Venice is a uniquely charming city, set on the canals and waterways of northern Italy.
It has a well-deserved place on many people’s Europe bucket list, for its gondolas and piazzas, its world-renowned food and intricate artisanal masks.
The city has plenty to keep you occupied, as even simply wandering its labyrinthine streets leads to new discoveries each day, but for the restless traveller, there is also plenty to explore beyond the water, in Italy as a whole.
If you find yourself getting sick of its shady streets, there are definitely options for you.
Here are 15 of the best day trips to take while on your trip to Venice.
1. Lake Garda
From one water-bound attraction to another, Lake Garda is without doubt Italy’s most famous, as well as largest, lake.
Surrounded by lemon trees, magnolia, cypresses and olive trees, Lake Garda exudes a Mediterranean vibe, and is just as relaxing as it sounds.
Enjoy a boat ride across the lake, or stroll along the shore, before exploring the lakeside town of Sirmione or the medieval jewel of Lazise.
If you have time, visit the nearby producers of olive oil, and learn about their traditional methods of production.
2. Murano, Torcello and Burano islands
Venice’s own islands of Murano, Torcello and Burano deserve a separate day trip to fully appreciate and explore what they have to offer.
Glass blowing, lace production and embroidery are just a few of the attractions of these picturesque islands, with each in turn having their own highlight.
Visit the glass factory in Murano and watch a display of great artistry from the glass blowers, who will craft molten glass into dainty ornaments right before your eyes.
Pay a visit to Torcello, the oldest of the inhabited islands, and finish up in Burano, whose lace making is renowned.
Near to Lake Garda is fair Verona, made famous by Shakespeare but more than maintaining its popularity through sheer charm and beauty.
Verona was of course the setting for the most popular of Shakespeare’s plays, Romeo and Juliet, and a highlight of any visit is spotting the balcony from which Juliet wondered ‘wherefore art thou Romeo?’
Head into the city’s historical centre to check out its many picturesque piazzas and the famed Mazzanti houses.
Then take a walk along the river or stop by the Basilica or Verona’s Duomo to marvel at its impressive architecture.
By train, a day trip to Padua is a fantastic option from Venice.
Padua has intrigue as well as all the hallmarks of Italian towns: beautiful architecture, vast open piazzas, art and excellent cuisine.
One of the most interesting highlights of a Padua trip is wandering through its former ghetto, which also houses the only Synagogue still in use in Padua today.
The Cappella Degli Scrovegni is another point of interest, which is home to many exquisite 14th century works of art, including those of Giotto.
5. Prosecco Region
One of Italy’s most famous exports, a Prosecco tour is a must-do on a trip to Italy.
Only around an hour’s drive from Venice, the scenery on the journey there is jaw-dropping, and of course the reward on arrival is a taste of those renowned bubbles.
The hills of the Prosecco valley are a great location to learn about the whole process of wine-making, from picking the perfect grapes, to pressing them, fermenting them, and finally bottling the finished products.
You’ll get the chance to wander round well-stocked cellars and perhaps choose the perfect tipple to pair with your lunch.
Thanks to the advent of high speed trains, a trip to Florence from Venice is well within the reach of a day tripper.
Just two hours away from Venice, Florence holds great treasures for tourists.
From the glorious art hosted by the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery and the city at large, to the towering Duomo offering panoramic views of the landscape, there will be plenty to keep you entertained.
If marvelling at Renaissance paintings and sculpture isn’t really your thing, you can always while away the hours wandering through Florence’s attractive streets, from the Ponte Vecchio where the high-class Medici family trod centuries ago, to the Piazza della Liberta.
7. Venice Lido
Venice’s Lido necessitates its own day trip in order to soak up the requisite number of rays, and it’s definitely a relaxing way to spend a day out.
It’s a ferry ride away, but well worth it for the glory of sun, sea and sand.
If seaside lounging, reading, sunbathing, swimming and sipping mojitos isn’t quite enough entertainment for you, a diverting way to spend the afternoon might be to explore by bike.
