Spending two days in Venice was one of the highlights of my trip to Italy. You see, there are certain places you end up writing off your travel list without even looking as you assume it will be too expensive—and for me, Venice was one such place.
But then came along the last minute travel deal to Italy: three days in Rome, one travel day between Rome and Venice, and then two full days to explore the floating city.
Pretty dang perfect, right?
The first of my two days in Venice was spent wandering around the labyrinth of walkways getting totally and utterly lost without a map and on day two, I took to the waterways.
There’s something about being near water which, as cliche as it sounds, completely relaxes me. So it was the perfect combination of feeling calm yet exhilarated by being able to explore somewhere new. However, not everybody has that same feeling.
If you haven’t been to Venice before, I’m sure you’ve heard differing opinions on how people felt about the city after visiting. Some think it’s a romantically magical place, whereas others think it’s an overrated tourist trap.
I tend to position myself somewhere in the middle.
Venice is dirty, it’s busy but it’s also completely and utterly charming as a result. But as with everything, the best way to find out how to feel about a place, is to see it for yourself!
So, if you find yourself with two days in Venice and no plans… Feel free to take your pick from the following list!
What To See When You Have Two Days In Venice
One of the most popular sights in Venice, is the Rialto Bridge. I know, I know, how exciting can a bridge really be, eh? But the Rialto Bridge is one of the oldest bridges which spans the Grand Canal in Venice. Connecting the sestieri (a subdivision of an Italian town/city) of San Polo and San Marco, the bridge first began helping people cross the waterways in the 12th century when it was originally constructed as a pontoon. But it’s been rebuilt a fair few times since then and now serves as one of the city’s most significant tourist attractions.
Whetting appetites across the floating city is Venice’s main market: Rialto market. Each day market-stall owners pile high pyramids of produce showcasing the vibrant colours of the fruit and vegetables available. As with most markets, in order to see it at its best, it’s advisable to go early to avoid the morning rush!
I discovered the Basilica dei Frari on day one of my two days in Venice. There I was navigating my way through the bridges and back alleys hopelessly when I turned a corner and voila. There it was. The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari, (often just called the Frari) located in the heart of the San Polo district and is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. It’s one of the most prominent churches in Venice and even has status as a minor basilica. The outside looks plain but the inside is most notable for the dramatic arches, the grand wall monuments and numerous artworks.
When I first heard Doge’s palace I instantly thought of the doge Shiba meme from online, but alas, this palace was not theirs. Much sad, very disappoint. Instead, Doge’s Palace is a building of the Venetian Gothic style and is a palace that is very much one of the main landmarks in Venice due to it being the residence of the Doge of Venice (the supreme authority of the former Venetian Republic). The building was originally founded in 1340 but in the following centuries has been extended and modified until it became a museum in 1923.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to explore Lido during my two days in Venice, as it was something I only found out about upon my return. But, Lido in Venice is a narrow beach strip located on the Venetian lagoon. It was originally established as a resort destination and with thanks in part to its views, has been a popular beach ever since.
On the island, you’ll be able to find plush hotels, boutique shopping and an abundance of restaurants to choose from. But if you prefer to explore you’ll be able to find an Ancient Jewish cemetery, the Tempio Votivo Church and if you have enough time, the picturesque village of Malamocco.
If you’re looking to find unpretentious eateries and vintage fashion boutiques, then the university district known as Dorsoduro is what you’re looking for.
To find Dorsoduro simply hop over the Grand Canal via the Accademia Bridge and you’ll find Important cultural destinations such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Gallerie dell’Accademia. After dark is the best time for socialisation, and you’ll find young local crowds gathering in informal bars, with the north-western tip offering the city’s liveliest nightlife.
Take A Gondola Ride
One of the most recognisable silhouettes in Venice is, of course, the gondola. It’s iconic and many consider it a must when visiting Venice. I didn’t go on one. I was torn over whether or not I should take a trip, but then I found out that there was a fixed cost of €80 and to be honest, I would rather spend the money on pasta and gelato because I’m 100% a food cliche and was operating on a budget. So I gave it a miss and got my boat fix using the Vaporetto (water bus) services instead. But just because I didn’t take a gondola ride, doesn’t mean you have to miss it. It’s an iconic feature and can make for beautiful photos opportunities whilst supporting the local economy. Plus you’ll find gondolas positioned all around the city, so won’t be hard-pressed to find one, making getting around the waterways an absolute breeze.
San Marco Square
Napoleon once called it “the world’s most beautiful drawing room” but to most, it’s known as Piazza San Marco, or St Mark’s Square. The public square in Venice is the only piazza in the city and was established during the ninth century, so it’s sorta kinda very old. Its current form took shape in 1177 and it was paved a hundred years later, becoming the spot it is today, where people congregate and take photos. So be warned, it gets very busy. It also gets very wet, as it’s the lowest point in Venice.
St Mark’s Campanile
Situated in Piazza San Marco is St Mark’s Campanile, a 98.6m tall bell tower which was originally built as a lighthouse to assist with navigation around the lagoon. Nowadays, however, it’s a tower where you can ride to the top and treat yourself to beautiful views across Venice—and if the weather is clear, you can even catch a glimpse of the alps in the distance!
Head To A Wine Bar For Cicchetti
When I visited Venice, wine was not my favourite liquid. My palette was yet to develop an appreciation for the bittersweet notes that the stuff carries, so wine bars were quite far down on my list of places to visit. Nowadays, that’s changed. But back then I was still down for Cicchetti. Flavourful little snacks to accompany your drinks? Now that’s an experience I can get behind. Cicchetti means small snack, kind of like Spanish tapas, and there are multiple bars across Venice which offer it. The perfect pitstop to make during a day of exploration!
San Giorgio Maggiore
It’s one of Venice’s most known islands thanks to its Palladian church, something which has been painted numerous times across the years—even by Monet. You can see the island from St Mark’s Square, but if you want to head over and get a closer look, just jump on a Vaporetto on Line 2!
The Bridge Of Sighs
As if an article on spending two days in Venice could be written and not include the Bridge of Sighs! Built in the 1600’s by Antonio Contino using white limestone, the bridge passes over Rio di Palazzo, connecting the New Prison with the interrogation rooms in Doge’s Palace. But that’s not the reason why so many people like it, they like it because it’s rather pretty to look at. Imitating windows with the use of stone bars it breaks up the view of Venice’s canal rather beautifully.
An island that’s most famous for its glassblowing, Murano originally had a colourful history as a fishing port, with its first settlers dating back to Roman times. Since then, the island has grown and now houses around 5,000 people, with its original reputation as a fishing port developing to one that’s renowned globally for the creativity and quality of glassblowing. There are multiple museums/shows available on the island to learn more about it, and is a beautiful place to walk around.
And that just about sums up the things I think you should check out when spending two days in Venice! Obviously, depending upon your itinerary, the amount you will be able to do will vary. But if I could give one piece of advice, it’s this: don’t rush. Take your time to stroll around and enjoy the city. Certain parts will be busy (usually around the centre) so if there are certain things you want to do, try to book those in advance to avoid disappointment. But around this? Just enjoy yourself!