One Day in Venice
One Day in Venice…
Most of the millions of tourists who visit Venice do so for less than 12 hours and most come via cruise ship. Sadly, some of those visitors come away having had a miserable experience in Venice because they went to the same three places that the other 5,000 people on their ship chose and ended up spending their day standing in line in the heat. What a pity! Venice is one of the most fabulous places in the world, and if you get off the beaten path just a bit, you will find it is truly a gem.
The Controversy about Cruise Ships in Venice
Before you make a cruise choice, educate yourself about cruise ships in Venice and the controversy that surrounds them. My take: avoid ships that dock in Venice, and I’ve written about why I make that recommendation.
The Jewish Ghetto
You can make your way on foot from the Stazione Marittima to the Jewish Ghetto and get a sense for Venice on foot. One of the delights of this island city is that there are no cars. The entire city is accessed by foot or by boat. The Jewish Ghetto is a marvelous place to wander in the early mornings as the shop owners prepare for the day. You’ll find fruit and vegetable stands and Venetians enjoying cappuccino in their local bars (part bar, part café – enjoy a pastry and a cappuccino for breakfast).
The Ghetto was established in 1516 as the compulsory neighborhood for Venice’s Jewish population. Here you will find synagogues and a wonderful museum about the history of the neighborhood: the Museo Ebraico e Sinagoghe.
The Grand Canal
From the Ghetto you will find the famed Grand Canal. I recommend purchasing a 1 day vaporetto pass for your visit. This will allow you unlimited access to Venice’s water taxi system. You can buy the pass at most vaporetto stops.
You can take the vaporetto up and down the Grand Canal with great views of the Rialto and many of Venice’s grandest palazzos.
Mercati di Rialto
Foodies and photographers alike will want to visit the Mercati di Rialto during the morning hours. This is Venice’s famed market area and a fabulous place to see what you might be eating later that day in its most pure form. Fish and produce are bought and sold here in addition to all kinds of other culinary delights. Go early, though – certainly before 10 am.
Santa Maria della Salute
Venice is a city of churches grand and small. One of my favorites is Santa Maria della Salute. Built in the 17th century, Our Lady of Good Health was built after Venice had been freed of the plague. Be sure to visit the altarpiece by Titian, one of Venice’s most famous native sons.
On some days the lines to get into San Marco are very, very long. Now, I won’t say that it isn’t worth it to get in. The church is stunningly beautiful and is the jewel of Venice. However, if you only have one day in Venice, you must weigh how many of those hours you want to spend in line should you be there on a day when the city is crowded. Off-season (October – March) the lines are rarely a problem.
San Giorgio Maggiore
Many people also brave the lines to climb to the top of San Marco’s campanile – or bell tower. Don’t bother! There are hundreds of other campanile in the city many of which you can climb for fabulous views of the miraculous island city. My personal favorite is at San Giorgio Maggiore. This church was designed by the quintessential Venetian architect: Palladio. The elegant church and grounds occupy most of an entire island and are accessible by vaporetto. And the views of the lagoon from the campanile – fabulous!
One vaporetto stop from San Giorgio, Palladio’s Redentore is also worthy of a visit. And the little restaurants on this island tend to be devoid of tourists, too.
Cruising Italy: Map
I have created two maps of Italy. One includes all of the locations highlighted in the Cruising Italy Guide. I've marked a few other places on the map that may be of interest, too, including:
the Venice Opera House
my Favorite Gelato Shops
some great restaurants for Venetian-style seafood
The other map is specific to Venice and includes many more recommendations if you have more than one day to spend in Venice. You will find this one and so much more on my Venice City Guide. I hope they are both helpful to you!
Venice City Guide
For more recommendations including hotels, restaurants, museums, and a reading list for Venice, check out my Venice City Guide.