Planning to spend 3 days in Venice and wondering what to see and do in the city and how to best plan your time? In this guide, we share a detailed Venice 3-day itinerary coupled with lots of practical information and local’s tips to help you make the most of your visit.
Built on more than a hundred small islands, Venice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful places to see in Italy. Nobody will argue that the historical city center and the islands dotting the beautiful Venetian Lagoon are absolutely unique. There’s just no other place like this in the world!
The canals of Venice and its ‘calli’, the narrow streets, divide the urban landscape that looks like an intricate labyrinth. With its old palaces, world-famous museums, and its iconic landmarks, Venice is a city to visit slowly, giving you time to enjoy all its beauty.
Most tourists only come to Venice for a day, so lucky you to be able to spend three days in the floating city! With 3 days in Venice, you should be able to cover all the ‘musts’, but also get a bit off the beaten path, enjoy getting lost in its maze of narrow streets and canals, and get to know a more local side of this fascinating place.
Good to know: While we have visited Venice several times and have shared multiple Venice travel guides on the blog before, for this 3-day Venice itinerary we asked for recommendations from a local. Originally from the Veneto region and with a Master’s Degree in tourism studies, Maddy from the Venice Travel Tips blog is passionate about sharing her knowledge of the city and the area.
This itinerary was created with her help and includes lots of local tips, restaurant suggestions, and other information that should help you plan a truly memorable trip. It should give you a good idea of how to spend up to 3 days in Venice without missing out on its best bits including a few off-the-beaten-path gems. Take a look!
How this guide is structured:
Below, you can find our recommended Venice itinerary for three days. Per day, we share detailed info about all the places that you can visit, coupled with practical info and tips. Further below, you’ll find a short overview of the 3-day Venice itinerary and a MAP indicating each place mentioned in our guide.
Please note that all the hours in the itinerary are only indicated for your reference. This will give you a better idea of how much time you need for each place/ attraction.
When suggesting the order in which to visit everything, we take into account the location and the opening hours of the attractions, or the starting hours of the tours. That way, you can better plan your time, see what’s possible, and then decide where to go or maybe skip one place and spend more time somewhere else.
Finally, at the bottom of this article, you’ll also find some general practical tips for visiting Venice. Take a look!
Here’s how you could spend three days in Venice:
Day 1: Venice Highlights
On your first day, you’ll probably want to visit some of the main sights and top attractions in Venice. Our itinerary below is packed with the ‘musts’. In addition, we show you how to best plan your day so that you can get a taste of authentic Venice too.
DAY 1 planning info/ tickets to book:
- St. Mark’s Campanile (Bell Tower) – timed-entry tickets.
- St. Mark’s Basilica – timed-entry all-in tickets.
- Doge’s Palace – timed-entry tickets.
- Gondola ride – see here (booking optional).
- TIP: This digital Venice Pass includes all of the above and makes it easy to book/plan everything in one go. For a unique experience, check out this exclusive after-hours tour of Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica.
- La Fenice Theater – tickets.
- Street food tour (optional) – book here.
This is what your first day in Venice would look like:
Rialto Bridge + Market + Grand Canal
After your breakfast at the hotel, visit the Rialto Bridge and market area. The Rialto bridge is one of the oldest bridges in the city and one of the few ones crossing the Grand Canal. It’s also one of the most popular places that everyone comes to see in Venice. So visiting here in the morning will help you to appreciate it better. During the day, you can often hardly see the bridge through people…
Back in the Serenissima Republic days of Venice, this part of the city was a prolific space for trading spices and products coming from the Middle and the Far East. It’s also here that you will also find Mercato di Rialto, a bustling market area.
The fish and fruit/vegetables markets are usually open from around 7.30 am daily except on Sundays. It’s a nice place to soak up a local atmosphere and take some colorful pictures.
Be sure to also walk around the waterfront promenade on both sides of the Grand Canal. It offers countless amazing photo opportunities!
If you want to go for a gondola ride in Venice, the area around Rialto Bridge is an excellent place to do that. The Venetian gondola is one of the iconic symbols that Venice is famous for and the oldest means of transport in the city.
Nowadays, gondolas are mostly used by tourists, but it remains an authentic Venetian experience that we highly recommend. It’s also one of the best ways to appreciate how special and unique Venice is from a different point of view.
Good to know: You don’t absolutely have to book a gondola ride in advance, but if you want to do it at a specific time and place without wasting time, then it might be a good idea. In that case, take a look at the best options available here.
TIP: Early morning is a very good time for a gondola ride. There aren’t that many tourists around so the canals aren’t filled with gondolas, and it’s not too hot. Furthermore, gondoliers aren’t tired yet and are usually in a very good mood. For more info and tips, please see our guide via the link below.
