The perfect 3 days in Venice for your next trip to Italy.
Updated in July 2019.
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We fell in love with Venice. And I hope you do, too. With just 3 days in Venice, we covered a lot of ground. Truth be told, Justin and I actually only had two and a half days in Venice. Flying overnight from Toronto, we reached Venice midday. Even if you have a weekend in Venice (or a long weekend), there are many spots that are simply a must see in Venice that you can fit into your trip.
Even with just two days in Venice, we had enough time to see many Venice landmarks. Though it would be incredible to have an indefinite amount of time, we had to move on after a few days. This 3 days in Venice itinerary gives you the best taste of what the city has to offer. There are so many places to visit in Venice, you’re left wanting more for your next trip. Here are the best things to do in Venice in our carefully planned and well thought out Venice travel guide.
Day 1: Arrival
We flew from Toronto to Venice on an Air Transat flight. For those curious about an honest review about our international overnight flight with Air Transat was, please check out our full review. We also flew back to Toronto at the end of our Italy trip with Air Transat, flying out of Rome. You can see exactly what we ate on our flight as vegans, too.
Transportation to Venice
We reached the Venice Marco Polo airport (VCE) around noon and made our way to the city via the bus. At the airport, we bought our 72 hour ACTV tickets to use the public transit in Venice, the vaporetto (water taxi). You’ll find the ticket counter at the airport. When we reached the main island on the bus, we then hopped on a vaporetto with our luggage. We traveled to the stop closest to our apartment.
If you don’t want to worry about buying tickets upon arrival, you can easily order them in advance to save yourself any hassle. You can purchase your airport transfer here, and I also recommend that you buy an unlimited vaporetto three day pass.
Where to Stay in Venice
Looking for a wonderful place to rest your head at night? We adored our stay at Warm Hospitality Apartments in the Giglio Apartment. It’s in the quiet and serene Dorsoduro neighborhood. You’ll be away from the hustle and bustle of the primary tourist areas, but you’ll still be able to easily walk to many popular spots. There’s also a vaporetto stop nearby so you can get all over Venice.
This apartment truly felt like home to us. Our favorite part of the apartment was the adorable balcony overlooking a darling little courtyard. It also has a full kitchen, a clean bathroom, and it’s a very spacious place to relax between sightseeing. We recommend that you book your stay at Warm Hospitality Apartments when you travel to Venice. Be sure to check out more reviews from fellow travelers, too.
Things to Do in Venice on Day 1
If you find yourself with enough energy, you can visit a museum or a palace in Dorsoduro. You could go to the Gallerie dell’ Accademia, with its great collection of Venetian paintings. If you’re more into modern art, check out the Peggy Guggenheim collection. If you love churches, be sure to see Santa Maria della Salute or Gesuati. The giganic palazzo, Ca’ Rezzonico, is another amazing place to visit. It’s all up to your own personal interests when deciding what to do in Venice.
In our case, we couldn’t sleep at all on our flight. We napped and felt much better after doing so. For dinner, we ate at the local restaurant, OKE Pizzeria. The pizza was so good that we returned for more the next day. Check out everything we ate in Venice at our vegan guide to Venice.
Day 2: Islands of the Lagoon
On the morning and afternoon of our second day in Venice, we explored the islands of the lagoon. As for things to see in Venice, Murano and Burano are not to be missed. Murano is the island of glass, and Burano is the island of lace. I recommend spending a relaxing half day at both islands. You don’t need to plan very much before your trip. If you have 3 days in Venice, at least a half of one of those days must be spent in Murano and Burano.
From the vaporetto, our first stop was Murano. To reach the island, take a vaporetto to the Fondamente Nove stop and transfer to line 12. The boarding area is just beyond the Donà Bridge. The first stop on line 12 is the island of Murano. If you stay on the boat, you’ll eventually reach Burano.
Once you’re in Murano, wander around the canals and streets, visiting little shops and cafes. At the island of glass, we went to a free glass blowing demonstration by a master. Afterwards, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase Murano glass, but we didn’t feel pressured into buying anything.
You should also visit the clock tower and the giant blue glass sculpture in Murano. They’re both located at San Stefano square, although I’m sure you’ll come across them in your journey. Murano isn’t very big, so you’ll be able to see it all in just a couple of hours. Check out my complete guide to Murano.
Burano is known as the island of lace, but I remember it mostly for the bright and colorful buildings. No two buildings can be painted the same color next to one another, and all paint colors must be approved by the government. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a concentration of rainbow colored houses all in one place. If you’re looking for things to do in Venice, visiting Burano is an absolute must.
