The city of Venice and its lagoon are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a result, there are many things to see and do during 2 days in Venice. Venice also has a compact centre which means that many of the Venice attractions can easily be reached on foot.
You can spend 2 days in Venice visiting the famous historical sights of this floating city, exploring its canals on foot or by gondola and eating great Italian food! 2 days in Venice is also enough time to take a relaxing half-day boat trip to some of the nearby Venetian islands.
In this article, we share our itinerary for 2 days in Venice including details about what to see and do in Venice, where to stay and what to eat. In addition, you will find useful information about the different transport options available to get from Venice airport to Venice and about how to get to some of the Venetian islands by boat.
2 Days in Venice Itinerary
2 days in Venice are easily filled as there is so much to see and do. With our perfect itinerary for 2 days in Venice, you can explore the charm of this floating city, discover its canals and enjoy its famous buildings, bridges and monuments. You will even have time to visit a couple of nearby islands.
During our 2 days in Venice, we stayed at the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice on the island of Giudecca. For the best prices and more details on Booking.com, click here.
This hotel operates a complimentary shuttle boat over the lagoon to San Marco that saved us time and money. The boat ride was also a relaxing start to the day and a great opportunity to admire the Venetian skyline.
On the first day of your 2 days in Venice, we recommend you start by soaking up the sights and atmosphere of the San Marco & San Polo areas of Venice.
Day 1 (Morning) – San Marco & San Polo Areas of Venice
Fill the first morning of your 2 days in Venice with a visit to St Mark’s Square, St Mark’s Basilica, the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge.
St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), Venice
After landing on the waterfront at San Marco, weave your way along the canal between the colourful market stalls. Then, cross in front of the Bridge of Sighs which connects the prison to the Doge’s Palace. Venice will overwhelm your senses with its familiar architectural riches. The whole experience feels like you are walking in one of Canaletto’s majestic paintings.
Turn right and you will quickly find yourself in Saint Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco). The Campanile (bell tower) looms high above you to the left. The spectacular Basilica San Marco dominates the eastern end of the square.
St Mark’s Basilica (Basilica San Marco), Venice
From the exterior, St Mark’s Basilica (Basilica San Marco) is an impressive domed building with lavish gold spires and beautiful golden mosaics. It is the most important and most famous religious building in Venice. It is also an excellent example of the Byzantine style in Italy.
No matter how many days you spend in Venice, you must visit this famous Venice landmark. However, queues to visit St Mark’s Basilica are long. To save time and avoid disappointment, book your skip the line tickets in advance. Click below for details about this 1-hour informative guided tour.
Lunch By the Canals in the Backstreets of Venice
After finishing your visit to St Mark’s Basilica, head under St Mark’s Clock Tower. Take your time and stroll along the quaint streets, crossing the canals in the San Marco area of Venice. Look out for a place to eat lunch!
One of the rewards of getting lost in Venice’s maze of streets and canals is what you discover by chance. In this way, we stumbled across small simple restaurants (osteria) and bars (bacari). We enjoyed sampling typical Venetian dishes with the locals.
Owners of the osteria and bacari are happy to share their knowledge of Venetian specialities. This is how we discovered tapas-style snacks (Cichetti), black cuttlefish pasta (Seppia al Nero) and Aperol Spritz! We also learned that the delicious Tiramisu dessert was created in the Venice area.
Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge, Venice
After eating lunch, enjoy zig-zagging between San Marco and San Polo by crossing the Grand Canal at the Rialto Bridge. Find a good spot along the canal and enjoy the sights and sounds of the gondolas and boats passing by.
Return to the tiny backstreets of San Marco and San Polo and do some window shopping. On display are irresistible pastel-coloured gelato (ice cream), enormous rolled sandwiches, mouth-watering pizza slices and intricate Venetian masks.
Traditional Venetian masks are still worn in the magnificent Carnival of Venice (Carnivale di Venizia). This is held annually between February and March.
