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Day Trip to Venice

Hi all,

We will be spending a week in Florence in October visiting our daughter going to college there. She recommended we take a day trip to Venice (she just spend the weekend there). I know most on this Board don't like day trips to world-class cities, and I understand. However, my husband has never been and I have not been since the mid-80s.

While we plan to spend time in Northern Italy as we move into retirement in another 5 years or so, I am in the "carpe diem" mindset of late. We have spent time in Rome, Florence, Siena, many Tuscan hill towns, Lucca, Forte di Marmi, Cinque Terre, Santa Margherita Ligure and Pietra Santa over the past 20 years. Never Northern Italy.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Posted by
1727 posts

Well, it's a 2 1/2 hour train ride each way. Will your husband and you be up for an early start and late return? It would be a long day, but it would be a nice experience for someone who has never been there. You could even take an evening train the day before, get a taste of Venice in the evening, then have more time the next day. Being there in the evening and early morning would avoid the cruisers.

Look into a Walks of Italy tour. We have taken them in Florence and Rome and were impressed. It's a good way to see the highlights in a short period of time.

I'll be interested to hear how things have changed since the last time you were there. Although we've been back to Italy since, the last time we were in Venice was August 1966 when we were on a school trip. This August we looked at the slides I took on that trip, including the slides from Venice. I photographed St. Mark's Square in the middle of the day. There were at most a few hundred people in the square, a far cry from recent photos showing thousands in the same place.

Posted by
861 posts

You're right - day trips are not the favorite topic on this forum. However, let's help you make the best of it! The train ride from/to Florence is not too long, so check the schedules for the Freccia line. Go early, return late. Use your RS book to help set a schedule and priorities. Get a full day pass for the vaporetto. That way you can hop on whenever you need a break from walking. The scenery from the vaporetto is wonderful and doesn't take up your energy. The church pass is also worthwhile. There's some amazing art to be seen there. Of course you want to see the Rialto Bridge and San Marco. Don't forget to stop along the Giudecca canal for a drink and the accompanying snack. This will give you a break but also time to just 'be' in Venice. Late in the afternoon get some Cicchetti and a glass of wine to tide you over until dinner. Walk - a lot! Don't be afraid to turn left at the next corner (or right) and explore off the beaten path. What time is your train back to Florence? Plan your 2 hour dinner based on that. Any chance you can get back to San Marco after dark to enjoy the orchestras and do some dancing? Take the vaporetto back to the train station and you're ready to leave. Maybe nap on the train ride back to Florence? It can be done but don't be surprised if you start planning your next much longer visit to this one-of-a-kind place!

Posted by
921 posts

Hi. I have visited Venice for a week-long stay. I have twice been there for 3-day stays. Lastly, I went to Venice as a day trip from Padua before the beginning of the Village Italy tour. This would have been in late September, definitely pre-covid. I do not consider myself a seasoned visitor, and there are many parts of the city I have not seen yet.

You could have a glorious day and be wowed getting off the train ala Katherine Hepburn in Summertime or you could have the one-day visit I did with hordes of other travellers. Admittedly, this was pre-covid and there were many cruisers present. I encourage you to perhaps rest easy on this decision. Perhaps monitor travel attendance from skycams of Venice. Maybe take a look at some videos Sarah Murdoch has posted of her visits this August and last. Keep in mind that your daughter living in Europe and college-aged may be seeing things through a different lens (I also did a year in Munich in the 70s - great, but not always the decisions I would make now). Maybe identify just a few (like 3) things that you want to do and see and plan how to do those in as leisurely a fashion as possible. Happy Travels.

Posted by
2497 posts

Can you stay overnight (keeping your lodging in Florence, meaning you are paying for 2 hotels that night?). I’m thinking arrive in the AM, like a normal day trip, visit, sleep at a hotel near the train station and take the earliest train back. You give up a few hours in Florence, but it’s really not much more usable time away from Florence than a normal day trip. And you get to experience Venice at night.

The thing about Venice day trips specifically is that it’s a hectic zoo all day but totally changes into a wonderland at night. At the very least, take the latest evening train back to Florence if you can’t stay overnight. If you can only do a mid-day type visit, leaving before 4 or 5, I wouldn’t bother. If you can be there to wander the canals and see San Marco in twilight, it’s a whole different experience.

Posted by
1358 posts

Can you fly into Venice and then spend the night?
I agree that the mornings and evenings are the best!
Have a great trip!

Posted by
7489 posts

The earliest departure I was able to find, gets one to Venice at ~930AM. The latest departure is ~10 hrs later.

If you do it, I would not plan much for the day after.

Edited to reflect the better info Sam found regarding return train schedule.

Posted by
6625 posts

A report from a friend in Venice now said it was uncrowded, could get into restaurants, bars, photos from Vaporettos, etc. Proof of vaccination and photo ID required to enter inside buildings. However, I cannot imagine doing Venice as a day trip. We have been all over Italy over many years and prefer Northern Italy.

Posted by
561 posts

Thanks all! I love this group!

Yes, I saw Rick's "Venice in one day" itinerary. I will book a walking tour (thank you for the suggestions) and then weave some of Rick's ideas into the rest of our day. Or, perhaps I can find a guided day trip excursion from Florence.

I think we can make it work. We can sleep on the train!

Thanks for all of the enthusiasm!

Posted by
16068 posts

There is actually a return direct Freccia at 7:26 pm, so no need to take the "last" departure 14 minutes later with multiple connections. That Freccia is direct so gets you back to Florence 2 hours earlier than that "last" departure.

