Last updated on November 20th, 2023
First off, you may be going back and forth on whether you should attempt a Florence to Venice day trip. It is quite a trek from the Renaissance City to La Serenissima.
Is it worth traveling from Florence to Venice and back in one day?
YES, if that’s all the time your itinerary allows and you really want to see Venice.
YES, if you’re traveling with kids and one of them is an early walker (more on that below).
NO, if you have time to spend at least one night in Venice.
NO, if you want to see Venice in the evening.
NO, if you’re visiting during the busy season, when you’ll spend a lot of time walking slowly with crowds of people and waiting in lines for vaporetti and to see landmarks (like St. Mark’s Basilica).
NO, if you’ll be spending more time traveling around Venice and would rather do a day trip from Venice to Florence.
Venice really is worth an overnight stay. Why? Because if you stay the night in Venice, you see the city at its most magical moment. The day trippers and cruise ship passengers have departed, the locals are out enjoying the city along with you, you can enjoy reflection of the twinkling lights on the canals.
But, if that’s not an option, you can still have a fabulous day trip from Florence to Venice! Here’s how:
How to Travel from Florence to Venice on a Day Trip
Take the Train from Florence to Venice
This is the simplest and fastest way to travel from Florence to Venice.
Purchase tickets for the high-speed (alta velocità) train from Florence to Venice.
You can use the state-run Trenitalia, or the privately-run Italo Treno.
I recommend checking both sites, as ticket prices can vary depending on the date, time and any specials running.
Train Station Names
|STATION||NAME ON TRENITALIA||NAME ON ITALO|
|Florence – Santa Maria Novella||Firenze S. M. Novella||Florence S. M. Novella|
|Venice – Santa Lucia||Venezia S. Lucia||Venezia S. Lucia|
Trenitalia’s Florence to Venice direct fast* trains run hourly in the morning (when you should be leaving for your day trip). The travel time is 2 hours and 14 minutes.
Trenitalia’s Venice to Florence direct fast* trains run until the evening (at the time of writing, the last train leaves Venice at 19:26). The travel time is 2 hours and 13 minutes.
*Trenitalia also has slower trains and train journeys with one or more changes. Do not take these trains (slow or with changes) on your day trip to Venice from Florence. You won’t have time to enjoy Venice because you’ll be spending your day on the train!
Italo’s Florence to Venice trains run hourly in the morning (when you should be leaving for your day trip). The travel time is 2 hours and 16 minutes.
Italo’s Venice to Florence trains run until the early evening (at the time of writing, the last train leave Venice at 17:05). The travel time is 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Helpful Tip: When you get close to Venice, don’t get off at the Venice Mestre train station – you’re not there yet! Instead, make sure you stay on the train as it travels across the water to the Venice Santa Lucia train station.
Read our guide to Train Travel in Italy
Drive from Florence to Venice
You can also drive to Venice for your day trip from Florence. Driving will take longer than the train, and you’ll need to navigate your way to Venice and find parking, but it may be cost-effective if you have a large group. Consider all costs (gas, tolls, parking in Venice, car rental fee).
Good To Know: Venice is car-free, so you can’t drive around Venice. You’ll park your car and either walk in the city or use water transport like a vaporetto (water bus), gondola, or water taxi.
To drive from Florence to Venice, use this route on Google Maps. The basic steps are:
- Florence -> Bologna on the A1 Autostrada
- Bologna -> Padova on the A13
- Padova -> Venice Mestre on the A57/E70
- Venice Mestre -> Venice on the SR11 / Via della Libertà, a road and almost 4-kilometer-long land bridge which connects Mestre to the Venetian islands in the lagoon.
Helpful Tip: If you’re driving out of the center of Florence on a weekday morning, you’ll encounter commuter traffic. Either leave really early (6:30 or 7:00am) or wait until the morning rush is over (9:30am). I also recommend driving back from Venice around dinner time or later so you can avoid traffic in Venice, Bologna, and Florence.
Parking in Venice
The best place to park is in Piazzale Roma at the Autorimessa Comunale. This is a huge, multi-story public parking lot. To get to it, after you’ve crossed the land bridge, you’ll drive on land for about 250 meters before crossing a canal. Just after the canal, turn RIGHT into the Autorimessa Comunale.
The Autorimessa Comunale is a 24-hour lot, so you must pay the fixed rate even if you’re not planning on staying for 24 hours. If you pre-book your parking spot, you save money (if you buy at least 30 days in advance), and you have a guaranteed spot (and less stress).
