Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to a perfect 24 hours in Venice! I suppose a more sophisticated writer would tell you that Venice isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Too many crowds and too much pigeon poop! Who cares if it sinks into the river?
Well, I have never claimed to be sophisticated and I think Venice is one of the most glorious places I have ever seen in my life. We’re going to have a fabulous day of blown glass, Aperol Spritz, bizarre mating rituals, and more! Come with me, and by the end of our 24 hours in Venice, you’ll want to shove anyone who says the city is overrated under a gondola.
24 Hours in Venice
Where to Stay?
Venice can be a confusing city with an almost infinite number of winding streets. You’ll want to stay in the thick of the action, so I recommend the Hotel Al Codega. It has lovely cozy rooms, a delicious breakfast, and a helpful staff. But most importantly, it is right near every single tourist attraction you would want to visit. But since it’s in a quiet courtyard, you’ll be able to get a great night’s sleep away from drunken tourists and pigeons hammered on Aperol Spritz.
24 Hours in Venice
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
Venice is hot in the summer, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, if you’re American or from the UK, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. European electrical outlets don’t work with American or British plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter. It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one.
24 Hours in Venice
Morning: Murano and Burano Tour
Everyone knows that Venice is on the water. But what everyone might not know is that Venice is surrounded by a plethora of adorable islands, each with its own magical characteristics. But unless you brought your own speedboat to Venice, the best way to explore these islands is on a tour like the Murano and Burano tour. It’s an amazing experience to kick off your 24 hours in Venice.
I suggest taking one that leaves as early in the morning as you can, to avoid the crowds. That way you might also catch a glimpse of this special early morning view of St. Mark’s Place as you head to the tour meeting place:
There! That photo is worth getting up a wee bit early in the morning for, isn’t it?
I don’t want to spoil all the amazing fun facts our tour guide shared with us, or you’d have no reason to go on the tour. But I will spoil for you…
Approximately Top 5: Murano and Burano Edition
1) New Murano Gallery
The island of Murano is famous for glass, so no trip here is complete without a visit to a famous glassblowing studio. We stopped at New Murano Gallery, where we watched a demonstration of how a master glassblower turns a blob of melted glass and some colorful shards into a mystical work of wonders. He even created a small glass horse using nothing but melted glass and a small pair of scissors. As far as I am concerned, this is a cooler trick than David Copperfield making The Statue of Liberty disappear.
After the demonstration, you are free to wander the gallery and, of course, shop! The gallery is full of masterworks that cost a year’s rent, and photography isn’t permitted. But looking at the sensational glass replicas of Picassos and Chagalls costs nothing. I was a little impressed by this one dude on my tour who wanted to buy one of these outrageously expensive numbers but didn’t know who Chagall was. Wouldn’t you want to have a basic understanding of art before making an investment?
Don’t worry if you can’t afford a 40,000 dollar glass sculpture and still want a souvenir. I bought a glass nut dish for my grandmother and a pair of earrings for myself, and I could still afford to pay my hotel bills afterwards.
2) Explore Murano
There’s also enough time after exploring the gallery and doing a little shopping to see Murano on your own. Some of the glass stores will be open, but I think the most pleasant thing to do is just wander around and enjoy the quaint and quiet side streets. It’s so much less crowded than Venice.
Be sure not to miss Murano’s most famous landmark, the leaning bell tower. (And yes, it really is that wonky in real life.) For some reason there was also a glass Christmas tree next to it, even though I visited in the dead of August.
Just don’t forget to return back to the glass studio in time to meet your tour! If you are a solo traveler like me, find a buddy or two from your group to walk around with. I connected with a very nice mother and daughter from Haiti and even got to practice my rusty French with them. Just one of the many perks of travel!
3) Lace Making in Burano
Burano, an island not far from its rhyming couplet Murano, is known for two things, and the first is lace-making. We’ll get to stop at a laceteria for a lace-making demonstration by a little old Italian lady. (And everyone knows Little Old Italian Ladies makes the best lace.
