Our complete guide to Venice, Italy is live on the blog and you can read it here! Since we piled so much information about transportation, lodging, eating, and sightseeing into it, we’ve put together the ultimate itinerary for Venice in just 3 days. These are our must-see, must-do, and must-eats in Venice when you have a limited amount of time. Use the itinerary below for the perfect 3 days of exploring Venice!
Morning – Arrive in Venice and Explore your Neighborhood
We arrived in Venice straight from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Needless to say, we were exhausted but we pushed on in order to beat jet lag and make the most of our first day in Venice. By the way — our number one tip for traveling internationally is to not nap when you arrive and instead stay up until a reasonable bedtime! From the airport, we boarded the ATVO bus into Venice. It’s really inexpensive (8 Euros), only takes about 20 minutes, and it lets you out right where you can catch a water bus. We hopped on the public water bus (after buying tickets first, which were about 7 Euros one-way) and waited about 10 stops before getting off and checking into the Gritti Palace. For a more extensive look at transportation from the Venice airport into the heart of Venice, we recommend this blog post from Rome Toolkit. If you’re wanting to learn more about general transportation and lodging for your stay in Venice, be sure to check out out our full guide to Venice, Italy here.
Since you’ll likely be traveling into Venice via plane or train, you may not arrive until closer to lunchtime. If you have time before lunch, we always recommend exploring your neighborhood by foot. We like to make little mental notes on cute coffee shops and cafes we can grab breakfasts or snacks at and quaint bars for pre-dinner or post-dinner drinks. We like to see all that our neighborhood has to offer so we can take full advantage of the location during our stay.
Lunch – Grab lunch at Tuttipieddi
This little lunch spot is delicious and easy to find! It’s a two man show with a tiny kitchen that produces delicious food! We found it through TripAdvisor and it was marked as “standing room only.” This is true, but there are cute little window seats you can sit in or stand around in order to people watch while eating your homemade Italian pasta. It’s just the right amount of food to fuel an afternoon of exploration but not too much to weigh you down during all the walking you’re about to do.
Afternoon – Explore Piazza San Marco & grab a drink at Caffe Florian
We started with Piazza San Marco (also called St. Mark’s Square in English), which is the most well known Piazza in Venice. At the forefront of the square is St. Mark’s Basilica. Nearby you’ll see the Campanile of St. Mark’s and Doge’s Palace, all of which we recommend (and built into this itinerary!) visiting during your stay. We spent some time going into and out of shops in and around the Square. If you’re feeling extra extravagant, grab a drink or espresso at Caffe Florian. Caffe Florian opened in 1720 and is the oldest coffee shop in continuous operation in Italy, and it’s the second oldest in the world. The prices reflect the popularity, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for sure.
Evening – Grab a glass of Italian wine at Chat qui Rit
We stumbled across the cutest wine bar and restaurant, Chat qui Rit. We only had wine, but we did notice that at all places in Italy serve some small bites even when you just order wine. Some of the foods we were given were potato chips, olives, and nuts. What a nice surprise! We thoroughly enjoyed our wine and time at Chat qui Rit, and we wish we would have gone back for dinner! We did notice, however, that it’s closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Night – Eat dinner at Rossopomodoro
Rossopomodoro is a small (but authentic, don’t worry!) chain. It’s known for pizzas and pastas of course, but I highly recommend the calzone. It was one of the few places we had leftovers from, so that says a lot about the portions! It’s absolutely delicious, and they even have a bakery/grab and go shop next door that we went back to later in the trip. You can book a reservation through The Fork via the link here. We didn’t have to wait long at all without them though!
Morning – Basilica & Campanile San Marco
Since Kevin is an Ambassador Elite member of Mariott Bonvoy, we get a little somethin’ somethin’ at check-in. We always choose breakfast (hint: breakfast is by far the best bang for your buck with Bonvoy check-in benefits). Needless to say, we grabbed breakfast at our hotel (The Gritti Palace) to fuel up for a busy day of exploring Venice.
Our first stop was Basilica San Marco. We always try to hit the busiest spots first thing in the morning to avoid long lines and huge crowds. We ended up booking online through Veneto Inside (link here) and paying for an express ticket. This costed us 3 Euros and saved us roughly 45 minutes! We had to check Kevin’s backpack across the way, which wasn’t a big issue other than it wasn’t marked anywhere. Just make note if you have a large bag and plan to get there a few minutes early to ask a staff member to point you to the right place. The express entrance was nice, but it was crowded with tour groups. Overall, the entire Basilica was packed to the point that we could barely move inside. To top it off, any areas other than the main aisle were blocked off and had entry fees. We were really turned off by the entire experience (the crowds, the entry fees, etc.). Long story long, we don’t say this is a must-visit, but it’s nice if you have the time (and patience!).
