[13 Local Tips] What to Do in Venice at Night

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Venice at night is special. It’s quieter and feels more magical without the crowds.

Living near Venice, my favorite visits are in the evening after the day visitors have gone. Staying overnight lets you enjoy Venice like a local, away from the usual hustle. It’s the best way to truly experience this beautiful city.

There is a beautiful silence that envelops the city and you can truly imagine what it must have been like in the days of Casanova and Ernest Hemingway. Without the daytime crowds when night falls, you can see Venice the way it is meant to be seen.

Luckily, there are loads of things to do in Venice at night. Read on for my tips as a local on how to best enjoy the iconic sights, street musicians, famous bars, and hidden gems!

The 13 Things to Do in Venice at Night

1 – Try Cicchetti the Quintessential Venetian Food

Starting your evening in Venice with cicchetti is a tradition that blends perfectly with the picturesque sunset over the canals.

As most cicchetti bars, locally known as bacari, close in the early evening, this experience is akin to an aperitivo hour, when the sky transitions into hues of deep oranges and pinks.

Cicchetti are Venice’s answer to tapas—small, savory snacks that are typically enjoyed with a glass of wine or a spritz. Heavily influenced by Venice’s maritime location, cicchetti often feature seafood. However, there’s plenty of variety to cater to non-fish eaters and vegetarians alike.

plate of cicchetti - Venice at night

What Are Cicchetti?

Cicchetti are small plates that offer a taste of Venetian cuisine in bite-sized portions. They range from seafood and meat to vegetable dishes, served cold or hot, and are meant to be shared or enjoyed alongside a drink. This Venetian tradition provides a casual, sociable dining experience, perfect for sampling a variety of local flavors.

Most Popular Cicchetti:

  • Sarde in Saor: This sweet and sour sardine dish is a classic Venetian cicchetto. It features fresh sardines marinated in vinegar, onions, raisins, and pine nuts, offering a unique blend of flavors.

  • Baccalà Mantecato: A creamy spread made from salt cod, olive oil, and garlic, served on a slice of polenta or crusty bread. It’s a smooth, rich treat that showcases Venice’s love for seafood.

  • Polpette: Venetian meatballs, which can be made from meat or fish. They’re a hearty option for those looking for something filling.

  • Mozzarella in Carrozza: A delightful snack for cheese lovers, this is essentially a fried mozzarella sandwich, often served with an anchovy or a small slice of ham inside, combining gooey cheese with a savory twist.

Top Picks for Bacari:

  1. All’Arco (San Polo): Known for its cozy atmosphere and authentic cicchetti, All’Arco is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. They like to play around with different ingredients and flavor combinations so expect to find some cicchetti that you won’t find elsewhere.

  2. Osteria Al Squero: With views of a historic gondola workshop, Osteria Al Squero offers a scenic backdrop to enjoy a variety of cicchetti and wines.

  3. Cantina Vecia Carbonera: This bacaro stands out for its extensive selection of wines and inventive cicchetti, catering to a broad range of tastes, including seafood lovers and vegetarians.

  4. Osteria Bancogiro: Boasting a location near the Rialto Bridge, Osteria Bancogiro provides a picturesque setting for evening cicchetti, with a menu that highlights the richness of Venetian cuisine.

2 – Take a Nighttime Gondola Ride

An evening gondola ride in Venice offers a unique perspective of the city as night falls, transforming the waterways with the glow of streetlights and the moon.

For those looking to explore the quieter side of Venice, picking up a gondola away from the Grand Canal is a great tip. You’ll meander through the narrow canals, under ancient bridges, and past beautiful churches and historic palazzos that seem to whisper stories of centuries past. This route offers a peaceful escape from the bustling main thoroughfares, allowing you to enjoy the romantic charm of Venice at night.

gondola ride on grand canal venice at night

However, experiencing the Grand Canal as the lights come on is an unforgettable sight. The reflections of the lights on the water, the silhouettes of gondolas gliding by, and the grandeur of Venice’s palaces illuminated against the night sky create a magical atmosphere that epitomizes the beauty of Venice at night.

