The iconic city of Venice overflows with things to do, but venture into the wider Veneto region and you’ll discover a plethora of interesting places to explore. From enchanting cities such as Verona to natural wonders like Lake Garda, you can fit all sorts of experiences into your Venice holiday. Here’s our round-up of the best day trips from Venice.
Lake Garda is Italy’s most famous and largest lake; an oasis of hiking trails, watersports and crystal-clear waters that you can reach from Venice in under two hours. Make it your mission to see the fairytale-like Sirmione and its 13th Century Castle and Roman Villa, the Grotte di Catullo and the spectacular town of Malcesine (where you can visit the intriguing Castello Scligero) and hop on the cable car to the peak of Monte Altissimo. Boat tours offer a brilliant way to appreciate this natural wonder.
Steeped in artistic heritage and of course, the city that inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, medieval Verona needs no introduction. You can reach Verona in just over an hour from Venice, via train, or 1.5 hours by car. Once you’re here, you can get your full fix of culture with visits to Verona Arena, Teatro Romano, Castelvecchio Roman fortress, the Piazza delle Erbe – where you’ll find the Madonna Verona fountain – and last, but not least, the famed Juliet’s balcony and Casa di Giulietta museum.
One of the most beautiful day trips from Venice is Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region. And its most famous square, the Piazza del Duomo, is occupied by the imposing Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral which offers magnificent views from its bell tower and Renaissance dome. Art buffs will be awed by the famous David statue by Michelangelo at the Galleria dell’ Accademia, and the vibrant Mercato Centrale which is packed with delicious local produce, is sure to get the stomach rumbling. Stop by the Mercato di San Lorenzo for souvenirs and see the city’s famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio.
The Prosecco Region
If you appreciate Italian sparkling wine (who doesn’t), take a day trip from Venice to the famed Prosecco Region. While this world-famous fizz is produced in both the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions, Veneto Prosecco is considered the best. Book a tour with a knowledgeable sommelier and sip your way around the vineyards where the renowned Glera grape is cultivated. If the effervescent tipple doesn’t make you feel giddy, the gorgeous scenery, in the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains, will.
Padua is one of the easiest day trips from Venice, taking less than half an hour to reach via train and just 45 minutes by car. The city, also known as Padova, overflows with history, so don’t miss a trip to the Basilica di Sant ‘Antonio di Padova where the relics of the city’s patron saint and his tomb can be found. Its adjacent monastery and the Cappella Degli Scrovegni – which houses incredible frescoes by Giotto – are well worth a peek. Elsewhere, there’s a raft of trendy cafes to enjoy and a cosmopolitan vibe. Strolling the streets of Padua old town is a must.
The islands of Murano, Torcello and Burano
If you don’t want to venture too far from Venice, hop on a water taxi to the surrounding islands of Murano, Torcello and Burano. Murano is of course, the birthplace of the world-famous Murano glass, so pop into the Vetreria Artistica Colleoni glass factory to see the artisans at work. On Torcello, discover the Venetian-Byzantine mosaics of Basilica di Santa Maria and don’t miss the island of Burano for its rainbow-coloured houses
Around three hours from Venice, the Medieval city of Siena and its UNESCO-listed historical centre are well worth the journey. The vast Piazza del Campo, the former site of a Roman forum, plays home to the Torre del Mangia – where you can climb some 400 steps to admire the views – as well as the Palazzo Pubblico, the city hall which houses the city’s most treasured frescoes, in the Museo Civico. Overall, this is a lovely city to stroll, enjoy coffee and treat yourself to one (or two) of the city’s specialty pastries and sweets, namely the delicious cavallucci, ricciarelli and panaforte.
For staggering scenery and fresh mountain air, head to the Dolomites, one of the most unforgettable day trips from Venice. Known for its top-class skiing, hiking and 18 dramatic peaks – including the highest of Marmaloda – this World Heritage Site is an outdoor lover’s dream. Within a day, you can fit in a trip to Cortina, the ‘jewel of the Dolomites’, and (if weather permits) take the cable car to the 2,000-metre high summit of Faloria. The mirror-like Lake Misurina is a sight to behold.