Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and also a great base from which you can explore the Veneto region and beyond.

 

I’ve always found it difficult to tear myself away, but there are many compelling day trips from Venice.

 

Some are very easy, including popular boat tours in Venice that take you out to lagoon islands like Burano. Some of the best day trips from Venice only involve a short train or bus ride onto the mainland and back.

 

Some possible trips from Venice involve more travelling time, and we offer guidance on whether or not you can accomplish your trip from Venice under your own steam.

 

There is also the option of booking day tours from Venice, which take you beyond the reach of public transport. It’s also worth bearing in mind the option of car rental in Venice, which again opens up more options for you.

 

Easy Day Trips From Venice – Around The Venetian Lagoon

Image of the church of Saints Maria & Donato, Murano, Venice

The finest building on Murano, the church of Saints Maria & Donato

 

 

The best of the boat trips from Venice is the Murano Burano Torcello run to the three islands in the north of the lagoon – or just seeing two of them.

 

Burano and Murano often confuse visitors because of the similarity of their names, but they are very different.

 

The departure point for the Murano, Burano and Torcello vaporetto (waterbus) is the Fondamente Nove station on the northern side of the city. The number 12 boat takes you to Murano Faro, a short walk from some of the Murano glass workshops for which the island is known worldwide.

 

It continues northwards across the open lagoon, and the leaning tower of the main church on Burano island soon comes into view.

 

Torcello

 

Image of the cathedral and Santa Fosca church on the island of Torcello, Venice

The original cathedral of Venice, Santa Maria Assunta, and the later church of Santa Fosca, Torcello

The boat then reaches a canal between the islands of Mazzorbo and Mazzorbetto, before turning left towards the island of Torcello.

 

Torcello feels very quiet and remote nowadays, but this isolated spot was actually settled long before the islands that make up the city of Venice were occupied.

 

It is also home to Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which dates back to the 7th century and has a stunning mosaic above the east apse.

 

Torcello was once a thriving small city, but is now an isolated outpost of Venice, with the cathedral, another church, a museum, a few houses and a restaurant spread out along a single narrow canal.

 

Most of the island has reverted to something akin to its pre-settlement state – nearly all of its buildings were dismantled, the materials re-used in the city of Venice. It’s worth climbing the cathedral campanile for the view over the island. Which gives you a good idea of how the islands that make up Venice once would have looked.

 

Our Rating: 4.5/5

 

Burano

Image of canal, houses and church on Burano Island Venice

Typical bright Burano houses, with the leaning tower of San Martino lurching in the background

 

Most people make the day trip to Burano to see the many brightly painted houses that make up this small fishing village, the next stop on the number 12 service from Torcello.

 

I’ve found that Burano and Torcello make a good day trip from Venice. You need an hour or more on Torcello, and if you’re a keen photographer, at least a couple of hours on Burano. It’s quite small, but it still takes a while to walk around all the canals and backstreets. Nearly every house is a photo opportunity – I’ve never seen anywhere quite like it.

 

It also attracts a steady stream of visitors looking to buy Burano lace, which is painstakingly sewn by women on the island, traditionally to supplement their husbands’ fishing income.

 

There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around the island, making it an ideal day trip destination from Venice.

 

Our Rating: 4.5/5

 

The Rest of the Lagoon

 

There are some other intriguing side trips from Venice around the various lagoon islands.

 

One of the most off-beat short trips from Venice is on the number 13 vaporetto, which departs Fondamenta Nove, calling at Murano Faro en route to the island of Sant’ Erasmo.

 

Few make the trip to Sant’ Erasmo, but I recommend it, especially if you need a break from the peak season crowds in Venice. It’s where many of the vegetables you see for sale at Rialto market are grown.  You can walk or hire a bike (from the first stop, Capannone), and meander past fields of artichokes, aubergines and peppers.

 

One of the most unusual Venice day tours is to the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, which is home to a small Armenian Catholic monastery just to the west of Lido island. The guided tour is fascinating, giving great insight into Armenian history. The monastery’s library houses one of the most important collections of Armenian manuscripts in the world.

