St. Marks Venice
Italy, Travel

How to Conquer Venice in One Day | Venice Part Two

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If you read my earlier post Venice: Part One, you know that we got slowed down on our first day in Venice due to the vaporetto strike. We did manage to fit in dinner near the Rialto Bridge, a walk around the square some delicious gelato! We had intended to go to the top of the Campanile that evening, but we ran out of time. As a result, we needed to squeeze that into an already full day the next morning. So, as a result, what I can now offer you is How to Conquer Venice in One Day! You can also read my post on 10 Must have Items for Your Trip to Italy here.

Conquering Venice in a day is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it’s a whirlwind. If you can manage an extra night in this beautiful city, I highly encourage you soak in the City of Romance over 2 full days instead of just one. Even an extra half or nearly-full day would be much better. However, sometimes, it is a matter of one full day or nothing. This was our situation, but we weren’t going to miss Venice. I hope you won’t either!

An Early Start

Since we did not make it up the Campanile last night, that means we have to start our day a little earlier than planned. We got up, filled up on breakfast downstairs at the hotel and are on our way by about 8:15 am. Today, the vaporettos are running! It took us about 10 minutes to walk down to the vaporetto stop and another ten on the ferry to get to the Square. We chose a hotel outside the square, closer to the Santa Lucia Station, so this would be quite a walk without the vaporetto! Despite location, I don’t regret our hotel choice. Ai Mori D’Oriente was beautiful, quiet and spacious. In all reality, Venice isn’t that big, so the location isn’t that bad. Our main issue was that we just didn’t have much time.

We made it down to the Square and took some morning pictures and were of the first to go up the Campanile. In hindsight, I am really happy that it didn’t work out the previous night because we wouldn’t have had the chance to experience the square in the early morning before the major crowds hit. Fast forward a few hours and the square is PACKED!

The Campanile, especially if you are into photography, is a must do in Venice. It offers incredible views of the city in every direction. Morning and sunset will give you the best lighting and the least wait times. We were early enough, we hardly had to wait. Again, fast forward a few hours and the line was super long. There is only one elevator that goes up and down so it can take a while if you are stuck in line.

Campanile Venice


Check out my first post on Venice for more photos from the top of St. Marks Campanile!

Next, we had a timed entrance at 10:00 am to St. Marks Cathedral. The Cathedral (or Basilica) is BEAUTIFUL!

St. Marks Venice

Entrance is free but you can pay 2 euros in advance online to skip the line. My advice: pay the 2 euro. Otherwise, you will be waiting in line for 2-3 precious hours. Even though we had a skip the line pass, we still waited in that line for about 20 minutes. As with most churches in Italy, there is a dress code. Keep knees and shoulders covered (men and women). If you aren’t dressed appropriately, there are paper shawls you can purchase at the door that must be worn.

Backpacks are not allowed inside the Cathedral and there is no baggage check at the church itself. However, to the side of the Cathedral there is a little place in an alley called Anteneo San Basso where you can check your bag. It is on Calle San Basso, across the corner from the Basilica. The first hour is free, but you can leave your bags longer for a small “donation” to the church. 🙂 We did pay the extra fees inside St. Marks to see the reliquaries and the Palo d’ Oro. The Palo d’ Oro is pretty incredible! Unfortunately, there was a no photography rule, so my only photos are of the outside except this one I snuck in! Isn’t that ceiling incredible?!?!

St. Marks Venice

We spent about 1 hour in the church before getting our bags back and we spent a few minutes wandering around the square making our 11:35 tour at the Doge’s Palace. It is impossible to capture the whole structure in one picture, it’s HUGE!! To give you some perspective, this photo faces the rear after first walking through the front part of the complex. We are standing in a “square” area and the building structure to the left and right of the domes are all part of the Doge’s. It is MASSIVE. Does it look like you could get lost inside? You can! We did! That was all in my last post though… 🙂

Doge's Palace Venice

We chose to book the Secret Itineraries Tour after reading about it on several blogs and checking out the reviews. We are both history buffs and this seemed like a place we would definitely benefit from having a guided tour. Definitely get a tour if you visit the Doge’s and I highly recommend the Secret Itineraries tour! This tour takes you to some areas of the palace that are unavailable to the rest of the public. You get to see and learn a few extra things about the palace and the history of Venice that are very cool. Plus, you get the real story of Casanova who spent several years locked up in a Doge’s cell like this one!

