Venice in 7 Days: a guidebook for discovering the city in detail

Spending a week in Venice? The perfect itinerary to spend 7 days in Venice and get to know its most emblematic places, such as the squares and its basilicas.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

19 min read

Venice in 7 Days: a guidebook for discovering the city in detail

Boats in Venice | ©Donatello Trisolino

There is so much to do and so many places to see in Venice that organizing a long trip to the city can be complicated. My advice is to dedicate a day to each district or neighborhood, so you can take it easy. You will spend a whole week in the city of the gondolas, so you will have enough time to get to know both the main island and its surroundings.

It is clear that there are characteristic places like St. Mark's Square or the Rialto Bridge that will have a special place in your itinerary, but Venice has many other secrets, corners and traditions waiting for you. Shall I tell you my favorites? To make it easier for you, I have organized what would be my perfect visit to Venice in 7 days.

Day 1: Discover the surroundings and art of St. Mark's Square

St. Mark's Square| ©Toa Herftiba
St. Mark's Square| ©Toa Herftiba

When you arrive in Venice from the airport and take to the streets to explore them, you'll quickly realize that a central point is St. Mark's Square. Around it is where the life of the Italian city is generated, since its approximately 100 square meters host some of the most emblematic buildings of Venice, such as the Doge's Palace, for which you can book tickets in advance, or the Basilica of St. Mark, for which you can also get your tickets in advance. Without a doubt, this square has to be the first stop during your trip.

Feel like a duke in the Doge's Palace

The first stop should undoubtedly be the ancient Palace of the Dukes, where for years the rulers of the city stayed. Although tickets to visit the Ducal Palace are somewhat expensive (from 40€), it also includes access to the Correr Museum, the Archaeological Museum and the Library, but it will be worth it. If you like culture, you will enjoy this visit, although I recommend you to book the access in advance and, if you can, with the option without queues, as the waits can be quite long.

The interior of the Ducal Palace is incredible and you will get an idea of the luxury and decorative taste of the Renaissance era. You will walk through rooms as important as the old voting rooms or the armory. As if this were not enough, from the Palace you can cross the famous Bridge of Sighs and reach the dungeons, where the famous Casanova was imprisoned.

Book your tickets to the Doge's Palace

Experience the art of St. Mark's Basilica

Before ending the morning, it is the ideal time to visit another of the emblematic buildings of St. Mark's Square, the Basilica. As soon as you enter, you will be amazed by its golden hue, which gives a special light and brightness to every corner, and the altar, under which St. Mark rests. If you go with a specialized guide, which I recommend because you enter without queues, he will explain each of the images of the mosaics on the walls.

Although admission to the Basilica is free, there are areas, such as the Museum and the Horses of St. Mark, for which you have to pay a separate entrance fee (about 5 €). My advice is not to miss the opportunity to visit this room, which is where most of the mosaics are located in addition to the original sculptures of the horses, made of bronze and gold.

Book tickets for St. Mark's Basilica

Listen to the twelve chimes of noon from the heights

St. Mark's Bell Tower| ©Elliott Brown
St. Mark's Bell Tower| ©Elliott Brown

With a special ticket (about 10€) you can climb the bell tower of the Basilica. I personally was fascinated by the views of Venice from 100 meters high, so I advise you to book the ticket so you can see them too. In addition to the panoramic views, if you are on the roof at twelve o'clock (or any other time for that matter), you will have an incredible perspective to listen and see how the two figurines of the Astronomical Clock of St. Mark's tell the time.

It may seem something without much interest, because you can hear the bells of the clock from any other point of the city, but I assure you that observing the delicate art and details with which the clock was designed and crafted is a real luxury.

Take a lunch break in the area around St. Mark's

When it's time to eat you will surely be hungry, and the truth is that around St. Mark's Basilica there are many dining options. Be careful, they are tourist and historical establishments, so prepare your wallet to pay up to 10€ for a drink. Even so, there are places that I really liked and that is why I want to recommend them to you.

After lunch, you have to have a good Venetian coffee, which is made with cream and is usually quite strong. In short, just what you need to recharge your batteries and continue with your first day in Venice.

