- 1 The Best Things to do in Venice When it Rains
- 1.1 Explore the day away in some of Venice’s world-class museums
- 1.2 Watch an opera at Teatro La Fenice
- 1.3 Visit the historic rooms inside the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
- 1.4 Indulge in a full four-course meal
- 1.5 Take a Venetian cooking class with a professional chef
- 1.6 Spend some time inside at a wine tasting
- 1.7 Step inside for a decadent chocolate tasting
- 1.8 Learn about the history of Venetian mask making
- 1.9 Watch masters at work on a glass factory tour
- 1.10 Window shop inside the luxurious Fondaco dei Tedeschi
- 1.11 Pop in and out of shops around Salizada S. Moise or Calle del Magazen
- 1.12 Learn at the Venetian Arsenal
- 1.13 Watch a movie at Multisala Rossini
- 1.14 Embrace the rain
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Since there are tons of bucket list activities in Venice, Italy, there must also be a lot of dedicated rainy day activities in Venice. Right?
This historic city is best experienced on a warm, sunny day or a cool, cloudy day–but at a minimum, without water pouring down on your head or flooding the streets due to aqua alta. And when you only have a few days to explore the historic city, even one day of rain can throw your Venice itinerary for a loop.
Luckily, the famous islands with centuries of history and infinite artistic sources aren’t afraid of a storm or a few days of bad weather! After scouring the Italian city looking for indoor activities in Venice, these are my best recommendations for things to do in Venice when it rains.
The Best Things to do in Venice When it Rains
Although Venice is a city built on the sea, it wasn’t made for rain. Unlike other beautiful cities in Italy like Bologna or Florence, Venice doesn’t have many arcades to cover pedestrians from the elements.
This is due, in part, to the interesting Venetian fact that the city’s main streets at the height of the Republic were the canals. Wealthy people moved through the canals to get around as we’d drive on the street in the modern-day–and the city streets were used for labor, messengers, and the rest of society. That’s part of why Venice’s streets wind their way around and don’t necessarily follow any logical order.
All that is to say, when you’re looking for things to do in Venice when it rains, just know you’ll be walking around outside, in the rain, to get from place to place. A sturdy, compact umbrella–like this one–will be your best friend for the day!
Explore the day away in some of Venice’s world-class museums
Venice is filled with museums exploring the city’s rich history, from landmarks like the Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica) and Palazzo Ducale (the Doge’s Palace) to lesser-known landmarks like Ca’Rezzonico and Museo Fortuny.
In addition to the twelve museums in the Musei Civici di Venezia system, the beautiful city has tons of other incredible museums like the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum, and the Museo Ebraico di Venezia (Jewish Museum of Venice.)
Pick one or two and spend your rainy day in Venice learning more about the beautiful art, fascinating history, and architecture that calls Venice home.
Insider Tip: If you’re interested in visiting a few of the city’s Musei Civici di Venezia, take a look at my post on the best Venice city pass to figure out if bundling the price of admission is right for you.
Watch an opera at Teatro La Fenice
The Teatro La Fenice was built in 1792, only five years before the Republic of Venice fell into Napoleon’s hands. Throughout the 19th century, the theater premiered operas by some of the most famous composers of the time, including Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi.
It’s now regarded by many as one of the most important landmarks in the history and evolution of opera. However, today’s performance space is actually an exact replica of the original, which was burned down by arson in 1996.
Fun fact: Teatro La Fenice inspired the interior design of the Croatian National Theater in Šibenik. If you check out my guide to the best things to do in Šibenik, Croatia, you can see a picture of the inside there to compare.
Before moving to Italy, I was an auditioning NYC actor with a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance and a licensed New York City tour guide. Going to see a Broadway show was always one of my favorite things to do on a rainy day in NYC, so naturally, it’s one of my favorite rainy day activities in Venice!
You can check the production schedule and purchase admission tickets online for upcoming shows. However, if the rain is more last-minute or they don’t have a performance playing, you can schedule an audio tour of Teatro La Fenice to head inside the theater.
Visit the historic rooms inside the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
The Venetian Republic’s national library dates back to 1362, when a poet gave his books so that the city might start a collection. But it wasn’t until 1537 that the necessity for a library was recognized, and the Marciana Library opened as the Library of San Marco in 1560.