 

San Lazzaro degli Armeni has attracted many well-known visitors, including Lord Byron, who learned some Armenian there in 1816-17 and has a room named after him there. There is also a story that Joseph Stalin worked there as a bellringer in 1907, having fled Russia to help plot revolution in exile.

 

Chioggia

 

Chioggia is a lovely little fishing town at the southern end of the Venetian lagoon. It’s very different to Venice itself, but an interesting side trip from Venice. It’s a hint of how Venice might have turned out had it not become so incredibly wealthy because of its trading empire.

 

It’s worth the journey down from Venice just to see the last known painting by Vittore Carpaccio, St Paul, in the church of San Domenico. There are several other notable churches, including the Duomo, or cathedral, designed by Baldassare Longhena, who was also responsible for the glorious Santa Maria della Salute at the entrance to the Grand Canal back in Venice.

 

Chioggia also has a great fish market and seafood restaurants, and the old town makes for a pleasant stroll for an hour or so. There is also a beach at Sottomarina (sometimes referred to as Marina di Chioggia).

 

Our Rating: 3.5/5 for the destination, 5/5 for the longer journey

 

Getting there: the 80E bus from Piazzale Roma takes an hour to reach Chioggia.

 

However, the longer route via the beach island of Lido is far more interesting. The number 11 bus runs the length of Lido island, boards a ferry to Pellestrina island, which has wonderful views of the lagoon and 18th century sea walls. It then continues the length of that to a ferry, which then takes you past mussel fishermen’s houses on stilts. One of the true hidden gems of Venice.

 

The Brenta Canal

 

After Venice’s maritime empire and overseas influence started to dwindle, the Venetian wealthy turned their attention inland, to the adjacent Veneto region. Many of the aristocratic families built palaces along the scenic Brenta Canal (also known as the Riviera del Brenta) which links Venice with Padua, and several boats offer cruises along this beautiful waterway.

 

Brenta Canal cruises usually start at 0900, with several stops at Venetian villas en route, finishing at 1700 or 1800. Some services finish at the vast Villa Pisani at Strà, with an onward bus to Padua, while others dock in Padua. You then make your own way back from Padua by bus or train.  Full day cruises are currently priced at €99, with half day cruises (to Oriago) €55.

 

Our Rating: 4/5

 

Day Trips From Venice By Train

 

Venezia Santa Lucia is the departure point for trains from Venice to mainland Italy. There are possible day trips by train to the north, east, south and west, and here are some of the best options.

 

Padua

Image of the Basilica of St Anthony, Padua

The stunning Basilica of St Anthony, also known as Il Santo, Padua

The Venice to Padua day trip is one of the best you could possibly do.  I originally stayed there because Venice was booked out for a festival and I didn’t mind the ‘commute’.

 

If Padua wasn’t so close to Venice it would be a bigger city break destination in its own right. It reminds me of Bologna in that it’s a captivating medieval city with a large young student population.

 

There are enough things to do in Padua to tempt you for two or three days, but as you’re only there for one you should book yourself a place on a tour of the Cappella Scrovegni. The entire interior of this small chapel was painted by Giotto da Bondone for a wealthy patron seeking to pay and pave his way to the afterlife. It took him over two years – 1303 to 1305 –  to paint all the walls and ceilings, decorating them with a series of Biblical scenes. The most astonishing thing about his paintings is how far ahead of their time they were. They were completed over 150 years before the Renaissance, yet this is the era they most closely resemble. You need to book your tickets at least a day in advance, and arrive prior to your time slot.

 

The heart of the city is around the two Palazzo della Ragione and the two squares either side, the Piazza della Frutta and Piazza delle Erbe, where bustling markets are held on weekdays. It’s a short walk from here to the Duomo, or Cathedral, and the highlight of a visit here is the adjoining Baptistery, with an incredible ceiling by Giusto de’ Menabuoi.

 

Padua’s other essential sight is the Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, known locally as Il Santo. St Anthony was a disciple of St Francis of Assisi who was canonised only three years after his death. The basilica was built to venerate him, and his devotional cult is very strong nearly 800 years after he died. It’s one of the most opulent and fascinating churches I’ve ever visited.

