Part 1 of Venice Travel Blog Series: Exploring Venice in Winter. With lesser crowd and festive mood, exploring Venice in winter will make you fall in love with this over-commercialised and touristy destination
I never understood the hype about Venice! Italy is my favorite country in Europe, but in all our previous trips we made a conscious decision to avoid Venice. I mean, sure there are canals and gondolas, but what’s the point of them anyways when you will get frustrated navigating the crowds and paying hefty tourist rates everywhere? But exploring Venice in Winter completely changed my perception about this cozy little island. We spent 3 gorgeous days hunting for perfect pastas, enjoying local wines in cozy little wine bars and searching for hole in the wall coffee shops and in return fell head over heals in love with the charm of this island. Bonus – the crowds in winter didn’t frustrate us as much. So, here is our guide for everything you need to know to plan a perfect winter getaway to Venice.
How to reach Venice
Short answer is that Venice is very accessible and you can reach by bus, train or car. The cheaper way of traveling to Venice is definitely by bus. Check out Flixbus, one of the most cheap & convenient ways of traveling within Europe.
Where to Stay in Venice
We highly recommend staying somewhere central in Venice, even if it costs a bit higher than other places. Travelling between spots is a bit tough as you need to walk everywhere. There are water taxis in Venice but they cost quite a bit. Also, you have to walk to that specific pick-up point near the canal and later to your destination anyways.
We stayed at Residence Castello Venezia. Even though the room was spacious and pretty decent of the money we paid, we made a mistake of staying away from the central area and were walking 20k steps per day minimum during our stay. During off season i.e. winter the hotels are very reasonable throughout Venice, so our recommendation would be to stay somewhere central which will help you minimise all the walking.
Some of the places you could consider for your stay are –
- Renato Apartment: Very cosy spacious apartment, which is just 350m from St. Mark’s Square
- Casa Margherita: Apartment with a small kitchen and again in the heart of Venice, very close to Rialto bridge.
- Residenza al Volto: How cute is their little terrace? Again, very cosy apartment and very central spot.
What to wear in Venice during winter
Don’t underestimate the winter weather in Venice. We live in Ireland and we felt it was colder in Venice as compared to Dublin . Expect the weather to be between 0 degree celsius to about 8 degree celsius with chances of rain. We were lucky to get a dry spell during the 3 days we were in Venice, but the island is known for flooding during winters. We would recommend you to wear good boots, thermals and warm down jacket during your stay. I wore dresses with boots and tights and layered it up with a warm down jacket and occasional cardigan / scarf and felt cold only at night. But I also have higher tolerance for cold and wind as we live in Ireland.
Since Venice is known for flooding during winter, we would suggest keeping a close watch on the weather before your trip. 1 month before our trip, Venice experienced the worst floods in last 50 years, and there were news of floods again, just a day before our travel. However, we chose to speak to our accommodation host before cancelling our trip and he assured that everything was fine on the island.
Venice during Christmas
Since we were travelling through Italy during Christmas break (reached Venice on 25th December), we thought it would be good to provide a few details on what to expect during the holiday season.
- Restaurants: The well rated local restaurants will be closed on the 25th December, and some will even be closed on the 26th December. However, you will find good few touristy spots open even on the 25th, were you will be able to dine in. For sure, not the kind of food you would want to eat in Italy, but probably something is better than nothing. By 26th afternoon, a lot of places started opening up again, so we really had to only adjust one day.
- Sites, museums & shops: Most of the shops and all museums will closed on the 25th. However, roaming around the beautiful streets of Venice will be much calmer as you won’t be distracted by numerous shops selling souvenirs and things you would care less about.
Our recommendation would be to definitely make that trip happen on Christmas eve and Christmas day, if you are thinking of traveling. Exploring Venice in Winter and especially during festive season will only add more sparkle to your travel.
If you are planning trips around Italy, check out our other articles:
- The most stunning road trip through Tuscany
- Perfect getaway to this gorgeous beach destination of Italy – Positano
- Finding the most amazing Pizza in Naples
- Renting a self driven boat in Capri
- Explore the streets & colosseum of Rome
- Top 5 experiences in Milan
Exploring Venice in Winter
We want to begin this section, with a disclaimer that we are not museum kind of people. So, most of the sites we visited were different view points and areas around Venice. Of course Venice houses the famous Doge’s Palace and the Basilica di San Marco but we never went inside.
Get Lost: This was easily my favorite thing to do in Venice. We walked for hours, exploring every canal, and search of new cafes and wine bars. You will enjoy exploring the numerous narrow streets and cute canal spots in Venice!
Gondola rides: It goes without saying and this is almost everyone’s bucket list! Just keep in mind to make note of start timings before you get on a gondola, as chances are they might give you a shorter ride.
St. Mark’s Square: It’s the main square of Venice and you can’t miss it even if you want to. The architecture is amazing and the Basilica di San Marco looks so pretty from outside. Our tip would be to go to the square early in the morning, to avoid crowd and enjoy few moments of calm before the tour groups arrive and crowd the place.
Bridge of Sighs: This bridge is one of the most famous bridges in Venice and is an enclosed one, made with limestone and has windows with stone bars. You can walk on this bridge as a part of your visit to Doge’s Palace. We choose to avoid palace tour and enjoyed the view from outside.
Rialto Bridge: It’s one of the oldest bridge in Venice and supper stunning. Visit this place during sunset and enjoy the view of Grand Canal and gorgeous Venetian architecture.
Ponte Dell’Accademia: Highly recommend visiting this bridge during sunset, if you enjoy a gorgeous view or are into photography. This is the Venice you would have seen in million photos over the internet – so charming.
Cannaregio Area: If you are looking for some quite time away from the crowds and tourists, head towards the Cannaregio area for more authentic local feel of Venice. The architecture looks quite different here and the cafes and shops are more local and charming. We really enjoyed our time hanging out in this area.
Burano Island: If you have the luxury of one additional day, we would highly recommend making a day trip to this beautiful island. The colourful houses, and the casual eateries will definitely leave a mark in your heart for ever. We will definitely make it here during our next visit to Venice.
PS: It breaks my heart that I lost most of my photos from Venice. I formatted my memory card without taking backup and overwrote the card with new photos. By the time I realised, I had lost 70% of my photos from the trip which can never be recovered again. Most of the photos here are from my iPhone. Well, there is always a hope for next time!