For those interested in making the most of this experience, I have a full article dedicated to tips for taking a gondola ride. This guide is designed to enhance your journey through Venice’s famous waterways, offering insights on how to enjoy this iconic activity to its fullest.

It’s also worth noting that gondola ride prices are fixed, so there’s no need to negotiate. The standard rate is 80 euros for a 30-minute ride. However, after 7pm, the price jumps to 100 euros. While this may seem steep, the experience of gliding through Venice’s canals at night, witnessing the city’s transformation as the sun sets and the lights come to life, is truly priceless.

3 – Ride the Vaporetto Line 1 Down the Grand Canal

Taking a vaporetto ride down the Grand Canal is another enchanting way to explore Venice at night. The vaporetto, Venice’s water bus, offers a more accessible and communal way to experience the grandeur of the city’s most famous waterway. As you journey along the canal, you’re treated to breathtaking views of illuminated palaces, churches, and bridges that tell the story of Venice’s rich history and most iconic landmarks.

Among the landmarks you’ll see are the stunning Rialto Bridge, one of Venice’s most iconic structures, and the grand Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto, with its beautiful façade facing the canal. You’ll also glide past the historic Santa Maria della Salute, a striking baroque church that stands majestically at the entrance to the Grand Canal from the Venetian Lagoon.

Not to forget, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which houses an impressive collection of modern art, is visible from the water, offering a glimpse into Venice’s vibrant arts scene.

A single 75-minute ticket for the vaporetto costs 9.50 euros, which is perfect for a quick trip or a specific destination in mind. However, I recommend purchasing a day pass for 25 euros. This pass allows for unlimited rides on the vaporetto, giving you the freedom to hop on and off at various points of interest throughout the day—and well into the night.

The ride from St. Mark’s Square to the Piazzale Roma takes approximately 45 minutes and is a journey through the heart of Venice.

4 – Opera at the Teatro La Fenice

Experiencing an opera at Teatro La Fenice is one of the most culturally enriching activities and cultural events you can enjoy in Venice at night. Teatro La Fenice Opera House, one of Italy’s most prestigious and historically significant opera houses, offers a chance to immerse yourself in the world of classical music and theatrical performance in a venue that epitomizes the rich artistic heritage of Venice.

As you step into Teatro La Fenice, you’re entering a space that has hosted some of the world’s most talented musicians and opera singers. The theater’s opulent interior, with its ornate decorations, luxurious gold leaf, and sumptuous red velvet, sets the stage for an unforgettable evening. The acoustics are exceptional, ensuring that every note reaches the audience with crystal-clear clarity.

The opera season at Teatro La Fenice features a diverse repertoire, from timeless classics to contemporary works, showcasing the talents of both renowned international artists and rising stars.

It’s advisable to check the schedule in advance and book tickets early, as performances often sell out quickly. The dress code for the opera can vary, but most attendees opt for formal attire, embracing the elegance of the occasion.

5 – Have a Cocktail from a Rooftop Bar

Enjoying a cocktail at a rooftop bar is a quintessential Venice at night experience, combining breathtaking views with the city’s renowned cocktail culture. Venice boasts several iconic rooftop bars that offer not only exceptional drinks but also unparalleled vistas of the city’s skyline and its famous waterways.

Skyline Rooftop Bar in Giudecca is a favorite for both locals and tourists, offering panoramic views of Venice from its modern and stylish setting. At the Skyline Rooftop Bar, you can watch the sunset over the city while enjoying a perfectly mixed cocktail.

Bar Terrazza Danieli offers a more historic ambiance, located near the iconic St. Mark’s Square. From this vantage point, you have a direct view of the Doge’s Palace and the bustling Grand Canal, all while sipping on a luxurious drink.

La Terrazza Bar at H10 Palazzo Canova, situated on the Grand Canal itself, a cozy restaurant that combines modern elegance with breathtaking views. Its location makes it an ideal spot for experiencing the vibrant atmosphere of Venice from above, with the Rialto Bridge in sight.

