A day trip from Florence to Venice is direct and easy by train. How to get to there, get around, and what to see on your one day in Venice!
Florence is beautiful, maybe my favorite city in Italy. But if you are staying in Florence for more than a few days, it’s also excellent for day tripping out to other Italian cities. The train easily makes Pisa, Lucca, Verona, Bologna, Siena, and other cities including Venice just a quick trip away. I’m currently planning my next trip to Florence, and I purposely chose a room close to both the Duomo and S.M. Novella train station for just this use – so look for more day trip guides from Florence coming soon!
Is a Day Trip from Florence to Venice Possible?
Is a day trip from Florence to Venice possible? Yes! Absolutely. (Or I probably wouldn’t be writing this, for one thing.) The time on the train is a little longer than other commonly visited cities, just over two hours each way with a direct train. But that still makes it very manageable, giving you a full day in Venice. Plus, if you’re like me, you’re going to seriously tire your feet out, so that two hour train ride back is the perfect time for resting your feet, rehydrating, and probably journaling a bit. The time on a train is never wasted.
The train for your day trip from Florence to Venice
Which train stations?
From Florence, you will be using Santa Maria Novella train station. S.M. Novella train station is very convenient, only a 10 minute walk from the Duomo. When you arrive in Venice, you will arrive at Santa Lucia train station.
A ViaggiaTreno is a wonderful little online tool for TrenItalia trains (not Italo, sorry) shows you the arriving and departing trains for whatever station you choose. Switch it to English, and choose the train station you need. It will let you know at which platform your train is arriving, often before the overhead boards, and also about any delays. As I type this the 4:20pm train from Florence to Venice is delayed by 38 minutes, in case you’re curious.
How to get from Florence to Venice by Train
You are able to buy tickets the day of your trip, however some departure times may sell out during the summer season. Also, the further ahead you buy the ticket, the cheaper it will be. Likewise, if you buy a roundtrip ticket it will be cheaper than purchasing two one-way tickets at the time of travel. So it is your decision whether you want to pay for the convenience of deciding at the moment when to depart. There are many trains running between Florence and Venice – they are major cities after all. The trips with two transfers will be up to 5 hours long though, so choose wisely. If you accidently choose a train with 2 transfers your day trip to Venice loses a lot of time in Venice. The direct trains are MUCH shorter!
The Train for your Day Trip from Florence to Venice
- Frequency: 5 direct trains depart from 7:20am to 9:39am
- Transfers: There are direct trains, but also trains with one or two transfers.
- Trip duration: Direct trains take roughly 2 hours 15 minutes
- Check ticket prices & times at Trenitalia’s site
How to get from Venice to Florence by Train
- Frequency: There are 7 direct trains from 3:22pm to 7:26pm.
- Transfers: Some direct, some with one or two transfers, select your train carefully.
- Trip duration: Direct trains are roughly 2 hours and 15-30 minutes
Planning for One Day in Venice
As you exit Santa Lucia train station and walk down a short flight of steps, the Grand Canal is right before you. Slightly to the right of the exit is vaporetto stop Ferrovia (more on vaporetto in a moment), where Lines 1, 2, N, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, & 3 can all be accessed. You can also just head out by foot if you choose! Even if you are using the vaporetto, Venice is a city of much walking with a few steps thrown in regularly to get over and under bridges, so be sure to choose your footwear wisely.
The majority of sites are concentrated along the grand canal, and between the Rialto area and St. Mark’s Square. However there are still plenty of things worth seeing outside that area, so I wouldn’t get too worried about straying.
Getting around Venice
Vaporetto in Venice
I’ve already mentioned the vaporetto. The vaporetto is Venice’s answer to a metro/subway/underground system, which obviously wouldn’t work for a city building on water canals. Stops are peppered all throughout the canals, and you can really get anywhere using one.
Download this Map of the Venice Transit System. And you may want to bookmark this Interactive Map of Venice Vaporetto Stops – open it, click on the stop, and it tells you each line that stops there and gives you a little map of the piers at the stop. It’s beautiful. This is also an Excellent Step-by-Step-Guide to vaporettos for buying tickets.
One more thing about the vaporetto is that some of the best views you can get in Venice are on them. If you take Line 1 from in front of Santa Lucia Train Station to St. Mark’s Square, it is a 25 minute cruise all the way down the Grand Canal. It is maybe the best view in Venice and you can get it from the vaporetto.
Walking in Venice
When walking around Venice, part of the charm is that there is little to no rhyme or reason to the streets and paths and alleyways. Something that looks like a major thoroughfare on the map will feel like a pathway when you are walking it. Nothing is straight. Unexpected turns and curves happen all the time. So if you can usually just use your sense of direction to find your way somewhere, it’s likely it won’t work here. On the plus side, this area of Venice is only but so big so you will probably, eventually, find your way wherever you want to be. But I highly recommend a map, or Google maps, or something.
Free Advice: Get to Venice early – it gets crowded quickly in summer tourist season. Hop on the Vaporetto and head to St. Mark’s Square first. The canal will be at its quietest all day, and it will be worth it. Plus, in summer St. Mark’s Square gets insanely crowded by noon. If you can get there to experience the square itself early, that will be the best experience.
Day Trip from Florence to Venice: What to See
St. Mark’s Square
Famously called “the drawing room of Europe” by Napoleon, an incredible amount of history and architecture converges in this Venice square. St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile, and the Doges Palace, the top sites in Venice are all right here. St. Mark’s square also has many little details that make it fascinating on its own. Plus, it’s amazing for people watching. Warning though, as I said above in the busiest season it get crazy crowded by noon. So my advice is to get there early or go late. 11am to 4 pm is just packed.
