If you’re planning to visit Venice in late autumn, winter, or early spring, you might be wondering what to do in Venice when it rains.
Well, you’re correct to think about it, as it rains quite often during those times. But even during summer, there can be rain showers and thunderstorms!
My first recommendation is – if the rain is not too heavy, take an umbrella or put on a raincoat, and just do what you would have done if the weather were nice. There are definitely going to be fewer people!
Note: rain gear gets way overpriced in Venice when it’s raining, so take some with you just in case.
But don’t worry! There are many things to do in Venice when it rains.
Some of these I’ve mentioned already in my itinerary, as those same things you can do when it’s sunny, of course!
If you’re planning your Venice itinerary for the shoulder or off-season, consider at least marking these things as things to do in Venice when it rains.
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What happens to Venice when it rains?
You’ve probably seen the pictures of Piazza San Marco covered in water, right? You might think that it’s from rain, but it actually is not. That’s aqua alta, which I’ll explain in the next section.
So, nothing really bad happens in Venice when it rains. If the rain is not crazy heavy, it just creates low visibility conditions, some puddles, and general unpleasantness because of the wet conditions. Just like everywhere else.
On the other hand, the streets definitely get emptier, so if you don’t mind the rain, you should enjoy it!
What is acqua alta?
As you may know, Venice is built relatively low over the water. And one of the side effects of it is that occasionally there’s the so-called Acqua Alta in Venice – a periodical flood that covers parts of Venice. Literally translated, Acqua alta means high water.
Usually, it happens between autumn and spring. Since acqua alta is a tide, it happens because of gravitational pulls of celestial bodies, wind patterns, and, of course, rain. Actually, Venice experiences non-serious floods even 100 times a year!
It’s not too often that Venice experiences huge floods – it happens every 4-ish years. The smaller acqua alta means that there are just some puddles, and you might get some water on you from the canals if the sidewalk is lower.
It’s quite a different thing, though, if the sirens are announcing the flood. That means that in 3 to 4 hours there is going to be some serious flooding and, if you’re in the historic centre, you should probably go to higher ground.
What to do in Venice when it rains – the easy and popular things
Rainy days in Venice, just like anywhere else, mean that people will try to find somewhere inside to go. Well, who can blame them?
Indoor activities are much more pleasant than wandering around in the wet.
If you don’t mind the crowds, these are the things to do in Venice when it rains that will mean that you get to see some incredible, thus popular, things. Well, they are famous for a very good reason – they are magnificent!
Visit palazzo Ducale
The Doge’s Palace hosts the best museum in Italy where you can see artwork by such artists as Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, A.Vittoria and Tiepolo.
It’s not just a museum, though. The artwork is mainly decorating most of the rooms that you can visit, such as council chambers, residential apartments, and prison cells.
Yup, the Doge’s Palace, the main residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic, is connected to the prison of Venice.
Go inside Basilica San Marco and explore the museum
Basilica San Marco was opened in 1094! That’s almost a thousand years ago, imagine? It has been the episcopal seat of the Patriarch of Venice since 1807.
The building is magnificent already from the outside, and it looks incredible from the inside as well. It’s one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe, and that’s saying something.
You can visit the basilica itself for 3€, but since we’re looking at things to do in Venice when it rains, I suggest you get the additional ticket and explore as much as you can.
Extra tickets are needed for seeing the Pala d’Oro (supplement: 5 €) and the museum – Loggia dei Cavalli (supplement: 7 €). These were the prices at the time of posting the article, obviously. Double-check them on the website of the Basilica.
Enjoy the many museums in Venice
Peggy Guggenheim collection, the Accademia Gallery, Museo Correr, Museo Storico Navale… and, of course, the Palazzo Ducale! And there are just so many more!
Whether you want to see some incredible art, learn more about the Naval history, music, glass making, or anything else, there’s probably a museum for that in Venice.
If it’s pouring rain, it’s definitely better to be inside than somewhere where you’d get wet. Well, at least I don’t like walking around and about in rain, haha.
Enjoy a long meal in an osteria
What can be better than spending some time in a lovely restaurant with a glass of tasty wine and some incredible food?