When it comes to what to do in Venice at night and what to drink, Venice’s bars serve up a variety of iconic cocktails that embody the spirit of the region. A Spritz, with its refreshing blend of prosecco, Aperol or Campari, and a splash of soda water, is a local favorite, perfect for sipping as you take in the views.

A Negroni, mixing gin, vermouth rosso, and Campari, offers a bolder flavor for those looking for something with a bit more bite. The classic Martini, whether shaken or stirred, remains a sophisticated choice. Alternatively, a glass of prosecco, hailing from the nearby Veneto region’s Prosecco hills, adds a sparkling touch to the evening.

6 – Visit the Historic Casino

Visiting the Venice Casino (Casinò di Venezia) at night offers a refined and historical alternative to the typical casino experience. Unlike the raucous atmosphere often found in places like Las Vegas, Venice’s casino provides a more subdued and elegant setting for guests looking to try their luck at games of chance.

Nestled within the beautiful city on the Canal Grande, the world’s oldest casino invites visitors to indulge in a variety of games, from Roulette to traditional card games like Black Jack and Caribbean Poker, as well as a selection of slot machines for those hoping to strike it lucky.

An important aspect to keep in mind when planning a visit to the Venice Casino is the dress code. The casino maintains a smart dress code to preserve the sophisticated ambiance that characterizes this historic establishment.

Men are expected to wear a jacket, especially in the private rooms, while women should opt for elegant attire. This dress code ensures that the atmosphere remains refined and in keeping with the casino’s distinguished heritage.

7 – After Hours Tour of St Mark’s Basilica

Taking a nighttime after-hours tour of Saint Mark’s Basilica offers a truly unique and serene experience, far removed from the bustling crowds visiting Venice and queues that are a common sight during the day.

This private tour, conducted when the church is closed to the general public, allows visitors to explore one of Venice’s most iconic landmarks in an intimate and peaceful setting.

golden mosaics in st mark's basilica

As you step into the quiet grandeur of St. Mark’s Basilica at night, the illuminated golden mosaics that adorn the ceilings and walls come alive, casting a warm glow throughout the vast interior.

The tour also includes a visit to the crypt of San Marco, a rarely seen part of the basilica that houses the relics of Saint Mark. Venturing into the crypt is a solemn and awe-inspiring experience, offering a glimpse into the foundational layers of Venetian history and faith.

You’ll also be able to admire the Pala d’Oro, one of the most exquisite examples of Byzantine art in the world. This gold altarpiece, studded with thousands of gems, is displayed in a more private setting during the night tour, allowing for closer observation and appreciation of its craftsmanship.

This exclusive experience requires advance booking and is perfect for those looking to explore Venice’s cultural and religious heritage beyond the typical tourist experience.

8 – Haunted Venice Tour

Taking a walking tour at night through Venice, especially one that explores the city’s haunted history, offers a thrilling and unique way to experience the mysterious side of this ancient city.

The Haunted Venice Tour delves into the shadowy corners of nighttime Venice, hidden alleyways, and silent canals that are steeped in legends, ghost stories, and unexplained events, providing a spine-tingling perspective on Venice after dark.

Among the highlights of the tour are visits to well-known landmarks and lesser-known sites, each with its own ghostly narrative. You might stop outside an ancient palazzo where sightings of a noblewoman, who met a tragic end, have been reported.

Or, you could explore a deserted square where whispers from the past seem to echo in the stillness. The tour not only introduces you to the ghosts of Venice but also offers insight into the city’s darker history, from forbidden romances to gruesome tales of betrayal and revenge.

9 – Imbibe at a Historic Bar

Visiting iconic bars in Venice for a cocktail is an experience that blends the city’s rich cultural history with its vibrant contemporary social scene. Two of the most legendary venues that stand out for their historical significance and unique offerings are Harry’s Bar and Café Florian.

