When you think of a winter getaway, the first thing that pops into your head is somewhere warm: Morocco, Bangkok or maybe the Caribbean. The cold fridged air peeling off the canals of Venice probably does not bode well in your mind, but it is for that very reason why Venice in winter is such a gem. The mass of tourists are gone, and Venetians reclaim the streets and piazzas. They don their fur coats and sip their hot chocolates and warm wine. The city is at peace.
I love going for a stroll in the early hours of the morning when the city is misty. The white blanket illuminating the Grand Canal in a soft hazy light, it feel as though you are in a real-life fairytale, adding an other-worldly charm to an already stunning city. The gondola oarsmen push slowly down the canals until the mist engulfs them and they disappear. Winter is romantic in Venice.
It can be fiscally advantageous to visit La Serenissima in winter as well. Taking advantage of off-season accommodation rates means luxurious hotels like The Gritti Palace and the Baglioni Hotel Luna are more willing to open their finer doors for lower prices. Saint Mark's Basilica is stunning even in the crowded summer months, but in winter when it is empty, it is simply divine. If you cross over to San Giorgio Maggiore, you might find yourself the only one to climb the bell tower, stealing the vista all to yourself.
The city is quiet, but far from deserted; although there are still plenty of activities to keep you busy. From 16 February until 5 March 2019, the colourful Carnevale di Venezia (Venice Carnival) covers the town with elaborate costumes, and fanciful masked regattas. It combines the perfect meld of culture, tradition, and entertainment all in one.
Throughout it all, there are still places to warm yourself and keep out of the elements. One I would recommend would be the Caffè Florian on Piazza San Marco. It is Italy's oldest Coffee house, and the velvety red couches are too tempting to pass by. With your scarf off, order a hot chocolate: it is thick, creamy, and ganache-like, served in a porcelain cup with biscotti for dipping. It is no wonder that literary greats like Goethe, Casanova, Dickens and Proust were said to be regulars here. While we are on a literary sideline, why not round out a walk at the Libreria Acqua Alta (literally High Water Bookstore) where the books are kept in old bathtubs and gondolas to avoid damage to the new and used books and magazines from flooding. Grab a good book, and find a cosy corner and lose yourself for the rest of the afternoon.
If you have enjoyed the images in this blog and would like to improve your own photography, or just see the hidden side of Venice, why not take a photography lesson with Aperture Tours. For three or six hours, we can take you to our favourite parts of the city on a one-on-one workshop, where we go at your level to develop your photographic eye, and improve your technical skills. For more information, see our Venice Photography Tours.
Author : Alexander J.E. Bradley
Alexander is the founder of Aperture Tours which run photography tours in the most photogenic cities across the globe. A professional photographer for over a decade, Alexander enjoys shooting the surreal by mixing dreamlike qualities into his conceptual images.