The best time to visit Venice

a month-by-month guide

What’s the best time to visit Venice? Weather, temperatures, high tides, festivals and events, tourist numbers and many other variables make each season different. Each month has its pros and cons and special character.

Venice in January

a Venice piazza in winter
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January is the quietest month of the year in Venice. From December until Carnival in February is the best time to go if you like to avoid crowds. It’s also the best time for cheap airfares. January is the coldest month but this is great for walking around the city and popping in and out of cafes for hot chocolate.

Venice is magical with or without sun. One day you get the atmospheric fogs and greyness that you might remember from the film Don’t Look Now. Another brings glorious sunshine. If you are lucky enough to have snow, the piazzas could not look more beautiful. One of the sights at this the time of year is the elegant elderly Venetian ladies heavily wrapped up in their beautiful furs.

Events in January

January 1 – A national holiday, and many bathers celebrate it with a cold dip in the sea at the Lido. Join them!

January 5 – Epiphany Eve, Panevin
Panevin is an old Italian tradition. It’s a huge bonfire that is lit in celebration of the winter solstice. It takes place in areas around Venice such as Jesolo and Malamocco on the Lido.

January 6 Epiphany, Festa della Befana
A national holiday in Italy. The tradition is that La Befana, an old witch, flies over the cities and fills the houses in Italy with gifts. Children hang out stockings for sweets.

Regatta della Befana
Regatta della Befana
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In Venice this holiday is celebrated by the Regatta della Befana on the Grand Canal! Men dressed as witches race in boats from San Toma to the Rialto Bridge. There are only a few boats but it’s a popular event to watch. It usually starts at 11 a.m but get there early for a good view near the Rialto Bridge, then watch them paddling madly towards the winning post. Afterwards, mulled wine and hot chocolate is served along the Fondamenta del Vin beside the Rialto.

Carnival (see ‘Events’ in February) can start towards the end of January in some years, depending on the date of Lent in the Christian calendar. Check the dates at http://www.carnevale.venezia.it/en/.

Temperature in January

The beginning of January typically sees almost 9 hours of sunlight. Daily average temperature is around 3°C (37°F), with highs of 6°C (43°F) and lows of 0°C (32°F). By the end of the month, averages are around 4°C (39°F), with highs of 7°C (45°F) and lows of 0.5°C (33°F).

 Venice in February

The beginning of February is carnival time in Venice (See ‘Events’ below). Temperatures are rising and blue skies are common. It’s often possible to eat and drink sitting outside, and if you find that’s the case, try the restaurants on the waterfront at Zattere in Dorsoduro, which always catch the best of the midday and afternoon sun. On the other hand, be prepared for romantic and atmospheric grey skies and mists. Once Carnival is over, this is another ideal time to enjoy a quiet Venice before the tourists really start to arrive.

Events in February
masked lady at Venice carnival
masked lady at Venice carnival

It’s Carnival! This world-famous event takes place in the two weeks before Lent, ending on Shrove Tuesday. This is roughly the first two weeks of February, but the exact dates vary each year so check it out at http://www.carnevale.venezia.it/en/.  We don’t recommend going to Venice for the first time during Carnival. The central streets are so crowded that you can barely shuffle along them, let alone enjoy the main attractions which you have probably come to see. Most of the locals leave the city during this time! But if you go especially for the carnival, it is one of the greatest theatrical pageants of the world. Go to the kick-off in St Mark’s Square. Watch the Flight of the Angel from the Campanile and the fantastic procession of costumes and masks. Then for two weeks there is posing and entertainment in squares all over the city. You can obtain a list of events from Tourist Information in St Mark’s Square. If you want to do Carnival in high style, buy a (very expensive) ticket for a Venetian masked ball and hire the costume to go with it.

Temperature in February

At the beginning of February there’s around 9:45 hours of sunlight. Daily average temperature is around 4°C (39°F), with highs of 7°C (45°F) and lows of 0.5°C (33°F). By the end of the month the sunlight increases beyond 11 hours, with averages of 6°C (44°F), highs of 10°C (50°F) and lows of 2°C (36°F).

Venice in March

It’s getting a bit warmer – spring is definitely in the air! March is still a quiet month in Venice. Carnival is over but the main tourist season has not yet begun. One of the best times to visit Venice.

Events in March

March 8 Festa della Donna (Women’s day)
The day is often celebrated by going out to eat. If you want to go out too, you may need to make a reservation.

Easter and Holy Week. Holy week (the week before Easter) happens in late March or early April. Unlike in Rome, the city itself seems mostly unaffected.  On Good Friday, at around dusk, all the lights are turned off inside St. Mark’s basilica and a fire is lit in the porch. Communion is celebrated.  High Mass on Easter Sunday in The Basilica in St Mark’s is bound to be spectacular and moving.

