Venice, the capital city of northern Italy, is built completely over a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea on top of over 100 tiny islands. There are no roads in Venice, only canals, primarily the Grand Canal, lined with numerous Gothic and Renaissance Palaces.
Venice is romantic, gorgeous and historic. The gondolas, the canals, the colourful towns and the architecture make it a dream destination for many.
The list of places to visit in Venice is so long that it can be overwhelming for tourists to prepare an itinerary on their own.
I have carefully designed this 4 Days in Venice itinerary for you, making sure that you get so see Venice in all forms, the most tourist-heavy parts of it as well as the areas that are not frequented by tourists but are must-visit places, in my opinion.
Make the most of your four days Venice vacation by checking out this comprehensive itinerary.
Start the first of your 4 days in Venice by exploring the iconic Piazza San Marco, only known as Saint Mark's Square, along with the attractions around it. It is considered to be the epicentre of Venice and has been the venue for parties, events, and gatherings for centuries.
It houses several important sites, including the Saint Mark's Basilica, the bell tower, Doge's Palace, and much more. Start your day at this renowned square and spend the day strolling to different places of interest around the area.
Start your first day in Venice with a sumptuous breakfast at the Grancaffè Quadri. It is one of the few bars in Venice where you will be able to pick up your coffee and leave.
It has a fantastic view of the Saint Marks' square that will transfix you. Enjoy your morning coffee with delicious pastries while taking in the fantastic views of the Basilica mosaics, bell tower, and the sweeping arcades.
Saint Mark's Basilica is a must-visit place in Venice as it holds the position of the 'pride of the square.' It is renowned for its intricate designs, beautiful mosaics, grand apostles, and equestrian statues all around it and the gold leaf design.
It was built as a religious structure for housing the remains of St. Mark. His attribute of the winged lion was later adopted as the official symbol of the Venetian Republic.
Located next to the Palazzo Ducale, it also served as a chapel for the doge. It later turned into a cathedral church in 1807. The Treasury in the St. Mark's Basilica is home to the Pala D'oro – the Byzantine golden cloth, which is Venice's most significant religious relics.
San Marco Campanile is the city’s famous bell-tower that stands as the tallest structure in Saint Mark’s square at 323 feet. Once a lighthouse for incoming ships, it is now one of the most iconic structures in Venice.
You can climb the steps of the tower and savour the amazing beauty of the city, the square, and the surrounding lagoon. It still has one of the original bells from the 12th century, and all five bells are rung every day, even today.
Most people visiting Venice have Gondola rides on the top of their bucket list. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that involves riding the city’s iconic boats through the city’s canals.
Though the experience can be an expensive one, it is worth doing on your Venice trip.
You can easily find Gondola stations set up in different parts of the canal throughout Venice. If you want to ride the Gondola in the Grand Canal, you can hire one near Riva Degli Schiavoni or Piazza San Marco.
On the other hand, if you prefer a more peaceful and romantic experience, go for a quieter neighbourhood, such as Dorsoduro or Cannaregio, instead.
Undoubtedly the most photographed place in Venice, the bridge of sighs spans the Rio di Palazzo. It was built to connect the old prison in Doge’s Palace to the new prison built across the river.
The bridge got its name as it was said that this was the last place where prisoners would get the last whiff of fresh air before stepping into the jail for several years.
It is a great photo stop as the bridge is beautiful in itself, and the canal located beneath gondolas passing through it makes for a gorgeous backdrop.
For the next stop, walk over to the Palazzo Ducale, a beautiful white stone palace which is considered to be the most important building in Venice.
It served as the headquarters and home of the Doge – the head of state and religion in the city. You can learn about the history and importance of the building by taking a guided tour of the palace.
You will walk through the galleries, courtyards, and staterooms while learning about each of them and admiring the crucial artefacts and impressive art collection present here.
The ticket for the palace, costing €25, allows entry to Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Biblioteca Nazionale, and Museo Correr as well, which will take about 90 minutes in total.
After seeing the impressive palace, it's time for head over for some lunch. Venice is filled with quaint cafes and restaurants serving delicious foods and coffee.
