City of Canals

Venice in Wintertime

Monita Pesumal highlights some ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ when visiting Venice

I’ve been to the grand old masked city of Venice all but twice. My first experience of this magical city of canals was in April 2010. The weather was mild, the Venetians were friendly and the waterways were serene.

My most recent visit was in March this year, in the post-pandemic era, and I found that the Venetian dream has been commercialised. The city is overcrowded, overpriced and overhyped at best. But it’s still better than visiting in the summer season when tourism is at its peak.

Here are some tips from my experiences to keep in mind if you plan to visit Venice in the colder months.

WHERE TO STAY Choose your accommodation wisely: opt to stay in the Piazza San Marco or San Polo areas. The hotels may be a tad expensive but it’s better than residing in the Stazione area.

The Stazione area is great if you’re arriving by train – but it’s a nightmare if you are trying to make your way back to the hotel in the icy cold rain in a water taxi in the dead of the night.

WHERE TO EAT Skip the coffee and have an Aperol spritz instead. It’s the national drink of Venice. Prosecco, Aperol and soda – topped with an orange garnish – combine to deliver perfection in a glass.

You don’t have to enter a fancy trattoria (bar) to grab one. Any cafe or restaurant will create its own version for you. And it is always served with a side of chips and nuts.

WHAT (NOT) TO DO Don’t ride a gondola – it’s overrated! Venice is a pedestrian city for a reason. You’re meant to walk down its secret alleys and discover hidden corners. Leave the gondola rides for the honeymooners!

And don’t feel you have to buy a Venetian mask as a souvenir – since the bulk of it is made in China! Pharmacies stock the most amazing Italian perfumes and some are made in Venice. They are beautifully packaged and will set you back about 25 euros but their fragrance will linger long after your vacation.

Do take in a glassblowing demonstration. It is guaranteed to blow your mind. Even if you don’t buy any Murano glass items, it’s a wonderful experience to take home with you.

Don’t ever look seagulls in the eye, or eat in front of or feed them. Venetian seagulls may look pretty but they’re vicious – they will steal your almond croissant and laugh at you!

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