An Easy Day Trip from Florence to Venice by Train

Are you thinking about taking a day trip from Florence to Venice by train?

Whilst this is a long day excursion, it is easy to do and, with a little planning, you can pull it off.

Hit the ground running with my guide on how to take a day trip to Venice from Florence by train. This includes what to consider, how to get there, what to do, a map to help you find your way and tips for a perfect Venice day trip.

gondolas on the grand canal in venice at dusk

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Day Trip from Florence to Venice by Train at a Glance

  • Distance from Florence to Venice: 160 miles
  • Journey time: 2 hours 15 minutes one-way
  • Cost of train ticket: From €23 one-way

A Quick Reality Check (+ a Few Tips)

However long you spend in Venice it will not be enough. I have visited La Serenissima on multiple occasions and there is still much that I would like to see.

That said, you can hit Venice’s highlights in one memorable day. But manage your expectations.

This is a long day trip. You will also need to take an early train from Santa Maria Novella. Even using the fast trains, your return journey will take over four hours.

And arrive mentally prepared for Venice’s crowds. Popular spots like St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge will be mobbed by late morning. Another reason to set your alarm for silly o’clock.

But when you get your first glimpse of the Grand Canal as you walk out of Venezia Santa Lucia station, all this will be forgotten. If this is your one opportunity to visit Venice, don’t hesitate.

How to Get from Florence to Venice by Train

red and white trenitalia train in italy

Trenitalia and Italo operate high-speed train services between Florence and Venice. Trenitalia is the national rail company and Italo is the privately owned, new(ish) kid on the block.

Both operators have set allocations of seats in the lower fare classes. For the best prices, book your ticket in advance.

Trains depart from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station (Firenze S.M. Novella). When you are buying your train ticket, make sure that you select Venezia Santa Lucia, not Venezia Mestre.

By Trenitalia

Forget about the indirect trains between Venice and Florence which take over four hours. Instead, choose the high-speed direct train from Venice to Florence which takes 2 hours and 15 minutes.

At the time of updating this guide (March 2024), the first direct train of the day leaves Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station at 7.20 am; the last direct train of the day leaves Venice just before 7.30 pm. These fast trains run hourly.

One-way fares start from €23.

You can check train times here. For planning on the go and to book and download your ticket, grab the Trenitalia app here.

exterior of red italo train in italy

By Italo

Italo also runs services between Florence Santa Maria and Venice. The journey time is just over two hours. As of March 2024, advance one-way fares start at €23.

However, the first departure from Santa Maria Novella is at 8.39 am, which is not ideal if you are hoping for an early start. The last train out of Venezia Santa Lucia departs at 7.39 pm.

You can check current train times here or download the Italo app here.

Getting Around

Getting to Florence Santa Maria Novella Train Station

Santa Maria Novella train station is a ten-minute walk from Florence’s Duomo.

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. But this is a wonderful walk, crossing meandering canals and taking you past the Rialto Bridge.

Alternatively, you can take a vaporetto. You’ll find the vaporetto stop for the Ferrovia as you exit the train station, where you can hop on #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. Signs on street corners will direct you towards the nearest landmark but if you go off-piste and disobey these signs you can make your own discoveries.

These helpful street signs make it almost impossible to get lost.

When it comes to public transport in Venice, you are talking about vaporetti, the city’s water buses, which churn the waters of the Grand Canal.

Travelling on a vaporetto is not cheap.

In 2024, a single ticket costs an eye-watering €9.50, which is valid for 75 minutes from the time it is first validated. You must validate your ticket on the electronic reader as soon as you board.

A one-day pass can be yours for €25.

There is more information on ticket prices here and the main routes here.

palanca vaporetto stop in venice italy
Vaporetto stop

What to Do on Your Day Trip to Venice from Florence

First and foremost, be realistic. This is a busy and sometimes disorienting city and trying to squeeze too much into your day is only likely to leave you feeling frazzled.

Tempting though it may be, don’t try to shoehorn the islands of Murano or Burano into your itinerary.

In short, pick a handful of attractions that interest you and stick with them. This will give you time to wander off-piste and uncover corners of Venice for yourself.

Here is my pick of things to do when you have limited time in Venice that you can use as a loose framework for your day.

