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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

13 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 not only in Italy, but in all of Europe. Every year it attracts millions of tourists who want to visit and tour the idyllic canals that crisscross the city's lattices, as well as get a first-hand look at one of the capitals of Western art.

If you've always wanted to know everything there is to see and do in Venice but you only have 3 days to spare, don't worry! Below I propose an express tour where you will know the must-see places of the city. Wear comfortable clothes because you will be walking around the city all day but I assure you that you will come home having experienced first hand the essence of Venice. Let's get started!

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

You should face this trip full of energy because you are going to make the most of the three days. You have to get used to the idea that Venice is a small city that is perfectly walkable, besides having a great transportation network both by bus and vaporetto.

With this in mind, I recommend that you wear comfortable shoes, put your camera in your bag and get ready on this first day to get to know in depth all the must-see places in Venice, starting with the Doge's Palace and entering fully into St. Mark's Square with its Basilica, to end the day at Rialto Bridge and its famous market.

Enter the Doge's Palace

The first steps I suggest you take in Venice will lead you on your first day to the Doge's Palace, which you can reach by public transport to the station of San Zaccaria or San Marco. Once there, you can't miss entering one of the most famous places in the whole city.

The Doge's Palace was first a fortified castle and then, after suffering a fire, it was used as a fortress and even as a prison. Today, it is one of the most important buildings in Venice as it not only represents Gothic and Renaissance architecture, but also contains works by Tizziano and Tintoretto worth seeing.

Admission to the Doge's Palace is usually around 25€, although there are numerous discounts for seniors, students and children. I recommend booking your ticket to the Doge's Palace to secure your place and make sure you make the most of the 3 days you are in Venice.

Cross the Bridge of Sighs

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

The Bridge of Sighs was the access that crossed one of the canals and linked 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.

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 city; St. Mark's Square. A perfect rectangle of 180 meters long by 70 meters wide that gives access to the main buildings of all Venice.

St. Mark's Square is considered one of the lowest points of the whole city so, when the sea level rises, it is the first to flood. However, the authorities are accustomed to it and put some footbridges in place to be able to go on with day to day life.

Recharge your energy with a coffee at Florian's

At this point, and as there is still a long day ahead, I recommend that 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, being named in 1807 the cathedral of the city. It is said that inside it houses the body of St. Mark, brought from Alexandria.

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. With all these accesses, the price can be around 10 euros, so I recommend that, if you are clear about what you want to see everything, book in advance to ensure access.

Book your guided tour of St. Mark's Basilica

Lunch near Rialto Bridge

After having wandered all morning through the highlights of Venice, it's time to sit down for a bite to eat in the restaurants of Venice and rest to be able to face the afternoon. In the area where you are, you can find several recommended places to taste the delicacies of Italian cuisine.

Pasta e Sugo

One of the places I recommend you to eat something this first day is Pasta e Sugo, an Italian fast food place that is just a few steps from St. Mark's Square and that for a very affordable price offers fresh Italian pasta to take away and eat on the street or to take on the spot. Quite an experience!

Climb to the viewpoint of T Fondaco dei Tedeschi

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

For after lunch I propose a plan a little quieter that allows you to get an idea of the city you are stepping on. To do this, you should walk to the shopping center of T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, located north of the city just 10 minutes walk.

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 Venice. Climbing to the top floor you can enjoy the best views and see the countless Venetian canals at the top.

Visit the Rialto Market

From the shopping center you will be just a few steps away from another of the most important bridges of 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 take the opportunity to have some dinner before returning to your accommodation.

Trattoria Al Gazzettino

This trattoria preserves the typical essence of Venice offering not only typical pasta dishes, but also all kinds of meats and seafood of the highest quality. You can find it just 3 blocks from the Rialto Bridge, at 4072 Mezzo Street, and with an approximate price of 20 euros per diner. A delicious way to end the day.

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. In the morning you will visit one of the most impressive basilicas in Venice, as well as the Fenice theater and the university district and, in the afternoon, I have reserved for you a visit to a curious bookstore 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 one of the most typical means of transportation in Venice; the Venetian vaporetto. Just 600 meters in a straight line from St. Mark's Square, you will find an architectural marvel and one of the most famous postcards of the city: the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore.

