Ciao, and welcome to this guide on visiting Venice in winter.
Believe it or not, despite the rigid temperatures, in winter, the Lagoon city unleashes all its charm and Venice is a city more than capable of enchanting all its visitors.
You can wake up to heavy fog and dim morning light that covers the city and witness nothing less than Venice’s most magical atmosphere.
But don’t worry! The fog dissolves by the middle of the day and Venice starts to reveals its iconic attractions and views. During winter in Venice the tourist crowds decrease, allowing you to walk in peace around the streets and campi of the city.
There are many things to see and do in Venice from December to March, from a self guided walking tour, to the most sought-after sights to free events you can attend, so keep reading this guide and start to prepare yourself to travel to Venice in winter.
Venice in winter
You may have already asked yourself is it even worth visiting Venice in winter or is summer or spring a better time? Well, if you’re not sure, let me help you out!
In this guide, I’ll share the main reasons why I believe it’s worth visiting the Lagoon city during the cold season as well as what the weather is like and how to prepare for the rigid temperatures. That way, you can relax and make an informed decision.
Once I have covered what to expect from the weather, I will share a list of things to do in Venice in winter so you know what to do here from December to February.
First let’s look at some of my favourite reasons to be in Venice this winter.
Why visit Venice in winter?
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Let’s delve into the typical weather patterns you can expect to experience in winter.
What about the weather in Venice in winter?
Venice in winter is cold, even if temperatures rarely drop below 0 °C, and humid.
On a positive note, there are fewer rainy days during winter but humidity accentuates the perception of the winter cold so get ready by wearing heavy protective clothing. In my guide on what to wear in Venice I mention winter clothes.
As you can imagine, during this time the days are shorter and most of the time the sky is grey, but you can also expect to get some lovely mild sunny days too.
Even if winter starts on the 21st of December and finishes on the 21st of March, December is considered as a winter month whereas March is considered spring.
Venice in December
If you decide to visit Venice in December you can make the most of the Christmas atmosphere. Nothing beats walking around the narrow streets, piazzas and bridges adorned with Christmas lights reflecting on the canals.
During this month, there are unique things to do and city events. In December you can expect fewer tourists at the beginning of the month (excluding the Ponte dell’Immacolata), but around Christmas day and New Year’s Eve a larger influx of visitors arrive to the city.
The most popular things to do in Venice in December are:
Venice in January
Most crowds leave Venice after the New Year celebrations and Epiphany, which is largely celebrated in Italy bringing a lot of tourists from other parts of Italy to Venice.
After the first week of January, you can literally see empty streets, water buses, museums and campi. This is a good time to visit the city as flights and accommodation prices drop.
Then, when it comes to visiting Venice in January there are some events which are lesser known but still worth joining, for example: the Epiphany Regatta on the Grand Canal, Italian Flag Day on the 7th of January, Tu B’Shvat by the end of the month, which is a good occasion to visit the Jewish Quarter.
Depending on the year, Carnival could fall on the last days of the month. This is the biggest celebration in Venice and one of the world’s most famous Carnivals!
Bear in mind that this event attracts many visitors that want to see the famous Venetian masks and costumes and join the different celebrations going on all around the city. Temperatures during this month are similar to December, and range between 0 and 7 °C.
Make sure to carry with you heavy clothing, in particular a winter coat and waterproof sneakers or boots as rain and high tide (acqua alta) can be expected.
Venice in February
Even if in February Venice is still cold, grey and humid, there’s one big event that turns the city into the liveliest place to be in Europe: Carnival! The Carnival celebrations last 2 weeks and dates change every year.
During this time, many tourists arrive in Venice, transforming the whole city into a whirlwind of colourful eccentric masks and costumes.
There’s a constant flow of events in St. Mark’s Square, the very heart of the city, and inside palaces where masquerade private parties are held, you can experience how Carnival was celebrated in the Serenissima Republic days of Venice.
I invite you to read my guide that talks all about the best things to do in Venice in February so you can learn exactly what else is happening during this month.
It’s also worth reminding you that Venice is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world so why not celebrate Valentine’s Day with your other half here?
Finally, at the top of my list of favourite activities to do in Venice, there is always a bacaro tour and a visit to an art exhibition or a museum in the city.
What to wear in venice in winter
This is what I suggest carrying in your bag/luggage to face winter in Venice:
Finally, see the table below with the average temperatures in Venice in winter:
|1 – 8 °C
|0 – 7 °C
|1 – 9 °C
Things to do in Venice in winter
After my overview of what to expect when visiting Venice in winter and each month, here’s a list of the unmissable things to do in the Floating city when it’s cold.
Visit the Christmas markets in Venice and Mestre
Christmas time means Christmas markets of course, and even in Venice historic centre, Mestre and in the rest of the lagoon you can visit them. Market stalls attract locals and tourists with cheerful colours, lights, artisanal products, food and drinks.
In the Venice historic centre you can visit the popular Christmas markets in Campo Santo Stefano and in Mestre go to Piazza Ferretto. If you like the idea of visiting other islands in the Venetian lagoon, you can get a water bus to Murano or Burano.
