Venice is just the tip of the iceberg as you explore the Veneto region of Northern Italy. Take a guided tour of the Doge's Palace, and St. Mark's Square, then head out into Venice's lagoon to Murano and Burano islands. Visit the Roman Arena and Casa di Giulietta in Verona, and sip the best varietals in the Valpolicella wine region. Wrap it all up with a day trip to scenic Lake Garda and its charming towns.

Highlights

  • Tour colorful Murano & Burano Islands
  • Explore Piazza San Marco, the Bridge of Sighs, & the Doge's Palace in Venice
  • Admire the romantic city of Verona and see Juliet’s balcony
  • Visit magnificent castles and villas on Lake Garda

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Venice Venice
Day 2 Venice Walking Tour Venice
Day 3 Self Guided Visit to Murano, Torcello, & Burano Islands Venice
Day 4 Venice to Verona, Guided Tour Verona
Day 5 Wine Tour from Verona Verona
Day 6 Guided Tour of Lake Garda from Verona Verona
Day 7 Goodbye Italy  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Venice

Gondola on the Grand Canal
Gondola on the Grand Canal

Welcome to Italy! Arrive in Venice Airport, then transfer to the city center to your hotel. Settle in and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the city on your own. 

Venice in northern Italy is famous for both industry and tourism. With nicknames like "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", and "The Floating City", it's clear that the city's myriad canals are its main draw. Stretching across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea, the city has long been a commercial and cultural hub thanks to its strategic placement. Silk, grains, spices, and art were traded through the Middle Ages, making Venice very wealthy.

The city is also famous for its many beautiful historic attractions, such as the Piazza San Marco and San Marco Basilica, the Grand Canal, and the ornate Doge's Palace. The Lido de Venezia is a popular luxury destination that attracts actors, critics, and other cinema industry celebrities.

In the evening, head to the Cannaregio District, site of the former Jewish Ghetto. The area is filled with great restaurants, bars, & shops offering kosher Venetian specialties, a Jewish museum, and several tourist-friendly synagogues. Eat and drink your way through regional specialties as you celebrate your first night in Italy. Buon appetito!

Day 2: Venice Walking Tour

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Experience Venice's highlights with a guided walking tour. Start at Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), the heart of the city's cultural and administrative district. There, see Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), a Venetian Gothic palace built as the primary residence for the Doge of Venice in 1340. The palace stands on the Piazza San Marco, but don't just view it from the outside- its resplendent interior decor and priceless works of art make it a must-see for history and architecture buffs.

Adjacent to the palace is the San Marco's Basilica, originally the Doge's personal chapel. The building is one of the best surviving examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture and features a stunning collection of Byzantine art, gold mosaics, and exquisite marble floors. Your tour includes a visit inside, where you'll be able to see for yourself the incredible art and architecture it holds. 

Away from Saint Mark's Square, you'll delve deeper into the heart of Venice and away from the crowds. You'll be guided through the maze of streets and canals that makes Venice so unique. Hear fascinating stories and admire the incredible views over the Grand Canal. Feel free to ask your guide for a dinner recommendation before your tour's end!

After the morning's tour, grab lunch at one of the city's many cafes before spending the afternoon exploring.

  • Tour the 18th-century Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta (also known as I Gesuiti) in the Cannaregio district and the baroque 17th-century Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venice's second-most renowned church.
  • Ride the elevator to the top of the Campanile di San Marco for a bird’s-eye view of Venice.
  • Dive into history at the Correr Civic Museum to see art and artifact displays from Venice's history as well as the former royals' quarters.
  • Go shopping at the famous Rialto fish market, located at the heart of Venice. The smell of seafood and sound of vendors vying for shoppers' attention make this colorful and hectic market a must-see for any Venice traveler.

Day 3: Self Guided Visit to Murano, Torcello, & Burano Islands

Canal of Murano
Canal of Murano

When in Venice, a visit to its lagoon and neighboring islands is a must! These picturesque villages offer a getaway from the city of Venice and a unique look into local life and culture. Take the day to visit the islands of Murano, Torcello, and Burano on your own.

Getting there 

Allow yourself a full day to explore all three islands and really make the most of your visit. If you're pressed for time, we recommend taking a half-day trip and just visiting one. To get to the islands, you'll use Venice's vaporetto, the public water bus system, to reach each island. Purchase a tourist transport card at any of the stations and be sure to validate it before getting on board. Take the number 12 line from Venice's Fondamente Nove station, which makes stops at the various islands, including Murano, Torcello, and Burano. 

