So, you only have one weekend to explore Venice? There is so much to see and do in the floating city, that your head will spin. You could spend one day simply getting lost in the narrow and winding streets, as many tourists do. However, if you want to see all the sights in Venice on such a short timeline, it is good to have an idea of the main tourist attractions in the city.
To be honest, most people already know the most popular tourist landmarks in Venice, since it is such a popular and unique destination to visit. When you think of Venice, what do you picture first? The twisting alleys that can hardly be called streets since they are so small? The incredible canals that weave through the city? Or, do you think of the amazing architectural structures, like St. Mark’s Basilica?
Whatever image of Venice pops into your head first, these picturesque scenes are some of the most well-known landmarks in Venice. Even though you only have a limited time in the city, you cannot leave without experiencing all of these to the fullest.
How better to start your trip and truly feel like you have arrived in Venice than to immediately hop onto a cruise down the Grand Canal? For those travelers who only have a day, this hour-long ride down the main waterway might not make the itinerary. However, if you really do have the entire weekend to spend in Venice, this relaxing ride will get you ready to explore all the nooks and crannies of the city. You can admire many of the points of interest from the Grand Canal, and you will definitely enjoy the breeze.
When you disembark, you will be in the right mind to fully take in the incredible St. Mark’s Basilica and Campanile di San Marco. Previously a chapel for the Doge, the cathedral stands as an impeccable example of Italo-Byzantine architecture. When you enter the cathedral, you will be taken aback by the golden mosaics and regal archways. Located close-by, you cannot miss the towering Campanile di San Marco, the city’s famous bell tower. If you want to treat yourself to panoramic views of the city, be sure to get a skip the line ticket so you can easily climb the tower without having to wait for hours in the long lines.
Since you are so close to Doge’s Palace, make sure to go into this monumental space. Known as Palazzo Ducale in Italian, this palace was used as the home of the historic rulers of Venice. It was converted into a museum in 1923. While inside, you will feel like you travelled through time as you explore the opulent rooms. You can walk through the different stages of history in this palace, as the structure has undergone many renovations during its lifetime due to various fires throughout the ages.
Your next stop in the most romantic city in the world is the Rialto Bridge. You’ve already seen it during the Grand Canal cruise, but this bridge is amazing to stand on. Constructed in the 12th century, the Rialto is the oldest of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal. The structure was first built from wood, then was later renovated in the 16th century and replaced with stone for a sturdier crossing. As the bridge is a popular tourist attraction, there are also lots of things to do in the surroundings. You can easily find a great place to enjoy the iconic tiramisu of Venice, or shop in some of the many stores in the area. If you go into the Pescaria and Erberie, you will feel like a local buying fish and vegetables from the market stalls.
After so much walking around and exploring from yesterday, be sure to start off your day with a yummy breakfast at one of the many cafés in Venice. Once you’ve filled your stomach, head over to the Accademia Galleries. Although it began as an art school in 1750, the building is now known as an important museum in Venice. A must-see for art lovers, the museum has an incredible collection of over 800 paintings that were created anytime between the 13th to 18th centuries. One of the main attractions in the museum is the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci.
Il Ghetto is next on your list of places to go in Venice. This section of the city was previously the Jewish quarter, and you will still find remnants of that history today. Be sure to stop into the Museo Communita Ebraic to have a deeper understanding of the Jewish community in Venice. This popular museum opened relatively recently in 2007 and it houses displays of letters, photographs, objects and books to show the lives of Jews in the community.
A weekend trip to the floating city isn’t complete without a visit to the Ca’ d’Oro Museum. Although currently a museum, this space is actually a palace. Also known as the Palazzo Santa Sofia, the structure received its nickname Ca’ d’Oro as a reference to the golden decorations that used to hang on the façade. In the exhibition, you can see works of art collected by Giorgio Franchetti, the last resident of the palace.
Finally, it is time to feel like Marco Polo setting off on a new adventure. You can’t go to Venice without experiencing a traditional gondola ride! However, if you are nervous about the floating down the canals in the small structures, you should check out the water bus to Murano. Here, you can watch artisans create amazing glass blown objects that are great souvenirs to remember this incredible city.
Finish your packed weekend adventure with a cicchetti bar crawl. You can go back to the Rialto Bridge area and pub-hop from one hole-in-the-wall establishment to another. By the end of the night, you will be stuffed with the delicious appetizers and you might even be a bit happy from all the small glasses of wine. There is no better way to end a trip to Venice than eating the crostinis and seafood and enjoying various glasses of the house wines.