READ ALSO: Tips for a Gondola Ride in Venice
Good to know: If you don’t mind visiting the bridge and the market when it’s busier, you can also start your day in St. Mark’s Square (see below) and visit the Rialto Bridge area after that. Gondola rides are available all over the city center throughout the day. This would save you quite a bit of walking; on the other hand, a lot depends on where your accommodation is located and where you want to start your day.
St. Mark’s Square + San Marco Campanile + St. Mark’s Basilica
In about 15 minutes walk from Rialto Bridge you can reach Piazza San Marco. This is the only real square of Venice, as the other small piazzas of the city are called ‘campi’. Its story goes back to the early years of Venice, in the 12th century.
St. Mark’s Square is considered one of the most beautiful squares in the world! It’s surrounded by the buildings of Procuratie Vecchie and Nove, where the St. Mark’s procurator was living and working. You can’t really miss the 15th-century Clock Tower on the left side and the bell tower, St. Mark’s Campanile, on the right.
No matter how many days you have in Venice, these popular attractions are a must for any itinerary. And it’s best to visit them early to any disappointment.
We highly recommend going to the top of St. Mark’s Campanile. With 98 meters, this is the tallest building in Venice, and its original purpose was as a lighthouse for the sailors. Nowadays, it’s one of the best places to enjoy some of the best 360° aerial views of the city and the lagoon.
Practical information: St. Mark’s Campanile is normally open daily from 9.30 am. If you want to go up, be sure to book timed entry tickets online in advance (if this option is available in the season when you visit) and be here before it opens. And don’t worry about having to climb – there’s an elevator that brings you to the top.
Next on this itinerary is St. Mark’s Basilica located on the same square. There are 137 churches in Venice (!), and this impressive basilica is the religious heart of the city. The golden mosaics you can see inside are stunning, just like Pala d’Oro, the impressive golden altarpiece (extra fee). In addition, you can also visit St. Mark’s Treasure and Terrace (extra fee).
Good to know: St. Mark’s Basilica is open from 9.30 am, except Sundays and some religious holidays when it’s only open in the afternoon (see their website for more info). A visit to the church itself requires a ticket and the queues can be very long, especially if there are many cruise ships in town. So if you want to visit inside and make the most of your day, be sure to book timed-entry tickets in advance.
TIP: We recommend this all-in ticket that also includes Pala d’Oro and Terraces. These are the most impressive parts of the Basilica, not included with the standard ticket.
You can also just visit St. Mark’s Treasure and the Terraces (there’s usually a much shorter queue here). From the museum, you can see a bit of the interior of the church as well (of course, it’s not the same as actually visiting inside). But you also get access to the balcony overlooking St. Mark’s Square, which is well worth it.
But quite honestly, with three days in Venice, you have plenty of time, so get the full ticket and see everything. It’s stunning!
TIP: This highly-rated guided tour visits the terraces of St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace (more info below). If you want to see these places in the most efficient way, it might be worth considering. There is usually a tour at 10 am, so it could fit this itinerary quite well.
Alternatively, for a truly unique experience, check out this exclusive after-hours tour of Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica. In that case, you’ll have to rearrange this itinerary a bit since this tour runs in the evening.
Doge’s Palace + Bridge of Sighs
Just behind St. Mark’s Basilica is the Doge’s Palace, another of the must-sees in Venice.
This is the former residence of Venice’s doge, the chief magistrate of the Serenissima Republic. The building is one of the most outstanding examples of Gothic architecture. Even if you wouldn’t have the time to visit inside, it’s absolutely impressive just to see it.
But with three days in Venice, you really shouldn’t miss visiting Doge’s Palace inside!
The building is divided into 3 wings where you can walk around the doge’s apartments, see the stunning chambers, and also visit the prisons that couldn’t have more contrast with what you see in the palace. The absolute highlight here is the Chamber of the Great Council with artworks from eminent Venetian artists like Titian, Carpaccio, and Bellini.
In order to get to the prisons, you’ll have to cross the famous Bridge of Sighs. This covered bridge has been called like that to remind the ‘sighs’ of the prisoners taking the last glimpse of the Venetian lagoon before finding out what their sentence was. It’s a truly unique experience and something you can only do in combination with a visit to Doge’s Palace (which makes it even more worthwhile).
After your visit to the palace and the prisons, take some time to admire the beautiful architecture of this bridge from the outside as well!
Practical info: Doge’s Palace is open daily from 9 am. You should count at least 1.5 hours for a visit. Unless you visit here on one of the tours that come here, be sure to book your timed-entry tickets in advance. Otherwise, you’ll waste hours queuing.