Learn about the history of Venice at the Correr Museum

Correr Museum| ©Maria Codina
Correr Museum| ©Maria Codina

If you have bought a ticket for the Doge's Palace, you have included access to the Correr Museum. Although there are many Venetian museums, this one in particular has always caught my attention. Why? Because its rooms will take you on a journey through the history of Venice since it was founded until the time it was annexed to Italy.

A visit to the Correr Museum will give you a better understanding of the fundamental facts of the city, which I think is a must before continuing your visit to Venice. In addition, inside this museum there is also the Archaeological Museum, where you can contemplate sculptures and other works of art with hundreds of years of history.

Watch the sunset during a cruise along the Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is definitely the place to book a gondola ride. Aboard Venice's quintessential mode of transportation, you will discover the history of the city with your gondolier or a local guide. Along the way you will see buildings such as the Gothic mansion Ca' d'Oro and pass under famous Venetian bridges such as the Rialto.

If you book your gondola ride on the Grand Canal in the late afternoon, you will have the luxury of watching the sun go down as you cruise the waters at your leisure. This is undoubtedly the best way to end a first day discovering Venice.

Book your gondola ride on the Grand Canal

Day 2: Experience the youthfulness of the Dorsoduro District

Accademia Bridge| ©advencap
Accademia Bridge| ©advencap

They say that it is the preferred area for young people, but I think that Dorsoduro is enjoyable at any age, so I want to recommend you to spend a day touring it. In its streets you will not only find the Galleria dell'Accademia di Venezia, but also beautiful churches and palaces.

Contemplate all the art of Venice in the Accademia Gallery

When you cross the Accademia Bridge, made of wood because it was originally intended to be temporary, one of the first places you will see is the Accademia Gallery. In this museum, which costs about 4€, you will find the largest collection of Venetian art, with works by artists such as Bellini and Titian.

Did you know that in 1817 this museum was created to house all the works of Venice? Yes, that's why this visit is a must if you want to admire the more than 800 paintings.

Continue the artistic tour at the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery

It is clear that art plays an essential role in Venice, but do not think that all the works have centuries of history. In fact, I recommend a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which is located inside the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni and features works by Picasso, Magritte and Pollock.

If you love painting and enjoy modern art, this is a must-see during your visit to Venice and the Dorsoduro district.

Book tickets for the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery

End the morning at the Church of Santa Maria della Salute

Santa Maria della Salute Basilica| ©Jorge Franganillo
Santa Maria della Salute Basilica| ©Jorge Franganillo

When you arrive in the Dorsoduro district I am sure there is one building that will catch your attention above all others: the Church of Santa Maria della Salute. Moreover, its dome will be familiar to you, as it appears on most postcards of the city. This church is one of the most important religious buildings in Venice and was built to celebrate the end of the plague, so you can imagine its symbolism. The entrance costs about 4€, so it is quite affordable.

Beyond the fact that its exterior will leave you with your mouth open, I recommend you to enter because in its sacristy is exhibited the famous painting of Tintoretto's "The Wedding at Cana", as well as other paintings by this painter and others like Titian.

Make a stop to eat and buy something

If there is a lively square full of stores and restaurants in Dorsoduro it is Campo Santa Margherita. It is certainly a great place to have an aperitif or even buy some fresh produce from the street stalls that are placed there every morning.

But in addition to the rich gastronomy of Santa Margherita, sitting on one of its terraces you can admire the facades of the baroque buildings that surround it, among which I recommend you pay special attention to the ancient Scuola dei Varoteri and the Scuola Grande dei Carmini, which you can visit if you are interested by purchasing your tickets.

Book a gastronomic tour of Venice

Visit the mythical Palazzo Ca' Rezzonico

It is impossible to spend a day in Venice without seeing one of its palaces, but the positive thing about the Ca' Rezzonico is that it is one of the few that can be visited from the inside. Surely you've seen its facade in some photo, as it is located on the banks of the Grand Canal and is extremely beautiful.

Although it is obviously smaller than the Doge's Palace, it is equally interesting to visit, especially because inside is the Museo del Settecento Veneziano, where you will find objects that were used by the nobles of the city. You can also visit an old pharmacy.