Recommended schedule & tips

The island of Murano is the closest to Venice, just about 10 minutes by boat, and is most well known for its glass making. Give yourself an hour or two to stroll around and peruse its many local shops. Go to its Glass Museum to learn and see for yourself the colorful and delicate craft in its many forms. Murano has the most shopping opportunities of the islands, as well as a few historic churches to visit, making it a great first stop and a good place to pick up souvenirs. 

When you get hungry, we recommend trying Osteria La Perla Ai Bisatei, a local spot on Murano known for its fresh seafood. Or, if you're just in the mood for a mid-morning pick me up, you can't go wrong with a scoop of your favorite flavor at Murano Gelateria. 

On the ferry line between Murano and Burano, Torcello is sometimes passed over. However, if you have the time, it's well worth a quick stop. You won't need more than an hour, as this tiny village's main attraction is its Cathedral in the main square, but the island itself has an entirely different feel to its neighbors. Rather than canals and bridges, Torcello has open fields and winding streets to explore, offering a delightful contrast to the rest of the day's visits.

Burano is arguably the most notable island of the three, and also the furthest away from Venice, about 45 minutes by boat. Give yourself a couple of hours to explore and enjoy a local lunch before heading back to Venice. Traditionally a quiet fisherman's village, it's known for its exquisite lacemaking and the colorful houses that adorn its canals. You'll be sure to leave with a camera roll full of photos, as this uniquely colorful village is incredibly postcard-worthy. To get a closer look at Burano's lacemaking, visit local artisan shops as well as the Lace Museum located inside the Scuola di Merletti (closed Tuesdays). 

After exploring, take advantage of Burano's culinary reputation with a late lunch - it is said to have some of the best seafood in Venice. A beloved spot for great fish is Al Gatto Nero Da Ruggero, where you'll find affordably-priced, delicious, and fresh cuisine. Or, head to Trattoria da Romano to try the famed seafood risotto recommended by the likes of Anthony Bourdain. 

Don't forget to stop at Panificio Pasticceria Garbo before leaving. This local pastry shop offers delicious baked goods ready to take home, or just to snack on during the boat ride back to Venice. For dinner head to the Rialto area and enjoy dinner at a restaurant on a side street off the Grand Canal.

Day 4: Venice to Verona, Guided Tour

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Staying within the Veneto region, make your way west to the city of Verona, the setting of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Traveling by train is easy and will take no longer than 90 minutes. After checking in to your hotel, enjoy learning about the romantic city of Verona on a 2-hour tour with a local guide. You'll see for yourself why this city is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and get to know firsthand the culture,  history and archaeology underpinning these charming streets. 

Your walking tour will start with one of Verona's most notable landmarks, the Arena in the Bra Square. Still used today, this ancient Roman amphitheater is one of the best-preserved of its kind. From there, wander through the cobblestone streets and arrive at the central Piazza Bra, the largest square in the city and the perfect spot to learn more about Verona's ancient economic and political life. alongside the quaint market Piazza delle Erbe.

Nearby, you'll visit the Casa di Giulietta featuring Juliet's balcony, said to have inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Continuing, you'll learn more about why Verona holds such an important place in Northern Italy's medieval history and visit the former political center Piazza dei Signori.

Crisscross your way through side streets and back alleys as your guide points out the best local cuisine and traditional food, and make your list of places to try. Make your way to the River Adige, where you'll be able to admire a beautiful view of the Ponte Pietra, the Roman Theatre, and the Archeological Museum.

After your tour, take the rest of the day to explore on your own. Spend some time seeing inside the Roman Theater and Archaeological Museum. Admire the impressive archaeological feats before heading over to the Castle Vecchio. First, cross the Castelvecchio Bridge, constructed in the 1350s. You'll travel back in time as you walk over its red brick and take in the incredible scenery of the Adige river from this ideal vantage point. As you reach the other side, you can visit the Castelvecchio Museum. This small castle, built for military purposes, is a lovely example of Gothic architecture. 

Head back to Piazza Bra in the evening where restaurants and bars are buzzing with locals and visitors alike. Grab an aperitivo before tucking into your meal.

