Sipping prosecco watching boats pass by, eating seafood and meandering quaint laneways, Venice is unique and beautiful. The Venetian Empire lasted 1000 years, 400 years longer than the Roman empire, so the city has no shortage of history and culture. This 3-day itinerary will ensure you have the best visit possible!
A winter adventure
I based this on my visit from December 2019. I cannot speak highly enough of traveling to Venice in the winter. The crowds are 10% of what they are in the summer and it’s a much more affordable trip, as businesses drop their rates in off-season. Plus you will do your part to combat over-tourism!
We stayed in a boutique hotel that is a 5-minutes walk from the train station, called Hotel San Geremia. It was well priced at 50 Euro and we had a view of the square and church in front of the hotel. It’s a 20-minute walk to St Mark’s square and 5-minutes to the train station. It’s a good affordable option.
Day One in Venice
- Walking tour of Venice (20 to 80 Euro depending on the tour)
- Doges Palace (20 Euro)
- Drinks at Hotel Danieli, beer bars and dinner at a local taverna
Venice Walking Tour
Venice has so much history to take in and the best thing about a walking tour is discovering the stories behind the beautiful buildings. We had a wonderful guide who taught us about the first Jewish ghetto in the world and where to get the best chocolate, Aperol spritz, or rooftop view.
I recommend Urban Adventures, Intrepid Travel‘s day tour brand, as they offer sustainable local-style tours that cap out at 12 people, for a more intimate experience. Food, beer or wine tours offer an alternative way to learn some history amidst bites.
The Doges Palace is the main site in Venice. It’s really busy in the summer but we were lucky enough to walk right in and have the place to ourselves. We visited in just under an hour but you could easily be in here for half a day. The building is impressive and the armory is extensive. It is also very cool to walk over the bridge of sighs and look out the little peephole.
Doges Palace Tips
- Buy Skip-the-line tickets in high season
- The ticket includes entrance to the jail and armory
A drink at Hotel Danieli
Hotel Danieli is one of the most spectacular hotels I have ever seen. It is the essence of old-world luxury located right by St Marks square. Rooms start at $400 USD per night, so if that’s not in your budget, pop in for a drink. We visited in December and the Christmas decorations were truly something to behold. They do have an incredible rooftop, but due to the winter weather, we opted for the cozy lobby bar.
Beer Crawl near St Marks
There are a few beer bars in the area surrounding St Marks, and we popped across the road from the Danieli to Birreria Forst, a Bavarian bar. We then visited nearby Birreria al Vecio Penasa, before heading back to a popular pub closer to our hotel, Il Santo Bevitore Pub Venezia. It’s always packed!
Dinner at Trattoria Da Gigio
We decided on a small, local restaurant and it was a pleasant surprise. As it was off-season we had a 3-course special menu at a killer price, it was way more food than we needed. We even tried the squid ink pasta, which was surprisingly good. Eat a huge, tasty meal for 10 Euro!
Day Two in Venice
- Guggenheim Museum (15 Euro) & Gallerie dell’Accademia (7 Euro)
- Gondola ride (80 Euro – divided by 6 people)
- Cichetti instead of a sit-down dinner
Peggy Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim is one of my favourite museums, in an old Venetian mansion. I prefer the collection here to the Guggenheim in NYC. I love that it’s not too many pieces, just great quality, in a lovely setting. The grounds have sculptures to explore and it’s right on the canal. It’s closed on Tuesdays.
Gallerie dell’ Accademia
The Accademia houses the largest collection of Venetian art in the world with works from Bellini, Tiziano, and Canaletto. It’s not to be missed if you’re an art lover. We get museum fatigue, so we only spent an hour here and merely skimmed the surface. It’s worth doing skip-the-line tickets in peak season.
A gondola ride is the number one activity most people want to do in Venice. We ended up getting a group of people from our walking-tour to split the cost. We shared a bottle of prosecco and watched the city go by, with not one other gondola in sight. It was a pleasant contrast to the experience I had in summer when we set out with a group of 10 gondolas complete with a cheesy accordion player.
- Gondola rides are 80 Euro for the whole boat for 40 minutes
- After 7pm rates rise to 100 Euro
- Mornings are quietest
- Bring your own drink on board if you feel so inclined
We decided to take ourselves on a Cicchetti tour of Venice. Cichetti is similar to aperitivo, or tapas from Spain. You pay per piece for small bites of food as a pre-dinner meal. Prosecco is big in Venice, as are Aperol Spritz’s, which both make for great accompaniments. Our favourite spots for Cichetti were All’Arco, Cantine del Vino gia Schiavi, and Cantina Do Spade.
Drinks at Al Parlamento
We were pretty full after our Cichetti so we decided on one last nightcap. Al Parlamento is around the corner from our hotel. It’s a lively and stylish spot for drinks. It’s a great place to indulge in a few tasty spritzes to end the evening!
Day Three in Venice
- Murano or Lido – cost of the boat (it was free for us – details below)
- Ca’ D’Oro – 14 Euro
- Rooftop drinks, cozy dinner & a nightcap at a world-famous bar
Coffee at Torrefazione Cannaregio
For coffee and tea lovers, you will want to start the day off with the best coffee in Venice. Torrefazione Cannaregio also has an insane tea selection and the best croissants in town!
Island of Murano
We visited the island of Murano, world-famous for glass blowing. Since it was low season we were offered a free trip to the island by water taxi. We hurtled across the water in like James Bond! After a skilled display of glass making, we wandered the extensive displays. A good alternative is the Island of Lido. I had the most incredible seafood soup in Lido on my last visit to Venice! Whatever the season, it’s nice to explore some of the other islands and it’s a great excuse to get out on the water.
Ca D’oro, or the gold house, is the most notable example of a pristine Venetian mansion. It now houses Franchetti’s art collection. The real prize is the view of the Grand Canal from the balconies. The garden and terrace are also stunning. It’s well worth an hour of your time. It’s cool to see how the richest people in Venice lived during their heyday.
Rooftop drink at T Fondaco dei Tedeschi by DFS
The best rooftop bar in Venice is on top of the DFS department store. It gets very busy, so it’s best to make a reservation online.
Dinner at Taverna al Remer
This is one of the coziest spots in Venice, with brick walls and moody lighting. It’s a great spot for a drink or to enjoy their tasty Mediterranean fare.
Harry’s is known for inventing the Bellini. It’s an excellent place for a cocktail, you may even spot a celebrity! It is one of the most infamous bars in the world, after
I hope you enjoyed my culinary and cultural adventures around Venice. It truly is one of the world’s most remarkable cities. For more info on Italy, have a read of my Rome articles: