Venice by Night: a handy guidebook for exploring the city’s nightlife
When the sun goes down and night falls we discover a different but even more beautiful Venice. To find out what to see and what to do in the Venetian night just read on.
During the day the streets of Venice are bustling with life and crowded with tourists. This is unavoidable, but it can make it difficult to appreciate the beauty of the city as it deserves. But when night comes we have a new opportunity to admire its virtues and do it with a different and quieter perspective.
See its illuminated monuments, visit the canals at night or take the opportunity to have an unforgettable dinner are some of the best options to see and do in Venice. If you want to know the rest, here is a guide with the best plans to visit the city of canals at night.
1. St. Mark's Square at night
St. Mark's Square is the heart of the city. During the day the vast majority of visitors to the city congregate in it and sometimes can even overwhelm. But at night things change. The square becomes much quieter and allows you to admire more calmly its monuments such as the Clock Tower or the bell tower of San Marcos with the addition of the night lighting that, in general throughout the city, is very successful.
In the summer months and high season the nights are livelier in the square, but if you travel in winter it is surprising how on some nights the square is practically deserted. Being alone in the square at night contemplating its imposing buildings is an unparalleled experience. If you tolerate the cold well and visit Venice in winter, I highly recommend you do so.
2. The most beautiful building in Venice illuminated. St. Mark's Basilica by night.
In my opinion, and that of many who visit Venice, St. Mark's Basilica is the most beautiful building in the city. And the nighttime views reinforce that opinion. The lighting is very successful and you can tell that it is designed to highlight the virtues of its facade. The frescoes, mosaics and sculptures of the basilica shine with their own light at night and the golden colors stand out even more.
If during the day the acqua alta or the rain has left the ground wet, you will have the opportunity to take a spectacular picture of the reflection of the basilica illuminated on the floor of the square. The tranquility and silence of the night also help to stay several minutes contemplating St. Mark's Basilica.
3. A night visit to the Doge's Palace
The most important and most visited building in Venice, next to St. Mark's Basilica, is the Doge's Palace. Located right next to the basilica, this palace also has a special attraction at night and its white facade shines even more with the night illumination.
But the best of the Doge's Palace at night is not on the outside, but on the inside. You may ask yourself, if it closes at night, how can I see the palace from the inside? Well, that possibility exists. It is not usual and is not open every night, but we can hire a private tour with a guide to see the ducal palace at night in a visit almost exclusively for us.
On the official websiteyou can find all the information about these private tours outside the opening hours. We will have to book at least three days in advance and a minimum of 10 people is required to do so. Logically, the entrance fee to the Doge's Palace will be much higher, but it is a unique opportunity.
4. Photograph the Bridge of Sighs at night
The Bridge of Sighs is one of the most photographed monuments in Venice. It belongs to the Doge's Palace itself and is located in the narrow canal behind it. During the day it is almost impossible to take a picture next to this bridge without dozens of other tourists appearing in the photo. If we want to get this picture at night it is a much easier mission.
From the Ponte della Paglia we have the best photo. The walls surrounding the Bridge of Sighs remain dark at night while the bridge itself is illuminated highlighting even more in the channel. A beautiful night postcard that is worth immortalizing and also without the difficulty of opening a gap between hundreds of people with the same goal.
5. The most famous postcard of Venice. Rialto Bridge at night.
The Rialtono Bridgeis not only one of the main tourist attractions of Venice but also the best viewpoint we have to see the Grand Canal. The gondolas passing under its arch are the most famous postcard of Venice and at night it is even more beautiful.
At night the traffic on the Grand Canal is greatly reduced and only a few gondolas with couples on board circulate under the bridge. It is a good time, taking advantage of the tranquility, to photograph the illuminated bridge. From the bridge itself we can also admire the Grand Canal at night. The palaces built on its banks are illuminated and in some cases let us glimpse their majestic interiors. One of the most famous postcards of Venice at night.
6. A romantic gondola ride at night
Venice is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world. And when night falls it is even more so. In this sense, the best thing to do is to take a night ride along the canals in a gondola with your partner. The gondoliers themselves are excellent accomplices to create an ideal atmosphere and enjoy a unique evening.
The route is up to you. There are gondolas everywhere that will take you wherever you want, although I recommend you to go along the Grand Canal and more touristy places like the Bridge of Sighs that are much less crowded at night. During the day the standard rate for a half hour ride is about 80 euros but at night prices can double depending on the area where we move.