LEARN MORE: Doge’s Palace: how to visit & what to expect
Fondaco dei Tedeschi Rooftop
Before heading back to Rialto Bridge where you can find a lot of interesting spots for lunch, consider visiting the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi rooftop just nearby. This terrace offers some lovely views of the Grand Canal and the skyline of Venice. It has quickly become a very popular tourist attraction in the city.
The word ‘fondaco‘ in the Venetian dialect can be translated to a warehouse or trading headquarters. Fondaco dei Tedeschi dates to the early 13th century and belonged to German merchants.
Today, the historical building has been restored and hosts a luxurious multi-level shopping center. Even if you don’t visit the terrace, it’s well worth taking a look inside – the interior is stunning and quite unique.
Good to know: The rooftop is open from 10.45 am until 7.15 pm (closing at 7:30 pm). It can be accessed for free but you’ll need to book your visit through their website beforehand.
Lunch: Al Mercá
For your first lunch in Venice, there is no better place than Al Mercá, a locals’ favorite spot for lunch or aperitivo. It’s perfect for lunch on the go as this traditional ‘bacaro’ (local bar) has no seating.
It serves ‘cicchetti’, small bread bites with delicious toppings made of fresh and locally sourced ingredients, and a small panini. Locals love accompanying these snacks with a glass of wine or Aperol Spritz.
Lunch opening times: Daily except for Sundays, between 10 am and 2.30 pm.
Of course, you will be able to find plenty of other great places for lunch. Just try to avoid the super touristy restaurants right on the Grand Canal.
Libreria Acqua Alta
Just a 10 minutes walk further, you can’t miss a little gem of Venice, Libreria Acqua Alta. This is a truly unique bookshop, self-proclaimed as one of the most beautiful in the world. In the past, this was a really hidden gem of Venice – not so much anymore. Sometimes, there’s a very long queue to get in, and while it’s nice to see, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s worth your time…
This bookstore has a big collection of new and second-hand books. Many of their books are stored inside Venetian gondolas, kayaks, and whatever else can float. This is in order to protect the books from getting wet during the famous floods (thus the name ‘aqua alta‘ which literally means the high water).
The store looks really chaotic, but it’s also why it’s so fascinating for visitors. The many cats laying around make it even more fun to visit. This is a good place to look for a nice souvenir, some unique postcards, or Venice prints.
TIP: Don’t miss the book ‘staircase’ outside, at the back of the store.
Opening times: Libreria Acqua Alta is open daily from 9 am to 7.30 pm. We indicated its location on our map at the end of this article.
La Fenice Theater
La Fenice Theater is located in St. Mark’s neighborhood and is not far from the top attractions you visited earlier today. So it’s a bit of backtracking, but it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to get there from the Libreria Acqua Alta.
This prestigious opera house built was built in the neoclassical style and opened to the public in 1792. Over the centuries, the building has been burnt down and restored numerous times.
La Fenice Theater is considered one of the most prominent in the world and can host up to 1500 people. It’s here that the premieres of many famous operas were held, including those of composers such as Giuseppe Verdi, Stravinsky, Vincenzo Bellini, and Gioachino Rossini.
TIP: You can visit this iconic opera house just to admire its stunning interior. For that, it’s best to book your skip-the-line tickets in advance. The visit itself is self-guided, but you will receive an audio guide. A guided tour is also available, but at the moment, it only runs at 1 pm. So if you are interested in this, you would have to adjust your itinerary and come here right after visiting Doge’s Palace (and have lunch somewhere nearby).
And finally, you can also attend an opera, a ballet performance, or a concert, etc. In that case, be sure to check their calendar and try to book your tickets in advance (but keep in mind that these are non-refundable). You can also buy tickets at their ticket office as well as at the Venezia Unica box offices around the city. However, keep in mind that last-minute tickets for the most popular events might not be available.
Opening times for theater visits: Normally, you can visit the theater daily from 9 am to 6 pm (last entry 1 hour before the closing time). However, this is subject to change and depends on their event calendar. You can check the most up-to-date schedule for the current month here. But even then, it can happen that things change last minute.
Evening option 1: food tour
Next, this itinerary takes you to Ponte dell’Accademia and the Dorsoduro area (which you can also visit on day 3 of this itinerary) – see below. But if you want to take it easier, not have to walk as much, and stay closer to the center, you could opt for this highly-rated street food tour instead.
This tour starts at 5 pm in Campo San Bartolomio (close to Rialto Bridge, just about 10 minutes walk from the theater), and takes about 2.5 hours. It could be a nice and more relaxing way to end your first day in Venice. We did food tours with this company in Rome and in Naples and they were always excellent. It’s a great way to discover some regional Italian food with a local guide.
If you opt for this, don’t worry about missing something. You can easily visit the places mentioned further below on day 3 of this itinerary (instead of one of the museums we recommend for that day). Also, since this specific tour starts close to Rialto Bridge, you could visit La Fenice theater after the St Mark’s area and then visit the Fondaco rooftop terrace and the bookstore after that and before the food tour. This would save you some walking. You could also watch the sunset from the Rialto Bridge area.
