If you haven’t been to Venice before, the very thought of your sweet little buns floating along the canals, in a gondola, can send shivers through your body. I know, cos it did the same thing to me. Funny thing though, there’s a good chance you may end up visiting Venice as part of a bigger trip around Europe, which could leave you time-poor. The worst!

So, if you find yourself in Venice with a desperate need to see and do everything, but not all that much time to do it, this is the guide for you. Here are my top tips on how to spend 24 hours in Venice and have a bloody awesome time while you’re there. This blog post could also be titled ‘How to eat your body weight in pasta and live to tell the tale’. Either way, it’s a good one.

venice italy
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Coffee at Torrefazione Cannaregio

Get yourself down to Torrefazione Cannaregio immediately, the sooner the better. The coffee here is not-to-be-missed, it’s fantastic and the absolute best way to start your day. An espresso will cost you around 0.90€ and a cappuccino should set you back no more than 1.50€. It’s advised to have your favourite brew, then branch out and try something a bit special, they have some really cool things on their coffee menu that you may not have tried before. It’s standing room only, so grab your coffee and a danish/brioche then head outside and immerse yourself in the streets of Venice. Find Torrefazione Cannaregio here.

Tick off the major tourist spots

While you’re up early, get down to the main tourist spots so you can see them before they get completely mad with visitors, then you can get stuck into the hidden gems of Venice. Start by visiting Saint Mark’s Square, a place you’ll definitely recognise from movies and photographs. You can photograph Saint Mark’s Basilica, Doges’ Palace, Torre dell’Orologio and get some photos down by the water too.  Around the corner and up some very pretty steps, you’ll find the Bridge of Sighs, so named because it was the last view of Venice the convicts saw as the passed through to the prison.

body of water with people rowring on boat beside tall building
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Gondola ride on the Grand Canal

Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s pretty wonderful too. Even with all the tourists around you and the cliche of it all, you can’t help but get swept up in the romance, beauty and how surreal it is to be on a gondola, floating down the Grand Canal in Venice. It’s just one of those life things you picture in your mind for years and it’s pretty cool to know you’ve done it. You can get a gondola ride for luxe or less, but it should cost around 80€, but that price rises in the evening. A ride down the Grand Canal will also afford you views of the famed Rialto Bridge (a great spot for a photo of the Grand Canal). Find out more about gondola rides here.

Pizza lunch at Rossopomodoro

Because you’re going to eat your body weight in pasta for dinner, I recommend eating your body weight in pizza for lunch. The pizza at Rossopomodoro is second to none! It’s got that rustic look going on, where you can tell just be looking at it that it has been freshly made and is going to taste ridiculously good. They also do house wine by the glass (bonus!). Find Rossopomodoro here.

a chef toppings pizza with vegetables
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Get a dose of culture at art galleries

If you love art, take a trip to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, home to works by Picasso, Braque and Duchamp, to name a few. You can also visit the Punta della Dogana, where you’ll find works by Jeff Koons and other contemporary artists.

Indulge in Italian gelato

Damn! The Italians really know what’s up: pasta, pizza, wine and gelato. They’ve really got life figured out. Be sure to enjoy a serving or five of delectable Italian gelato. There are plenty of great spots to choose from, but fan-favourite La Boutique Del Gelato is a good place to start.

gelato ice creams on trays
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Just wander

My best memories of Venice are away from the main tourist areas and scores of tour groups being led around like lemmings. Give yourself an hour or two to get totally and completely lost in Venice. Walk down tiny alleyways, discover hidden coffee and pastry shops, try food you’ve never seen before and buy souvenirs. You’ll find the best photography spots are tiny bridges linking parts of the city, the old facades reflected off the rippling water. Given the size of Venice, it’s not that easy to get hopelessly lost, but keep a map in your bag in case. Find a cool Crumpled City map of Venice here.

Sunset at the Campanile di San Marco

Just as the sun starts to get lower in the sky and the city starts to turn shades of gold, shell out 8€ at the Campanile and catch the elevator to the top floor. It’s the tallest building in Venice and offers the very best views of the city too. It’ll give you a newfound respect for the layout of the city and just how damn beautiful it is up close, rather than just photographs you see online or in books. Find the Campanile di San Marco here.

brown building with body of water
Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

Pasta feast at Osteria Oliva Nero

If you go to Venice and don’t eat pasta at least once, you’re banned from this blog. Banned, I tells ya! Osteria Oliva Nero (Black Olive) is a family-run business offering incredible food and excellent service in a really chilled out setting. It’s straight out of your Venezia dreams. Order at least one pasta dish, try the stuffed and fried zucchini flowers and at least one squid or fish dish. Finish it all off with copious amounts of red wine and dessert and you will have done me proud. Find Osteria Oliva Nero here.

Drinks at a rooftop bar with a killer view

Take an hour or so to visit the Skyline Rooftop Bar. The drinks aren’t cheap, but the view is priceless. It’s on top of the Hilton Hotel, so it’s nice and fancy. Visit during the day, at sunset or in the evening. It’s the ideal spot for some long-exposure photography on the sly (your tripod may look a bit out of place). Find the Skyline Rooftop Bar here.

Best travel resources for your trip!

If you found this post useful, please use the affiliate links below. I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Rest assured, these are the products and services I love and use. Read the disclaimer for more information. Thanks for your support! – Matt.

Agoda – hotels
Booking.com – hotels
Cover-More – insurance
DiDi – rideshare
Motorhome Republic – RVs
Discover Cars – rentals
Simify – SIM cards
Skyscanner – flights
Surfshark – VPN
TourRadar – tours
Welcome Pickups – transfers

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