Venice 3 Day Itinerary: The Perfect City Break

Live the authentic Venice with this guide to the city.

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Venice Italy Canal Buildings Gondola Pier

From the variety of its majestic museums to its breathtaking architecture and tasty food, Venice is the perfect city break. Three days isn’t long. We want you to see as much as possible of this city –without needing a holiday at the end– so we’ve organised your itinerary to follow Venice’s neighbourhoods. It will save you time and your feet will thank you (and us). Read on to find our expert advice on how to plan your Venice 3 day itinerary. You’ll discover the best museums, shopping venues and restaurants to experience Venezia as a local.

Day 1

Santa Croce and Dorsoduro

Venice is divided into six districts, sestieri in Venetian: Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Marco, Santa Croce and San Polo. The city has plenty of accommodation available and, if you’re staying in one of Plum Guide’s approved homes in Venice, you can choose any sestiere of your liking.

Let’s assume you wanted to be quite close to the train and bus stations: you’re starting your day in Santa Croce. Take a morning stroll and reach Pasticceria Tonolo, a Venetian institution whose counter will make your mouth water: pastries, cookies, cakes, and savoury snacks are ready for you - not to mention one of the best coffees in town. Treat yourself to some Italian breakfast. As you probably know, Italians enjoy a sweet breakfast, a coffee usually accompanied by a pastry. We recommend trying the frìtole veneziane – sweet, fried dough balls.

Cafe breakfast pastry selection

Cafe breakfast pastry selection

While you’re here, pop into Ca’ Foscari University - it’s just a few steps away. Visit its most beautiful room, Aula Baratto and savour its wonderful view of the Grand Canal.

Walk around the area, get lost among the beautiful calli (streets) until you’re so hungry you need to stop. There are so many lovely places to grab a bite but if you’re too eager to see the city, why not have some pasta to go?

Now that your eyes are full of beauty and your belly is full of food, let’s turn to the soul. Religion aside, we’re certain the San Simeone Piccolo Church will win you over with its peaceful atmosphere and charming art. Want to see something spooky? Aask to visit the crypt. You’ll be walked down one of the few underground areas in Venice, holding a candle while you look at its frescoed walls.

Take the rest of the day to enjoy one of the best scenic walks of the city. Use Fondamenta delle Zattere as a starting point –as it’s really close to the train station– and head towards San Basilio. Once there, stroll all the way to Punta della Dogana and visit the world-famous Santa Maria della Salute, right in front of St. Mark’s Square.

Time to relax (it’s your first day, afterall). End your day with drinks and dinner in Campo Santa Margherita, a lovely square where you’ll find everyone else who read this Venice 3 day itinerary students and locals alike. Experience the Venetian aperitivo: enjoy a spritz and some cicchetti, small Venetian savoury snacks. What better way to spend your first evening in Venice?

Day 2

San Marco and Castello

The oldest and most famous sestiere, San Marco hosts some of Venice’s most famous landmarks. Being so rich in history and, we must say, quite crowded, Piazza San Marco is the perfect destination for the second day of your stay. You’ll have plenty of time to wander around without worrying about transport.

Wake up early and follow the nizioleti (“little bed sheets”), typical Venetian street indications painted on white plaster surrounded by a black frame. You’ll find them all over town and they’ll easily lead you to Piazza San Marco.

Once there, you can buy a combined ticket to the square’s museums: the Doge’s Palace, Correr Museum, Archeological Museum, and Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. If you want to see the Basilica, entry is free. Join the queue to gasp at its golden mosaics, high ceilings and centuries-old art.

After savouring so much art and history, it’s time to savour some great food. Walk away from the tourists in San Marco along Riva degli Schiavoni. You’ll reach the sestiere of Castello, a quiet and traditional district where you’ll find yourself among locals. Here you will experience some authentic Venetian life and food.

Plum Guide tip: find a local restaurant such as Trattoria alla Rampa –small and cosy– it doesn’t get more Venetian than this.

Day 3

San Polo and Cannaregio

Alas, your last day. There’s still plenty to see, enjoy…and buy. Cannaregio is ideal if you’re after unique souvenirs of your Venice 3 day itinerary. Take Strada Nuova and you’ll be surrounded by dozens of stalls and shops selling all kinds of trinkets.

Before that, however, the Rialto Bridge awaits you. Located in the San Polo district, the Rialto Bridge joins the two sestieri of San Polo and San Marco. The view on the Grand Canal is very special, you’ll probably definitely struggle to leave.

The Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy, Grand canal

The Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy

Have some lunch at Taverna al Remer, a lovely restaurant tucked away from the main streets, with a unique view on the Rialto Bridge. Once ready, get some pictures of Venice from above at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. Their terrace is incredible and you can take the chance to buy some designer clothes or just sip a coffee in an exclusive palazzo.

End your stay with a last aperitivo and dinner along Fondamenta della Misericordia, where you’ll find Al Timon. An institution for the Venetian drink and food scene, this restaurant offers the opportunity of enjoying your meal on a boat. The perfect spot for your final evening in Venice.

If this Venice 3 day itinerary has sold you on a trip to the 'City of Water', all you need now is a place to stay...and luckily, we'll be able to help with that very soon. Plum Guide is the official selection of the world's best rental homes, soon to launch in Venice. Independent home critics vet each each property for quality –from the neighbourhood down to the art on the walls– so your high standards are always met.

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