The Perfect Weekend in Venice

Although it would be easy to spend a week in Venice without running out of things to do, if you only have three days in this majestic Italian city, then our trip plan helps you get the most out of your time. With three solid days in Venice you can not only take a gondola ride, but also wander the city’s cobbled streets, stopping in at its iconic bars and restaurants and reveling in the romantic vibe that envelops Venice.

Piazza San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
This pink-marble waterfront edifice in Piazza San Marco dates back to the 14th century, when it was the residence and seat of government for the doges (rulers) of Venice. Today the ornate Byzantine- and Moorish-influenced Gothic Palazzo Ducale is a symbol of the city, and serves as a museum hosting some of Venice’s most important art, including the famous Bacchus, Venus, and Ariadne masterpiece by Tintoretto. It also runs the popular Secret Itinerary and Doge’s Palace Hidden Treasures tours. After you’re done, treat yourself to a glass of wine in the small on-site bistro, with windows looking onto the Grand Canal adjacent to the Bridge of Sighs.
1050 Campo della Carità
The Ponte dell’Accademia is one of four bridges that span the Grand Canal, and will get you quickly from San Marco to the labyrinthine Dorsoduro neighborhood. Originally built in 1854 out of steel, the current wooden bridge was built in the 1930s and offers picture-perfect views over the most picturesque canal in the world. Visitors with walking challenges or ambulatory devices will find the Accademia with its long flat steps much easier to navigate than the other bridges.
Piazza San Marco, 52, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Few people know about the Museo Correr and yet it is in plain sight within San Marco square. For those looking for quality time within a museum dedicated to the history of Venice - from ships flags, to visiting Popes, books, maps and old coins (to name a few) - this is the place to get away from the crowds. Of course the Venetian greats can be found decorating the walls from Canova to Giorgione and Titian. The Museo also offers an ideal view of the square as you roam the halls that were altered to become the Napoleonic Palace in 1807. Previous to this the windows offered views into the square perfect for viewing the Carnivale festivities, corporeal punishment such as beheadings and quarterings or those who strolled the Venetian “stage” as it is often referred to since it was a place to see and be seen.
Piazza San Marco, 57, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
During the day, the Piazza San Marco in Venice is an overwhelming flurry of activity, but once the sun sets, you’d be surprised at just how much a sense of ease and languor settles in. Life simply slows down as the crowds depart. Stop by Caffè Florian for a memorable evening. Opened in 1720, this is Italy‘s oldest cafe, and features ornate frescoed and gilded salons, as well as an outdoor seating area for great people-watching. Sip a drink and enjoy Caffè Florian’s live orchestra and singers as you sit under the beautiful night sky, with an illuminated St. Mark’s Basilica in the background. Looking around at my family, I could see total contentment reflected on each of their faces—the most magical and relaxing night of my trip. While not inexpensive, this evening was worth every Euro to me—a night that I will remember fondly for the rest of my life.
Fondamenta Nani, 992, 30123 Venice, Italy
If you are in Venice, you will surely get familiar with local spritz (a fizzy, refreshing aperitif) and cicchetti, or small snacks. If you want to have a local experience, be sure to stop by Cantine del Vino Già Schiavi while walking around La Salute area.