Evening option 2: Ponte dell’Accademia & Dorsoduro neighborhood
About 10 minutes walk from La Fenice Theater, you’ll find another iconic bridge in Venice – Ponte dell’Accademia. This is the second most important bridge in Venice and one of just four bridges that cross the Grand Canal.
The Accademia Bridge is not as busy as the famous Rialto Bridge, and the views of the canal from here are stunning. It’s a great place to take some postcard-style pictures of the typical Venetian cityscape with the colorful palazzos next to the Grand Canal, and boats and gondolas all around.
Another reason to come here is that this bridge connects the old historic center to the Dorsoduro neighborhood. This is one of those more local areas where you can still find some tourist-free spots and enjoy a more authentic atmosphere.
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
One of the most noteworthy attractions of the Dorsoduro neighborhood is the baroque-style Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. This is the second most important church in Venice, after St. Mark’s Basilica. It was built to celebrate the end of the plague epidemic in 1631.
Interesting to know: To commemorate the day that the Virgin Mary protected the city from the plague, on the 21st of November, the ‘Festa della Salute’ is celebrated here.
Inside, you can admire the painting ‘The Descent of the Holy Spirit’ by Titian and in the sacristy ‘The Wedding at Cana’ by Tintoretto. The floor of the church is also very impressive, just as the cupola.
Practical information: The church itself can be visited for free, but some parts require a ticket. Just as most other churches in Italy, the Basilica usually closes for a few hours at noon. In the afternoon, it’s open from 3 to 5.30 pm. So if you follow this itinerary and can get here around 5 pm, you should be able to visit inside. Otherwise, come here in the morning of day 3 of this itinerary.
Fondamenta delle Zattere
5-6 pm (or later, depending on the sunset times).
Fondamenta delle Zattere is a series of waterfront promenades on the southern shore of the Dorsoduro neighborhood. The name comes from rafts (in Italian “zattere”) which were used to transport tree trunks from the mountains to this part of Venice in the past.
There’s no better way to unwind whilst waiting for the night to fall over the city, than taking a seat on of the marble benches in the Fondamenta delle Zattere to admire the sunset on the lagoon.
Fondamenta delle Zattere might not be as popular as watching a sunset from the Rialto Bridge, but it’s a more exclusive experience since there are not many tourists around. From here, you can enjoy a spectacular view of Giudecca island and take a relaxing walk just before the aperitif time.
Good to know: Keep in mind that the actual sunset time will be very different in the summer (+-8-9 pm) than in the winter (+-4.30-6 pm). So you could come here earlier or later, depending on when the sun sets during your visit (you can easily check this on Google). But even if you don’t stay here for sunset, it’s well worth visiting this part of Venice.
Aperitivo & Dinner
By now, you’ll probably be exhausted from all the sightseeing in Venice. Time for an aperitivo.
Just next to Zattere, you can find the Osteria al Squero (this and other restaurants mentioned here are indicated on our map which you can at the end of the article). This is a great place to enjoy a fantastic Venetian aperitivo. The small bar has a wide selection of ‘cicchetti’ made with local seafood, cured meats and cheeses. There are options for vegans and vegetarians too!
In the past, this was just a locals’ meet-up place, but it’s becoming quite popular among tourists. You can get your cicchetti and sit outside, from where you can observe one of the only ‘squeri’, gondolas’ shipyards left in the city.
Good to know: Osteria al Squero is open on weekdays from 10 am to 8.30 pm (Saturdays and Sundays closed). Alternatively, you’ll find other nice bars in the area.
To conclude your first day in Venice, the perfect location for your dinner is the over-water terrace of the Lineadombra restaurant. This is a high-end modern restaurant where you can expect to have a lovely meal serving typical Venetian cuisine, with local products from the sea and the land. The restaurant is open daily except on Wednesdays. For dinner, it opens at 7 pm, but if you want to be sure to find a table, it’s best to reserve in advance.
If you are looking for something a bit less expensive and low-key, check out Trattoria ai Cugnai dal 1911. This traditional trattoria is an excellent non-touristy choice for dinner in Venice. Also here, it’s best to reserve in advance.
Day 2: Venetian Lagoon Islands & Venetian Arsenal
On your second day in Venice, you could spend half a day exploring some of the most famous islands of the Venetian lagoon. In the afternoon, take it easy strolling around the gardens and laid-back neighborhoods of the city. This will give you a bit of a break from all the sightseeing on days 1 and 3 of your trip.
Here is what your second day in Venice could look like:
Murano / Burano / Torcello Half Day Trip
9.30 am – 2-3 pm.
