“The beauty of Venice is in the winter, in its time of tranquility.” -Massimo Borchi-
Venice is a beautiful city located in northeast Italy that is famous for its monuments, piazzas, narrow lanes, canals, and historical landmarks. Venice is, historically, the most beautiful city built by man and one of Europe’s most romantic cities. Venice is a group of fascinating small islands, where art and history combine with old trades and the beautiful sea.
There are conflicting opinions on when is the best time to visit Venice. Most people say that the months of September to November (start of winter) is not a perfect time for touring Venice because of torrential and flooding rains.
Totally wrong – November is one of the best months to go to Venice! Aside from the fact that there are almost no tourists, the Venetians are accordingly much friendlier (less stressed) than they use to be most of the year, especially during peak seasons. Moreover, the lowered airfare, hotel rates, and the barren canals will make your visit worth it.
As for us, the best time to visit Venice is during the month of November when tourists desert the city (because we all want the place to ourselves, right?) and prices are dropping (as well as the temperature).
Do you get that feeling when everything looks romantic, mysterious and ancient during the misty and damp weather? Well, expect to be overwhelmed with that feeling. Winters are cold with temperatures in the 30s and 40s, Acqua alta (high water) flooding tends to occur in the colder months, so make sure to pack a pair of rain boots and winter clothes if you plan on traveling then.
Things To Expect
1. Acqua Alta
As we have mentioned, most people agree that November is not a perfect time for touring in Venice because of the rainy season. Well, we can’t blame them. The fear of flooding in Venice is one of the great “urban myths” of contemporary tourism –but fret not! Yes, the waters are SOMETIMES rising high enough to make moving through the city less than comfortable, but high tides are rare.
Usually, an “acqua alta” (a very high tide + low atmospheric pressure) won’t rise much higher than the sole of your shoe, so make sure to bring your rain shoes. If it rises higher, there are the raised walkways provided. It can be a unique way of experiencing the true Venetian way of life (Or not). For preparation purposes, read the Survival Guide to Venice’s Aqua Alta.
2. Fewer Crowds And Shorter Lines
November = Low season = Less crowd! You might hate Venice if you go in the middle of high tourist season and you won’t probably make the most of your stay. Say goodbye to the crazy long lines at St.Mark’s Basilica or the Doge’s Palace.
Take advantage of less wait time and enjoy the museums and attractions without the tourist herd rushing you.
3. Lower Airfare And Hotel Rates
Whether you’re the kind of person who hunts down travel bargains like a hound or you just like to find good deals, one of the best ways to save money when you travel is to visit a place in its off-season.
Flights to Europe are cheaper in the months of November to February. Likewise, hotels start to drop their accommodation rates during these months.
Things To Do:
1. Visit St. Mark’s Basilica
St. Mark’s’ Basilica is Venice’s cathedral dedicated in honor of the patron saint of Venice, St. Mark the Evangelist. The Basilica is just a few minute walk from the Piazza San Marco, Venice’s magnificent square.
St. Mark’s Basilica boasts unique interior and exterior characteristics that set it apart from the many different cathedrals and basilicas in Europe.
Upon stepping on the large door of the Basilica, you’ll see the beautiful mosaic exterior which represents the story about the original transportation of St. Mark’s remains to Venice.
There’s much more glamor on the inside of the basilica. While it’s a bit gloomy and the surroundings are sepia-toned outside, you’ll be amazed upon entering St. Mark’s basilica due to its most striking characteristic – the 8,000 square meters of gold glass tile mosaics that cover most of the atrium, domes, walls, and ceiling. The floor is a reflection of the mosaic craft in marble, a spectacle of color and pattern.
Downstairs in the crypt, you’ll learn important stories like how St. Mark’s remains were previously kept down in a sarcophagus though it flooded completely during the acqua alta tides.Bottomline is, there simply is no church in Europe more glittering in gold, lavishly decorated, exquisitely mosaicked, and historical as St. Mark’s Basilica.
2. Walk Through The Doge’s Palace
Adjacent to St. Mark’s Basilica is the Doge’s Palace. The Doge’s Palace was the official residence of the Doge, a ruler of the republic.
Venice certainly doesn’t fall short of grand architecture and fantastic art. The Doge’s Palace is another notable example. Aside from admiring the palace’s interior and exterior, there are other amusing things you can do on this place.
Be thrilled by the mysterious labyrinth of narrow passageways along the palace’s prisons, walk through the impressive rooms of the Great Council Chamber (Sala del Maggior Consiglio) and Senate members (Sala del Senato), and then take a coffee break in the palace’s former stables. It’s like walking yourself through history and touching the walls the Venetian noblemen once walked through.
3. Stream The Canals Through A Gondola
A gondola ride is the one Venetian experience everyone wants to experience. Your visit to Venice won’t be complete until you ride the famed water taxis! Be transported back in time to when the main means of transportation for Venetian Nobility were gondolas and indulge your sight in Venice’s pristine waterways and canals.
Gondolas are long, sleek, black, slightly crooked, hybrid between a canoe and a coffin which has a single oar worked by a professional gondoliere.
It’s a little chilly for the classic gondola tour, but for half the usual price(compared with the peak season price), you can jump on a gondola at a designated traghetto stop along the Grand Canal and ride to the other side. The trip takes usually 40 minutes (the best 40 minutes of your life).
4. Explore The Art Biennale
The Venice Biennale is the largest exhibit of contemporary art in the world. Art Biennale is a major international architecture show in Venice that showcases artworks that are often room-filling and theatrical environments dense with high definition video technology. Be thrilled to see hands-on and interactive artworks and stunning sculptures or installations in common public spaces.
Officially, the Art Biennale takes place in the former Venetian military dockyard, the Arsenale and in the Giardini, where national pavilions host sideshows to the main event. Located at the far eastern end of island Venice, in an area which is placidly residential at other times of the year, the Giardini and Arsenale are far from the city’s central commercial districts.
The reason why the Venice Biennale became an immensive festival is due to the added forums, performances, opening night parties and semi-official parallel exhibitions hovering around the margins.
They say you won’t look at art in the same way ever again after feasting your eyes and pondering on the profoundness of the art exhibits.
Note: The Arsenale is open except for certain Mondays, from 10 am to 8 pm and the Giardini, likewise, from 10 am to 6 pm.
5. Opera Season At La Fenice
Treat yourself to high-end art at the La Fenice Opera House and witness seasons of a symphony, opera, and dance. The decadent Baroque opera house was once the heart of Venetian high society and hosted performances by masterful maestros like Verdi, Rossini, and Bellini.
Before proceeding to watch a show on the opera house, make sure to avail of the one hour tour of Teatro La Fenice. You’ll learn the history of the legendary Venice theater, prestigious operas held at the iconic venue such as Verdi’s La Traviata, and legendary musicians, singers, and patrons that lingered through the auditorium’s walls.
Also, you should explore the beautiful auditorium and gilded royal boxes while learning about the theater’s Baroque architecture as well as its interiors and decors.
Note: Check out the schedules of shows that you can catch playing at the theater on the time of your visit at teatrolafenice.it
Visiting Venice in the winter, out of the main tourist season, is just wonderful! The crowds are fewer, the lines are shorter, and you’ll be experiencing the authentic Venetian way of life that tends to be hard to find during peak seasons.
So go ahead, book a flight, pack your warm clothes and layers, keeping in mind that Venice is a city where you get around either by mostly walking and gondola rides. In case of an unfortunate acqua alta, don’t forget your rain boots and most importantly, don’t take it seriously and remember that it’s a unique Venetian experience!