If you’re using my How to See Italy and Austria in 2 Weeks Solo and planned your 4 Days in Vienna, you’re now wrapping up your travel planning to find the best Venice 2 day solo itinerary full of bridges and canals, water taxis, Italian history, and an optional day trip to Verona or Padua to absorb as much of Italy you can.
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Venice on a Budget (or Not)
Don’t forget to also peruse my Guide to Budget European Accommodations for additional accommodation-planning information.
Let me state here that when I say “budget”, I mean your daily travel expenses should total €100 or less. Yes, it is very possible to visit Venice on less than €100. It’s up to you and your budget. The following travel guide can work for anyone, budget or not. The key factor that can push you out of the “budget” range is the accommodations you choose, not the attractions. Nice, huh?
Ok, now let’s get you to Venice.
Prices in this post reflective at time of writing.
What’s Venice Famous For?
The capital of Italy’s Veneto region, Venice is built on more than 100 small islands in the Venetian Lagoon separated only by canals, including the Grand Canal thoroughfare, and linked by more than 400 bridges.
Known as the “City of Bridges”, Venice is considered to have been the first real international financial center of the world and still houses historic Renaissance and Gothic structures like San Marco Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Campanile bell tower – all around the central Piazza San Marco, famous for its pigeons and outdoor lounging.
And who can forget Carnevale? This annual festival that originated in Venice in the 12th century as a way to let loose in efforts to get ready for Lent, a tradition celebrated now in many cities worldwide. However, only Venice can hold claim to their beautiful Venetian masks still worn at festival time.
When to Visit Venice?
You could experience heavy rains and possible flooding, called aqua alta, in Venice from late September to December, and heavy tourist crowds (late spring and summer months). Venice offers plenty of outdoor activities, as well as indoor, but I would recommend planning ahead to enjoy as much time outside as possible to enjoy Venice’s ambience.
However, if chilly weather doesn’t bother you, consider going to Carnevale in late February to early March, depending on the year. It lasts for two weeks, so book well in advance.
Is Venice Worth Visiting?
With Venice’s rich culture and history, it would be a shame not to see Venice, even if just for a day to wander its streets and bridges and soak up the scenery in the Piazza San Marco. I can think of worse ways to spend a day, or two days in Venice.
Getting Around Venice
From Verona, Milan, Padua or other Italian locations, it is more than likely you’ll arrive by train to the Venice Mestre Train station by way of the mainland Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia.
If you are flying, you could arrive at the Venice Marco Polo Airport, about 12 km from Venice. Remember, Milan is only a 2.5 hour train ride from Venice, which gives you inbound/outbound Italy flight options.
Treviso Airport, a smaller regional airport, is another inbound option.
Venice has strict taxi and licensing rules, so Uber is not available. However, you really shouldn’t need any automobile service in Venice with its walkability and has vaporetto, Venetian public waterbus, services for within and surrounding Venice.
Venezia Unica City Pass
“Venezia Unica” is Venice’s new all-in-one City Pass that includes access to public transportation (land and sea), tourist attractions and cultural events. It can be easily purchased online and you select how much public transportation you wish to purchase: one-way tickets €7,50 or 1, 2, 3-day tickets costing €20, €30, and €40, respectively.
Marco Polo Airport connections are not included in one way/single and/or time-limited tickets.
The City Pass is also supposed to save you up to 30% on entrance fees to Venice main attractions as well as skipping the lines. This may be an option you wish to explore.
Venice is Walkable
Venice is divided into six sestieri (districts): Cannaregio, San Polo, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, San Marco, and Castello. The San Marco district is considered the city center.
You can probably cover the Venice city center end-to-end in an hour, but do allow time to wander slowly and take in the shops and attractions. Expand your territory to include all six districts by combination of foot and vaparetto.
Venice is considered a safe city to visit and even walkable at night. As with any touristy areas of a city, such as the Piazza San Marco, remember to keep your personal items close to you to avoid possible theft or pickpocketers.
Where to Stay in Venice
Where Should a First-time Tourist Stay in Venice?
For optimum ease of walking and seeing the sights on a 2-day visit, I recommend staying within the Venice city center (San Marco district) or just across the Grand Canal in the Dorsoduro or San Palo District. This will also provide you access to many vaparetti. As such, I recommend staying within the circle on the map:
For budget purposes, my hotel recommendation/value for the money with breakfast and taxes included at €70/night is Locanda Fiorita. It is in a fabulous location – walking distance top attractions – with a very nice breakfast, and includes all of the lovely amenities you could need.
If you want cheaper accommodations, there are other hotels and Venice hostels to choose from starting at around €20/night, depending on what amenities and location you want.
Conversely, if you want to pay more, take a look at Venice accommodations. I would still recommend staying in the suggested area noted above.
