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Any choice time to visit Venice?

My wife and I have been to Venice twice and love this totally unique city, or at least I think we do. Both times we were simply overwhelmed with other tourists...last time I believe the entire Peoples Liberation Army was on R&R and the central parts, the tourist areas, were literally filled with advancing phalanxes of Chinese visitors. Marching in formations almost always five persons wide, we were forced on several occasions to literally flatten ourselves backs to walls, in the narrow streets so the hordes could get past (Americans are NOT the most unpleasant tourists, in our experience) We will never visit Venice again during the touring season, yet we have been told that Venice in the off-season is extremely unpleasant weather-wise...floods, high winds, damp cold, etc...although without all the tourists. We are not naive enough to believe that we should have the city to ourselves, but Venice is not, say, Rome or Paris, where wide streets and plazas relieve some of the pressure. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I'd hate to write Venice off permanently, but we're just not willing to deal again with the hi-season crowds.

Posted by
8241 posts

Go in November or December. I have. Did not experience flooding. Quiet . No cruise ships in port. Bliss. Weather was fine. St. Mark's Square did have tourists but NOT hordes. Thankfully I'm not limited to the summer months to travel and in fact would NEVER travel anywhere in June, July or August. Travel off season always is my rule of thumb and has been for over 40 years. Nothing I've wanted to see has been closed (other than a performance at Shakespeare Globe in London. Made up for that on a May trip two years ago) and during Xmas excursions great fun at markets, recitals, traditional festivities, etc. Cheaper airfares, accommodations, fewer tourists and in countless trips been blessed, nearly always, with good weather. Often cold but nothing brutal. Smart layering with a warm coat works fine. Occasionally some rain but nothing to take away for my joy of being in London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Dublin, Belfast, Florence, etc. If you can travel off season do so. Simple as that. Also you might consider posting this in the Italy forum.

Posted by
993 posts

First, you might want to move this to Italy... I think you must have accidentally clicked Ireland.

We just returned from Venice June 19-22 - pretty high season I would think. We came in by train, went to our apartment in Dorsoduro, explored around there, dinner in Dorsoduro, the next day went to a rowing class in Canareggio, then got the vaporetto back to San Marco where we got off... that was the point where we were like WHOA!!! There are a million people here!?!?! Our entire first 24 hours, it was like we were the only tourists.

We did go to San Marco one morning, passed across Rialto bridge a couple of times, but that was all we were in the "touristy" areas. The rest of the time we spent in Dorsoduro, and quick trip to Murano which I didn't find horribly crowded.

A friend of ours was also visiting who grew up in Venice, and he took us on a nice walk around Canareggio - up the larger canal that is back there, branching off the Grand Canal - and there were lovely sidewalk cafes, a nice big place to walk, a gorgeous canal - and almost no people. And I thought wow, it is true, most people stay right there at Rialto, trying to eat at a sidewalk cafe when there are literally hundreds of people walking by their table.... and just a few short minutes away, here is this beautiful peaceful canal, and there is no one here.

So.... in my limited less-than-72-hours Venice experience, I would say June is a great time to visit, just stay out of the main areas. Which should be easier for you now that you have probably seen the major sites. My favorite part was just wandering around in Dorsoduro and Canareggio. :)


Posted by
11294 posts

I agree with Kim. One of Rick's truest comments is "While 80 percent of Venice is, in fact, not touristy, 80 percent of the tourists never notice. Hit the back streets." I thought he might be exaggerating, but I found it totally true that by avoiding the train station area, the Rialto, Piazza San Marco, and the most direct paths between these, I got away from the vast majority of the crowds. And I was there in September, when cruise ships still visit. I stayed in Dorsoduro, and near me were a store selling socks (not shoes - just socks) and a store that refilled printer ink cartridges. Only when I left Dorsurduro did I see the endless mask shops, glass shops, mask shops, and glass shops.

Besides place, the other trick to avoiding crowds is time. Get up really early at least once, and walk and take vaporetti around the city as the sun is rising. You will have lovely light, as well as a city almost all to yourself. Even if you need to go back to sleep after this, it's worth it.

On the other hand, if you do want to visit the tourist areas (they're crowded for a reason), I agree with Claudia's idea of visiting in the off season, and being prepared for the weather.

Posted by
1994 posts

I've gone the last 3 years in the fall and have found the crowds to be manageable. Late September to mid-October still had nice weather, a little chilly in the evening. There was a little bit of flooding 2 of the years, but I found that to be interesting; it certainly didn't interfere with anything I wanted to do.

I'm not sure I'd want to go in the dead of winter, but I'm also real wimp about cold weather.

Posted by
15093 posts

We rented an apartment and spent the entire month of October in Venice last year. It was an excellent time to go. The weather was perfect---70 degree days, only 2or 3 with rain---although it did start getting dark pretty early at the end of the month. Crowds? You cannot avoid them unless you go in the dead of winter. (I.e., January, since February is consumed with Carvavale). the cruise ship season extends well into late fall--right up to December. Take a look at this:

I have included onlynthe Crociere, the seagoing cruise ships. Mthe Fluvialimor river boats are much smaller, with many fewer passengers. They tend to stay in port longer as a floating hotel. The huge ships that arrive and depart the same day are the ones that produce hordes of people who clog the streets. Look at October 4, when 5 of the mega ships will visit for the day. But not every ship on the list is a mega-monster. The Sea Cloud, for example ( October 9) is a 64- passenger windjammer, a beautiful sailing ship. (We saw her sister the Sea Cloud II in port while we were there, moored at San Basilio rather than the main cruise terminal).

Younwillmsee frommthe calendar that the cruise ships continue through November and into December. Change the calendar to January and February to see how it looks. And maybe change the criteria to "tutti I navi" to see the Fluviali and Aliscafi (ferries) as well.

As others have said, the crowds can be avoided. Book a place in Dorsoduro, Cannareggio, or San Polo, and find your own back routes through the city. We must have walked every calle and campo in Venice while there, and most of them are pleasantly free of the crowds. I did make a mistake one and have to flatten myself against a wall exactly as you describe,, but that was near Rialto Bridge.

As for flooding, that is becoming more and more frequent, and there was occasionally water up over the sidewalks ar high tide, but easily avoided. We did not experience a true Acqua Alta but if we had it would have just been considered an adventure.bbthe city is well equipped to cope, so it is really only aproblemmif you must get to or frommthe airport with luggage during the high water (which only lasts a few hours).

I would always avoid the summer months due to the heat. We have enjoyed both spring (April) and fall ( October) there. Next time we want to try winter, just because.


Posted by
2977 posts

I don't think Don ever saw these responses, maybe because he couldn't find his topic, lost in Ireland. I sent him a message to tell him where to look, but no response. Maybe the Webmaster could move it TI Italy where someone who is interested in the same question might see it?

Posted by
41 posts

Thanks to all for the helpful (and somewhat comforting, replies). I DID see these as I soon realized that I had mis-filed my own question. Thanks for your patience.