With three days in Venice, you’ll have plenty of time to see all the main landmarks in the city center. So we highly recommend that you also leave the city for a few hours and explore the beautiful islands just nearby.
Some of the most popular islands of the Venetian Lagoon are Murano, Burano, and Torcello. And you’ll find lots of local companies offering all kinds of tours to these islands.
One of the best options is this highly-rated half-day tour which allows you to quickly visit all three islands in a short time. You can choose to hop on the boat at Santa Lucia railway station or next to St. Mark’s Square and they have multiple departures during the day. We recommend starting early to avoid the biggest crowds. Alternatively, you could also turn this itinerary around and start in the afternoon.
This tour offers expert commentary and stops at all three islands giving you some free time on each of them. First, you’ll stop in Murano, the island which is famous for its handmade glass production. Here, you’ll visit a glass factory where you can see glassblowing masters creating some glass art pieces. Next – Burano. This island is famous for its rainbow-colored fishermen’s houses and lacemaking. The last stop is Torcello, the smallest island. This is where people first settled before moving to where Venice is now.
If you take a tour at 9.30 am, you can expect to be back in Venice around 2 pm. Hop off in St. Mark’s area. Alternatively – if you want to spend more time on the islands – you can also opt for a longer tour. More info – below.
Good to know: If you want to spend more time on the beautiful islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, you can also opt for a longer tour instead (recommended). You can still visit Venetian Arsenal (see below) when you get back or before you leave – it really doesn’t require much time.
This popular tour visits all three islands but takes 6-7.5 hours, giving you more time to explore. The cost of these tours is practically the same since you pay for the boat and it has to cover the exact same distances. However, this tour usually has just one or two departures (and starts later). In that case, you should adjust the itinerary for this day a bit and also plan to have lunch at one of the islands.
Yet another option, is to simply book a hop-on hop-off ticket for the Venetian Lagoon and visit the islands at your own pace.
If you take the shorter tour, you’ll be back in Venice at around 2 pm. Hopefully, you can get some small snacks or gelatos earlier, or you’ll be starving…
For late lunch, we recommend Osteria da Carla, one of the oldest historical ‘osterie’ of Venice. It’s a lovely small restaurant where modern-style dishes are made with seasonal products that come from the Venetian lagoon. The osteria is only a few minutes walk from St. Mark’s area and it’s open the whole day (daily except on Sundays).
Alternatively, in the same area, try Il Calice pizza restaurant. It’s open daily except on Mondays and is also open during the entire afternoon.
Riva degli Schiavoni Walk to the Castello Neighborhood
After your late lunch, enjoy a walk on Riva degli Schiavoni. This is a very busy waterfront area past St. Mark’s Square and Doge’s Palace. But the further you walk, the quieter it gets.
From here, you can admire the Venetian lagoon and see the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. If you keep walking you’ll get to the Castello neighborhood, the furthest district of the city. This is also the most laid-back area of Venice and is usually not too crowded.
It’s a perfect place for a relaxed afternoon for those looking to get a bit off the beaten path in Venice.
Venetian Arsenal & Biennale Gardens (optional)
In the Castello district, you can visit the Venetian Arsenal (Arsenale di Venezia). The Arsenal is the former shipyard and construction site of the Serenissima fleets. It also represented the political, economical, and military power of Venice.
Its construction started in 1104 and it was the largest industrial complex in Europe before the Industrial Revolution. Today the Arsenale is an exhibition space for the Biennale of Venice, an international cultural exhibition. If you have time, you can also visit the nearby Naval Historical Museum.
In this same area, you’ll also find the Biennale Gardens (Giardini della Biennale). This is the biggest green space in the historic city center of Venice. Established at the behest of Napoleon, at the start of the 19th century, they are also called the Napoleonic Garden.
The gardens are free to visit, but the pavillions can only be visited during the Biennale art festival (usually +- from April to November) and require a ticket (more info here). You can also cross the bridge and walk to the nearby park Parco delle Rimembranze as well.
After strolling around the gardens, make your way back towards the city center. You could opt for dinner at one of the local restaurants in this area or treat yourself to something special – see below.
For dinner, you have many options. Here are some recommendations.
Just a short walk from the gardens, you’ll find a waterfront restaurant Antica Osteria da Gino. A bit more towards the center – a really nice traditional restaurant Nevodi. Yet another great choice is Osteria A La Scuela, a bit past the Arsenal.
Osteria A La Scuela is one of our personal favorites. Their selection of cicchetti ranges from grilled cuttlefish to black ones, including the fried cod with courgette flowers and the classic ones served with small pieces of bread. They also serve hot dishes like lasagna, Buranella pappardelle with scallop sauce, Venetian liver, pasta and falzioi (pasta with beans), Sarde in saor and bigoli. All the best of the Venetian and Veneto region cuisine!
