The month of January is included in the Venetian low season. The cold and humidity take over the city, so visitors decrease considerably. This, far from being a deterrent to visiting Venice, can be a plus. In January you can see museums and cruise the canals without having to wait in long lines or pay high prices.
But that's not all. Venice in January has a handful of colorful events that are worth knowing. In this article I show you what options are available for you to take full advantage of the city.
1- A visit or a swim at the Lido
It is very likely that your visit to Venice will coincide with January 1, New Year's Day. Christmas and New Year's Eve are intensely celebrated in the city, so it is quite possible that the streets will be emptier than usual on that day. However, there is one event you can't miss. It is the first bath in the Lido, the traditional way in which Venetians greet the coming year.
The best way to get there is to take the vaporetto. The trip does not usually take long, more or less between 15 and 20 minutes. Of course, you have several departure points.
- Venice Central Station and Bus Station: about a 30 minute ride.
- St. Mark's Square: more or less 15 minutes
- From the Rialto Bridge: approximately 30 minutes
Another option, if you are going to be in Venice for several days, is to get a 72-hour water transport pass. With it, you will have unlimited access to the 3 water transport lines of the city and you will be able to go to the Lido without any problem, as well as to the most important points.
2- Celebrate Tu Bishvat in the Jewish Quarter
Tu B'Shvat, also called New Year of the Trees, is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the appearance of the first green shoots. Although its origin has much to do with the Middle East, it is not exclusive only to it. Therefore, given that Venice has one of the largest Jewish neighborhoods in Europe, it may be a great idea to coincide your visit to the area with this day.
This holiday takes place in the second half of January, although it varies each year because it depends on the Jewish month Shevat, which is parallel to Gregorian January. Here you can check when Tu B'Shvat is every year. I advise you to take the opportunity to try some Hebrew culinary specialties. During Tu B'Shvat, fruit products and all those that come from trees are especially important. The most typical is to eat fruit or to incorporate the following products into recipes:
- Grapes or raisins
- Barley and wheat (in the form of bread or cake)
3- Epiphany Regatta
The Epiphany of the Lord is represented in Spain by the Three Wise Men, but in Venice they have a no less original tradition. This is the witch Befana, a good witch who also brings gifts to children and, if they have misbehaved, coal.
In Venice this tradition is celebrated in a very curious way: with the Bufana Regatta. The city's best rowers take to the Grand Canal in their boats disguised as witches. It starts around 11:20 a.m. and ends at noon. The regatta goes along the Grand Canal and stops at the Rialto Bridge. A perfect opportunity to explore all there is to see on the Rialto Bridge.
4- The Feast of the Tricolor
The Feast of the Tricolor is the Italian Flag Day, which takes place on February 27th. On this day the Italian national ensign is exalted, which, by law, must hang from all institutional and governmental buildings. Also, meetings and parades through the streets wearing tricolors are common. Although it is one of Italy's solemn festivities, it is not a public holiday, so do not expect large crowds and street gatherings.
It is a day that suits the Italian streets especially well, given the display of color involved. I advise you to simply let yourself go and take advantage of this colorful day to take your best photos of Venice. In fact, I advise you to take a vaporetto and cruise the canal. Many institutional buildings overlook this waterway, so you'll be able to enjoy unusual views the rest of the year.
Check here for more details on what to see and do on the Grand Canal.
5- Visiting Venice's museums without the crowds
The low season is perfect to enjoy Venice at a slower pace. In good part because the lesser influx of visitors makes it more enjoyable. Museums are no exception. If you are in Venice in January it can be a great opportunity to explore them quietly, without queues or crowds. Here are the must-see museums:
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection: the perfect option to get to know the best contemporary art. Works by Picasso, Miró or Duchamp await you.
- Accademia Gallery: perfect to know the Venetian School of painting, composed of figures of the relevance of Titian or Tintoretto.
- Museum of 17th century Venice: a museum to get to know other painters, not as famous as the previous ones, but who have earned a place in the History of Art. I am referring, for example, to Visconti, Tiepolo and Crosato.
- Franchetti Gallery: interesting not only for the Renaissance works it houses inside but also because the building itself is another work of art, the famous Ca D'Oro.
- Museum of Natural History of Venice: where you will travel back in time thanks to the collections of over 700 million years and the library with over 40,000 volumes.
