Exploring Venice at night is not something to be missed as it provides an entirely different view of the city. You might be mistaken for thinking that all the main activity happens during the day and, sure, the museums and famous buildings close in the evening, but the livelier, friendlier side of Venice awakens after dark.
I’ve been to Venice on a couple of occasions, so I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing it in both winter and spring, and pre and post pandemic. On my latest trip, I spent a lot of time exploring things to do in Venice at night, and below I’ve highlight some activities I tried that I think you might enjoy.
All the tours and activities I mention in this article are things I chose to do, and paid for myself. This page contains links to travel services we recommend from our own experiences, and we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Is Venice safe at night?
Yes, Venice is safe to explore at night. As a solo female traveller, I was a bit nervous about this, but walking round the small streets at night felt safe because everywhere is well lit.
Venice is mainly a tourist city, so it quietens down in the evening (unless you’re there over the Venice Carnival or another big celebration!). It’s cheaper to stay on the mainland and so many people have gone back to their accommodation by the time it’s dark.
Even so, I stuck to the more popular routes, just for peace of mind. You might want to do this too. Venice generally has a low crime rate, but remember, you can never discount petty theft, like pickpockets, so just use common sense.
What is Venice nightlife like?
Venice has nightlife, but not in the way you might expect. There aren’t any nightclubs, but there are plenty of lively bars (or bakeries!) that serve wine, spritz and cicchetti.
My experience was that Venice nightlife is all about unwinding with good food and drink with friends or family. I was told by locals on numerous occasions that 5pm to 9pm is spritz time, and that Venetians like to drink! It doesn’t go on into the early hours of the morning, from what I’ve experienced, but with so much to do in Venice during the day, I think that’s probably for the best.
Also, after all the walking you do to explore Venice, I think most people are ready for a good night’s sleep!
Things to do in Venice at night
Below I’ve outlined some of the experiences I tried in Venice at night, and I hope you find these to be a good place to start. I’ve aimed to include a fun mixture for people with different interests. So, whether you want to experience the famous Venetian culture, try the best food and drink spots, or discover some of the most Instagrammable places in Italy in a different light – read on!
If you’ve got any more ideas that you think are worth adding to this list, then feel free to share them in the comments below.
1. Have dinner with a local family
There is no better way to get to know a place than to spend time with the local people. I flew solo on my latest visit to Venice, and one of the things I was most apprehensive about was dining alone every night.
When looking for things to do in Venice at night, I came across a dining experience in a local home through GetYourGuide. I was matched with a local host after answering a series of questions about me, including whether I spoke any Italian. My host messaged me with details of where to go, and asked if I had any dietary restrictions, a couple of days before we were due to meet.
On the evening of the experience, I made my way to the home of a lovely, welcoming woman called Giulia. Giulia lives right in the heart of Venice, in a home that has been passed down in her family from generation to generation.
I must admit, I was a little nervous before I got there, but as soon as Giulia invited me in, I knew we were going to have a great night. She explained to me that we were having a traditional Venetian meal that she had made from scratch, and I learned about a few of the staple ingredients that I had seen on menus in restaurants, but not really understood their significance.
Learning about Venetian food traditions first-hand
Giulia prepared her grandmother’s recipe for shrimp pasta, and I had a go at cutting it! They usually make the same dish with tuna on Christmas eve, so I really did get a glimpse into Venetian family life.
Due to the time of year I visited (Carnival in February), Giulia’s mother-in-law had made some traditional Carnival biscuits, which are prepared the same way as fresh pasta but with added sugar, and deep fried instead of boiled. Traditionally, this was a way of using up eggs before lent.
Over dinner, we spoke about families, our hometowns and home countries, our experiences during the pandemic, and what we enjoy doing in our spare time.
It was such a special experience to be able to visit the home of someone living locally, and get to know them and their view of the city I was exploring. I think I learned more in that one evening about the personal, local experience of Venice, than I did from reading countless articles online.
Polenta plays a big part in traditional Venetian cuisine, and Giulia sent me away with a bag to bring back home to the UK. I’m going to have to try to replicate some of her delicious food!
If you’re looking for things to do in Venice at night, I would highly recommend this dining experience in a local home. Not just for the food, but for the learning experience and the great company, especially if you are a solo traveller.