Temperature in March

The beginning of March sees about 11 hours of sunlight. Daily average temperature is 6°C (44°F), with highs up to 10°C (50°F) and lows around 2°C (36°F). By the end of the month, averages are around 11°C (52°F), highs around 14°C (58°F) and lows around 6°C (44°F).

Venice in April

Still not quite high season, but with pleasant temperatures and not too hot. One of the best times to go.

Events in April

Holy Week. Holy week (the week before Easter) happens in late March or early April (See ‘Events’ in March).

In the second or third week in April there is Su e Zo per i Ponti (up and down the bridges) http://www.suezo.it/en  . It’s a non-competitive walk or run open to everyone including young, old, families and school parties. There are different routes for different ages and drinks are available on the way. It starts in St Mark’s Square.

In mid-April, there is The Settimana delle Beni Culturali (Culture week). During this week, celebrated all over Italy, state-run museums and monuments open for free and sometimes for longer hours. Museums in Venice that take part include the Accademia, the Ca d’Oro, and the Archeological Museum, among others.

Sometime in mid-April there’s The Venice International Boat Show, possibly one of the biggest shows relating to boats, engines and accessories. http://10times.com/venice-international-boatshow

April 25 Festa di San Marco (or Festa di bòcolo)
This is a national holiday and party day in Venice with music and celebrations, dancing and concerts. It celebrates Venice’s patron saint St. Mark. On this day, men traditionally give a ‘bocolo’ or single red rosebud to the women they love.
The date also marks the Liberation of Italy in World War 11, so of course there’s a gondola regatta: The Regata dei Traghetti. It’s a colourful race in which gondoliers compete transporting their passengers between Arsenale across the Grand Canal to Riva di Biasio, around the pole there and back to the Rialto fish market. It starts at about 9.45 a.m. For a view, pick any of the streets along the waterfront from St Mark’s Square to the Viale Giardini Pubblici. Or watch the winners being awarded their prizes under the arches of the Rialto fish market, where refreshments will be served.  Around lunchtime the streets may be quiet as many families have a feast at home, but later on they will spill out and head to St Mark’s for parades, celebrations and the party atmosphere.

Temperatures in April

The beginning of April sees more than 12:45 hours of sunlight. Daily average temperatures are around 11°C (52°F), with highs in 15°C (59°F) and lows in 7°C (45°F). The end of April warms to 14:16 hours of sunlight, and averages of 14°C (58°F), with highs of 18°C (66°F) and lows of 10°C (51°F).

Venice in May

It’s high season, the sun is shining most days but it’s not too hot. The main sights in Venice will be crowded, but there’s no need to stay where the crowds are. Away from St Mark’s and the Rialto, you can still be alone and see a bit of the ‘real’ Venice. If you’re looking for peace, go to the outlying areas of these sestieri:  Cannaregio, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce and parts of Castello. Or you could go for a swim on the beaches at the Lido.

Events in May

This is the first month of the Venice Biennale, a major international arts exhibition held in odd-numbered years from May to November. For exact dates check http://www.labiennale.org/en/Home.html

The Vogalonga is a very popular non-competitive 30-kilometre rowing regatta that takes place each year on a Sunday in May or June. (See ‘Events’ in June for details).

Another  weekend in May is La Festa della Sensa, one of the city’s best known festivals with a water parade of traditional rowing boats from San Mark’s to the Lido, led by the Mayor of Venice and other dignitaries. It’s to celebrate the close bond that the city shares with the sea. There is special focus on the art of Venetain rowing ‘Volga al Veneta’, in which the oarsmen stand up to row with one or two oars. There’s often a programme of accompanying events, such as the Venice Wind Art (Kite International Festival) and a Concert for the Festa della Sensa which takes place at the Ateneo Veneto. www.ateneoveneto.org/

 
Temperatures in May

During May, the temperature rises dramatically. At the beginning, averages are around 15°C (59°F), with highs of 18°C (66°F) and lows of 11°C (52°F). By the end, averages are 19°C (66°F), with highs of 23°C (74°F) and lows of 15°C (60°F).

Venice in June

It’s high season and it’s getting hot, sometimes very hot. The main sights in Venice will be extremely crowded. If you’re looking for a bit of peace, escape to the outlying areas of these sestieri:  Cannaregio, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce and parts of Castello. You can usually still find space on the beaches on the Lido on weekdays.

