The best time to visit Venice. When is that? Spring? Autumn? or maybe winter is the best time to come to the floating city?
Well, it all depends on what you want. Here’s the whole year, month by month. What to expect in terms of weather and crowds. What’s going on in Venice and what you should know to be able to plan your trip in the best way. So here it is; Venice month by month.
This is the best time to go to Venice. It’s cold, it’s windy and it’s rainy… But you have the city all to your self, and that is something rare and extraordinary. After the 6th of the month, the lines to the different attractions disappear. It’s as at the beginning of December. And you can find lots of hotel- and flight deals.
You still have to be prepared for High tides, but the worst months are October to December. It’s also the time for the existential experiences, looking out over the grey water that disappears into the fog. Standing at the end of Campo Santa Margherita and not being able to see the other side… And walking over San Marco all alone.
What’s happening in January
January 1, is a national holiday, San Silvestro. If you book ahead and don’t mind paying a ridiculous amount of money, you can attend the New Years’ concert at Teatro La Fenice at 11 a.m. The Venetian- and some of the national V.I.P:s gather to hear the orchestra, chorus, and soloists perform some of the most famous Italian music. Or you can just watch it on TV.
January 5, Panevin. There are bonfires to burn the old witch. It’s a tradition not only in Venice. A pile of wood, leaves, and dry branches and on top of that a dummy, roughly dressed up as a woman. But you will have to go to the mainland or Lido to see it. In Venice, open fires are banned.
January 6, is Epiphany. Children get sweets… If they’ve been good (Just as on Christmas. We really use the old stories in a manipulative way.), otherwise, they get carbon.
The weather in January
Statistic average low -1° Celsius 30° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 6° Celsius 43° Fahrenheit
It’s cold, there’s no way around that. It’s actually the coldest month of the year. I’ve said it before but it needs repeating: The humidity can make it feel worse than it really is. Dress warm and waterproof.
But if you feel the frosty wind is too much, know that the bars are full of hot chocolate, Vin Brulè and the best pastry in the whole wide World: La Frittella.
CARNEVALE!!! February is the Carnival month. After the sleepiness of January, the Tourists return. The city is once again crowded and full of people. It’s the second occasion (apart from July and August) when the Venetians tend to abandon the city. The last weekend, February 22 and 23, is the fullest. That’s when the police organize one-way streets and block passages. The whole week before, Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th are also pretty jammed though. Wednesday it’s all over and we clean the city.
What’s happening in February
February 8. In the evening, a big show on the Carnival theme of the year on is displayed at Fondamenta Cannaregio.
February 9. The official opening at Canale di Cannaregio. A traditional cortege of boats with dressed up rowers end up at Ponte dei Tre Archi and a big rat is blown to pieces.
February 15. La Festa delle Marie. This was actually the origin of the Carnival, and it’s worth seeing.
February 16. Flight of the Angel. The most beautiful of the Marie’s from last year gets to fly from the top of the Belltower in Saint Mark’s Square, over the Piazza, hanging on a steel wire.
February 23. Flight of the Eagle. Someone else is flying from the Belltower.
February 23. Best Mask contest. On Saint Mark’s Square, the last week of the Carnival there are runner up contests for this prize. And on Sunday there’s the final. Anyone can participate.
February 25. Finishing ceremony with another flight, the one of Saint Mark himself, though this one is from the square upwards to the tower. And there’s the parade of the Maries.
February 25 is also your last chance to get a Frittella. After that, they’re gone.
The weather in February
Statistic average low 1° Celsius 34° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 8° Celsius 46° Fahrenheit
February is a winter month. But now the sun is getting a bit higher in the sky and you can certainly feel it. At the end of the month, you have 11 hours of sun and it’s setting around 6 p.m. At midday, away from the wind, you can have your Spritz and Tramezzino outside.
After Carnival, there are another few weeks of low season. Not as low as December and January, but Venice is calm and pleasant. The temperature is rising but the lines are still few and short.
What’s happening in March?
March 1. Happy New Year. No, I haven’t lost my mind. The New Year or Cao de ano, as they call it, is another very old Venetian tradition. The end of the cold season means the beginning of spring and growth in the fields… The new year. There’s music and all kinds of goodies to eat.
