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Venice by Night: a handy guidebook for exploring the city’s nightlife

When the sun goes down and night falls we discover a different Venice, but even more beautiful. To find out what to see and what to do in the Venetian night just read on.

Carlos Bleda

Carlos Bleda

10 min read

Venice by Night: a handy guidebook for exploring the city’s nightlife

Venice by Night | ©Jan Tielens

During the day the streets of Venice are bustling with life and crowded with tourists. This is unavoidable, but it can make it difficult at times 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.

Nighttime shows: theater and live music

La Fenice Theater, Venice| ©Erin McCormack
La Fenice Theater, Venice| ©Erin McCormack

Venice is historically linked to the spectacle for its theaters, its world famous carnival and, of course, for the music, so one of the nightlife options you can consider is to book a ticket for a play or opera.

If you want to live the most complete Venetian experience you can do so by booking a ticket at the Teatro La Fenice, the most famous theater in 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.

As an alternative to the theaters we have the live music shows. They are very common in Venice and take place almost every night in many parts of the city. For example, live music lovers can enjoy a concert of baroque music in the Church of San Vidal:

Book tickets to La Fenice Theater in Venice

St. Mark's Square by night

St. Mark's Square by night| ©Sean X Liu
St. Mark's Square by night| ©Sean X Liu

St. Mark' s Square is the heart of the city. During the day the vast majority of visitors to the city congregate there, 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 St. Mark, with the addition of the night lighting that, in general, throughout the city is very successful.

Being alone in the square at night contemplating its imposing buildings is a unique experience that you must do yes or yes, but if you only visit it at night, you will miss many details and, above all, a lot of information.

My proposal is, therefore, that you book a guided tour of St. Mark's Square. This tour takes place in the morning with a guide, so you can learn all the important aspects of the square and its monuments. Afterwards, visit it again in the evening and admire it at your leisure. In this way, you will get a complete experience of one of the most famous squares in the world.

Book a tour of St. Mark's Square with visit to the Basilica

The most beautiful building in Venice illuminated. St. Mark's Basilica by night

St. Mark's Basilica by night| ©Boris Kasimov
St. Mark's Basilica by night| ©Boris Kasimov

In my opinion, and that of many who visit Venice, St. Mark's Basilica is the most beautiful building in the city. And the night 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 spend several minutes contemplating St. Mark's Basilica.

A perfect plan is to book tickets for St. Mark's Basilica at the latest possible time, 3:30 pm. If you are in Venice in autumn or winter, by the time you leave the Basilica it will be dark, as it gets dark in Venice around 4:30 pm.

Book tickets for St. Mark's Basilica

A night view of the Doge's Palace

Doge's Palace| ©Nan Palmero
Doge's Palace| ©Nan Palmero

Another of the most important and most visited buildings in Venice is the Doge's Palace. Located right next to St. Mark's Basilica, this palace also has a special attraction at night and its white facade shines even brighter with the night illumination.

But the best of the Doge's Palace at night is not on the outside, but inside. Therefore, my recommendation is the following: book in advance your tickets for the Doge's Palace, which also guarantee you a direct access without queues, and visit the building after lunch.

The Palace closes at 18:00 from November to April and at 19:00 the rest of the year. Since it is already dark during most of the year at that time, when you leave you will be able to contemplate its wonderful illuminated facade.

Book tickets for the Doge's Palace

Photograph the Bridge of Sighs at night

At night on the Bridge of Sighs| ©Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar
At night on the Bridge of Sighs| ©Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

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 on it, so if you want to get the best picture, at night it is a much easier mission.

From the Ponte della Paglia you will get the best picture. The walls surrounding the Bridge of Sighs remain dark at night, while the bridge is illuminated, standing out even more in the canal. It is 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.

Book tickets for the Doge's Palace

The most famous postcard of Venice: the Rialto Bridge at night

Rialto Bridge by night| ©Tony Hisgett
Rialto Bridge by night| ©Tony Hisgett

The Rialto Bridge is not only one of the main tourist attractions of Venice, but it is 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 Rialto Bridge. From here 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.

