2 Days Solo in Venice, Italy

Travel advisor Hollie Grantham sits near a white dog on a mountain trail
Curated By

Hollie Grantham

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  • Venice

  • Italy

  • Solo Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • Boutique Travel

  • Architecture

  • Hidden Gems

  • Romantic

A beautiful sunset view at the Grand Canal in Venice.
Curator’s statement

Venice is one of the most iconic destinations not just in Italy, but in the world. The gondolas floating up and down the canals with the backdrop of the breathtaking architecture give you the feeling of being in a fairy tale or another time. It is often thought of as a place for a romantic getaway, but I found it to be an excellent place to explore solo. Venice is a city of hidden treasures and when traveling solo, getting lost in the streets of a city to find things you love on your own time is a feeling like any other. This guide is about my experience and how you might like to spend your time in Venice on a solo trip!

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Where to stay

Hotel Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel, Venice

It’s hard to rival the glamour, history and setting of this Giudecca Island icon, prized for its lagoon views, famed cocktail bar, enchanting gardens and pool.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

The St. Regis Venice

Featuring idyllic views of the Grand Canal, this ultra-luxe Venetian-style hotel features beautifully appointed rooms plus a bar and two restaurants.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Sina Centurion Palace

Contemporary hotel with stylish rooms overlooking the Grand Canal.

Fora Perks
  • $50 food / beverage credit.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

  • Breakfast daily.

Travel advisor Hollie Grantham sits near a white dog on a mountain trail

Unlock perks by contacting Hollie to book your trip.

Day 1: Arrival and Exploration

Gondola ride in Venice

There are a variety of ways you can travel to Venice but a common way of travel if you are hopping from city to city in Italy is by train. First tip is make sure you book your train ticket to Santa Lucia station. This train station is actually on the island unlike Venice’s other station, Mestre.

On this solo trip to Venice I came by way of train from Milan. I had never been to Venice and was a bit concerned about how I would find my way to my hotel from the train station given the means of getting around are quite different and mainly on the water. Some friends who had traveled to Venice told me to take the public water bus to save money as it was fairly expensive to hire water taxis but I am thankful my Travel Advisor brain kicked in and told me to plan ahead. While I was in Milan I prearranged a private pick up from the train station through my hotel and I could not be happier with that decision. When I stepped off the train in the station my escort was waiting for me with a sign and quickly grabbed my luggage and took me to a water taxi that was waiting for us. I am a very seasoned traveler and will always find a way but with all of the different docks, luggage carts and people trying to find their way around this is hands down the best way of transport from the train station to your hotel without any stress. Water taxis can accept payment in the form of a credit card, but like many other cities and cab drivers in Italy they prefer cash, so make sure you have some handy!

The taxi ride down the Grand Canal in the morning sunshine was an event in itself! Standing in the back of one of those iconic wooden boats and seeing the architecture lining the water with the wind blowing through my hair felt like something out of a movie. The minute you set foot in Venice it feels like magic, there truly is no other place like it. The boat pulled right up to the dock at the entrance of my hotel where I was met by the porter who took my luggage from the taxi driver and whisked me right into the lobby with its gorgeous chandelier and sliding glass doors with views directly on to the canal. On this trip I opted to stay at Sina Centurion Palace which is right on the Grand Canal and right next to the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. It was honestly the perfect hotel to soak in the one of a kind Venice views you dream of. Not to mention the staff was wonderful and they were able to upgrade my room category and get me checked in right away.

Although I was obsessed with my sun soaked room and all of its windows looking over the romantic views of the Venetian rooftops, I had the whole day ahead of me and was ready to explore this world famous city. While getting out on the water in a taxi or a canal is the most notorious way of exploring Venice, its bridges and fairly small size make it very easy to explore on foot. I knew one of the sights to see would be Piazza San Marco and it was located pretty much across the canal from my hotel. The concierge told me to get to the north side of the canal there was a gondola out front that for two euros would take you directly across to the other side of the canal. I highly recommend doing this in place of an actual tour gondola ride. It was short and sweet and only two euros. I decided I would walk down Calle Larga XXII Marzo where you can find Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, and every other luxury retailer. Considering I had just come from Milan and got my luxury shopping fill there, this wasn’t at the top of my list but this led me straight to the piazza! Saint Mark’s Basilica is jaw dropping. It is so large in comparison to everything else you see in the square and you can sit and look at all of the details on the outside alone for quite some time, if the pigeons allow you to stand still for any amount of time of course! You may have seen pictures, videos or heard stories of the pigeons of the square and as a New Yorker I can surprisingly say, they are the most aggressive pigeons I have ever come across. Proceed with caution! I made a pass by Doge’s Palace and then decided to get lost in the winding streets of Venice and find a place for lunch.

