Venice in 3 Days: tips, what to see, and much more

Romantic gondola rides, famous opera masks and basilicas with centuries of history. Get to know Venice, the city of canals, in a 3-day express tour.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

12 min read

Venice in 3 Days: tips, what to see, and much more

View of the Venice Houses | ©Pixabay

Venice is one of the most famous cities in all of Europe. Every year it attracts millions of tourists who want to visit and tour the idyllic canals that crisscross the city, as well as the western art.

If you have always wanted to know everything there is to see and do in Venice, but you only have 3 free days, don't worry! Here is an express tour where you will know the must-see places of the city. Let's start!

1. Day Discover the most classic Venice

Façade of the Doge's Palace, Venice| ©Son of Groucho
Façade of the Doge's Palace, Venice| ©Son of Groucho

Venice is a small city that you can get to know on foot, plus it has a great transportation network with bus and vaporetto.

With this in mind, I recommend that you wear comfortable shoes for this first day to get to know all the must-see sights of Venice.

Enter the Doge's Palace

The Doge's Palace is one of the most famous places in the whole city. It was first a fortified castle and, after suffering a fire, it was used as a fortress and even as a prison.

Today it represents Gothic and Renaissance architecture, and contains works by Tizziano and Tintoretto worth seeing.

The entrance fee to the Doge's Palace is usually around 30€. I recommend you book your entrance to the Doge's Palace online in advance in order to secure your place and make the most of the 3 days you are in Venice.

Book tickets for the Doge's Palace

Cross the Bridge of Sighs

Taking advantage of the entrance to the magnificent Doge's Palace, you must cross one of the most emblematic bridges of the city, which will also give you access to reach St. Mark's Square, one of the highlights of Venice.

The Bridge of Sighs was the access that crossed one of the canals and connected the Doge's Palace with the prison.

Today it has become a tourist landmark and you may find it full of people taking pictures from the gondolas. However, if you enter the interior of the Doge's Palace you can walk through the center and appreciate even the smallest details.

Book a tour of the highlights of Venice

St. Mark's Square

St. Mark's Square| ©Massimo Adami
St. Mark's Square| ©Massimo Adami

After touring the interior of the Doge's Palace and crossing the Bridge of Sighs, you will have arrived at one of the most central and emblematic places in the whole city; St. Mark's Square, which gives access to the main buildings of Venice.

St. Mark's Square is considered one of the lowest points of the city, so when the sea level rises, it is the first to be flooded. However, the authorities are used to it and put some footbridges to be able to continue with the day to day.

I recommend you to book a tour of St. Mark's Square with a visit to the Basilica to learn all its history from an expert guide and also to know the most emblematic Christian building that houses.

Book a tour of St. Mark's Square and the Basilica

Recharge your batteries with a coffee at Florian's

I recommend you stop by Café Florian, an emblematic place where they sell one of the richest but also most expensive coffees in the city.

If your pocket and your curiosity allow it, there is nothing like a good ristretto to recharge your batteries at mid-morning and continue with the exciting visit to the center of Venice.

Visit St. Mark's Basilica

On one side of St. Mark's Square, you can find St. Mark's Basilica, an icon of the city that has become the religious building of Venice. It is said that inside it houses the body of St. Mark, brought from Alexandria.

The entrance to St. Mark's Basilica is completely free. However, you must pay if you want to access specific areas such as the museum, the treasures or the Golden Shovel.

Another option to enter is to book the tour I mentioned above, or if you are interested only in the Basilica, book a guided tour of St. Mark's Basilica.

Book your guided tour of St. Mark's Basilica

Lunch near the Rialto Bridge

It's time to sit down for a bite to eat in Venice's restaurants and rest up for the afternoon. In the area where you are, you can find several recommended places to taste the delicacies of Italian cuisine.

One of the places I recommend to eat is Pasta e Sugo, an Italian fast food place that is a few steps from St. Mark's Square and for a very cheap price offers fresh Italian pasta to take away, eat on the street or take on the spot.

Climb to the viewpoint of T Fondaco dei Tedeschi

Viewpoint of T Fondaco dei Tedeschi| ©LVMH
Viewpoint of T Fondaco dei Tedeschi| ©LVMH

After lunch I suggest walking to the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi shopping center, located in the north of the city, just a 10 minute walk away.

This mall has the best Italian and international brands but, beyond that, it respects the Renaissance aesthetics of the city and has one of the highest viewpoints in all of Venice. Climbing to the top floor you can enjoy the best views.

Visit the Rialto Market

From the shopping center you will be just a few steps away from another of the most important bridges in the city that also connects two important parts of Venice; the Rialto Bridge.