Afterwards you can buy a souvenir or two, but there’s no pressure. The salesladies really know what they are doing too. I told one of them I wanted to buy a scarf for my sister, and she said their scarves came in nude and black. I mentioned that my sister was blonde, and she sagely nodded. “Say no more! I bring the black!” Never argue with an Italian lace saleswoman about color choices, as my grandmother always used to say.
4) Explore Burano!
No 24 hours in Venice is complete without exploring the deliriously colorful streets of Burano. Our guide said that they painted the little houses in different colors because it was easier to tell which house was which that way.
Do people in Burano have an especially bad sense of direction? I have a really bad sense of direction, but I can always tell which house belongs to me. But the colorful houses are so lovely, who really cares why they are there? Don’t look a gift horse of a different color in the mouth!
You probably won’t have enough time to have a sit-down lunch on the tour, so just grab a scrumptious gelato from Gelati Prodotti Tipici, right across from the lace shop, and go for a wander.
I strongly recommend getting away from the crowds and hitting up the side streets. You never know what you will find. For example, I heard a bizarre squealing and panting sound that sounded like a kitten in distress. And when I followed the noise to its source, I soon learned that it was in fact two turtles in flagrante delicto.
It was one of the most disturbing noises I have ever heard in my life. Please Google “turtle mating noises” if you do not believe me. And this is why the colorful houses are not the first thing I think of when I remember my time in Burano.
5) The Water!
Be sure to enjoy the views of the waterways between Venice, Murano, and Burano. Your guide will give you a regular narration of fun facts about the area. My guide certainly seemed to have forgotten more things about Venice than most people ever know.
But my favorite tidbit was the fact that one of the tiny islands near Venice is dedicated to growing vegetables for the top restaurants in the city. Some local gentlemen decided to start a business delivering these fresh veggies every day to those who want only the finest in Venetian vegetables. So now you have another excuse to head to a fine dining restaurant in Venice–many of them will use vegetables from this place.
24 Hours in Venice
Afternoon: Peggy Guggenheim Collection
People tend to associate Venice with extremely old things. After all, the city is still basically powered by water, so it’s hard not to feel like you’ve stepped back into Medieval Times when you stay here. But Venice is also home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which is one of the best modern art museums in Europe. If you find yourself sick of glassblowing, gorgeous architecture, and gondolas, take a boat on over here and zap your way into the 20th century.
What’s on display at the Guggenheim Collection changes often, so I can’t guarantee what you’ll see. But I can guarantee…
Three Fun Facts: Peggy Guggenheim Collection
1) What About Lunch?
I suggest getting lunch before you head on over to the Guggenheim Collection. Your boat from the Murano and Burano tour will let you off just by Salvmeria which is an insanely popular place to pick up sandwiches. You might have to wait a smidge or two for a table, but trust me that it is worth it. Two sandwiches is a good amount of lunch for one person. I recommend the mortadella with artichoke and the spicy salami.
Wash it all down with the Venetian classic cocktail, the Aperol Spritz. It’s a little sweet, a little bitter, and extremely refreshing on a summer day in Venice. And if you can’t day drink when you’re on vacation in Italy, when can you day drink?
No lunch in Italy is complete without gelato, so head to Gelato Fantasy and pick up a scoop of something decadent. (My Snickers couldn’t have been more delicious. Truly this is the best kind of Italian-American cultural exchange.)
2) What’s the Coolest Part of the Guggenheim Collection?
I definitely suggest reserving as much time as possible for the fabulous sculpture garden. It’s the perfect place to relax after spending all morning exploring Murano and Burano and then downing a giant Aperol Spritz. There are female sculptures showcased here, like Germaine Richier’s sculpture Tauromachy, which is a Surreal depiction of a man walking a bull skull. Though being from New York City, if someone did walk a bull skull here, I think no one would bat an eyelash.
