Although we are all about picking the less crowded days to visit a tourist destination, we know you cannot escape them all. Many tourists will find themselves in Venice on busy days. You can use our daily crowd prediction tool for Venice to find out whether you are visiting the lagoon on a busy day or not so busy day. You can also use Venice’s official tourist estimations.
If you happen to be in Venice on a more crowded day, we advise you to plan ahead. Hopefully the tips and tricks in this article will help you with making a plan. Our best tip is to explore Venice in the morning. Even on busy days, the streets will be relatively empty at the start of the day. Also, morning golden hour will help you get the best photos you ever made!
This blog is based on our generic tips to avoid crowds but are tailored for Venice. Some of the links in this blog will redirect you to Getyourguide. If you buy tickets or excursions after using these links, we could receive commission on your purchases.
The early bird catches the worm. The best way to explore Venice is in the morning. Most tourists sleep in and cruise ships need to be cleared by local authorities before the passengers can disembark. As a result streets won’t be as crowded as during the day. The best time to roam the streets of Venice is between sunset and 09:00 or 10:00. After 10:00, the streets will quickly fill up.
Not only the streets are more quiet. Museums and other points of interest will also be less crowded in the morning. The best time to arrive at a museum is just before it opens. Doge’s Palace opens at 08:30. Get there between 08:00 and 08:20 and you will visit most of the museum without thousands of other tourists. If you are early enough you will find most of the museum empty. In addition to getting there early, we would advise to buy skip-the-line tickets. For example from this authorized ticket seller.
St. Mark’s Basilica is sort of an exception to the ‘early rule’. Either make sure you are truly one of the first to get in or go late in the afternoon. Tour groups are ruining the early strategy at St. Mark’s Basilica. A large number of tour groups and tour operators are booking morning slots. They do so because they must visit the Basilica. By putting it on their itinerary early, the tour operators ensure that their groups visit the place. Another thing ruining the early strategy is the relatively late opening hours of the Basilica as the doors open at 09:30 on weekdays and Saturdays. The benefit of getting up early is a bit lost as a result. Even with a ‘skip-the-line’ ticket it is best to opt for either the first slot of the day or a slot in the afternoon when most tour groups have left the building.
Not only at the Basilica but all over Venice, late afternoon is a good alternative if you already have a morning full of activities. Most cruise passengers will have to get back to their ships around 16:00. Also most tour groups have finished their excursions at the end of the morning or early afternoon. As a result, the streets will start to get less crowded and there will be shorter lines at the main tourist attractions.
Venice is amazing and is much more than St. Mark’s square or the Rialto bridge. If you truly want to experience Venice you should wonder away from the most crowded places and allow yourself to get lost. Simply follow a general direction and walk cross Venice’s bridges and narrow alleys. In all honesty, you cannot really get lost in Venice. It’s an island. At a certain moment you will end up at open water again.
Another way to avoid crowds is Venice is actually leaving the main sites behind you and explore other parts of the Venetian lagoon. You can either book a tour or explore the lagoon yourself using public transport. Nearby islands include Murano, Burano and Torcello. Although these islands can be busy places as well, they are nothing like Venice. If you have more time, we highly recommend going to other parts of the lagoon as well. For example by going to Chioggia. Chioggia is not so crowded, beautiful and much more authentic. The city of Venice also promotes alternative locations through their #detourism program. You can find useful links and ‘sustainable itineraries’ here.
If you are in Venice on a busy day it helps if you have a plan. What do you want to see? How many days do you have to do that? Are there days where it less likely that you have to stand in line? If so, plan the most touristic things on the least crowded days. For example, if you want to see Rialto bridge and St. Mark’s square it might be a good idea to check whether there are cruise ships in town. If so, another day might be better to do these highlights and you can explore other parts of the city or lagoon.
Also, it will be more difficult to quickly move around the city on busy days. Both on foot and by using public transport people will be blocking your way. Alleys will be full and you will come to a complete stand still at certain places. It takes a long time to move on foot on the most crowded days. Also, there will be lines for the Vaporettos.
When you make your plan, take your limited ability to move around the city into consideration. It makes sense to explore things that are close to each other on one day or part of the day and then relocate to another area at another moment. If you choose things that are far away from each other you will spend lots of time getting from point A to point B. If you plan at going to St. Mark’s Basillica, Doge’s Palace while also planning to climb the bell tower, it’s smart to do that together.
We recommend booking a hotel in Venice. That is the only way to truly experience the city. However, we recommend booking your hotel away from the crowds. Don’t book your hotel near the Rialto Bridge or St. Mark’s square. Try another part of the city where it is less crowded. You can get to the main highlights in the morning within no time. Another option is to book a hotel on another island like Murano. Although staying in Murano is great it does set you back a bit with the strategy of getting everywhere early. Staying outside the lagoon, for example in Mestre, is not recommended. You will spend lots of time on public transport and you will miss the evening charm of Venice.
Staying away from the biggest crowds has more advantages. The closer you are to the city’s main attractions the more you pay for your hotel. If you want to see the Rialto Bridge from you hotel room you will have to pay premium. The view of the bridge is probably also limited to a very few very expenses suites or rooms. Stay away from the crowds and jump on a Vaporetto is what we recommend.
Spending time waiting in line to buy tickets is probably the biggest waste of time on vacation. It is also unnecessary. Most tourist attractions in Venice, including the Basilica, Doge´s Palace and many more, sell tickets in advance. There are several variations when it comes to pre-purchased tickets in Venice. You can choose between regular tickets and skip-the-line tickets. With regular tickets you will save time standing in line to buy tickets. These tickets will however not allow you to enter the highlights quicker than others. For that you need a special skip-the-line tickets.
Skip-the-line or priority entrance tickets are special tickets that are sold at a premium. For a small premium you can skip the queue at the door. Usually by buying a ticket for a specific time slot. At more quiet days there will not be massive lines and paying this premium is not needed. However, on more crowded days, tickets like these are a major advantage. You can find skip-the-line tickets on our website. You can also pre-purchase public transportation tickets and other forms of transport. Whatever you can book before you are in Venice will save you time and stress once you are in the crowded Venetian lagoon.