Venice is famed for its circuit of canals that offer locals and tourists the ideal city break during any time of the year. But while summer is the peak season for tourism, Venice in winter presents its own charm and characteristics.
The city sees less tourism during winter, and for a city that faces extreme over-tourism (over 36-million tourists in 2017), this is certainly an advantage. Even when temperatures drop and the quiet cold settles over the city, there is still so much to do here. We’ve put together a list of the top winter activities in Venice.
What to do in Venice in December
The weather in Venice Italy in December is pretty frosty, with temperatures ranging between 1°C and 8°C.
But don’t let this deter you, as the city is scattered with exciting indoor and outdoor activities to do. And, there’s even a possibility of snow in this month, which is exceptionally pretty. December also marks the start of the Christmas celebrations throughout the city, as well as the Hanukkah festivities.
So, regardless of your faith, you’ll be kept busy by the bustling religious activities to take part in, or witness.
#1 – Browse Through the Christmas Markets
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Spending December in Venice means that you’ll get to enjoy all the Christmas celebrations and customs that take place here. While Venice may be a small-scale city, Christmas is highly anticipated here and is celebrated weeks in advance.
And Venice and the surrounding areas have a global reputation for producing some of the finest artisanal products. And, who doesn’t go on holiday to Italy to eat all the most scrumptious and hearty food in the world? So, at these markets, expect lots of hand-made Venetian crafts, and the tastiest Italian food.
In December, traditional Christmas concerts are shown, making for the perfect indoor activity for any age.
The most extensive Christmas market happens in Campo Santo Stefano, which operates throughout the whole month. This market should be your first option for exploring Venice at Christmas time. And that’s because of its promoting of local products over international, mass-produced ones.
#2 – Experience Venice’s Multiculturalism at the Jewish Ghetto
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Venice has been home to Jewish people since the 11th century, when they relocated there from Germany and other European countries. This makes the Venetian Jewish ghetto the oldest in the world. The word ‘ghetto’ actually originates from the Italian dialect ‘ghèto’, which translates to ‘foundry’.
In December, you’ll be fortunate enough to view the Menorah Lighting ceremony at Campo del Ghetto. Here, you’ll be showered in delicious and traditional Jewish food that is eating during this religious period. You should also walk past or visit the five synagogues that are still operating within the ghetto.
Witnessing Hanukkah in the 500-year old ghetto is a testament to the strong Jewish presence in the city. Crowds gather in honour of the Jewish holiday, vibrantly dancing and serving the most heart-warming meals.
#3 – Watch the Fireworks at Piazza San Marco
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Should you find yourself looking for things to do in Venice in December, then New Year’s Eve has to be on your agenda. Venice already has a reputation for being one of the most beautiful and colourful destinations globally. And the entire city, along with the lagoon, has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Now, imagine this multi-coloured city on stilts accompanied by the spectacle of fireworks. And all of this in the city’s most iconic site, San Marco Square. Here, you’ll be greeted by the tunes of live music, and an illusionary light show. Flocks of people gather to witness the display and then head to bars to celebrate the new year.
What to do in Venice in January
Travelling to Italy in January isn’t that common yet, but all the major attractions are still operating. And, they’re much less crowded, so you can enjoy them in peace.
The weather in Venice in January becomes a bit colder, with temperatures dropping as low as -1°C. So, here’s two activities that will keep you warm.
#4 – Watch a Concert at the Teatro La Fenice
The Theatre of Venice is an architectural masterpiece and was revamped and reopened in 1973, staying true to its 19th-century essence. It’s one of the most esteemed Opera Houses in Italy because it showcases over 100 plays annually.
Its name translates to ‘The Phoenix’, which fits appropriately because of the way the Opera House rose above its 3 deteriorations. The most recent was in the 1990s, which was done out of arson. Historically, the theatre displayed three major opera production premiers.
#5 – Buy Souvenirs at Burano and Murano
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Luckily for you, the colourful islands of Murano and Burano are in close reach from Venice, taking about 45 minutes by ferry.
Both islands specialise in different manufacturing products, with Murano being famous for its distinct glass sculptures. The local manufacturers in the glass factories even offer tours inside the facilities to show visitors the processes involved in creating the masterpieces that they’re so well known for.
This would be the perfect option for a day trip from Venice. Catch the ferry to Murano, watch a glass-making show, and then buy some souvenirs.
But you couldn’t have a satisfactory day trip to Murano without visiting the postcard-worthy Burano. This island is only 25 minutes away by ferry from Murano and specialises in handmade lace products.
What to do in Venice in February
Spending time in Venice Italy in February means that you’ll get a gradual increase in temperatures. And, we mean gradual, because it rises just above freezing level, to a minimum of 1°C, with a possible maximum of just under 10°C. But, it’s still not warm enough to be outdoors all the time, so here are two exciting things to do in February.
#6 – Get Lost in the Fog
The widespread fog in Venice usually takes place anytime between December through March. It can get severe in February, however, with this being the favoured month among photographers to capture the mystical atmosphere.
The alleyways become clouded, and the canals have poor visibility. So, it would be a unique and alternative experience to ride a Gondola through the fog, something impossible during peak season.
Any trip to Venice would not suffice if you didn’t take advantage of the city’s 170+ waterways. And for the locals, Venice in the winter doesn’t stop the usage of the canals.
Another unique experience to try out is a walk along Venice’s Lido beachfront, which stretches for 11 kilometres. You can sink your feet in the sand while you tread along the water, noticing how empty the beach is. If you’re a photographer, the dramatic scenery portrays Venice in a different light, so take advantage of the opportunity!
#7 – Go Museum and Gallery Hopping
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Spending winter in Venice presents a new, more alternative set of activities to do. Venice attracts many talented artists that display their work at art galleries dispersed throughout the city.
The city is famed for its contemporary art museums and inner-city installations, so it would be fitting to pay visits to these. They also offer visitors a break from the medieval, Renaissance architecture that characterises the entire city.
Both the interiors and exteriors of the buildings are worth admiring, and when you have no desire to go outside, you’ll allow more time for this. This includes the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which delivers the best combination of old and new, as it is a Modern Art Museum located in a 1700s Palace, on the Grand Canal.
You could dedicate an entire day to museums and art galleries, which are constantly being updated. This can be accompanied by visits to some of the city’s historic Churches and gothic palaces.
Final Thoughts on Venice in the Wintertime
If you’re looking for the best time to visit Venice without the crowds, then the months of December through February are very good choices.
While it may be the quiet season, you’ll be able to connect with the local culture more, unlike in the warmer months. And, you’ll even be rewarded by lower rates and prices than the peak seasons!
So, whether you’re warm inside browsing the galleries, or braving the fog on Lido beach, you’ll still be able to find a diverse range of things to do in Venice in winter.
We recommend you check out some of our specialist City Break specialists like Kirker Holidays one of the best short breaks operators as well as their diverse collection of long haul tailor made holidays.