From the palace, if you start walking towards Rialto Bridge, you will come across numerous tiny sandwich vendors where you can have a delicious Toasted Panini with some yummy cappuccino. I recommend La Bottiglia as one such street food café in the area.
After lunch, if you are in the mood for some authentic Italian gelato, head over to Gelatoteca Suso – an award-winning gelato store offering over 30 flavours. One of the unique flavours available here is crema del Doge – a mix of chocolate, vanilla, and amaretto, which you will not find anywhere else.
Also, visit Nino and Friends to sample some Venetian chocolate and Bottega la Tartufo to try some products made using local truffles.
The world-renowned bridge of Venice, Rialto Bridge, is the most iconic and oldest of the bridges that cross the Grand Canal. It is the perfect photo stop where you can click amazing photos resembling the Canaletto painting from centuries ago.
You can also browse the shops located on the bridge itself for souvenirs and jewellery, though they may be more expensive than other places in the city.
Just taking a moment and sitting at the steps by the canal watching the Vaporettos go by is a serene experience that you will remember for life.
After you take some memorable photos at the Rialto Bridge, head over to the Rialto Markets, this is one of the oldest markets in the city and is the best place to pick up souvenirs for your friends and family at cheaper rates than stores.
You can also find scarves, clothes, magnets, and numerous other items with Venice written on them. You will also be able to find Murano trinkets and products here.
There are few drinks and food stalls as well if you want to grab a coffee or Bellini.
After the long day of sightseeing and exploring so many things to do in Venice, it is now time to relax and unwind for the day.
Enjoy some delicious Italian and Venetian food with drinks and perfect ambience at Ristorante Terrazza Sommariva along the Grand Canal.
Located right off Rialto bridge, the restaurant offers impressive views of the Fontego dei Tedeschi and offers mouth-watering Venetian dishes as well as traditional Italian cuisine.
Take a sip of the Aperol Spritz and take in the magic of Venice.
On your second day in Venice, you can delve into the artistic, religious, and culinary delights of Dorsoduro Sestieri and Canareggio.
Start from the historic Canareggio area and explore street markets, beautiful churches, and learn about the history of Judaism in the area.
After lunch, head over to Galleria dell’Accademia and admire the impressive collection at one of the most beloved churches in the city, followed by an evening to remember at Campo Santa Margherita.
Start the second day at Fondamenta della Misericordia – the longest street in Canareggio. Translating to 'Foundation of Mercy,' it is covered with street shopping vendors selling everything from fruits and snacks to sweaters and Venetian masks saying Italia.
Before exploring the street market, head over to this quaint little vegetarian tea-house 'Sullaluna' that offers excellent tea along with delectable savory as well as sweet bites.
Everything they offer is organic, of excellent quality, as well as super tasty. You can find cookies, cakes, chocolate, focaccia, fresh cheese, and hummus with toasted artisan bread and raw veggies.
With a full tummy, stroll the street markets and pick up souvenirs or anything else your heart desires.
This Gothic 14th century built church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is still in use today.
Founded by Umiliati order, it is particularly interesting for art lovers as it houses works by Venice’s renowned artist Tintoretto as well as a moving statue of Mother and Child.
Located in the northern part of Canareggio Square, it is a site worth exploring in on your 4 day Venice trip.
At Museo Ebaico di Venezia, you can learn about the long and turbulent relationship of Venice with the Jewish community. The museum helps protect the history of the region and showcases goldsmith work and textile manufacturing done here.
Set up in Jewish Ghetto Novo, it was built with the aim to educate people and celebrate the local art and Jewish traditions. The Jewish Museum is open for tours, and you can view the five synagogues and explore the ghetto for a ticket price of €8.
On your second day, enjoy a traditional Venetian lunch at Hostaria Vecio Biavarol dal Puppa.
Located in the Santa Croce area and run by local artisans, it offers Cicchetti, which is the Venetian version of tapas. The dish comprises of small dishes like bruschetta with different toppings like meats or little pies.
Accompany the locally sourced and produced Cicchetti with freshly baked bread, homemade pesto, and a glass of wine made in nearby vineyards.
All dishes are made with high-quality ingredients and offered at a low price, making it the ideal stop to take some rest and fuel up.