Doge's Palace Venice

In Casanova’s attempt to escape, he got himself locked in an office space. Turns out, we aren’t the only ones to have gotten lost inside the Doge’s! As luck would have it, the clerk was caught so off-guard when he opened the door, he just let him walk out and the rest is history!

Besides the dungeons, the courts, and other governmental rooms, the Doge’s is also full of some incredible art.






Skipping Snacks Leads to Poor Choices!

By the time we left the Doge’s Palace, it was 1:30 and we were HUNGRY! We really could have spent more time looking around, but we were seriously famished at this point. What happens when you are famished? You pick the closest place serving food. My recommendation of what NOT to do when you visit Venice: don’t eat in St. Marks Square. It is overpriced and not very good. We knew that is what we were getting into, but we didn’t want to spend any time looking around. We were seriously starving.

Despite eating a hearty breakfast, we had already put in about 3 miles in the heat. My tip to you here, and this tip is crucial, is to put a few snacks in your purse/backpack to avoid finding yourself in this situation or worse – hangry. Hangry isn’t a good time for anybody. Pack a snack!

The Afternoon

After lunch, we headed back to the vaporetto to cross over the lagoon to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Since we will be in Italy for 15 days and will see plenty of renaissance art, we decided to make the Guggenheim our Venice museum visit. I was mostly interested in the Picasso. My verdict on the Guggenheim is that it was ok. I wouldn’t call it a must do, but it really depends on your taste in art. The Academia is near here so, if your preference is renaissance art, you could do that instead or you could forego the museum experience in Venice altogether.

Now, it’s time for a pick me up! An activity we came to love over our time in Italy was our afternoon shot of espresso. Mid-afternoon, we would start to get tired and an espresso got us just enough energy to push through. So, on our way back to a vaporetto, we pop into a shop  and knock back a 1 euro espresso shot and press on.

We were going to skip Murano but, at some point in planning, changed our minds about that. Dinner is at 6:30 and it is about 4:00 now. A couple of hours in Murano was enough but I wouldn’t have minded having more time. The glass shops are very cool and you can see glass blowing demonstrations. There is also a glass museum. Most of the shops here close at 6, so keep that in mind if you plan to visit Murano. Also, don’t get fooled by knock off glass! Authentic Murano glass must have a stamp or sticker and display the artisan.


Finally, it is dinner time! By now, we are more than ready for the break, and we have full intentions of beginning with a bottle of prosecco! If you have never had prosecco, it is delicious. It is also inexpensive, even in the US! We have made reservations at a little place called Osteria al Duomo after reading several great reviews online from locals (which are few).

Later, we found out that many venetian locals cross over to Murano to have dinner here, because there just isn’t much on the main island that hasn’t conformed for the tourists. Once seated, you could definitely feel that vibe as nobody spoke english and it was full of locals. Our waiter did his very best to communicate and took care of us wonderfully. We spent two hours enjoying prosecco and all the food we could before heading out. These long dinners would become the norm throughout our trip and it always felt right. Dinner is not simply a time to eat in Italy, it is an event. It is a time to relax and enjoy the finer things in life – each other, house wine, delicious multi-course meals and wonderful desserts.

We Did It!

We conquered Venice in one day (plus a few hours the prior evening). Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? YES. Overall, the day ran pretty smoothly and we had enough time to get from one place to the next with small breaks. I was actually shocked that we stayed on the schedule I had prepared and there is no way we could have done this without one. With so little time and so much to see, we really needed to know where we were going and how to get there in advance. That, combined with pre-booked tickets made this day possible. We literally had no wasted time spent in lines or trying to find our way around.

In hindsight, the only thing I would do differently is skip the Guggenheim Collection and spend that extra time in Murano. The Guggenheim is a matter of taste in art and if that time is worth it to you. It is also out-of-the-way to anything else you would want to visit except for the Academia. At the end of the day, I am happy with the decisions we made with the time we had. Maybe someday, we can visit again and spend our time only soaking in the city and maybe even getting lost. If you have the time, I don’t think getting lost in Venice would be so bad.