Events in June

The Vogalonga is a 30km boat race that starts in front of St Mark’s at 9 a.m. and goes over the lagoon before returning and finishing in the Grand Canal.  Any boats that are rowed or paddled can take part including kayaks. There are usually over 1000 boats of all types in the race with amateur crews from all over the world. It’s not competitive, so there are no winners. The official date of the race is only announced 7-8 weeks before, but it is normally held on the second Sunday after Ascension Day. Want to take part? In March or April, you can register for the Vogalonga and check the route and other details.  It is possible to do the Vogalonga without registering, but then you won’t get the poster, t-shirt, diploma and medal.

In early June: The Sant’Erasmo Regatta, Sant’Erasmo Island, with special categories for women and young people.

In the middle of June: Santi Giovanni e Paolo Regatta from the island of Murano to Fondamente Nuove. Its purpose is to encourage enthusiasm for rowing among young Venetians under 25 years old.

Week ending 29 June: Festa di San Pietro, San Pietro in Castello. A lively event on the church green with competitions, concerts, food stands and bouncy castles.

Temperatures in June

June sees a steady rise in temperatures as the month progresses. At the beginning, averages start at 17C (66°F), with highs of 23C (74°F) and lows of 15C (60°F). By the end of the month, averages are around 22C (73°F), highs of 26C (80°F) and lows of 18C (65°F).

Venice in July

July is the height of the high season. The city is hot and extremely crowded. School’s out, it’s beach time, and the Lido and other resorts near the lagoon are also packed.

 Events in July

The Venice jazz Festival. Check dates and details at www.venetojazz.com/en/

A Sunday in early July: Murano regatta Considered by the competitors to be the toughest of Venice’s regattas because of the need to navigate the canals that crisscross the island.

A week in early July: La Festa della Madonna di Marina on the Lido has a programme of events including concerts, plays, fireworks and exhibitions in the beautiful Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Malamocco. There is also the Malamocco  Regatta.

 About the second week of July: La Festa di San Giacomo da l’Orio (Feast of St James) in Campo San Giacomo da l’Orio has a musical programme that lasts a week. Tables and chairs are set up in the little piazza next to the church and barbecues are fired up. There’s chicken, ribs, sausages, grilled vegetables and grilled polenta at cheap prices (all money to charity). There are other restaurants nearby, a pasticceria and a gelateria for dessert. Children play in the piazza and there is music and dancing – a great family atmosphere.

 On the third weekend of July: La Festa del Redentore is a major local festival for Venetians. A temporary bridge on pontoons is built between Zattere in the sestiere of Dorsoduro and the Church of Redentore on the island of Giudecca. On the Saturday night around 7 p.m. boats  decorated with flowers and balloons and full of party goers take their place on the water in front of St Mark’s. Those without boats find a spot on the waterfront for feasting and jollity. Around 11.30 p.m. the waterfront and rooftops are packed for a firework display that takes place over the water between St Mark’s and the Giudecca. Good spots to watch it are either from Giudecca or from the Riva degli Schiavoni. On the Sunday, you can walk across the bridge to Giudecca. The church service in Redentore, held in the presence of the Patriarch of Venice, celebrates Venice’s deliverance from a 16th century plague. In the afternoon there is the Regata del Redentore.  Gondolas are raced Venetian style with two standing oarsmen, up the Guiudecca canal and back to the Redentore church.

A word of warning: Public transport is limited from about 8 p.m. on the Saturday and the vaparettto routes are mostly blocked.

 Temperature in July

The temperature over the month varies only slightly, getting a bit hotter as the month passes. July 1 has an average of 22°C (72°F), with highs of 26°C (80°F) and lows of 18°C (65°F). By the end of the month, averages are still 23°C (74°F), highs 28°C (83°F) and lows of 19°C (67°F).

Venice in August

In August you cannot move for crowds in and near St Marks’ square, on or near the Rialto Bridge and on the vaporetti on the Grand Canal. But even now you can escape the crowds if you just get away from these central areas. Go to outlying parts of these sestieri:  Cannaregio, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce and parts of Castello. And the main sights are quieter in the evening when the day visitors and cruise passengers have gone.

 Events in August

The Venice Film Festival sometimes starts towards the end of August and runs into September, lasting for eleven days. It’s along the main sea-facing Lido esplanade, between the Hotel des Bains and the Excelsior. Check dates online. See www.labiennale.org/en/cinema/

The first Sunday in August: The Pellestrina Regatta on the island of Pellestrina. A peaceful place to escape too if the City’s attractions pale.

Temperature in August

Temperatures begin to go down with the length of the day equally decreasing. August 1 sees about 14:45 hours of sunlight, and has an average temperature of about 23°C (74°F), with highs of (28°C 83°F) and lows of 19°C (67°F). The end of August sees averages of 22°C (72°F), highs of 25°C (78°F) and lows of 16°C (62°F), and a bit more than 13 hours of sunlight during the day.

