Oh Venice, where do I start? I loved every single second of our time here. What a beautiful, magical place. I could barely stop looking around long enough to catch my breath. We just had one short day to explore this enchanting island, and we spent our time just wandering up and down the canals with me snapping a photo at just about every step. I could not put down my camera! I could’ve easily spent several more days here just walking these streets and taking in the beauty of Venice.

Here’s how to spend that perfect 1 day in Venice.

We started off our day at Venice’s most famous open plaza – the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). It’s the most touristy and well known area of the city, and a MUST visit place, as well.

Here, the main attraction is, of course, St. Mark’s Basilica. The Byzantine-inspired church is strikingly beautiful. Mosaic art covers much of the interior of the church and tells Biblical stories, depicts events of Christ’s life and references allegorical figures.

Right next to the Basilica is The Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale). Instead of booking the regular tour, we went beyond the surface and book the Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour. While it would be fun to merely marvel at the intricate architecture, I prefer to learn more about the history of a place when I travel. A regular ticket to the Doge’s Palace will allow you to walk around many public rooms in the building that are quite enchanting. But on the Secret Itineraries tour, a guide will go into detail about some of the private rooms and chambers where many important administrative duties were carried out behind the scenes.

The Doge’s Palace once served as the center of government for Venice and was home of the Doge, the most powerful man in Venice at the time and therefore one of the most powerful men in the western world.

Though you could hardly tell from the bright and shiny exterior of the courtyard, the palace has a dark past. There are musty prisons, hidden passageways, secret rooms, and torture chambers. The most famous prisoner was Giacomo Casanova and he was held captive in the Piombi. These were special cells beneath the roof of Doge’s Palace, reserved for special cases being looked at by the Council of Ten. Casanova was an Italian author, adventurer, and famous womanizer. He was sentenced to five years in the Piombi without a trial. Although he was closely guarded, Casanova escaped his prison cell after being confined there for one year.

In the doorway of Casanova’s jail cell.

The Bridge of Sighs was so named because prisoners, condemned in the Doge’s Palace, could have their last look at freedom as they crossed the bridge from the Palace to the prison. Supposedly they sighed. It took a poet, Lord Byron, to give the bridge its name.

Burano! I’m sure you’ve seen it grace your Pinterest feed more than once.

It’s made appearances in numerous articles rating it, “One of the most colorful places in the world.” Well, the rumors are true. The colorful houses of Burano are stunning. The painted homes lining the canals are worthy of any title marveling over the island’s charms. It might be a 40 minute vaporetto ride from Venice, but it’s definitely worth your time.

best gelato we ever had!

Even if it is a cliche, riding in a gondola is perhaps the quintessential Venice experience. The quaint alleyways, historical bridges, and the boatmen humming Italian melodies was the perfect way to end our romantic, fun-filled day in this dreamy city of Venice!

Saying buona notte (good-night) at the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal – The Rialto Bridge!

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