Day trips from Rome to Venice
Look at a map, now back to us, we know it doesn’t look like it, but the journey between these two cities, one a central metropolis, the other the romantic hub of the north, is not as arduous as it seems. The train from Rome to Venice takes just 3.5 hours, and trains in Italy are comfy, efficient and spacious so you can enjoy a pleasant journey from one part of the country to the other.
One day in Venice
Venice attractions are set out in an easy-to-follow trail from Venice station. Going off-piste has its delights though – you can wander around quiet and more residential streets and maybe even find a cute neighbourhood bar to enjoy an Aperol spritz in. On the other hand, Venice is a veritable maze of back streets and alleyways and you may genuinely struggle to find your way back to the main roads once you veer off them.
Your starting point is Venezia Santa Lucia train station, which offers a stunning vista from the moment you step out, so to keep you safely on track, or securely guiding you back from heading off-road, here are our best things to do in Venice!
Scalzi Bridge to Grand Canal
The gateway to Venice, this is the bridge you are most likely to cross to get from the station to Venice city proper. Once you’ve reached the other end of Scalzi Bridge, you’ll be right on track for the Venice Grand Canal, the quintessential image of the water city, and about as large a view of the water as you will find until you reach the city limits – all the neighbouring canals are a much narrower affair. The Rialto Bridge is the best vantage point for Venice’s premier canal and an essential visit for any tourist. After crossing the canal, you’ll be on track for all the iconic Venice attractions.
San Marco Square
The quintessential image of Venice (well, after the canals that greet you right at the station doors) St. Mark’s Square is packed most of the time. If you want our advice for enjoying the true romance and beauty of this area, make an early start, and we mean early, any later than 10 am and you’ll have missed your opportunity to enjoy some quality time in this spot or get a decent holiday photo. Still, that’s hardly enough to ruin the allure of the square. Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) and Torre dell'Orologio (St. Mark’s Clock Tower) cluster around so even on your approach and departure, landmarks will be at every turn.
As for the square itself, if you’ve ever seen any movie with so much as a single scene in Venice, we guarantee it will have been set in Caffè Florian, which is also where you should head for a mid-morning refreshment. At the other end of the square is Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco, the stunning basilica that has become iconic of Venice, immortalised in everything from art to movies to video games.
The Bridge of Sighs
A natural next stop from San Marco Square, the Bridge of Sighs in Venice doesn’t get its name from an Italian master – in fact, a British Romantic, Lord Byron named it. The bridge gained its title from the poet’s (mistaken) belief that inmates being moved from its prisons on one end to the interrogation rooms on the other would sigh at their final glimpse of the city. You’re unlikely to hear much sighing anymore, unless it’s from a bit of swooning, as this is also a popular place to board a Venice gondola. From here you can break up your historical surroundings at Venice Ferry port where some seriously modern and very enviable superyachts make harbour.
Venice off the beaten path
Alight, now we have tourist trap Venice covered (not that we needed to add to the endless resources available to you), let’s cover a much more intriguing part of La Serenissima.
Venice’s little brother, Sant’Erasmo is an island set to the east of the main city and considered by locals to be the “countryside” of Venice. If you want to experience what Venice means to the people who live here and not the travellers that swarm the centre, the island of Sant’Erasmo is a great pick and a fantastic Venice day trip you won’t forget. Sant’Erasmo beach is probably the leading attraction for this island, after all, who associates Venice with beaches?! But there are also historical ruins like Napoleonic forts and plenty of walking trails to enjoy that wind through the agricultural areas of the city.
Lido is as much a draw for tourists as the main canal city itself, yet somehow it has retained an air of mystery, mostly because it’s several ferry trips away from the area of San Marco. The island of Lido is an Italian holiday that ticks all the boxes – to the north, Venice proper, to the east of the island, a golden strip of beach, and everywhere in between, more canals for pleasant walks through charming architecture.
The Venice lagoon is shockingly vast, and you’ll find that day trips from Rome to Venice can very easily stretch out to more than a day. If there’s just one other Venice island you visit beyond the main city, it’s Burano. Known for its colourful houses over the water, it would be unfair (or even remotely true) to say Burano is tourist-free, but compared to Venice proper it’s a welcome change of pace. Burano is famed for its lace, so the Burano Lace Museum is a must-see, plus with so many charming restaurants along the waterfront, it’s a worthy day trip from Venice for the quaint dining opportunities alone.
Other Rome day trips
You’ve likely noticed that Rome is quite far from the north, which means the journey from Rome to Venice passes some very worthy destinations for Italian city breaks. Quite frankly, when it comes to day trips from Rome, you’ll be spoilt for choice, but we recommend Florence, home to Michelangelo’s David, as the perfect way to break up your trip. The train from Rome to Florence takes only 1.5 hours, perfect for staying for lunch or even spending a night before heading ever-northwards. Bologna is the next essential stop, where you will find some of the best food in Italy (and journeys from Rome to Bologna take only 2 hours direct, if you take the train from Florence to Bologna, you’ll get there in half an hour, simple!). Ferrara and Padua are also on the way to Venice, with the first offering a stunning central moated castle and delicious pumpkin dishes and the second being known for its world-renowned religious sites.
So, while Rome may be the initial reason you find yourself in the land of pizza, pasta and pistachio gelato, it certainly doesn’t have to be the only city you explore. Hop on a train for a day trip from Rome to Venice and explore the length of this stunning country!