We arrived on a cold winter day in December.
I was spending Christmas in Venice with my family. I've always loved Christmas in Venice; I explain why here and arriving in Venice on this cold and misty day, I was as excited as ever. No matter how many times I visit Venice, I always feel that incredible excitement from the moment I step out of the Venice station and the spectacular Grand Canal lies before me.
Today, I couldn't see much of that, though.
Venice was very misty, but the excitement was as strong as ever. Lost in the winter mists we set out to explore, It was easy to imagine you'd stepped out into 1721. No people. Only a thousand stories around every corner—the ghosts of a Venice past. Churches wrapped in gray, palaces wrapped in mystery: who lives there, who lived there?
If only those ancient stones called talk.
Get up early enough during the lonely months, as I call December, January, and March, and you'll find Venice emptied of tourists. A Venice where the magic of centuries past seems to have returned
The silence always amazes me; often there's not a sound, apart from the soft, occasional splish splash of one of the early morning gondolas. I'll watch them glide by, the gondolier standing tall and impervious to the chill. The early gondola passengers aboard were warmed only by love, their embrace, and a thick blanket or two.
Something about the light of dawn starts is special too.
The last golden glow of the streetlamps combines with the sunrise to truly enchant; ten minutes of this is enough to raise the spirits for months and linger in memories forever.
It is kind of hard to capture the atmosphere in words, and sometimes it's even harder to do so in photos, would you believe? That's why I was so excited when Juliet Earth, one of our Facebook "village" communities, shared her photos with me. They capture exactly what I was trying to explain.
I particularly love the last three, near the end of the page, with the boys trying to recover their ball from the canal. To me, those boys and their ball are a perfect little cameo of real life in Venice, something you often don't see in the summer when real life in Venice is overwhelmed by tourists.
Perhaps they'll tempt you to discover a Venice few ever do.
If you do decide to visit Venice during winter you can click here to get going.
Does it snow in Venice in winter?
Venice, typically graced with relatively mild winters, occasionally witnesses a dusting of snow, particularly in January and February. While heavy snowfall is rare, when it happens, it transforms the city's charming canals and historic architecture into a winter wonderland.
Can you go on a gondola ride in winter?
Yes, gondolas gracefully navigate the picturesque canals year-round. While the Venice winter weather may be brisk, the atmosphere is undeniably romantic and evocative. Make sure you dress up warmly, though; you'll need a heavy coat, gloves, a scarf, and someone warm to cuddle.
Do the high water levels in Venice affect winter visits?
Venice's high water levels, or "acqua alta," can occasionally occur during winter due to tides and rainfall. Since the advent of the flood barrier the flooding is far less than it once was. More about Venice flooding here.
What are some indoor attractions to explore in Venice in the winter?
Venice boasts an array of indoor attractions that are perfect for exploring during the winter months. You can visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection to admire modern art, explore the fascinating Doge's Palace, or delve into the city's rich history at the Museo Correr. The historic churches, like St. Mark's Basilica, offer captivating architecture and art to appreciate while staying warm indoors.
What cultural sites and museums are open during the winter months?
Most major cultural sites and museums remain open, though some may have reduced hours. It's advisable to check the specific opening hours and any holiday closures in advance.
What should I wear to stay warm and comfortable in Venice's winter weather?
Pack layers, including a warm jacket, sweaters, scarves, and waterproof boots. Bring gloves and a hat to stay cozy during chilly walks along the canals.
Are there any special events in Venice during the winter season?
Yes, Venice hosts the famous Carnival in February, known for its elaborate masks and costumes. Additionally, there are Christmas markets and festive events throughout December.
This is the photo I mentioned liking most. It captures exactly what early morning during the Venice winter is about. Occasionally, you'll find a soft mist enveloping everything and making the atmosphere more mystical.
The view from St Marks looking across to Giudecca island at dawn on a crisp and clear winter's morning. You get the occasional perfect sunny winter's day mixed in with misty or rainy ones. Venice in winter is a little like that; you can never really predict the weather.
A gondola makes its lonely way down a side canal. Somehow Venice looks completely different in winter, not sure what it is, maybe the light? Anyway it's gorgeous!
The beautiful church of Santa Maria della Salute, this truly is a church for our times. It was built in the 17th century, in thanks to God for helping Venice to overcome a plague that killed many. It is one of the most beautiful churches in all of Italy: click here for our list of the 12 most beautiful churches and cathedrals in Italy.
A cold winter's day in Venice, and a lone gondola heads out with two passengers, well wrapped against the winter chill.
Wrapped up against the February cold, these boatmen seem to belong to an age many centuries past.
With no cars and virtually no serious crime, Venice is a great city for kids. During the summer months they tend to be crowded out by the tourists but in winter they reclaim their city and come out to play soccer. Trouble is, those canals can really mess up a game of soccer (football).
Since adding the photos above I've received a couple of other lovely ones taken in January by Leigh Alba. You can see them below.