We visited Venice last September during our trip to Europe. Venice was a last minute addition to our itinerary and I’m so glad we decided to change our plans! It is just a magical city unlike any other and I loved every minute of our time there. In this blog post I will go over where to stay, restaurants to try, and things to do if you only have 2 days in Venice.
Flight and Arrival in Venice:
We flew from Paris to Venice with Easy Jet landing at Marco Polo Airport. It was an easy 90 minute flight and everything went smoothly. We arrived in Venice around 10am and after collecting our bags we made our way to where the water taxis are. On this day all private water taxis were pre booked so after a short wait we got a shared taxi with another couple that was staying close to our hotel. This worked out well for us as it saved us some money, the boat ride was comfortable and it was a great way to see Venice at first glance.
We also saw a signing gondolier which was a nice welcome to Venice. Our hotel was on a canal so it was really convenient as the boat dropped us right at the hotel. But if you have your heart set on a private transfer, then make sure to book ahead.
Where to Stay in Venice:
We stayed at Hotel Nani Moncenigo Palace in Dorsoduro. This recently restored palace hotel might just be one of the most beautiful and picturesque hotels I’ve ever stayed at! From its location on a charming canal with lots of restaurants nearby, to the exquisite Murano glass chandeliers displayed and Venetian style rooms this is the perfect place to stay in Venice. The hotel also has a gorgeous courtyard to enjoy complimentary breakfast with a cappuccino! The staff was also fantastic, very friendly, eager to help and always had a smile on their faces.
Exploring Venice in 2 days:
As there is no cars, this is the ultimate walking city. And truly the best way to explore Venice is on foot! But prepared, navigating this place comes with its challenges. Especially when the GPS on your phone leads you to a dead end canal with no bridge to cross. But hey getting lost in Venice is part of its charm! And probably some of my happiest memories there are just aimlessly walking around soaking in the beauty around us.
Places to Eat in Venice:
The Best Gelato I had in Venice (and I tried a bunch of places haha) was at Gelateria Nico. This little place has been around for 14 years and going strong! They have a great selection of gelato and it is so very smooth and creamy! Their scoops are genorous and at 1.8 Euro per scoop it’s priced better than most places.
The best lasagna I had in Venice was at La Calcina restaurant. This restaurant is right on a canal so you have a beautiful view on the water. Perfect for a romantic dinner. The meat lasagna was fantastic hearty and very cheese, which is just the way I like it! Their beef with Amarone wine sauce and potatoes was also delicious and perfectly cooked.
For Pizza in Venice check out Taverna San Trovaso. This cozy restaurant offers hearty Venetian dishes and wonderful pizza. Their calzone is also a winner.
Things to Do in Venice in 2 Days:
When you only have 2 days to spend in Venice, you really have to prioritize and decide what things you would like to do there.
Private Gondola Ride
When you think of Venice, probably one of the first things that come to mind are the gondolas. Most are absolutely beautiful with intricate design and cost as much as a car. This is probably the ultimate tourist thing to do, but hey you are in Venice so live a little! It’s also very rare to find a gondolier that sings. Besides the gondolier we spotted on arrival we couldn’t find any other ones that would sign.
Believe me, my husband tried haha. He’s cheesy like that. Our gondola ride was so peaceful and beautiful and wonderful way to see more of Venice. Prices for private gondola rides are set at 80 euro for 40 minutes and increase to 100 euro for 40 minutes after 7pm. Our gondolier took us first through the smaller canals in Dorsoduro and then down the grand canal. He was sweet and kind, spoke fantastic English and gave us some info about the city along the way.
St Mark’s Square in Venice
This is the most famous square in Venice and where you will find some of the major attractions. We walked from our hotel in Dorsoduro to St Mark’s square in about 20 minutes. It’s a pretty easy walk and we actually didn’t get lost! For once. This is also the most crowded part of Venice so you definitely want to plan ahead and book some of your tickets before you venture here to avoid lines.
Palazzo Ducale / Doge’s Palace
This is one of the most fascinating places we visited in Venice! Located in St Mark’s Square, this Venetian gothic style palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice and the seat of the Venetian government. We booked the Secret Itineraries tour directly through Doge’s Palace and this an absolutely must do! It was 28 euro per person, took a little over an hour.
This was worth every penny. Because we purchased our tickets ahead of time, we didn’t have to wait in line and the tour gives you access to a lot of areas that you can’t see without a guide. Our guide was wonderful, she was fluent in English and it was just great to hear more about the history and find out more about the Venetian government and how it operated. You also get to see the prison cells, secret rooms and then can explore all the main areas of the palace.
Bridge of Sighs
When you visit Palazzo Ducale you will also get to see and walk through the Bridge of Sighs. Many people think of the Bridge of Sighs as a romantic bridge in Venice but that’s far from the truth. Its the bridge leading from the Palazzo Ducale to the ‘New Prison’. Prisoners who were serving for life would have to go through this bridge to their forever prison cell. The prisoners would ‘sigh’ as they went across because this would be the last glimpse of Venice they would ever get. It was definitely slightly chilling going through this bridge and seeing the prison cells in person.
St Mark’s Basilica Venice
This is one of the most stunning and enchanting churches I’ve ever visited. This very unique cathedral with Italo-Byzantine architecture had floor to ceiling mosaics. Make sure you dress properly for this church as you need to have your shoulders and legs covered (no short shorts). You don’t have to book a ticket to visit this church, but I encourage it. As I mentioned this is by far the busiest square in Venice and the lines looked very long. But by buying our timed tickets online on their website, we skipped all lines. It was 3 euro per person. You do have to pay a little extra once you are inside to see some parts of the church but it was all nominal and worth it.
St Mark’s Bell Tower
This is one of the most recognizable symbols of Venice and a great way to see the city from above! We purchased our timed tickets on their website and skipped the long lines and were led straight to the top. As you can see it pays to plan ahead and pre-book some things if you don’t want to spend precious time in Venice waiting in lines.
Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge
The oldest bride in Venice and still in use. We found it on one of our walks throughout the city. It is a very busy bridge as it is considered a significant tourist attraction so keep that in when visiting.
Best Time to Visit Venice:
We visited Venice in mid September and I believe that was the perfect time to go. The weather was beautiful and warm, didn’t even need a jacket at night. During the day, it didn’t feel too hot and I believe the crowds would be a lot worse and the city would be busier during peak summer months.
Although we only had 2 days in Venice, I really feel like we made the most of it and got to see a lot of things on our to do list . Planning ahead our itinerary and booking attractions with timed tickets really allowed us to spend our time wisely. It didn’t feel like jam packed scheduled and we were able to spend our first day just walking around and exploring Venice, grabbing a Spritz in a small square while watching local kids play soccer. We would love to return someday as there are more places we would like to visit like the islands of Murano and Burano.
What are some things you would like to do if you had 2 days in Venice?
For more of our European Adventures, check out our time in Paris.