The next stop after lunch is Venice's most prominent art gallery, which is filled with a wide-ranging collection of Venetian artwork. The art primarily represents Venetian life, religion, and historical figures of the region.
The permanent collection on display here includes an array of artworks by some of the most renowned artists of Venice, including Carpaccio, Veronese, Canaletto, and Tiziano. Canaletto's detailed architecturally seamless work will make you fall in love with Venice for sure.
Accademia Bridge is one of the four bridges in Venice crossing over the Grand Canal. It links the San Marco district and the Accademia Gallery located in Dorsoduro.
In a city imposed with stone architecture all around, this bridge built up of plain wood becomes a visual that stands out.
It is the perfect place to visit on your 4 day Venice trip to enjoy the hustle-bustle in the canal waters below and enjoy the captivating views of the sun setting over the horizon.
Most of the Venetians keep the story associated with Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute close to their hearts as it was built entirely by the survivors of the plague.
Designed by Baldassare Longhena, it was completed in the 17th century after more than 80 thousand Venetians perished due to the widespread plague in the region. It is believed that a miracle took place at this church, which prevented further spread of the epidemic.
The basilica was then made to give thanks right at the entrance of the Grand Canal. It is one of the most photographed churches in the entire country due to its gorgeous façade made with white stone, the imposing white dome and elegant statues.
One of the best ways to spend your evening in Venice is a visit to the bustling square called Campo Santa Margherita. It is a popular hotspot amongst both locals and tourists since its inception in the 14th century.
In the day time, it is a popular street food, vegetable, and fruit market offering delicious Venetian treats. However, at night it transforms into the trendiest party area in the city.
Being primarily a student area, you can find numerous small trattoria and hostaria in Dorsoruro, offering tasty local foods at affordable prices.
After roaming the streets and exploring Campo Santa Margherita, it is time to head over for some dinner. Located in the same area, Margaret Duchamp has a chilled café vibe, and you can get drinks and food at affordable prices here.
It is a great place to just sit down in the outdoor seating area and watch people go by. Grab yourself some correttos, grappa, and spiked espresso along with loads of wine or a glass of chilled prosecco if you wish.
If you in the mood for some Cicchetti, you can go for Al Bochon Divino in the same area as well.
On the third day of your Venice itinerary, I recommend you go island hopping to the islands of Murano and Burano.
These are two of the most interesting islands just outside of Venice and are well-known for their trattoria culture and their special crafts such as beautifully crafted glass products and trinkets and gorgeous designs and varieties of lace.
In the morning, take a Vaporetto and head over to the island of Burano to start your day with a delicious breakfast.
Café Vecio is a small little pizzeria joint located in the heart of Burano. It offers reasonably priced pizzas and salads made with high-quality fresh ingredients.
If you in the mood for something lighter, you can go for different kinds of pastries, croissants, or folded flatbreads with various fillings as well.
The coffee available here is so delicious that you will not be able to stop at just one cup.
After breakfast, you can start exploring the island of Burano.
Burano is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in the city of Venice. The waterfront here is lined with multi-coloured houses that look almost picture-perfect.
They are a photographers' paradise and are consistently voted amongst the top 10 colourful towns across the world. You can enjoy the waterfront to its utmost potential by taking a stroll across it while taking loads of photos of the houses as well as the amazing views of the lagoon.
Burano waterfront can be reached by taking a Vaporetto to the Burano stop.
Burano is known throughout the world for the lace craftsmanship that is carried out here. It is so well known that they have built a lace museum to display their craftsmanship and artistic prowess in the field.
The Museo del Merletto displays the works of traditional artisans from Burano who are involved in the craft of Lace for years. You can view the exhibitions on beautiful and delicate lace works from the 17th and 18th centuries.
You can even see the transformation of this unique craft over the centuries by viewing the modern lace styles from the 19th and 20th centuries. This craft has been passed down through different generations, with family members educating their offspring about their secrets.
After exploring the different exhibits, you can buy some lace for yourself in the various family-run stores all across the island.
Today I recommend you have lunch at a small family-operated trattoria located on the Burano waterfront. Several local Trattoria line the waterfront and offer amazing options for sampling the local cuisine including some of the dishes that are specialities of Burano in particular.