TIP: If you are ok with one daily meal at a traditional restaurant for lunch and rather do something different for dinner, check out this Venetian Lagoon tour and dinner on a traditional Galleon boat. Granted, this is a more touristy option, but it can be a really nice experience as it gives you a chance to see more of the beautiful surroundings from yet another vantage point. They have fish and meat menus to choose from and it’s a unique gourmet experience.
However, depending on the season, these tours don’t run every day (and the best places sell out quickly in the high season). So check if it’s available and – if interested – book in advance.
Day 3 in Venice
On your third day in Venice, you can spend some time visiting a few of the best museums and exploring less-touristic neighborhoods. Below, we share a suggested itinerary with some of the best options.
To help you plan an even more memorable trip, we also include some additional recommendations such as Venetian mask- or glass-making workshops. That way, you can create your own perfect itinerary following the recommendations that interest you the most.
Good to know: If you opted for a food tour on day 1, start the 3rd day in Venice by crossing the Accademia Bridge followed by a visit to Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. The church is normally open from 9 am, except on Monday and Tuesday mornings. Afterwards, visit Zattere and continue with some of the places mentioned further below in our itinerary.
Here are some of the best places you could visit on day 3 in Venice:
Gallerie dell’Accademia and/or Peggy Guggenheim Foundation
There are a few museums in the Dorsoduro that you may want to consider visiting on your third day in Venice. The best ones are Gallerie dell’Accademia and Peggy Guggenheim Foundation.
The Accademia Galleries hold one of the biggest and most impressive collections of Venetian art, from the 14th to the 18th centuries. You can see masterpieces by Titian, Veronese, Canaletto, Giorgione, Tintoretto and Bellini. Here you can also admire the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci! If you visit just one art museum in Venice, make it this one.
Practical information: The museum is open daily from 8.15 am. Count at least 1.5 hours for a visit. Keep in mind that this is one of the most-visited museums in Venice. While it’s nowhere nearly as busy as e.g. Doge’s Palace, it can get quite busy at times. If you want to visit without wasting much time, it’s best to book your tickets online. See their website for more info.
Just nearby, located in a beautiful waterfront Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, you’ll find another amazing museum, the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation. This is a modern art museum and a real art institution in Venice. It features European and American art of the 20th century.
The museum is Peggy Guggenheim’s personal collection of artworks. Today, the collection includes works of futurists and modernist artists with masterpieces of Surrealism, Cubism, and Expressionism. You can also expect to see some works by Dalì, Mirò, Picasso, Kandinsky, and Magritte, just to name a few.
Practical information: This museum is open daily except on Tuesdays, from 10 am. Also here, you’ll probably need at least 1 hour for a visit. The lines here can get quite long, so if you want to visit, it’s best to get your tickets in advance.
Campo Santa Margherita + Ca’ Macana
There’s no better way to visit Venice than getting lost in its narrow streets and small piazzas. One of the nicest town squares is Campo Santa Margherita.
This public square is certainly the best one in the Dorsoduro district where you can experience the more authentic Venetian lifestyle. During the day, you can find a fish market here. In the afternoons, local kids are playing football after school. This is also a popular meeting point for university students due to its wide selection of small bars and restaurants to have an aperitivo or an informal dinner.
This part of Venice is also great for some souvenir shopping from locally run businesses.
Only a few minutes walk from here, you can find Ca’ Macana. This is one of the best Carnival mask workshops in Venice. Here, you can find both traditional and old masks and more contemporary creations.
TIP: Are you looking for something unique to do in Venice? Do you fancy learning how to create a real Venetian mask? Then you can book a Venetian carnival mask-making workshop and learn the art of mask-making from the experts! This workshop is in this neighborhood, runs a few times a day, and only takes about 1 hour. So it could be a nice addition to your day.
For lunch, you could try Osteria alla Bifora on Campo Santa Margherita. This is a traditional restaurant with a quirky interior and wonderful cicchetti (Venetian finger foods). It’s open daily from noon to late at night.
Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari + Campo San Polo
Less than 10 minutes walk from here, in located in the San Polo neighborhood, you’ll find Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. This is one of the biggest churches in Venice and one of the most significant Franciscan places in Italy. The interior is stunning and you can see many paintings and sculptures of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Anthony of Padua.
The three masterpieces not to be missed are the Altarpiece of the Assumption, the Virgin Mary from Ca’ Pesaro by Titian, and the tryptic of Giovanni Bellini, in the sacristy of the church.
After leaving the church, you can visit the nearby Campo San Polo. This is the largest ‘campo’ of Venice and in the past, was a marketplace as well as a playing arena. It’s a nice place to relax, sit down on a bench, and do some people-watching for a few minutes.
