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Venice at Night – 17 Things to Do in La Serenissima

Venice can be crowded.  And hot. 

Packed streets, busy vaporetti (water buses), and long lines. 

But you don’t have to see Venice that way.  Come to Venice at night!

Venice at night is peaceful and dramatic.  It’s quiet, the day-trippers are gone, and Venetians have taken back their city.

It’s an enchanting time to see Venice!  Although our family makes a lot of day trips to Venice (from Florence), I always appreciate our overnight trips because we get to experience Venice at night.

Here are our 17 best things to do in Venice at night:

Things to Do in Venice at Night

Take the Vaporetto Along the Grand Canal

My favorite thing to do (combined with the next tip), is to take vaporetto #1 along the Grand Canal.  It’s a special journey during the day, and even more so at night.  The lights reflect on the water, it’s quieter, and usually much cooler (if you’re visiting during the hot summer months).

If the weather’s nice, find a spot on the edge of the boat and feel the breeze as you soak up the lit-up palazzi (palaces) and monuments.

You can get on the boat at many stops along the Grand Canal.  I love to take it from the Santa Lucia train station and finish at Piazza San Marco. 

Look Up!

If you take the vaporetto #1 (or any other boat), make sure you look up!  It sounds silly but do it!  There are so many beautifully decorated ceilings in Venice, and you can only really see them in the evening from the canals. 

You can also see some ceilings on foot, but usually from the campi (squares), as the normal streets are often too narrow to be at the correct angle to see the ceilings.

Go on a Bàcari Crawl

Plate of cicchetti snacks sitting on a canal wall in Venice, Italy.

Venice has its cicchetti, or little snacks that you can order at a bàcaro, a place that often serves the cicchetti along with wine or other drinks.

We like this type of meal – it’s like making a dinner (or lunch) out of a bunch of appetizers.  You can share, sample here and there, and order as you go.  It’s a fun way to try new things that you wouldn’t necessarily risk ordering for your main (and only) dish.

There are tons of different types of cicchetti – some classics are meatballs (usually fried), toasted bread topped with sardines or shrimp, and polenta topped with onions and sausage or mushrooms. 

Be sure to wash your cicchetti down with a glass of wine – prosecco (sparkling), ribolla (white), raboso (red), or merlot (red).  Or, have a spritz (with Aperol, Select, or Campari – your choice!).

When you’re done, head to the next bàcaro and keep going as long as you like!  You can make a pre-meal out of it, or do like we do, and make it your entire meal (followed by gelato, of course).

Good To Know:  Cicchetti make a perfect meal for kids!  They’re fun to order and eat, and kids (from toddlers to teens) enjoy choosing their own.  It’s also a nice way to get kids to try a food they normally avoid.

Good To Know:  You’ll find plenty of bàcari in the area around the Rialto Bridge.

Go for a Walk

A dark, quiet canal and path in Venice, Italy at night.  There is a quote by Woody Allen about Venice typed on the photo:  Venice is the most romantic place in the world but it's even better when there is no one around.

Ask anyone what you should do and often you’ll hear, “just wander and get lost in the little narrow lanes of the city.”  Well, it’s good advice!

While the crowds thin out in Venice at night, you’ll still see visitors on the same paths that are full during the day.  Take a detour and see what you find.  You may end up in a small campo (square) with Venetian residents or passing by a workshop of a local artisan. 

I also love a Venice night walk along the Riva degli Schiavoni.  It’s the long, wide lagoon-front walkway that passes in front of the Doge’s palace.  It’s packed during the day, but at night (and early morning), it’s one of the best places for a stroll.

See an Opera at Teatro La Fenice

Inside Teatro La Fenice opera house in Venice, Italy.

Craving opera?  If so, you’re in luck.  Venice has an incredible opera house, one of the most famous and beautiful in the world.

The appropriately named Teatro La Fenice (Phoenix Theater) has been destroyed three times by fire only to rise from the ashes to entertain Venetians and visitors from around the world.

Although it’s an opera house, you’ll find more than opera performances at the theater – check out the calendar online for its schedule of ballet, dance, and other musical performances.    

