From Croatia to Cinque Terre, adventure beyond the canals with this guide to the best day trips from Venice.
When you’re submerged in Venice’s water-based travel, life beyond gondolas can be unimaginable. But there are plenty of ways to adventure beyond the canals. Whether you’re hankering for a trip from Venice to Rome, Florence, or even outside of Italy, you’ll find a whole host of options are possible.
Venice to Rome
Yes, you can actually ‘do’ Rome in a day. Day trips from Venice to Rome are popular, as you get to experience two highly contrasting cities in one trip to Italy. You won’t see everything the capital has to offer in one week, never mind a day – Rome has new marvels on every corner.
So focus on its grandest highlights: step inside the spectacular Colosseum, crane your neck at the Pantheon’s architectural majesty and stop by the Spanish Steps for a peek. Toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain and enjoy a pizza at one of its neighboring trattorie – Pizza at Trevi knock up gooey beauties by the slice, seconds away from the monument. Make sure you spend some time in Vatican City – just make sure to reserve tickets for the Vatican in advance so you can jump the lines.
Getting there: The best way to get from Venice to Rome and explore at your own pace is to drive. The journey is dazzling, with roads passing near or through Florence, Bologna and Ferrara – so make sure you stop to admire the views and grab some tasty bites.
Venice to Florence
Wafts of spicy grilled aubergine linger round old-school prosciutteria, flexing Michelangelo sculptures glisten in squares, cupola domes crown the skyline. Florence is arguably Italy’s prettiest city. Traveling from Venice to Florence takes a couple of hours, so plan ahead to get the most out of your day trip.
Set your compass for Santa Maria del Fiore (the largest dome in the world when it was first built) then dart to the basilica of Santa Croce, where Michelangelo and Galileo are buried. Stop for some street food – a lampredotto (tripe sandwich) has to be done here – before exploring the Uffizi Museum and spellbinding Boboli Gardens. Don’t leave without checking off David from your arty bucket-list: Michelangelo’s famous statue awaits inside Accademia.
Getting there: Driving from Venice to Florence is a pretty straightforward journey, it takes less than three hours through Bologna.
Venice to Cinque Terre
Once experienced, Cinque Terre is impossible to forget. Pastel-spotted buildings sit cozied up on a cliffside, keeping watch over the frothing coast beneath. From the moment you arrive, the five fishing communities on the Lingurian coast get to work on your soul.
Take a dip in Riomaggiore’s beach, gaze at the sea views on Corniglia’s cliffs, and explore Monterosso’s striped 17th-century church. The oldest surviving castle, Castello Doria, can be found at the top of a steep staircase by the harbour. As well as being an important slice of history, the views from its ruins are magnificent. The food is also sublime – make a beeline to Trattoria Dal Billy for squid ink pasta.
Getting there: Traveling to these isolated parts can be a bit of a puzzle. Drive from Venice to Cinque Terre, park up in nearby La Spezia then get the train – the twisting cliff-edge roads aren’t for the faint-hearted.
Venice to Croatia
With its close proximity to Italy, Croatia makes an ideal day trip from Venice. It’s one of Europe’s sunniest spots, with enticing islands, quaint seaside towns and hillside villages. Whether you’re visiting one of the holiday hotspots – Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar – or lesser-known hubs such as Rijeka, with its Art Nouveau charm, ancient churches and jumble of shops, the country has mass appeal.
More recently, it’s grown in popularity thanks to HBO series Game of Thrones using everywhere from Trsteno Arboretum in Dubrovik to the Fortress of Klis in Split for filming locations.
Getting there: There are a number of ways to travel from Venice to Croatia. Driving means you can dictate your own pace, discover more culture and change your itinerary to suit your travel style. It takes just over three hours from Venice to Rovinj via the E70.
Venice to Verona
Those who don’t take a day trip from Venice to Verona are missing out on one of Italy’s most charming towns. Literature buffs may know it as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – and it makes for the ultimate romantic getaway. Its twisting cobbled lanes, ancient amphitheatre and gorgeous piazzas deliver maximum culture, while the atmospheric restaurants provide plenty of first-time fare – try a pot of tender bollito misto.
Getting there: A day trip from Venice to Verona is nice and straightforward – the 73-mile drive means you should be there in an hour and a half.
Do you have a favorite day trip from Venice? Share your recommendations with us on Twitter.