Venice, "The Floating City," is truly one of a kind. This northeastern Italian city is made of 117 islands divided by canals and connected by hundreds of bridges. The largest car-free urban area in Europe, Venice is renowned for its architecture, its artwork, and of course, the picturesque canals. Few cities have inspired so many; Venice has been the setting for countless novels, plays, movies, and music videos. Before traveling to such a unique, magical place, you want to make sure you choose the best time to visit Venice.
Many consider late spring and early summer the best time to visit Venice in terms of the weather; this time of year is filled with beautiful, warm days, and although the peak tourist season is not yet under way, you can expect to find many other visitors enjoying Venice's great weather along with you. Tourists often try to visit Venice earlier in the peak season rather than later because the city has developed something of bad reputation in July and especially August. Visitors crowd the bridges and canals, the days are hot and muggy, and the canals are supposedly at their most malodorous. The bad smell of the canals is certainly exaggerated, more historical memory than current truth now that Venice has a modern sanitization system; nevertheless, the mosquitoes are more numerous and bothersome at this time of year. You'd be wise to take bug repellant if you visit Venice in July or August, or just rent a car in Venice to get out of the city for a day to explore the beautiful Veneto region.
October through late February is the best time to go to Venice if you're averse to large crowds; in fact, Venice is one of the best European cities to visit in November. If you visit during this time, you'll likely feel like the only tourist surrounded by Venetians, foggy mornings, and quiet streets. However, you should be aware that Venice has colder, longer winters than the cities on Italy's southern coast that are more common winter vacation destinations. Winter is also the high water season in Venice and the time when the city is most like to experience acqua alta, or flooding. It's important to remember, though, that dealing with flooding has been a way of life for Venetians for hundreds of years, and the few hours you might get stranded due to acqua alta will allow you to see Venice the way only the locals normally see it. Bring a raincoat and sufficient layers and get ready to drink lots of hot chocolate, and you're sure to make it through Venice's colder season with no problem.
If you're still not sure when the best time to go to Venice is, you should consider building your trip around one of the city's many festivals. Many visitors have caught on to the fact that Venice has some of the liveliest, most entertaining festivals in Europe, so the city will get pretty packed during each event, but the celebratory spirit that permeates the air during the festivals make braving the crowds well worth it. Some of the best festivals in Venice include Holy Week each spring, the Festa de Redentor in July, and the Biennale dell'Arte that is held from June through November every other year. Venice's most famous event, however, has to be Carnevale, which takes place in late February or early March and is filled with masks, costumes, and universal revelry.
The weather and the mood change quite a bit in Venice throughout the year, so knowing how the city changes is the perfect way to find the best time to visit Venice, something that will be different for everyone. No matter when you visit, you're sure to feel the charm and spark that have inspired so many creative minds over the centuries. Before you leave, be sure to check out our Italy Travel Guide page so you learn all you need to know, and if you want to explore more of the beautiful Italian countryside, use our expertly-crafted Veneto to Lake Garda road trip to inspire yet another journey!