48 Hours in Venice

24 Aug 2015

Planning a holiday in Venice? Travelzoo's deal experts guide you through the must-see sights and the city's best bars, cafés, and restaurants.

Day one

Deal expert Krystina Rees recommends taking the 2-hour boat ride from Venice airport into the centre to get your bearings. You might want to get the bus back to the airport, though, as it takes half the time.

Start your Venice break the right way: with a water taxi

10am The Piazza San Marco, in the historic centre ("centro storico"), is considered the heart of Venice and was named the "drawing room of Europe" by Napoleon. Here you'll see St Mark's Basilica and the Torre dell'Orologio (clock tower). The square is full of cafés where you can break for some Italian coffee.

1:30pm Have lunch at Il Caffè Florian in the Piazza San Marco. Founded in 1720, it's the oldest café in Italy. It also has a shop selling porcelain, tableware and other products.

Il Caffè Florian: a Venetian institution


Alle Trestiere is another good lunch spot, specialising in seafood. It's popular with the locals, and is listed in The Michelin Guide. Time Out calls it "one of the hottest culinary tickets in Venice".

3:30pm It may be a cliché, but you can't visit Venice without going on a gondola. Venice is an archipelago, so there's no better way to get around. Website editor Sara Kriegel recommends catching them away from the main tourist areas, as they are a little cheaper and you'll encounter less traffic and feel a little more like you've got the canals to yourself. Also, don't be afraid to haggle a little.

The Venice gondola experience: an obvious (but essential) item to tick off. Don't be afraid to haggle

6pm Go for a pre-dinner drink at Harry's Bar in San Marco, which was a favourite drinking spot for Charlie Chaplin and Ernest Hemmingway, and is the birthplace of the bellini. The drink was named after the 15th-century Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini.

Harry's Bar, Venice: the birthplace of the bellini

Krystina Rees also says, "For an essential Venetian experience, order a spritz" — it's a sparkling wine-based cocktail with a dash of Aperol and topped with sparkling mineral water.

8:30pm For dinner, head to Al Nono Risorto for some good pizza. It's a bustling place and the prices are very reasonable. A more expensive option is the Da Fiore.

Day two

9am Venice is full of art galleries, but we like the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, as it's a mixture of pieces by Picasso, Duchamp and many other European and American names. The museum's history is also very interesting — the collection consists of the pieces Peggy Guggenheim brought to Venice after her father died on the Titanic.

11am Go shopping along Venice's main retail street, the Strada Nova. Here you'll find a mixture of high-street chains and quirky boutiques.

1pm For lunch, try Osteria Alla Vedova, just off the Strada Nova, which serves "the best polpette (meatballs) in Venice", according to Time Out.

2pm Deal expert Raphhael Giacardi recommends going to Murano, one of Venice's many islands, to visit the glass-blowing factory. Catch a glass-making demonstration and then hit several shops to buy the glass products.

4pm Krystina Rees recommends the Dorsoduro district: "It's got some awesome bars and restaurants, a bit like Shoreditch in London, where everyone drinks outside little cafés." Osteria I Rusteghi (also known as Ai Rusteghi) is another one of her favourites. It's a hidden wine bar in a courtyard between San Marco and Rialto. It's very difficult to find, but it's worth the struggle.

Osteria I Rusteghi: hard to find and all the better for it


You can also read more about:

Where to go for a long weekend in Italy.
Travelling Italy by water.
Italy's best cycling and hiking routes.
When's the best time of year to visit different parts of Italy.
Where Italy's best beaches are.
Italy's best food cities.
Our Italian wine guide.
Italy's top archaeological sites.

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