Are you thinking about taking a day trip from Bologna to Venice by train? This is easy to do, and with a little forward planning, you can hit the highlights of Venice like a travel ninja.
Get the lowdown with my guide to taking a day trip to Venice from Bologna. This includes how to get there, how to get around, what to see and a map to help you find your way.
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Day Trip from Bologna to Venice by Train at a Glance
- Distance from Bologna to Venice: 81 miles
- Fastest journey time: 1 hour 33 minutes
- Cost of train ticket: From €10 one-way
Is One Day in Venice Enough?
I’ll level with you. One day in Venice will only allow you to skim the city’s surface. But if this is your only opportunity to visit La Serenissima, grasp it with both hands.
To squeeze the most out of your day trip, I recommend taking an early train. Even if you use the high-speed services, your return journey will take a little over three hours.
Arrive mentally prepared for Venice’s crowds. Popular spots like St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge are likely to be rammed by late morning. Another reason set your alarm for the wee small hours.
But when you get your first glimpse of the Grand Canal as you walk out of Venezia Santa Lucia station, the early start will be instantly worthwhile.
How to Get from Bologna to Venice by Train
For your Bologna to Venice day trip, you have the choice of two train operators: Trenitalia, the national rail company, or Italo.
If you travel on a high-speed train you will be in Venice in a little over 90 minutes.
Trains depart from Bologna Centrale station. When you are buying your train ticket, make sure that you select Venezia Santa Lucia, not Venezia Mestre station.
High-speed trains from Bologna to Venice
Frequent high-speed train services between Venice and Bologna are provided by Italo and Trenitalia (Frecciarossa trains).
Regardless of which operator you choose, these services are comfortable and fast. The journey time is 1 hour 33 minutes.
You will save money if you can book your train ticket in advance.
Both of these rail companies have set allocations of seats in the lower fare classes and you will pay more the closer you get to your travel date. If you buy a ticket for one of the high-speed services in advance, these are often cheaper than the slower regional services.
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Regional trains from Bologna to Verona
Trenitalia operates hourly regional trains between Bologna and Venice. These Regionale trains will get you to Venice in 2 hours 10 minutes, almost 40 minutes longer than the journey on one of the high-speed services.
As fare prices are fixed, there is no advantage in booking in advance.
Remember to stamp your ticket in one of the machines before boarding a regional train service.
For easy searching across both operators, head to Omio.
Getting to Bologna Centrale train station
Bologna Centrale station is a 20-minute walk from Piazza Maggiore & Piazza Nettuno in the heart of the city centre.
Getting from Venice Santa Lucia Train Station
It will take you around 30 minutes to walk from the Venice Santa Lucia train station to St. Mark’s Square. This is a super scenic amble, crossing meandering canals and passing the iconic Rialto Bridge.
Alternatively, you can jump on a vaporetto. Think of it as a DIY Grand Canal cruise.
Look for the vaporetto stop Ferrovia as you exit the train station. From here, you can take service #1 (slow boat) or #2 (fast boat) down the Grand Canal to Rialto and San Marco.
More about these later.
Getting Around Venice
I love walking around Venice.
As signs on street corners direct you towards the nearest landmark it’s hard to get lost. But if you ignore these signs you can make your own discoveries.
Vaporetti are Venice’s water buses that churn the waters of the Grand Canal. Travelling on a vaporetto is not cheap.
In 2023, a single ticket costs an eye-popping €9.50, which is valid for 75 minutes. You must validate your ticket on the electronic reader as soon as you board a vaporetto.
One-day passes are also available for €25.
What to Do on Your Day Trip to Venice from Bologna
First and foremost, don’t try to shoehorn too much into your day trip. Venice is a busy and sometimes disorienting city and trying to cram too much in is only likely to leave you feeling frazzled.
Pick a few attractions and stick with them. Try to leave room for wandering off-piste to discover quieter corners of Venice for yourself.
Here is my pick of things to do in Venice that you can use as a loose framework on which to hang your day.
If you like to map it out, here’s one that I prepared earlier. For an interactive map, click here or on the image itself.
1. Take a vaporetto along the Grand Canal
Gondolas have inspired many poems and quotes about Venice. However, a ride on one of these beauties will burn a hole in your holiday budget.
Instead, take to the waters of the Grand Canal on a vaporetto. I recommend a vaporetto ride as soon as you step off your train from Bologna.
Vaporetto #1 leaves from the stop outside Venezia Santa Lucia train station bound for Piazza San Marco. This leisurely ride along the Grand Canal takes 40 minutes and there are around five boats an hour.
One of the most scenic boat rides on the planet is yours for less than 10 Euros. Passing piazzas and palaces, bridges and churches, it is a splendid introduction to Venice.
Good to know
Unsurprisingly, this is a hugely popular line. For a better chance of bagging a seat, board the vaporetto at Piazzale Roma, the stop before the train station.
Remember that as your ticket is valid for 75 minutes, you can stop off along the way for free.
2. Longer over a coffee in St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
Described by Napoleon as ‘Europe’s finest drawing room,’ Piazza San Marco never disappoints. Now filled with tourists and pigeons, this was once the political and religious centre of Venice.