Many accommodations may not let you check in until 2-4pm, but if available, have them store your luggage until your room is ready so you can get out and enjoy Venice!
Top Things to Do in Venice
It’s hard to find a city with Venice’s charm – this is largely held to being surrounded and traversed by water. If you had been following my 2 Week Italy and Austria Itinerary, then Venice is at the end of your Italy and Austria stay and you may just be looking to slow it down and rest up before the long airplane ride home. Well, Venice is the place to do this. Why do you think I put it at the end of the two week itinerary?
Of course, your tastes will also dictate how you spend your sight-seeing time in Venice so I’ve also provided some options for leaving Venice for a day.
Please keep in mind most of these attractions are popular tourist draws within the city center, which could draw long lines, especially in the late spring and summer months and on the weekends. Prices may have changed since time of writing.
- Wander Venice – take as leisurely stroll as you please taking in the sights of Venice. Shop the Strada Nuova. The streets of Venice can be a little tricky so no worries if you get lost. Venice is not very big and you can always ask for directions. Don’t forget your walking map before you leave your hotel.
- Venice Free Walking Tour of Venice – don’t wish to get lost? No worries, you can join a 10am or 5pm free walking tour with experienced guides. Tours last 2 hours. Reserve your spot online in advance.
- Ponte Rialto (Rialto Bridge) – this is the oldest of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal. Great for picture taking. Free.
- Grand Canal – the main waterway that runs through the center of Venice. Free.
- Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) – the main square of Venice’s city center, it houses the Doges Palace, the San Marco Campanile, and San Marco Basilica. It’s also a great space for lounging and people watching. Free.
- San Marco Basilica (St. Mark’s Cathedral) (9:30am – 5pm, last admission 4:45pm). Built in Italo-Byzantine style architecture in the 11th century it was originally the chapel of the Doge, but has since become city’s cathedral and it’s most famous. It is called the Chiesa d’Oro (Church of gold) due to its gold mosaics. Allow an hour for full access which includes St. Mark’s Museum (€5), Golden Pal (€2.00) and Treasury of St. Mark’s Basilica (€3), which can only be purchased at time of entry (wait times average 45 minutes). April 1st – November 3rd Skip the Line service available for €3. €18 total.
Note: Be sure to address appropriately for basilica access – shorts, sleeveless dresses, low-cut and skimpy clothes are not allowed.
- San Marco Campanile (St. Mark’s Bell Tower) (see San Marco Basilica entrance dates and times) – adjoining the San Marco Basilica, you can take an elevator up 99 meters for a wonderful view of Venice. Admission of 12 people at a time, it is advised to make a Skip the Line reservation to reserve your spot. €8
- Doge’s Palace (8:30am – 9pm Sundays – Thursdays, and 11pm Friday – Saturday April 1 to October 31st; check online for November 1st to March 31st admission times). Built in built in Venetian Gothic style in the 14th and 15th centuries, it was originally the Doge’s residence and the seat of Venetian government and one of the Venice’s most significant landmarks. Now, it is under the administration of the Venetian Republic you can tour the place, the Doge’s apartments, Museo dell’Opera, amory, prisons and museum. A €25 Doge’s Palace ticket provides tour of the palace, Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale and Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. A €5 audio guide can be purchased at the ticket office. €30 total.
- Bridge of Sighs – this fully enclosed bridge of limestone and windows connects the interrogation room of the Doge’s Palace and the Prigioni Nuove (New Prison) and was named so by Lord Byron from the Italian “Ponte dei sospiri”, meant to express the sigh a prisoner let out from seeing Venice a last time before being sent to his cell or execution. Or could be because if a couple kiss under the bridge in a gondola they will experience eternal love? You decide. Note: access to this is with Doge’s Palace ticket.
- Vaporetto ride – hop on a local water bus and cruise down the Grand Canal from the Piazza San Marco back to the Rialto Bridge. €7,50
- Gondola ride – if you prefer something slower, take a gondola ride. Even though locals don’t ride them, they are big with tourists. Due to cost, this may not be for everyone, but if you’re really wanting to go, plan on a 25-30-minute day ride costing a fixed €80 (€120 at night). No, you cannot negotiate on price, but you can share the cost if you find others wishing to share – gondolas fit up to six people, but the gondolier has the right to refuse any number due to weight concerns.
Pro tip: if you want pictures of a specific landmark, start your ride near that landmark and confirm with the gondolier on sites to be seen.
More Things to Do in Venice
If you passed on some of the above attractions, consider adding some of these if they strike your fancy.