In the next few days you will have time to stop at this emblematic place, but now you will cross it to take advantage of the afternoon to do the first shopping of your trip in Venice at the Rialto Market.

Here you can find authentic Venetian masks, as well as all kinds of typical souvenirs.

Dinner near the Grand Canal

By now it will have started to get dark in Venice and it will be time to get ready for your second day of sightseeing. Since you are close to the Grand Canal, I recommend you to have dinner before returning to your accommodation.

You can join a group and book a gastronomic tour of Venice or go on your own to this place I suggest.

The Trattoria Al Gazzettino preserves the typical essence of Venice offering not only typical pasta dishes, but also all kinds of meats and seafood of the highest quality.

Book a gastronomic tour of Venice

Day 2: Discover the most artistic Venice

Tower and Basilica of San Giorgio| ©Dimitris Kamaras
Tower and Basilica of San Giorgio| ©Dimitris Kamaras

For this second day I have reserved for you the most artistic tourist attractions of the city and, of course, the traditional gondola ride along the canals.

Visit the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore

You will start this second day by taking the Venetian vaporetto to visit an architectural marvel and one of the most famous postcards of the city: the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore.

Inside you will have the opportunity to enjoy the most famous works of Tintoretto, as well as its great marble facade. The entrance is completely free and you will only have to pay to visit the Campanile, about 5€.

Another option is to book a boat tour on the Grand Canal of Venice with tickets to the Basilica San Giorgio Maggiore.

Book a Grand Canal tour

Walk along the Riva degli Schiavoni

Back in the central area of the city, you will have the opportunity to stroll for a while along the Riva degli Schiavoni, where there is one of the best views of the Basilica from the outside and where you can take some pictures and see the most coastal area of Venice.

After having some rest, you should head west along the Riva and cross the central area again where you can stop for a coffee or an ice-cream.

Fenice Theater

La Fenice Theater| ©Benh LIEU SONG
La Fenice Theater| ©Benh LIEU SONG

After just a 15-minute walk from the Riva degli Schiavoni you will have reached one of the most interesting cultural points in Venice: the Fenice Theater. The most important plays and operas in the world have premiered here and just entering the interior is an experience.

As you are on a tight schedule, I do not recommend you invest in seeing one of the plays. However, I do recommend booking a guided tour of the La Fenice Theater in Venice to get to know its interior and, with a little luck, stumble upon a dress rehearsal.

Book tickets to La Fenice Theater of Venice

Cross the Accademia Bridge

As you leave the theater, you will be just a stone's throw away from the Accademia Bridge, one of the best bridges in Venice. It provides access to the university district and attracts hundreds of tourists every day.

This bridge is 48 meters long and is sealed by wood and iron. Over the years it is one of the bridges that crosses the great canal and communicates with the other neighboring islets.

Dorsoduro, the university district

On the other side of the Accademia Bridge, you will find the university quarter, called Dorsoduro. This place is not as touristy as the center but has a lot of charm and attraction, so you can enjoy it without so many people.

Among its streets, you can find landmarks such as the Church of San Barnaba (where a part of Indiana Jones was filmed), the Ponte dei Pugni and Ca' Rezzonico, whose interior has an unnoticed but beautiful decorated museum. However, just wandering through its narrow streets is worth it.

Book a tour of the highlights of Venice

Have a typical Italian lunch

By now you're sure to have gotten a little hungry. You should take advantage of being in the university district to eat the best Italian food at a much cheaper price than the locals downtown.

Located in the heart of the Dorsoduro district you can find this traditional pizza place with a very Italian aesthetic and the best cuts of the whole area.

For less than 10 euros you can eat a delicious pizza with the ingredients of your choice and with a dough handmade every morning and cooked in a wood oven. Ah! And you can also take the opportunity to book a gastronomic tour of Venice.

Book a gastronomic tour of Venice

Visit the Acqua Alta bookshop

Acqua Alta Bookshop| ©Rodandoporelmundo
Acqua Alta Bookshop| ©Rodandoporelmundo

After lunch, you can take the opportunity to digest the food by strolling along the banks of the Grand Canal until you reach the Rialto Bridge. Crossing it, you will return to the city center and just a few minutes later you will arrive at one of the most famous bookstores in the city, Acqua Alta.

This bookstore has become world famous because its entrance is very close to one of the Venetian canals and, because of the danger of flooding with one of the rising waters, the owner chose to place all the books on boats to give him time to remove them, giving a bohemian and seafaring look.

