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10 Things to Do in Venice in October

There is no bad time to visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world: Venice. If you go in October you will be able to enjoy several events that take place during that month to make your trip even more extraordinary.

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

11 min read

10 Things to Do in Venice in October

Venice, Italy | ©Ludovico Lovisetto

The attractions of Venice are almost impossible to list, starting with all the canals that run through it. Practically every month of the year the city offers its inhabitants and tourists a series of events that increase even more the possibilities of enjoying the trip.

In the case of October, in addition to not finding the same crowds as during the high season, Venice allows its visitors to attend such spectacular events as an opera at La Fenice, learn something about its wine at the must fair or attend one of the most famous art festivals in the world.

1. Opera at La Fenice Theater

La Fenice Theater| ©Benh LIEU SONG
La Fenice Theater| ©Benh LIEU SONG

If you travel to Venice in October you will be fortunate to coincide with the start of the opera season in the city. Attending one, even if you are not a big fan, is an experience you will not forget and is certainly one of the best things to do in Venice at night.

Although in dispute with the also Italian city of Florence, Venice is considered the birthplace of opera. Since 1792 it also has one of the most mythical theaters in this type of art, La Fenice, whose contemplation alone is worth a visit.

The La Fenice Theater has suffered two major fires during its history, the last one in 1996. However, it has managed to rise from its ashes to remain one of the world's temples of opera.

In case you have been able to get a ticket you should keep in mind that attending an opera at the Fenice is a real social event in the city. This means that you will have to dress accordingly, as opening night etiquette dictates that men should wear a dark suit and women an elegant dress.

The rest of the nights that etiquette is a little less demanding and you can even go with a nice pair of jeans and a collared shirt. Just don't even try to go in with shorts and tank tops.

For those who are fans but have not found a ticket, the city organizes concerts in some palaces that you can attend.

Joaquín's Traveller Tip:

Try to get tickets in advance, as they sell out quickly and it is difficult to find one for many nights.

2. Grape juice festival

People at the Must Festival| ©VeneziaBlogs
People at the Must Festival| ©VeneziaBlogs

At the beginning of October, many Venetians leave the city to go to Sant'Erasmo, the largest island in the lagoon of Venice. The reason is the celebration of the Sagra del Mosto, a fair dedicated to wine when it has not yet fermented.

With much less fame than the neighboring Murano, Burano or Torcello, where you can go with a tour, going to this island is like taking a trip to the countryside in the middle of the lagoon. Traditionally, Sant'Erasmo was known as the orchard of Venice for its highly prized agricultural products, including grapes.

Those who come to this fair do so with the intention of tasting the new products presented there, especially a type of white wine, somewhat cloudy and slightly fizzy called torbollino.

As there is more than just eating and drinking, although this is what most visitors and locals do, during the festival there is also a mixed rowing regatta and performances by some local musicians.

To reach this island you just have to take the vaporetto number 13 and if you want to visit something else you can go to the Torre Massimiliana, a defensive structure built by the French and that hosts some cultural activities.

Book your excursion to Murano and Burano

3. Venice Marathon

Venice Marathon| ©Run
Venice Marathon| ©Run

Even if you are not going to participate, which is entirely up to you, the celebration of the Venice Marathon makes the atmosphere of the city festive and makes it a day worth joining the Venetians and enjoying what surrounds the event.

This marathon was born as a race from the nearby Brenta River to Campo Santi Apostoli, where stands the church of the same name that I recommend you visit. Over time it became an annual tradition that turns the route through the city into a real festival in which even those less gifted for the sport participate.

Normally, the Venice Marathon takes place on the fourth Sunday of October. Today, both the start and finish line are located in St. Mark's Square and the route includes such fantastic places as the Ponte della Libertá, one of Venice's bridges that connects Venice to the mainland, or San Giuliano Park, one of the city's main green areas.

On the same day, a 10-kilometer race is also held, as well as other family-friendly, fun-filled events. San Giuliano is also the site of a kind of expo offering a wide range of sporting goods.

4 Halloween in Venice

Halloween at the Port of Venice| ©Heraldo
Halloween at the Port of Venice| ©Heraldo

When talking about festivities in Venice there is no doubt that we all think of its famous February Carnival in Venice. Without denying that nothing can compete with that celebration, the city of canals is also known for how it celebrates a date that may seem foreign but has been adopted by the Venetians: Halloween.