2. Watch the Interpreti Veneziani concert at the Church of San Vidal
Venice is synonymous with canals, art and architecture, and what better way to bring that all together than to watch Interpreti Veneziani, a string sextet, perform Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in a stunning, 12th century former church next to the Grand Canal?
I’ll be honest, I booked tickets to this because I wanted to try something a little different. I wasn’t expecting much because I’m not an avid listener of classical music, and I’ve never seen it performed live. However, on the day I was due to go, I heard people talking about how atmospheric it was, and how the whole performance had made them emotional. That certainly upped my expectations and I started to get quite excited.
You have to book tickets to see Interpreti Veneziani in advance and show the electronic confirmation at the door. I went out of season and it was sold out, so if you know you want to go then book your ticket ahead of time.
Arrive early to get a good seat!
The instructions for the ticket tell you to arrive at the church at 8pm, with the concert starting at 8.30pm, to ensure you find a seat. I got to the area slightly earlier, at around 7.40pm, thinking that I would scout out where the entrance was and have a look around the nearby squares before returning at 8pm. But, there was already a queue at the entrance, so I joined it.
When the doors finally opened, they did so into a huge church hall with rows upon rows of chairs set in front of a modest stage. I was handed a programme and found my seat. The seats are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, so you can choose where to go (I got a good one because I had joined the queue early!).
Tip: don’t worry about the dress code here. There were people wearing walking shoes and jackets, so you don’t have to pack your best attire into a carry-on suitcase if you’re only visiting for a few days, like I was.
The show began promptly at 8.30pm, and it immediately took my breath away. It’s hard to describe just how incredible it is to hear this famous piece of music being brought to life by six people and their string instruments inside such a beautiful building.
Antonio Vivaldi is most likely the first name that springs to mind when I ask you to think of a Venetian composer. Even if you don’t know any classical music, I’m sure you will recognise Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
The show lasts 90 minutes, with a brief interlude. It went by so quickly for me and I absolutely loved the whole experience. I’m thinking of booking another trip back to Venice, this time with Alex, just so he can experience it too.
3. Take a guided street food tour with a local
Taking a guided tour on your first night in Venice is a great way to familiarise yourself with the city and build up a list of places to visit during the rest of your stay.
With many osterias (food and wine bars) to choose from, it can be slightly intimidating to go alone when you first arrive, so getting recommendations from a local is always a winner.
I found this street food tour with a local guide and tastings on GetYourGuide and signed up. It really helped me get my bearings, and you learn what and how to order with advice from a local. You also get loads of recommendations for how to spend your time over the following few days.
Navigating Venice’s hidden food gems via the backstreets
I met my guide and the rest of my tour group at the statue on Campo San Bortolomio and, even though the square was bustling with excitable Carnival goers, our tour guide, Denys from Venice, managed to find a quiet alley within a minute and lead us through the backstreets to our first stop.
The group size was small, just five people including me, which meant Denys had enough time to answer each of our questions as we got to know each other throughout the evening. Denys was friendly and gave us interesting information about how the Venetians eat and drink, while walking us through all the locally known back routes to get to each destination, avoiding the hordes that were making their way to the Grand Canal for the Carnival opening ceremony.
Tip: I learned that if I wanted to drink wine in a bar, I should order an ombra de rosso, or shadow of red, which is essentially a small red wine. Change up the colour to order any of the house wines.
The food on this tour is centred around cicchetti – a Venetian appetiser – while prosecco and spritz take the limelight when it comes to drinks. We had time to purchase our own spritz in a couple of different places, which I thought brought a nice vibe to the tour, and you could opt to purchase more food if you wanted.
Insider, local information was the reason I chose to do this tour and I wasn’t disappointed. So, if you like to learn the ropes from a local to then explore on your own later, this is a great activity to do in Venice at night.
4. Socialise like a local: explore Venice’s osterias
You can’t walk for more than three minutes without seeing a sign outside an osteria that reads “Vino | Spritz | Cicchetti” and, let’s face it, you’d be hard pushed to find one that disappoints. Spending a night in Venice hopping from one to another is a great way to sample the local delights.
What is an osteria?
An osteria is a small place that usually serves drinks, like wine and spritz, with appetisers, known locally as cicchetti. There are hundreds of them. Don’t go to an osteria hoping for a full meal.
