Like many of Italy’s famous destinations, you could spend days wandering, exploring, and eating your way through Venice. But the city also makes the perfect weekend break. With 48 hours in Venice, you can be sure to tick off many of its highlights. Here’s how you could do it:
08:00 Start your day of explorations off with a good breakfast – with a lot of walking coming up, you’ll need all the energy you can get. Most of our hotels in Venice are on a bed and breakfast basis, which is great as you won’t have to spend your first morning searching for a decent cafe. All fuelled up? Now it’s time to find your bearings.
09:00 Venice is made up of a maze of lagoons, bridges and cobbled streets, and can quite simply be enjoyed by walking and even getting a little lost (with, of course, an iconic site or two in between). Just grab a map and start wandering.
11:00 There’s no better way to see what Venice is all about than with a gondola ride. You can book these in advance or when you get there. We would recommend before you go, as price wise it can work out slightly cheaper. A half-hour gondola ride will give you another view of Venice: from its famous waters. Although it might seem touristy, it’s a special thing to do and a wonderful introduction to the city.
12:30 You’ll have probably built up a bit of an appetite, so make a pit-stop for lunch. If you take yourself down the cobbled streets and away from some of the main areas, you’ll find lots of lovely eateries and all with a more reasonable price tag. Venice is home to lots of ‘hole in the wall’ pizza places, so we’d suggest grabbing something on the go. One of the best spots is Antico Forno, which sells slices of the biggest pizzas you’ll ever see for just 3 euros.
14:00 After lunch, make a beeline for Piazza San Marco, Venice’s largest open space. The square boasts a buzzing atmosphere and although probably not the cheapest place to dine, the gelato parlours that line it have so much choice that it would be criminal not to have one here. The square is also home to the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. St Mark’s Basilica is stunning and worth the queue to get in. Hopefully you might beat the some of the crowds who have chosen a late lunch.
16:00 Late afternoon is a wonderful time to walk along the front of Venice’s waterfront. Easily accessible from Piazza San Marco, the waterfront is lined with artists and stalls selling Venetian souvenirs. From here, take a slow walk back to the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge. The bridge is one of the most famous in Venice and tends to get very busy. At this time of day, you should see fewer crowds, allowing you to stop and enjoy the views down the Grand Canal.
17:00 Now it’s time to enjoy one of Italy’s most-loved traditions, aperitivo – a great way to quell any hunger pangs before dinner. Watch the world go by while you rest your feet and sip on an Aperol spritz (or two).
19:00 Dinner time! We suggest heading away from the tourist areas and seeking out some local favourites. The Cannaregio area is full of bars and restaurants and is a popular spots with locals and tourists in the know.
21:00 If you’re feeling up to it after a long day’s sightseeing, head back to Piazza San Marco – it’s really special all lit up. Grab a nightcap in the square, although keep in mind that the restaurants with live music charge for the privilege of listening to the band. Pick a restaurant that doesn’t have their own band, but still enjoy listening to it from afar.
Visit Murano, made up of seven islands linked together by bridges. It gained its name in 1291, after Venetian glass makers were told to inhabit the island as their production was too much of a fire risk in central Venice (Murano is the name of the local glass). If you think your luggage can handle it, bring back some famous Murano glass. Then there is Burano, home to colourfully painted houses, fishing boats and lace makers.
17:00 Before heading back for another aperitivo, make sure you make a stop at another must-see in Venice – the Bridge of Sighs. Famed for its sinister history, the bridge connects the Doge’s Palace with the interrogation rooms of the city prison. The bridge would have been the last view of the city, and probably the outside world, before imprisonment. The name was apparently given due to the sighs the prisoners used to make as they crossed the bridge. Eerie.
17:30 It’s time to head to a bacari (wine bar). Ca D’Oro all Vedova is one of Venice’s most popular and definitely worth a visit. This cosy place is also one of the city’s oldest and the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink and snack. For an Aperol spritz, visit Ostaria dai Zemei. This is a great place to mix with the locals, and with only a small bar area, standing means you can really be sociable.
19:00 Start your evening off early and head to the Dorsoduro district. Campo Santa Margherita is in the university part of Venice, making it fantastically lively, with shops, bars and restaurants.
21:00 After dinner make your way back to the Grand Canal. Although you can’t follow it the whole way down on the water’s edge, wherever you can – do! The photo opportunities are endless, and if you get there in time, sunset is spectacular.