Take a gondola ride

To end this intense day I leave you with one of the crown jewels that, I imagine, will have been one of the driving forces that made you come to this beautiful city.

Booking a gondola ride has become famous around the world and it is clear that in this express visit you can not leave without living the experience.

To avoid scares and haggling, I recommend that you book in advance and online to get a closed and more economical price. If you want to save a little money you also have the option to share the gondola with other tourists and share the costs.

Book a gondola ride in Venice

End the day with a gourmet dinner

To end this fantastic day, there is nothing better than going to one of the best restaurants in the center as you get off the gondola.

This trattoria is an expert in all kinds of Italian pasta and pizza dishes. It has several menus made with top quality fresh ingredients.

You should not miss the desserts, as they make one of the best tiramisu in the city. The price per head for dinner can be around 30€ but I assure you that it will be a feast for your palate.

Day 3: Say goodbye to Venice by visiting its islands

Murano| ©Kevin Charit
Murano| ©Kevin Charit

You have reached the last day of your visit to Venice and, as you have already visited the main attractions, I would like to suggest that you dedicate this day to visit the two most important neighboring islands of the city and book an excursion to Murano and Burano.

You may have the feeling of having to go far away but, in Venice everything is quite close and it will only take you 30 minutes to get there by vaporetto.

Sail to Murano

To get to the island of Murano or "glass island", take the vaporetto from San Zaccaria station and take line 41. In just over 30 minutes you will reach Murano, an island full of charming houses and an important glass factory.

Although, if you decide to go on an organized excursion, you will already have everything planned and you just have to go to where the activity indicates.

During the boat trip, you will have the opportunity to pass by the island of Saint Michele, which has been used for centuries as a cemetery and has become the oldest in the city.

Book your excursion to Murano and Burano

Glass factory

When you arrive in Murano, one of the must-do stops you must make is to book a visit to a glass factory. The island is known throughout Italy for manufacturing and designing handcrafted all kinds of glass for years.

You can take advantage of buying here directly a souvenir, as in Venice prices go up. Definitely worth taking a piece of the island with you.

Maybe if you have decided to go on an organized tour this activity is already included, but if not, I recommend you book in advance this visit.

Book a visit to Murano with glassblowing demonstration

Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and the lighthouse

Two of the great attractions that you can take advantage of during your morning on the island of Murano are the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, which took a great prominence in the sixteenth century and preserves a spectacular Byzantine mosaic, as well as the Murano lighthouse built of marble and crowning the entire island.

Lunch on the island

Dining at Restaurant alla Vecchia Pescheria| ©Polina
Dining at Restaurant alla Vecchia Pescheria| ©Polina

Before leaving to visit Burano, you can take the opportunity to have a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants around the island.

Unlike in the center of Venice, where trattorias and pizzerias predominate, in Murano you can breathe the sea and for a small price you can eat good fish in places like the Restaurant alla Vecchia Pescheria, where fried fish is their specialty.

Afternoon in Burano

After lunch there is nothing better than to spend the afternoon on the neighboring island of Burano. To do this you must take the vaporetto from Murano and in just 20 minutes you will have arrived. And if your tour includes it, then go where the guide told you to go.

The village of Burano is full of picturesque colorful houses that attract the attention of all visitors.

Strolling along the fishing canals and taking some pictures makes the trip worthwhile and is a lovely way to say goodbye to this three-day trip around Venice, having seen all the essentials in an intense but unforgettable way.

Say goodbye to Venice with a sunset dinner

By the time you get back to the center of Venice, it will surely be dusk and I can't think of a better way to say goodbye to the city than by going to dinner at one of the trattorias near St. Mark's Square to put the finishing touch to your Venetian experience.

Buy 24 or 72 hour tickets to save money

The Vaporetti on the Grand Canal| ©SBA73
The Vaporetti on the Grand Canal| ©SBA73

Whenever you foresee that you are going to use a transport ticket more than once a day, I advise you to consider buying a 24-hour ticket.

This type of ticket is valid for the days you choose and gives you unlimited rides, so you can more than cushion the approximately 20€ it costs, especially for the third day that you will have to make the trips between islands.

However, you can also buy a 72-hour transport pass, which can be much more interesting for your three-day trip to Venice.

Book a 72-hour transport pass for Venice

Itinerary summary by days

  • Day 1
  • Get to know the center of Venice
  • Doge's Palace
  • St. Mark's Square and Basilica
  • Rialto Market
  • Day 2
  • Discover its neighborhoods
  • Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore
  • Dorsoduro
  • Gondola ride
  • Day 3
  • Visit the neighboring islands
  • Murano and the glass factory
  • Burano
  • Farewell in the center