You’ll be standing most of the time, unless you get lucky and bag one of the few seats in each place, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes (this is almost a given in Venice with how much walking you do!).
Osterias can be packed with people, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you! They each have their own atmosphere, and the majority of them spill out onto the little lanes. I stood outside a few in February and, while it wasn’t warm, it wasn’t too bad if you had a coat and kept moving.
5. Drink like a local: enjoy a Spritz on Campo Santa Margherita
Venice is a tourist city and there isn’t really much escaping that. However, there are some areas that are slightly off the beaten track and, as is typical, these less touristy areas tend to be cheaper and full of locals.
Dorsoduro, in the south-west of Venice, is a lively neighbourhood where you will find lots of restaurants and bars. If you go during the day, you can see Banky’s Migrant Child from the bridge that leads onto Campo Santa Margherita from the north, just off Campo San Pantalon.
But if you are looking somewhere for a cheap spritz, to sit outside and watch the night go by, then Campo Santa Margherita is your place.
When ordering a spritz you usually have around four or five different liquors to choose from. From sweet to bitter, you can choose between Aperol, Select, Cynar, Campari or P31.
Tip: You don’t need to say “spritz” after the name of the liquor as the bartender knows what you mean by simply ordering an Aperol. The only time you need to specify is if you would like your spritz to be made with prosecco, because the default is soda water.
I tried my first spritz made with Cynar and prosecco at DuChamp, and instantly fell in love. So much so that I bought a bottle of Cynar upon returning home. It’s slightly more bitter than Aperol, but has a sweeter aftertaste. Apparently, Cynar is for older Venetians, so I must be old at heart! I also enjoyed Select, which is a Venetian liquor.
On our previous visit to Venice, Alex and I also very much enjoyed a night in Chet Bar, which is also on Campo Santa Margherita. It’s billed as a student bar with reasonably priced cocktails, and we got a nice vibe from the place. There are few tables, so be prepared to stand outside here.
6. Have a fancy meal at one of Venice’s many amazing restaurants
We’ve floated the idea of spending a night in Venice hopping between the different osterias, perhaps sampling different cicchetti along the way with a group of friends. But you might want to try something a little more formal, like a trattoria, a ristorante or an osteria that serves a full menu.
Venice has many outstanding restaurants and it’s usually worth booking where possible, especially during peak seasons. On my earlier street food tour, Denys pointed out a great looking restaurant called Osteria Fanal del Còdega, which describes itself as a modern osteria and appeared to have a fantasic atmosphere.
I attempted to go there for a three-course, sit down meal on my second night in Venice, but to my disappointment it was fully booked! When I return to Venice I’ll definitely make sure to book ahead.
Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants in that area, so after a quick search on Google I came across Hostaria Osottoosopra, which is an adults-only restaurant with fantastic reviews. Because I was out early, I managed to get a table right in the window.
The atmosphere was a little quiet at first, but it got a bit livelier as the night went on. The waiter brought me a menu and recommended an excellent red wine to go with my ravioli and beef cheeks. Everything about the food was impeccable, and it was so nice to take a little time out to do something luxurious on my own.
Ordering your food in a fancy Venice restaurant
If you’ve not been to Italy before, you might not be used to how an Italian meal is structured. In the UK, we have starters, main course and dessert; if we have pasta, it is usually served as the main course. In Italy, they have appetisers, first course, second course and dessert. Pasta is served as a first course. The pasta portions aren’t huge, but it is designed to fill you up slightly before having something like roasted meat or fish for the main second course.
You can just order a plate of pasta if that’s what you want, but the waiter might hang around to hear you say what you want for your main course, especially if you are in somewhere a little bit more formal. Just be prepared for that, I know I wasn’t the first time I went to a restaurant in Italy!
7. Immerse yourself in local legend on a guided ghost walk
Venice is steeped in centuries of history and it’s hardly surprising that a few legends and stories have been passed down along the way. Instead of focusing on the buildings, architecture or canals, this off-the-beaten-path walking tour will take you on a journey through dramatic love stories, criminal acts that end in tragedy and ghost sightings.
The two-hour legends and ghosts of Cannaregio tour will take you to a new area of Venice in the north that you might not have thought about visiting.