 

Our rating: 5 / 5

 

Getting there: The train from Venice to Padua takes between 30 and 50 minutes, depending on whether you catch the Eurostar (quickest), Inter-Regionale or regionale (slowest) service.

 

Vicenza

 

The Venice to Vicenza day trip is another you can easily do by train.

 

You will already have had some introduction to Vicenza’s most famous son, Andrea Palladio, in Venice. His sublime church of San Giorgio Maggiore is one of the most iconic sights on Venice, and the nearby churches of Il Redentore and Zitelle are also must-sees. If any of these have captivated you, Vicenza is where you should go to see much more of Palladio’s work.

 

As with Padua, you’ll probably struggle to see everything in a day. However, most of the best things to see in Vicenza, including several Palladio sights, are within a short distance of each other in the city centre, including the Basilica Palladiana, Palazzo Thiene and Teatro Olimpico, a wonderful re-creation of a Roman theatre.

 

Palladio is also well-known for his beautifully proportioned Roman-inspired villas, and there are two within easy reach on the southern outskirts of Vicenza. The Villa Rotonda and nearby Villa Malmarani ai Nani are around 400 metres’ walk from the number 8 bus stop.

 

There are also wonderful views over the city from the church at Monte Berico. A day trip to Vicenza is feasible, but it may be worth considering a Vicenza tour as an option if you want to cover all of the main sights in the time available.

 

Our rating: 5/5

 

Getting there: The train from Venice to Vicenza takes between 45 minutes (for fast intercity services) and 1 hour 15 minutes (Regionale).

 

Verona

 

Image of the city of Verona at night

Beautiful Verona at night

Verona is one of the most popular destinations for a day trip from Venice.  It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, and the only reservation I have for recommending a day trip from Venice to Verona is that you cannot hope to do it justice in a day. It deserves at least two days, possibly even more.

 

There are so many things to do in Verona. The most popular sight is the Casa di Giulietta, the setting for Shakespeare’s tale of doomed love, Romeo and Juliet. The house, which at one time belonged to the Dal Cappello family (similar to Shakespeare’s ‘ Capulet’) dates from the 14th century, but the balcony was added much later. Needless to say, it is one of the most popular selfie spots in Italy.

 

Verona has so many other things to see. The Roman Arena, the best-preserved in Italy after the Colosseum in Rome, is still used as a venue for opera and concerts.

 

As time on a day trip to Verona day trip from Venice is limited, I suggest seeking out some of the highlights of the medieval city. The Ponte Pietro is a stunning red-brick fortified bridge over the Adige River, and the Duomo and San Zeno Maggiore church are two of the finest Romanesque buildings in northern Italy.

 

Verona is also a beautiful city to walk and savour the street life, with Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza dei Signori two of the prime spots to take a break and watch the world go by for a while.

 

Our rating: 5/5

 

Getting there – There are frequent trains from Venice to Verona Porta Nuova, and to make the most of the day you should spend the extra money on the faster Regionale Veloce or Frecciarossa trains which take a little over an hour, rather than the slow regionale which take twice the time for less than half the price.

 

Trieste

 

Trieste is the last outpost of Italy, tucked away in the north-east corner of Italy, next to the border with Slovenia, with Croatia also close by.

 

It’s a fascinating city which doesn’t really feel like Italy. It was the part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for over 500 years, and its main seaport until 1918 and the end of the First World War. It still feels like a crossroads city to me, with as much Slavic and Germanic influence as Italian. It may not have many of the conventional sights of some of the other destinations we describe, but I’d still recommend a day trip from Venice to Trieste to uncover some of its many layers of history.

 

Trieste is also the (unofficial) coffee capital of Italy, which dates back to its time as a free port under the Habsburgs, when coffee was shipped there from all over the world. It’s home to the famous Illy coffee brand, and they have set up a University of Coffee where you can take a day course or even enrol on a degree. I sought out the Caffe San Marco while I was there last, partly to sample the outstanding espresso, but also to see where James Joyce drank his coffee for ten years.

