Venice in Winter

To be honest, Venice (Venezia) was never high on the bucket list. As someone who prefers to avoid crowds and overly touristy places, I pictured Venice to be just that: CROWDED. But despite that, we opted to head to Venice for a couple of night’s since we were staying in Verona (read more on that trip here) and it was only a 1-hour train ride away.

We chose to go on the first Monday after Epiphany (which meant that all of the locals were headed back to work, kids would be back to school, and all of the weekend tourists would be gone – or at least most!). It turns out, that was the absolutely perfect time to visit.

When we arrived in Venice and walked out of the train station, my first thought was, “Am I in Disneyland?”. I was worried that everything I thought Venice was going to be was coming true (and not in a good way!). But after walking for a couple of minutes over numerous bridges and away from the train station and souvenir shops, I felt like we had just arrived somewhere truly magical. It was a quiet maze and I couldn’t wait to explore more.

Once we found our home for the next 2 nights, Hotel Ai Cavalieri, we dropped our bags off and set out to grab a bite to eat. We had been warned ahead of time that restaurants in Venice were insanely expensive (or overpriced) and to plan your meals carefully! We did quite a bit of research beforehand and although some of the places we really wanted to try were still “chiuso per ferie (closed for holiday/time off), we had some great meals!

We attempted to try as many Venetian specialties as possible: fresh (and fried!) seafood (check), squid ink pasta (check), cicchetti (check), spritz, of course (check). All delicious. 

Our game plan in Venice, and in most cities we visit, is to explore the cities in the early morning when everyone else is still sleeping! That’s our thing. We are early birds by nature so it suits us, not to mention that the crowds are far less. We woke up early the first morning, ate a delicious breakfast buffet at the hotel, and then set out as the sun was just rising. This made for some stunning photos and videos of Venice and its most famous landmarks. The city, still asleep, made it feel like we were the only ones in town (still!). 

Despite being surrounded by water, we never actually stepped foot on a boat/gondola! We just walked, occasionally getting lost and having to circle back, and strolled along the narrow streets. We also didn’t actually go IN any of the main attractions either (Doge’s Palace or St. Mark’s Basilica)! We just walked around each morning and viewed the beautiful architecture and the sights from the outside – including the famous Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square. We aren’t really the type that find ourselves feeling the need to visit every museum, duomo, palace, etc. but that’s the way we prefer to spend our time – slowl-paced and not feeling rushed to see every sight!

If (when?!) we make it back to Venice one day, we will opt to stay in the Cannaregio neighborhood. It was quiet and had a ton of cute cafes and restaurants that we walked by heading back to the train station. It was a little further away from all the main attractions (but still walkable, of course!). Venice is truly a remarkable place and now I understand the hype! I’m really glad we decided to take a 2-day trip there after all!

Thinking of visiting Venice? Check out our Venice (Venezia) City Guide for a few recommendations or check out these great options.