This happened to be the area in which I was staying. I wasn’t able to fit in this particular ghost tour, but I explored the area at night, with its bustling osterias and many hidden alleys, and I wish I had longer to stay and do this with a local guide. It has great reviews and it won’t break the bank, so I think it’s definitely worth a try for a slightly different take on what to do in Venice at night.
8. See the sights after-dark: take a self-guided tour
If you visit Venice in winter then you don’t have to stay up late to explore the sights after dark. I visited in February and the sunset was around 5.30pm.
On my solo trip I did a couple of self-guided tours and found that the best time to do it was after spritz and dinner, around 9–10pm. The streets are empty at this time, and this was even the week before Carnival.
While you can wander the streets of your own volition, you will get much more information from downloading an inexpensive voice tour, such as the heart of the floating city self-guided walking tour. You can even do the tour virtually if you get too excited to wait!
Walking around the main Venice tourist hotspots at night is much more relaxing and peaceful than battling with the crowds during the day. I enjoyed this time to really take in the exterior of places like Doge’s Palace and the Basilica of San Marco, and explore the canals without the hustle and bustle of busy people passing by.
Everywhere I walked was well lit. I walked around the streets at night on my own and I never felt unsafe, even with my camera taking photos.
9. Feel the romance: watch the sunset in Venice from Guidecca island
It’s a well known fact that Venice is one of the most romantic places in Italy for couples, and what could be more romantic than enjoying a Venetian sunset? There’s a snag, though. Venice is pretty much a flat city, with lots of buildings, so it’s actually quite tricky to find the best sunset vantage points.
I travelled to Venice most recently on a workation, and so I worked in a coworking space while I was there. The coworking space I found was located on Giudecca island, to the south of Venice. I had read a bit of information before my trip about Giudecca being the best place to watch the sunset, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Come 5pm, I promptly shut down my laptop, said goodbye to the other people in the coworking space and headed out to watch the beautiful colours change over the skies and buildings of Venice.
I didn’t find any specific “best” spot to watch the sunset, although you might enjoy a drink on the banks of the water, or head to get an elevated view from the Skyline rooftop bar at the Hilton Molino Stucky (where you can choose to stay if you want these views every evening!).
Getting between Venice and the mainland at night
On our first trip to Venice we stayed in Mestre, a popular neighbourhood over on the mainland. If you are staying here, or somewhere else on the mainland, it’s very easy to get to Venice’s islands (where most of the city’s attractions are located) by taking a bus, tram or train across the bridge of Ponte della Libertà.
For example, the 4L bus line runs between central Mestre and Venice, with the last service around midnight. See this guide to transport between Mestre and Venice for more information about the various options.
We also used a city card on our first trip to Venice, which made exploring the city a lot easier. You can buy a Venice City Pass that gives you access to public transport as well as entry to various attractions, for either 1, 2, 3 or 7 days.
Where to stay for exploring Venice at night
Accommodation on the mainland is typically cheaper, but if you want to be completely immersed in the magic of Venice of night, there are many beautiful places to stay in the heart of the islands.
Budget accommodation is quite hard to come by, but I had a great time at Ostello Santa Fosca, a hostel that has adapted some elements of a 15th century church that comprises part of its building. It’s a basic hostel but it is perfectly located for night owls to roam freely round the Venetian canals without having to worry about the time for the last bus.
Want to treat yourself by staying somewhere lovely in Venice? Here are some of the best places to stay for exploring:
- Palazzo Suite Ducale: beautiful guest house in an atmospheric old Venetian palazzo, situated right on the threshold of the San Marco neighbourhood, just a few minute’s walk from St Mark’s Square.
- B&B Hortus: friendly bed and breakfast in Dorsoduro, a quiet neighbourhood set away from the main touristy areas, but still walking distance (or short water taxi ride) to Venice’s main attractions.
- Palazzetto Madonna: stunning hotel in a historic canalside building, right next to San Marco and Dorsoduro. A huge American-style buffet breakfast is served every day.
Visiting Venice for a weekend? Take a look at our itinerary for 2 days in Venice for some inspiration.
Thanks for reading – I hope that’s given you lots of inspiration to explore Venice at night. As I said earlier, if you’ve got any other ideas that you think we should include, please do leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!