A day in Venice: the highlights

A day in Venice: 14 highlights

Can you see everything on a day in Venice? No, but you can certainly see many amazing highlights! In this article, I’ll share 14 amazing sights.

Why do you need to go to Venice?

Venice is a unique travel destination and for sure one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. It has a beautiful historic city center full of interesting buildings. Discovering Venice by car is not an option, thanks to all the canals. All transport is therefore by boat. As a tourist, you can get lost in the narrow streets of Venice and regularly cross the canals via a beautiful bridge.

I have to be honest, Venice can be a bit crowded since there are tourists everywhere. But it is bigger than you might expect, so there are plenty of places where without tourists and you get to see the ‘normal life’ in Venice. In this article, I’ll share all the highlights in Venice that I saw during a day trip in September.

A day in Venice: the highlights

In this list of highlights, you will find both famous (but oh so beautiful) highlights and a couple of nice hidden places.

The Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge - Venice
The Rialto Bridge.

There are only a few places in Venice where you can cross the Grand Canal, and the Rialto Bridge is probably the most popular bridge. The bridge is an impressive sight: bright white with arches and shops in the middle. From both sides, you have a beautiful view of the Grand Canal.

St. Mark’s Square

St. Mark's Square - Venice
The famous St. Mark’s Square.

Another highlight in Venice is St. Mark’s Square. This is one of the lowest places in Venice and is therefore regularly flooded. There are shops and terraces (with the most expensive coffee in Venice) and on the east side of the square, you can admire the beautiful Basilica of San Marco.

Tip: climb to the top of the Campanile of Venice on the square, from here you have a great view of the city!

Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)

Palazzo Ducale
The special architecture of Palazzo Ducale.

Palazzo Ducale is located next to the Basilica of San Marco. It is built in Gothic style and is really beautiful to see. Check out all those arches! You can visit the palace, but just walking around it is also recommended. It looks so beautiful from every angle. There are so many details to discover.

Walking on the Riva degli Schiavoni

Riva degli Schiavoni
This is your view during a walk on the Riva Degli Schiavoni.

The Riva Degli Schiavoni is a wide boulevard that runs along the water from St. Mark’s Square. You can get on a gondola here, relax on one of the benches, have a drink on a terrace and watch people and boats.

Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs)

Ponte dei Sospiri
The Ponte dei Sospiri.

If you walk on the Ponte della Paglia next to Palazzo Ducale, you will see the Ponte dei Sospiri across the water on the north side. This is also called the Bridge of Sighs. This used to be the connecting bridge between the Doge’s Palace and the prison, and crossing this bridge was the last time the prisoners could see daylight.

Arsenale di Venezia (Arsenal of Venice)

Arsenale di Venezia
Arsenale di Venezia.

One of the places where I hardly saw any other tourists was the Venice Arsenal. This is a complex of shipyards and government weapons and ammunition depots. You can’t visit it as a tourist, but the gate alone is great to see!

Libreria Acqua Alta

Libreria Acqua Alta - Venive
Libreria Acqua Alta.

Do you like to read and do you like to wander through special bookstores? Then Libreria Acqua Alta is really a must see. The books are stacked in gondolas and they’ve created some Instagram-worthy corners.

Canal Grande

Canal Grande - Venice
Canal Grande.

The Grand Canal is the largest canal in Venice and a feast for the eyes. Along either side of the canal, you can see several palaces and there are many gondolas and other boats in the canal. You have a particularly good view of the Grand Canal from one of the four bridges, for example, the Rialto Bridge and the Ponte dell’Accademia.

Get lost in the narrow streets

Get lost in Venice.
Get lost in Venice.

Although there are many tourists in Venice, there are still plenty of quiet places to discover in the city. There are many narrow streets where you can get lost endlessly. You regularly cross a bridge and from which you have a great view of the canals and the houses on both sides. As my brother says: when everyone goes left, you go right. And so you discover many beautiful places in Venice!

Sotoportego de la corte nova

Sotoportego de la corte nova - Venice
Sotoportego de la corte nova.

One of those beautiful places that I discovered during my stroll through the narrow streets of Venice is Sotoportego de la corte nova. This is a gate (or a very small square) that is actually a kind of mini-museum!

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute - Venice
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.

The Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute with the dome is the most striking church in Venice. You can see it well from the Riva degli Schiavoni and the Ponte dell’Accademia. It is also worth taking a look inside, there are even paintings by Tintoretto and Titian.

Discover the squares

San Giacomo di Rialto - Venice
San Giacomo di Rialto.

In addition to many canals, there are also many beautiful (hidden) squares to discover in Venice. For example
Campo Santo Stefano and San Giacomo di Rialto. They are often wonderful places to take a break with Italian ice cream.

Squero di San Trovaso

Squero di San Trovaso - Venice
Squero di San Trovaso.

Do you want to see how the Venetian gondolas are made? Then take a look at Squero di San Trovaso. Across from this place, you can sit on the wall and watch the work on the gondolas.

The view from Ponte dell’Accademia

The View from Ponte dell Accademia - Venice
The view from Ponte dell Accademia

The view from Ponte dell’Accademia is perhaps one of the most photographed places in Venice and that’s not surprising, because it is beautiful! On the left, you can see the facades of Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti and Palazzi Barbaro, Venice and on the right, you see the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Wow!

What to do if you have more time?

Of course, the more time you have in Venice is better! What to do if you have more than a day in Venice? You might like to visit other parts of the city. For example, visiting the colorful island of Burano is highly recommended, it’s a gorgeous neighborhood!

In addition, you might like to go on several day trips to other great cities close to Venice, like Padua or Verona.

How do you get to Venice?

Venice is very easily accessible by train from all over Italy and is a great stop when you plan to visit Northern Italy by train. When you get off the Venezia Santa Lucia station, you are immediately at the Grand Canal. Train tickets can be bought online via Omio or at the train stations.

You can also go to Venice by car via the Ponte della Libertà. You can park at Tronchetto and there are also several parking garages near Piazzale Roma.

Would you like to fly to Venice? There are flights from all over the world to Marco Polo International Airport. Check Skyscanner for the best prices. There is a direct bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma.

Transportation in Venice

Driving around Venice by car is not possible. But if you don’t feel like walking a lot, you can always go with the Vaporetto. This is a boat that stops in many places in the city (comparable to a bus). A single ticket costs € 7.50 and can be purchased at one of the ticket machines at the stops or via an app. If you plan to use the Vaporetto more often, you can also buy a day ticket or a multi-day ticket.

Where to stay?

In Venice, you have a number of beautiful luxury hotels such as the Baglioni Hotel Luna and the Bauer Palazzo, but this also comes with a hefty price tag. There are also excellent hotels and apartments for less than € 100 per night. Check Booking.com for all options and prices.

Would you like to read more about Venice and Italy?

Then get one of these amazing travel guides:

DK Eyewitness Venice & the Veneto

Lonely Planet Venice & the Veneto

Or check out one of these articles:

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As a girl from a small town in the Netherlands, I always dreamed of traveling. I thought it would always be a dream, but nowadays, I travel 6 to 8 months a year and I hike thousands of miles on the most beautiful hiking trails. On this website you can read all about my favorite destinations.

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