Venice in winter is absolutely magical. To those that say Venice is crowded, smelly and unpleasant, I ask, “Well, when did you visit?” Because, I went in winter and it was wonderful. The only thing I smelt was pasta cooking.
Once busy narrow alleyways were completely empty at times and I felt like I had Venice to myself. I could see how the pathways and bridges could get crowded in high season, but not in winter. However, there were still enough people that it didn’t feel like a ghost town.
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When to Visit
We visited in the middle of January and several restaurants and bars that I wanted to try were closed. The few weeks between New Years Eve and Carnival are when some local businesses take their vacation. So if you have your heart set on a particular place to eat, make sure they’ll be open for your trip.
In January, the Christmas lights were still hanging in Piazza San Marco and throughout the city. The lights made Venice in winter even more magical.
If you want to see Venice at its liveliest, consider going in early February to experience Carnival.
Another perk about Venice in winter is that the sunrise is much later. You can catch stunning sunrises like this one at around 7:30 or 8 am.
Weather in Venice during Winter
Highs can hover in the mid 40s and 50s with the lows in the 30s. So, it can get quite cold. Well, what this California gal considers “cold.” While rainfall averages 4-6 days per month, be prepared for acqua alta. Venice has suffered through horrible flooding in recent years.
I saw areas of light flooding in Piazza San Marco during my trip. While I didn’t have to get plastic protective covers to walk around, I was thankful I was wearing my light rain boots.
Where to Stay
With the exception of Carnival, hotel costs also drop considerably during in winter. I chose Hotel Bisanzio for its location and classic Venetian rooms. We couldn’t have been happier with our choice.
Prefer to rent an apartment? Check out this two bedroom apartment located right on the canal. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly sit on that balcony for hours and watch the boat traffic go by.
Things to do in Venice in Winter
Take advantage of the short lines (and the indoor heating!) and visit Venice’s most famous museums. The cafe inside Museum Correr is also the perfect spot to warm up with a coffee and take in the views of the famous piazza below.
We barely saw a handful of people as we walked through the Bridge of Sighs and Doge’s Palace, usually the most crowded attractions. We didn’t have to wait in lines to get our museum passes or to see special exhibits.
I didn’t see any gondola lines either. Since taking a gondola ride is one of the most popular things to do in Venice, I was quite surprised.
Actually, the only line I waited in the entire weekend was for gelato. The weather was quite mild and we still enjoyed the frozen treat every day.
This couple even thought it was warm enough to eat outside.
Then at the end of the day, enjoy the sunset from the top of the DFS department store rooftop terrace. No waiting. No reservations. You should most definitely make a reservation though if you’re visiting in the peak season because this is THE spot to be for views of Venice.
You should really consider visiting Venice in winter. You might even see a Venetian in their finest winter coat.
Have you ever been to Venice? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.