March 8. The International Women’s day. There are all kinds of events including a Boat race only for women.
In March there is also a week of free entrance to the museums. Not all of the museums. Not even all of the state-owned museums, but it’s still something to look out for.
The weather in March
Statistic average low 4° Celsius 39° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 12° Celsius 54° Fahrenheit
March is definitely a pleasant month. The sun is warming and the actual hours of sunshine are increasing. Less fog, less rain, and fewer clouds. You still need a warm jacket for the evening strolls but leave the rubber boots. The high tide season is closing.
This could be the best time to visit Venice (…if you regard December and January as too extreme…). The city still awaits the hordes of tourists. A lot of school kids from all over Europe in the streets. But the weather is really nice. Not too hot and not too cold. Perfect for running around on museums, palaces, and churches.
What’s happening in April?
Sunday, April 12. Easter. From Thursday the 9th there are many events around Venice, mostly religious ones. Friday there are processions, Saturday a bit partying and Sunday, Mass. Monday, Pasquetta, is for getting away… But you’re already away, so just enjoy the city and have fun.
At the beginning of April, there is the Su e Zo per i Ponti (su e giù – up and down the bridges). A solidarity- and charity walking event. You can choose 12 kilometers or 6. The day before there’s usually a concert/music show.
April 25. Liberation holiday / Saint Mark’s feast / Feast of the rosebud. Any way you look at it, it’s a good reason to celebrate. On Saint Mark’s Square, there are manifestations and it can get lively.
The weather in April
Statistic average low 8° Celsius 46° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 16° Celsius 61° Fahrenheit
On sunny days you can even leave the jacket and walk around in a T-shirt. It’s pleasant. Although in recent years there has been a tendency to skip the spring altogether. I don’t know if it’s the climate change that kicks in here, but quite often we’ve had cold weather in April and the beginning of May. Then in June, the heat all of a sudden hits you like a wet towel. Be prepared.
May is spring and it can be hot. It can also be cold as I wrote before. You don’t really know what to expect. The season of the boat races starts. As does the Biennale. The word means “every two years”. The main parts are the Architecture- and the Art festival. And of course the Venice film festival, which is held every year. In 2020 it’s time for Architecture.
It’s getting crowded. Many people, rightfully so, chose to come in May instead of July or August. Consider Skip-the-line tickets.
What’s happening in May?
May 23. The Architecture Biennale starts. At Arsenale and on the Biennale area at Giardini, the festival begins. This time curated by Hashim Sarkis.
At the end of May, there’s the Regata di Sant’Erasmo. Sant’Erasmo is the big island northeast of Venice. The Garden of Venice, because in the past it was where the Venetians grew their crops.
The weather in May
Statistic average low 12° Celsius 54° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 21° Celsius 70° Fahrenheit
But as said before, prepare for temperatures much under or much over these. At the end of the month, the tropical summer heat could already have arrived.
Now the high season is approaching. The streets and Squares are getting crowded and it starts to become difficult to get a table at the popular restaurants. It’s time to start thinking about the skip-the-line- tickets. Especially around Saint Mark’s Square. You should explore the outskirts… Sant’Elena, Arsenale, Cannaregio northern parts, Dorsoduro, Santa Marta and of course Giudecca.
What’s happening in June?
Architecture Biennale continues.
Festa della Sensa. Venice has always been connected to the water and the sea. Every year, on Ascension Day, the Mayor of Venice (Once the Doge) renews the contract with the sea in a ceremonial marriage. There’s a regatta as well as lots of events all over the city.
June 3 – 7 Venice boat show.
A lot of boat races.
Vogalonga is a modern tradition. It was created as a counterweight to the commercialization of Venice, as well as the traffic on the canals, ever more motorized. The first Vogalonga was held in 1975.
End of June. Santi Giovanni e Paolo Regata. This one is for rowers under 25 years of age.
End of June, there is the traditional Venetian village feast. Almost every city or Village in Italy has its own festival or holiday. The local patron or the traditional dish or a crop that’s ready to reap. In Venice, that’s the Festa de San Piero de Casteo, Festa di San Pietro in Castello in Italian.
