The city of Love. These are the first words you think of when you hear Venice, Italy. With the beautiful canals winding through the city, the gondola rides that spark romance in even the dullest of days, and Italian music playing idly in the background.
For me my day in Venice was more romantic than I could have possibly imagined. My boyfriend surprised me with the trip for our one-year anniversary, which I knew nothing about until a few hours outside of Venice. All I knew was to pack cold weather clothes and that it was supposed to rain. But when we arrived we were lucky because the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.
We arrived late in the evening on a Friday, had one full day Saturday and left Sunday morning. When we arrived Friday I immediately pulled out my laptop and started researching everything Venice. What to see, where to eat, and the most interesting places that makes Venice, Venice. For me not being able to plan anything is hard, because I am definitely a planner when it comes to Matthieu and I. He planned the trip and a walking tour and a gondola ride. (Which I was thrilled about!)
With the Wi-Fi at the hotel and a map of Venice, we Google Mapped everything, circled it on the map and set out for the day. Luckily Matthieu knows how to read a map, and honestly it is more fun to go old school than relying on your phone.
Listed below is every thing to see and do if you have only 24 hours in Venice!
1. Rialto Bridge
You can’t go to Venice without seeing the Rialto, its actually physically impossible. Venice has over 400 bridges all throughout the city, but there are only four that cross the Grand Canal that connects San Marco and San Polo. The Rialto was the first bridge built for access across the grand canal. When first built is was actually wood. The bridge caught fire and was rebuilt a couple other times due to fire and was then finally built of stone. It is the oldest and biggest bridge in Venice and the architecture is a marvel for the eyes.
** Start early because this bridge fills up quick and its beautiful regardless but even at 9:30 am it was crowded!
The view from atop the Rialto
Address: Sestiere San Polo, 30125 Venezia, Italy
2. Libreria Acqua Alto
For Matthieu and I, you can definitely say we are nerds. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and a never-ending list of books and movies that we love. When researching Venice, I came across a picture like the picture listed above (We both recreated it for ourselves because we really liked the idea and art behind it.) and I knew automatically that we had to see this bookstore.
What makes the bookstore unique is how it is set up. A couple times a year Venice floods and for shops that sit on the canal it can be disastrous if precious items are siting on the ground. So for the bookstore, they decided to put their books in gondolas and bathtubs and other boats.
When walking around you can see a sign that says Fire Escape pointing to the canal and then another back area with a beautifully unique staircase. Made up of old books, the staircase takes you up to a beautiful overlook of the canal it sits on.
Address: Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, 5176/B, 30122 Venezia, Italy
3. Bridge of Sighs
(The best photo I could get of the bridge because of how many people were there!)
Deemed one of the most photographed Bridges in the world, The Bridge of Sighs has a unique story. It was said that the prisoners who walked across the bridge were experiencing their last breath of fresh air. The Bridge is another architectural beauty that cannot be missed during your trip to Venice.
We are standing on another bridge which you can also get a beautiful view of The Adriatic Sea.
**We had decided to go the Library first, but I suggest after you cross the Rialto to come straight here because wow, the crowds get crazy. It may not have helped that we were there during France and The U.K.’s vacation.
Address: Piazza San Marco, 1, 30100 Venezia, Italy
4. Piazza San Marco
The main public square of Venice, the Piazza is a massive area where you can take in all. Three buildings and The St. Mark’s Basilica surround the piazza. Said to be one of the most visited plazas in the world, San Marco definitely has a feel of its own. You can’t have a trip to Venice without visiting the open space of the plaza with tourist photos with the many pigeons flying around. (Which sucked me in, because sometimes I just love a good cheesy tourist activity!)
Saint Mark’s Campanile is a bell tower that looms over the square. It was such a busy weekend due to the French and U.K. holidays, that the line was too long for us to climb to the top. But if you have the chance it is worth it because the view from above is beautiful!
Address: Piazza San Marco, 30100 Venezia, Italy
5. Saint Mark’s Basilica
While you are touring the beautiful sights of the Piazza San Marco you won’t be able to miss this spectacular church. Known as one of the most recognized churches in the world it towers The Piazza with its unique architecture. Matthieu and myself did not do the tour of the inside, but I do know others who have and they say it is worth the time and money.
Address: San Marco, 328, 30100 Venezia, Italy
6. Walking Tour and Gondola Ride
After Saint Mark’s we had about two and a half hours before we had to be at the spot to begin our walking tour and gondola ride that Matthieu booked as another surprise. – We had a simple lunch as to save our dinner for a very classic Italian dinner.
Once we had our lunch we began our hour and a half walking tour. During our tour we saw some of the same areas we had been already plus new areas that we did not even know about, one which included a house that is owned by an Aristocrat Family who also owns 21 other houses throughout Venice.
(House owned by the aristocratic family)
After the walking tour, it was time for our gondola ride. Obviously I was very excited for this, because when you come to Venice, you can not not take a gondola tour. Mazing through the canals by boat and then out onto the Grand Canal was one amazingly romantic experience.
7. Santa Maria della Salute
Once the tour sadly ended (I could have toured all of Venice on the gondola and seen Venice from a different perspective) we made our way across the other side and to the peninsula. We took our time and stopped to see what was appealing to our eyes. Which consisted of many hand crafted mask shops!
** The month of February, Venice has an extravagant carnival where you dress up in very old clothes and wear these masks that many families have been creating for centuries.
You will first see the Santa Maria when you make your way to see the bridge of sighs. As soon as I saw it I knew immediately I had to go see this building. Once we made our way to the church that day, the sun was starting to fall for the night. It was still such a beautiful sight at night with all the lights lighting up the church and making Venice feel even more romantic.
The church is not as well known as Saint Mark’s but it is still a beautifully built church with amazing architecture and artwork.
Address: Fondamenta Salute, 30123 Venezia, Italy
Dinner at Hosteria Veneziana
Once the sun sets in Venice there is not much to do within the city itself. No night clubs and not many street lights to even keep touring. Once we finished for the day we headed back to the hotel to change for our dinner. We asked the hotel receptionist what he recommends for a good Italian dinner that is more local than touristy.
The restaurant was a short walk from our hotel and I am very happy with this recommendation. Since Venice is an island, the more typical Italian dish to eat is seafood. So i donned for a seafood lasagna while Matthieu had a salmon alfredo pasta, and they did not disappoint. I could have had another piece along with another glass of wine if I hadn’t set my heart on getting desert already. We settled on ordering the profiterole which is a pastry with ice cream inside and drizzled with chocolate. And yes it was even better than it sounds!
** We didn’t get any photos from the restaurant because we decided to just enjoy our dinner with no phones, I mean it is Venice, so romance is a must!
After we were stuffed full of delicious food and wine we headed back to the hotel to call it a night.
Address: Fondamenta Rio Nuovo, 285, 30135 Santa Croce, Venezia VE, Italy
I couldn’t have been more happy with our one day in Venice. We saw everything we wanted to see and much more. It would have been nice to have another day to see a little more and just take our time, but if you only have one day in Venice, you can find the time to do all you want to do!
My friend Pierre that I meet along the way!
Had to get a picture in front of the Disney store!
Matthieu booked us a great hotel. When you get to Venice you can’t have your car, so we parked in the parking garage which was 30 euros per night. From there you have to carry your bags to the hotel. So when choosing your hotel try not to pick something too far if you plan on carrying lots of bags! Our hotel was a 5 min walk from the garage and it was great because it was not so centered in the city, which was nice for what we like. The hotel sat right on a canal and the view was very romantic!
The staff was friendly and whatever questions we had they were there to answer! Breakfast was not included but cost 3 euros per day.