Travel to Venice in winter to embrace its magical and enchanting beauty!
One of the most unique and interesting times to visit Italy is during the winter. It is the season when crowds are scarcer, and the temperature is optimal for deep contemplation of its majestic urbanscape. Venice in winter also offers a chance to see the magnificent facades of its palaces, villas and cathedrals in mist or under snow. A magical sight to see. It is also one of the best places to visit on a European girls trip!
To get the most out of your wintery stay in Venice check out the top 10 things to do when visiting Venice in winter.
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In This Post
Best Things to do in Venice in Winter
Pay a visit to Saint Mark’s Basilica
- When: All winter (inside is usually open from 9.30 till 5)
- Where: Saint Mark’s Square
- Price: Free (5 euros to enter the museum)
Travelling to Venice in winter reveals a whole new palette of colours. It is most striking at the city’s magnificent St. Mark’s square and its centrepiece, Saint-Marc Basilica, dating back to 1094.
It is one of the best landmarks to visit in Venice in winter because its facade acquires new colours if you compare it to the summer when the heat takes away some of the majestic cold notes. Which are made possible by the unique distinct sunlight of winter.
Celebrate Christmas and Epiphany at the Regata de Befana
- When: January
- Where: Grand Canal; from St. Toma to Rialto Bridge
- Price: Free
Italy is one of the most religious countries in Europe so visiting it in winter can be especially cool because of the numerous Christmas rites, and events held all around. For example, Venice in winter is arguably one of Italy’s best places to celebrate Christmas with not only Christmas services held in its churches, but also various events taking place to mark the birth of Jesus.
One of the most important Christmas Festivals is Epiphany, unfolding on the 6th of January. It marks the day when three kings came to visit the Baby Jesus. It represents the last day of the Christmas holiday and is especially beloved by the Venetians.
The best place to celebrate Epiphany is Regata de Befana, a rowing regatta race. Part of the Venetian folklore, Befana is an old witch, which on the 6 of January delivers presents to good children and coal to the bad ones. Masqueraded as Befanas, 50 rowers race from S. Tomà to the Rialto Bridge, to create the feeling of festive nonchalance and union.
The finish line is marked by an enormous sock hanging from Rialto Bridge.
The Befana is one of the most popular traditions in the collective imagination of the Venetians. Dating to pre-Christian traditions, the witch legend is observed on the city’s every corner at the Epiphany, with socks hanging out of windows and old Befanas weighing merits of the new generations of young Venetians.
Note that other things to do in Venice at Christmas include Christmas Santa run; Procession of the Nativity; Midnight Mass at St. Mark’s; Production of Hand-blown glass; Shopping for gifts; Christmas Markets.
Pay a visit to Campo San Stefano, Venice’s famed Christmas Market
- When: From 1st December to 1st week of January.
- Where: San Stefano Square
- Price: Free
One of the best things to do in Venice in winter is to go to a Christmas Market. The city’s most important Christmas bazaar is San Stefano, situated on San Stefano Square. Travel here to revel in its unique holiday atmosphere, heightened by concerts, street musicians, exquisite decorations and copies of Venice’s main landmarks.
Here you can find 30 small wooden cabins where craftsmen sell marbled paper, traditional Carnival masks, ceramics, and jewelry.
There is also a special section of the market where food producers hawk such delicacies as upscale olive oils, traditional sweets and cakes, high-quality balsamic vinegar, mouthwatering nougat, fruit-filled panettone sweet bread from nearby Verona, packages of local pasta, Italian almond biscuits, dried porcini mushrooms, sugar-syrup-boiled chestnuts and delicacies made with rare white truffles from Alba.
Note that the square is located in Sestiere de Dorsoduro, near famous Venice sites like Peggy Guggenheim Museum; not far from Gallerie del Academia, and is a walking distance from Saint Marco’s Square.
Head to the Venice Carnival
- When: 12th February 2022 – Tuesday 1st March 2022.
- Where: All over Venice
- Price: Even though most processions and water parades are free to watch, most organized events are paid, with prices most often within the range of 100 euros.
Occurring between the 19th of February 2022 and the 1st of March 2022, the period of unbounded revelry is the best time to visit Venice in winter. It all starts on the 12th of February 2022 with a Feast on Water at Rio di Cannaregio, one of Venice’s most beautiful canals. The event is known as one of the most stunning spectacles in Venice with boatloads of masqueraded Venetians showcasing the inexhaustible imagery of the Venice carnival.
The carnival proper begins on the 19th of February with a host of workshops and processions, most notable of which is the Maries Celebration Parade starting at 14.30 at San Pietro di Castello Church, and ending at Saint-Mark Square by Via Garibaldi and along Saint-Mark Basin. The week through 1st March 2022 is full of events such as Carnival Galas, Costume Contests and the like, most of which are paid but are worth it.
