1) Venice needs more than 1 or 2 days. I would tell every potential tourist who is planning a trip to Venice , and especially those who are quickly stopping by at the beginning or end of a cruise that they need more time. Two days just doesn't do Venice justice. It's only time to see the very top spots, and not nearly enough time to let Venice get under your skin, where she belongs. You will fall in love with Venice, if you let yourself. Trust me, you will.
2) Slow down. Don't rush through Venice, you will miss too much. Venice requires time to experience it, to feel it. Best place to do some of this is an outdoor cafe! Just sit and enjoy passing time in one of Venice's campos.
3) Look up. Don't forget to look up. Why? Because there is as much to see above you as there is on ground level. Look for all those roof top terraces. Check out all the different types of chimneys. Enjoy the architecture of windows, doors, balconies, the iron work, and all that marble!
4) Stop to look in every canal. Every single day the view of Venice you will see in the reflections in all the canals will keep you mesmerized. It's a never ending art exhibit, for free. Depending on the light and time of day, even if you look at the very same canal day after day, you will see something different. The light and color will stop you dead in your tracks. Here's a recent example. See, even on a fairly cold winter day, it's an awesome view.
(photo courtesy of my husband, Michael)5) Spend an hour or so ON the water. Either on a vaporetto, or better yet, do the gondola ride. It's not corny or touristy, it's quintessential Venice. To me, the water is the heartbeat of this city, and you need to be on it to feel it.
6) Try to read something about Venice before you get here. Not just Rick Steves guide book. Try to find a book that goes a little deeper, one that introduces you to some of Venice's secrets. And then, try to find one or two of them while you are here. While you do that, let yourself imagine what Venice was like hundreds of years ago. Believe it or not, not a whole lot has changed since then.
I have more, but this is a good start for today.
Ciao from Venice.