Venice in September

The crowds begin to retreat and Venetians return from their holidays.  The weather can be very changeable with sudden heavy rainstorms. Take something to guard against mosquitoes at this time of year.

Events in September

The Venice Film Festival sometimes starts towards the end of August but it’s always on for part of September, lasting eleven days. It’s along the main sea-facing Lido esplanade, between the Hotel des Bains and the Excelsior. Check dates online.  www.labiennale.org/en/cinema/

First Sunday in September: Regatta Storica di Venezia (Historical regatta). This is the main regatta of the year and the main annual event in the ‘Voga al Veneta’ rowing calendar. That’s the unique-to-Venice sport of rowing in a standing position with one or two oars. Before the race, there’s a spectacular historical pageant in which 16th century style boats with gondoliers in period costumes transport the Doge, his wife and other dignitaries up the Grand Canal. For details and dates go to www.regatastoricavenezia.it/?lang=en

Third Sunday in September: Burano Regatta and the Sagra del Pesce, a festival of street food. On the island of Burano, fried local fish and white wine are consumed in the streets between the brightly painted houses. Then competitors who did not win at the Regatta Storica have another chance to get a trophy before the regatta season ends.

Temperature in September

Over the course of September, the temperature drops dramatically. At the beginning of the month, averages are around 21C (70°F), with highs of 25C (78°F) and lows of 16C (62°F). By September 30, averages taper off to 18C (64°F), with highs of 21C (70°F) and lows of 13C (56°F).

Venice in October

A lovely month, still fairly warm and much less crowded. Be prepared for some rain and cool evenings. It’s also the acqua alta season. That’s when the water is high in the lagoon and there may be flooding in the city not to mention in St Mark’s Basilica.  There have been services there when the water starts to bubble up through the floor under your feet. Don’t worry, wooden platforms are quickly erected here and elsewhere so that you can get around without getting your feet wet. But you may need to stay away from flooded areas until the water subsides – or wear boots!

Events in October

Middle of October: a weekend of sailing races, including La Veleziana and The Venice Hospitality Challenge

The fourth Sunday of October: Venice Marathon, www.venicemarathon.it/en/, an international marathon of 42,195 kilometres. Athletes start outside the city and run across the Liberty Bridge that leads them into Venice. From this point the marathon continues inside the city.

Temperature in October

October sees a dramatic drop in temperature from the beginning to the end of the month. At the beginning, the average temperature is about 17°C (63°F), with highs of 21°C (70°F) and lows of 13°C (56°F). By the end of the month, averages are 11°C (52°F), with highs of 15°C (59°F) and lows of 7°C (46°F).

Venice in November

November is a quieter and grayer month but equally lovely in Venice. It can be the wettest month and there may be acqua alta.  That’s when the water is high in the lagoon and there’s flooding in the city. Wooden platforms are quickly erected so that you can get around some parts without getting your feet wet, but you may prefer to avoid flooded areas until the water subsides – or wear boots!

Events in November

This is the last month of the Biennale, a major international arts exhibition held every other year May- November in odd-numbered years.

21 November: Feast of the Madonna della Salute. A public holiday in Venice and a religious event to celebrate the city’s deliverance from the plague in 1630-31. A temporary bridge is built over the Grand Canal to the Salute church where a special mass is held.  It’s special because it’s much less touristy than most of Venice’s festivals and you can join in the long procession from St Mark’s to La Salute, which is led by the Patriarch of Venice.

Temperature in November

During November temperatures drop rapidly. At the beginning of the month, averages are around 10°C (51°F), with highs of 14°C (58°F) and lows of 7°C (46°F). By the end of the month, averages are 7°C (44°F), with highs of 9°C (49°F) and lows of 3°C (37°F).

Venice in December

Venice in the snow? It happens about once every two or three years, and in 2012 the Grand Canal froze. If you’re lucky enough to witness heavy snow in Venice, it is a beautiful sight. With the summer crowds long gone, you may even come across a square with not a single footprint upon it. But snow is rare in Venice. Instead it will probably be calm, uncrowded and beautiful beneath grey skies.

This is the best time to visit Venice for budget travelers. Air fares are at their lowest in early December (with bargains to be found after new year, too), and hotels are offering special deals.

Events in December

8th December: Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It’s a public holiday and many businesses may be closed.

December 31 – New Year’s Eve (Festa di San Silvestro) includes a big celebration in Saint Mark’s Square with fireworks at midnight.

Temperature in December

December sees chilly temperatures and moderate rainfall, with heavy fog. At the beginning of the month, average temperatures are at 6°C (43°F), with highs of 9°C (48°F) and lows of 3°C (37°F). By December 31, averages round out to 3°C (38°F), with highs of 6°C (43°F) and lows typically around 0°C (32°F).