7. Viewpoint of Santa Maria della Salute
Next to the church of Santa Maria della Salute there is a well known viewpoint to watch the sunset in Venice. During sunset many tourists come here but few visit it during the night. This is a mistake since the night views from Punta della Dogana are equally spectacular.
It is one of the favorite spots for professional photographers as you can see part of St. Mark's Square, with the Doge's Palace and the Campanile illuminated, and the Basilica Di San Giorgio Maggiore with a spectacular night illumination.
8. Dinner aboard the Venetian galleon
Another favorite evening plan for those looking for a romantic evening is a dinner cruise on the Venetian galleon. This famous boat recreates a gigantic galleon and offers a 3-hour cruise on the Venetian lagoon while tasting a high level dinner.
The menu consists of fish and seafood dishes from around Venice and, of course, fresh Italian pasta. Both the food and the service are up to the standard of a fine restaurant.
The downside is that seating is limited and reservations are required well in advance. The prices are high, about 100 euros per adult and 60 euros per child, but the experience of tasting a dinner of level touring Venice on a galleon is something unique in the world.
9. Dinner at the bacari of Venice
The bacari are the typical taverns of Venice. They are small places located mostly on the banks of the canals with a large bar and a good atmosphere for a quiet dinner. They are a common meeting point for Venetians who gather to dine and especially to drink wine.
In them the typical thing is to dine while accompanied by an Italian wine or a Spritz. The latter is a combination of water, wine and gas with a slice of orange very typical of Venice and its surroundings. Croutons with cod, stewed folpetti, mozzarella in carrozza and sardines in flavor are some of the typical dishes of these taverns.
These bars are found all over Venice but the most renowned are those in the Sestieri area of San Polo and Cannareggio.
10. Evening shows: Theater and live music
Going to the theater or an evening show is the order of the day in Venice. In fact, the city is historically linked to entertainment because of its theaters and its world-famous carnival.
One of the nightlife options that we can contemplate is to book a ticket for a play or even an opera. If you want to live the most complete Venetian experience you can do it at the Teatro La Fenice. The most famous of Venice and one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. The building suffered several fires, the last one in 1996, but the renovations have preserved the charm of the building.
There are other cheaper alternatives such as the Malibran Theater, which also serves as an opera house, or the Goldoni, the oldest theater in the city. As an alternative to the theaters we have the live music shows. They are very common in Venice and are held almost every night in many bars and spots in the city.
Also for lovers of live music, you can enjoy a concert of baroque music in the Church of San Vidal. With tickets to see the Interpreti Veneziani chamber music group you can enjoy classical music plus a dinner of classical Venetian food at the Osteria Leon Bianco restaurant.
11. Experience the traveling opera
A very unusual Venetian opera deserves a special mention. In some of the palaces along the Grand Canal there are nightly shows known as the traveling opera, which are unique to Venice. In this opera the musicians and singers are not on a stage but spread throughout the halls of a Venetian palace. As a spectator, you can mingle among them and become fully immersed in the work.
One of the palaces that hosts this type of opera is the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto located on the Grand Canal. In its rooms there are performances of works such as La Traviata, Rigoletto or the Barber of Seville.
12. Nightlife in Venice
Venice is not known for its parties or for having large nightclubs and entertainment venues. But that doesn't mean you can't go out and have fun in Venice. There are several areas with a young and lively atmosphere where you can go out and party.
The districts of Canneregio and San Polo are the liveliest and where most of the city's pubs are located. Also in the southernmost area of Venice, in the Dorsoduro district, there is a good atmosphere and many entertainment venues for all tastes.
The Venetian party schedule is relatively early. The bars start to get lively around 10 p.m. but most close between 12:00 and 1:00 a.m.. In some of the more touristy spots they can go on until 3:00.
Tips to enjoy Venice by night
To make the most of the night experience in Venice I share with you a series of tips that may be useful in the Venetian night:
- One of the main advantages of seeing Venice at night is that its streets are empty. If you want to see the city practically alone, it is best to make your trip in winter. If you can tolerate the cold and humidity well, of course.
- Most of the visits and events that take place at night, such as the night visit to the Doge's Palace or a dinner on the galleon, are more exclusive and with reduced seating. So you should book them at least 3 days in advance.
- The humidity of Venice makes the nights usually cold even in spring. Don't be overconfident and don't forget to pack some warm clothes in your suitcase.
- Dinner hours usually start at 19:30 and last until 22:00. In the more touristy spots it is more flexible and some places close later than 22:00.