24 hours in Venice, Italy: Things to do, where to stay, and attractions to visit

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When people think of Venice, the first thing that comes to mind are the iconic gondolas, the grand palazzos and the picturesque narrow streets. But beyond these typical sights, there is much more to this iconic city built on the waters of the Adriatic Sea. For those who yearn for a local experience while still accessing the city’s world-famous sites, you might want to settle down at Hotel Indigo Venice — Sant’Elena.

The storied building was converted from a 1930s monastery, boasting of suites and rooms that reflect the charming residential neighbourhood of Sant’Elena — a quaint spot at the Eastern tip of the island. It is reminiscent of a small, sleepy Italian town, yet proving to be far from uneventful. Sant’Elena is a global hub for modern art and culture and is ideally located near the Venice Lido and Giardini della Biennale, which play host to internationally renowned art events such as the Venice International Film Festival and the Venice Biennale respectively. The neighbourhood is strategically located to offer respite from the hustle and bustle of San Marco yet remains within easy reach to the world-famous sites of St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. How to make good use of your time in Venice? The folks at Hotel Indigo have a few ideas…

Take a quiet morning stroll through Giardini Della Biennale

Accessible via a short walk North of the hotel, the Giardini Della Biennale (Biennale’s Gardens) is a gorgeous garden known for being the site of the Venice Biennale.

Apart from appreciating the rare greenery, tour the 29 pavilions that were each built by different countries to showcase their own artists’ works. Some of these pavilions were designed by famous architects, including Josef Hoffmann’s Austria Pavilion and Gerrit Thomas Rietveld’s Dutch pavilion.

Stop for breakfast at Al Leon Bianco

Continue your slow morning with a short break at Al Leon Bianco and fuel up with the perfect cup of Italian coffee, accompanied by a selection of sandwiches. Tip: Order it standing for a better price.

Spend the remainder of your morning with a taste of Venice at the Rialto Market

A treat for the senses, the Rialto Market is a lively place filled with both locals and tourists alike, and you can immerse yourself in the vibrant local market culture. Part of the market is also held inside Neo-gothic pavilions along the edge of the Grand Canal, one can easily spend one to two hours admiring Venice’s beautiful architecture while sampling some of the freshest produce. It is also the perfect stop to shop for some healthy snacks to keep your hunger pangs at bay, or until your next Cicchetti (Italy’s version of Spanish tapas).

Refuel at Osteria Al Squero for grub and gelato

After a morning of sightseeing, head over to Osteria al Squero for some servings of cicchetti and wine. True to its name, the quaint bar is the only one that is located right by the Ancient Squero of San Trovaso, where you can dine and enjoy the view of traditional Venetian gondolas being restored or constructed. Enjoy a Venetian style ice cream for dessert at Gelateria Nico just down the street to complete your meal on a sweet note.

Marvel at Venice’s history and stunning architecture at The Doge’s Palace

Now happily sated, continue your adventures at The Doge’s Palace, also known as the Palazzo Ducale. The Venetian Gothic structure was the centre of government and home to the Doge (ruler of Venice) for more than a thousand years. One of Europe’s most beautiful and recognizable buildings, the Doge’s Palace is a must-see museum and a sight to behold inside and out. Retrace the steps of the Doge as you explore the beautiful grand central courtyard, staterooms, armoury and even prisons. Fun fact: Unlike most museums, The Doge’s Palace only showcases works of art that were specially commissioned to decorate its interior.

Head next door to debate how the Bridge of Sighs got its name

The Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) was built to connect the old prison in the Doge’s Palace with the new prison across the river. Some claimed that the structure got its name when prisoners who crossed the bridge looked out through the tiny windows and sighed when they saw their last sight of freedom. Others believe that if a couple in a gondola kiss when they pass under the bridge, their love will last a lifetime, resulting in a happy romantic sigh. Whichever theory you subscribe to, it is undeniable that the Bridge of Sighs is a beautiful sight and one of the finest bridge architectures in the world.

Unwind and enjoy dinner at Savor Restaurant and Bar

After a day spent uncovering the beautiful history of Venice, head back to the quiet sanctuary of the hotel to freshen up and enjoy a peaceful evening. The hotel’s restaurant, Savor Restaurant and Bar, offers flavours of local traditions revisited with a twist from international cuisines. After satisfying your palate with gourmet Venetian dishes, sip on a classic bellini at the bar before calling it a night.

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