Visiting Venice during Carnival

Carnival in Venice

If you have any interest in attending the age old tradition of carnival in Venice, make your plans now. Carnival festivities in Venice’s San Marco square date back as far as the 1100’s. The festival was outlawed in the late 1700’s and its modern incarnation began in 1979. The parades, tradition and decadent costumes all taking place in beautiful Venezia make it an experience not to be missed. Carnival’s energy and scale are truly amazing to behold but here are some things to consider if you’re planning a trip.

Accommodation

It goes without saying that it is always practical to book ahead but I could not stress the importance of this in regards to this event. There are an estimated 3 million visitors and prices can skyrocket up to 300% during the festival. I would recommend booking at least 4 months prior to the start of Carnival. We have found Air b&b a great resource, many times being cheaper than hostels.

Transportation to Venice Within Italy

If you are traveling anywhere from within Italy, Trenitalia is a viable choice. They have several trains arriving daily to Venezia Santa Lucia, Venice’s central station. The price inflation is significant this time of year so it would be prudent to book ahead. Also if you can purchase an assigned seat on the train car, you may want to pay the extra fee. These trains overbook and you will be standing the whole time squeezed into very tight spaces. Our last trip we witnessed a passenger have a panic attack due to the confined space.

There are also a number of busses that travel direct to Venice. FlixBus is one option we’ve used several times all over Europe but like all other bus lines, they fill up rather quick for carnival.

Transportation Within Venice

If you save money on accommodations by staying just outside of the main center, take into consideration if you are walking distance or if you’ll need to take a city bus. The busses become extremely crowded by about 9am. The amount of people taking public transport for the events is in such demand that some busses will not do pickups at designated stops because of being over capacity.

Once you are on the main island, water taxis can be a bit expensive. If you think you will need to take several rides in any given day, the “24 hour” pass is the better value. One-way fare is 7,50 whereas a day pass is 20 euro.

If you want to save money and don’t mind being on your feet, Venice is a very walkable city.

Plan for the Weather

Being surrounded by water, Venice in February can have biting cold wind. There are also moments when the sun is out and you have no need of a jacket. Dressing in layers is the best way to prepare for the frequent changes in temperature. I recommend having a scarf or some other accessory that can protect your ears from the cold. It is not uncommon to get some rain as well.

In short be prepared for cold and wet weather with the occasional sunny afternoons.

Attending Events

There are numerous parades, costume contest, concerts and other events held daily. The most popular events that draw the largest crowds center around San Marco’s square. If you want to attend, plan on showing up very early. The sea of people pushing their way through to find a location to set up can be overwhelming. Save yourself the headache and show up well ahead of schedule.

Visiting Venice during carnival can be a challenge but it is well worth any effort needed to make it happen. Venezia is an enchanting city any time of the year but during carnival, it is truly magical.

18 comments

    1. Thanks Frank, we are glad you enjoyed our post. I hope you make the trip and if you do we’d love to hear how everything turned out. It’s such a cool event, I hope some of our tips make it possible for travelers to enjoy it.
      Thanks again.

    1. I hope you make that trip soon. If you have anymore questions that can help make that journey happen, we are more than happy to answer. We went on a whim and figured everything not to do by trial and error, lol.
      Thanks for the feedback.

    1. Thank you so much, we could not stop taking photos, lol. There is so much to see and so many participants go all out on elaborate, beautiful costumes. If you ever find yourself in that part of the world during February, you have to visit.
      Thanks again for your kind words.

    1. It’s a really great experience, we are lucky we had the opportunity to participate. Hopefully some of our tips help you make the trip someday. If you do, we’d love to hear how it went.
      Thank you for your comment.

  1. So interesting! I bet it would feel like stepping back into medieval times almost. Thank you for sharing about this!

    1. Thank you, we are glad you found the post interesting. There are definitely moments during Carnival when you look around and feel like you’ve traveled back in time. More and more some people treat the event like Halloween. You do see occasional non-traditional costumes but by and large much more participants go for the classic old world clothing.
      Thanks for your comments, we love getting feedback.

  2. Ever since I saw the Count of Monte Cristo movie I have wanted to go to Venice for this. As the movie faded from my mind I honestly forgot that was even a desire of mine! It sounds like it’s just as crazy as Mardi Gra in New Orleans as far as hotels and such- I didn’t know it was this big there! I bet it’s far more civilized and magical than New Orleans anyway. Thanks for the tips, I’m saving this one.

    1. I’m so happy to hear we helped rekindle your interest in the event. I love that movie and I also first became interested in the festivities in Venice after watching the film. I would agree that’s it is definitely more civilized and family friendly than Mardi Gras.
      I hope you get the opportunity to make the trip, when you do we’d love to hear your experience.

  3. I have a trip planned for Venice, I am bookmarking your page because you have given me such good pointers about getting around. Thanks so much for sharing all this info

  4. I love your site. It has been very beautifully put up !! Your pictures are so amazing.. Would you mind revealing the WP theme you have incorporated.. Thanks ! 🙂

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