End of June. The 14th international festival of contemporary dance.
End of June. Venezia Jazz festival.
The weather in June
Statistic average low 16° Celsius, 61° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 25° Celsius, 77° Fahrenheit
These temperatures may seem comfortable and nice. The truth is very different though. In recent years the temperature in June can easily reach 30° Celsius and more. Together with the clear blue sky and very high humidity, it can be tropical. Prepare for hot weather. Bring protection and try to stay in the shadows.
July is High Season. Now it’s starting to get difficult to even move around. Crowds are everywhere and the lines to the Saint Mark’s Basilica are endless. If people ask me, I usually suggest avoiding July and August. Those months are better for beach activities or going to the mountains. Consider grabbing a hotel at Lido or Cavallino. That way you can work on your tan between the lines and mobs in Venice.
What’s happening in July?
The Architecture festival continues.
End of July and into the beginning of August. Biennale Teatro – Theatre-Biennial. As a part of the Art-Biennial, there is the 48th International Theatre Festival. In the Biennale-area as well as on Theatres all over the city.
The Venice Jazz Festival continues.
In the beginning of July there’s the Murano regatta. Considered by the competitors to a very tough race because you navigate the canals that run all over Venice.
La Festa di San Giacomo da l’Orio. This is a wonderful event in the middle of San Polo in Campo di San Giacomo da l’Orio. Live music every day starting at 7 p.m. and stands with all kinds of goodies to eat. A great way to live the typical Festa del Paese, the village feast, that happens all over Italy every weekend. it’s a little less frequent in touristic Venice but here you have the possibility.
La Festa della Madonna di Marina. In the beginning of the month if you want to get all the way out to Malamocco on Lido. It has a religious frame but there’s plenty of time and space for eating, drinking and dancing to music.
The weekend 18th to 19th of July. La Festa del Redentore. This is a major event. On Saturday evening a floating bridge is constructed from Zattere straight over Canale della Giudecca to the Redentore church on Giudecca. And at 11.30 (more or less) there are spectacular Fireworks. The whole Zattere-side will be full of people and so will the canal. Boats from near and far turn up to get the best view of the lights over the dark water. Anyway, the best spots are on the Giudecca-side. The bridge is closed from 10.30 p.m. till 00.30. Be on time.
The day after, Sunday the 19th, there is another regatta; Regata del Redentore.
The whole day the mass is celebrated inside the church and at 7 p.m. the traditional Messa Solenne is held. Outside you can taste all kinds of traditional food and wines.
End of July. Festa della Madonna dell’Apparizione Pellestrina.
The weather in July
Statistic average low 18° Celsius, 64° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 28° Celsius, 82° Fahrenheit
The same as for June can be said about July. Don’t let the relatively reasonable temperatures fool you. It’s hot. If it’s raining and bad weather the temperature falls, but on the sunny days (… which we appreciate) the temperature can go over 30° Celsius. And with the humidity that is hot, like the jungle. Be aware of the sun. Sometimes you don’t realize that you’ve been out for many hours, going from one site to another, but be careful. Drink a lot and stay in the shadows.
August is even worse than July. Every museum or historical site has lines. The Vaporetto can be difficult to even get on, and prices are the highest of the year. The peak is Ferragosto on the 15th of August. It’s an important holiday all over Italy and it was once the traditional end of the vacations. Now the vacations are longer and they often stretch far beyond the middle of August. But if you’re really sensitive, you can feel a slight decrease in tourist flow after that date. At least from the Italians.
You should get up early, sleep after lunch and get out again late. Not only because the temperature is more bearable mornings and evenings, but also because it can be a little quieter when cruise ship- and day-tourists have left.
What’s happening in August?
The Architecture festival continues.
Biennale Teatro – Theatre-Biennial continues until the beginning of August
There are quite a few minor events on the islands:
Festa della Madonna dell’Apparizione continues until August 2 on Pellestrina.
August 8 – 16. La Sagra di Santo Stefano a Portosecco also on Pellestrina.