Day 3: Visit the naval area of the Castello District

At the Naval Museum of the Arsenale Complex| ©Sergey Galyonkin
At the Naval Museum of the Arsenale Complex| ©Sergey Galyonkin

Of all the districts in Venice, Castello is the largest. To reach it you will need to take a vaporetto, so you already have an excuse to try this characteristic means of transport. This district combines the luxury and crowds of one of the most touristic areas of the city with the poorer streets around the Shipyard.

Walk among the tombs of the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo

It's pretty clear to me what has to be one of the first stops: the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Not only because it is the largest church in Venice, but also because on an artistic level it is an emblem. On the one hand, inside are the tombs of the Doges, so you can imagine the rich decoration that keeps the ancient Venetian dukes company. The entrance fee is symbolic (about 2€) and is understood as a donation to the Basilica.

When you finish visiting the huge space inside the basilica, its tombs and works of art, I recommend you to go outside to the square, which has the same name. It displays the statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, an impressive Renaissance piece by the sculptor Verrocchio. The square is also home to the Scuola Grande di San Marco, a Renaissance building that is now used as a hospital.

Book a tour of Venice

Visit the Naval Museum of the Arsenale Complex

Did you know that the site where the Venice Biennale was held years ago was once a naval complex? That's right, this was the use of the Arsenale, which explains why it now houses theNaval History Museum. This old shipyard is a highly recommended place to end the morning watching the evolution of Venetian gondolas. The entrance fee is around 10€ and, even if you are not particularly interested, this is where warships were repaired and built.

Around the Arsenale you can also visit other historical buildings, but above all I recommend you to relax in the Gardens, which were designed by Napoleon Bonaparte. There you can escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Take a break to shop and eat at the market on Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi Market| ©Karen M
Via Garibaldi Market| ©Karen M

Surely you are starting to feel hungry, and on those occasions there is nothing like enjoying fresh produce just bought at the market. The one on Garibaldi is open on weekdays from the point in the morning, although the fruit, vegetable and other fresh food stalls begin to close at noon. However, in this street, one of the widest and straightest in Venice, you can also find fixed food places in Venice at good prices.

In addition to grabbing a bite to eat, you can also do some shopping. Although it is a fairly large and central street, the stores you will see there are rather local, so it is a great opportunity to get some special souvenirs.

Go back in time at the Acqua Alta Library

In recent years technology has taken over our days, so I recommend you leave your mobile devices in your backpack for a while and lose yourself among the shelves of books at the Acqua Alta Library. The building is located in the heart of the Castello district and has a very special feature: sometimes the shelves are replaced by gondolas and bathtubs.

As you hear, when floods come to Venice, something very common at some times of the year, this bookstore becomes an indoor lagoon and the best way to save your books is by putting them in bathtubs or gondolas. It seems incredible, but if you travelto Venice in winter and go to see it you will be able to check it out.

Book a gondola ride in Venice

Day 4: Stroll around the small San Polo District

Rialto Bridge| ©Nick Bramhall
Rialto Bridge| ©Nick Bramhall

The San Polo district is one of my favorites because of how beautiful it is and the culture it hosts. This district is the smallest in Venice, but also one of the oldest, as this is where the first inhabitants of the city settled as it was a flood-free area. You will find it in the vicinity of the Rialto Bridge.

Cross the Rialto Bridge to the market

It was clear that it was going to be one of my first recommended stops, as this famous bridge deserves to be crossed at least once. Besides being one of the most special, Rialto is the oldest of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal. It is characterized by its curious portico and, historically, for having been an economic center.

Once you have crossed the bridge, if you do it in the morning, you will have the opportunity to visit the Rialto market, which has been held since the early eleventh century. If you haven't had breakfast yet, you'll find it hard to resist hunger when you see how good the fruits sold there look.

Near the bridge is the Palazzo Mocenigo, an 18th century nobleman's house museum where you can discover a collection of clothing and accessories of the period, as well as furniture and frescoes in the rococo style.

Book tickets for Palazzo Mocenigo

Enter Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari and discover its interior

Once you have fully entered San Polo, you have to go to the Frari, the name by which this church is known, which is deceptive on the outside. What do I mean? Its exterior is rather boring, without much ornamentation. However, when you enter the interior (the entrance costs about 3€), you will be positively surprised.

