Discovering Venice in a day

Visiting a city like Venice in one day is an impossible task; such a city would require a lifetime to deliver all its secrets. The itinerary that we propose can be realized during a first discovery day to combine the inevitable of Venice such as st mark basilica and the doge palace, visiting a more secret and authentic Venice. Guided tour of Venice or Self-guided tour? We advise you to combine one and the other! This itinerary in autonomy which leaves somewhat of the classic, will allow you to lose you in its small streets and to discover some of the least traveled districts, in the respect of the city and its inhabitants. Obviously one day in Venice is not enough.

We advise you to consult our article how many days in Venice? You will find our tips and itineraries according to the number of days you have decided to dedicate to your stay in Venice. Without a doubt during a second day, you can not miss the visit of the islands of the lagoon: islands of torcello, island of burano, island of murano. None of them will disappoint you!

Venice walking tour in a day from Santa Lucia train station

Our starting point for our itinerary is Santa Lucia Station, which is very convenient if you are staying in mainland, mestre or elsewhere. If you stay in the heart of the historic center, you can easily adapt your itinerary!
To begin, we remind you that it is wise to bring you comfortable shoes, water, a map of the city and be accompanied by a good desire to walk. Without this, you can easily adapt your tour by using the vaporetto!
In any case, you will be forced to walk

Forget about using your smartphone to orient yourself! You can still try, but the buildings might prevent it from working efficiently. Our advice is to use a map, an outdated, yet valuable tool here, and save the battery life to take breathtaking pictures. In this particular Venice Map (fuori rotta), the City Council promotes  a sustanaible tourism in Venice. Thanks to DeTourism initiatives, you will find small artisan shop and see where to refill your bottle with water at the many fountains located throughout the city.

Enough with recommendations… Let’s go!

Venice itinerary through Santa Croce, Dorsoduro and San Polo

With the Santa Lucia train station behind you, you’ll be facing the Grand Canal and the San Simeon Piccolo church. On your left, you’ll see the first bridge crossing the Grand Canal: Ponte degli Scalzi. Your first choice is the following: pass the bridge and take Strada Nova, which will get you almost directly to the Rialto bridge, or cross Ponte degli Scalzi to venture onto the narrow streets with the help of your map and sense of direction.


Vencie Grand Canal Church Bridge

Dome of San Simeon Piccolo and Scalzi Bridge, photo credit Welt So Stille

The first option is for mass tourism: in fact, Strada Nova was built to direct the daily flow of people towards Piazza San Marco. So we recommend choosing the second option, which is more characteristic, and head for Rialto through the narrow streets. There will be plenty of indications; just look up to see the signs bearing directions, and use your map when necessary.

Head towards Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio, where a scene from the past awaits you: this is one of the most popular and lively squares of the city… Kids playing ball and skipping rope, the elderly sitting on a bench in the shade of a tree, small artisan shops (carneval masks artisans). From there, follow the directions for Rialto and San Marco. Then, when you’ll be near the bridge, you might hear the typical sounds and shouts coming from the nearby fish, fruit and vegetable market, the Rialto market, the oldest and most traditional market in Venice.

The Rialto market

The Rialto market is located near the bridge of the same name, in the heart of the old town center. It goes from Campo de la Pescaria to Campo San Giacometo. Crowded from early morning, filled with merchants’ shouts and voices of onlookers, tourists and residents, the market is a landmark for local wine and food: in fact, here you will find any ingredient needed to cook typical Venetian recipes. Don’t forget that Marco Polo that develop commerce between Asia and Europe was Venitian!

The market is only open in the morning: the fish market is open from Tuesday to Saturday, and the fruit and vegetable one, from Monday to Saturday.

From Rialto to San Marco

Have a look at the stalls, and then head towards San Marco. However, you must stop first at a bookshop, a real paradise for readers, called Libreria Acqua Alta, which is only a few minutes from the Rialto bridge. Here, you will find a bit of everything, lots of book, vinyl records and cats… yes, I said cats! The name of the bookshop means exactly what you think: at high tide, the bookshop is flooded.