If you like to map it out, here’s one that I prepared earlier. For an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.

map of the best things to see on a day trip from florence to venice by train
Best Places to Visit in Venice in a Day. Map data @ Google 2022

1. Take a slow boat along the Grand Canal in Venice

boats and buildings along the grand canal which is the inspiration for many venice quotes

Although gondolas have inspired many poems and quotes about Venice, you don’t need to pay for an expensive ride in these iconic boats to take to the waters of the Grand Canal. Simply hop on a vaporetto.

I recommend a vaporetto ride as soon as you step off your train from Florence.

Take vaporetto #1 from the stop outside Venezia Santa Lucia train station for a leisurely 40-minute ride along the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco. There are around five boats an hour.

For less than 10 Euro, you will be treated to one of the most scenic boat rides on the planet, passing piazzas and palaces, bridges and churches. This visual parade of canal-side wonders is a splendid introduction to the city.

2. Have a coffee in St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)

Described by Napoleon as ‘Europe’s finest drawing room’, Piazza San Marco never disappoints. Filled with music, tourists and pigeons, this was Venice’s political and religious centre.

Listening to the musicians over an outrageously over-priced cappuccino on the terrace of one of the elegant cafes lining St. Mark’s Square is a quintessential Venetian experience.

3. Be dazzled by St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)

Built in 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 an architectural trophy cabinet.

This riot of domes, columns and statues is as far removed from the Gothic and Renaissance churches of Florence or Rome’s Baroque churches as you can get. Its dazzling interior glows with gold mosaics and the sheen of coloured marble.

For an additional fee, you can climb St. Mark’s bell tower (campanile) for a bird’s eye view of Venice and the lagoon.  

view of st marks square from the grand canal

4. Take in the grandeur of the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

The Doge’s Palace is the secular equivalent of St. Mark’s sacred architectural splendour. This dreamlike storybook of Venetian history and legend is like a delicately decorated cake.

Palazzo Ducale was the seat of the Venetian government and home to its ruling duke, or doge. Built as a statement of the might of the Venetian Republic, this 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 wallpaper.  

5. Gaze out at the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri)

gondolas passing by the bridge of sighs in venice italy

The tour of the Doge’s Palace finishes at the Bridge of Sighs.

Linking the palace to the prisons, this is one of the most famous bridges in Venice. It is the city’s only covered bridge.

Built in 1602, legend has it that it gets its name from the sighs of convicted prisoners who crossed it on their way to their prison cells. The famous seducer, Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, was one of those 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.

Giacomo Casanova

6. Glide along Venice’s canals on a gondola

gondola sailing along a narrow canal in venice

Taking a gondola ride in Venice is on many people’s bucket lists. However, a ride on one of these iconic boats comes with a hefty price tag attached.

Gondola fares are set officially. As of March 2024, it will cost you 80 euros for a 30-minute daytime ride and 100 euros for a ride after 7 pm. You can extend your ride for an additional (fixed) cost.

There is no need to book a gondola ride in advance.

A cheaper option, especially if you are a solo traveller, is a shared gondola ride, which you will need to reserve in advance.

Click here to book

7. Hit the highlights of the Venetian Renaissance at the Accademia (Galleria dell’Accademia)

The Accademia is to the Venetian Renaissance what the Uffizi Gallery is to Florence’s Renaissance.

Venice’s number one art museum is stuffed to the gills with artistic treasures, including works from Canaletto, Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese.

Its collection is arranged chronologically, from medical altarpieces and Madonnas with golden haloes to Veronese’s bawdy Last Supper (Feast in the House of Levi) and Titian’s Presentation of the Virgin.

8. Walk across the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Realto)

row of gondolas by rialto bridge in venice italy

The Rialto Bridge is Venice’s geographical heart.

Completed in 1591, this design of this beautiful stone bridge was considered so daring that its lifespan was predicted to be short. However, Ponte di Realto has defied its critics and is now one of Venice’s most famous landmarks.

9. Stroll around Cannaregio

narrow canal in venice with 2 stone bridges and a small boat
old man feeding pigeons in a square in venice

Packed with personality, the crumbling yet charming Cannaregio is one of the least visited best areas of the city, but one of the best to get behind the tourist glitz. It is where I stay when I am visiting Venice.

Cannaregio is a welcome respite from the city’s sometimes overwhelming tourist hordes and close to Venezia Santa Lucia for your train journey back to Florence.