How to Explore Venice in Three-ish Days

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View from the rialto bridge

Venice. Venezia. Home of the Gondola, gelato and Land of Aeperol… Venice has been on both mine and Dan’s bucket list for some time so we were so looking forward to exploring the city. We both adore Italy: Rome was one of our highlights last year, particularly when it came to food and wine, and we have now got a thirst for exploring more of Italia. I was planning my trip to Venice with slightly dampened expectations. When I told people we were going, I was met with: “It smells.” “It’s expensive.” “It doesn’t live up to expectations.” “It’s full of tourists.” Frustratingly, so many of these comments came from people who’d never set foot in Venice – and they were all wrong! Venice was the best city break Dan and I have done together. There’s no where in the world quite like it and it really is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. Springtime was the perfect time to visit as there was no salty smell, it wasn’t too busy and when it came to budget, we never paid more than €10 for a round of drinks.

We were sent away for the weekend by Jet2CityBreaks who offer package holidays as well as city breaks. It was an easy way to make sure our flights and hotels were both sorted in one go!

So, here’s the ultimate itinerary for exploring Venice in three-ish days.

Getting There

Venice’s nearest airport is Marco Polo, located on the mainland, about 15km away from the island. We flew with Jet2 from Birmingham which is one of my favourite airports to fly from. We had a quick trip through security (though guess who forgot to take aerosols out of her hand luggage…) and then had a compulsory pre-city break alcoholic beverage at Wetherspoons. Our flight set off promptly at 2:15pm and I was very impressed with the leg room on the Jet2 flight. It was a very comfortable flight with an impressive descent over the Northern Italian Alps.

View from aeroplane window over Northern Italian Alps

To get from Marco Polo Airport to Venice, you have several options: a local bus, a coach, taxi, Alilaguna or Water Taxi. We got the ATVO coach which cost €15 for a return trip and took 20 minutes to get to Venice. All car and bus transportation stops at Piazza Roma so from there you will have to walk or get a water taxi to your hotel. Our hotel was about a 15 minute walk away from Piazza Roma. If you have lots of luggage I’d definitely recommend using the Alilaguna or a Water Taxi as the narrow Venetian streets are not made for wide loads!

The coach was the quickest and most cost-effective option for us; A taxi was more pricey, at around €50 one way. The Alilaguna is a water bus and was around €15, but takes about an hour to reach Venice. Water Taxis start at €100 depending on where you need dropping off so this is a better option if you are in a group, rather than a couple and have lots of luggage to transport.

Where To Stay

Front door of Hotel Palazzo Giovanelli, Venice

Venice is very small and it’s easy to reach everything on foot or boat so wherever you stay, you will be well placed. Jet2 have a whole range of hotels they offer as part of their city break packages. We stayed at the Hotel Palazzo Giovanelli which you can book through Jet2Holidays. This was a comfortable 4* hotel which was tucked away in a less touristy area, backing onto the Grand Canal. The hotel offered a continental buffet breakfast, serving food from 7am. It ended up being the perfect location for early risers like us who want to get out and explore as soon as possible. We were just over a 5 minute walk to Rialto, a 10 minute walk and Traghetto ride from Cannaregio and 15 minutes from San Marco – you can literally walk everywhere very quickly!

When To Visit

March turned out to be the best time to visit Venice. The summer months are hot and busy, but spring time still brings blue skies with a cool breeze, without the addition of several thousand tourists. We were able to roam the city in coats and jeans, but still had a few moments of warmth in the sun where we were able to enjoy a coffee with no coat. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. In the spring, there is a beautiful haze that descends over the island in the morning and evening. If you wake up early enough, I’m sure you could get some incredible photos.

Venetian Cosutmes in Cannaregeio at Carnival Celebrations

Our visit coincided with the final weekend of Carnival celebrations which made for an entertaining weekend! Carnival is an annual festival which runs for about two weeks and there are hundreds of events across the city. We saw hundreds of people dressed in full on 16th Century Venetian costume, masks and other crazy outfits. In February and March, San Marco’s square and Rialto turn into a party venue so if you want to immerse yourself in this experience, I’d definitely recommend going for Carnival – it’s probably the one time of year you can wear a Venetian Mask without getting a funny look! Next year (2020), Carnival runs from the 15th – 25th February.