Important: If you’ve pre-booked, enter the lot in the left lane (abbonamenti). Otherwise, enter in the right lane.
Once you’ve parked, you can either walk to Venice (for example, Piazza San Marco is 30 minutes away on foot) or take the vaporetto #1 from the Piazzale Roma Parisi ‘C’ stop – just steps from the parking garage (buy your vaporetto tickets from the ‘E’ stop, also just steps away).
Good To Know: If you’re only planning on staying for a short time (say 4 hours or less), you can pay by 2-hour periods at the Parcheggio Sant’Andrea. Just continue past the Autorimessa Comunale and follow the ‘PARK’ and parking (blue with white ‘P’) signs. You will see it on your right.
Good To Know: There are other parking options for lower rates (like at Tronchetto and Venice Mestre), but on a day trip it’s best to be efficient and stay close to the action so you don’t waste valuable time.
What to See and Do on a Florence to Venice Day Trip
While you can’t see everything on a day trip to Venice, you should pick a few things off the list that interest you the most. This is key. You will not enjoy your Venice day trip if you spend your time in the city doing what you think you should be doing. If you want to spend the entire time on the island of Murano, do it! If you want to do an organized food tour or just move from one bacaro (wine bar) to another sampling Venice’s cicchetti (small snacks), do it!
Here are some ideas for your day trip:
Take Vaporetto #1 On the Grand Canal
This is a classic intro to Venice, and we do it every time we visit the city. Hop on vaporetto #1 at Piazzale Roma (if you drove and parked) or in front of the Venice Santa Lucia train station (if you arrived by train).
Enjoy the views of the palazzi (palaces), bridges, and daily life on the water as you make your way to Piazza San Marco. It’s a leisurely ride along the water and perfect for soaking it all up and taking photos.
St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
Take in the grand piazza and the buildings surrounding it, including St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s bell tower, the Doge’s Palace, and the clock tower (Torre dell’Orologio).
You can get a coffee at one of the cafès on the square – pricey, but worth it for the ambiance if you plan to sit for awhile and enjoy it.
St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
This is one of Italy’s most gorgeous churches, and even if you don’t consider yourself a ‘church person,’ wait in line and take a peek at the glittering mosaics inside the basilica. One of my boys called it ‘magical.’
Good To Know: The opening hours vary, and the lines get long, so if you want to see inside St. Mark’s Basilica, make it one of the first things you do.
Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
This palace was the home of the ruler of Venice, the Doge (Duke). If you love art and palaces, don’t miss a visit to the Palazzo Ducale.
Helpful Tip: It’s huge, so to make the most of your time, go on a guided visit (group or private).
Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri)
This famous bridge is easily seen from the Ponte della Paglia on the Riva degli Schiavoni waterfront walk. Legend says the bridge got its name from prisoners who were walking to their imprisonment who sighed as they saw their last view of beautiful Venice.
Go on a Gondola Ride
For some, this is a must-do in Venice. Take a romantic (or fun) ride down the smaller canals and see a quieter side of Venice.
Or, save some euros and take vaporetto #1 for a ride along the Grand Canal (see above).
Read all about Going on a Gondola Ride in Venice
A bit like walking over Florence’s Ponte Vecchio. Admire the views and shops along the ponte.
Glass-Blowing Island of Murano
You’ll see the glass of Venice in shops and buildings all around the city. Head to the source – the Venetian island of Murano.
Here you can watch a glass-blowing demonstration and shop for glass products from light fixtures to Christmas ornaments to small trinkets for kids.
We also love wandering around the island and having a snack in one of the island’s small piazzas.
Lace-Making Island of Burano
This is Venice’s most colorful island. Even if you’re not interested in its lace-making history, it’s worth a stop for a look at the buildings painted in vibrant colors.
Venice is home to ‘tiny bites’ – cicchetti. You can hop from bar to bar sampling these ‘small bites.’
See Venice from Above
Get a bird’s eye view of Venice from St. Mark’s bell tower, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi shopping center rooftop, or the San Giorgio Maggiore bell tower.
Libreria Acqua Alta
The Instagrammer’s favorite shop, this bookstore is known for its uniquely stacked and displayed books (hint: gondolas and boats are involved).
Find your favorite in a shop or take a class and make your own. We love the masks in Kartaruga (Castello 5369-5370, about a 5-minute walk from Piazza San Marco).