From 2023, for the first time, in Burano there are some Christmas market stalls and also in the Lido of Venice where you can get by vaporetto line 1, 5.1, 5.2, 6, 10 and 14 to Lido Santa Maria Elisabetta. Usually the markets begin from the end of November and last till the end of the first week of January.
Celebrating the New Year’s Eve in St. Mark’s Square
Spending New Year’s Eve in Venice means saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new one with a spectacular surrounding.
In St. Mark’s Square you can immerse yourself in a magical atmosphere, celebrate with your loved ones, and enjoy music and other shows in the beautiful square.
You can go out for dinner (book your table a few days in advance!) and then go to St. Mark’s Square where the entertainment will continue at least until midnight.
You’ll see more and more people gathering around the Square and along Riva degli Schiavoni to watch the fireworks show lighting up the St. Mark’s basin, in front of the Arsenale.
Attend a New Year’s concert
As per tradition, the 1st of January at La Fenice Theatre takes place the most important concert of the year: the New Year’s concert.
The concert is divided in two parts: orchestral and opera. Since this is the most popular concert you can attend in the country, tickets are available one year in advance and get sold very fast.
In case you don’t get the chance to go to this concert, there are many others taking place in churches and palaces of the city.
For example, you can go to the New Year’s concert of the Musici Veneziani, during which the most talented Venetian musicians and singers perform.
Visiting famous attractions with no queues
Excluding important events such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Carnival, you can take advantage of the reduced influx of visitors that arrive in Venice in winter to explore the best museums and art exhibitions with no queues.
Visiting museums in Venice is also a great idea when the weather is adverse and you rather spend some time indoors. During winter you can explore the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, the most popular attractions of the city, at a slower pace and, most of the time, without queuing at their entrance.
You can either take it easy and walk around at your own pace knowing you won’t feel in a rush to move on by the presence of other tourists or book a tour.
I recommend booking this guided tour and let the guide explain important historic facts and curiosities as you admire the beauty and treasures preserved inside them.
Other museums you can visit without the usual big crowds of the summer months: Gallerie dell’Accademia, Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Correr Museum, just to mention a few.
Join the Venice Carnival’s celebrations
The Venetian Carnival is famous all over the world and for 2 weeks you can see the city completely changing its face and reviving traditions of one of the oldest Carnivals in the world!
Visitors from all over arrive in Venice to see the traditional masks and costumes walking around the city’s streets and St. Mark’s Square. There are couple of shows worth joining are the ‘Salto dell’Angelo’, the opening show, Festa delle Marie and ‘Svolo del Leon’, the closing show.
There’s also a lot more going on in the city during Carnival: music shows, mediaeval dances, private masquerade parties and floating parades.
The fun is non-stop! Only during this time of the year you can try traditional sweet treats like the fritole and crostoli, so be sure to go to a pastry shop to try them!
Book a romantic stay to celebrate Valentine’s Day
Venice is the perfect destination for couples looking to spend a romantic and unforgettable stay.
There are many ways to celebrate love in Venice, simply by watching a fiery sunset holding your lover’s hand on top of Rialto Bridge, Riva degli Schiavoni or Zattere promenade (my favourite place) for example.
Or, if you want to spark that wow factor, take a private gondola ride on the Grand Canal or have a candlelit dinner in one of the city’s many elegant restaurants.
All in all, the options are pretty vast and you are literally spoilt for choice! You can start off well by booking your stay in a romantic hotel with canal view like at the luxurious Gritti Palace or at the 4 star hotel H10 Palazzo Canova that counts on a lovely rooftop bar from where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Grand Canal.
Go on a bacaro tour
You can’t leave Venice without visiting a bacaro first! If you’re visiting Venice in winter, you can find shelter from the cold, the rain or acqua alta in a bacaro.
The bacaro is a small tavern where you’ll be served by the innkeeper exactly like it was in the past. At the bacaro you can drink the ‘ombra de vin’ which is a small glass of red wine or the popular Venetian Spritz (one of my all-time favourite drinks).
It’s a tradition to pair your drink with some cicchetti, (small savoury bites similar to Spanish tapas) such as the crostini with baccalà mantecato, mozzarella in carrozza or polpette. ‘Andar per bacari’ is a ritual for Venetians and you should do it too.
Head over Fondamenta de la Misericordia, Fondamenta dei Tolentini or to the Erbaria near the Rialto Market to find the best bacari in the city or join this bacaro tour (with a local guide) if you are in a rush or visiting for a short amount of time.
Visiting Venice in winter
If you wasn’t 100% convinced before, now you know that Venice in winter is really worth visiting and there are many reasons why it’s much better than the summer.
Despite the cold temperatures, Venice during this time of the year is more liveable and enjoyable. You can walk its empty streets and campi with no crowds as well as visit the most popular attractions while seamlessly avoiding the tourist queues.
There are also many activities you can do indoors if the weather is unfavourable, like visiting art museums, galleries, going to the bacaro or going shopping.
See my guide that showcases the best things to do in Venice for more inspiration.
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