A weekend in Venice is long enough to cram in the sights. Just!

Day One

09:00 With a reputation as an over-priced tourist trap, the first thing to do is save money by buying a Venice card (hellovenezia.com) which includes entry to numerous museums and churches, including Doge's Palace and the other 10 Musei Civici di Venezia. The card costs £26 for visitors aged 29 and under, and £35 for those aged over ?30. It's valid for up to seven days.

  Venice is best explored on foot so begin your walking tour in the heart of the city at Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square), and probably the only place where you won't feel lost. It's flush with tourists but is a must-visit.

While there, head to Basilica di San Marco (St Mark's Basilica), ?a shimmering cathedral which is hailed as one of the world's best examples of Byzantine architecture. Entry is £1.50. ?For bling-tastic treasures aplenty, drop into the Sanctuary off the south transept, a trove of gold, pearls and gemstones. Entry is £1.50.  

Also overlooking St Mark's Square and meriting exploration is Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), a 15th-century parliamentary lobby.

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13:00 When it comes to choosing a lunch venue, steer clear of restaurants with multi-language menus (read: tourist trap and rip-off). Instead, dine at an osterie (back-street taverna). For delicious seafood, visit Osteria di Santa Marina (Castello 5911) where meals cost about £52.

Skip the cliched and overpriced romance of a gondola ride and explore the "City of Water" by taking the No 1 vaporetto (waterbus) along the Grand Canal, admiring the gorgeous palazzos along the way. Journeys cost £4.50.  Alternatively, enjoy a kayak tour (venicekayak.com)  through The Lido, across the water from the main Venice Island.

The narrow, often-empty canals wind through parts of Venice most tourists never see. Share the waterways with cargo ships, gondolas and other 'road users' for a real slice of Venetian life. If you're desperate to have a gondola ride, expect to pay up to £87 for 45 minutes, although this becomes considerably cheaper if you have five friends to share the trip with.

16:00 Escape the bustle of the crowds by exploring the city's atmospheric backstreets where you'll find tiny shops and pretty balconies.

19:00 Visit a bacaro, a typical Venetian wine bar, which you can find down alleyways and in tourist-free squares, near the San Marco, San Polo and Cannaregion districts. Here, you can order chicheti, small portions of food which look like tapas and wine by the glass.

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Top options include Banco Giro (San Polo 122, Campo San Giacometto) as well as Ca' d'Oro – Alla Vedova (Cannaregio 3912, Ramo Ca' D'Oro), where you can feast on tasty meatballs washed down with a small glass of red wine.

Day Two

10:00 Get off the beaten track and explore Venice's evocative Jewish ghetto (Cannareggio), an uncrowded and tranquil neighbourhood. The word 'ghetto' meant ?a place where iron was cast. Casting was carried in Cannaregio, where Jewish people were confined from 1516 until 1797, making it the world's first ghetto. The Jewish Museum (museobraico.it) runs tours of the area's synagogues every half-hour for £7.40, including admission. 

12:00 Don't miss Cannareggio's Ca' d'Oro, an ostentatious 15th-century house loaded with paintings, sculptures and coins.

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14:00 Head back to St Mark's Square, cross the Grand Canal and explore the Dorsoduro area before getting your art fix for the weekend. Boasting a top-notch European art collection is Galleria dell'Accademia.

Within spitting distance is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which can be found within the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, where art collector Peggy Guggenheim lived. Now a museum, the unfinished 18th-century palace is chock-full of major works of Cubism, Futurism, Metaphysical painting, European abstraction, avant-garde sculpture and Surrealism. View the works of Pollock, Miro and Picasso.

17:00 For sweeping views of the city at sunset, climb to the top of the Campanile (bell tower) in Piazza San Marco, the tallest building in Venice. Open until 8pm from July until September; 4pm from October to March and 5pm from April to June,. Entry is £5.20. 

19:00 Enjoy dinner by candlelight at Hosteria ai Coristi where you can feast on roasted sea bass or squid ink dumplings.

22:00 Sip on fine wine or cocktails while listening to jazz ?at Bacaro Jazz.

Fly direct to Venice with Ryanair or easyJet. Ryanair return flights from £84. Easyjet.com return flights from £174.