Cycle along the lagoon, spot the myriad tiny islands in its centre, and make sure to check out the massive, impressive fortress of Murazzi, built in the 18th century.
The medieval town of Siena is a Tuscan gem, and at just over three hours’ drive from Venice it’s not too far a stretch to visit for the day.
Home to the famed Palio Horse Race, Siena offers more than just the main square, Piazza del Campo: it has a 12th century cathedral and myriad narrow cobbled streets among which you can happily lose yourself.
Siena’s gothic architecture lends a sense of grandeur to even the dreariest days.
If nothing else, divert yourself in Siena with some delicious gelato, for which Italy is world-renowned, and sit in the piazza to watch the world go by.
Yet another historical town famed for its architecture, Vicenza’s main draw is its buildings designed by celebrated 16th century architect Andrea Palladio.
The Teatro Olimpico is the key attraction of the town, as Palladio’s last work, but the Villa La Rotunda and the Basilica Palladiana also provide excellent examples of Palladian design.
The town’s shady parks and narrow streets lend it a relaxed air, and to top it off the views from the the Santuario di Monte Berico are breathtaking, and can be reached by a covered walkway.
Nestled in between Lake Garda and Verona, the Valpolicella Valley produces excellent wines including Amarone and Recioto.
The drive along narrow winding roads to reach this destination is a real treat, passing through scenery replete with villas, olive groves and of course wineries.
Take advice from a well-versed sommelier and cheese taster on which cheeses to pair with which drinks, and dine on a traditional lunch at a 15th century cantina; an experience in itself.
11. San Gimignano
Tuscany has a multitude of quaint towns tucked away amid its hills and scenic countryside, and one of the most beautiful is San Gimignano.
A medieval jewel, San Gimignano is a UNESCO world heritage site, with plenty to keep visitors occupied.
Known for its wine, saffron, and finely crafted pottery, you can find many ways to entertain yourself in its crooked side streets.
It’s also an arresting sight on the approach, with a skyline towering above the trees.
If one Tuscan town isn’t enough for you, you can also take the opportunity to visit nearby Siena or explore further afield in the Chianti countryside.
12. The Dolomites
Italy’s north-eastern Veneto region holds much more than just the waterways of Venice.
Even aside from its popular wineries, nature has much more to offer: namely, the Dolomites.
Explore up into the fresh air of the mountains, visiting key highlights such as Cortina, Lake Auronzo and Lake Misurina.
Keep your cameras at the ready as you wind through valleys and power up steep mountain roads, reaching a peak of over 7,700 feet.
If the weather allows, a quick trip up in the cable car from Cortina up to Faloria is well worth it, offering panoramic views from its lofty peak.
Charming Ravenna has been given the accolade of UNESCO World Heritage status for its stunning mosaics.
Ravenna was of great importance during the era in which the Byzantine and Roman empires mixed.
Perhaps the best thing about Ravenna is that it isn’t as swarmed with tourists as other Italian destinations are: it’s not on just anyone’s list.
On the way to or from Ravenna, you can also choose to visit the impressive Pomposa Abbey, build around the 10th century by members of the Benedictine community.
14. Venetian Villas at Padova and Asolo
What better way to dive deeper into your exploration of Venice itself than to visit its outskirts, and learn about a region that belonged to the Republic of Venice centuries ago? Journey along the Brenta Canal and tour your way through the villas alongside it, built by holidaying Venetians in days gone by.
Head out to Padova, with its pretty university, and find a chapel inlaid with frescoes by Giotto.
Afterwards, move on to Asolo, set back into the hills, which was the location for the court of the Queen of Cyprus and later played host to the writer Ernest Hemingway.
Trieste offers something a little different from the rest of the Venice day trips on offer.
Its complex history and geographical position has lent it a huge variety of influences, and indeed it was only returned to Italian possession in 1954. From its castles to its square, its seafront to its myriad churches, there’s heaps to explore in this beautiful city.
Missed off many a travel plan, Trieste is certainly underrated given its easy elegance and abundance of cultural activities on offer – and certainly a good option for a visit from Venice.