But perhaps the most fascinating thing about the Guggenheim Sculpture Garden is that Peggy herself is actually buried here along with her 14 beloved dogs. Ugh, this is every glamorous nerd lady’s dream, to be buried in her own museum. I don’t know about the 14 dogs though. I feel like 10 dog corpses should be enough for any reasonable sculpture garden.
3) What’s the Most Famous Art?
I doubt there’s a major 20th century artist who ISN’T represented in the Guggenheim. Like Picasso? We’ve got his “On the Beach”, which is definitely the favorite painting of anyone with a cube fetish.
Prefer Marc Chagall? Then you’ll definitely be excited to see his painting “Rain”, which features a man beating a goat in the clouds. Man, modern art really is the strangest. I love Chagall and Picasso, but sometimes modern art museums just make me want to look at a whole bunch of normally proportioned paintings of things that could actually happen in real life.
On the other hand, how cool is it to be able to look at a Calder mobile swinging right in front of a surreal Magritte painting? Peggy Guggenheim and her 14 dogs really had excellent taste in art is what I am saying.
24 Hours in Venice
Evening: Cicchetti and Wine Tour of Venice
If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering just what exactly a cicchetti is. Well, the short answer is that it’s like the Venetian version of tapas. If you want the long answer, you need to take the Cicchetti and Wine Tour with Urban Adventures to find the best places to nosh on these tasty little Italian snacks and drink the finest wine. By the end of the evening, your bellies will be full of delicious food and your minds will be full of…
Three Fun Facts: Cicchetti and Wine of Venice
1) Where is My Gondola? I was Promised a Gondola!
If you’ve ever been to Venice, you know that the private gondolas are crazy expensive and not really worth it for a solo traveler like yours truly. Fortunately there’s plenty of cheaper opportunities to sail the canals of Venice. And on the Cicchetti and Wine tour, we get to ride on the vaporetto boat free of charge. It’s basically a budget gondola experience.
The only catch is that you need to let the locals go ahead of you on line. After all, they might be hurrying to work, whereas you are just a lollygagging tourist. But even though the vaporetto is more crowded than a gondola, you still get to take lovely photos of the canals like mine above. So I think it’s more than worth it.
2) Now What’s All This About Cicchetti?
Cicchetti don’t have to be anything in particular. I guess if a Venetian bar served pigs in blankets, they could technically call it cicchetti. But on this tour you get to sample some of the most authentic types of cicchetti. One of my favorite was a square of polenta with a creamy cod on top. Venice is on the water, so fish is a major part of the cuisine here. I know “fish on cornmeal mush” sounds like a dish put together to terrify children, but trust me that it is delicious.
But we also have more simple yet just as delicious options like olive tapenade.
Or prosciutto with peppers on a yummy like bruschetta. Italians really are the best at food. I mean, normal ham is good, but is it anywhere as good as prosciutto? I think not.
And if any of the cicchetti are displeasing to you, just fill up on copious amounts of wine…
Followed by a ginormous plate of sandwiches. (I recommend the salami.) Problem solved!
3) Is it All Small Bites?
Absolutely not, Internet Stranger! The final stop on the tour is a heaping helping of risotto at Sepa. I know the color makes it look like someone melted a fuchsia marker into the risotto, but it’s actually just the natural flavor of beets! Beets are nature’s candy after all. And the dish is totally vegetarian, with just a healthy sprinkle of cheese on top. Plus you can wash the whole warm dish down with lashings of chilled white wine for a pleasing temperature contrast.
And finally a gorgeous slice of tiramisu. I’ve had tiramisu many times in the US, and I usually don’t like it, but every tiramisu I had in Italy was fab. I think it’s because the dish is served fresher in Italy. In the US it seems like they make it with stale cake or ladyfingers and think you just won’t notice because the whole thing is soaked in coffee and drenched in sweet cheese. But a discerning palate can always tell.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Venice!
What would you do with 24 hours in Venice? Why is Italian tiramisu so much better than American tiramisu? And is 14 dead dogs just the right amount or would you stop at 13? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Venice.