Day 5: Wine Tour from Verona

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After a relaxed breakfast, head out for a delightful half-day wine tour in the vineyards of the Valpolicella region, surpassed only by Chianti and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in terms of red wine production. The name, which comes from a mix of ancient Latin and Greek, translates to "valley of many cellars." 

This sprawling district in the Veneto region sits between the Alps foothills and the surrounding valleys of the Lessini Mountains. Valpolicella's rich, alluvial soils cultivate some of the world's best-quality grapevines, which produce four styles of revered red wines: dry, classic Amarone, spicy cherry Valpolicella Ripasso, sweet Recioto, and lively, accessible Valpolicella. With such a wide range of flavors, there's a wine for every palate. 

You'll stop at two local wineries to learn about the production process and to tour the cellars, seeing how wine barrels are stored for aging. You'll have a couple of tastings to discover the different flavors and compare and contrast before heading back to Verona.

In the afternoon, explore the city of Verona on your own. Head to the Giusti Garden in the east of the city, located just behind the Giusti Palace. Stroll through the maze of lawns, manicured hedges, and Greek statues that adorn its walkways and appreciate the Renaissance style. For dinner check out the Old Town area and find a cozy restaurant to spend your evening in.

Day 6: Guided Tour of Lake Garda from Verona

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Today you'll spend the day on the southern side of Lake Garda. After a short 25-minute train ride, you'll arrive at Desenzano station and meet your guide in the center of the town. Desenzano and Sirmione are somewhat larger than other villages around the lake, with vibrant bars and restaurants, but they are also steeped in history. Your guide will take you on a tour of these two villages on Lake Garda, hopping between them using the lake's ferry service. Additionally, if you'd like to visit other villages with your guide, that can be arranged in advance. During your tour, admire how the landscape changes around the lake, noting that the south is much flatter and less mountainous than the north, but also beautiful.

Explore the lakefront, old port, and winding streets of Desenzano. Learn about ancient Roman history from your guide when visiting the castle and Roman Villa. If you're interested in delving even further back in time there is also the Bronze and Stone Age museum in Desenzano (the G Rambotti Museo Archeologico). Wander through the center and check out the variety of high-end designers to smaller boutique shops, and if you are there on a Tuesday don't miss out on the market. 

On the boat ride to Sirmione, you'll notice that it juts into the lake on a long peninsula, making its location and views unique. Sirmione is a very pretty town, with colored houses and cobbled streets to charm you. The two main sites to see are the Grotto of Catullus and Scaliger Castle. The grotto is actually a large Roman mansion built for the poet Catullus. It was very common for rich families to construct their villas around the lakes as they were inspired by the tranquility of the water and Alpine nature. The 14th century Scaliger Castle overlooks Sirmione and Lake Garda.  For an unrivaled view across the lake, you can climb to the top of the castle up narrow stairs.  

Towards the end of the day, enjoy some leisurely free time to explore at your own pace. We'd recommend finding a great spot for lunch in Sirmione's square Piazza Carducci or Piazza Cappalletti back in Desenzano, then hopping over to Peschiera del Garda, where you can choose from the following activities:

  • Visit Roman archeological sites, the Palazzina Storica Museo, and the Sanctuary of Madonna del Frassino
  • Hike to see the Waterfall of Varone, and after enjoy wine at Cantina Zeni and the Museum of Wine, set inside the Zeni Winery overlooking Lake Garda
  • Enjoy nature in Peschiera at the Hruska Botanical Garden where you can find species from every part of the world, from the Himalayas to Africa
  • Shop for, and sample, local food, and wine. Producers sell sweet and savory treats, including tortellini, formaggella di tremosine (a soft cheese), honey, and sbrisolona (a delicious crumble cake). Vineyards surround Lake Garda, producing Bardolino wine, Grappa and Limoncello.

After some last-minute shopping, take the train back to Verona. You'll return in time to sit outside and enjoy an aperitivo before dinner.

Day 7: Goodbye Italy

Cozy street in Trastevere, Rome
Depart Italy

Your journey in Italy will end after breakfast, with a transfer to the airport to catch your flight home or to your next destination. Arrivederci!

Map

Map of Highlights of Venice, Verona & Lake Garda - 7 Days
Map of Highlights of Venice, Verona & Lake Garda - 7 Days