Venice in 2 Days: everything you need to know

In 48 hours you can discover Venice without any problems. I leave you this itinerary with the essential places to see in a two-day getaway to the city of canals.

Carlos Bleda

Carlos Bleda

8 min read

Venice in 2 Days: everything you need to know

View of a Gondola in Venice | ©Kazuo ota

If you have a weekend or a couple of days to get away to Venice, it is advisable to know in advance what to see and do in the city of canals. Although there are many monuments and places of interest, in two days we have time to know the essential of Venice and its surroundings.

We have a full day to know the heart of the city, St. Mark's Square and all the sights around it, and a second day to culminate our visit with a gondola ride and an unforgettable sunset.

1. Day St. Mark's Square and surroundings

St. Mark's Square at night| ©Sean X Liu
St. Mark's Square at night| ©Sean X Liu

On our first day in Venice we will focus on visiting its main monuments. Luckily, most of them are located in or around the famous St. Mark's Square.

I will also tell you some tricks to save you time (and some queues) and to optimize the visit in this itinerary through St. Mark's Square and its surroundings.

Arriving in St. Mark's Square through the Grand Canal

About 90% of the time, tourists arrive in Venice via the Santa Lucia train station. This is where our day begins. From the station we will take a Vaporetto that will take us along the Grand Canal to St. Mark's Square or to our accommodation before we start our tour.

The Grand Canal is the artery of the city and walking along it at least once is a must if you visit Venice. In addition, you can also book a walk along the Grand Canal once you settle in Venice to enjoy the tour even more.

Book a walk along the Grand Canal

Panoramic view of St. Mark's Square

Going down at St. Mark's quay, we arrive at the square with the same name. St. Mark's is the heart of Venice and the main buildings of the city were built around it.

Take your time to discover St. Mark's Square, which Napoleon himself defined as one of the most beautiful in Europe.

The Campanile of Venice

It is an impressive tower that rises 98 meters above the ground of the square and we can climb to admire the best views of Venice.

It is the first thing I recommend you do if you arrive early as there are usually large queues as the day begins.

The entrance costs 10 euros and you can go up on foot or in an elevator.

St. Mark's Basilica

Aerial image of Venice centered on St. Mark's Basilica.| ©Canmandawe
Aerial image of Venice centered on St. Mark's Basilica.| ©Canmandawe

After going up to the Campanile it's time to go down to visit St. Mark's Basilica. This Byzantine temple was built to house the relics of the saint and attracts all who visit for its imposing beauty. Its shapes and its golden and bluish colors stand out on the outside and the same happens inside.

The entrance to the Basilica of St. Mark is free but you can pay extra to visit the treasury, the golden shovel and the museum. The latter includes the possibility to see the square from your balcony next to the famous St. Mark's horses.

My recommendation is that it is worth booking the paid entrance to St. Mark's Basilica, not only for all it has to offer, but also to save you the queues to get in and have your guided tour.

Book a tour of St. Mark's Square with visit to the Basilica

Stop for lunch and a coffee in an emblematic place.

It may already be lunchtime after visiting the basilica. The restaurants in the square are prohibitively expensive for most, but around St. Mark's Basilica there are many good value for money options.

I recommend the Rossopomodoro Venezia restaurant with a good value menu where you can try traditional Italian pasta. For a coffee after lunch, go to El Caffè Florian, the most important coffee shop in Venice that has been visited by emblematic figures.

Of course, you also have the option of booking a gastronomic tour of Venice if you feel like getting to know the gastronomy of the area in depth accompanied by a guide.

Book a gastronomic tour of Venice

Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs

We have regained our strength and now it's time to get to know another icon of Venice. The Doge's Palace is a symbol of the power of the city of Venice. It was the residence of the Doges and served not only as a palace, but also as a seat of government, a courthouse and even a prison.

You have to buy a ticket for the Doge's Palace to access the interior and see the impressive decoration of the Doge's Palace. Its halls are decorated with works of art and frescoes of great value and it is extremely beautiful.

The Bridge of Sighs is part of the complex. It is known by this name because, when the palace was used as a prison, prisoners crossed it and sighed in longing for the freedom they were about to lose.

Book skip the line tickets to the Doge's Palace

Clock tower

St. Mark's Clock Tower| ©Jean-Pol GRANDMONT
St. Mark's Clock Tower| ©Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

In the square there is another tower of smaller size, but also striking, known as the Clock Tower. This building right next to the entrance of the basilica houses an astronomical clock on its facade.