6- Have a good cup of hot chocolate
Since the temperatures in Venice during the month of January are low and the humidity is more than noticeable, there is nothing better than fighting the cold with a good cup of chocolate. Italy is, as you know, a particularly chocolate country, so there is no shortage of options to taste its various specialties. I recommend the following places:
- Venchi: a chocolate shop located near St. Mark's Square. Particularly suitable for tasting different specialties and not just a cup of chocolate.
- VizioVirtù: you will find not only hot chocolate, but also cookies, chocolates and all kinds of sweets.
- Nino & Friends: also ideal for coffee lovers.
As you can see, January, despite being low season, offers many things to do in Venice. Just choose yours and... don't forget your warm clothes!
7- Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot
On January 17th there is an interesting celebration that kicks off the Carnival season: the feast of St. Anthony Abbot, patron saint of butchers (and also of domestic animals and gravediggers). On the occasion of this celebration, Venice becomes more lively than usual on these dates.
The most colorful part of this celebration is the lighting of bonfires in front of some churches. A sight that can be somewhere between beautiful and ghostly. Especially because in January fog is common in Venice. Be that as it may, it will give you the opportunity to take beautiful snapshots. What I do recommend is that, given the importance of the churches during this day, you take the opportunity to visit the most interesting temples of the city. Here you can discover more information about the monuments of Venice that you can't miss.
8- January sales in Venice
In Italy, the January sales (Saldi) are one of the most interesting shopping periods of the year. Especially because you can find sales of up to 70%. Which, in one of the fashion countries par excellence, is more than relevant. The date of the sales is not fixed, but always takes place in January. Often immediately after Epiphany. If you want to take advantage of your stay in Venice for shopping, I recommend the following places:
- Fondaco dei Tedeschi: especially recommended for beauty accessories and jewelry.
- Marco Polo International: a spectacular store that is also an art gallery. It is dedicated to glass craftsmanship. A great idea, for example, if you want to buy a souvenir or make a gift to someone.
- Nave de Vero: the best option if you are looking for a big shopping mall where there is everything.
9- A trip to see Giubiana
If you like folk traditions, here is one of the most interesting in Italy. It is picturesque, colorful and, above all, very focused on the figure of witches. Of course, to enjoy it you will have to travel, but not far from Venice, since the Giubiana is a typical tradition of Piedmont and Lombardy.
The celebration consists of the lighting of bonfires in the squares of the towns and the burning of a doll, representing a witch, in one of them. As you can see, it is a festival with deep popular and folkloric roots, complemented by gastronomy and music.
It takes place on the last Thursday of January in several northern towns. I especially advise you, for its tourist interest, to discover the Giubiana in Busto Arsizio. It is a town very close to Milan, so you can take advantage and also visit the capital of Italian fashion (which at that time will be on sale). It will take you about 3 hours by car from Venice to this town.
10- Foggy views of Venice
That Venice is a city with a melancholic aura and a certain decadent grandeur is something we already know from movies like Death in Venice. However, you have to be there to see it. The good thing about visiting in the off-season is that often the streets and canal environments are filled with mist.
A picture that can be sad or of great beauty. It depends on each one, although I assure you that the photos you can take will be incredible. Especially if you take them in the surroundings of St. Mark's Square.
Venice weather and temperatures in January
The weather in Venice in January is cold. Average maximum temperatures are around 7 degrees and average minimum temperatures around 0 degrees. There are colder places, it is true, but consider the humidity. The canals add a humidity component to the cold that can make the wind chill even lower.
Visitor arrivals in Venice in January
In January, the influx of visitors is much lower than at other times of the year. This is because January is in the low season. Therefore, you will not find the crowds and queues of the high season.
However, keep in mind that as January progresses, Venice will be warming up for its famous Carnival. This celebration increases the influx creating what is known as mid-season. Therefore, if you visit Venice in the second half of January you will probably already see more movement.
Tips for visiting Venice in January
The tips I am going to give you are oriented, above all, to avoid getting cold and to go well equipped. Basically what you will need is the following:
- A coat
Boots is by no means a bad idea, given that, with bad weather, in Venice the phenomenon known as Aqua Alta occurs. That is to say, eventual flooding of the roads. It is not a small thing at all, since it is not uncommon to see pictures in which St. Mark's Square itself is covered with water.