I made my way west out of the square and decided to make a stop at the Church of Saint Moise as I had passed it on my walk to St. Mark’s Square. The church has a beautiful facade and was a quick stop. After that I spent quite a bit of time walking around and taking photos of the canals, the architecture and the gondolas.

Venice has areas that feel so crowded and full of tourists and then you can turn one corner and be alone on a cobble stone street and find the most amazing gem. I eventually stumbled into this gorgeous courtyard with only a handful of people and a gorgeous restaurant with an outdoor terrace. Taverna La Fenice is the perfect spot to grab lunch or dinner and is essentially in the middle of Venice making it an accessible location no matter where you are staying. Its proximity to the Opera House likely makes it a perfect and much busier dinner destination. While the outside terrace with its plants and architecture are charming the glamorous interior is something to be seen as well. I opted for a seat outside as it was a warm September day. Taverna La Fenice is known for their cocktails but I decided on a few glasses of white wine and a tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms. Finding a space that was quiet and more secluded made it easy to sit for a while and have one too many glasses of wine.

After lunch I made my way North to see the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, a palace from the 15th century, and then to the Rialto Bridge! The Rialto Bridge is an incredible work of art and is easy to see why it is one of the most famous landmarks in Venice. Of course this took up a large portion of my afternoon as I mentioned, the hidden corners of Venice have a way of pulling you in to find unexpected surprises and sights.

Eventually I started to make my way south in order to cross over the canal and back to the side where my hotel was. I walked down to Ponte dell'Accademia which is a wooden foot bridge that spans across the Grand Canal. This bridge provides absolutely stunning views of the canal and if you happen to be crossing it during sunset or the late afternoon sun, the colors are truly incredible. Knowing my hotel had an intimate terrace right over the canal, I decided to have my apero there and watch the sunset. My decision did not disappoint! Sipping a perfectly crafted negroni and watching the blazing sun go down over the Grand Canal in Venice is a memory etched into my memory that I will cherish forever. While enjoying a quiet moment, I learned that there was a restaurant a short walk from my hotel that was known for their fresh pasta. Trattoria al Cugnai may have been my favorite meal the entire two weeks in italy. The restaurant is no fuss and serves incredibly fresh seafood and pasta. I must have been lucky and arrived at the right moment because after I had been sitting at my table for a few minutes a line started to form at the door and they had to put up a rope to stop people from walking in. I had some white wine and a plate of steamed mussels in a tomato sauce. The portion was large but I ate every last mussel on the plate. After getting a taste of the seafood, I ordered the special seafood pasta of the day. Tagliatelle, fresh tomatoes, basil, shrimp, scallops, lobster…I still dream of this dish. If you want Italian food that is made with simple ingredients and cooked to perfection, add this restaurant to your list in Venice.

While I was walking to dinner I passed Corner Pub where people were gathered outside and sitting on steps by the canal enjoying beers and glasses of wine. By the time I was walking home from dinner, the party was in full swing! There was a crowd of people singing and laughing and enjoying the beautiful night. I intended to go back to the hotel right after dinner but couldn’t resist grabbing a drink and people watching. If you are looking for somewhere charming and low key to socialize while in Venice, this is a great option!

Day 2: Day Trip to Murano and Burano

Murano is a renowned island in the Venetian Lagoon, Italy.

While it may seem like two days aren’t enough time in Venice to take a day trip, you would be surprised how easy it is to spend a half day touring Murano and Burano. This was something I had desperately wanted to see while I was visiting and I was able to book a small group tour that started at 9 a.m. on my second and final day in Venice. The best part is, the tour was only four to five hours giving me the entire afternoon to continue exploring when I returned.

I started out by meeting our tour guide between the towers of San Todaro and San Marco right right between the water and Piazza San Marco. Pro tip, this area is bustling with tourists meeting their guides and can feel a bit overwhelming. If you are opting for a tour that starts in this area, make sure you arrive early. Hopefully the new law going into place in spring of 2024 limiting the size of tour groups will make this process a bit less hectic. Our tour guide was Venetian and had lived there her whole life making her the perfect person to lead us. We walked to the docks and boarded one of those charming wooden boats again and off we went to our first stop, Murano. It took us about 20-25 minutes to arrive at the island of Murano where we were able to dock right at our destination, New Murano Gallery.