There are many incredible places to eat and so much food to try out! You can even try out some food or wine tasting menus, for that matter.
Related: Venice 2 day itinerary
For a more romantic setting, go to a restaurant on Grand Canal – have a spritz with a view!
Just sit down, relax, and enjoy your time until the rain goes away.
Remember, tipping in a restaurant in Italy is almost never expected.
Some more unique things to plan for Venice in the rain
If you don’t really feel like joining all of the crowds that will flood (see what I did there?) to the more popular attractions, you might consider these things.
Go to Murano for a glass-blowing workshop – something useful to do when it rains in Venice
Murano is an island just by Venice. Some of the most famous (and expensive) glass things in the world are made there!
So when Venice is in the rain, you can just use a Vaporetto to pop over to the lagoon to Murano and enjoy learning how glass is processed to create some wonderful things.
If you’d like, you can just enjoy the demo.
But! There’s a chance to actually go on a Murano glass blowing workshop and make your own things! You can join a group or, if your budget is a bit higher, have a private lesson with a local artisan (which is actually in Venice itself, not Murano).
I’ve done glass blowing, and it’s honestly really cool. So if you’re looking for some unique things to do in Venice when it rains, this is definitely one of them.
See an opera in La Fenice – something to do in Venice for opera lovers
This is not just a thing to do in Venice when it rains, but something to do in the evening.
Related: Unique things to do in Venice
La Fenice is one of the most famous opera houses in Italy. It was opened at the end of the 18th century. The name La Fenice – the phoenix – reflects the fact that the opera company could rise from the ashes despite the building burning down three times.
Just be aware that you are going to be together with people dressed to the nines, so make sure to pack something appropriate.
Join a cooking class with a professional Venetian cook – a tasty thing to do in Venice when it rains
Learning to cook local foods is always a cool idea but learning to cook Italian food in Venice when it rains is pretty much a win-win situation.
You learn how to make new and tasty food in good company instead of getting wet outside. Perfect!
Obviously, there are many cooking classes available, but this one with a professional cook who relocated from the US to Italy more than 20 years ago seemed really interesting to me.
Besides that, you can learn to make pasta, tiramisu, and many other things. You can check the other options out here.
What not to plan for Venice when it rains
There are a bunch of things to do in Venice when it rains, but there are some things that might be better left for sunnier days.
Go to one of the most interesting bookstores in the world Libreria Acqua Alta
It’s a bookstore that would interest even people who don’t enjoy reading!
The place is full of books, obviously. But not just full.
The books are piled in a life-sized gondola, bathtubs, and canoes. The shelves are full of books, and books are part of the structure even.
It’s become a bit Instagram famous recently just because the décor is so incredibly unique.
Since the bookstore opens straight onto the channel, it inevitably floods when Acqua Alta occurs. Hence the name.
And that’s the reason, also, why the books are in all of the weird storage places – to protect them from the water when the bookstore inevitably floods.
Obviously, if the rain is not too strong, it might still be ok to go to the bookstore. But, if you see that the water level is rising in canals, maybe better plan something else to do in Venice.
But still, it is one of the bucket list items for Venice.
Campanile San Marco – you won’t see too much of Venice when it rains
Rain usually means clouds and quite often – low clouds.
And low clouds mean not such good visibility.
When we visited Venice in November, you could barely see the other side of Canale Grande. There was not a chance that we’d be able to enjoy the view from the San Marco’s campanile as there was a cloud and fog all around Venice.
So don’t waste your time or money on something you will most probably not be able to enjoy.
Even if it’s rainy, Venice can still be enjoyed!
When we visited Venice in November, it rained almost all of the time. It was grey, cold, and misty.
But still, we went for a gondola ride, roamed the streets, enjoyed the San Marco’s square and surroundings, ate Cicchetti, drank spritz, and had a lot of fun.
Last thoughts about what to do in Venice when it rains
So, as you see, there are tons of things to do in Venice in the rain.
The city is lovely in almost any weather and in any season, so just make sure to plan your visit – and pack! – accordingly, and you will not have any problems.
And then, rain in Venice will not cause any problems for you.