Venice: How to avoid the crowds at the city’s main attractions
When people think of Venice, the first three things that usually come to mind are water, gondolas and crowds! Venice is an year ’round-city, with tourists filling the streets 365 days a year (and particularly during the summer).
An obvious way to skip the crowds is to visit Venice during the winter, when rain and fog deter most tourists. If you can’t plan your trip during the off-season, try to visit during the week.
A third—and particularly helpful—tip for avoiding the crowds in Venice is to visit the main sights during the off-peak times. As a general rule, it’s best to visit attractions when they open in the morning, during the lunch hour or right before closing. Read on for more specific information.
Here are some of the city’s top attractions, along with the best times to visit them:
Palazzo Ducale (Doges Palace) and the Bridge of Sighs
St. Mark’s Square, 30124 Venice
Open: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (9 a.m.-6 p.m. from November-March)
The Palazzo Ducale was the center of power during the times of the Republic of Venice. Every room is full of amazing frescoes. After feasting your eyes on the beautiful paintings and architecture, consider checking out the Secret Itineraries Tour. The tour takes you through the palace’s dungeon and torture chamber, which is connected to the palace by the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs).
Best Times To Visit: Stop by the Palazzo when it opens at 9 a.m., between 12:30-1:30 p.m. (when tourist groups are having lunch) or about an hour before closing time.
Museo Correr (Archaeological Museum)
San Marco 52, 30124 Venice
Open: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (9 a.m.–5 p.m. from November-March)
The Museo Correr is Venice’s civic museum. Here you’ll find exhibits that offer a fascinating insight into the art and history of the city.
Best Times To Visit: When the museum opens at 10 a.m, between 12:30-1:30 p.m. and about an hour before closing time.
Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica)
St. Mark’s Square
Open: 9:45 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. on Sundays and holidays)
The Basilica di San Marco, perhaps the city’s most famous sight, is an amazing monument made unique by both its wealth of history and the magnificence of its façade and interior. The basilica is famous for housing St. Mark’s relics.
Best Times To Visit: Avoid Sunday mornings and holidays, since the Basilica will be used for mass service. There is always a big queue at the entrance, no matter what time, but now you can book your ticket in advance. Head to venetoinside.com and for €1 you can ahead, up to 10 minutes before your desired time of visit. This service is available from April 1 until October 31.
Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Tower)
St. Mark’s Square (opposite the Basilica)
Check Web site for opening hours
A visit to this amazing church tower affords a great bird’s eye view of Venice.
Best Times To Visit: Avoid lunch time, and get there very early in the morning or just before closing time.
Rialto Bridge and its markets
The Rialto Bridge is located in the oldest (and most central) quarter of Venice, and it has been a bustling hub for centuries. The area is always packed with tourists, be it summertime or wintertime.
Best Times to Visit: Go early in the morning, before 9 a.m. Not only will you see the local fish and vegetable market, but you can also enjoy a relatively peaceful scene at the bridge. You should also visit late at night after 10 p.m., as the majority of tourists will be heading to bed or eating dinner.
Gallerie dell’ Accademia (Academy Galleries)
Vaporetto stop Accademia, just off the Accademia Bridge
Open: Monday, 8:15 a.m.-2:00 p.m.; Tuesday-Sunday: 8:15 a.m. -7:15 p.m.
The Gallerie dell’ Accademia boasts a rich collection of Venetian paintings from the Byzantine and Gothic periods as well as work from Renaissance artists such as Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto, Tiziano and Gianbattista Tiepolo.
Best Times To Visit: I do not want to repeat myself, but as before be there early, before 9 a.m. or go an hour before closing times (although this will obviously give you less time in the museum). Groups usually go during the day.
Bonus Tip: Book online, and explore other areas
My final tip on avoiding crowds is to book your tickets online. For the majority of museums in Venice you can do this on www.veniceconnected.com. Also, explore other areas of the city, away from the main sites. By treading off the tourist past, you will see my Venice.