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Short breaks in Venice – an espresso-fuelled 48 hours of canals, churches and cocktails

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Comfortable shoes and a map are all you need for a short break in Venice. Plan a few nights in a Venice hotel on the traffic-free island city with this itinerary.

Venice short break day one, morning

Relax into your short break in Venice in the city’s easy-going south-west Dorsoduro district. Cross the tiny canal footbridges past Murano glass sellers and gondola workshops. On the Grand Canal, bold Kandinsky and Picasso canvases line the whitewashed walls of the contemporary palazzo at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. A few steps west, the terraces under the steep, wooden arch of the Accademia Bridge serves cicchetti, mini snacks, and the local lunchtime aperitif spritz, made with Aperol liqueur, prosecco and fizzy water. Here, watch gondolas boats lap past pastel palace façades and the monumental dome of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.

Start: Dorsoduro district


Walk north through the shady little streets known as calli to Campo dei Frari, where the vast Gothic brick edifice of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari church hides a Venetian treasure trove. As eyes adjust in the dimly lit, modest altar, the rich reds of Titian’s painting of the Assumption, his largest oil painting, and Bellini’s stoic Madonna and Child come into focus. Squeeze through the maze of covered walkways through the San Polo district nearby, lined with golden Venetian mask and leather glove vendors, to approach the Rialto Bridge. Follows the stone balustrades past jewellery merchants on the bridge’s stonework arcades.

Start: Campo dei Frari


Hemingway and Orson Welles sat at the long, wooden counters at Harry’s Bar, a Venice institution in San Marco. Sip peach and champagne Bellini cocktails, first shaken at this stylish 1930s restaurant, and sample Italian beef carpaccio and minestrone soup.

Start: Harry’s Bar, San Marco 

Venice short break day two, morning

Start your day in the heart of Venice in San Marco Square, exploring the waterfront Doge’s Palace. Stroll through loggias and up sweeping staircases to chambers clad with golden frescoes. Tread over the infamous Bridge of Sighs where the prisoners took in their last canal views on their way to the city dungeons. 

Start: Doge’s Palace, San Marco 


After people watching, relax on a 40-minute water taxi ride from San Marco to Venice Lagoon’s miniature, rustic islands. See rainbow-coloured houses and fishing boats on the lace-making island of Burano or climb the bell tower of the rotund Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta Byzantine church on tiny Torcello next door. 

Start: Caffè Florian, San Marco 


Round off a Venice short break in style with an opera, ballet or symphony at the restored Teatro La Fenice. Pick up your tickets during the day from the box office in Campo San Fantin. Hop off the water taxi past the Rialto Bridge at Santa Maria del Giglio and pop into the famous church for an overture of baroque splendour and art by Rubens. 

Start: Teatro La Fenice, Campo San Fantin