Although you need to reserve in advance if you want to view one of the rare books or manuscripts, you can head inside and explore the library’s Monumental Rooms as part of the Venice Museum Pass. See the central vestibule, the main hall, and any exhibits they have out for public display.
Insider Tip: On the second Sunday of each month, the library gives a free guided tour in Italian if you register ahead of time. On their website, you may check their hours of operation and register for the trip.
Indulge in a full four-course meal
For a quick guide to eating in Italy, you have the options to order an antipasti (appetizer,) primi (first course,) secondi (second course,) contorni (sides,) and dolci (dessert.) Usually, people only order either a primi or a secondi as their main meal.
However, if you’re finding what to do in Venice when it rains, pick an excellent restaurant and indulge in a full four-course meal. Italians typically spend hours eating, drinking, and enjoying each other’s company at a restaurant, so it’s not uncommon to see slow table changeover when you’re out enjoying the nightlife in Venice or any other city.
That’s definitely one thing I wish I had known before visiting Venice; one of my first times eating dinner in restaurants, we were told we could sit for dinner at 6:30 p.m., but they would need the table for a 9 p.m. reservation. Implying we would be there for almost three hours! Sitting and enjoying a meal for hours is quite common for me now, eating in Italian restaurants, but wow, it was unexpected initially.
Or, if you don’t want to worry about the details yourself, you can schedule a four-course food and wine pairing at an elegant dinner.
Take a Venetian cooking class with a professional chef
As with anywhere in Italy, the culture of food here in Venice is unique to the lagoon city. If you’re interested in staying out of the rain and learning more about the city’s history of food, take this cooking class with a professional Venetian chef.
During this 3 hour class, you’ll have an opportunity to learn, cook, and eat inside a local Venetian’s home. The class size is limited to six participants, so you can be sure to get a hands-on, personalized experience.
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Spend some time inside at a wine tasting
Are Veneto wines more appealing to you than traditional cocktails? At a wine tasting, you can sample some incredible Italian wines! Vineria all’Amarone is a tiny wine bar a few streets from the Rialto Bridge. The shop features its own tasting menu of local and regional wines.
They provide four tasting menus ranging in price from €31 to €46 per person. Each tasting includes five different local wines, ranging from Prosecco to Amarone wines and beyond.
Also, they’ll provide recommendations and insight from the experts, and a whole booklet you can take home with further information about the wonderful wines you’ve tried.
On their website, you can schedule your wine tasting session for any time the shop is open.
Insider Tip: If you’re interested in experiencing Prosecco from the source, you should consider taking one of these Prosecco vineyard tours from Venice while you’re in the Veneto region. You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the process behind the wine’s signature Charmat method while sampling the light bubbly white wine surrounded by breathtaking views.
Step inside for a decadent chocolate tasting
Let’s say the weather is only calling for an hour of rain. In that case, consider yourself in for a real treat with a chocolate tasting! Vizio Virtù is an elegant chocolate shop in the local Castello neighborhood of Venice. During this experience, you’ll have the opportunity to taste about five different kinds of chocolate bonbons and truffles and your own steaming mug of hot chocolate.
The shop will teach you a bit of the history behind chocolate making as you taste-test, and you’re welcome to spend some time after your tasting ends to peruse and purchase some chocolates to take home.
Learn about the history of Venetian mask making
The history of Venice’s Carnevale celebrations is intertwined with the history of mask-wearing and mask-making. The origins of these traditions can be traced back centuries; beginning in the Middle Ages, masks were used to conceal the wearer’s identity, allowing them to participate in the Carnevale revelry unnoticed.
If you’re interested in learning more about the practice and seeing how the masks are still handmade centuries later, you can attend a mask-making workshop with a Venetian artist. While painting your own Venetian paper-mâché mask to take home, you’ll learn about the tradition of Venetian paper-mâché masks and how the art form was nearly destroyed.
Find out when this mask-making workshop is available and book here.
Watch masters at work on a glass factory tour
As you might recall, as one of my interesting facts about Venice, the city is made up of more than 100 islands, and some are outside the main city center. The island of Murano is one of the world’s most prominent glassmaking centers, just off the coast of the main city.
