The historic center of Venice is small and even if you have just a one-day stop in the city, you can get to know it quite well. If you arrive by train or by car, take a scenic boat ride down the Grand Canal. To save time, take the faster route Number 82 which makes fewer stops along the way.
St. Mark's Square
St. Mark's Square is the heart of the city, offering so many museums that you could spend your whole day in this area alone. Since you only have a day, however, take a self-guided walking tour instead and snap some scenic pictures along the way. You will get a great view of the basilica and the bell tower. If the line is not too long in front of the basilica, taking a look inside is well worth it. This church is unlike any other, decorated with golden mosaics and a magnificent 10th century altarpiece.
After seeing the church, head towards the Doge's Palace. A visit to the museum inside would take several hours, so head towards the inner courtyard instead to be able to fit it all into a one-day trip. Enter through Porta della Carta which is located right next to the basilica. The inner courtyard features the Giant's Staircase which was used for the crowning of the doges.
Continue walking along the palace towards the water where you can enjoy scenic views of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. From there, hear east to Ponte della Paglia from which you can have a good look at the famous Bridge of Sighs.
The Bridge of Sighs
If you are looking for unique destinations in Italy, the Bridge of Sighs is a small stone structure that connects the interrogation area in the palace with prison cells. It was built in 1600 and received its name because of the sighs of the prisoners that were lead to the terrible prison cells. To see the bridge, follow the length of the Doge's Palace along the shoreline until you reach Ponte della Paglia which faces it. Ponte della Paglia is always filled with visitors trying to take a picture, except very early in the morning. The exterior is made of white limestone and small windows have stone bars. You can visit the interior by taking a tour of the palace.
Finish your tour of the area with a drink at one of the outdoor cafes, listening to music played by open-air orchestras.
The Rialto Bridge
Another must-see attraction is the Rialto bridge which lies to the north. To get there, simply follow the yellow signs on buildings - the walk takes about 30 minutes. The Rialto is one of the most photographed sights in Venice. During the day, the area becomes alive with cafes overlooking the grand canal, food stalls and jewelry shops. The structure is world-famous and has been replicated in places like Las Vegas. You will find it at the Venetian hotel. If you ever get lost in the city, look for this notable landmark to orient yourself. The area is bustling with shops, restaurants and hotels so there is plenty to see and do.
Late in the afternoon, head southwest towards Sampo Santo Stefano and dine at Ristorante Masaniello which has tables outside. Finish your tour at the nearby Accademia bridge where you can catch a vaporetto heading back to your car or the train station.
The Accademia Bridge
The Accademia Bridge is a wooden bridge that crosses the Grand Canal. You will see it from your boat heading down the water. If you decide to explore the city on foot, the bridge is hard to miss since many street signs point right to it. It's a romantic spot from which to observe the city life. The structure was initially built on a temporary basis out of wood in 1932. It remained in its place because of popularity. You can walk across it as well as view it from a gondola, taxi or a public water bus.
Santa Maria della SaluteWhether you traveling down the Grand Canal by boat or exploring the town on foot, you will notice the imposing church of Santa Maria della Salute. If you stand in Piazzetta San Marco, the church can be seen across the water. This baroque building was completed in 1687. Its white facade and a hug cupola faces the water. It's one of the top romantic views in town.
Shopping in Venice
The most famous shopping area in Venice is the Mercerie, a set of narrow streets that links St Mark's and the Rialto. Here you can purchase anything from designed clothing, glass products, handbags, shoes, linens and books. For the greatest selection of traditional glass pieces and lace, take a boat to the islands of Murano and Burano. Shop are usually open in the morning from 9am to 12:30 pm, and from 4pm to 7:30pm. Some places may be closed on Wednesdays, so call before you go or ask your hotel concierge.
Romantic Gondola Ride
Honeymooners and couples visiting Venice for the first time look forward to their gondola ride. These unique boats have been used to get around the city for centuries, designed to maneuver through the narrow sea-water filled canals. The atmosphere is especially romantic at night. Your gondoliere may sing a song while you snuggle up under a blanket.
You can usually book a ride through your hotel's front desk. If you go for a walk around St Mark's in the evening, many gondoliers stand near bridges offering gondola rides. Each boat is a bit different so you can make sure you get the perfect one, especially if this is your honeymoon. Ask to be taken under these spectacular bridges - there is no better way to see them than from the water.