The 16th of August. La Festa di San Rocco at San Rocco, Venice (where else?)
At the beginning of August, there’s The Pellestrina Regatta… This too at Pellestrina.
A Saturday at the end of August. Beach on Fire. If you can get out to the land strip east of Venice, Cavallino, you’re in for something spectacular. The longest fireworks in the world. 12 kilometers of pyrotechnics.
2 September. The Venice Film Festival starts and continues till September the 12th. It’s a big event if you like cinema. If you don’t, it’s still an awesome occasion to try to photograph filmstars. You have to get over to Lido and the Palazzo del Cinema. And you have to keep very informed, cause the shooting filmstars is more difficult than filming the white tigers.
The weather in August
Statistic average low 17° Celsius 63° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 27° Celsius 81° Fahrenheit
The somewhat lower temperature is due to more rain. August is actually the second most rainy month after November. But the rains are from thunders mostly, and thunders come from heat.
So don’t illude yourself. It’s still very hot. The only relief is that the sun isn’t as strong as it was in June and July, and the days are shorter.
A little less crowded and a little less hot makes September a great month to visit Venice. The weather is somewhat changeable, with sudden rainstorms blowing in from nowhere. The Venetians return to the city from their mountains chalets and their beach houses. There they’ve spent summer, to get away from the heat and the tourists.
What’s happening in September?
Beginning of September. Festa del Peocio at Alberoni, Lido di Venezia
The Venice Film Festival continues.
September the 6th. Regata Storica di Venezia (Historical Regatta). This is the main regatta throughout the year. It’s divided into two faces. The first, the true Regata Storica, consist of historical ceremonial boats like the Bissona, a big heavy boat with 8 rowers which is used in this occasion only. There are 10 of them and together with a few other even bigger boats and rowers in historical costumes, the effect is magnificent.
after that, there is the competition regatta. There are 7 classes from youngsters of 10 years up until the Champion-class. The latter runs a two oar Gondolino and they are the real winners. If you win this class five years in a row, you get the title Re del Remo. From 1841 only seven rowers have obtained this title. The last ones were Palmiro Fongher e Gianfranco Vianello who won from 1977 till 1983, seven years in a row.
September 5 – 13. Venice Glas week. A whole week dedicated to the Art of Glass.
September 20. The Burano Regatta at Burano
From the end of September until the beginning of October. The Biennale Music Festival. The 64th International Festival of Contemporary Music at Giardini, the Biennale area.
The weather in September
Statistic average low 14° Celsius 57° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 24° Celsius 75° Fahrenheit
Finally, there’s a bit of cool. Still, these temperatures indicate a jacket or a sweater, at least in the evening. The truth is that the beaches are still full and you can have more use for shorts and swimsuits, at least in the first half of September.
At the end of the month, the sun sets around 7 p.m., while in June it sets after 9 p.m.
October is one of the best months to visit Venice. The crowds are less obstructive and the summer heat is gone. Now you can stay out even in the early afternoon and enjoy the fresh breeze coming in from the sea. Hrrm… Yeah, bring a jacket and a warm sweater.
October is also the beginning of the Acqua Alta season. All winter there is the risk of having to face water in the squares and streets, but statistically, the worst months are October, November, and December with November as the peak. Bring a pair of rubber boots and you should be OK. I used to be able to tranquilize people by saying that the issue isn’t something you should worry to much about. Lately, the high tides have become a substantial problem though and as sea levels rise, it will not get better.
What’s happening in October?
The Biennale Music Festival continues until the beginning of October.
The lower temperature opens for important sports competitions.
October 17. Venice hospitality challenge This is another totally unique event in Venice. A maxi sailing race right outside Saint Mark’s Square.
October 18. La Veneziana Another maxi race, a little more serious, outside the Lido-Cavallino line.
October 25. Venice Marathon. This is a main event. People from all over the world come to Venice for the opportunity to run 42 kilometers in this unique environment. The race starts at Stra. Flanking the river Brenta through Marghera to the Park San Giuliano, over the bridge to Venice. The finish is right in the center of the city. There’s also the possibility to run just the last 10 km in a non-competitive race.
