When is the best time to visit?
Venice has visitors year-round but most Venice flights and hotels are packed from April to October, especially the periods from Easter to June and September through October. Christmas, New Year, and Carnevale (February) are also very busy. If you plan on visiting during these times, make your reservations in advance.
Once a year in August, a number of important names from the movie world flock to Venice for the Venice International Film Festival. This 11-day festival takes place along the main, sea facing Lido esplanade.
Early spring may be the best time to visit. September has the next best weather, but October has fewer crowds.
The rain in November and December often causes flooding, and you may end up walking in water. With the dampness the winters can also be cool and sometimes the city is blanketed in snow, but this is also a great time to find cheap flights to Venice and discounted hotel rates.
Grand canals and singing gondoliers provide the backdrop to the romantic city of Venice. Enter a world where cars are banned and bridges keep the city connected. In Venice, everyone travels by boat. Hop on board for an experience of a lifetime.
Along the narrow canals are small wine bars and intimate restaurants packed with locals and tourists. Venice’s historic centre is dividing into six quarters – San Marco, Dorsoduro, San Polo, Santa Croce, Cannaregio and Castello. Visitors can explore each quarter by hopping on a gondola and travelling down the Grand Canal, which intersects each district. The most famous of all, San Marco, can become very crowded with tourists in the summer and prices rise in the restaurants and cafés surrounding the popular square. Many travellers visit Venice during the off-season to avoid some of the crowds, not to mention the heat and the smells from the canals that float through the town in August. But at any time of year the jaw-dropping beauty of Venice is bound to impress. The town was once the centre of Italy’s commercial greatness and the palazzos and churches of the Renaissance period are spectacular.
Summers (June to August) are hot and sticky with daytime temperatures around 27 degrees and higher. The pollution limits the view, and the sirocco winds bring in more heat from the south. Late afternoon thunderstorms often hit briefly in the summer. Winter starts with heavy rains, and there is a chance of flooding in November and December. January and February are the coldest months with temperatures ranging from -1 to +7 degrees. Spring is clear and crisp with lots of rain into June.
Getting around Venice
Venice’s unique geography limits transportation to two methods: walking and boating. Cars and bicycles are banned in the city, but you can take water buses/ferries, water taxis and gondolas. The water buses (vaporetti) mainly serve the Grand Canal and you’ll have to wrestle with crowds in the summer. Water taxis aren’t cheap, and they’ll cost extra if you have large bags or are travelling at night, on Sundays or holidays. While gondolas may be the quintessential Venetian form of transport, they’re also very costly. Walking is the most enjoyable way to get around the city. Embrace getting lost. The city isn’t very big and wandering through unknown streets and squares is part of its charm.
Getting from the airport
A waterboat service and water taxis run from Venice airport (VCE) to Venice. Taxis are also available. A bus service runs every 20 minutes to Venice-Mestre railway station. Once off the flight, getting onto a boat is an interesting and original way to arrive at your final destination.
Venice insider information
- The bridges are instantly recognizable - Rialto Bridge, Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) and Ponte degli Scalzi (Bridge of the Barefoot). Ponte dell'Accademia gets its name from the Accademia di Belle Arti, Venice’s school of art, which has a magnificent collection of paintings by artists including brothers Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, Canaletto, Tintoretto and Titian.
- Tour of the Doge (the residence of the ruler of Venice) includes the administrative offices, torture chambers and the prison cell from which Casanova, the famous adventurer, writer and lover, escaped.
- While touring the Grand Canal (the main street) by vaporetto (waterbus) or gondola, feast your eyes on the palaces. The most sublime are the Doge’s Palace, Palazzo Grassi, Ca' d'Oro (Palazzo Santa Sofia) and Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which houses the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
- The Piazza San Marco is dominated by Saint Mark's Basilica, which was built in the 11th century. The remains of Saint Mark the Evangelist, Venice’s patron saint, lie in the basilica.
- The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St Mary of Health/Salvation) is known as the Salute, and is one of the largest – and most beautiful – churches in Venice. It owes its existence to the plague, or more correctly, in 1630 with the city ravaged by plague, the Senate decreed that if Venice was spared further deaths, they would build a new church and dedicate it to the Virgin Mary.
- Take a day trip from Venice to the outlying islands in the lagoon; Murano, for its glass work, or Burano for its lace. Torcello, meanwhile, has a 7th-century cathedral. And there is also the beach of Lido di Venezia.
- For a taste of “local” Venice, head to the Rialto Market. That’s where Venetians go to buy fish and vegetables.