One of the most striking aspects is the stained glass work that runs along the walls of Santa Maria Gloriosa, although undoubtedly the protagonist is the painting of "The Assumption" by Titian, who presides over the altar.

Get your strength back and visit the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

Scuola Grande di San Rocco| ©Didier Descouens
Scuola Grande di San Rocco| ©Didier Descouens

After a brief stop for lunch at one of the rustic taverns you will find in the San Polo district, it is time to continue your Venetian artistic journey at San Rocco, which is no slouch when compared to the Sistine Chapel. The reason? Its interior was decorated by Tintoretto, so get ready to contemplate a work full of color, light and detail.

There is only one drawback, although the building is quite large and its architecture admirable, only three rooms can be visited. Still, if like me you like art, I highly recommend you to enter (the approximate entrance fee is 10€).

Enjoy the Venetian night with a typical Venetian dinner

The whole area near the Rialto Bridge is one of the most traditional in Venice, so I can't make better recommendations than taking advantage of the fact that you are there to book a gastronomic tour that allows you to taste the most typical dishes of the city, listen to legends and also get to know the nightlife in Venice.

During the three hours or so that these tours last you will make a tour of small bars where they will let you try some "cicchetti" or, what is the same, small portions of fish, meat or vegetable dishes. Of course, the food is best served with a glass of wine, so you will also taste some of Venice's delicacies.

The best thing is that by booking this type of tour in Venice you will be accompanied by a professional guide who, besides doing the food tastings with you, will tell you the secrets and legends of the city.

Day 5: Discover the best viewpoint on San Giorgio Island

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

This district is actually an island, but it has three points that from the first moment caused me a lot of interest and I'm sure you will too. On the one hand, in San Giorgio Maggiore there is a monastery and a church that are well worth your visit. But also, from this island you will have incredible views of Venice.

The vastness of the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore

This large building is striking from afar, as it can be seen from St. Mark's Square. Once you are on the island, it is even more imposing. Its marble construction was the work of Andrea Palladio and mixes several classical styles, although its inspiration is mainly Roman.

Its exterior fascinates you, but inside you will also find a lot of art, in particular several works of Italian Mannerism. My advice is not to forget to admire these pieces even if your main goal is to climb to the top of the bell tower, from where you can have an incredible view of Venice. The photos you will take from there are priceless, believe me, and will make the approximately €6 entrance fee worth it. After all, there is a reason why they say that this is the best viewpoint in the city.

Take a vaporetto and visit Giudecca Island

Venice is a big island, but around it there are other equally interesting, though smaller, islands. Giudecca is one of them, so I recommend you take vaporetto number 2, which takes you there from San Giorgio, and spend the afternoon there visiting two of its most important buildings: the Convent of the Zitelle and the Church of the Santissimo Redentore.

The Convent of the Zitelle has a lot of history behind it, as it was erected to house women in need. It is now a hotel, but the name has been kept. For its part, the Church of the Santissimo Redentore, designed by Andrea Palladio as a reminder of the terror caused by the plague in the city, which was considered a divine punishment. Its architecture stands out for its imposing Roman pediment.

Day 6: Escape for a day to Murano, Burano and Torcello

Sunset on a canal in Burano| ©Fabio Mangione
Sunset on a canal in Burano| ©Fabio Mangione

If you're staying in Venice for a week, I recommend taking a day trip from Venice, especially to the area of Murano, Burano and Torcello, three nearby islands where you can get a first-hand look at some of the more traditional crafts.

Learn the art of glassblowing on Murano Island

Have you ever been fascinated watching how glass is made? Through the air, Master Artisans design glass objects with seemingly impossible shapes. During your visit to Murano you will have the opportunity to visit an old factory to see a live demonstration of this work. If you also book an excursion that includes a workshop, you will return with a piece made by you thanks to the advice of the glassblower and the guide who accompany you.

In Murano you can also visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria and San Donato, a Byzantine-style building that is part of the heritage of the city. My advice is to go with a guide who will explain all the allusions and allegories that the mosaics on the floor and walls make to religious motifs.

Book your excursion to Murano Burano and Torcello

Visit the fishing village of Burano Island

This island is known for handmade lace, but also for being a beautiful fishing village. As you can imagine the quality of the fish in Burano is very high, so I recommend you take advantage of the visit to sit in a restaurant in the port and taste the local product.

