Things to do in Venice with Just 36 Hours, My Bucket List

Why Venice is on My Bucket List

I have Italian, German and Irish blood coursing through my veins. I always say, “My Italian blood makes me hungry, my German blood makes me Christmassy, and my Irish blood makes me boozie”. My late grandmother was Sicilian, her name was Caroline Cusimano. Much of the Italian culture was woven into my childhood. The cooking, the cleaning, the family ties, and a few off-color words to say the least. Sadly, most of that died when my grandmother fell ill with Alzheimer’s when I was just 9 years old. My sister carried with her most of the cooking and the cleaning part of our culture and handed it on to me, bu the rest was mostly lost. That said, I have always wanted to go to Italy as an adult to take in its culture among other things. It’s been a big one in my bucket list for a long time to visit all of my native lands to share parts of each culture with my son. So, I have done my diligence in researching things to do in Venice on my way to Sicily. Because you can’t go to Sicily without exploring the rest of Italy right?

Getting the Most Out of Your Weekend

The Grand Canal in Venice is the most common route of transportation here.

The Grand Canal in Venice is the most common route of transportation here.

Venice: the Floating City,  is one of the world’s most romantic destinations.  It’s also famous for its canals, its art and its rich cultural heritage. It would take more than a lifetime to experience all the things to do in Venice. But if you only have time for a short visit, you can still make it very memorable. With some careful planning, covering a great deal of the best sights in less than 2 days is very doable.

Getting There and Where to Stay

As it’s the closest to central Venice, the Venice Marco Polo airport is your best choice for your arrival in Italy. If your flight lands at night, you’ll be able to go straight to bed. Then you can wake up early giving yourself a full day to see the city. Choose a hotel within the main city to cut down on travel time. Why not splurge a little and really make the most of your short stay? Take a couple of hours in the morning to appreciate the sight of the waterways and narrow lanes before they get crowded in the morning traffic. You can also grab quick breakfast while you do so.

Things to do in Venice, Tours

Guided tours can be a great way to see the major sites when you don’t have much time to wander on your own. The Rialto Market and San Polo Walking Tour, for example, will take you through one of Venice’s most interesting and historical markets, as well as one of its best neighborhoods, an area which is often overlooked by tourists.

The Murano Glassblowing and Burano Lacemaking Tour takes you out of Venice proper to two nearby islands, which have a long tradition of producing fine, handcrafted products of glass and lace. You’ll be treated to a demonstration of each of these old Venetian industries and have a chance to purchase a keepsake at a discount.

The vibrant colors of Murano Island are picture perfect.

The vibrant colors of Murano Island are picture perfect.

The Jewish Ghetto Tour will show you around the old Jewish section of town, which for centuries was one of the great centers of Jewish culture in Europe. You’ll learn about the history of this neighborhood and take in its unique architecture, and you’ll have the chance to sample some of the local food.

The Jewish ghetto in Venice is great for Jewish history and food.

The Jewish ghetto in Venice is great for Jewish history and food.

There are loads of tours in Venice, it can get quite overwhelming if you don’t plan ahead to find the best one for you. I like these Venice Tours because they not only offer tours in Venice but, if you’re hopping onto Rome, Milan, or Florence they have tons for that as well. Plus they are easy to work with as I have personally asked them questions while researching this and they were happy to answer.

Things to do in Venice, Major Sites, Museums, Historic Sites and Landmarks

The real reason to come to Venice, however, is to see is famous historical buildings and museums. A good choice for a first stop is St. Mark’s Basilica, the religious center of Venice. Arrive early to see mass being celebrated, then look around when it opens for tourists at 9:45 a.m.. And don’t forget to check out the Museum of St. Mark’s inside the basilica.

St. Mark's Basilica is just one of the many artistic points of interest in Venice.

St. Mark’s Basilica is just one of the many artistic points of interest in Venice.

Next, you’ll stop at Doge’s Palace, a stunning Venetian Gothic building. Once home to Venice’s rulers, the Palace has become a museum, holding many notable artifacts. It also has a good café where you can rest for a while and enjoy the excellent coffee and cakes.

The stunning Venitian Gothic architecture of the Doge's Place.

The stunning Venitian Gothic architecture of the Doge’s Place.

After this, visit the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, an art gallery with a memorable series of 16th-century paintings that narrate the story of the patron saints of Dalmatia: George, Jerome and Tryphon.

From there, head to the Riva degli Schiavoni waterfront, taking in the sights and then taking a water bus to San Giorgio Maggiore Island, where you can visit another beautiful and historic church. Climb to the top of the church’s clock tower for a stunning view of the city.

San Giorgio Maggiore Island.

San Giorgio Maggiore Island.

If you get hungry, visit one of the eateries on the Zattere waterfront while and enjoy the view as the leisurely boat traffic passes by.

Close to Zattere is one of the most famous museums of Venice, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. There you can find works by famous European artists including Picasso and Matisse.

After relaxing on the canal banks, book a boat tour on the Grand Canal. Sit back and enjoy as some of the world’s most famous landmarks glide past you.

At night, explore some non-tourist destinations to see what modern Venice has to offer. The locals can help your find interesting bars  and restaurants where you can sample more of the city’s amazing food and wine.

After dinner, make one last stop at the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, whose polychrome marble exterior will take your breath away.

When you go back to your hotel, you’ll have earned a year’s worth of memories in just one busy but unforgettable day!

Have you ever been to Venice? What can you share with our readers about your personal tips?


About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

4 Comments on this post

  1. My best advice for Venice is to see the major sites of course but then, go get lost. I took a 12 hour trip there and just walked down any alley that looked interesting and got all turned around. But really, how lost can you get on an island? I finally broke down and bought a map. I also was treated to an authentic home-cooked meal, and a live band after stopping to listen to them for about half an hour. Dont be afraid to just chill, and most times you can figure out ways to communicate that move beyond words.

    Jason Pilling / Reply
    • I love this Jason! Thank you for sharing this great tip. You’re right, how lost can you get? We did this in Cozumel. There were just sooooo many tourists! We rented scooters and drove off all day lol.

  2. Awesome tips! I’m heading to Venice in a couple of weeks just for the weekend and this will definitely help me make the most of such a short visit 🙂 thanks for sharing 🙂

    Vicky / Reply

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