Take a stroll around the canals and snap a ton of photos. Once you’re off the canal and down the side streets, it will be a little quieter. You’ll find beautiful spaces wherever you turn. Even though you can find things made of lace for sale, we bought a painting of the buildings themselves as that was most memorable to us. It’s easy to combine a trip to Murano and Burano into one half day trip. Here’s how we spent our day in Burano.
If you’ve got some time and energy, you can take the vaporetto to Lido. This is the beach resort island of Venice. Yes, there’s a beach in Venice! If you’re visiting during the summer months, you’ll certainly be able to enjoy it. In May, it was too chilly for us to sit on the beach.
If we had enough time, we were planning to rent bicycles and ride all over the island. However, we didn’t want to rush it. We didn’t feel there was enough time to savor Burano, Murano, and Lido all in one day. When planning what to see in Venice, we felt that Lido was the spot we could sacrifice if we had to miss out on something. But, you might be able to make it work (especially if you have 4 days in Venice!).
Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal
For the rest of our day, we stopped for a coffee on a patio. Justin and I walked across the iconic Rialto Bridge, which was partially covered in scaffolding while we were there (it happens all the time in Europe!). While you will be able to see an incredible view of the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge, it was very crowded with tourists. Even though it’s pretty crowded and touristy, the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal are a must see in Venice.
We took the vaporetto back to Dorsoduro and picked up some more of that delicious pizza from OKE Pizzeria. Then, Justin and I brought it back to our apartment and enjoyed it on the balcony. After such a busy day, we relaxed for the rest of the evening in the comfort of our accommodations.
Day 3: Piazza San Marco, Getting Lost, and Gondolas
For the final day of our 3 days in Venice itinerary, it’s time to venture around the island to visit some iconic Venice landmarks. In the early morning, we wandered over to Piazza San Marco to see one of the more popular tourist spots in Venice: St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. Get there early to spend some time admiring the incredible architecture around the square.
St. Mark’s Basilica
My recommendation to you: book everything ahead of time. By booking your tickets in advance, you can skip the long line to St Mark’s Basilica. We went there as early as possible (9:45am) to beat the crowds. If you arrive earlier than that, you can take the elevator up to the top of the Campanile as early as 9:00am. You’ll only need the maximum time of an hour at St. Mark’s Basilica, but most likely even less time.
After visiting the church, we had reserved our Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries tour for 11:35am. We walked around the piazza and surrounding area, checking out the famous Bridge of Sighs – a must see in Venice. The Secret Itineraries tour is roughly 1 hour 15 minutes. You’ll need to book tickets in advance for the tour. Allow yourself some time at the end to check out the rest of the palace.
Wandering around Venice
After grabbing some lunch, we walked all over the main island of Venice. I highly recommend that you get lost in Venice. Yes, really! It’s the best way to explore and you won’t truly ever be completely lost. You’ll find your way to a recognizable place eventually. You never know what you might stumble upon, whether it’s an interesting building, alleyway, or doorway. The city is so full of amazing history. The best thing you can do is wander around, seeing as much of it as you can.
Libreria Acqua Alta
We stumbled upon one of the best bookstores called Libreria Acqua Alta. This is a must see in Venice. It’s the only bookstore that has a gondola inside it, filled with books. This bookstore is prepared for a flood, with books stacked in tubs and boats. At the back of the store, walk up a small staircase made of old books for an awesome view. Even if you only have 3 days in Venice, make a point of stopping by one of the most unique bookstores in the world.
Take a Gondola Ride
We spent our last evening in Venice taking a romantic gondola ride. If you’re traveling as a couple, a gondola ride is such a memorable and magical moment to share together. There’s a great debate on whether or not you should take a gondola ride in Venice. It’s really up to you. It is a little on the expensive side, but I love doing those iconic things sometimes.
We opted to take our gondola ride at dusk, which was even more romantic as the sun began to set. Even though you can catch awesome views of Venice from the vaporetto, it’s a whole other experience to take a gondola ride. Justin and I booked a gondola tour that had a musician and a singer, which made the experience even more romantic. Please note that you will be sharing your gondola with two other couples / four other people. It is possible to reserve a gondola for two for a more private experience.
For dinner, we went to Le Café in Campo San Stefano. We enjoyed a wonderful meal on the patio, enjoying the ambiance of the piazza. If you’re interested in checking out all the vegan food we ate in Venice, check out our vegan guide to the city.
For your next Italy trip, be sure to add Venice to the travel plans. With 3 days in Venice, you can see many Venice landmarks without rushing it too much. It’s all about striking a balance. You don’t want to rush around from place to place. Yet, you don’t want to miss out on anything.
If you’re looking for what to do in Venice, this Venice itinerary provides a great foundation to see many stunning sights, and leaves you wanting more for next time.