Venice Biennale (2024)
If you plan on visiting Venice in 2024, don’t miss a stop at some of the art pavilions set up for the Venice Biennale. Artists from countries around the globe set up unique large scale exhibits in buildings around the city.
Venice Film Festival
Put on your ‘fancy clothes’ and head to the Venice Lido for the annual film festival. 2023 is the 80th anniversary.
Tips for Visiting Venice on a Day Trip from Florence
Purchase your train tickets in advance. That way, you won’t have to wait in line at the train station in Florence or Venice, or worry about getting on a train! If you’re planning on taking your day trip during Carnevale, or from April through October, book your train tickets in advance.
If you’re driving, purchase your parking spot in advance to save time, money, and the stress of finding a spot the day of.
Make reservations for activities or experiences you can’t miss.
Prepare for the season. If you’re visiting in the summer, bring a hat or sunglasses and sunscreen. Venetian summers are toasty and you’ll spend a lot of time in the sun. In the winter, make sure you are dressed in warm layers and have water-resistant shoes for the inevitable puddles.
Join a guided walking tour of the city. It’s an excellent way to learn about the city and to make the most of your time.
Have a plan for the day. Wandering is fun but you’ll waste your day if you spend the whole time lost (unless that’s what you’re looking forward to doing).
Visit your must-sees first thing. Could be long lines, day could slip away. Sometimes things close. This happened on my last visit to Venice with friends. We saved our visit for St. Mark’s Basilica until the early afternoon and they had just decided to close it for some repairs.
Have at least one quick meal. Cicchetti are great for a day trip – fast, local dishes, and you get to sample many bites. Otherwise, think about grabbing a panino (or even bringing your own if you have dietary restrictions or kids with you).
Don’t plan on taking the last train back. Or, if you do – make sure you allow plenty of time to get back to the station. It always seems easy and quick to get back, but I can tell you from experience (a few sweaty runs to the station), the crowds on narrow streets make walking slow and you may need to wait for one or two vaporetti.
Florence to Venice Day Trip with Kids
Should You? I do Venice day trips with my kids, and have traveled with kids in Venice as babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-age children. The only age I’m not a fan of is early walkers (toddlers). I find that the hazards (open water, no railings or barriers between canals and walkways, boats without lifejackets, dense crowds) to be stressful with early walkers and ‘runners’ who don’t listen well. Traveling with toddlers in Venice often means running after them and stressing that they’ll fall into the water. That being said, I have traveled with each of my kids at the toddler age, so it can be done!
Meals – I try to only do one restaurant meal on a day trip with kids. If possible, our ‘restaurant meal’ is a stop for cicchetti or panini. A lunch restaurant works well if your baby or toddler needs to nap.
Strollers – Decide if you want to bring a stroller or baby carrier. I usually bring a stroller if I have a toddler with me.
Diaper Changes – There aren’t a ton of places to change diapers in Venice. The easiest thing to do is bring a portable changing mat and change your baby on benches or wherever you can find a flat surface.
You won’t find many changing tables in restaurants, so you’ll need your changing pad inside too.
You can also use one of Venice’s public toilets (paid). They have baby changing tables and they are staffed and cleaned regularly.
Train or Car – Take the train! Not only is it fun for kids, it’s easier. The train trip is fast, and kids love taking the train over the water between Mestre and Venice. You also have toilets on board. We pack a few snacks for the ride.
Play Time – Yes, kids love Venice. Still, make time for simple kid activities like playgrounds and playing in piazzas.
Read our helpful guide to Visiting Venice with Kids
Florence to Venice Day Trip Alternatives
Not sold on a day trip from Florence to Venice? If you’re still looking for a trip out of Florence for the day, consider:
Read more about the Best Day Trips from Florence
Florence to Venice Day Trip FAQ
If you’re traveling in an even year (for example, 2024), don’t miss the Venice Biennale. You certainly can visit it on a day trip, although you won’t have much time for other Venice attractions. I’ve visited the Venice Biennale on a day trip from Florence with friends and it was a perfect trip. We took the train in the morning, spent all day at the Biennale, and took one of the last trains back. We had a quick lunch and a longer dinner and spent all day checking out the pavilions.
Your day will be packed with seeing Venice, so I’d save visits to other towns and cities for another trip.
You’ll want to catch a fast train for your day trip to Venice, and they all depart from the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station.
Yes, you can park in Mestre, but you’ll need to get yourself to Venice (by train, bus, or tram). It’s more expensive to Park in Piazzale Roma, but you’re closer to the action and you’ll save time that you can use exploring Venice.