When is the best time to visit Venice in Italy? It is very hard to answer that questions as each month or season has its advantages and disadvantages. But I now have visited Venice twice in February and loved both times. Although, it is a completely different experience than in Spring or Summer. But I do believe, Venice has a lot to offer for visitors in February. Read here why I think you should visit Venice in February.
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Visit Venice in Winter
If you visit Europe, and Italy in winter, you have to consider a few factors that are no real issue in spring or summer. But although winters in Europe are changing and not as cold as they might have been in the past, it is still winter.
Keep in mind the following thing when you plan to travel to Venice in winter:
- Daylight hours are limited. Venice uses daylight savings time which means they are on CET or GMT+1 (opposed to GMT+2 in summer). Daylight hours vary from 7.30 am until 5 pm at the start of February, to 6.50 am until 6 pm at the end of February.
- Venice lies in a lagune, surrounded by water. Although the water is very unlikely to freeze, it will not be warm and balmy. Sitting outside or spending time outside might be very cold and you rather choose to sit indoors during lunch and dinner.
- Winter weather can change in one day. You can wake up to a sunny clear blue sky with mild temperatures and in the evening it can be windy and rainy. Bring enough clothes to dress for all types of weather and wear layers.
- Venice might not be so much affected by winter weather, but other airports in Italy, like Milan or Rome, can experience heavy winter weather. Allocate enough time for possible delays with trains or domestic flights.
Why you should visit Venice in February
As the service announcements about winter weather and travel to Venice in winter are out of the way, we can focus on the month of February particularly.
I have visited Venice now a grand total of 5 times, of which 2 were in February. What is so special about Venice in February and why should you consider a trip in February to Venice?
Continue reading to find out:
Venice Carnival in February
You might have guessed, but one of THE main reasons people consider visiting Venice in February is Carnival. Or Carnivale. Although Carnival is not invented in Venice, the Venetian Carnival is really in a league on its own. It doesn’t compare to the Irish carnival or Brazilian Carnival, but nevertheless, it is one of those events you must experience once in your life.
And where better than in Venice?
The Venice Carnival is a two-week annual feast, usually in February, and ends the day before Shrove Tuesday, on the day Lent starts. In Venice, you’ll not see parades of dancing people but the masks and costumes are the stars of the show.
During the 2 to 2.5 weeks of Carnival in Venice, you can expect floating parades of boats in the Grand Canal, exclusive parties behind closed doors, open-air shows of elaborate costumes and more people watching than your heart can take.
In my experience, some of the parties are very exclusive and for insiders only. But we had the best of fun, wandering the streets of Venice, looking at the masks shops and just sitting and looking at people. Locals and foreigners flock to the city to display the most exuberant costumes and masks. Everywhere you see a small crowd, expect to see a couple or a group dressed up in Venetian attire.
Especially if you’re a keen photographer, Venice during Carnival is a vibrant texture-laden heaven for cinematographers and photographers alike. Are you more the kind of person to dress up: there is no such thing as being overdressed in Venice during Carnival.
Valentine’s Day in Venice
What is more romantic than spending Valentine’s Day in Venice? Or better yet, make a weekend of it. 14 February is THE day to be in Venice with your loved one.
Tour the city together with your lover, have a spaghetti dinner at a small restaurant and book a boat tour of the canals of Venice.
If you’re not into that cheesy romantic stuff, then just walk the small alleyways of Venice, holding hands. Look out over the lagune or hop on a waterbus to tour the islands around Venice. Either way, spend the day together!
Lesser Crowds in winter in Venice
Despite the busy Valentine’s day, and the mega events for Carnival in Venice, the city of Venice can be quite empty for the rest of February. Expect empty streets, empty water taxis, and overall, fewer crowds in Venice.
The weather might scare people off, or they want to visit the city in Spring or Summer, but if you happen to be in Italy in February, then don’t skip Venice.
You can have the place to yourselves, away from St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge, as they are always busy.
Lesser crowds also mean more space to explore, lesser people in your selfies with the city, and possibly lower prices for city taxes and hotel rooms. Take advantage of that!
Not many cruise ships
In summer, it is not uncommon for cruise ships to dock in Venice every day. Some days, you’ll see hordes of people pushing through the small streets of Venice with a cruise ship logo. They usually spend a day in the city, only visiting the highlights and due to the sheer number of people, Venice can become hopelessly congested.
But in February, the number of cruise ships scheduled to dock in Venice is close to zero. From November onwards, fewer cruise ships are scheduled to stop in Venice and that continues until February.
At the end of the month, a ship can dock, and numbers pick up from March onwards. So that are fewer people to worry about!
Crisp air in Winter in Venice
Ok, I have to admit, Venice is a gorgeous city but with the number of people, and all the water surrounding it, the air in Venice can suffocate you a bit in summer.
My first visit to Venice was on a warm day at the start of summer. You could see the hot air vibrate above the concrete of the square and the only breeze you could feel was when a speed boat whizzed past.
The fumes of the diesel boats mixed with the thick summer air, it can get overwhelming in Venice.
But not in winter and February. In February, you’ll have nothing with crisp winter air from the Dolomites and the Alpes in the city. The wind can get chilly, but the air is usually crisp and clean. Blue skies are of the brightest kinds on a sunny day in Venice in February, so make the most of it.
Less smell of the water
Linked with the quality of the air, the smell of the water, just sitting in the canals during summer can be another nuisance.
Luckily, you don’t have that in February. The difference between the tides is much bigger, the water is not baking in the hot sun, and overall, I could not discover any smelly bodies of water in Venice in February. Win-win.
Possibility of snow in Venice
During my first visit to Venice in February, I was suddenly surprised by snow!
A small blanket of white snow covered the streets, the boats laying still in the water, and the domes of Saint Mark’s Basilica covered in snow. It was magical.
All sounds faded and the city became quiet as the snowflakes swirled down on the city.
My experiences with Venice in February
During my first visit to Venice, I stayed across the water in Sestre and took the train every day into the city. A cold wind was blowing and I even had snow one day.
Despite the main tourist attractions, the streets were empty and I had all the space in the world to roam around, explore and take photos. I visited the local market and sat in an anonymous square with some local old ladies. It felt like a real city.
The 2nd time I visited, we booked a hotel in the center of Venice and timed our dates with the Carnival of Venice. The parades have already been, but there were enough people dressed up and attending parties and shows.
Although it was February, it was very warm for the time of year and we didn’t need our winter coats. We ate pizza for lunch in the piazza and it felt like spring on the other islands around Venice. Although some streets were very busy, if we walked into a side street, we had the place to ourselves.
February: a good time to visit Venice
Venice in February can have two faces. Depending on the weather and what festivities are on. But both can be the perfect reason to visit Venice in February, depending on what you’re after!
Have you considered visiting Venice in February? Why would you want to go or why would you want to avoid the city in February? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear them.