Day 1 (Afternoon) – Venetian Islands of Murano & Burano, Venice
An afternoon visit to a couple of nearby Venetian islands is a perfect way to end your first day in Venice.
A short 10-minute walk from the Rialto Bridge is the Fondamente Nove Vaporetto station. From here, you can catch a Line 12 water bus to the Venetian islands of Murano and Burano.
📍 This helpful map shows the perfect walking route.
If you prefer a more luxurious personalised tour with a knowledgeable local guide, click below for details. It includes a visit to both islands and a glass factory on Murano.
Murano, Venice – Island Famous for Glass-Making
Murano is a small island near Venice which is known world-wide for glass-making. It is home to the famous Murano glass. You can tour working glass-making factories and visit the interesting glass museum.
Murano is relatively quiet compared to Venice. We enjoyed wandering along Murano’s main canal and browsing the stunning glass creations in the shop windows. Along the way, you can catch frequent glimpses of artisans at work in their studios.
Burano, Venice – Colourful Fishing Village
A short Vaporetto ride from Murano is the colourful island of Burano. Burano is a small fishing village. It is famous for its hand-crafted lace and brightly coloured houses lining the canals.
The streets are lined with interesting artisan shops with lace floating in the breeze outside. The multi-coloured houses form a dazzling patchwork against the brilliant blue sky. The photogenic buildings of Burano are a complete contrast to the earthy colours of Venice. Will you find the Leaning Bell Tower (Campanile) of the San Martino Church?
Burano is also a great place to eat. Choose a quiet restaurant away from the main square, then sit back, relax and eat. Whilst you relax, watch the skill of those who navigate their boats in and out of the narrow canals.
Day 2 – The Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Campanile & Gondola Ride
Day 2 of our 2 days in Venice itinerary includes a visit to the historic Doge’s Palace and the imposing St Mark’s Campanile. Of course, a gondola ride is also a must. Make sure you check out our tips below!
Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
As its name suggests, the Doge’s Palace was the historic home of the Doge (Duke). It was also the seat of government and served as the city’s courtroom. Its famous jail is situated across the famous Bridge of Sighs.
When we visited the Doge’s Palace, there was a long queue to enter, but it was worth the wait. If you have a short time in Venice, it is definitely worth buying skip the line tickets in advance. Click below for more details about a 1-hour professional guided tour of the palace rooms and prison.
The façade of the Doge’s Palace is intricately carved with magnificent statues and sweeping staircases. Inside, the high ceilings are truly breath-taking. High about your head, gilt framed frescos and wide stone arches leave you in awe of their construction.
The sheer beauty and opulence of the Doge’s Palace is in stark contrast to the bare prison cells. It’s easy to sense the history of this place.
Feel a shiver as you run your fingers over the etched carvings left by prisoners in their cells. It’s fun to peer through the tiny lattice windows over the Bridge of Sighs. Imagine the last sighs of prisoners catching their final glimpses of Venice.
St Mark’s Campanile
Opposite the Doge’s Palace is St Mark’s Campanile. The Campanile is a 99-metre-high bell tower which towers over St Mark’s Square. This square tower is topped by a spire and was once a lighthouse.
Today, a lift takes you to the top of St Mark’s Campanile. At the top, you can see five of the original bells. The panoramic views of Venice from the Campanile are spectacular. Venice is mapped out before you, like a miniature world beneath your feet.
Take a Gondola Ride on the Venice Canals
No visit to Venice is complete without a ride in a Venetian gondola. When you think of Venice, gondolas instantly spring to mind!
A ride in a gondola is an experience which is unique to Venice. From the canals, you can really appreciate the inaccessibility and charm of Venice. You can clearly see how Venice earned its name as the City of Bridges and experience the importance of the canals.
However, before you hire a gondola in Venice, please consider the following advice.
Firstly, gondolas are expensive. It is good to know that the city of Venice operates official gondola rates. Wherever you hire a gondola, it should cost you the same amount of money.
