Christmas in Venice is an opportunity to soak up the local atmosphere without the crowds. During the winter, the number of visitors drops significantly, making the festive season one of the most interesting, authentic and underrated times to visit. Venice is a big village with its own universe of secret waterways and hidden architectural treasures that can take half a lifetime to discover. Christmas reveals the city at its most enchanting.
Festive Feasts, Venetian-Style
Famous for its baroque grandeur, Venice is just as memorable for the simpler experiences the city offers. You can immerse yourself in the city’s holiday spirit simply by heading to a neighbourhood taverna, decked out in red and gold Christmas finery, to join locals sipping Aperol spritz, the classic Venetian cocktail, and munching on cicheti (little bar snacks).
If you’re thinking about Christmas parties in Venice, plenty of first-class culinary options stay open throughout most of December, although many close down during the Christmas week itself. An ideal option is Ristorante Osteria Da Fiore in San Polo, a longtime contender for Venice’s best restaurant. Once an old Venetian tavern, it’s open throughout the season, from Tuesday to Saturday, serving elegant festive dinners in a refined space perfect for large groups.
You’ll also find ideal venues for Christmas parties in Venice in each one of the city’s sestieres, or neighbourhoods. Trovatore in the Castello district is a popular restaurant loved for its fresh fish and pasta, served in a rustic setting. They throw parties with flair right through to Christmas Eve. Near the Galleria Dell’Accademia in atmospheric Dorsaduro, the lively Ristorante San Trovaso specialises in group evening meals, including buffets with specialities like gnocchi with scampi and tomato sauce, fried fish and risotto alle verdure (risotto with vegetables).
Christmas Markets & Holiday Shopping
From the daily Rialto Market to tiny boutiques, the run-up to Christmas in Venice is a shopper’s paradise, perfect for exploring atmospheric Christmas markets and outdoor stalls plying regional culinary delicacies.
The intimate festive market at Campo San Polo is considered the most festive, showcasing traditional local food, live music, and an ice rink open to all age groups. Browse the local crafts, including handmade lace and Carnevale masks. In the Cannareggio district, the Christmas market on Strada Nova between Campo di San Felice and Campo dei Santi Apostoli offers beautiful handmade ornaments and gifts in wood and glass.
Once you’ve explored Venice’s markets, consider hopping on a water taxi to Murano, the heart of the region’s legendary artisanal glassmaking tradition. Admire the Christmas-themed glass installations handcrafted by local master artists. After perusing the shops for gifts to take home, don’t miss a visit to the island’s Christmas tree made entirely of glass.