You can reach it via these picturesque boats and 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 only have to pay to visit the Campanile, about 5€.

Walk along the Riva degli Schiavoni

Back again to 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 you have rested for a while, you should head west along the Riva and walk back through the central area 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 only a 15 minute walk from the Riva degli Schiavoni you will have reached one of the most interesting cultural points in all of Venice: the Fenice Theater. The most important plays and operas in the world have premiered here and just entering inside is an experience.

As you are on a tight schedule, I do not recommend investing in seeing one of its plays. However, one of its essential panoramas is to be able to enter with one of the guided tours to know its interior and, with a little luck, run into a dress rehearsal.

Cross the Accademia Bridge

When you leave the theater, you will be a stone's throw away from another of **Venice'**s most characteristic bridges, 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 sealed by wood and iron over the years is one of those that cross the Grand Canal and communicate with the other neighboring islands.

Dorsoduro, the university district

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

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.

Have a typical Italian lunch

By now you will surely be a little hungry. You should take advantage of the fact that you are in the university district to be able to eat the best Italian food at a much cheaper price than the locals downtown.

Pizza al Volo

Located in the heart of the Dorsoduro neighborhood 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.

Visit the Acqua Alta bookstore

Acqua Alta bookstore| ©Rodandoporelmundo
Acqua Alta bookstore| ©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 away you will reach 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, faced with 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, sailor and certainly very original look, which is worth a visit.

Take a gondola ride

To end this intense day I leave you one of the jewels in the crown that, I imagine, will have been one of the engines that have made you come to this beautiful city. The gondola rides have become famous around the world and it is clear that in this express visit you can not leave without living the experience.

Most of the rides start from the Grand Canal and end in smaller and less traveled canals. Prices are usually around 150 euros for approximately 1 hour and a half of journey. However, to avoid scares and haggling, I recommend that you book in advance to get a closed and more economical price.

Tip

If you want to save a little money when taking a gondola ride, you also have the option to share the gondola with other tourists and share the expenses between up to six people. It won't be as intimate but your pocket will feel the difference.

Book your gondola ride

End the day with a gourmet dinner

To end this fantastic day, there is nothing better than getting off the gondola and going to one of the best restaurants in the center to celebrate with a delicious dinner.

Spaghetteria 6342

This trattoria is an expert in all kinds of Italian pasta and pizza dishes. It has several menus made with fresh ingredients of the highest quality. 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 major attractions and must-see places, I would like to suggest that you dedicate this day to visit the two most important neighboring islands of the city: I'm talking about 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.

Book your excursion to Murano and Burano

Sail to Murano

To reach 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.

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.

Glass factory

Arriving in Murano, one of the essential stops you must make is to visit the glass factory. The island is known throughout Italy for manufacturing and designing handcrafted all kinds of glass for years.

You can take the opportunity to buy a souvenir here directly as in Venice prices go up. Definitely worth taking a little piece of the island with you.

Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and lighthouse

Two of the great attractions that you can take the opportunity to visit 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

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

Before leaving to visit Burano, you can take the opportunity to stop for a bite to eat in one of the many places 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 a 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 going to spend the afternoon on the neighboring island, Burano. To do this you must take the vaporetto from Murano and in just 20 minutes you will have arrived. 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 beautiful way to say goodbye to this three-day trip through Venice, having known all the essentials in an intense but unforgettable way.

Bid farewell to Venice with dinner at sunset

By the time you get back to the center of Venice, it will surely be getting dark and I can't think of a better way to say goodbye to the city than going for dinner in one of the trattoriasnear St. Mark's Square so you can finish in the same place you started and put the finishing touch to your Venetian experience.

Buy 24-hour transport tickets to save money

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

Venice is a fairly affordable city to walk around. However, whenever you foresee that you will 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 travel, so you can more than cushion the approximately 20 € it costs, especially for the third day that you will have to make trips between islands.

Now you know everything you need to have your getaway to Venice. All you need to do is buy your plane tickets, pack a little luggage and come and see this wonderful and romantic city!

Itinerary 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