Secondly, think carefully about where you choose to board your gondola. Of course, you can join the other tourists and float under the Bridge of Sighs and down the Grand Canal. In our experience, this was a Venetian traffic jam we wanted to avoid.
Instead, think about heading to the backstreets of Venice for a less crowded experience. We found a couple of gondoliers moored in a tranquil backstreet. From the cosy velvet seats, the sound of the gondoliers’ calls and serenades echoed pleasantly around less busy canals.
How to Travel from Venice Airport to Venice
If you want to travel by water from the Marco Polo Venice Airport to Venice, head straight to the airport landing stage (dock). This is well sign-posted from the airport. From here you have two choices to travel by water to Venice.
The first option is to take a public water bus (Vaporetto operated by Alilaguna). The second choice is to travel by a private or shared motorboat (water taxi). Both have pros and cons.
Venice Water Bus (Vaporetto)
The water bus is much cheaper than a water taxi and is popular with the locals. A return ticket costs 27 Euros (£24). However, be warned that journeys by public ferry from the airport to Venice are slow!
The vaporetto journey to Venice can last between 40 minutes and 1 hour 45 minutes. The journey length will depend on where you are staying. The Alilaguna blue line stops at 12 stations. Passengers hop on and off.
Check Alilaguna for more information about Vaporetto routes.
Our journey from the airport to the island of Giudecca took 1 hour 45-minutes! However, we had time to relax and circumnavigate Venice. The Vaporetto is certainly a romantic way of taking in the sights of Venice at a leisurely pace.
Venice Water Taxi
Water taxis are also an extremely romantic way to arrive in Venice. They are much quicker and more direct than the Vaporetto but are expensive. If you just have 2 days in Venice, a water taxi is a good idea. The journey from Venice airport to central Venice is 45 minutes.
To cut costs, you can share a water taxi. You can begin your visit to Venice hassle free by pre-booking a shared water taxi transfer. Click here for details.
Express Bus From Venice Airport to Venice
Alternatively, you can save more time and money by opting for an express bus transfer from Marco Polo Airport. This service connects the airport with the Piazzale Roma. It’s the quickest way to reach Venice if you are in a hurry. The journey lasts just 20 minutes.
📍 This helpful map shows the location of the Piazzale Roma in Venice so you can check the distance to your hotel.
If you want to maximise your time in Venice and prefer a quick transfer by express bus, click here for details.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Venice?
The best time to visit Venice is in the spring and summer.
Venice can flood at any time of the year, but particularly between autumn and spring and in the winter months of November and December. Water levels are rising and Venice is sinking at an estimated rate of 2 mm per year thanks to subsidence.
Venice flooding is known as ‘Acqua Alta’ which literally means ‘high water’. When the water levels rise in the Venetian lagoon, Venice is at risk of flooding. This usually happens in Winter owing to a combination of tides, wind and sea levels.
Acqua Alta is not a new phenomenon but is happening more often because of climate change, local industrialisation and subsidence. Once every 4 years, more than half of Venice floods if the lagoon water rises over 140 cm above standard sea level.
Whereas four times a year, approximately 14 % of Venice floods if water levels rise over 110 cm above standard sea level. This is more likely to occur between Autumn and Spring.
St Mark’s Square is one of the lowest lying tourist attractions in the world and is the first place to flood. However, Venice is well-equipped for Acqua Alta. Elevated wooden walkways called ‘passarelle’ are quickly erected and life goes on as usual until the floods subside after a few hours.
If your weekend in Venice happens to be struck by floods, you will have a memorable story to share with friends and family.
The Perfect 2 Days in Venice Itinerary – Final Thoughts
Venice is a city like no other and has something for everyone. During 2 days in Venice, you will have time to enjoy some of the main sights. You will even have time to visit the islands of Murano and Burano. We strongly advise you to book tickets in advance to avoid losing time queueing for Venice attractions.
Make sure you allow time to wander around Venice and get lost in the backstreets. Like this, you will soak up the atmosphere of the city and discover some hidden gems!
If you want more information about Venice, read our informative post Is Venice Worth Visiting?
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