Planning Your Trip to Venice
30 million people travel to Venice annually, which guarantees there's no real low season in the "City of Water." The closest thing to it is December when temps can dip into the low 30s (°F). If you come during spring, though, you'll get all the sunshine of weather that peaks in the 70s, which further gilds the petals of this most romantic of European cities. And if you visit in summer, you'll contend with even more holidaymakers while paying the highest prices for lodging.
Whatever month you decide to come—and Venice is a city that's open for business all year—you have many options that go beyond the well-worn highlights. This is the case whether you have one day to spare or six. Some off-the-beaten-path activities include embarking on a street food tour, heading beyond Venice's limits to the outer islands, and visiting the well-preserved medieval city of Treviso. Below, we give you the rundown on all this and much more.
24 hours in Venice
Even with just one day in Venice, there's no need to rush the experience. Rather than make a beeline to Saint Mark's Square, instead take your time and stroll over the Rialto Bridge while marveling at the Grand Canal. Then head to the top floor of the nearby T Fondaco dei Tedeschi department store. It's free to visit this rooftop terrace, and it offers what might be the best panoramic view of Venice in the entire city. For a trip that combines these Venice highlights with a jaunt to Lake Como, see this article.
If it's early, head to the Rialto Market (it closes at 1 pm) and browse the vendor stalls. This great market is where locals shop, and they've been doing so since the year 1097. There's an abundance of fresh produce here, plus fishmongers, bakeries, butcher shops, and more. After shopping, do lunch like a Venetian and head to a nearby bacaro (wine bar) for baccalà (salt cod) paired with a glass of wine right from the cask. And for more foodie ideas in Venice and elsewhere, consider this two-week holiday.
After indulging in great food and drink Venice you can walk it off with a stroll south to St. Mark's Square. Tour the iconic Basilica, a building that dates back to the 11th century. Then Hop in a vaporetto (water taxi) and head to the Jewish Ghetto, a district where Jews were forced to live in the early 16th century. Here you can visit beautiful and historic synagogues like the 16th century Schola Levantina. For more Jewish cultural heritage in northern Italy, check out this nine-day vacation.
In the evening, embark on an exciting street food tour and sample other Venetian specialties like cicchetti (Venetian canapés), tramezzini (triangle sandwiches), and of course tiramisu. Pair your delicious tidbits with an Aperol Spritz cocktail or a glass of Venetian Prosecco. Then revel in the nightlife in Fondamenta della Misericordia, a street located on the Rio della Misericordia Canal, near the Jewish Ghetto. It's a stylish area, often overlooked by tourists, filled with galleries and bars.
2-3 Days in Venice
With a bit more time to really luxuriate in the city, a whole new world of possibilities opens up beyond the highlights. On day one you can enjoy the memorable activities mentioned above, such as the delicious street food tour and the visit to St. Mark's Square. The next day is the perfect time to experience go beyond the city and experience the outer islands,
Start with a morning boat ride to Murano, known for its legacy of artisanal glassmaking (take a tour of a local glass factory). Then hop to Burano, with its fisherman's houses painted an artists' palette of colors. Here, enjoy a lunch of fresh seafood. Try the risotto de gò, a rice dish made with lagoon-caught fish. Then move on to Torcello Island and visit its famous Cathedral, founded in 639. If you have more time in Italy, you can tack Florence and even Rome onto this trip, like in this two-week itinerary.
On day three you should visit a traditional squero—the workshops/factories where Venetian gondolas are still handbuilt. Some of these, such as Arsenale, date back almost 1,000 years. After a rowing lesson from a gondolero followed by a bit of lunch, hop on another boat, this time to St. George Island. Head right to the Renaissance-style basilica and its iconic belltower. At the top, you'll enjoy panoramic views that rival those of T Fondaco. Cap the day with a romantic gondola ride around the Grand Canal.
4-6 Days in Venice
After spending the first three days enjoying the highlights mentioned above, on day four go even deeper into the culture. There are few more enjoyable ways to do this than by visiting a wine cellar for a tour and tasting of Italy's most famous sparkling wine, prosecco. At that point, it will be lunchtime, and you can enjoy more street food or duck into another bacaro to dine like a local.
Then you can venture even further, past the islands and to Treviso. This city is located on the mainland, in the heart of the Veneto region of Italy. It's a mere 30 minutes north of Venice and well worth the trip. Filled with lovely canals and cobbled streets that are just highlight of its well-preserved medieval history, it's also home to many boutiques, trattorias, and cozy wine bars. Another bonus is that Treviso is a great place to get away from the crowds as most tourists are busy seeing the sights in Venice.
On day five you could take an eco-tour of the Venice lagoon guided by a marine scientist. It's a great way to further reaches of the canals while learning a bit about the delicate ecosystem and the various challenges it faces in the future. Or if you prefer something more active, head to Lido Island and go cycling along its stunning 6-mile (11 km) waterfront. For a cycling trip that's fun for the whole family, see this 12-day Venice/Tuscany/Rome adventure.
Day six you could take a cooking class and learn to prepare delicious Venetian cuisine. These classes begin at the local markets where you'll select the freshest produce to use in the kitchen when preparing your meal. To add a touch of luxury, some classes are even held in a historic Venetian palace. Another great way to end the day is with a massage and sauna in one of the city's renowned spas. Or, if you're up for more travel and adventure, take a day tour to romantic Verona, like on this 11-day tour.