 

The most popular tourist sight in Trieste is actually just outside the city – the Castello Miramare sits in a gorgeous location a few miles across the bay.

 

There are also plenty of other surprises and things to do in Trieste on your day trip. It’s only a short walk from the seafront up the hill to the Roman amphitheatre and the lovely Cathedral at the summit.

 

In this last corner of Italy, you can also visit the one Nazi concentration camp to be set up on Italian soil. The Risiera di San Sabba started out as a rice mill, but was put to sinister use by the Nazis, who murdered at least 5,000 people there, and deported many more to the death camps to the north, including Auschwitz.

 

Our Rating: 4/5

 

Getting there: The regular train from Venice to Trieste takes two hours.

 

Bassano del Grappa and Marostica

 

Bassano del Grappa is a pretty town in the foothills of the Dolomites two hours north of Venice.

 

It’s best known as the home of grappa, a strong spirit that’s usually grape-flavoured, which comes in many varieties. There are, of course, plenty of places to try or buy grappa in Bassano, including a number of osterie, or bars, and the Poli Museo della Grappa. The most impressive sight in the town is the covered wooden Ponte Vecchio, also known as the Ponte degli Alpini, which spans the river Brenta.

 

Bassano’s nearest neighbour is the picturesque town of Marostica, which is known for a game of human chess played out on the town square every two years. The next perormances will be held 7th to 9th September 2018.

 

The tradition goes back to the 15th century, when two noblemen sought the hand of Lionora, daughter of the local lord. It makes for a stunning spectacle, played out with the Castello the imposing backdrop.

 

Our Rating: 4 / 5

 

Getting there: The regular train from Venice to Bassano del Grappa takes two hours, and there are regular buses from Bassano to Marostica which is only 4 km away.

 

DAY TOURS FROM VENICE

 

Some destinations can be visited in a day from Venice, but if you’re relying on public transport you’re not going to see much, which is where taking private day tours from Venice becomes an option. We recommend this for the following destinations.

 

Wine Tours from Venice

 

Sampling a glass or two of prosecco is almost as essential a Venetian experience as a boat ride down the Grand Canal. And if you’re in Venice for a few days and want to know (and try) more, you can take guided tours from Venice to ‘Prosecco country’ to the north of nearby Treviso.

 

The main Prosecco Superiore growing area is actually quite small, between the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano. It’s steep, hilly country, and the vineyards make a wonderful sight, especially towards harvest time. There are also some beautiful villages along the route, including Guia and Santo Stefano.

 

The tours take you through this fine scenic countryside, and you usually visit two or three wineries, learning all about the cultivation of the vines and tasting several vintages at each.

 

Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

 

Lake Garda

 

Lake Garda is the largest of the Italian Lakes, and one of the most beautiful, with some beautiful resort towns around its shores. It’s around 50 km north to south, and around 10 km across most of the way.

 

You can reach Lake Garda from Venice by train easily enough: trains regularly stop at Peschiera and Desenzano. You can then count on getting to a hub like Sirmione by bus, or up either shore, but you’re not going to get long wherever you choose to go.

 

So if you want to make the most of your day trip to Lake Garda you’ll get more out of it by taking a day tour.

 

Our Rating: 4.5

 

The Dolomites

 

If you climb one of Venice’s campaniles on a clear day, you can see the peaks of the mighty Dolomites to the north.  No wonder that a Dolomites day trip from Venice sounds appealing.

 

However, the Dolomites are out of reach of public transport from Venice.

 

You can organise car hire from Venice, and with your own wheels you can get to the mountains in around two hours. This gives you the freedom to explore some of the scenic Dolomites drives for a few hours before heading back to Venice.

 

Alternatively, if you book a Venice Dolomites day trip with a private tour company, a typical itinerary takes you to lovely Lake Santa Caterina, the iconic Tre Cime di Lavaredo peaks and gives you some time in the ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo.