Day 1: Arrival & First Taste of Venice

Sophie holding a glass of wine

If you travel with Jet2, you’ll arrive at your hotel around 7pm on a Friday night, depending on how you get from the airport. Dump your bags, freshen up and head out to find a local restaurant serving Venetian cuisine to ease yourself into the city. I’d recommend Pane Vino e San Daniele in Rialto for good wine, a chilled atmosphere and traditional Venetian cuisine. Try the Spaghetti al nero di seppia, a traditional Ventian dish made with squid ink. The meat platters with fresh mozzarella are also a must. Stroll back to your hotel to get a good nights sleep before you embark on your first full day!

Day 2: Rialto, Burano, Cannaregio & Cicetti

Fresh crab at Rialto Fish Market

Get up early and head to the Rialto Fish Market and Fresh Produce Market. Fish is at the heart of Venetian cuisine, as the Lagoon is a rich source of seafood. Rialto Fish Market starts at 7:30am showcasing the harvest from the Lagoon. Local restaurant owners head here to get their catch of the day and buy their fresh ingredients. You’ll find many of the vegetables on the menus of the surrounding restaurants. Warning: The scent of Rialto Fish Market lingers long after the market has closed so if you’d rather not have the smell of fish with your dinner, avoid the bars surrounding the Market square!

Burano Clock tower behind a bright blue house

Once you’ve wandered round the markets, head to Ferry Terminal Ponte A and get the number 12 ferry which stops at Murano and Burano. A visit to Venice isn’t complete without a trip to these islands, but head out early to avoid the crowds. We didn’t stop at Murano, but Burano was well worth the 45 minute trip. Famous for lace and it’s brightly painted houses, it really is a magical place! Head away from the main canals and get lost in rainbow side streets before grabbing a sweet treat such as a fritelle from Panificio Pasticceria (a cream doughnut only available during Carnival season!) and sip bellinis in the sun before heading back to Venice.

Battle the crowds through San Marco if you dare and grab some street food for lunch. We stopped at Del Moro’s Fresh Pasta, which was the only disappointment of the trip (I didn’t realise it was a global chain, doh!),but it was cheap and served a purpose. I did spot a few local pasta-to-go places, which were a bit more off the beaten track.

Escape the Saturday mayhem and head over the Rialto bridge and get a Traghetto (a €2 gondola) across to Cannaregio. There are plenty of wine bars to sit outside and watch the world go by. We stopped a little off the beaten track at Osteria Enoteca Do Colonne for a glass of red and to see some crazy Carnival costumes!

The Rialto Bridge and Gondolier in Venice

Head back to your hotel to freshen up for the evening: Its time for pre-dinner cicetti and spritz! Rialto is a great place to head on a Saturday night and has a very lively atmosphere. Start off the evening at Pescaria Wine Bar for a €3 Aeperol Spritz, then head to All Arco for a glass of Veneto region wine and a bite of cicetti.

For dinner, book a late table at Cantina Do Spade. It’s a bustling cicetti bar and restaurant that is very popular with locals. The Gnochhi Ragu is incredible and if the swordfish steaks are on the menu, you have to try it.

Day 3: Peggy Guggenheim, Ponte Dell Accademmia & Vino!

Peggy Guggenheim Gardens Venice

You can’t skip a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim gallery. Modern art might not be your thing, but the gallery itself is just stunning: it backs onto the Grand Canal and has some incredible sculptures in the garden. It’s one of largest collection of modern art and you’ll find pieces by Picasso, Pollock, Ernst and Warhol to name a few, as well as special exhibitions throughout the year. Spend a morning wandering around the galleries then bask in the sun with a slightly overpriced coffee at the gallery cafe.

View from Ponte Dell Accademia over the Grand Canal, Venice

Make sure you head to the Ponte Dell Accademmia to see the famous Venetian view over the bustling Grand Canal and Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute. Pictures are compulsory.

The famous bridges over the Grand Canal such as Rialto and Ponte Dell Accademmia get very busy. If you want to see the view and get good photos without having to battle through the crowds, get there early in the morning or late at night.