Venice's Halloween is, unsurprisingly, more sophisticated and the well-known Venetian masks make their appearance in its streets. Certainly, its architecture, bridges, alleys, corners and canals play a fundamental role in giving the city a ghostly atmosphere.

Many shop windows in the city are decorated to celebrate this date and numerous costume parties are organized in Venetian discos, bars and restaurants. The most famous ones take place at the Lido, but there are other places where you can live more frightening experiences.

Among these places is the Doge's Palace, which hides within its walls several secret corridors, cells and a creepy torture chamber in which prisoners were interrogated at the time.

Another equally terrifying option is to approach the neighboring island of San Michele, where the city cemetery is located.

Finally, there is another corner that is less well known but full of terrible stories. This is the Ca'Dario palace, a building that accumulates a large number of unexplained events, such as the strange deaths of many of its owners.

As an alternative activity, it may be a good idea to go to Tocello, to the so-called Devil's Bridge. There, the longest running Halloween party in the country is held.

Buy your ticket to the Doge's Palace

5. Experience the Acqua alta

Acqua alta at St. Mark's Square| ©Javier Valero Iglesias
Acqua alta at St. Mark's Square| ©Javier Valero Iglesias

I am sure you have seen images on television of Venice completely flooded. The phenomenon is known as acqua alta, high water, and can occur from October until the end of winter.

The reasons for this phenomenon are varied. Factors such as the Adriatic currents, the sirocco wind, low pressure and even the position of the moon are said to play a role. When it occurs, the sea level rises and floods part of the city, although it is usually only a few centimeters that recede after a few hours.

When this happens, it is enough to wear wellies to continue touring the city. In fact, the vaporettos continue to operate, even if the routes are sometimes changed. The city council places pedestrian walkways to help pedestrians cross certain points.

However, sometimes the floodwaters exceed normal levels and almost 60% of the historic center is completely flooded. To get an idea, it has been calculated that in St. Mark's Square the water reaches 60 centimeters.

When it is foreseen that this is going to happen, warning sirens sound and startle the occasional unsuspecting tourist. A few years ago a system of dikes was put in place to prevent this from happening again.

Although this is obviously a negative phenomenon and one that greatly affects the lives of Venetians, contemplating the normal acqua alta (not the big floods) is truly unique. If it happens when you are in Venice, don't hesitate to go to the square to take a picture of the reflection of St. Mark's Basilica on the ground.

Buy your ticket to St. Mark's Basilica

6. Climb the Campanile di San Giorgio Maggiore to see St. Mark's Square emerging from the mist

View from the Campanile di San Giorgio Maggiore| ©Justas Alice
View from the Campanile di San Giorgio Maggiore| ©Justas Alice

Most tourists choose to climb the bell tower (campanile) of St. Mark's Square to enjoy the view. However, just opposite, there is another viewpoint that for many is the best in Venice: the Campanile di San Giorgio Maggiori.
. In autumn, you will also have the opportunity to contemplate the Doge's Palace, a good part of the Grand Canal
and, if you are lucky, the snow-capped Alps.

If you are lucky (or you have chosen the right time and day) you may have the opportunity to enjoy the sight of the palace as if emerging from the fog, a phenomenon that usually occurs at that time and gives the city a ghostly appearance. To climb the bell tower there is a practical elevator that makes the task much easier.

The most curious thing is that the basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore has become one of the most photographed churches in the city because of the aforementioned location in front of the campanile of San Marco. However, beyond the views, this church is really interesting to visit because of the four large columns of its marble facade and its spectacular interior.

October, in addition to the lower intensity of light when looking down from above, also offers the advantage of not having to wait in the same lines as in summer in Venice andin spring.

7. Excursion to the Murano workshops and uncrowded Burano

Glass workshop in Murano| ©mina kim
Glass workshop in Murano| ©mina kim

Taking advantage of the end of the high season in Venice to make an excursion to the islands of Murano and Burano is one of the best activities you can do if you are going to be in Venice for about 3 days.

Both islands, located in the lagoon itself, have enough attractions to make them a must-see at any time of the year. The problem is that, in July and August in Venice, a large number of tourists disembark on them, making it difficult to see what they have to offer.

