Surviving Venice Carnival: a Guide for Carnival Haters

by Elena Binda
Venice Carnival credits Shutterstock

Here are some tips from two genuine Venetians to help you avoid the most crowded areas during these crazy February days: behind the mask, it’s always Venice!

Choosing areas not packed with tourists, staying as far away as possible from St. Mark’s Square and the most crowded shopping districts, taking refuge in a quiet gallery or visiting a museum, finding atmospheric venues known only to locals, enjoying an unusual shopping experience: these survival guidelines are known to all Venetians, but – obviously – should appeal to individual tastes. Where® offers you two alternatives which you can enjoy at leisure, whether you want to completely avoid Carnival (which frankly, is a rather ambitious undertaking…) or simply take a break from all the confusion. Here are some insider tips to save you from the madding crowd.

A ‘cultural’ break is a good escape option: the program offered by the padiglioni dell’Arsenale (website only in Italian) is always interesting (in addition to historic craft, its pavilions also host plays and exhibitions. If the weather is good, the ideal place for a walk is the ‘Zattere’ area (sestiere Dorsoduro, along the Giudecca Canal): from the Pinault Museum in Punta della Dogana, to San Basilio, you can enjoy an aperitivo on its terraces or pier while watching the ships go by. When it comes to eateries, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Our picks include the Linea d’Ombra, the Cantinone Schiavi, whose ‘cicchetti’ are truly noteworthy, or La Piscina, Agli Alboretti and the Ristoteca Oniga in Campo San Barnaba… If you continue a little further inland, you’ll reach Campo Santa Margherita, with its old coffee bars.

Tip number one. Avoid taking any public transport that passes along the Grand Canal! Take advantage of the external lines to get around (Vaporetto 4.1, 4.2 and 6) or travel on foot, making sure to circumvent St. Mark’s Square and the main thoroughfares. For a pleasant outing, head to Cannaregio, where the presence of the Jewish Ghetto, which celebrated its 500th anniversary this year, makes the tradition of Carnival less noticeable. To find a little peace without foregoing the joy of taking fabulous pictures overlooking the Grand Canal, take shelter inside the Ca’ D’oro, a beautiful, late Gothic palazzo that hosts a spectacular art gallery. Indulge in a few hours of relaxation for the mind and the body at the spa of the Hotel Dei Dogi. Do something unconventional, like having an aperitivo at the Fondamenta della Misericordia: one of the best-loved venues in this area is Al Timon. However, be sure to go there at lunchtime, because it gets very crowded in the afternoon. The same area is also home to the newly opened l’Osteria Giorgione: Anna, the sommelier, will help you choose the perfect wine. And, if you want to take home a souvenir of your narrow escape, stop in at PlumPlum Creation and indulge in a beautiful engraving, a small painting or even just a postcard featuring original images of Venice: it will be fun to look at or to give as a gift on your return home.

Related Articles