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24 hours in Venice

24 hours in Venice - canals

Back in June 2019 I visited Venice for just 24 hours! This may sound like a very short time to some, but I did my research and asked the excellent travel folk of Twitter who assured me this would be plenty of time to soak up the culture and see the beautiful canals. It turns out they were completely right and I genuinely fell in love with the city and had a wonderful time with just a day to explore.

With recent flooding leading to tourism in Venice down 40%, I really wanted to share my wonderful trip to this city to encourage people to support the city as they build their tourism back up.

24 hours in Venice- rialto square

You might be expecting a guide on the top things to do in Venice in 24 hours, but we weren't there to try and pack in lots of sight-seeing. It was one of those trips where you just want to relax and embrace a new place without a specific plan.

They seem to be the best kind of trips for me these days! I've broken the trip down into categories so you can skip through if there is a particular part you are interested in. Here is a summary of our wonderful 24 hours in Venice and how it is so worth it even if you only have a day.

24 hours in Venice- main area

24 hours in Venice - The Accommodation

This was very much a budget trip, and you will find when researching a short stay in Venice, budget  travel and this city do not really go together. I spent a long time searching and found most of the cheaper accommodation was a little further out or actually on the mainland - not ideal when you don't have very long to explore. 

Eventually we settled on Hotel Santa Lucia. It was very basic, with a shared bathroom, but the location was excellent and the owner was really friendly which made it totally the right choice. If you do stay here, expect no frills, but if you have just 24 hours to get to know Venice you won't be spending long in the room anyway!

The hotel was in an absolutely ideal location as it wasn't very far from the bus stop where we got the bus to and from the airport. There is also a gorgeous bar and restaurant a few doors down in the same alley-way: highly recommended for drinks on your way in or out to explore the city.

24 hours in Venice- canals

24 hours in Venice - The Food

Oh, the most important part! I would be lying if I said I didn't come back to Italy mainly for the food. It's just fantastic, isn't it, and Venice is no exception. We didn't eat in any fancy places and instead chose to create our very own 'mini' food tour, tasting small chichetti in various different bars and cafes in the heart of Venice.

It was such a romantic day just aimlessly wandering in the sun and stopping for cheap prosecco (sometimes €3 a glass!) and a bite to eat whenever we fancied it. If you go a little further out from the centre you will find cheaper prices and more authentic cuisine. We had such a nice time tasting different food. I don't have any specific recommendations, just follow your eyes and nose and try different places. So much fun!

The dish on the right photo is a must-try local dish for your day in Venice: it's called Baccala Mantecato. Local cod,creamed with olive oil, herbs and garlic which is spread on crisp bread.

24 hours in Venice- chichetti, aperol spritz, pasta and baccala mantecato

Of course the gelato is a massive highlight and I just wish I had extra stomachs so I could have sampled more flavours. There seemed  to be a gelato shop on every corner but my favourite was just near our hotel, as you leave the alley way and turn left. Bear this in mind if you decide to stay at Hotel Santa Lucia.

Having a drink in St Mark's Square whilst listening to live music is a huge must-do on many tourists' lists, and I have to be honest and say I really didn't want to pay a fortune to do this. However my boyfriend insisted we stopped for some prosecco and music, and he was so right. Whilst definitely not something to do on a budget, it did feel very nice as a one-off experience to enjoy the music and people watch in the sun. Just be warned you are charged for any snacks or water they bring to you, so if you decide to do this then go without too much of a budget restriction in mind!

It was €12 for a glass of coke or prosecco. On top of that the orchestra fee was €6 each so please be aware of these costs before deciding whether you want to blow the budget on a drink here. I think with us only having 24 hours in Venice I can see why it was good to do this as a one-off bucket list drink, but the accountant in me was crying inside!

Expensive snacks in Rialto square, venice

24 hours in Venice - Activities

We didn't do much in the way of tourist activities in Venice as we both just wanted to casually explore. We toyed with the prospect of a gondola ride, but with a cost of €80 for the pleasure we decided to skip it and watch other people's rides instead. Not all the gondoliers sing but it did look like a nice experience if it is on your bucket list. Instead we took the vaporetto, a gondola shared with other tourists for a very brief ride across the canal at a cost of €2 each - this felt enough for me as I still briefly got a taster of the experience! Of course it comes down to individual budget and preference.