It’s more of a wine bar or shop than a true restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling bottles along the walls and most patrons standing as they nibble cicchetti like bruschetta with a cod spread or brie and anchovies. Buon appetito!
Dorsoduro, 701-704, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
There’s plenty of art in Venice, from the churches to the Scuoli to the Accademia. But when you just can’t look at another Caravaggio, and even Titian hair doesn’t move you any more, refresh yourself with a visit to Peggy’s house. The renowned American heiress lived here for 30 years and houses a beautiful selection of her famous modern art collection. It’s a real jewel, small enough to feel manageable, significant enough to cover almost all of the modern art movements and include important pieces from Jackson Pollock and Mondrian to Picasso, Dalí and Kandinsky. The petite sculpture garden (above) has the kind of works that will make you smile, and there are also temporary exhibitions. I was there during a special Futurism collection and a young intern, seeing me with my 13-year-old friend Niambh, offered us a special one-on-one guide to the paintings. A joy.
Sotoportego del Bancogiro, 130, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
Right next to the famed Venice Fish Market, Naranzaria is a charming ultra trendy wine and tapas bar that specializes in raw fish with an Italian twist. Some of the dishes sound weird - like the mozzarella, tomato and tuna sushi, but the chef is talented and they come out tasting better than they sound. Beyond fish, there are also a lot of vegetarian tapas options, making it an all around solid bet regardless of your eating style. The restaurant is also a perfect place to relax over a traditional aperitif, like a spritz or a caipirinha or a glass of fine Italian wine. And the location on a just across from the Rialto Bridge is as romantic Venice as it gets.
Campo San Giacometto, Ponte di Rialto, 122, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
At the foot of the Rialto Bridge with fantastic views of the Grand Canal, Osteria Bancogiro sits under the archway of the Bancogiro (a bank founded in 1600) from which the tavern gets its name. Here, you’ll find a ground-floor wine bar serving carefully curated varietals by the glass and bottle, as well as stellar crostini cicheti choices like salumi and cheese, warm octopus and eggplant, and shrimp curry risotto. There are also blockbuster canal views from tables on the stone terrace in front. Upstairs, surrounded by brick walls and vaulted ceilings, the stylish dining room offers a full menu of intriguing, modern Venetian dishes, including cocoa fusilli with boar ragù and a flavorful sea bream fillet.

Calle Tiepolo Baiamonte, 1364, Palazzo Papadopoli, 30125 Sestiere San Polo, Venezia VE, Italy
Aman hotels recently opened a 25-suite resort along Venice‘s Grand Canal in the 16th-century Palazzo Papadopoli, one of the city’s most stunning waterfront palaces. What’s great about this destination is that, unlike many of the resorts in Aman’s portfolio, you can come here for dinner and drinks even if you’re not a guest. I recommend visiting just before dusk and pre-booking a table in the hotel’s adjacent garden. But it’s also nice to visit for lunch, (the hotel has one of the city’s only Thai-themed restaurant menus) and spend the afternoon sipping cold mojito’s on their cozy garden chairs next to the Grand Canal.
1050 Campo della Carità, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
The Gallerie dell’Accademia is the place to see Venice through the eyes of centuries of famous Venetians. The museum has a huge collection of paintings from the Byzantine and Gothic eras through the Renaissance and into the 18th century (including many of Canaletto’s paintings that helped draw travelers here from around the world). Before you visit, watch the Katharine Hepburn film Summertime, which has some great scenes filmed in the museum in the 1950s.
Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
Near the base of the landmark Rialto Bridge, the historic Rialto Market is well worth a wander. Seek it out in the early morning when it provides an authentic local experience (and awesome social-media ops), with fishmongers hawking their fresh seafood catches and local produce merchants setting out seasonal fruits and vegetables. When you’ve finished exploring, go grab breakfast and a strong coffee at one of the nearby trattorias. If you’re a real foodie, consider exploring Rialto Market with a local guide who can delve into the history and also introduce you to Venice street food.
SS11
The Grand Canal is the no-brainer must-do Venice experience, and the best way to explore the city’s main thoroughfare is on a vaporetto, or water bus. For a great introduction to the area, ride the vaporetto from the railway station, at the edge of the lagoon on one end of the canal, all the way to its other end at San Marco’s basin. Along the two-mile trip the waterway makes a big reverse S-shape through Venice’s central districts and gives you a true feel for what makes this romantic, historically rich city tick. The banks of the canal are lined with Venice’s most expensive real estate. Here, you’ll find some 170 palazzi originally built for nobility between the 13th and 19th centuries. Today they house luxury hotels, private residences, and even art museums.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure