Venice is a wonderful city, but there may come a time when travelers want a change of pace and scenery, if only for a day. Visitors have a lot of options when it comes to getting away from Venice for a few hours. They need only hop on a train or take a tour for a trip to the scenic beauty of the southern Alps, also known as the Dolomite. Or they can travel down the coast of Italy or inland to smaller towns with a great heritage and beauty. An overview of the best day trips from Venice:
Map of day trips from Venice
11. Bassano del Grappa[SEE MAP]
Located in a beautiful setting with the foothills of the Alps rising behind it and the Brenta River flowing through it, Bassano del Grappa makes for a great day trip from Venice, and there is loads for you to see and do. As well as boasting lots of impressive palaces, churches, and architectural wonders dating to both the Middles Ages and the Renaissance, the city is also famed for the strong grappa spirit produced here.
While Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza della Liberta may be at the heart of life in Bassano del Grappa, the beautiful Ponte degli Alpini is undoubtedly its most popular attraction; it is certainly a great place to take a memorable photo or two before heading back to Venice.
Getting to Bassano del Grappa
- Lying to the northwest of Venice, Bassano del Grappa is very easy to get to by public transport, and a direct train line connects the two. Trains depart very frequently, and the journey only takes an hour and 15 minutes. Once you arrive, the scenic city center is just a short stroll away.
- Another option is to take a guided tour; this is a great way to get a feel for the lovely Venetian hill towns. With stops at Bassano del Grappa, Asolo, and Marostica included, alongside prosecco tasting at a local vineyard and a visit to a Palladian villa, it is an action-packed day out, and you’re sure to come away with fond memories of all you’ve seen and done.
10. Bologna[SEE MAP]
Home to the oldest university in the world, Bologna is well worth visiting. It is full of lovely architecture and a host of impressive historical and cultural landmarks. Piazza Maggiore, for instance, is ringed with gorgeous buildings, and Basilica of San Petronio and Palazzo del Podesta are just two of the highlights.
Famed for its beautiful colonnades found everywhere in the city, Bologna is widely considered by Italians to be one of the most beautiful cities in the country. In addition to this, it has one of the largest historical centers in Italy. Due to its sizeable student population, there is a youthful and lively feel to Bologna; the streets are lined with great bars, restaurants, and cafes for you to check out.
Getting to Bologna
- By train, it only takes an hour and a half to reach Bologna from Venice, so in no time at all, you’ll find yourself wandering through the historical city and taking in the fabulous sights. The main train station lies about 20 minutes walk away from Piazza Maggiore in the center of the city. On the way, you’ll pass lots of lovely old buildings and impressive architecture.
9. Lake Garda[SEE MAP]
The largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda is an absolute treat to visit, and its glittering waters are lined with charming towns and villages that hug the lakeside. As such, there are loads of great places to visit; one of the most popular attractions is the beautiful Castello Scaligieri, which is located in Sirmione.
While Desenzano del Garda and Peschiera Del Garda are two of the main gateways to Lake Garda, it is well worth exploring a little further afield to check out such places as Riva del Garda and Gardone Riviera; both are located amongst some absolutely stunning scenery. You really can’t go wrong wherever you visit, however, as everywhere you go, you’ll be blessed with breathtaking views over the lake with beautiful mountains in the distance.
Getting to Lake Garda
- From Venice, it only takes an hour and a half to get to the glorious Lake Garda by public transport. Simply hop on a train at Venice Santa Lucia station and alight at Peschiera Del Garda station with the lake glittering before you. From here, you can either take another train up the east coast of Lake Garda to visit some of the lovely little towns and villages up there, or take a scenic boat trip on the lake itself. Alternatively, you can take the train just a little bit further to Desenzano del Garda, the largest town on the lake.
- By car, it again takes about an hour and a half to get to Peschiera Del Garda. The directions are straightforward to follow; all you need to do is head west out of Venice then pick up the E70, which goes directly to Lake Garda. Once you have arrived, you can either park up and take a boat trip on the lake or head off to explore some of the charming towns and picturesque villages that dot the lakeside. While driving certainly has its advantages, during the summer, the lakeside roads can get quite congested, and it can be difficult to find parking spaces. After visiting the lake, you could stop off at nearby Verona on your way back to Venice.
8. Florence[SEE MAP]
Renowned throughout the world for being the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence only takes two hours to get to by train from Venice; as such, it is a must-see if you have the chance. With spectacular sights on show such as the Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Signoria, and Santa Maria del Fiore – the impressive domed cathedral that lies at the heart of the city – Florence truly is a joy to explore.
Everywhere you go, you’ll come across fantastic art and architecture, and both the Uffizi Galleries and Accademia Gallery are full to the brim with incredible artworks. Lined with beautiful churches and lovely little cafes and restaurants, its piazzas are lovely to relax in. At the end of the day, you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away and head back to Venice.
Getting to Florence
- As direct trains connect Venice to Florence, it doesn’t take all that long to get from one to the other. You can find yourself wandering around stunning sights such as il Duomo and il Ponte Vecchio in a little over two hours after having set off. Once you arrive at Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station, it is just a short walk to many of its most impressive attractions.