24 hours in Venice- canals and gondolas

We decided to pay €8 (price valid as at June 2019) to go up the Campanile di San Marco in St Mark's Square and take in the views as the queue was small and I love a good bird's eye view! I really loved this experience and I would say it is definitely worthwhile squeezing it in if you have 24 hours in Venice, depending how long the queue is when you visit. St Mark's Basilica, the cathedral just next to the tower, looked amazing. This would definitely have been added to the list if we had more time - on this occasion the queue was just a little too long.

24 hours in Venice- St Mark's Square from above

The main activity I loved was just wandering the streets with no maps, stumbling into little shops selling authentic Venetian masks and topping up with ice-cold prosecco every few steps. I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny afternoon in Italy!

24 hours in Venice- prosecco by the canal

Make sure you check out some of the shops as you meander around Venice for the day as they are really lovely. I could have looked at the stunning Venetian masks for hours as they were such high quality. I bought a little one but it definitely was more of a tourist souvenir than a traditional, hand-painted mask.

We also found the cutest little book shop called Libreria Acqua Alta which is popular with tourists as it is so quirky. The books are displayed inside old gondolas, and their gorgeous resident cat also adds to the appeal. I didn't buy anything but there were many lovely books as well as pictures, postcards and other small souvenirs to buy. Don't miss the huge pile of books outside for a memorable holiday snap or two!

24 hours in Venice- book shop with a resident cat

24 hours in Venice - Preconceptions

I thought I would touch on a few ideas people have about Venice before they visit as I must admit the negative press the city gets did make me question if it would be as good as I imagined in my head. I am always honest on this blog and I was slightly nervous about Venice being a let-down after wanting to go for years. I can honestly say I loved every second of our 24 hours in Venice and none of the following negative preconceptions about the city were an issue on our short trip.

Venice smells bad

I don't know if we just got lucky at the time of the year we visited, but I can say hand on heart the city did not smell bad to me. There was one occasion where we had a drink right near the water and I got a very slight damp whiff, but it was really mild and it never happened again. I don't know if someone said this once and it became a rumour that circulated, but don't let this put you off visiting!

24 hours in Venice- canals

Venice is too busy

Find me a European tourist city in summer which isn't busy! It wasn't that bad for us, I really found the crowds just added to the atmosphere. We visited mid-June so of course this is probably more a problem in the middle of summer when families have their holidays. It certainly isn't quiet, but if you enjoy touristy places and are happy with quite a few people then this won't be a big issue for your short break.

I have just got back from Prague at Christmas time and found that so much busier and more difficult to navigate. Venice was absolutely fine to walk around in June and we quickly found streets completely to ourselves if we walked away from the centre.

24 hours in Venice- quiet streets

Venice is too expensive

As I mentioned near the start, the accommodation in Venice was not cheap. I found it hard to get a good hotel for a price we were willing to pay, but we didn't mind staying somewhere a little more basic in order to be able to visit this bucket list destination. This is partly why we kept our Venice trip to just 24 hours!

The alcohol was cheap, the food prices were OK, and you can shop around quite easily to keep prices low. I wouldn't pick this destination if my number one priority was to have a budget weekend away, but it was worth it and the prices weren't as high as I expected.

24 hours in Venice- prosecco in the sun


The main thing to bear in mind is that you don't need a huge amount of time in Venice if you are happy to just wander around. It is the absolute ideal romantic weekend break for a couple of nights. I would love to go back and add on a visit to the colourful island of Burano, but 24 hours in Venice was great for a first visit.

I hope this post has given you a taster of what to expect from 24 hours in Venice. It is certainly somewhere I would return to and I definitely think a short layover or weekend break is plenty of time to soak up the city. To see more highlights from Venice including videos behind the pictures above check out my 24 hours in Venice Instagram highlight. Is Venice on your 2020 travel bucket list?

24 hours in Venice- pin to pinterest

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