Seafood is extremely popular in the area and is the local staple food on the island. Fresh fish is caught directly from the lagoon, cooked, and served in these quaint little eateries. Risotto de go is a must-try dish in Al Gatto Nero Da Ruggero.
If you want to sample something sweet, go for the Bussolai Buranei, which are homemade buttery Burano cookies.
After lunch, take another Vaporetto and head over to the island of Murano to experience one of the most unique things to do in Venice.
Murano is renowned for its fine crafted glass products. Visit the Museum of Glass, known as Museo del Vetro, to see how these intricate pieces of art are made. By taking a tour of the museum, you will witness local artisans at work and observe the sophisticated art of glass blowing.
After viewing the entire museum, check out their gift shop to pick up something that you can take home and keep with you to remember this unique experience. A ticket to the glass museum costs €5, and it is free for kids under the age of 14 years.
Undoubtedly the most beautiful church in Murano, it is the most important Duomo on the island built with Romanesque architecture.
This Roman Catholic Church is dedicated to Saint Donata and Saint Maria. It is built with the same style as Ravenna, with its red bricks and white marble alternating on the façade.
Spend some time to stroll around it and admire the Byzantine paintings on display inside the Basilica.
Murano is an excellent place if you want to do some shopping, whether it is for yourself or as souvenirs for your friends and family. Tons of family-run shops dot the Murano waterfront, selling everything from ornaments and jewellery to trinkets and large sculptures.
However, the best souvenir you can get from Murano is undoubtedly the Murano glass. These shops have been selling locally produced goods here for generations. Take a stroll through the waterfront and explore these artisan shops.
After a full day of exploring the islands of Murano and Burano, it is time for some Trattoria Dinner, followed by some Passegiato.
You can stop at one of the charming waterfront trattorias for some delicious dinner and relaxation. Trattoria Bar Serenella dal Coco is one of the best in the area, offering reasonably priced set-menus.
The restaurant prides itself on using the freshest and finest local ingredients for their food preparation. Try some local dishes, and you will surely remember them for life.
After dinner, go for a passegiata around the waterfront and witness the sun setting over the lagoon, which will be the perfect end to a beautiful day in your Venice itinerary.
Castello is a sprawling neighbourhood located on the eastern end of Venice’s main island bordering San Marco.
After exploring all the touristy spots of Venice, now it is time to take the off-the-beaten-path track and head to the areas away from the crowds.
Head over to Castello to get the opportunity to see the day to day life of the locals in Venice.
Start your last day in Venice by sipping on some delightful cappuccino and enjoying light yet delectable Italian pastries.
Pasticceria Da Bonifacio is one of the best cafes in Venice, serving delicious coffee and breakfast pastries at amazingly low prices.
The café has a friendly vibe, and the pastries available here are light and fresh. Also, breakfast for two people will cost you under €10; so it is incredibly pocket-friendly as well.
After breakfast, head over to the Chiesa di San Zaccaria, a famous Gothic-Renaissance church that houses impressive artwork from the period.
The church is dedicated to St. Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father. It is known for its Gothic-style interiors featuring tall windows, and walls covered in paintings created by artists from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Alter-piece at the church is one of the greatest works of art of the famous painted Giovanni Bellini. Visiting this basilica is one of the greatest things to do in Venice for the lovers of art and architecture.
Also, you can view the crypt, frescos, and antiquities housed in the church by paying a small fee of €1.50.
Arsenale di Venezia, also known as the Venetian Arsenal, is a state armoury and shipyard built in the 12th century.
It is renowned for being the world’s largest naval factory. This is the place where Venice developed various methods for the mass-production of warships. It also houses a naval museum that you can explore to learn more about the naval and maritime history of the city.
The Biennale also hosts some exhibitions every year featuring a huge variety of contemporary art from around the world.
After you finish exploring Arsenale di Venezia, keep strolling east-bound till you reach Basilica of San Pietro di Castello.
This is a gorgeous Roman Catholic church located in the Castello area of Venice. It is also one of the oldest churches in the city and served as the city's cathedral for a long time from 1451 till 1807, when it was changed to Basilica di San Marco.
