano and Burano is the latter’s aptitude and tradition of needle-lace making. Visiting a lace museum in Burano is the best way to learn about the island’s history and how Burano lace was used to relieve the fishing industry.
Expert Tips for Your Final Day in Venice
- You’re welcome to visit the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni every day except Tuesday from 10 am until 5 pm. Reservations are to be made via email only.
- The Arsenale di Venezia is usually open to the public from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 3 pm. It will cost you about €5 to enter.
Arriving in Venice
If you’re visiting Venice from outside of Italy or Europe, chances are you’ll land at the Marco Polo Airport. It’s located about five miles from the city center.
Private Water Taxi
From Marco Polo airport, if your budget allows, the best way to arrive in Venice is undoubtedly by private water taxi. These classic wooden boats zoom along the canals past the other water vehicles and can even drop you at your hotel if it has a private dock like the boutique luxury Hotel Ai Reali. It is the fastest way to get to and from the airport, there is no waiting or long walks with your luggage.
It is the most expensive option, but there is no better or more romantic way to arrive in Venice if you wanted to treat yourself and in winter, the boats are even heated so you stay cozy.
You can pick the taxis up at the airport dock, La Darsena which is about a 10 minute walk from the arrivals hall. Priority is given to pre-booked taxis. If your hotel does not have a private dock or is in a small canal that the taxi cannot reach, you may need to walk a short distance but you can usually pay extra for porterage to the door.
Prices range from €180 – 250 depending on the number of people and luggage. Taxis operate between 7.30 am and 9.30 pm and the journey takes 30 – 40 minutes – click here to book online. Do check how much luggage is included in your transfer – it is usually one large piece plus carry on. Surcharges apply for late arrivals.
Once in the city, traveling in Venice becomes limited to walking and catching a private water taxi or Vaporetto (water bus).
Shared Water Taxi
Water taxis are also available as a shared service and this is a more budget-friendly option. After exiting baggage claim, look for the water taxi desk where you can present your prebooked voucher or buy your ticket. Priority is given to pre-booked transfers but you may need to wait up to 40 minutes for other passengers to arrive.
Prices start at around €35. Taxis run between 7 am and 8.55 pm and the journey time is between 50 – 100 minutes.
Express Bus or Taxi to Piazzale Roma
Piazzale Roma is the main transit point within Venice. From Marco Polo, you can use the airport bus transfer to get to Piazzale Roma in central Venice. Buses depart every 20 minutes from just outside the main arrivals hall. They leave on the hour, at 20 minutes past and 40 minutes past. Buses don’t run during the night between 00.50 am and 05:20 am. The journey time is 50 – 100 minutes and costs around €10 per person (plus the cost of a Vaporetto ticket if needed).
Catching a taxi from the airport to Piazzale Roma is a convenient option, takes only 20 – 30 minutes, and costs around €25 (plus the cost of a Vaporetto ticket if needed). You can catch one outside the arrivals hall or click here to book online.
From Piazzale Roma, you can then either walk to your accommodation or take the Vaporetto water bus. Your hotel or host can tell you the closest Vaporetto stop and which route to take. It will then usually be no more than a 5-10 minute walk.
Water to Bus to Central Venice
While the water bus may sound like a good idea, the reality is that the journey takes a long time, you still have the hassle of hauling your luggage and it also works out a relatively expensive option.
The water bus transfers are run by Alilaguna. From the arrivals hall it is around a 10 minute walk to the pier – follow the signs marked Vaporetto/water bus/public transportation. You can buy tickets from the desk outside the arrivals hall, at the Alilaguna ticket office on the pier itself, or online on the Alilaguna site. The bus operates between 07.45 am and 11.45 pm and takes 75 – 100 minutes. A one-way ticket is around €15.
Where To Stay for Three Days in Venice
If you’re wondering about where to stay in Venice, we’ve compiled a list of the best hotels in Venice to suit every budget:
Budget: Nani Mocenigo Palace
From the intricately frescoed ceilings and elaborate wallpaper to the mesmerizing decor and carpeting, this 4-star hotel shows you Venice at its finest.
Mid-range: Santa Croce Boutique Hotel
The Santa Croce Boutique Hotel boasts a regal interior featuring oak furniture blended with red and blue touches. You’ll also love the marble bathroom and stunning chandeliers.
Luxury: The Gritti Palace
Get a glimpse of how the wealthy used to live in Venice at the striking top-rated Gritti Palace. You’ll love savoring your meals at the hotel’s waterfront terrace overlooking the Grand Canal.
Group Accommodation: The Palace By The Canal
If you’re traveling with your family or friends and need a bit more space than what a conventional hotel offers, consider booking The Palace By The Canal in Cannaregio. This elegant home features minimalist decor and plenty of seating areas for socializing.
3 Days in Venice Tours We Recommend
Explore Venice with these fantastic day trips, food, and guided walking tours.
- Semi-Private Venice Walking Tour with St Mark’s
- Murano Glassblowing & Burano Lacemaking Tour by Boat
- Legendary Venice St. Mark’s Basilica with Terrace Access & Doge’s Palace
- Venice Evening Tour – Inside St Mark’s & Doge’s Palace Tour
- Private ghost tour with gondola ride
Wrapping Up 3 Days in Venice Itinerary
There you have it! The ultimate 3 days in Venice itinerary, with travel tips, where to eat, and the main tourist attractions.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Venice and the Venetian Lagoon are home to a trove of historical, architectural, and religious treasures that you won’t regret exploring.
Now that your Venice itinerary is sorted, have a look at our guide on how to pack for Italy.