Here is the itinerary I made and we followed in Venice. I copied it directly as it is still written in my document so it also includes other handy notes I made. I made edits in red for this post that note changes we had to make based on the strike. This itinerary would work if you had a full day and a half in Venice, which is why I left it. I have placed the condensed itinerary below this one.

Day 1 (Partial Day)

5:10 pm Arrive at St Lucia Station in Venice. Buy Travel Card from HelloVenezia booth.
Vaporetto line 1 to S. Marcuola- Casino SX. Follow hotel map/directions. Check in at Hotel Ai Mori D’Oriente. (We tried to buy the travel card, but the vaporetto were on strike.)
5:30 pm Head out
6:00 pm Rialto Bridge and Cichetti Crawl for Dinner along Rialto area. Use Water bus route 2 to Rialto Bridge. (We didn’t get to do a “Cichetti Crawl” because of time restraints due to having to walk to the hotel from the train station. By the time we got checked in and settled it was already 6:00pm and we would have to walk to dinner. A Cichetti is a sample sized food and a Cichetti Crawl is basically bar hopping to try all the different flavors and samples that restaurants offer before dinner time. It is a good way to try several different things from several different places all in one day. After such a long day, we decided we would rather sit down for a meal.)
6:45 pm Gondola (will be cheaper before 7pm) 80 Euros, 40 minutes. Confirm price before getting on boat. Gondoliers can be tricky! (We went after 7 pm and paid 100 Euros for 30 minutes. If this isn’t in your budget, but you still want to experience it, you can actually use a gondola to cross the canal for a couple of euros. It’s short and sweet, but you can say you rode the Gondola in Venice!) 
7:30 pm Campanile San Marco. Should be open until 9:30 with last lift at 8:45. (We missed this. By the time we finished dinner and walked to the square, it was too late.)
9:00 pm Visit St. Marks Square. Gelato/cappuccino. Orchestras play at some cafes at night.
Find Ateneo San Basso (where we will need to check bags before St. Marks Basilica)

Day 2 (Full Day)

Always validate tickets before boarding vaporetto. There are machines at every boat station were you can buy a single ticket or day passes. If you don’t have a ticket, you can be fined a hefty sum if the boat is spot checked.

8:20 am Leave Hotel to walk to vaporetto stop.
Vaporetto to St. Marks Square. Check bags at Ateneo San Basso. Around the corner from Basilica on Calle San Basso, in an alleyway. 60 minute limit.
9:45 am St Marks Basilica – Skip the line reserved for 9:45/10:00. Once inside, pay the separate admission for entry to Palo d’Oro and Marciana Museum. There is a restroom upstairs. Out the door by 10:40 to pick up bags. 5 minute walk to Doge’s Palace. (We went to the little reliquary museum inside and to the Palo d’Oro, but we did not go upstairs. From upstairs, you can get a great view over the square. Since we went up the Campanile, we didn’t see a need for this. If you can’t do the Campanile, this might be something to add into your activities.)
10:45 am Find a snack (We did not find a snack. Big mistake. lol)
11:25 am Arrive to Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour — Begins at 11:35. Use restroom here.
1:00 pm Follow Riva degli Schiavoni to port near gardens. Vaporetto from Saint Marks to Salute via the “1” ferry (10 min)
Walk to Corner Pub for lunch, Across from PG Museum on corner of canal. 5 minutes. (We did not go to corner pub. Instead, we went to the closest place we could find by the Doge’s. I wouldn’t recommend eating in the square, but it was nearly 1:30 when we left the Doge’s and we were starving by this point!)
1:30 pm Lunch
2:30 pm Cross street to PG Museum
Allow about an hour
3:30 pm Head to Murano (will take about an 45 minutes to an hour from the Guggenheim between walking and ferry)
Walk (or take “N” from Academia SX to Rialto C, then walk) to Fondamente Nove and take route 12 to Murano. Get off at Faro. Check out glass blowing. Museum is about a 10 minute walk. Ticket office closes at 5. Museum closes at 6.
6:00 pm Dinner at Osteria al Duomo 2 minutes from museo (Although our reservation was at 6, dinner actually begins at 6:30 for the restaurant)
7:30 pm Waterbus from Museo (Fondamente Antonio Machio) to Fondamente Nove.
10 minute walk to Grand Canal/Rialto area to find a gondolier if didn’t do yesterday
8:00 pm Gondola Ride. 30 minutes, 100 euros. Otherwise, just walk around…gelato/cappuccino? (We did the Gondola ride on the previous day so we took our time at dinner and made that the last event of the day.)