Harry’s Bar is a popular bar renowned worldwide, not just for its invention of the Bellini but also for its illustrious list of past patrons, including literary giants like Ernest Hemingway and celebrated figures like Charlie Chaplin.

Located near the Piazza San Marco, Harry’s Bar offers good food in an intimate setting that seems unchanged by time. Ordering a Bellini here—a refreshing mix of Prosecco and peach purée—is a must-do for visitors.

Café Florian, on the other hand, offers a different but equally enchanting experience. Situated in the heart of Piazza San Marco, Café Florian is reputed to be the oldest café in the world still in operation since its opening in 1720. Visiting Café Florian is like taking a step back in history, with its opulent interiors and art-filled rooms.

The highlight, however, is its outdoor seating area, where you can enjoy a cocktail while listening to the live orchestra. Though the drinks at Café Florian come with a higher price tag, the cost is justified by the unparalleled view of Piazza San Marco and the delightful experience of live music. It’s an experience that captures the essence of Venetian elegance and charm.

10 – See Some Live Music

Experiencing live music is an essential part of the Venice at night experience, offering a diverse array of venues that cater to various musical tastes. Whether you’re a jazz aficionado or simply enjoy the ambiance that live music brings to an evening out, Venice has several spots that stand out for their vibrant music scenes and quality performances.

The Venice Jazz Club is a must-visit for jazz lovers. Tucked away from the main tourist paths, this intimate venue hosts live jazz performances from Tuesday through Saturday. The Venice Jazz Club prides itself on featuring talented musicians who cover a wide range of jazz styles, from classic standards to contemporary compositions. The cozy atmosphere, combined with excellent acoustics, makes for a memorable night out.

Paradiso Perduto in Cannaregio is another gem for live music enthusiasts. While known for its great kitchen and delicious Venetian food, Paradiso Perduto also hosts live music events, particularly on Mondays. The venue offers a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, where it’s not uncommon to see notable musicians among the crowd, enjoying the scene. Legends like Keith Richards have been spotted here when in Venice, adding a touch of rock star glamour to the ambiance.

Bacarando in Corte dell’Orso is another venue that adds to Venice’s lively music scene, with live performances scheduled for Wednesdays and Sundays. This venue blends the traditional bacaro experience with live entertainment, offering guests a taste of Venetian culture both culinary and musically. The music here spans various genres, providing something for everyone, whether you’re in the mood for something upbeat or more laid-back.

11 – Enjoy Aperitivo Hour

Aperitivo hour, a cherished Italian tradition, involves gathering in the early evening to enjoy a drink accompanied by small snacks or appetizers. This pre-dinner ritual is not only about savoring delicious food and drinks but also about unwinding and socializing in a laid-back setting.

spritz for aperitivo hour

For locals and those in the know, aperitivo hour is a daily practice that provides a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends, enjoy the beautiful Venetian surroundings, and watch the world go by. Participating in this tradition can make you feel like a true Venetian, as it’s an integral part of the city’s social fabric, not just a tourist activity.

As a local, I’ve spent many evenings enjoying aperitivo hour in some of Venice’s most charming spots. Al Timon in Cannaregio is a favorite for its lively atmosphere and excellent selection of wines and cicchetti. Its outdoor seating in an old boat moored along the canal offers a quintessential Venetian backdrop, making it a popular spot among both locals and savvy tourists.

Vino Vero, also in Cannaregio, stands out for its focus on natural wines and artisanal cicchetti. The knowledgeable staff and cozy outdoor area provide a welcoming environment for those looking to explore the nuances of Italian and Venetian wine culture.

Al Remer is tucked away in its own small piazza with stunning views of the Canale Grande. Its hidden location and scenic vista make it a magical spot for aperitivo, especially as the sun begins to set, casting a golden light over the water.

TiME Social Bar, another gem in Cannaregio, offers a modern take on the aperitivo experience, with creative cocktails and a vibrant atmosphere. Its terrace is a great place to mingle with locals and enjoy the buzz of the neighborhood.