After, we headed next door to the Campanile San Marco. We also purchased a ticket for this online, also through Veneto Inside (link here), and paid 13 Euro each to skip the line. If you’re planning to go up in the Campanile, we highly recommend the express ticket. From our experience, we had no line at all and enjoyed not wasting our valuable time waiting hours to go up. The Campanile has an elevator (no option to take stairs), and it takes you directly to the top. It’s pretty small, but it wasn’t overcrowded. Don’t plan on taking any amazing pictures, as the entire thing has a grated fence. But, it’s nice to see the city from a different point of view for sure. We’d recommend it!
Lunch – Grab take away food from Rossopomodoro
For lunch, we headed back to Rossopomodoro and grabbed a panini and a hot dog from the take away cafe next door. We loved the lunch almost as much as our dinner from there the night before. It’s an easy and yummy spot! We grabbed a table outside to rest our feet and to people watch while eating.
Afternoon – Sip and Shop around San Marco
During the afternoon, we enjoyed exploring and spending time around San Marco. We found a cute cafe to grab a cappuccino, but in the process we learned that sometimes cafes don’t like people taking a seat for just coffee if it’s around a mealtime (think 11 AM – 3 PM). We always would ask before taking a seat to avoid any confusion, and we were always ready for them to try to up-sell us after we sat down (even though we’d already agreed we’d only have coffee). We tended to enjoy our coffees at the bar or standing area of the cafe. It made us feel like locals but didn’t give our feet/legs the rest they wanted!
After grabbing coffee, we headed to do some shopping in the area. We popped into clothing stores and also small souvenir shops. As far as souvenir shops, we didn’t really get much this trip but we enjoyed looking around and the shop owners are always willing to negotiate, so bring your A game. I wish I’d bought some Murano glass items, but maybe next time!
We headed back to our hotel to freshen up for the night. We were so thankful for the location and its proximity to everything we wanted to see and everywhere we wanted to eat!
Evening – Take in the Rialto and Grab a Pre-Dinner Drink
We set off from our hotel to explore the area around the Rialto. We ended up finding some great spots for photos and for taking in the view. We did more window shopping and Kevin even tried on some clothes at a few of the stores. It ended up being much colder than we had expected, so he was looking for some jeans. He didn’t have much luck and said European jeans are just made differently! Our last shopping stop was T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, a high end plaza with lots of fun stores. Although Kevin didn’t get a pair of Gucci loafers, and I didn’t get a Tiffany necklace, we (window) shopped until we dropped.
This time would be the perfect time to take a gondola ride near the Rialto bridge at sunset. Although the prices do increase after 7:00 PM (from 80 Euro to 120 Euro for a 30 minute ride), there are lots of entry spots right near the Rialto. Kevin and I experienced lots of unpredictable rain during our stay, so we opted not to spend the money on a ride. However, when I previously visited Venice I started my gondola ride right near the Rialto and highly recommend it! The gondola rides are regulated by the government so they’re non-negotiable and pretty standard no matter where you hop in. If you’re interested in learning more in-depth about gondola rides, we recommend this article by Venezia Autentica.
After all of the shopping and exploring we did, we decided to grab a drink and relax before grabbing dinner. We found the cutest area near the Mercato Rialto. The specific restaurant we went to was Naranzaria. We had a couple others on our list but they were closed since it was Sunday, so be sure to double check any of your locations for hours before heading all the way to them! We absolutely loved Naranzaria — the drink prices were unbeatable and the service was impeccable. Highly recommend! If you need a second stop, check out Al Merca — we loved it too.
Night – Dinner on the Grand Canal
We opted to have dinner on the Grand Canal despite the restaurants being a bit overpriced. It was one of our few evenings in Venice that it wasn’t raining, so we wanted to take full advantage of the time and sit outdoors with a nice view. We don’t necessarily recommend the restaurant we ate at, so we’d recommend walking along the Canal and checking out menus. Take note of the places that seem to be more popular than the others and go for it!
Our night wouldn’t have been complete without gelato, so we stopped by a shop along the Grand Canal as well. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too hard to find a shop that wasn’t overly expensive, and it was some of the best we had the whole trip. Overall, we’d recommend a night on the Canal!
Morning – Visit Murano and Burano Islands
Since we were in Venice for 3 full days, we decided to book a day trip to the islands of Murano and Burano through Trip Advisor (link to our exact tour here). It turned out to be such an amazing trip, and we’re so glad we booked it. Venice really doesn’t need more than 1.5 or 2 days, so if you’re planning a longer stop over (or even if you aren’t!) we highly recommend this trip.
Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and kind, and our boat ride went seamlessly. The first stop on the trip was Murano, which is known for its glass. We got to visit a local glass blowing facility and see the artwork being made. Then, we got to shop around their massive store and get some souvenirs. We then left on a small walking tour of the city and visited an extremely old church, Cathedral of Saints Maria e Donato. The tour guide explained a lot about the church and the city and it was a neat tour.
After, we left by boat for the next island, Burano. Burano is known for its lace making. We stopped at a local shop to see the lace being made, but I have to admit that Kevin and I dipped out to grab food instead. We knew we wanted time to eat and time to snap some photos, so we had to skip the lace tutorial. Luckily, that isn’t always the case for tour attendees, but we had a couple on our tour that took a bit too long in the Murano glass shop so it cut down our time later on in the journey.
Lunch – Grab lunch on one of the Islands
We ate a delicious seafood meal at Trattoria Da Primo on Burano. It was recommended by our tour guide, and it definitely did not disappoint. We ordered the fried calamari appetizer and then pastas as our main dishes. Afterwards, we explored a bit of the island. Be sure to stop by the most well-known (and most colorful house) on Burano island, Casa Bepi, which is located at 339 San Martino Destra). When doing some digging on the house, I found that you can actually stay there (link to book here). Don’t forget to grab some locally made sweets at Palmisano Carmelina Pastry Bakery on your way out.
We then boarded the boat back to Venice for the afternoon. We really enjoyed our day trip and thought it was ample time to see the other two cities. We gained lots of knowledge about Venice and the areas surrounding it, and we even got a glass of Prosecco on the way back! If you book, be sure to let them know Time Off Travelers sent you.
Afternoon – Doge’s Palace
Once we were back on land, we used our Venice Museum Pass that we purchased through Veneto Inside for 36 Euro each (link here) to visit Doge’s Palace. This place is so underrated, and we were so happy we went! It was the perfect escape from the crowds, and it was so cool to see this site. The lines were super long, so having this museum pass in advance allowed us to skip them and have a nice escape from the crowds!
You must have some type of museum pass to enter Doge’s Palace, as single-entry tickets do not exist. The Venice Museum Pass allowed us to get into Doge’s Palace and up to 11 other museums. Another pass that lets you skip the line is the St. Mark’s Square Museum Pass for 26 Euro, which you can read about here. This gives you access to which also includes entry to the Correr Museum, the Venice National Archaeological Museum and the Monumental Rooms of the National Library of St Mark’s. You’re required to have either the Venice Museum Pass or the St. Mark’s Square Museum Pass to enter, and we highly recommend purchasing in advance online rather than waiting in hours of lines.
After, we went to Ca’Rezzonico, a museum that specializes in 18th century Venice. We really went to make our Venice Museum Pass worth the 36 Euro, but if we could do it all again we’d probably choose a different museum like the Natural History Museum. We also probably would have chosen the St. Mark’s Square Museum Pass rather than the all-encompassing Venice Museum Pass for 10 Euro more since we didn’t really utilize the pass as much as we’d hoped to! We’d say it depends on how much time you have and how much you enjoy museums.
Evening – Bites and Drinks at Vini al Bottegon
After our excursion and museum visits, we had really worked up an appetite (and desire for some Italian wine!). We set off to find a cute wine shop that Kevin found online before the trip, Vini al Bottegon. With over 1,500 TripAdvisor reviews and 4.5 stars, we were pumped and it definitely did not disappoint! We had a few light bites too, as they sell delicious bite-sized appetizers. Afterwards, we headed back to our beloved Nanzaria and then nearby restaurant Al Merca for some pre-dinner drinks.
Night – Dinner at Osteria al Portego
For our last night, we splurged a bit on dinner (although it wasn’t too fancy!) at Osteria al Portego. The menu is in Italian only, but the servers are quick to help and offer suggestions. We recommend calling and making a reservation in advance if you’re grabbing dinner. It’s also a fun spot for drinks and light bites if that’s what you’re looking for.
We found a nearby gelato shop and grabbed our last couple of Venetian scoops before heading for Florence the next day. Don’t worry, we had quite a few scoops there too!
We had a wonderful time seeing all of the sites in Venice and eating delicious food. We hope this itinerary is helpful on your next trip! Next up on the blog: Florence and then Rome! Stay tuned!
As we mentioned above, our Complete Guide to Venice is live on the blog features lots of information about where to stay, where to eat/drink, and what to do on visiting Venice. Don’t miss out on our Instagram stories and posts for even more information and tips for visiting Venice and Italy in general. We’d love to hear about your trip and hope our tips are helpful!