A romantic nighttime gondola ride

Enjoying the night on the Gondolas| ©Šarūnas Burdulis
Enjoying the night on the Gondolas| ©Šarūnas Burdulis

Venice is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world. And when night falls it is even more so. If you are traveling as a couple, 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.

There are gondolas everywhere that will take you wherever you want, although I recommend you to go along the Grand Canal and more touristic places such as the Bridge of Sighs.

You can choose a gondola ride with a maximum of 5 people and commentary in English or a private and much more romantic ride. If you make your reservation at the last available time, around 5 pm, depending on the time of the year it may be getting dark or it may be already closed at night.

Book a gondola ride

Viewpoint of Santa Maria della Salute

Church of Santa Maria della Salute| ©Judit Rubio
Church of Santa Maria della Salute| ©Judit Rubio

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 a favorite spot 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 spectacular night lighting.

Dinner aboard the Venetian Galleon

Dinner aboard the Venetian galleon.| ©lermont51
Dinner aboard the Venetian galleon.| ©lermont51

Another favorite night plan for those looking for a romantic evening is a dinner cruise on the Venetian galleon. This famous ship recreates a gigantic galleon and offers a three-hour cruise on the Venetian lagoon while enjoying a fine 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.

Dining on the bacari of Venice

Dining in the bacari of Venice.| ©MyCornerOfItaly.com
Dining in the bacari of Venice.| ©MyCornerOfItaly.com

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 for dinner and, above all, to drink wine or a Spritz, 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 that can be found all over Venice, although those located in the Sestieri area of San Polo and Cannareggio stand out.

Another very interesting option is to book a gastronomic tour at dinner time, where you will not only taste wines, tapas and desserts typical of the region, but also take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal and see the Rialto Bridge illuminated (depending on the time of year). Great!

Book a gastronomic tour of Venice

Experience the itinerant opera

Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto| ©Wolfgang Moroder.
Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto| ©Wolfgang Moroder.

In some of the palaces of the Grand Canal there are evening shows exclusive to Venice and known as the itinerant opera. 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 fully immerse yourself in the work.

One of the palaces that hosts this type of opera is the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto, located on the Grand Canal. Its rooms host performances of works such as La Traviata, Rigoletto and the Barber of Seville.

Nightlife in Venice

Rain in Venice| ©Francesca Cappa
Rain in Venice| ©Francesca Cappa

Venice is not known for its parties or for having large nightclubs and entertainment venues, but that does not mean you cannot go out and have fun in the city: there are several areas with a young and lively atmosphere where you can go out, although you should keep in mind that the opening hours are quite different from those in Spain.

The bars start to get lively around 10 pm, but most of them close between 12:00 and 1:00 am. However, in some of the more touristy spots the party can go on until 3:00.

The districts of Canneregio and San Polo are the liveliest and where most of the city's pubs are located. Also in the southern part of Venice, in the Dorsoduro district, there is a good atmosphere and many entertainment venues for all tastes.

Tips to enjoy Venice at night

Venice by night| ©Luca Sartoni
Venice by night| ©Luca Sartoni

To make the most of the nightlife experience in Venice, here are some tips that you may find useful during the Venetian night:

  • One of the main advantages of seeing Venice at night is that its streets empty. If you want to see the city practically alone, it is best to make your trip in winter since it gets dark very early. If you can tolerate the cold and humidity well, of course.
  • Most of the tours and events that take place in the evening, such as the opera or the dinner on the galleon, are more exclusive and with reduced seating. So you should book them at least 3 days in advance.
  • Venice's humidity makes the nights usually cold, even in spring. Don't be overconfident and remember to pack some warm clothes in your suitcase.
  • Dinner hours usually start at 19:30 and last until 22:00. In the more touristy places it is more flexible and some places close later than 22:00.