Designed by Mauro Codussi, it was built in the mid-sixteenth century and is also known as the tower of the Moors because of the figures that are next to his campaign at the top.

Standing next to the tower at one o'clock and see the bell ringing will not take more than a few minutes and is a good culmination to the tour of St. Mark's Square.

Rialto Bridge

To end the day we will go to see one of the most important bridges in Venice. The Rialto Bridge is one of the four bridges that crosses the Grand Canal and is the oldest of them.

Its particular shape and the semicircular arches that compose it have made it one of the most visited tourist attractions in Venice. In fact, it is almost impossible to see it without the presence of hundreds of tourists who want to photograph it.

To conclude our first day we can have dinner near the Rialto Bridge and crown the day with a delicious Italian gelato.

Book a tour of the highlights of Venice

2. Day Islands of Venice, gondola ride and Santa Maria della Salute

Murano| ©Kevin Charit
Murano| ©Kevin Charit

The second day is a chance to get away from the crowds and enjoy a quieter day visiting the islands of Murano and Burano, taking a gondola ride and ending with a movie-like sunset by the church of Santa Maria della Salute.

Murano

The island of Murano is known worldwide for its glass and the works that its artisans make with it. Our first visit of the second day will be an excursion to Murano on the Vaporetto line 4.

The trip usually takes about 40 minutes and once on the island our visit will focus on learning about the craft and art around the famous glass. To do this, you must book a visit to a glass factory, which are usually quite inexpensive and very interesting.

And we can not miss the opportunity to buy some glass souvenir. Although you will have to go very carefully the rest of the day not to break it.

Book a visit to a glass factory in Murano

Burano

In most cases, visitors to Murano take advantage of the same excursion to go to its sister island, Burano. And my recommendation is that you do too, being able to book an excursion to Murano and Burano.

But you can still go on your own from Murano by taking the same Vaporetto line. The trip is a bit longer and takes about an hour. There is a lot to do and see in Murano butthe main thing is as simple as strolling through its streets.

Upon arrival on the island we will be amazed. Its houses, each one of a different color, form an incredible composition and together with its canals give us a postcard of a magazine. As in Murano, handicrafts also play a fundamental role on the island, in this case for its thread lace.

Book an excursion to Murano and Burano

Gondola ride

Gondolas docked in the canal| ©antonio molinari
Gondolas docked in the canal| ©antonio molinari

On our return to Venice we can opt for a relaxing gondola ride. A must if you want to live the full Venetian experience. They can be taken anywhere in the city and the only thing you have to do is to decide in which area you want to move.

Do not trust if they ask for more than 80 euros, so the more people in your group the better, up to a maximum of 6. Although you can always play it safe and book a gondola ride online and avoid scams.

If you want to go through emblematic points of the city, such as the Bridge of Sighs, you will be charged extra. I recommend that your ride ends at the docks of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute where we will finish our second day tour.

Book a gondola ride

Santa Maria della Salute and its sunsets

The Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute is a spectacular church that was built to honor the Virgin of Health after the plague epidemic that affected three quarters of the population of Venice.

The baroque facade gives access to the interior of the church in whose dome we can see several works by the famous painter Titian, such as the Death of Abel, the Sacrifice of Abraham and David against Goliath.

We left the church and headed to the Punta della Dogana to put an end to our two-day visit to Venice. And to put the perfect finishing touch we will contemplate the sunset in one of the most spectacular places in the city for it.

Tips to see Venice in two days

The Vaporetti along the Grand Canal| ©SBA73
The Vaporetti along the Grand Canal| ©SBA73
  • Upon arrival at the Santa Lucia train station visit the tourist office and get a map of the city.
  • These maps usually detail the lines and schedules of the Vaporetti, the best and fastest way to get around Venice.
  • Buy tickets online and in advance for monuments such as the Doge's Palace or St. Mark's Basilica.
  • The monuments start opening their doors around 9 am and the transports start running around 8 am. Keep this in mind to start your day around that time so that you have time to visit everything.
  • To eat cheaply avoid the restaurants in St. Mark's Square. Without going too far away and in the adjoining streets, there are many options with better value for money.

Book a tour of the highlights of Venice