The church's most prized possession is St. Peter's Throne. It is believed that is was used in Antioch by the Apostle and once housed the Holy Grail.
You have to pay a small fee of €3 to enter the Basilica, and it is mandatory to keep your knees and shoulders covered.
One of the most serene and relaxing parts of the city where you can spend some time to unwind amongst nature is the Castello Waterfront.
There will be times when you cannot find any tourists around, so it is an excellent place if you are looking to get some reprieve from the huge crowds surrounding Saint Mark’s Square.
Castello is also known for having some of the most beautiful gardens and parks in the city. So spend some time amongst greenery and foliage to relax and unwind on your 4 day Venice trip.
One of the best restaurants in Venice ‘Nevodi’ is located in the neighbourhood of Castello. If you are looking for some fresh, authentic and delicious Italian food, then this restaurant is your best bet.
It also specializes in seafood made with the freshest catch, so make sure to give it a try. Some of the most popular dishes that the restaurant is known for include pasta with choice of mussels, prawns and pistachio pesto, or tuna; crostino with baccalà, tris di baccalà, baccalà alla vicentina and much more.
The restaurant is usually always completely booked, so make sure to reserve a table ahead of time. This is also one of the few restaurants in Venice that stays open for lunch even after 2 PM.
After lunch, head over to San Zaccaria Vaporetto stop located near Doge’s Palace and take the Line 2 to visit Chiesa Di San Giorgio Maggiore.
The San Giorgio Maggiore Church is located in a quiet islet crossway from the canal. Built in the 16th century, it is a Benedictine church designed by Andrea Palladio. It is known for its classical Renaissance style featuring brilliant white marble that sparkles over the blue lagoon waters.
It is situated right across from the Piazzetta and serves as a focal point when viewed from all parts of Riva degli Schiavoni. It offers a gorgeous view of the main heart of Venice from its bell tower.
For the next stop, head south and visit the Catholic church of San Pantalon. Its unassuming façade is sure to fool you but wait till you step inside.
The church is known for its gorgeous roof featuring impressive and unique painted ceiling made using 40 different canvases covering over 400 square metres. The painting features the Glory and Martyrdom of Saint Pantaleone dating back to 17th century. Gian Antonio Fumiana painted it in 1680 before he fell from the scaffolding and didn’t survive.
Some other notable works features in the Basilica include Chapel of Holy Nail, St. Pantalon healing a boy – the final work by Veronese as well as Giovanni d’Alemagna and Antonio Vivarini’s Coronation of the Virgin.
You can enter the Basilica for free, but you can make the painted ceiling light up by putting a coin in a machine present inside the Basilica.
On the final day of your 4 days in Venice, don't miss the vista that will be the highlight of your trip, and you will surely remember for life.
Head over to the Accademia bridge to take photos of the gorgeous sunset over the Grand canal. This moment will prove to be one of the most romantic ones in the entire Venice. However, keep in mind that this area can be extremely crowded during sunset.
So if you are looking for a place that is a bit more private, you can head to Fondamenta delle Zattere, which is a long promenade that offers a view of Venetian lagoon on one side and St. Mark’s basin on the other.
Have dinner in Venice’s 'secret garden’ Antica Locanda Montin. You will find some of the best Italian food in Venice here, along with stellar service.
The restaurant offers delicious and authentic fare without any fuss at a sensible price. The pasta dishes offered here are the best in Venice, and the wine list is exquisite. It has a lovely ambience with a quiet green garden.
Some of the most popular dishes you can try here include Squid ink cuttlefish spaghetti, tortellini with grilled eggplant truffle butter, Spaghetti vongole, and Venetian style mussels. This dinner will prove to be the perfect end to a perfect 4 day Venice trip.
The best way of experiencing Venice's cultural uniqueness and artistic riches is to plan the trip ahead of time, keeping all minute details in mind from sightseeing to activities and food.
This 4 day comprehensive Venice itinerary will work as a guide to help you explore the different parts of Venice - the touristy areas as well as the more undiscovered locations. You will be able to explore the entire 'City of Canals' and not feel like you missed out on anything in the end. Start the trip with the more popular locations and then take a deep-dive into the Venetian culture and local life. Make it a trip to remember for life.
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
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