It is easy to get to Venice by train, but it isn't always easy to work out the best time to go. From carnival to cruise ship crowds, springtime to beach time, Venice has four eclectic seasons.
As our Venice city guide points out: “If you have time for just one Italian city, make it to Venice. The city has a reputation for being formidably crowded, but Venice makes space for everyone." When working out the best time to go to Venice, however, here are some good tips to take into consideration before making your travel plans.
Best time to go to Venice for no crowds
‘Overtourism’ is a now a serious issue in Venice, with local protests against crowded canals and 'campi' a common feature. The bruising from cruising can no longer be hidden, and so the best way to avoid the mass disembarkation of thousands of passengers is to be forewarned. One great source of information is Cruise Timetables, which show daily arrival times all cruise ships, and so you can time your visit around these, just to be sure. In short, December, January and February are relatively cruise ship free.
February in Venice is not always the best time to visit if crowds aren’t your thing, however, as it is also Carnival time. And we don’t mean the cruise ship company. The world famous Carnevale di Venezia takes place in the run up to the Christian festival of Lent, over a two week period. Due to the ever-changing religious calendar, it is a moveable feast so always check the Carnival website for more details.
July and August in Venice are always busy, not just with cruise ship passengers but with thousands of other daytrippers too. Venetians traditionally take a two week holiday during August in and around Ferragosto, the annual public holiday on 15 August, and so the city takes on an artificial tourism dominated feel. It is worth remembering that there are many other places to visit near Venice by train during these busy periods, such as Treviso or the beach at San Donà di Piave’s Jesolo.
Surprisingly, it is not a big tourist season in Venice at Christmas, and the city feels very real again, with local people celebrating the traditions of the festive season. It also sparkles of course, with Christmas markets (which end Christmas Eve by the way) at Strada Nova and Campo Santo Stefano and also an ice rink at Campo San Polo.
Weather in Venice
There are four very definite seasons in Venice. Maybe that's why the city's most famous son, Vivaldi, so named his famous concerti. July is the hottest month with average temperatures of 28°C. Average temperatures in August are slightly lower at 23°C. During these months, Venetian life revolves around the lagoon islands and Lido. Bring your mosquito repellent too, as mossies love the canals during summer months. June temperatures are an average of 20°C although they can often creep well into the twenties during this time.
Many people go to Venice in October or November when the cruise ship numbers have slowed down a little. However, this is when rains can flood the city as well so be prepared to bring your brolly. And rubber boots. This period, when the waters start to rise, is known as ‘acqua alta’, and can also continue into December. Venice also gets another type of crowd during October, that of new students, as many people forget that Venice is also a university city. So the bars are definitely brimming during this time too.
For many people, spring is the best time of the year to visit Venice, in particular, late March or early April taking Easter dates into consideration as the crowds pack in during that time. The Adriatic air is already warming up a little, with average temperatures around 12°C in early April, wisteria is blooming on many of the buildings and the beaches are still deserted. Bring a wetsuit if you want a dip, though. The average sea temperature is only 13°C in spring.
Travelling to Venice by train in spring is also very special, especially if you are taking a route through the Alps, which you do when you take the train route from Paris. You will speed through a stunning contrast of landscapes, allowing you to take in the changing landscapes of snowy peaks, wildflower meadows and, finally, the more balmy Veneto region and coast. You can also opt for the Paris to Venice Thello night train to catch sight of Lake Geneva and the Alps by moonlight.
During December and January in Venice, temperatures average around 3°C. So layer up and drink plenty of the local hot chocolate. There is a misty but also quite a magical feeling in the city during this time, so don’t expect blue skies. With an average of nine days of rainfall during these months, you will need rain gear, but it is not as bad as October or November.
Rail journeys to Venice
With direct trains from Paris, Rome, Florence and Munich, to name but a few, getting to Venice by train is very easy. In addition, travelling from London to Venice by train only requires one change, with prices from £70. You can book between two to six months in advance with most Italian trains, but read ‘How far in advance to book rail tickets’ for more details.
Image credits top to bottom: Huge Cruise Ship: As Seen from Small Canal, Venice, Italy iStock ©JannHuizenga, Venice Carnival 2014 iStock ©neyya, Famous murano glass Venice Italian City iStock ©underworld111, Venice landmark, Burano island canal, colorful houses and boats iStock ©StevanZZ, Acqua alta in Venice, Italy iStock ©horstgerlach, Laundry in the Venice iStock ©BakiBG, Venice, Italy iStock ©horstgerlach, Train Between Sea And Sky, iStock ©kvkirillov.