The weather in October
Statistic average low 9° Celsius 48° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 18° Celsius 64° Fahrenheit
Now it’s getting colder. More wind and more rain. Apart from the high tides, another thing to keep in mind is that water also falls from the sky. Venice isn’t flat and the pavement isn’t horizontal. If it rains, then puddles appear all over. Rubber boots or Gore-tex trekking shoes are perfect. Just to keep your feet dry and warm.
November is the month of Acqua Alta, high water. Actually all autumn is at risk, but November is the worst month, statistically. Let’s look at those statistics for a second. The city of Venice monitors the high tides and divide them into groups. The lowest category is Marea sostenuta, sustained tide. That’s 80 – 110 cm over standard sea level at Punta Salute in 1872. It’s not very important to understand what that means, but let’s say that the problems start at around 100 cm. Under that level, there are very few spots that are under water and you can easily avoid them. At 100 cm you need the Rubber boots or at least waterproof shoes.
In October 2019 there were no high waters over 100cm, and we all thought this year was going to be an easy one. That changed. From November till December 2019, the water reached 100 cm and over on 24 occasions with a peak on the week from the 11th to the 18th. We had 4 of the 20 highest tides of all times in just 5 days with the devastating 187cm the 12th. That day the water wiped out the electricity for half the city, crashed boats, damaged many historical buildings and provoked losses for hundreds of millions of Euro. It is not a minor problem anymore.
In the autumn of 2018, there were a total of 9 high waters over 100cm. It’s getting worse. Last year I wrote that it’s not really a big problem since the water just stays up for two or three hours. Then it sinks just like any other tide. Now I’m not so sure about that anymore. The tide still sinks but…
If you’re thinking of buying a house in Venice, maybe you should choose another location… Cortina d’Ampezzo is nice and safe.
What’s happening in November?
The Architecture festival continues… But ends the 29th.
November 21. Feast of the Madonna della Salute. The city prepares itself for La Festa della Salute. This is as genuine and Venetian as you get, with the locals coming to the church of the Madonna della Salute over the provisional floating bridge from Giglio to Dorsoduro on the other side. The origin of the holiday is the Plague epidemic in 1630. On 22 October the Doge made a solemn vow to build a particularly grandiose temple and to hold mass in that temple every year as would his successors if the city had survived the disease. A promise kept to this day.
The weather in November
Statistic average low 4° Celsius 39° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 12° Celsius 54° Fahrenheit
This can be a very cold month. It’s the wettest, both as high tides and as rains. And the rains and the winds can make it even chillier than December and January. But it can also be fresh with blue, clear skies, sunny and air that’s easy to breathe. Prepare for both.
The second part of November and the first part of December is dead low season. These are the few weeks when you can find something absolutely unique if you come late in the evening and you’re lucky: The empty Saint Mark’s Square. Walking over the marble floor all by yourself is an experience that will stay with you all your life.
This is also one of two short periods when there are no lines whatsoever… Not even to the most famous sites. Around mid-December, the Christmas rush starts. Not as bad as summer, but the lonely walks on Saint Mark’s are gone.
The beginning of the month is also the cheapest time of the year, together with one or two weeks in January after Epiphany the 6th. Now you can find hotel bargains and cheap flight deals. If you ask me, These are the best times to visit Venice.
What’s happening in December
The 8th of December. Feast of the Immaculate Conception Public holiday and a few of the public museums offer free entrance.
Christmas markets From the beginning of December until the beginning of January. There are a few Christmas markets around the town.
Ice skating in Campo San Polo December and all the way until the end of February. There’s a skating ring in the middle of the Square. Skate renting and stands for snacks and beverages.
December 31. New Year’s Eve (Festa di San Silvestro) There’s a big celebration in Saint Mark’s Square with fireworks at midnight.
The weather in December
Statistic average low 0° Celsius 32° Fahrenheit
Statistic average high 7° Celsius 45° Fahrenheit
December is cold. Warm and especially wind- and waterproof clothing is recommended. Just as for the summer months, the subjective temperature is worse than the actual one. The fog and the humidity make it feel colder than it really is.