Head to Campo San Polo Ice Rink
- When: 7th December- 24th February
- Where: Campo San Polo
- Price: 12 euros for entry and 10 euros for ice-skates
One of the best things to do in Venice in Winter is to go ice-skating. Venetians made San Polo Square, the city’s second-largest, their ice skating place of choice, with a zippy ice-rink in a scenic location reminiscent of an old European town square.
It is complete with ice-skates rentals, cafes, restaurants and even a Christmas Market of its own. Head to San Polo Square, for a meet-up with friends, a solitary ice skating exercise, or a tryst with your significant other. Note that San Polo Square is one of the most picturesque locations to take selfies in Venice in Winter.
Sail in a Gondola
- When: Year round
- Where: At specifically designated gondola stations or through a hotel
- Price: 80-100 euros for half an hour depending on the time of the day
Venice in winter is unimaginable without sailing aboard a gondola, a world-renowned Venetian boat and a favourite means of transport of the prosperous Venetians of old. Navigated by a gondolier, one of about 400 members of the gondolier guild, the boat is made up of 8 different kinds of wood and both look and feel like a work of art; a Ferrari among the boats.
Sailing in it under the scenic bridges, and along picture-perfect canals is a one-of-a-kind experience that gives you a chance not only to take great photos of Venice in winter but also uncover the unique and hard-to-reach destinations which are otherwise inaccessible. Rent a gondola and go on a tour of Venice in Winter from the water.
Note that one can arrange for a gondolier to sing, something which can make a date truly romantic
Walk on the Grand Rialto Bridge
- When: All year round
- Where: Grand Rialto Bridge
- Price: Free
One of the best places to delight in Venice in winter is Grand Rialto Bridge. Looking on the majestic and mighty Grand Canal, the Grand Rialto Bridge is known as a favourite spot for young lovers, and tourists in search of a perfect photo spot. What is more, it is also a historic landmark, being one of Venice’s four oldest Grand Canal-spanning bridges, and boasting a masterful relief of Saint-Marc on one of its sides at that.
Pay a visit to Doge’s Palace
- When: Year round 10am-6pm
- Where: San Marco’s Square
- Price: 28 euros, with a visit to Saint Mark’s Basilica priced in
One of the city’s main architectural landmarks, the Italian Gothic palace is also a great Venice in winter destination to pay a visit to because of its facades rendered especially beautiful by the city’s hibernal mists and Winter-only light.
Built in 1340 it was the residence of the powerful Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former republic, and one of the city’s most grand houses. Now it has been converted into a museum which is one of the best places to get warm and take delight in great historical exhibits in Venice.
Go to Teatro La Fenice
- When: All year round
- Where: Campo S. Fantin
- Price: Entry without performance 10 euros
One of the world’s most famous opera houses, Teatro La Fenice stands out for its magnificent spacious interior and stunning if somewhat solemn facade. It is one of the best places to visit in Venice in winter with some of the world’s best Opera performances taking place there.
Note that it is also one of the best places to socialize in Venice with the world’s creme de la creme of Opera lovers heading to Venice to celebrate their winter holiday and attend the world-famous La Fenice Christmas concert.
Sail to Joseph Brodsky’s grave
- When: All year round
- Where: Saint Michele’s Island
- Price: Free, not counting the vaporetto ticket
Located on one of Venice’s most stunning islands, the San Michele’s Cemetery is one of the most literary cemeteries in the world and one of the top landmarks to visit in Venice in winter. Here are buried a number of prominent figures among whom are world-famous Sergei Diaghilev, a Ballet entrepreneur, and Igor Stravinsky, a music wizard, but also one of the poets whose odes to Venice are among the world’s best: Joseph Brodsky.
Joseph Brodsky, author of the Watermark, which starts with a scene on a December night in Venice in Winter was a true lover of Venice, visiting it only during winter months, so it might be best to pay a visit to his grave in that season. If headed to his grave fetch a pack of cigarettes for the old chain-smoker to cheer up there in heavens.
Note that the cemetery is accessible by a Vaporetto, a Venetian ferry which is one of the best means of transport to travel around in Venice in Winter.
Best Venice Tours
How to Get From The Airport to Venice
Where to Stay in Venice
With so much to do and see in Venice in winter, a visit is a must.
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I spent time in Venice during winter and loved every minute. Apart from the cold and sometimes wet weather we did and saw all the things tourists see and do. Thanks for the inspiration.
Sarah McDonald says
I love seeing places off-season. Carnival looks amazing!