Things to do in Venice
As mentioned, you’d need a lifetime to see and do it all in Venice, but these are some of the best things to do for those who don’t have that luxury.
Vacations to Venice, Italy FAQ
Mid-spring and early to mid-fall are arguably the best times to enjoy sightseeing in Venice. If you’re flexible with your plans, the first half of May is the sweet spot with the sun typically coming out daily while the temperatures are quite pleasant. The big crowds of summer haven’t arrived just yet so you can avoid the longest lines. The second half of September and early October is the next best time to come. The summer crowds will have thinned, and the temperatures won’t be brutally hot. While the off-season, roughly November through March outside of the Christmas holidays, won’t have any of the sweat or crowds, sights may have shorter hours, often closing as early as 5 p.m. The vaporetto stops will be more limited too, which means if you stay outside of San Marco you may not be able to reach it early or return late.
While Carnivale is of the biggest celebrations in the country, Venice is the biggest and the best. It kicks off two Saturdays before Ash Wednesday and concludes on Fat Tuesday. Visiting between this period, you’ll see people wearing Venetian masks and have the opportunity to watch concerts, street performances, a candlelit boat parade, and other events that are free and open to the public. Getting into the lavish masquerade balls requires an invitation and a steep ticket price. There isn’t much that happens during the first week, especially on weekdays, other than Campo San Polo which hosts a skating rink and a few low-key events anyway. It gets much more lively closer to Carnival Day, or Shrove Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday. On the weekends, the streets will be flooded with visitors, so you’ll want to prepare for the crowds, along with the fun.
One of the top things to do for Venice visitors is to take a famous gondola ride through the canals. It’s possible to do all year round but it’s the least enjoyable during the peak of the tourist season, June through August, when you’ll have to navigate through the masses under the blazing hot sun. If you come just outside the peak season, in April/May or September/October, the weather will be more pleasant and the number of tourists won’t be as bad either. The very best time for a gondola ride in Venice, and the most romantic, is in the winter. There will be less boat traffic and you won’t have to worry about elbowing your way through the crowds. Just bundle up a bit and take advantage of the blankets that are available to keep warm. While it’s beautiful at sunset, going in the late morning or early afternoon brings better light for photographs.
While many consider spring and early fall the best time to visit Venice in terms of weather, with lots of sun and beautiful, warm days, there will be many other visitors enjoying it too. Of course, summer draws countless tourists simply because it’s the time when many enjoy vacations from school and work. The best time to visit Venice if you want to avoid the biggest crowds is between November and February outside of the Christmas holidays, and Carnivale, although perhaps less so. November may be the sweet spot as you might feel as if you’re the only tourist, surrounded by locals on cool, foggy mornings. Just keep in mind that this is also the high water season, which means the city is more likely to experience flooding. Dealing with it has been a way of life for Venetians for centuries, so you’re unlikely to be stranded for more than a few hours.
A bustling hub for some seven centuries, the Rialto Market is always busy with locals and tourists alike. It will be overflowing with seasonal, colorful fresh produce from artichokes and cherries to peaches. The crowds remain consistent no matter what the time of year, with little difference between summer and winter, other than the weather. Instead of planning your visit by season or month, consider the best time of day to explore the market, which is in the early morning hours on Fridays and Saturdays, before 9 a.m. This is a great time to enjoy the Rialto Bridge and a more serene scene for checking out the fruits, vegetables, and the local fish. The market is open on Tuesdays through Saturdays from about 7:30 a.m. and starts winding down after lunch. Be aware that the seafood stalls will be closed on Mondays, but the fruit and vegetable vendors will be available.
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