Murano, for example, is known throughout the world for its glass works. Its artisans have maintained some of the traditional techniques of blowing and there are several workshops that allow visits so that everyone can see their art. In October, you can enter without problems and contemplate their work more directly.

In the case of Buranoson, the textile works are the most recognized. However, the city also stands out for its beautiful and colorful houses. According to legend, it was the sailors who painted them so that they would be visible from the sea.

Book your excursion to Murano and Burano

8. Gondola ride under the autumn light

Venice in Autumn| ©Matteo
Venice in Autumn| ©Matteo

Although you can take gondola rides on Venice's canals all year round, this activity is a must if you travel in October for two main reasons: because no one can pass through the city of canals without getting on one of these boats and because doing so in the beautiful autumn light makes it one of the best times to live the experience.

In addition, at this time of year the traffic on the canals is reduced and the gondoliers usually provide some blankets to keep you warm during the trip. This makes the ride much more intimate and romantic. All in all, the perfect time for couples.

My advice is to go for this ride early in the afternoon, as autumn is the time when the light begins to fade and the city is enveloped in a magical halo.

Book your gondola ride in Venice

9. Dare to taste the moèche

The moèche| ©Jean-Michel Gobet
The moèche| ©Jean-Michel Gobet

Venice, like the rest of Italy, is famous for its gastronomic offer. However, the image of pasta and pizza falls far short of what you can really find in its restaurants and taverns. If you travel in October there is a dish, the moeche, which may not attract you at first, but I advise you to overcome that first idea and dare to try it.

Moeche is a type of crab that loses its shell in October and November, as well as in spring. In the few days when this happens, they become an exquisite delicacy, tender and very tasty. In fact, their name in Venetian dialect means "soft".

The difficulty of catching the crabs during this moulting season explains the high price of the product: between 35 and 70 € per kilo. Their appearance on the market is eagerly awaited by Venetians, who usually eat them fried. To accompany them, a typical side dish of the city, polenta, is served.

To be able to eat them you will have to look carefully in the restaurants of Venice, since not all of them work. In Burano, on the other hand, they are usually found in many places.

10. An ice cream in autumn? In Venice you will find the best

Ice cream| ©JÉSHOOTS
Ice cream| ©JÉSHOOTS

If you think that the famous Venetian gelato is only eaten in the summer months you are very wrong. This product, which is said to have been reintroduced in Italy by the Venetian Marco Polo, can be found all year round and, in fact, October is a great time to try them as you don't have to wait in long lines in front of ice cream parlors during the high season.

As befits the fame of gelato in the city you will find numerous places serving all kinds of varieties. If the weather is nice, I recommend you to sit on the terrace or on a bench to eat it. Otherwise, do it inside the ice cream parlor. Of course, my advice if you are in Venice is that you should never fail to try it...and more than once.

Temperatures in Venice in October

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

The Venetian month of October can be quite rainy. Temperatures start to drop, something that is much more noticeable as the month progresses. However, mornings can still be counted on to have mild temperatures.

Thus, daily highs tend to stay around 15º C and rarely drop below 12ºC. Minimums, meanwhile, stay around 8ºC, with some days reaching as low as 4ªC.

In any case, I advise you to check the weather forecast shortly before your trip in order to adapt your luggage and route to the weather conditions.

The tourist flow in Venice in October

View of St. Mark's Square| ©Artur Staszewski
View of St. Mark's Square| ©Artur Staszewski

For many years now it has been difficult to say when the low season starts in Venice. The city is visited by millions of people every year and events such as the Biennale attract many even in autumn or winter.

However, there is a noticeable drop in visitors from October onwards. The queues in front of the main Venetian monuments are no longer so long and it is even possible to stroll calmly through the most central streets.

Joaquin's Traveller Tip:

if you go with enough time, I recommend adapting your schedule in case a cruise ship arrives. This way, you will be able to avoid the thousands of tourists that disembark at the same time and produce crowds in the main tourist attractions.

What to pack to visit Venice in October

Packing| ©Craig Adderley
Packing| ©Craig Adderley

The main problem with packing your suitcase when traveling to Venice in October is that the weather can be quite unpredictable. To get it right, I would recommend packing clothes that you can layer on top of each other (the famous "onion" style) and that will work for you both when temperatures are mild and when it cools down.

Since it is a rainy month, you should also bring a waterproof jacket. Of course, footwear should have the same characteristics, but without forgetting comfort.