As you may know, Murano is famous for its art of glass blowing. You may have heard of Murano glass and all over Italy you will see the chandeliers, vases, and more as you tour any luxury property or museum. The art of glass blowing in Murano is a family business and all of the galleries on the island pass down the technique from generation to generation. If you purchase Murano glass, it is not really Murano glass unless it is actually purchased directly from one of these galleries on the island. If somebody ever tries to sell you Murano glass make sure you get the certificate of authenticity so you know that it is real. Each piece that is made by a true Murano artisan will have a certificate of authenticity. Of course we were welcomed by the family of this gallery and shown a demonstration of their carefully learned craft. It is truly incredible how much care and attention to detail goes into the work and how unique each piece comes out. I am personally intrigued by all of the beautiful colors and different shapes that can be made. After the demonstration you are given time to wander the gallery, which is huge and has multiple floors, and admire the work and decide if you would like to purchase anything. There is something beautiful for everyone whether it is large or small. If you want to purchase a chandelier or a gigantic vase, they will happily ship it to you anywhere in the world. I opted for something I could stowe in my suitcase and purchased a perfume bottle for my vanity. Bringing home a one-of-a-kind piece of art that has a certain exclusivity to it is a great way to commemorate a trip. Once we rounded up our group, we boarded our boat and continued on to Burano which is another 20 minutes north.

While Murano is known for its glass blowing, Burano is known for its lace making but maybe even more so for its canals that are lined with colorful houses. Much like the main island of Venice, you are simply entertained by walking the streets of this old fishing town. The vibrant colors along with the cafe terraces full of people enjoying a glass of wine or gelato really transports you to a happy place. I knew I only had a few hours to wander so I started by stopping into Pasticceria Palmisano Carmelina to pick up cookies. On the boat ride over the tour guide explained that Bussola Buranello cookies were a local delicacy in Burano and that if you had a sweet tooth, you should try them. Naturally, I am never going to miss out on an opportunity to try a local food, especially a sweet one. After securing a bag of the shortbread like cookies, I continued to walk all the way to the other side of the island, popping into lace shops, and taking in the views of the architecture and hidden alleyways. The thing about the island is, it is very photogenic which can sometimes be a double edge sword. When visiting small and precious places like this, please remember these are people’s homes and as visitors we must treat these places with respect and care. After getting an excellent walking tour of the island, I started making my way back to the side of the island our boat was on and stopped at Trexento Gelateria for what might have been the best pistachio gelato I have ever had in my life. While enjoying my gelato I took in the view of the Church of Saint Martin Bishop which is famous on the island for its bell tower that is leaning to one side. After a luxurious few hours taking in the sun and the island, we were back on the boat to end our tour.

We arrived back at our starting point around 1:30 p.m. and on my walk back towards town, I passed the Bridge of Sighs before continuing my walk along the waterfront to Harry’s Bar for an afternoon cocktail. As much as I enjoy a drink at Harry’s in any city, I wanted to eat somewhere else for lunch and decided to try a restaurant I had passed on my walk the previous day. Antico Martini has a terrace right outside the opera house and was an excellent place to enjoy a plate of Cacio e Pepe and, you guessed it, some local white wine.

After lunch, I took the gondola back across the canal to my hotel, dropped off my purchases from Burano and Murano and walked to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. I had passed this stunning museum on foot and by boat multiple times and knew I wanted to see the stunning collection inside. The museum is small but was carefully curated. Every corner you turned there was not only beautiful artwork but views out to the terrace and the canal. The sculpture garden in the courtyard might have been my favorite. After spending some time walking through the museum I found myself popping into galleries and shops along Calle Nuova Sant'Agnese and then onto aimlessly wandering the waterfront on the south side of the island. You can definitely say it was a leisurely afternoon. I ended up at Ristorante Riviera on the terrace watching people come and go from the San Basilio ferry terminal as I sipped on an Aperol Spritz and once the sun started to go down, I had my second gelato of the day from Gelateria Nico as I walked back to my hotel. As I mentioned, my hotel had a gorgeous terrace on the Grand Canal and also an excellent restaurant, Antinoos Lounge & Restaurant. When I came back in the afternoon, I asked the concierge to hold a table outside for me that evening. Even if you are not staying at this hotel, make a reservation outside and enjoy a meal here. The food and the service was perfection. I started out with a local sashimi topped with creme fraiche and caviar and then on to an amuse bouche from the chef which was a scallop prepared perfectly. For my main dish a crab ravioli and for dessert (two gelatos in one day wasn’t going to stop me) one of my favorites, an almond tarte.

After an outstanding meal in a dream-like setting, what could be better than getting to just go right upstairs to your hotel room and go to sleep and wake up for the next day’s adventure? Similar to my arrival, I arranged a water taxi ahead of time to take me to the train station in the morning. I had an early train and got to watch the sunrise as I floated down the canal. I can’t think of a better ending to an already magical two days.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Favorites of Firenze: A Guide to Florence, Italy.

Travel advisor Hollie Grantham sits near a white dog on a mountain trail

Travel Advisor

Hollie Grantham

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Venice.