 

Our Rating: 5/5

 

Ravenna

 

Ravenna was once the most powerful city in what was left of the Roman Empire in western Europe, and was the seat of power in the 5th and 6th centuries. The legacy of its century-long heyday is some of the most precious mosaic art on the planet, all dating from this period.

 

I had studied Byzantine art at university, and even that didn’t prepare me for seeing the Ravenna mosaics in person: they are simply astounding. The main sites are the Basilica of San Vitale, the Neonian and Arian Baptisteries, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, and the Basilicas of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo and Sant’Apollinare in Classe.

 

It’s situated close to the Emilia-Romagna coast to the south of Venice and the Po delta. You can get from Venice to Ravenna by train and back in a day, but the chances are it’ll take you three hours or more each way. Then there are the six main sites to visit – five are within walking distance of each other, while the other one is a short bus or train ride away.

 

Put simply, a Venice to Ravenna day trip on public transport is going to be long and tiring. A Ravenna day tour makes more sense, getting you there and back in much less time.

 

Our rating: 5/5

 

LONG DISTANCE DAY TRIPS FROM VENICE

 

Florence

Day Trips Florence Image of the Duomo or Cathedral at night

The amazing facade of Florence’s Duomo at night

The day trip from Venice to Florence can be done, but it’s not one I’ve seen anyone try, and I wouldn’t do it myself as it deserves a lot more time than a day trip is going to offer.  Venice is too far away. It makes more sense to take a Florence day trip from somewhere closer, like Bologna or one of the Tuscan cities.

 

That said, if Venice is the closest you’re ever likely to get to Florence and this is the one chance you’re going to get to see it, by all means go for it.

 

It doesn’t really make much sense to book a tour of Florence from Venice, as it’s easier to make your own way there by train (which can take as little as two hours). but it would be well worth your while joining a Florence tour while you’re there, especially if you want to get an overview of the city in a short space of time.

Our rating: 5/5 for the destination, but 3/5 for a day trip all the way from Venice.

Getting there: by regular train from Venezia Santa Lucia to Florence Santa Maria Novella (Firenze SMN)

Milan

 

The day trip from Venice to Milan can also be done, but as with Florence, it’s not one I’d contemplate myself. Again, Milan deserves more time than a day, but as some of the main sights are close to each other you’d get to experience some of the best things to do in Milan more quickly than you would Florence.

 

A day in Milan would give you enough time to see the magnificent Duomo, the opulent La Scala Opera House and Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper in nearby Santa Maria delle Grazie church. One of the most beautiful old delis in Italy, Peck, is also very close to the Duomo.

 

As with Florence, if your time is limited it makes sense to catch one of the high-speed trains from Venice, and to cover as much ground as possible, book yourself on a Milan tour.

 

Our rating: 4.5/5 for the destination, and 3/5 for a day trip all the way from Venice

 

Getting there: Trains run regularly from Venezia Santa Lucia to Milano Centrale.

 

DAY TRIPS OUT OF VENICE THAT CANNOT BE DONE

 

Croatia

 

While travelling in Italy in the late 1990s I met a number of people who talked about taking day trips from Venice to Croatia. I looked into the possibility of it back then and it wasn’t workable. The situation remains the same nearly twenty years on.

 

It’s easy enough to find a day trip to Venice from Croatia, as several operators in Pula, Porec and Rovinj run daily boats there in season (usually April to September). They depart in the morning, returning in the early evening.

 

And therein lies the problem if you want to embark on a day trip to Croatia from Venice. The only departures available are in the evening, so you really need to spend one, or more likely two, nights at your Croatian destination. There is much more of a market for day trippers to Venice from Croatia than there is the other way around. The same applies to Slovenia.

 

Rome

 

Some visitors do indeed contemplate day trips and tours from Venice to Rome. I wouldn’t. The quickest train one way takes well over three hours, so that’s around seven hours just on the train.

 

Rome is an amazing city packed with hundreds of things to see and do. The best advice I can give is not to do so on a long, exhausting day trip from Venice.

 

 

David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years.  His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.  His images are frequently used throughout the world by tourism bodies such as Visit Britain and Visit Wales.