The Boccon Di Vino in the Campo Santa Margherita is another cozy yet lively spot. The Campo, or piazza, is where the locals like to hang out before dinner so it’s the ideal spot to try to live like a local for a few hours.

12 – Take a Guided Night Tour

A night guided tour typically begins after dusk, when the lamp-lit streets and canals create a magical atmosphere, transforming Venice into a scene from a fairy tale. Led by an expert guide, you’re taken on a journey through time, wandering through narrow alleys, over ancient bridges, and along silent waterways.

The guide’s storytelling brings the past to life, recounting tales of intrigue, romance, and mystery that have unfolded within the city’s storied walls.

One of the highlights of a night tour is the opportunity to see Venice’s most iconic landmarks illuminated against the night sky. The Rialto Bridge, the Grand Canal, St. Mark’s Basilica, and the Doge’s Palace take on a different character at night, their beauty enhanced by the play of light and shadow.

The absence of the daytime crowds offers a more personal experience, allowing for unobstructed views and the chance to capture stunning photographs.

In addition to visiting well-known sites, night tours often include stops at lesser-known attractions that are especially atmospheric in the evening. These might include hidden courtyards, ghostly palazzos, or quiet squares that are steeped in history. The guide may share eerie legends and ghost stories associated with these places, adding a layer of intrigue to the tour.

13 – Take a Catamaran Sunset Jazz Cruise

Embark on a catamaran sunset jazz cruise in the Venetian Lagoon for an evening that blends the soothing rhythms of jazz with the scenic beauty of Venice at dusk.

As you set sail, the catamaran takes you on a serene journey across the Giudecca Channel, towards the Lido, and back again via Sant’Elena and the Giardini/Biennale areas in the Castello neighborhood, offering a unique vantage point of the city’s iconic sights from the water.

As the catamaran glides smoothly across the lagoon, guests are welcomed with two glasses of Spritz or Prosecco, epitomizing the Venetian aperitivo culture. These refreshing beverages set the tone for a relaxed and joyful evening. Complementing the drinks is a selection of cicchetti snacks.

The backdrop to this enchanting evening is a live jazz performance. The soothing sounds of jazz create a tranquil atmosphere, enhancing the beauty of the sunset as it casts a golden glow over the lagoon and the city.

Is Venice Safe at Night?

Venice is known for being a beautiful and safe place, even at night. Since it’s an island with lots of narrow streets and canals, you might think it’s a bit spooky to walk around when it’s quiet, but actually, Venice is very safe.

The city feels very peaceful in the evening, and it’s safe to wander and enjoy the views under the moonlight for an unforgettable experience.

Like in any busy tourist spot, you do have to watch out for pickpockets in the crowded places, especially when there are a lot of visitors. But this is something you’d have to do in any city. Just keep an eye on your stuff, maybe wear a bag that goes across your body, and stay alert in very busy spots.

The local police are always around, looking out for both the people who live in Venice and the visitors. They’re there to help make sure everyone is safe and having a good time.

Does Venice Have a Nightlife?

Venice is pretty quiet at night, especially when you compare it to the lively clubs you might find on the mainland. This means you won’t find big nightclubs with loud music in Venice. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do after the sun goes down.

In fact, Venice at night is full of special experiences that are worth checking out.

Venice looks even more beautiful at night, and it’s quieter too, without the crowds. You can join tours that tell you about the city’s spooky ghost stories or take you around to try delicious local food. It’s also fun to just hang out like the locals do, maybe grabbing a snack and a drink at a bar with outdoor seating.

Even though Venice doesn’t have the loud and busy nightlife some other places do, it has its own special way of making the night exciting. Staying in Venice for a few nights lets you see this amazing side of the city. It’s peaceful yet full of life in a way that’s different from anywhere else, making your time in Venice at night something really special.

Wrapping It Up

While Venice might not offer the bustling clubs and all-night parties found in other cities, its nighttime charm is undeniably unique.

Venice at night is an experience that stays with you, like no other place on earth.

Sal Presti

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