- Another option for visiting Florence is to take an independent but organized day trip to the marvelous Renaissance city. This includes tickets for the high-speed train there and back, as well as a hop-on-hop-off bus tour around Florence. With so much to see and do, you can explore the city at your own pace, stopping off to see whatever takes your fancy.
7. Asolo & Castelfranco[SEE MAP]
As they lie just a short distance away from each other, many people combine both Asolo – ‘the City of a Hundred Horizons’ – and the walled, medieval city of Castelfranco into one unforgettable day trip. While the former is renowned for its glorious mountain setting that offers up astounding views over the surrounding countryside, Castelfranco is mainly known as being the birthplace of the famous Renaissance painter Giorgione.
In addition to this, it is also a lovely place to wander around. The medieval center has been very well preserved, with its beautiful Duomo, spectacular Teatro Accademico, and imposing Torre Civica amongst its most impressive sights. Asolo has its fair share of historical and cultural monuments to show off, such as its splendid cathedral and hilltop fortress. It is for good reason that it is also known as ‘the Pearl of Veneto.’
Getting to Asolo & Castelfranco
- Visiting both Asolo and Castelfranco in one day by public transport is very easy to do; the latter is only an hour-long direct train journey from Venice. After exploring the majestic walled city, you can hop on bus 204, which will take you to Ca’vescovo in just 25 minutes. It is then a 20-minute walk up a steep hillside to get to Asolo, where you can enjoy breathtaking views out over the surrounding countryside.
- Driving to both places yourself is another option and means you could also visit any of the surrounding sights, such as Cittadella and Bassano del Grappa, provided you have enough time. From Venice to Castelfranco, it is only an hour-long drive, and the directions are quite simple. Once you’ve headed out of the city on the SR11, you need to stay on the SR245 all the way to the medieval town. To get to Asolo from Castelfranco takes half-an-hour. Just follow the SP667 north before transferring onto the SP6; that will take you directly to the hilltop town.
- If you’re a bit pressed for time, taking a guided tour may be the easiest way to see as much of this beautiful part of Italy as possible in just one day. In addition to visiting Asolo, Castelfranco, and Bassano del Grappa, you’ll come away having learned a lot about each historic place. Highlights include the Caterina Corner Castle in Asolo and the spectacular Duomo di Castelfranco.
6. Ravenna[SEE MAP]
Ravenna’s old churches, some dating back 1,500 years, are a very good reason to make the two-hour train trip from Venice. These churches contain some of the best Byzantine mosaics in Europe. The central city section is popular with pedestrians and bicyclists as they stop to see the Basilica di San Vitale with fabulous mosaics such as scenes with the Apostles.
Other attractions in Ravenna include the Piazza del Populo, the town square that dates back to 1500; the colorful indoor market Mercato Coperto to buy snacks, and the Mausoleum de Gallia Placidia with its fantastic mosaics.
Getting to Ravenna
- Lying almost directly to the south of Venice, Ravenna only takes about two hours to get to by train, although this does involve a change at Bologna. Simply hop on a train at Venice Santa Lucia station, then change to a train for Ravenna from Bologna. The platforms are very clearly signposted, and once you arrive, you’ll find yourself right in the heart of Ravenna.
5. Padua[SEE MAP]
A popular day trip from Venice, Padua may be the oldest city in northern Italy, reportedly founded by the Trojans in the 12 century BC. Ancient history aside, the city’s top attraction is the Scrovegni Chapel that is home to an important series of frescoes painted by Giotto in his later years; the frescoes are considered a masterpiece of 14th century painting in Europe.
Impressive art, including an equestrian sculpture by Donatello, can be found at Basilica de Sant’ Antonio where the apostle St. Mark is buried. Visitors will want to take a break at the Caffé Pedrocchi that has been serving customers since 1831.
Getting to Padua
- By public transport, it takes as little as half-an-hour to get to Padua from Venice and trains depart very frequently. Once you alight, it is then just a ten-minute walk across the Benta river to see spectacular sights like the Scrovegni Chapel. After having seen Padua, it is well worth heading on to visit either Vicenza or Verona, which lie further along the same train line.
- Another memorable way to visit Padua from Venice is to join a scenic boat cruise that takes you all along the Brenta river to the historic city. As well as passing through some lovely countryside on the way, you’ll also stop off at three beautiful Venetian villas and the charming village of Oriago. In addition to enjoying the fabulous views, you’ll also learn a lot about the history and culture of the region, thanks to your informative and interesting guide.
4. Vicenza[SEE MAP]
Just 60 km (37 miles) from Venice is the historic, cosmopolitan city of Vicenza. It’s famous for its architecture, especially buildings by Andrea Palladio, who built several, of which the Teatro Olimpico is one of his most famous. Visitors will want to stroll through the historic section, stopping to take in museums, art galleries and public squares, including the Piazza dei Signori that was also designed by Palladio.
