Is there a worst time to visit anywhere in Italy? The answer is an overwhelming no. Venice, in particular, is a city filled with magic year-round. It is one of the most photographed, frequented, and fawned-over cities not only in Europe, but in the world.
It is a city of shining marble palazzos reflecting in a turquoise lagoon. It’s a city of bridges, secret alleys, hidden passages, and life that exists on the water. It's a city that loves to celebrate and to feast, and where it is completely acceptable to have prosecco before 11 a.m. Truly, what is not to love? And there is something exciting happening in every season. So to help you plan when may be the right time for you to visit Venice, here is a snapshot of what to expect in Venice throughout the seasons, plus average high and low temperatures in Fahrenheit.
Venice In The Winter
High: 46 Degrees
Low: 33 Degrees
Winter isn't exactly the most popular time to go to Venice. But this is exactly why it's a wonderful time for you to go. Summer certainly has the warmer weather, perfect for gondola rides and dining al fresco, but it also has the highest tourism numbers. Visiting this romantic, historic city in the winter will allow you to see the city through a truly local lens. Plus, winter is one of the most visually stunning times to explore, as the city sparkles with Christmas decorations and the occasional sprinkle of white, powdery snow. Not to mention that prices drop dramatically as well, making it the most affordable time to visit the city.
Winter is the season for locals, when Venetians take back their piazzas and restaurants. Winter is romantic. It's blanketed in mist and trimmed in white and twinkle lights. A must-see during this time is the Venice Carnival. This annual, open-air festival breathes wintry life into the city with live music, dancing, and elaborate costumes for the series of masked parties (don't miss the largest one in Piazza San Marco). Drink in the colorful boat parades on the Cannaregio, and revel until the early hours with hundreds of your closest costumed friends.
Each winter the Campo San Polo is transformed into an outdoor skating rink. Much more than just a skating experience, the rink has a stunning ice sculpture at the center and is ringed by a festive market selling traditional food, mulled wine, and local crafts.
It goes without saying that winter is also the best time to take in all the beautiful sights of the city without having to elbow your way through throngs of tourists. You may even find places like Basilica San Marco are yours to enjoy in solitude. Drink in the 40,000 square feet of mosaics, cupolas, and the glittering High Altar surrounded in a hushed silence for a truly spiritual experience.
Venice In The Spring
High: 63 Degrees
Low: 47 Degrees
Spring is a transition season for Venice, as the city recovers from February's Carnival spectacular and gears up for the heavy influx of summer tourists. This is one of the prettiest times to visit the city. But be sure to bring an umbrella because spring is one of the rainiest seasons in Venice. In fact, spring and autumn are known as the Acqua Alta (or High Water) seasons, when the high tides rise so much that it can look like the city is sinking. Locals tend to consider this a nuisance, but for visitors, it can be a fun experience. Don't forget to pick up a pair of signature yellow wellies to slosh around the streets in.
April brings the Festa di San Marco. This beloved event is a celebration in honor of Saint Mark, the patron saint of the city. For one day, and one day only, Piazza San Marco explodes into celebration, marked specifically by a scattering of red roses. The tradition during the event is that men give red rose buds to their partners.
If you're planning to visit Venice during the spring, be sure to mark your calendar for Holy Week: the week leading up to Easter. This is one of the most popular times in Venice, which can be good or bad depending on your preferred travel experience. Regardless, the Benedizione del Fuoco, or the blessing of the fire, is the Easter Holy Thursday service at the Basilica San Marco. While crowd numbers do go up considerably, it can be one of the most exciting and festive times to hit the city. The service begins in complete darkness until a flame is lit at the entrance, and is followed by a hauntingly beautiful procession of candles filling the space with flickering light.
Finally, Venice in the spring is marked by Vogalonga, one of the most beautiful events in the world. The annual tradition occurs the first Sunday after the Ascension, when nearly 1,500 boats flock to the lagoon and throughout the canals for a colorful, festive display and celebration.
Venice In The Summer
High: 81 Degrees
Low: 64 Degrees
Summer in Venice is arguably the best and worst time to visit La Serenissima, as the city is affectionately known. Venice comes alive during the summer months, when the sun drenches the alleyways, plazas, and canals in gorgeous, warm weather. It's the best time to eat out in the piazzas, scour the outlying islands by water taxi, and amble from bacaro to bacaro to sample the cicchetti (tapas) and an ombra (or two) of prosecco.
Visitors should know, however, that Venice receives approximately 20 million tourists per year, the majority of whom are coming to experience the very best the city has to offer in, you guessed it, summer.
The city of Venice in the summer can be equal parts magical and overwhelming. But if you can get past the volume of tourists, you really are in for a mesmerizing treat -- especially if you find ways to get creative and skirt the crowds. If you are a first-timer, of course you'll want to see the main sites like the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs, and Piazza San Marco, but keep in mind that these will be the most heavily trafficked spots.
Remember that there are other sides to the city, as well, such as Giudecca, a smaller island directly in front of Venice, which manages to remain somewhat off the trodden tourist path. The Vaporetto takes about three minutes to reach Giudecca. Here you will find a quiet, residential neighborhood with beautiful churches, old palaces, and the famous Mercatino Dei Granai, where artists come to sell their handmade crafts.
Note: The key to actually dodging summer crowds is to head to the other islands. This is especially true when trying to find a quaint restaurant experience. For example, Venissa on Mazzorbo, or Trattoria al Gatto Nero on Burano, are two fantastic restaurants for Venetian cuisine minus the Venetian crowds. Don't forget to find at least one altana (or rooftop terrace), to drink in fantastic city views and a glass of wine or a cocktail or two. Tip: The Skyline Rooftop Bar on top of the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice on Giudecca has a sophisticated vibe and one of the best addresses to catch the sunset.
Venice In The Fall
High: 63 Degrees
Low: 49 Degrees
It's tough to find a better season in which to visit Venice than the fall. Why? The kids are back in school, so fewer families are on holiday, yet the weather is still warm enough for spending all hours out of doors (but keep in mind the fall brings heavy rains and flooding from time to time). Prices have dropped from the summer highs, yet festivals and events are still in full swing. The fall is also wine harvest season in Italy, which is arguably the best time to be in the country.
September is one of the most exciting months in Venice, especially for boat aficionados. The Historic Regatta is an annual gondola race that always falls on the first Sunday of September. Visitors and locals alike enjoy colorful parades on the water with beautiful boats, people in costume, and displays from the associations of Venetian rowers and gondoliers. If you're into stargazing, you may be able to catch a few celebs roaming the side streets of Venice during September, as well, thanks to the Venice Film Festival that comes to the city each year.
Another autumnal treat is the Festa della Salute, held in November, which has been held every year for centuries to commemorate the ending of the plague. Each year for the festival, a temporary bridge is built from boats to help people cross the Grand Canal, connecting the San Moise and Santa Maria del Giglio neighborhoods with Longhena's basilica in the Dorsoduro neighborhood. Thousands of people make the pilgrimage across the canal to ask the Virgin Mary to bring them good health for the year.
Now, did someone mention wine? October brings the Festa del Mosto to Sant'Erasmo, the largest island in Venice's lagoon. This island is where the first wine pressing happens in Venice, and is also where much of the region's produce is grown. For the October festival, visitors and locals are treated to live music, fresh food, and many, many tastings of wine.