Inspiration for your next holiday
Inspiration for your next holiday
Venice is the most iconic city in Italy.
It is an architectural masterpiece that appears to float on the still waters of the Laguna Veneta. Found within Venice is a beautiful work of art created by its labyrinth of canals, islands, bridges and charming alleys. Venice is not a huge city, but is a maze of narrow alleys and bridges connecting the many varied districts.
With 48 hours in Venice, you will be able to visit all of the famous historical sights and gain an appreciation for this fantastic city.
This article will provide a suggested two-day tour to help you get the most from Venice, which could be used for a weekend break or as part of an extended tour of Italy.
Related articles: Where to stay in Venice?
The following itinerary has been specifically designed for visitors new to Venice and provides an in-depth introduction to the city.
• Day 1 Morning: San Polo district
• Day 1 Afternoon: San Marco district and Dogana
• Day 2 Morning: Castello district
• Day 2 Afternoon: Cannaregio district
An interactive map for your two days in Venice is shown below. Day one is highlighted in green and day two in blue (Note: zoom in or out to see all of the points and routes)
Sights of day one: 1) San Polo 2) Rialto Bridge 3) St. Mark's Square 4) St. Mark's Cathedral 5) Doge's Palace 6) Academia Bridge 7) Bridge of Sighs 8) Dogana 9) Fenice theatre 9) Guggenheim Museum.
Sights of day two: 10) Castello district 11) Libreria Alto Mare 12) S. Giovanni 13) Ghetto 14) the Cannaregio district
Alternatives for day two: Murano, Burano, Isola di S. Giorgio
The sestiere San Polo (Venice is divided in 6 Sestieri, not districts) is situated in the surroundings of the celebrated Rialto Bridge, and it's just the perfect place to start your exploration of Venice. Just a short, charming, walk away from Venice central station, this neighborhood is an ideal base if it is your first time in this unique city.
San Polo is the smallest of the sestieri, but is located in the heart of Venice and it's well-connected to all its most popular attractions. Currently, it is also one of the most vibrant areas in Venice, packed with boutiques, markets and local restaurants.
Explore the busy area and take a moment to embrace the beauty of the popular Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal. This then leads in to the most popular district of Venice, San Marco.
San Marco is certainly the most famous and most visited district in Venice, and you will want to spend some extra time visiting its superb attractions.
The highlights of this area are St. Mark's Square, St. Mark's Cathedral and the Doge's Palace, including the world-known romantic Bridge of Sighs, one of the most iconic and photographed enclosed bridges, connecting Doge's Palace to the old prison.
This area is always filled with tourists, regardless of the season, but you can't miss it on your first visit to Venice. From here, head to The Fenice, the prestigious theatre of Venice and one of the most famous theatres of operas in the world.
Finally, cross the beautiful Accademia Bridge and take a lovely walk along Fondamenta Zattere, facing The Giudecca, until you reach the stunning Dogana del Mar (Sea Customs House of Venice), the triangular area of Venice where the Grand Canal meets the Giudecca Canal. From there, you can catch an impressive and comprehensive view of Venice. Get to the tip of the triangle at sunset with a glass of wine or beer, and you will instantly fall in love with Venice.
One of the best places for a fun night out in Venice is definitely the area of Cannaregio, particularly the Fondamenta dei Ormesini and Misericordia—two long promenades of little bars, restaurants and small typical bacaros.
During the day, the area is relaxed and quiet, mostly filled with locals. However, later in the day, the vibe drastically changes, and you will see crowds cheering by the canals with glasses of wine or the typical Spritz cocktail.
Here, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset, or spend the night bar hopping with cheap drinks and little snacks (Cicchetti) surrounded by loud locals. And for a very authentic party experience, head to Al Timon, the most popular bar of the area.
On your second day in Venice, you might want to explore the more authentic sides of Venice, to embrace the full essence of the city.
Start your day in the Castello sestiere, one of the least touristy districts, but also the largest one in Venice. It encircles the entire eastern side of the island and offers a variety of little stores, local restaurants, hidden beautiful parks and the famous Biennale art installation.
Here, venture inside a very unique bookstore, Libreria Acqua Alta, a must-see sight of Castello, filled with old books stored inside the typical Venetian boats, the gondola.
From here, take the largest street in Venice—Strada Nuova—the arterial road of the city full of stores and touristic attractions, and connecting Castello to the other most authentic neighborhood of Venice, Cannaregio.
Stop for a nice lunch at one of the local restaurants or bacaros of this down-to-earth neighbourhood. You can enjoy your meal at a table outside by the canals, and witness Venetians going about their daily lives on their typical boats. Known for its youthful vibe and endless bacaros, it's a great place to taste the Venetian lifestyle.
Grab an espresso or an extravagant coffee by Torrefazione Cannaregio if you need a boost after lunch, and keep strolling along those gorgeous sun-kissed canals.
Finally, head to the Ghetto and experience the beauty and the history that inhales. Here, you can also join a quick tour of the area from the Jewish Museum of Venice and visit the historically important synagogues.
Cannaregio offers an authentic look at the real Venice: immerse yourself in its infinite maze of charming alleys, little churches and astounding hidden views—you'll certainly want to extend your stay in the city after experiencing all of that.
Cannaregio has two souls, and this slow-paced neighbourhood lights up at night with a buzzing nightlife, so you are already in the right district if you want some fun in Venice after your 48 hours of exploration!
The tour detailed above is exclusively for Venice, but on the second day, you may wish to visit the surrounding islands like Murano or Burano to see a more authentic side of Venice.
If you are feeling adventurous and want to travel like a local you could catch one of the "vaporetto" (public waterbus) and head out to Murano and Burano islands and enjoy the refreshing boat trip with beautiful sights of Venice.
The first stop on the vaporetto is Murano—a collection of seven individual islands connected by small bridges—famous for high quality artisan craft, particularly its worldwide known hand-crafted glass.
Afterwards catch the vaporetto the little island of Burano: a joyful myriad of little colorful houses along little canals resembling Venice. Burano is regarded as one of the prettiest towns in Italy, and is worth visiting for a nice stroll along the canals surrounded by colorful houses and artisan craft stores.