When you get your strength back after lunch, get lost in its streets full of colorful houses and head to its bell tower, which you will recognize instantly because it is slightly inclined. Don't worry, there is no danger of falling because after World War II its structure was stabilized.

Tour the throne of the Huns on Torcello Island

Although only about 20,000 people live there now, Torcello was actually the first inhabited island and thus has the first church in Venice, the Church of Santa Fosca. The reason why there are not so many people now is that, hundreds of years ago, due to a malaria epidemic, the population decreased and power shifted to Venice.

Although its importance is no longer the same, in Torcello you can get an idea of what the area was like years ago, as it seems that time has never passed. In fact, in the town square rests what is believed to have been the throne of Attila, king of the Huns.

In a couple of hours you will have toured Torcello and will be more than ready to head back to Venice.

Day 7: Take a tour of the Lido of Venice

Visiting Lido| ©Gary Houston
Visiting Lido| ©Gary Houston

On your trip to Venice you will surely love to see the more traditional areas of the city but, if I may give you a tip, you can't leave without visiting the Lido or, what is the same, one of the most modern summer destinations in the area. This island is only 10 minutes by vaporetto from Venice (lines 5.1 and .1), making it a perfect place to spend your last day in the city.

Take a stroll along the beaches of the Lido

If you're going to Venice in summer, there's no better way to enjoy this time of year and ease the heat of these months than with a swim at the Lido beaches. My favorite (and many other people's favorite) is the Alberoni beach, whose dunes are breathtaking. If you travel with children to Venice, a walk and a swim in this beach is a great idea.

Be careful, these beaches are very crowded, so keep this in mind when you go there because you may find many Italians who are going to spend their vacations there, as well as tourists like you or me. My advice is to go first thing in the morning.

Feel like a movie star in the north of the Lido

I'm sure you've heard about the Venice Film Festival and images of big movie stars arriving by speedboat come to mind. Well, you can have a similar experience if you head to the Palazzo del Cinema, which is where this event is held every year. If you go during August in Venice or September in Venice, keep in mind that this is when the festival takes place, so there may be restricted access.

If the glamour of the cinema is not your thing and you prefer something more traditional, head to visit the San Nicoló neighborhood, also on the north side of the Lido. There you can enter the monastery and the church, where the relics of St. Nicholas are kept, although you may be more familiar with it as the place where the movie Death in Venice was filmed.

Taste the best fish on the Lido

In Malamocco| ©Godromil
In Malamocco| ©Godromil

In the center of the Lido is Malamocco, a small fishing village where I recommend you take a lunch break. Of course, the star dish of any of the restaurants in the area is fish, but you can also taste more typical dishes such as pizza.

Malamocco is one of the most authentic areas of the Lido, so it is best to stroll through its streets and breathe the tranquility with which they live there. On your tour you will surely be surprised by the houses and buildings, which have a unique style but at the same time charming.

Cycling through the murazzi

Feel like getting some exercise? In the Lido you can rent a bike to ride along the murazzi, i.e. the barriers that were established to prevent the erosion of the island and ensure navigation in its waters.

Without a doubt, the bike is a great way to get to know the Lido and also through the murazzis you will have the chance to see the waves of the Adriatic Sea on one side and the city center on the other. You will feel like a real Italian!

Dine and play at the Venice Casino

Fancy experiencing the glamour and sophistication of the Lido from the inside? Then you have to go to the Venice Casino. Be careful, if you do, remember to wear clothes for the occasion, as they have a dress code and will not let you in if you are wearing a beach look. Even if you don't gamble, the inside is quite spectacular, so my advice is to go inside to experience the atmosphere and, if you can afford it, have dinner there.

The restaurants in the Casino, of course, are luxurious and you can taste first class dishes. It is not suitable for all budgets, but at least you can have a drink and admire the decor full of chandeliers and crystal chandeliers.

And to move in the fastest and safest way it is best that you get a city transport pass that will serve you to move freely around Venice without problems. You can hire the hours that suit you and travel unlimited vaporetto and buses.

How much do you want to spend a week in Venice? I hope these tips and the complete itinerary will help you organize your vacation in the city of gondolas. Enjoy it!