Just outside the city lies the Villa Rotonda, the highlight, and sometimes the main reason, of anyone’s trip to Vicenza. Designed by Palladio in 1591, it contains all of his revolutionary ideas into one perfect building. As harmonious as the exterior is, the interior is also breathtaking, being completely frescoed with tromp l’oeil scenes from the villa’s ideal everyday life.
Getting to Vicenza
- As direct trains regularly connect Venice to Vicenza, it takes no time at all to get to the small city by public transport. The journey takes around 45 minutes, and as Vicenza is quite compact, it is effortless to walk everywhere. As it lies on the same train line, you could conceivably visit either Verona or Padua in the same day after having seen Vicenza.
3. Verona[SEE MAP]
A visit to Verona is a must for Shakespeare fans, since Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew are set here. Sites connected to the plays, however, are beat out by the ornate Romanesque San Zeno Maggiore Church, which is considered Verona’s top tourist attraction.
Another top draw is the Ponte Scaligero, a bridge first built in the first century and rebuilt after it was destroyed in World War II. The most famous structure in Verona however is the Arena, an enormous Roman amphitheater that is crumbling on the outside but still functioning today. It was erected in the 1st century AD in an elliptical shape, and is the world’s third-largest amphitheater to survive from antiquity. Verona is 114 km (71 miles) from Venice and can be reached easily by train or car.
Getting to Verona
- Lying just to the west of Venice, Verona couldn’t be easier to reach by public transport, and regular trains connect the two cities. Simply hop on a train at Venice Santa Lucia train station and alight just over an hour later in Verona. From the train station, it is just a short walk to the glorious city center and all its spectacular sights.
- For visitors interested in learning more about Verona’s fascinating past, a guided tour around the city is simply a must; this will not only take you to see Juliet’s house, but also to the impressive Roman amphitheater, the Verona Duomo, and the Castelvecchio bridge. With a knowledgeable guide on hand, this marvelous city and its astonishing historical and cultural landmarks will be brought to life before your very eyes.
2. Dolomites[SEE MAP]
The Dolomites are considered one of the top alpine areas in Europe. While they’re not Italy’s highest mountains, the Dolomites’ red-hued pinnacles are the country’s most spectacular. One of the best places to enjoy the alpine experience is Cortina d’Ampezzo, popular with jet setters and winter sports enthusiasts; Cortina hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics.
The popular 1963 movie, The Pink Panther, was filmed here. The Dolomites are popular with hikers who want to hike its many paths. The spectacular scenery of the Dolomites can be found just over 160 km (100 miles) from Venice.
Getting to the Dolomites
- To get to the Dolomites by public transport from Venice is doable, but as it takes quite a long time, it is a good idea to start early and plan your journey well in advance. The simplest way to get there is to take a train from Venice to Calalzo di Cadore. From here, take a bus to Cortina d’Ampezzo, which is nestled away amidst the Dolomites. All in all, this should take you around three and a half hours one way, depending on the transfer times. Alternatively, you could head out of the city to Venice Airport and take a direct two-hour bus to Cortina from there.
- Driving to the Dolomites yourself is another option; while this does then mean you can stop off wherever you feel like, the roads can be quite narrow and winding, with some hair-raising hairpin bends. The directions, however, are very simple; all you need to do is head out of Venice and pick up the A27 heading north. Once you get to Ponte nelle Alpi, this turns into the SS51, and you can follow it all the way to Cortina d’Ampezzo. The drive should take about two hours, and once you’ve seen Cortina, there are loads of lovely mountain roads for you to explore throughout the spectacular Dolomites.
- If neither of these two options suit your needs, you may be better off taking a guided tour. With a visit to the beautiful Tre Cime di Lavaredo peaks and a stop at Cortina included, alongside a stroll around Lake Misurina – otherwise known as ‘the Pearl of the Dolomites’ – this tour is a fantastic way to see as much of this beautiful part of Italy as possible in just one day.
1. Lagoon Islands[SEE MAP]
The Venice Lagoon is dotted with islands, with the northern outlying islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello the most famous. Murano is famous for its glassmaking where travelers can visit shops and see artisans at work as well as several historic churches.
Burano is an island of fisher folk that is also known for lace making and its colorfully painted houses. At one time Torcello was bigger than Venice; today, it’s a quiet, green island that is famous for ancient Byzantine churches, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria Asunta. Vaporettos link the islands and Venice together.
Getting to the Lagoon Islands
- By public transport, it is straightforward to visit the beautiful islands that are scattered around the lagoon. To get to Murano, for instance, only takes half-an-hour; Vaporetto line 3 departs from right in front of Venice Santa Lucia train station. These trains depart very frequently, and the journey is lovely, as you pass through Venice on the way. After having explored Murano to your heart’s content, you can then always hop on another Vaporetto to Burano; line 12 should get you there in half-an-hour. As Torcello lies just 15 minutes further along the same line, it is very easy to visit all three in only one day.
- Another lovely option for visiting Murano, Burano, and Torcello is to embark on a guided tour that takes you around the three islands to see glass blowing, beautiful lace being made, and lots of impressive old churches and stunning architecture. With an expert guide accompanying you, you’ll learn a lot about the history of each place and get to see all of the main sights on show.