St. Mark’s Basilica
This cathedral is dedicated to the patron saint of Venice, Saint Mark the Evangelist. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge of Venice and began as a much more simplified design. Over the centuries it has been embellished, inside and out, with the plunder of Venetian victories and covered in golden mosaics.
The Doge’s Palace is a Venetian Gothic palace and home of the ruler of the Venetian republic. Construction on it began in 1340 when the Great Council was outgrowing the space available. Over the years need for expansion and repeated fires led to reconstructions. However, the palace continued to be used in the administration of the city through the Doges, Napoleon’s occupation, French rule, Austria’s rule, through Venice becoming part of Italy in 1866. In 1923 it was set aside to be run as a museum. There are some truly stunning rooms inside.
The bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile is the tallest structure in Venice. Construction originally began around 940AD, but started and stopped several times until it reached the height of the actual belfry in approximately 1150AD when it was considered complete for the first time. The Campanile has been struck by lightning many times, damaged by earthquake, rebuilt repeatedly. It’s kind of an amazing structural history. It is still a functional bell tower which rings out important times of the day beginning at dawn. Skip-the-line tickets can be purchased for April 1 – November 3.
Cruise the grand canal
This is a super-easy thing to do on your day trip from Florence to Venice. Over 170 buildings line the line this main waterway through the city. Many of these buildings were homes of noble Venetian families who used this prime real estate to show off their wealth. Today the easiest way to take in the incredible stretch of water is via vaporetto.
There are many places to find gondolas looking for looking for someone to hire them for a private ride. The first time I took one I was with a small group of family and friends and we did it on a whim just north of St. Mark’s Square. The second time we planned ahead and had a much more private, unique gondola ride. Read more about the Gondola options in Venice.
Rialto bridge is the oldest of the bridges that crosses the Grand Canal in Venice. The current stone bridge, completed in 1591, was so daring in its design, that it was thought it couldn’t last. Instead it still stands and is considered a beautiful landmark and attraction.
The Rialto market, located west of the Rialto bridge, is the most historic of the food markets in Venice. Dating to 1079, the Rialto Food Market has been serving the area through the ups and downs of Venetian history. It is a beautiful place to get a feel for the city’s culture, or if you are lucky enough to be spending more time, pick up some fresh ingredients for dinner!
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo staircase
This 15th century Palazzo built in a quiet neighborhood by the Contarini family could easily go without being found. But it’s history is fascinating. And if you take the time to climb it’s gorgeous scala contarini del bovolo, the exterior staircase, you’re provided a gorgeous view over the rooftops of Venice.
This museum is located in the Dorsoduro neighborhood, alongside the Academy bridge. It houses masterpieces of Venetian painting up to the 18th century. Artists represented include Carpaccio, da Vinci, Tintoretto, Titian, Vasari, Bellini, and more.
Eating & Shopping for your One Day in Venice
Shopping in Venice
There are shops scattered throughout Venice. Keep in mind that as a general rule, the close you are to St. Mark’s Square, the more expensive the shop. Also, when buying glass art in the city, flip it over and make sure it doesn’t say “made in China.” Because, yeah. That happens.
Here are some of the more interesting options, in my opinion.
- Libreria Acqua Alta – funky vintage book shop where books are stacked everywhere.
- C. Longa Santa Maria Formosa, 5174B, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy
- Gianni Basso Stampatore – old fashioned stationery that has been here forever. Unfortunately you can’t get a custom print done same day, though that is an option if you are here longer. You can pick up monogram stationary or bookplates, or correspondence cards. I LOVE this place.
- Calle del Fumo 5306, 30121 Venice Italy
- Atelier Marga – handmade carnival masks made in Venetian tradition
- San Polo 2940/B – 30125 Venezia VE Italia
- Aliani Casa del Parmigiano – gourmet specialty cheese, cured meats, vinegar, olive oils, and local wines. And they are family owned.
- San Polo, 214 30125 Venezia
- Il Grifone – Artisan leather shop selling bags, briefcases, and accessories. All leather is from the Tuscan Tanning District. All items are small productions of personalized objects.
- Fondamenta del Gaffaro Dorsoduro, 3516 Venezia (VE)
Eating in Venice
I’m just going to put a few options here. I err on the side of budget options because I choose to spend my $$ on train tickets instead of food. But really, stroll down the street and follow your nose. That’s always my favorite way to do it!
Budget Eating in Venice options:
- L’Bacaro de’ Bischeri – Really good sandwiches, focaccia, and pizza.
- Ruga dei Oresi, 57, Venice, Veneto, Italy
- Bacaro Vintido’ – Bruschetta, parmigiana, lasagna, pastas, risotto, charcuterie. Good prices, great food, very casual.
- Calle Dona Onesta, 3928/29, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
- Closed Mondays
- 60/40 Take Away – Grab your morning cappucino & pastry, or grab a deli sandwich to go for lunch.
- Rio Terrà dei Catecumeni, 128, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
Splurge with a View Eating in Venice:
- De Pisis Restaurant – Upscale, but beautiful terrace with view of canal.
- S. Marco, 1413/d, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
- Club del Doge – located in Hotel Gritti Palace with a view of the Grand Canal. No, this is NOT budget. Definitely a splurge, but unforgettable.
- Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, 2467, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
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