If you can pick a day now and buy, you can get a same-day return ticket for 69 EUR per person.
https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html

Posted by
18916 posts

A bus tour really would not be a good idea when you have only one day to see a city with as many sightseeing attractions as Venice. The travel time even by private car would be at least an hour longer each way than the time required on a Freccia train. I assume a bus would be slower than a private car.

Posted by
1758 posts

Frankly I don’t see why you wouldn’t go if even for a day. Your husband has never been there. Is there anywhere else like Venice? Does one really need to frequent museums, monuments, cathedrals and such in a city that floats on water? If any place justifies simply “looking” at it if only for several hours I would vote for Venice. We all plan many things for the future as we age, and I agree with your philosophy as we are retired, so why not “carpe” a few hours now and play it safe? I’d be surprised if you and your husband regret the decision should you choose to go. We visited Venice a long time ago, and 35 years later we went for a day from Padua. It was as beautiful, enthralling and unique as ever. We certainly didn’t feel as if we’d wasted a day I can guarantee you. I hope you have a safe and happy trip.

Posted by
1404 posts

Definitely go for the day!
Book the first fast train at 07-something, arrive just after 9am.
Book the last fast train back, it leaves just after 7pm.
Buy some coffee and breakfast and fruit at the SMN station in Florence before you leave, and enjoy breakfast on the train as you go.
Have a look at tickets now for different days of the week...you might luck out and get a two for one as we did for Rome-Naples on my last trip.
Definitely book in advance.
That first view of the Grand Canal as you exit the station in Venice is so worth it.

Posted by
2140 posts

Given your situation I'd do it.
It sounds like you've visited a good bit of Tuscany so you are not skipping anything if you visit Venice for the day.
It is a long day but certainly doable.
Just go with the right attitude- that this is just a taste of Venice and you will hopefully return.
Most folks that only see Venice for a day come away not liking it much so keep that in mind.

I don't think I would book a walking tour- just use the RS walking tour and explore on your own. Maybe save the major sights- St Marks/Doges for late in day/just before closing and avoid P San Marco mid day.

Get a vaporetto pass for the day and get off at all sorts of diff stops- then go explore- get lost.

(in 2017 when we were on train from Venice to Florence we sat with a local family- mom, dad, teenage girl who were actually going to Rome for a day trip- yep- all the way to Rome from Venice)

Posted by
371 posts

Having just returned from a week in Venice I'll add my three cents:

1) On arrival, do Rick's 45-minute Grand Canal tour on vaporetto Line #1 (the slow boat) from the train station (Ferrovia vaporetto stop) to St Mark's Square (San Marco stop). Venice's grand palazzi were designed to impress from the water, and you'll pass under the famed Rialto Bridge on the way to St. Mark's. It's a great introduction to Venice! You can download Rick's Grand Canal tour from his Audio Europe app.

2) For spectacular panoramic views, from San Marco-San Zaccaria B* vaporetto stop take line #2 to San Giorgio Maggiore, the island that directly faces St Mark's and the Doges Palace across the Giudecca Canal, and go up the bell tower of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore (entrance fee). Just make sure that when you head back across the canal, the vaporetto you get on is going back to San Marco-San Zaccaria instead of the opposite direction. I found both CityMapper app and the CheBateo app helpful.
*edited to correct the vaporetto stop

3) Agree with the advice not to spend much time around St Mark's in the middle of the day when most congested. Big difference after 4 pm.

Enjoy!

Posted by
561 posts

All such good tips! Thank you everyone! Yes, attitude is everything 😊🇮🇹

Posted by
39 posts

Awwww you'll miss the rescheduled Carival in Viareggio on the west coast ... one reason we're taking a day trip from Florence .. it was canceled in Jan (held normally then) .. we hope we'll get there on one of their days ... youtube "carnival Viareggio" they compete with others in Italy... Sicily too .... HUGE animated PUPPETS .. be better at nightime since their lit up with a ton of LED's 2-3 stories tall ... unbelievable marvels .... 1 on our bucket list this year ... also to bad but your future bucket list? ... theirs a 5 day Bardolino wine festival on Lake Garda (bigger and better then Lake Como IMHO ) 32 miles high and the bottom bulge is 10-11 miles wide ... Ferries, Hydrofoils or bus around the lake ... top upper town is Riva ... take from Austria a hundred years ago like Bolzano (north of Verona) where the museum has the iceman (Otzi) 5000 year old caveman ... gr8 museum and info ... this town has the highest standard of living in Italy... fact! Like Riva it's like 1/2 German/Italian.. food too.. gr8 architecture food.. lifts up the mountains we're flying into Marco Polo/ Venice 2 nights then Bolzano 4 ... then Florence,Siena (first bank in the world) Duomo's floor took 300 years? ... then Orvieto 2 days ..another great town then flying home after Rome... if for some reason we get quarantined and can't head back to the USA ... goody ... LOL ... we'll need a rest ... oh For anyone coming in May ...l always on the 15th is the candle festival... another bucket list town ... view that festival on Youtube ... especially an aerial shot .... so much to see ... so little time ... we dwell back on experiences nowadays not new cars/houses and material things anymore... who reminisces about say their first house,car.? .... find apartments with kitchens, wash machines as we only take 2 carry ons ..l never lose our luggage like some people.... tragic then... oh ... found airfare 2 stops open jaw $527 ... miid sept -- mid oct this trip ..... next May found it for $485 -- open jaw ... Naples then back from Venice (wife & g/f only ... girls night out) ...hope y'all stay safe and enjoy the culture wherever you go ... never postpone.... 3 weeks at least ... 2 your still not tired ... we normally stay 3 nights or better as that's technically 2 1/2 days ..

Posted by
39 posts

Holy crap ... that was a screw up ... LOL ... sorry you might be a tad confused but will figure it out hopefully