Calle Varisco and/or glass-making workshop (optional)
“Calli” are Venetian pedestrian streets, and it’s said that there are more than 3,000 calli in Venice. So by now, you will have probably seen hundreds of them. Some are quite large, others pretty narrow, but you still haven’t seen the narrowest of all!
So if you want to see the narrowest street in Venice, head to Calle Varisco. In some places, this street is only 53 cm (1.7 ft) wide, which means that you’ll have to walk sideways to pass through it.
Good to know: Calle Varisco is a bit out of the way from all the rest, about 20 minutes walk from Campo San Polo. You’ll have to cross the Rialto Bridge in order to get here. This is a more off-the-beaten-path place in Venice, but might be worth visiting if you have some free time and want to see something a bit different. Of course, you’ll also pass many other nice local streets on your way there.
TIP: If you are already planning on going out of your way to this area, just near Calle Varsico, you can attend a really nice workshop with a local glass master and create your own glass artwork.
In that case, see if this workshop is available for the day of your visit and choose the time slot that fits your itinerary best. If you do this, count at least 1.5 hours for this area.
Alternatively, this is something that you could also do in Murano on day 2 of this itinerary. See several glass workshop options here.
Jewish Ghetto + Cannaregio neighborhood
About 20 minutes walk from Calletta Varisco, you can reach the Jewish Ghetto located in the Cannaregio neighborhood.
This was the area of the city where Jews were segregated around the 16th century at the behest of the Doge Leonardo Loredan. It’s also thought to be the oldest ghetto in the world. Nowadays, there’s a community of about 450 Jews living here.
The main square is the place where local people like to gather for a chat. The surrounding streets are dotted with small art galleries and bakeries owned by Jew families.
Try some delicious pastries from the bakery of Giovanni Volpe. This is also the perfect place to find good restaurants to indulge in some kosher food.
Around the ghetto, you can explore more of the district of Cannaregio. Some of the main highlights are the Ponte delle Guglie, Ponte dei Tre Archi, Casa del Tintoretto, and the churches of San Marcuola and Madonna dell’Orto.
TIP: There are many interesting walking tours that visit the Cannaregio neighborhood and the Old Ghetto. If you would like to explore this area deeper, it might be a good idea to go with a local guide.
Optional addition: If interested, you can also take some time to visit the Jewish Museum. It’s a beautiful museum to explore with a collection of books and manuscripts as well as religious Jewish objects used during the traditional ceremonies. Furthermore, your ticket also includes a visit to Levantine and Spanish synagogues (two of the oldest Venetian synagogues – absolutely impressive!), accompanied by an expert guide.
Check their website for more information and synagogue tours. In that case, you’ll likely need at least another hour in this area.
Aperitivo and dinner at sunset
Depending on the time of the year (and when the sun sets), you might be able to enjoy another beautiful sunset in this part of Venice. Head to either Fondamenta dei Ormesini/ Fondamenta de Misericordia or Fondamenta Cannaregio – nice streets next to a canal with many bars and cafes.
Osteria Al Timon on Fondamenta dei Ormesini is a great place for either aperitivo or dinner. From 5 pm, you can sit down for a drink or get some traditional ‘cicchetti’ made with local ingredients directly from the counter, in a very informal but lively atmosphere. They also serve excellent seafood, traditional steaks, etc.
Trattoria dalla Marisa on Fondamenta Cannaregio is another great place for dinner in this area. This is a very low-key trattoria where you can sample some traditional Venetian dishes cooked by the skillful hands of Italian nonna (grandmas). The small restaurant is known by locals (students and workers) but you won’t find that many tourists here (yet). The menu can change every day based on the fresh and seasonal products arriving. It’s open for dinner from 7.30 pm, but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays to Saturdays.
TIP: A nice way to end your last day in Venice is by joining a food tour with a local. In the Cannaregio district, you can opt for this highly-rated private evening food tour. Alternatively, get back to the city center where you’ll find many other restaurants and also interesting food (and wine) tours.
Venice 3-day itinerary overview
Here’s a short overview of the itinerary described above. Further below, you can find a map indicating all these places.
8-9.30 am: Rialto Bridge + market + gondola ride.
9.30-10.30 am: St. Mark’s Square + San Marco Campanile (tickets) + St. Mark’s Basilica (tickets).
10.30 am-12: Doge’s Palace (tickets) + Bridge of Sighs.
12-1 pm: Fondaco dei Tedeschi rooftop.
Lunch: Al Mercá.
2-2.45 pm: Libreria Acqua Alta.
3-4 pm: La Fenice Theater.
Alternative suggestion instead of the below: 5-7.30 pm street food tour.
4-4.30 pm: Ponte dell’Accademia.
4.30-5 pm: Santa Maria della Salute Basilica.