High Tide Library

Libreria Acqua Alta, photocredit My Fantasy Ebook

A look (and a picture) at the “backyard”, with its book staircase, is a must. If you feel hungry, stop in a bacàro or wine shop in the area to try a few Venetian cichetti with a Spritz or glass of wine.

Venice in a day: must see St. Mark’s Square

Here you are in maybe the most evocative place in Venice. Have a look around you to fully admire its greatness, which clashes with the narrow and crowded streets. This is the only place in Venice called “Piazza” (Square); in fact, all the other small squares are called “campo”, “campiello”, etc.

Rialto San Marco Venice Grand Canal

St. Mark’s Square, photo credit Gian Battista Piras

The Square can be divided in three parts:

  • Piazza San Marco, which is the area stretching from the Basilica to the Museo Correr;
  • Piazzetta San Marco stretches from the Doge’s Palace to the waterfront, which in this case is called “molo” (dock);
  • Piazzetta dei Leoncini is located to the left of the Basilica; it took its name after the two lion statues lining its steps.

Take the time to admire the Doge’s Palace, which was the Serenissima’s seat of power. Among the Piazza’s architectural elements, expert eyes will surely notice the influences of various styles and cultures the flourishing city of Venice came in contact with.

Can you find the Clock Tower? It is also known as “Torre dei Mori” (Tower of the Moors). Its Renaissance style makes it quite a jewel. On the rooftop (accessible upon reservation only), two “Moors” mark the time and ring the bell. From there, not only you will be able to have a closer look at the statues, but you will enjoy a splendid view of both the Square and lagoon.

Walk to the waterfront. From there, you will have a better view of San Giorgio Maggiore Island, with the church of the same name. The Giorgio Cini Foundation has its offices on the island. Their objective is to redevelop the area to make it a point of convergence for cultural activities.

St. Mark Square Venice Canal Grand Giorgio Cini

San Giorgio Maggiore, photo credit Regione Veneto

Now, going to your left, you will see the Bridge of Sighs, built in baroque style: it takes its name from the fact that it connects the Doge’s Palace to the prisons. The tale says that, here, prisoners exhaled their last breath of freedom after being condemned.

Walking along the waterfront, you will reach Castello, one of the most populated neighbourhoods, where you will find the only “via” of the city: via Giuseppe Garibaldi. Admire the arsenal, seat of Venice’s military power, and the gardens. Enjoy the breathtaking sunset while sitting on the grass, and now, it’s time to go back.

Venice Arsenal Gardens Nature Sun

Sunset on St. Mark’s Square, photo credit Gian Battista Piras

How to end your day in Venice?

To return to the train station, the suggestion is to take the line 1 of the vaporetto, from the Giardini stop. You will have the opportunity to enjoy a little more Venice while sailing on the Grand Canal. You can rest or examine the photos of the day. The journey is long enough; it takes almost an hour but it’s worth it! If you are in a hurry and can afford, do not hesitate to offer a taxi boat ride to reach your destination!

Tired? According to a quick calculation, you can easily have traveled more than fifteen kilometers. Not bad is not it? A great way to keep fit and spend the calories of the day if the lunch break was rich!

It is very likely that you get lost during your day.
Getting lost in Venice is fascinating. Agree to lose control! Your walk has allowed you to discover one of the many facets of Venice. Remember that Venice was built and thought for who sails on the water. Do not miss to organize another day to discover the canals of Venice, whether with a gondola ride, kayak, boat tour. And do not hesitate to test yourself by trying to sail like a gondolier. It’s an experience you can not do anywhere else!

We have concocted for you a venice tour pass that will allow you to make the most of our advice. With a meal at a typical hostel, you can be sure of eating in a typical place frequented by local people (whom we frequent ourselves!) And not having any surprises and surcharges on the final bill. In addition is included a vaporetto pass and an activity of your choice! Consult also our skip the line tickets to museums: basilica di san marco and doge palace!
Venice is not only to be seen … you have to live it!