Venice in One day – Revised Version

Below is a revised itinerary based on my personal experience. This itinerary is condensed for ONE FULL DAY in Venice and includes all the “Must See” and “Must Do”

8:20 am Leave Hotel to walk to vaporetto stop.
Vaporetto to St. Marks Square. Check bags at Ateneo San Basso. Around the corner from Basilica on Calle San Basso, in an alleyway. 60 minute limit.

9:00 am Campanile San Marco. We got there about 8:40 and it didn’t open until 9am. We spent that time taking photos in the square of the Basilica and the Campanile.
9:45 am St Marks Basilica – Skip the line reserved for 9:45/10:00. Once inside, pay the separate admission for entry to Palo d’Oro and Marciana Museum. Out the door by 10:40 to pick up bags. 5 minute walk to Doge’s Palace. (Doge’s Palace is just to the east of the Basilica)
11:25 am Arrive to Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour — Begins at 11:35. Use restroom here.
1:30 pm Lunch
2:30 pm Murano island – glass blowing, glass art. Depending on your personal art preference, you could swap the afternoon in Murano for an afternoon in the Academia and Guggenheim. Keep in mind that most shops in Murano shut down by about 5:30pm and the museum closes at 6.)
6:00 pm Visit Rialto Bridge, ride a gondola, do some shopping!
8:30 pm Dinner. In Venice, I would encourage a recommendation if you want a good meal in a non-touristy restaurant. I prefer to eat at local joints so that I can get a real feel and flavor of the area, but there are all kinds of restaurants in the tourist areas. That said, local joints are often much cheaper and much tastier!

Buon Viaggio!

There you have it. Now, you know that you CAN see all of Venice in one day! You might be wondering why I had notes on where to use the restroom. In Italy, it often costs 1 euro to use a public restroom if you are not a customer. Anywhere you visit such as museums and restaurants and even stores where you have made a purchase, ask to use the restroom. In the end, it will save you from spending countless euros on a toilet! If you have found this article helpful or know someone who may find this information helpful, please share using the social media tabs on the left!

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to check out my list of Ten Must Have Items for Your Trip to Italy!

16 thoughts on “How to Conquer Venice in One Day | Venice Part Two”

  1. This is such a great guide!! You must have been exhausted! Hope it wasn’t as busy as when we were there. By midday I wanted to leave the island! It was just too chaotic. I think starting early is the best tip ever!

  2. Wow, what a packed day you had! I haven’t yet been to Venice but hope to go soon and spend a few days there to really soak up the atmosphere. My parents go there regularly as they went on their honeymoon 30 years ago and have loved it ever since.

  3. Wow! That was quite a lot in one day! Seems like you planned everything very well. You offer a lot of good advice in here. An early start in essential to make up the most of the day. If you show up in Venice or at the attractions at 11:00 a.m., good luck! The other important thing is to make reservations beforehand. This applies to a lot of cities in Europe. And, yes, do not eat at San Marcos!

  4. Umm. More of a slow traveller here but I carefully avoid touristy places. However with your itinerary Venice is pretty much do-able! Thank you for the share. Pictures, I am drooling at 🙂

    1. Slowing down is definitely recommended! Lol! We really stretched ourselves in this trip because there was so much of Italy that we wanted to see!

  5. Well written, you must have been exhausted and needed a holiday after doing all those things! loved the pictures. I have ever been there before so much history it looks interesting hopefully one day!

  6. Great post and good insights. Lovely photos, brought back memories ! Venice is really a unique and beautiful city. For me, the best way to experience Venice is to pick a direction and wander. Getting “lost” allows you to stumble upon the city’s many secrets 😉

  7. Yay I’m so happy about this! I spent a day in Venice last year (went on a crazy spontaneous road trip from Frankfurt) and he the best time. St Marks is indeed best to be enjoyed as early as possible and I allowed myself a totally overpriced coffee there, but then went to a small local restaurant where all the gondoliers went as well 🙂 when I go next time I’ll make sure to see more of the local art and architecture though!

  8. This is such a great guide for those who really do not have the time for more! Personally i love to stay longer… wake up very early to walk around when almost no one is around 🙂

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