Go on a Gondola Ride

Nighttime gondola ride in Venice, Italy along the Grand Canal.

While I’m not a gondola fanatic (I think traveling around Venice on any boat is magical), I understand that a gondola ride can be a memorable part of a visit to Venice.

If you’re not on a day trip, schedule your gondola ride for the evening, around sunset.  The light is gorgeous, and the waterways are less crowded.

A night gondola ride is a bit more expensive, but worth it. 

A gondola ride when it’s dark is also beautiful with the lights reflecting off the water.

Take a Night Tour of St. Mark’s Basilica or the Doge’s Palace

Night is falling on the Doge's Palace in Venice, Italy.

Both St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) and the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) are worth a visit during your trip to Venice. 

Both are busy during the day, so if you want to enjoy them without elbowing your way through the crowds, book an evening guided visit.  There are quite a few tour companies offering visits.  Walks of Italy has excellent tours and they offer a combo St. Mark’s Basilica / Doge’s Palace Private Tour.

See the mosaics of the Basilica sparkling in the lights, and wander through a spacious and quiet Doge’s Palace, one of Italy’s most famous museums.

Head Up to a Rooftop Restaurant or Bar

Having aperitivo or a meal on a rooftop terrace is a must-do in Italian villages and cities, and Venice is no exception. 

Check out Venice from above from:

Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven) Restaurant and Bar – Michelin-star dining and a cocktail bar on the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Bauer Palazzo.  You can come just for drinks but be there when it opens at 6:00 pm.  The terrace is large, but you can’t reserve, so early birds get the tables with the best views.

Terrazza Danieli – In the summer months (May – September), head to the rooftop bar for aperitivo (only in the afternoon) before dinner at the fine dining Terrazza Danieli Restaurant.

Skyline Rooftop Bar – Venice’s most popular and well-known rooftop bar, Skyline Rooftop Bar is located on the 8th floor of the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice hotel on Giudecca Island.  Gorgeous views of Venice in a modern, elegant setting. 

Good To Know:  Although it closes in the early evening (7 pm April – October, 6 pm November – March), the top of the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore gives my favorite view of Venice.  Climb up and see Venice from above as the day starts to wind down.  Then, explore Venice at night!

Go on a Food Tour

There are multiple companies offering evening food tours of Venice, and they usually revolve around cicchetti or particular neighborhoods. 

Book one for an easy way to experience Venice’s food culture, or make your way through the city looking for and trying:

  • cicchetti
  • tramezzini (crustless white bread sandwiches)
  • risotto al nero di seppia (risotto with black cuttlefish ink)
  • bigoli in salsa (thick spaghetti with an onion/sardine sauce)
  • risi e bisi (rice and peas)
  • buranelli (round or s-shaped Venetian cookies)

Libreria Acqua Alta

Libreria Acqua Alta, a unique bookstore in Venice, Italy.

It’s not open late, but it’s worth a quick visit in the evening for the views from the terrace.  Even if you stopped in during the day, you’ll appreciate the terrace in the evening light.

This bookstore is popular with Instagrammers, so you’ll have more room to explore it in the evening when the crowds have thinned out.  Check out the creative ways the shop stores its books – in bathtubs, gondolas, and more. 

Aperitivo on St. Mark’s Square

St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy at night with a quote by Mark Twain: "In the glare of the day, there is little poetry about Venice, but under the charitable moon, her stained palaces are white again."

A classic nighttime activity in Venice – having aperitivo on Piazza San Marco. 

Park yourself at one of the oldest cafes in the world, Caffè Florian.  It’s been serving Venice since 1720 and is the prime spot on the piazza in the summer when musicians put on small classical concerts.

It’s pricey, but you’re sitting on St. Mark’s square, with a cocktail, a view of the Basilica, and you’re listening to classical music…

Still not convinced because of the cost?  For better value, have a drink or dinner with a view of the lagoon at Ristorante Da Alvise.  It has a covered terrace on the water and the view is fantastic at night.