Listening to the musicians on the terrace of one of the elegant cafes lining St. Mark’s Square is a quintessential Venetian experience. Yours for an outrageously overpriced cappuccino.
3. Be dazzled by St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
The 11th Century St. Mark’s Basilica was the holy shrine of the Venetian state. Merchants trading in the East were obliged to donate booty from their voyage to the basilica, turning it into a medieval trophy cabinet.
This is a riot of domes, columns and statues, its dazzling interior glowing with gold mosaics and glistening with coloured marble.
For an additional fee, you can climb St. Mark’s bell tower (campanile) for a bird’s eye view of the city and the lagoon.
VISITING ST. MARK’S BASILICA
There is a fee to enter the basilica. Check the ticket price and opening hours here.
Save time with a skip-the-line ticket that includes a downloadable audio guide.
Dress appropriately. This means no shorts for either gender and women need to cover their shoulders.
Large bags are not allowed. Luggage storage is available in Piazzetta dei Leoncini, a few metres from the Basilica (a small fee applies).
4. Visit the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
The Doge’s Palace is the secular equivalent of St. Mark’s sacred splendour. This dreamy slice of Venetian history is like a delicately decorated cake.
Built as a statement of the power of the Venetian Republic, Palazzo Ducale was the seat of the Venetian government and home to its ruling duke (doge). It was the most powerful half-acre in Europe for more than 400 years.
From the doge’s former living quarters, a one-way tour takes you to the public rooms on the top floor. Veronese and Tintoretto provide the interior decoration.
VISITING THE DOGE’S PALACE
Save money on your Doge’s Palace ticket by booking more than 30 days in advance. This ticket includes admission to the Correr Museum, National Archaeological Museum and Monumental Rooms of the Marciana National Library.
For a small additional fee, there is a Secret Itineraries tour (recommended) that includes rooms not included in the general admission ticket. As this is a popular option, reserve your slot well ahead.
Check the opening hours for Palazzo Ducale here.
5. Gaze out at the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri)
The tour of the Doge’s Palace finishes at the Bridge of Sighs, the city’s sole covered bridge. It links the palace to the prisons and is one of Venice’s most famous bridges.
Built in 1602, it gets its name from the emotions of the convicted prisoners who crossed it on their way to their prison cells. Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was one of these prisoners.
“The Leads, used for the confinement of state prisoners, are in fact the lofts of the Doge’s Palace, and take their name from the large plates of lead with which the roof is covered.
One can only reach them through the gates of the palace, the prison buildings, or by the bridge of which I have spoken called the Bridge of Sighs.”
Good to know
Looking for the best view of the Bridge of Sighs? If so, head to Paglia Bridge (Ponte della Paglia) which is behind the Doge’s Palace.
To find it, walk towards the waterfront, turn left along the water and it is the first bridge on the canal to your left.
Alternatively, make your way to Ponte della Canonica on the other side of the Bridge of Sighs.
6. Take a gondola ride along Venice’s canals
A gondola ride in Venice is on many people’s travel bucket lists. However, this doesn’t come cheap.
Gondola fares are set officially. At the time of writing, it will cost you 80 euros for a 30-minute daytime ride and 100 euros for a ride after 7 p.m. You can extend your ride for an additional (fixed) cost.
You don’t need to book a gondola ride in advance.
A more economical option, especially if you are a solo traveller, is a shared gondola ride. You will need to book ahead here.
7. Wallow in the Venetian Renaissance at the Accademia (Galleria dell’Accademia)
The Accademia is Venice’s number one art museum, dripping with artistic treasures. These include works by Titian, Tintoretto, Canaletto and Veronese.
Its masterpieces are arranged chronologically from medieval Madonnas with golden haloes to Veronese’s bawdy Last Supper (Feast in the House of Levi) and Titian’s Presentation of the Virgin.
VISITING GALLERIA DELL’ACCADEMIA, VENICE
Click here for the current ticket price and opening hours and to buy your ticket.
Galleria dell’Accademia is not open on Monday afternoons and tends to attract more visitors on Tuesday mornings and on Friday and Saturday. It’s a good idea to buy your ticket in advance if you will be visiting at these busy times.
8. Stroll across the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Realto)
The Rialto Bridge is Venice’s geographical heart.
This iconic stone bridge was completed in 1591. Its design was considered so daring that many predicted a short lifespan.
However, Ponte di Realto defied its critics and is now one of Venice’s most loved landmarks.
9. Stroll around Cannaregio
The crumbling yet charming Cannaregio is packed with personality and a welcome refuge from Venice’s tourist hordes. It is one of my favourite corners of the city.
Cannaregio is close to Venezia Santa Lucia for your train journey back to Bologna.
Where to Next?
I hope that this brief guide helps you to have a memorable day trip from Bologna to Venice by train. It really is straightforward.
If you want to visit another city, discover how to take a day trip to Verona from Bologna. The city of Romeo and Juliet is one of my favourite places in Italy and is compact enough to explore in a day.