5-6 pm: Zattere for sunset on Giudecca island.
Aperitivo and dinner at Osteria al Squero, Lineadombra, or Trattoria ai Cugnai dal 1911.
9.30 am: Murano / Burano / Torcello half day tour (or longer tour and adjust the itinerary below based on that).
2 pm: Lunch at Osteria da Carla or Il Calice.
3.30-4 pm: Riva degli Schiavoni walk.
4-6 pm: Arsenale and Biennale Gardens + free time.
Dinner: Osteria A La Scuela, Nevodi, Antica Osteria da Gino, or Venetian Lagoon boat tour with dinner.
8.30-11 am: Galleria dell’Accademia and/or Peggy Guggenheim Foundation.
11 am – noon: Campo Santa Margherita + Ca’ Macana. Possibly a Venetian mask-making workshop.
Lunch at Osteria alla Bifora.
1-2 pm Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari + Campo San Polo.
2.30-3 pm Calle Varisco. Possibly a glass-making workshop.
3.30-6 pm Jewish Ghetto + Cannaregio neighborhood.
Aperitivo and dinner al Timon and/or Trattoria dalla Marisa, or a food tour.
To help you plan your Venice itinerary, we created a map indicating all the places, sights, and attractions mentioned in our guide. We also indicated all the restaurants described above.
Each day has another color – that way, you can easier see which places belong together.
Of course, you can adjust this itinerary to your interests and the time that you have. But it gives you a good idea of the best places to see, things to do, and how it can all fit together in just 3 days. Further below, you can also find some practical tips for your visit to Venice.
How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.
Some practical tips
Here are some useful tips for your visit to Venice:
- The best months to visit Venice are from March to early June and from September to mid-October. This way you’ll avoid the overcrowded summer months and the heat. If you can, try to avoid the peak cruise-ship season. In winter, you have more risk of ‘acqua alta’ aka the high tides, rain, and colder temperatures. But if you want to experience Venice without the crowds, it can be a nice time to visit too.
- Visiting during large-scale events such as the Carnival, the Biennale of Venice, or the Redentore festival is a fantastic way to experience Venice as well. Just bear in mind that accommodation prices will be higher and the streets in the center will be even more packed.
- If you want to visit any of the top attractions inside (Doge’s Palace, San Marco Basilica, theater, museums, etc.), be sure to book in advance!!! Also for accommodation, it’s best to book well in advance or you risk having to pay 500-700 euros per night for an average hotel.
- Avoid restaurants located on the main streets or the ones facing the main canals. Most of them are tourist-oriented but lack authenticity. The food is often not of the best quality and is overpriced too. If you want to dine at a specific restaurant, it’s best to reserve a table a day or two in advance as well.
- Prepare to walk a lot and wear comfortable shoes. Pack a refillable water bottle and – in summer – sun protection.
- While it’s sometimes fun to just wander around and get lost in that labyrinth of narrow streets and canals, if you want to get from one place to the other without wasting precious time, use a navigation app on your phone. We always use Google Maps in Venice and it works really well.
- The closest airports to Venice are Venice Marco Polo and Venice Treviso. If you arrive at the Venice Marco Polo airport you can get to Venice city center by water bus, shuttle bus or private transfer by car or boat. From Venice Treviso, you can take a shuttle bus. You can find some of the best airport transfer options here. Here you can find information and tips for visiting Venice by car.
- The best neighborhoods to stay in Venice are San Marco and San Polo in the heart of the city or Dorsoduro, just a bit away from the biggest crowds. In these areas, you’ll find the best hotels, guest houses, apartments, and B&Bs, all close to the top attractions.
TIP: Using the map below, you can search for the best accommodation options for your stay in Venice. Simply insert your travel dates and group size, and you’ll see some of the best deals right on the map. Check it out!
So, this is our detailed guide and suggested Venice itinerary for 3 days, coupled with local’s tips and recommendations.
Of course, you can adjust it to your needs and preferences. But we hope that this guide gives you a good idea of the main places to see, as well as some ideas and inspiration for getting a bit off the beaten path.
Often, these additional experiences and local discoveries make for some of the most memorable moments and best memories from your trip. Have a great time in Venice!
More information and inspiration for visiting Venice:
- Best things to do in Venice
- Doge’s Palace, Venice
- Gondola Ride in Venice (what to expect & tips)
- Venice 1-day itinerary
- Visiting Venice with a baby or a toddler
- Driving and parking in Venice
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE TO READ: How to Plan a Trip to Europe (Tips & Tricks)
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More guides and inspiration for visiting some of the most popular Italian cities:
- Rome itineraries:
- Florence – Tuscany:
- Milan & Lake Como:
- Naples & Amalfi Coast:
- For many more destinations, see our Italy travel guide.