See Live Music

If the classical music at Caffè Florian isn’t enough, there are other options for you in Venice:

Venice Jazz Club

Check out the VJC’s website for info on upcoming concerts.  It’s a tiny venue and you can eat there before the show.  The club has a loyal following.

Musica a Palazzo

A creative way to perform – each act of an opera takes place in a different room of the grand Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto.  Musica a Palazzo is a unique, special experience.

Church Concert

Like many Italian cities, Venice has church concerts throughout the year.  Most nights you’ll find concerts at Chiesa San Vidal.

Seasonal Things to Do in Venice at Night

Most of these seasonal events and activities take place in Venice during the winter months:

Doge's Palace in Venice, Italy lit up at night.  A large Christmas tree of lights is on display close by.

Venice Biennale

The Venice Biennale takes place every two years (surprise, surprise) in the even years (2022, 2024, etc).  Many of the events and exhibitions are in the evening.  I recommend visiting the pavilions of the Giardini and the Arsenale (visiting artists from around the world create their art based on the year’s theme).  The Film Festival is also accessible and exciting.

Carnevale

Venice is known around the world for its Carnival (which usually takes place in February), and there are plenty of things to do at night during Carnevale in the city – attend balls, walk the streets in a mask and costume, watch the boat parade, attend concerts, and more.

Read about the Best Places to Celebrate Italian Carnival.

Festa del Redentore

In July, Venice comes alive with the Festa del Redentore (the Redeemer Festival).  You can see the boat regattas in the early evening and at night celebrate on a boat and watch the elaborate fireworks show!

Christmas Market

In December, visit Campo Santo Stefano in Dorsoduro to see Venice’s Christmas market.  Local artisans sell their wares, which include Murano glass ornaments, Venetian marbled paper, Carnival masks, and traditional sweets. 

Christmas time is one of our favorite moments to be in Venice.  We loved getting bundled up and wandering the quiet, narrow streets to look at the twinkling Christmas lights and shop for a special ornament to put on our tree (although someone please remind me that glass ornaments and young kids don’t mix well!).

New Year’s Eve

Venice is a unique place to ring in the New Year!  Dinner, dancing, concerts, and fireworks viewing from St. Mark’s Square. Wake up on January 1st in one of the most amazing places on the planet!

Learn how to say Happy New Year in Italian!

Venice at Night with Kids

You can explore nighttime Venice with your little ones.

Italian kids often stay out late, so don’t be surprised if you see them out with their parents for a late dinner.  But, Venice shuts down earlier than most Italian cities.

Of the activities above, kids will most enjoy:

  • Playing and listening to the music in Piazza San Marco while you have an aperitivo
  • Riding the vaporetto through the Grand Canal
  • Playing in a campo (square) with other Italian children
  • Plus… getting gelato!

Of course, if you have a sleeping baby, you can do anything in Venice with your little one in the stroller or snoozing in a baby carrier.

Transport with kids (and strollers) is easier in the evening because the crowds disappear when the day-trippers go home. 

Read more about Traveling in Italy with a Baby or Toddler.

Venice at Night Tips

  • Reserve restaurants.  While there are plenty of restaurants in Venice, those with a good reputation or those that serve locals fill up quickly.  If you know you’d like to eat at a certain restaurant, call or email ahead to book your table.
  • Start your evening early.  Many restaurants close around 10:00 pm and most bars end the day around 11:00 pm.
  • Have a paper map handy.  We rely on our mobile phones, but after a long day of using your phone, you may end up with no battery and no digital map! 
  • Walk and take the vaporetto.  Both offer unique perspectives on La Serenissima at night
  • Don’t do anything you wouldn’t normally do.  This is an important safety tip.  For example, if you wouldn’t walk alone at night in your normal daily life, don’t do it here!  Sometimes Italy seems like a fantasy, but it is a real place and you should still take safety precautions.

Good To Know:  If you’re staying on the mainland in Mestre, you can still enjoy Venice at night!  Just take the 10-minute train ride across the water from Venice Santa Lucia station to Venice Mestre station.  Trains stop running shortly after midnight and start up again around 5:00 am.

First trip to Italy? 10th? Either way, check out our 200+ Essential Italy Travel Tips!

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