Ponte Dell Accademia, Venice

Grab some lunch somewhere fancy – you’re going to be eating cheap for the rest of the afternoon! If fine dining is your thing, you have to try Il Ridotto, a Michelin Star Venetian restaurant near San Marco. For €35 per head, you can get the lunch menu which includes three tapas dishes and a meat or fish dish. Try the Barolo if you like red wine – it will be the most expensive glass of wine you drink all weekend but it’s worth it!

Front door of Osteria al Ponte da Tellero, Venice

Dedicate your Sunday afternoon to visit as many wine and cicetti bars as possible. Our favourite was Osteria al Ponte da Tellero. The prosecco is €2.50 per glass and you can sit on the bridge outside watching the world go by. In the afternoon it’s also a great little sunspot! Stop off at Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli which is a gorgeous jewellery box-esque church made entirely of marble. Head to Art Cafe for a relaxing beer or Aeperol Spritz in the late afternoon sun and for a bit of people watching.

Sophie eating Gelato from Gelato Di Natura

For food and gelato, head to Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio. Stop off at the Majer Venezia Wine Bar for a €15 meat platter and a glass of wine – you must try the Chianti Classico for €4 – it was the best wine we had all weekend! Finish off your evening at Gelato Di Natura for the best gelato in Venice and sink into a food coma.

Day 4: San Marco & Palazzo Ducale

Palazzo Ducale, San Marco, Venice
Bright of Sighs, Venice

Jet2Holidays flights from Venice take off at 6:15pm which means you still get a whole day of exploring the city. On your final day, get up early and brave the crowds of San Marco. Pre-book a place on the 9:55am Secret Itineraries tour of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) and see the former Venetian secret service offices, courtrooms and the cell from which Casanova escaped from. This is well worth a visit to find out more about Venice’s long history which dates back to 400AD. You’ll also be able to walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs which takes you into the former jail of Venice.

Basilica Di San Marco, Venice
Campenile Tower and San Marco Basilica in San Marco Venice

Spend some time basking in the incredible architecture of San Marco’s Basilica and the Campanile Bell Tower. If the queues aren’t too bad, make sure you head inside the Basilica. We never got to go inside in the end because the queue was monstrous, even at 9am. The Basilica is free to get into but the Bell Tower costs €6-8 to go up.

Pick your last stop for lunch wisely: Dai Zemei is a great option for funky, cheap cicetti. And make sure you make one last gelato stop too!

Sophie Laughing with an Aeperol Spritz

Safe to say we crammed a LOT into our three and a bit days in Venice. It was so easy to see everything we wanted to as it’s a very petite place. It surpassed all my expectations and I’m so glad I got the chance to experience it at it’s most beautiful, in the spring during Carnival!

I feel like Venice gets a bad rep for being touristy, expensive and smelly but it really is such a beautiful city. We ate cheap (more on that later!), we got lost in quiet spots and sat on secluded bridges and there was only a delicate fragrance of salt water. I’m sure in the summer it feels like a different place, but visiting in the spring or autumn would be the best time to make sure you can make the most of the city and see it as its best. As always I’ve popped a Google Maps below so you can save all of the places we visited to your own Map. Happy Exploring!

If you’re looking for travel inspiration this year, make sure you check out Jet2CityBreaks. They have some great destinations on offer this year including Prague, Krakow and even New York!

Have you ever been to Venice? What were your highlights?

Explore Venice

Here’s a map with all the places we visited in Venice, from sights to eats and useful stuff like hotels and ferry terminals. You can save this map to your places and use it as a basis for your own maps.

I’ve colour coded it for ease: Red is for transport and accommodation; Green for food; Yellow for things to see.

To use the map, open Google Maps on your browser, open the tab on the left-hand side and click on ‘My Places’. Save to your maps to edit. You can download it before your trip for easy access when you’re on your trip.

Happy Exploring!

DISCLAIMER – This trip was in collaboration with They provided flights, hotel and some of the cost of the trip in return for blog content. This is an unpaid collaboration and all content includes my own thoughts, opinions and recommendations.

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