- Scala Contarini del Bovolo (10am to 6pm) – climb 28 meters high on the unique 15th century Byzantine Gothic and Renaissance spiral staircase. Tickets include entrance to the staircase and exhibitions and are for specific day and time entries. €7
- Dorsoduro district – from the city center across the Ponte dell’Accademia, or by vaporetto, explore the district to the west of San Marco that holds many other museums and attractions, like the Santa Maria della Salute and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
- Santa Maria della Salute (open daily 9:30 am to 12pm and 3 pm to 5:30pm) – Known as the Salute, this Catholic church was built in the 17th century to celebrate the end of the plague. It’s unique dome can be seen at multiple points of the city. Stroll across the Ponte dell’Accademia and take some beautiful snaps of the water (see post banner picture) on your way to the Santa Maria. €4
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection (open daily 10am to 6pm) – Located in Peggy Guggenheim’s former home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand Canal, the museum houses her personal art collection, masterpieces from the Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof collection, a sculpture garden as well as temporary exhibitions. €15
- Castello district – if you want to venture east of the city center, check out what this district has to offer.
- Explore Venice’s surrounding islands – Venice is surrounded by multiple islands allowing for more exploration, food and fun. Consider getting a 24-hour vaparetto pass(€20) to ride as much as you please while you check out any of these fantastic places:
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Venice Events Calendar
If it helps in planning what you would like to see, here is a list of annual events held in Venice.
What Should You Eat in Venice?
Much like the Spanish, the Venetians enjoy their version of tapas, called cicchetti – small dishes or side dishes eaten by hand or toothpick – and usually standing up – from sandwiches to olive plates to seafood, meat or veggies on top of breads, and more. You can find cicchetti serviced in bàcari (cicchetti bars) or in osterie. This makes it very convenient to grab a bite while trying to fit in all of your sightseeing.
Also enjoy fresh seafood dishes, pasta, delicious wines and coffee. Of course, a visit in Venice would not be complete without a Venetian (Aperol) spritz and gelato.
How Should You Dine in Venice?
The typical European breakfast of an assortment of cheeses, eggs, cold meats, cereals, rolls and coffee / tea can be found in most hotels.
Eating out for lunch is less expensive than dinner. The Venetians eat dinner fashionably late – anywhere from 7 to 10pm, which is perfect after a long day of sightseeing.
Things to Do Outside Venice
Day Trip to Verona or Padua
If you feel you’ve seen most of Venice that you wished to see in a day and want to explore more of Italy before heading home, Verona or Padua are wonderful options close by.
Many trains depart daily from the Venice Mestre station to Verona. The ride is a about an hour and 12 minutes each way and can cost as little as €10 each way, depending your departure day and time.
Likewise, trains from Venice Mestre to Padua can cost as little as €4 each way, depending on day and time, and the ride is only 30 minutes each way.
Check out my Verona 2 day Itinerary, which includes Padua, to see if you might like to see what these beautiful towns have to offer.
Suggested Venice 2 Day Itinerary
Depending on how much you want to see (and spend) is completely up to you. Venice has plenty of options, as I have outlined above.
That said, here is my recommended Venice itinerary, with prices, so you know what you can see and do in 2 days. Mix and match the attractions and excursions to meet your tastes and budget.
Note, my suggested Venice hotel can be booked for €141 for 2 nights (that price includes a fabulous breakfast and taxes). If you get a better deal or choose a more budget-friendly accommodation, then your average daily costs, with all meals, for your stay in Venice could be €100 or less. There are hotels and hostels to choose from starting at around €20/night, depending on what amenities and location you want.
Daily itinerary prices below reflect using my hotel suggestion with breakfast, but not lunch or dinner prices as they can vary. They also do not include using the Venezia Unica City Pass. The itinerary below merely shows how anyone, even a budget traveler, can do Venice and have a wonderful time!
Note: prices may have adjusted slightly since the time of this posting.
Venice Day 1 = €100,50
- Check into (or check bags at) hotel
- Self-guided or free walking tour of San Marco district
- Ponte Rialto
- Piazza San Marco
- San Marco Basilica – €18
- San Marco Campanile – €8
- Cross the Ponte dell’Accademia to Dorsoduro district
- Santa Maria della Salute – €8
- Hotel (breakfast and taxes included) – €70,50
Venice Day 2 = €120,50 – €180,50*
- Early breakfast (hotel)
- Doge’s Palace / Bridge of Sighs – €30
- Walking and shopping San Marco or Castello district
- Gondola ride – €80* or
- Grand Canal, other districts and islands touring, 1-day vaporetto pass – €20*
- Hotel (breakfast and taxes included) – €70,50
Day Trip to Verona = €100,50
- Breakfast (hotel)
- Round trip train Venice to Verona – €20
- Verona attraction – €10
- Hotel (breakfast and taxes included) – €70,50
Day Trip to Padua = €88,50
- Breakfast (hotel)
- Round trip train Venice to Padua – €8
- Padua attraction – €10
- Hotel (breakfast and taxes included) – €70,50
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if this Venice 2 day solo itinerary was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!