Can you manage to do a day trip from Rome to Venice? You can! While you may not be able to everything, you can still manage to get a worthwhile taste of what this gorgeous city has to offer. Here’s a quick guide on how to spend a day in Venice
1. Getting There – Train Travel
Plan on spending a good amount of time on the train. Book the Frecciarossa – Trenitalia’s fastest regional train line – as early as possible. Tickets become available a couple of months ahead of your travel date, the earlier you book the cheaper the ticket. You’ll want to depart Rome as early as possible, with the train taking 3-4 hours to reach Venice. I recommend 6AM, or earlier. We departed at 6:35AM and arrived at 10:34AM. Also, don’t forget to get off at Venezia S. Lucia not Venezia Mestre – which is the stop before.
We booked super last minute, as we originally had planned to fly over (do not fly to Venice from Rome, it’s a huge time sink), and paid 85 euro per ticket to get there, and 78 euro per person to return. Getting on and off the train is entirely easy, with directions and help readily available at both Rome and Venice – it’s as simple as scanning in and hopping off, making sure to have your ID and proof of vaccination ready (though this policy will likely be retired in the future).
2. Plan on Walking
Yes, all of the bloggers, vloggers, and instagrammers are right. Wear comfortable shoes, Venice is a walking city. You’ll fall in love, but will definitely need to ice your feet after a day in the winding stone alleys of this enchanting city.
You can absolutely enjoy an amazing day trip to Venice from Rome – the key to any day trip is careful planning and time management. That way you can both see the sights and get back in time to catch your train!
3. Start with a Gondola Ride
Before we went to Venice I read a good amount of blogs warning folks off of the iconic gondola ride. Don’t be dissuaded! Yes, if you want a solo ride, it is extremely expensive. However, Viator and other tourism operators offer to book you in with a group – and while less intimate, this option does ensure that you pay a far smaller fee for the pleasure of being escorted through the waterways of Venice. I saved my pennies for our ride and for me it was well worth it. Valuable tips include: do it as early in the morning or in the late afternoon, and find a gondolier away from San Marco’s Square if you want to avoid the busy main canals – don’t be shy about establishing a route you’d like to take.
4. Wander (a little)
Spending only one day in Venice means that you only have just so much time to get lost. I recommend sticking relatively close to San Marco’s Square or near the Rialto Bridge. Or find a restaurant on one of the canals and soak in the locals while dining al fresco. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can walk the perimeter of Venice and make it back in time for your train.
5. Find Fine Dining
Venice is full of many amazing restaurants. But picking one out of many can be overwhelming when you’re surrounded by tourists and locals who seem to know exactly where to go. Do a little research beforehand and find a place that suits you – we dined at Trattoria Ca’ Dolphin. The staff were incredibly kind, and genuinely care about whether or not you enjoyed your meal. My brother and I whiled away an hour or so people watching, while dining on pasta and seafood.
6. Palazzo Ducale/Doge’s Palace
It might not seem like it, but yes you can actually include the Palazzo Ducale – or Doge’s Palace – in your Day Trip Itinerary. While you won’t be able to see the complete site, you will be able to see plenty. Book your ticket well ahead of time, select your time slot and arrive 10 minutes ahead.
There is a fast lane for ticket holders, and if you’re unsure of where to stand be sure to ask – the line attendants were all lovely and welcoming. You’ll be able to walk through the main courts and through the Bridge of Spies (should you so choose). On my trip we waited at the famed Café Florian in the Piazza San Marco, before running in to make our appointment.
7. Support Local Artisans
You’ll see lots of venetian glass all over Italy, but the best is found in Venice (and you’ll notice a higher premium for the same objects, even in Florence). Now we didn’t fit a visit to Burano and Murano islands – most famous for their glass blowing and lace craftsmanship, respectively – into our trip but there were many shops selling glass objects d’art. The closer to the Rialto Bridge, the more expensive your souvenirs will get – but you can still find items that are reasonably priced.
8. Sort Out the Vaporetto
Everyone thinks that they’ll be able to easily walk all over Venice. Then you get hit with the fact that a) it’s easy to get lost in Venice and b) you have to cross dozens of tiny bridges to get anywhere away from the main canal (and therefor all those bridges await you on your return journey). Suddenly you’ll have less than an hour to make it back to the train station, and you’re far from confident that you’ll be able to make the trek back. We call it a New York City mile – it’s always far different than a conventional mile. Figure out where the Vaporetto stops are prior to your trip, plus the most efficient lines to take back up to the station. Buy your ticket from the machine instead of waiting on the teller line, scan, and board like an expert. Day trips are fun but also demand a tight adherence to your timeline. Do your homework before the trip – making sure that you know what the timetables are to get back to the train station, and what your alternatives are should you miss the boat (literally, in this case).
|9:30AM||Arrive at Venice Santa Lucia Train Station|
|10:30AM||Walk down to Piazza San Marco, you can also elect to have a late breakfast at Café Florian|
|11AM||Doge’s Palace/ Palazzo Ducale. A pre-booked ticket means that you go right past the line and into the palace.|
|12:30AM||Leave the Doge’s Palace, make sure you take some time to take a few pictures of the Bridge of Sighs before heading to lunch.|
|1PM||Lunch. My recommendations are Trattoria Ca’ Dolphin, Impronta, Wisteria, or Hostoria Osottoosopra.|
|2:30PM||Take a gondola ride. My recommendation is to speak with your gondolier and let them know what you would like to see, not all of them will make it to the Grand Canal or the Bridge of Sighs. There is a set price for a Gondola ride throughout the entire city (€80), you can also share with strangers to make it less expensive per person.|
|3:15PM||Take advantage of Venice’s unique shopping opportunities. When you’re not purchasing from Venice’s artisans, you should also stop by t fondaco Rooftop Terrace. Past a few floors of Italy luxury clothes and home goods, you’ll find a rooftop terrace that – when open to the public – offers free and fantastic views of the city. If you’re not looking to shop, follow a DIY walking tour of Venetian churches and historical buildings – this is my recommendation as you’ll inevitably bump into shops along the way, and the best use of time is admiring the gorgeous and historically rich sites of the city.|
|6:00PM||Time for a drink and Venice’s famed cicchetti (a sort of tapas)! Find a nice spot along one of the canals, and watch as the sleek boats zoom through the canal, splashing water along the old stones of a sinking city.|
|7:15PM||Hop on the Vaporetto, kiss Venice goodbye and head back to the Santa Lucia Train Station.|
- Palazzo Ducale (a.k.a. Doge’s Palace) – Only purchase your tickets directly or through a TRUSTED tour provider.
- Venice Tourism Board – Useful site for deciding what you would like to do, and for finding alternative activities in the case of bad weather or unexpected closures.
- How to Get Around Venice Using the Vaporetto | Wander Wisdom – An exceedingly useful guide by WanderWisdom breaking down how to use the Vaporetto, and which line is best for you.
- Trenitalia, Frecciarossa Line – A link to the fastest way to travel from Rome to Venice.
- A Guide to Purchasing Tickets with Trenitalia – Trenitalia is so lovely to have provided this guide to purchasing tickets online. The site is Italian-native, so some things get lost in translation, this guide helps answer any questions you may have on booking, seating, etc.
- Map of Venice – Download this free map of Venice or locally download a Google map of the area, that way if you have no signal, you’ll be able to find your way to the main canal.