Are you ready to take an Italian vacation in one of the world’s most iconic cities? Head to Venice, where the romance is abundant and the things to do are endless. Check out this itinerary for an unforgettable day in The Floating City.

Grand Canal
Gondola rides on the Grand Canal.

Have Breakfast — and Espresso, of Course

It’s time to channel your inner coffee snob. Head to a place like Caffe del Doge on Calle dei Cinque, near the Grand Canal. This affordable breakfast spot has delicious pastries and well-loved espresso.

Be sure to drink your espresso like an Italian. Refuse to drink it unless it has the crema on top, and drink it quickly so you don’t miss out on any of the nuanced flavors. Also, keep in mind that if you stop for coffee later in the day, don’t buy anything that is milk-based; according to tradition, cappuccinos and similar beverages are meant only for breakfast.

Explore San Marco Piazza

San Marco Piazza, commonly called St. Mark’s Square by English speakers, is a quintessential Venetian site — and it’s only a 10-minute walk from Caffe del Doge! It contains three iconic monuments: St. Mark’s Basilica, an elaborate church worth visiting purely for its historical and architectural value; Doge’s Palace, where you can feast your eyes on artwork and even visit an old dungeon; and Torre dell’Orologio, a magnificent clock tower.

The square is also a great place to people-watch. You’ll see tourists from around the world. Spend a couple of hours here to truly drink in the flavor of this history-packed spot.

Visit the Grand Canal and Take a Ride

The Grand Canal is Venice’s “main street,” and it’s only about a kilometer away from St. Mark’s Square. If you’re watching your budget, ride the waterbus. Vaporetto lines one and two travel along the Grand Canal. Taking public transportation is a great way to mingle with the locals! To save even more money, purchase a travel card.

If you want an experience worthy of a romantic movie, splurge on a gondola ride along the canal. This intimate ride is an authentic Venetian experience you won’t be able to get anywhere else in the world. If you want to hire a crooner, it will cost extra, but it will be a ride you’ll never forget!

Venezia Santa Lucia
The Venezia Santa Lucia railway station in north Venice.

Sit Down for Lunch

Head to Il Paradiso Perduto, a restaurant with large tables that encourage you to socialize with others. Here, you’ll enjoy authentic Venetian dishes, including fried fish and pasta with fish sauce. If you’re visiting in summer, sit outside and watch boats float by. Some of the boaters will even stop and order food — the restaurant is a favorite among locals.

Keep in mind that the restaurant is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and it doesn’t open until 6 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. Friday is the best day to grab lunch here because Saturdays are a bit too crowded.

Other eateries you might check out include Alla Madonna, which is near Rialto Bridge, and Boccadoro, which is off the beaten path and often less crowded than other places.

Shop Along Mercerie

At Le Mercerie, Venice’s shopping streets, you’ll find a mix of low-end and high-end stores. There’s something to fit every budget. Stroll through the narrow streets and explore art galleries, trinket shops, and clothing boutiques.

Experience Gelato

Take a break from your afternoon explorations and stop for some amazing gelato. Head to SuSo, which is near St. Mark’s. This ice cream shop is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Try the caramel or lemon flavors for a sweet treat you’ll never forget.

Have Drinks, Then Head to a Concert

Several companies offer wine tours in Venice. The Cicchetti Wine Tour will take you to some of the city’s best bars, where you’ll enjoy tapas-style dishes with your drinks. The Venice Wine Spirits and Sightseeing Guided Tour takes two and a half hours and includes visits to historic wine parlors and other fascinating sites.

After your tour, check out the local concert schedule. The Venice Baroque Orchestra is expert at playing Vivaldi. If music isn’t your thing, head to Campiello Pisani. James Bond fans will recognize Palazzo Pisani, which was featured in “Casino Royale.”

The above makes for a very full day. Adjust the itinerary to your liking, breaking it up over a couple of days or replacing activities that don’t appeal to you. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, Venice can’t be fully explored in a day. Enjoy your Italian getaway!