During the Middle Ages, the first glassmakers were taken to this little island in the Venetian Lagoon and were not allowed to leave in order to protect their secrets of creating glass. Murano is still regarded as a hub for high-quality glass manufacture today, and it is home to the Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum).
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of glass and the process of how incredible items like glass chandeliers, vases, and mirrors are made, you need to take a tour of a glass factory and workshop. You’ll be guided to the island and watch a glassmaking demonstration from a master; then, you’ll have an opportunity to create your own piece of glass jewelry or mosaic with Murano glass to take home with you.
Although you might get a little wet taking the Vaporetto on your way to the island, you’ll be inside from the rain for the duration of your tour. Check out their schedule and availability for the Murano glass factory and workshop tour here.
Window shop inside the luxurious Fondaco dei Tedeschi
The Fondaco dei Tedeschi, located a few streets from the Rialto Bridge, was built in the 14th century. This opulent indoor shopping complex was formerly the city’s principal post office. Before it, German businessmen residing in the Venetian Republic were confined there.
The inside has been meticulously planned to retain the structure’s historical character while providing many stories of the shopping area. Each level has several different luxury retailers on it, where you can spend hours shopping or browsing through the clothes.
Insider Tip: You can enjoy panoramic views of the city from the mall’s rooftop! It is free to reserve a ticket to visit the T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace; however, you must do so in advance.
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Pop in and out of shops around Salizada S. Moise or Calle del Magazen
Although the Fondaco dei Tedeschi is really the city’s only indoor shopping mall, there are several areas around the city where you can pop in between shops, only stepping outside for the few meters from one entrance to the next.
From the backside of the Procuratie in Piazza San Marco, you can follow the street Salizada S. Moise and over the Ponte S. Moise as it becomes Calle Larga XXII Marzo for an incredible line-up of Italian luxury shopping with stores like Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Versace, and Prada among others along the street.
Another one of my favorite shopping streets in Venice is around Calle del Magazen. You’ll find (more reasonably priced) retailers like OVS, Levi, H&M, Tezenis, Guess, Calvin Klein, and several others within a few streets.
Learn at the Venetian Arsenal
The Venetian Arsenal was a network of shipyards and armories run by the Republic of Venice. It was constructed beginning in 1104, and it accounts for around 15 percent of the overall land area in the city.
No surprise for a country established on lagoon islands; the Republic possessed a massive navy and commercial fleet. Because of the Arsenal’s assembly-line mass manufacturing, it created a large number of boats in a short period of time, which had a massive influence on Venice’s strong naval strength.
Today, the Arsenal contains the Museo Storico Navale di Venezia (Venice Museum of Naval History,) which has an excellent collection and organizes events and exhibitions during the Venice Biennale. It also serves as the operations headquarters for the MOSE Project, a tidal barrier designed to resist flooding and reduce sinking caused by rising tides and climate change.
You can easily spend several hours wandering around the Arsenal’s inside spaces, exploring the museum and different exhibits on display when you visit.
Watch a movie at Multisala Rossini
Surprise–Venice has a movie theater! I honestly couldn’t believe it myself when I first found it. Since the town I live in just outside the city doesn’t have a movie house, I’d been looking for an option in Venice for rainy days when I couldn’t keep myself away.
Multisala Rossini originally opened in 1969 with just a single movie screen in what was once the 19th-century San Beneto Theater. It’s now a modern cinema offering three screens and a restaurant and bar below.
Remember, it’s a small theater with only a few showtimes each week. But, if the stars align and you find a movie you want to see with a showtime that works for you when you’re looking for things to do in Venice in the rain, it’s a worthwhile experience.
You can check out what’s playing and the current showtimes here.
Embrace the rain
At the end of your Italian trip, will you look back and think, “Oh, you know, I wish I stayed inside on that rainy day in Venice instead of getting my shoes all wet?” Hopefully not!
There’s something extraordinary about experiencing Venice on a rainy day when the clouds sit low and add a layer of fog around the city. The sea-green canal water and colorful buildings only look more pronounced against the gray.
So get outside, take that guided walking tour of Venice you had scheduled–don’t let a little rain deter you from an incredible day. And hey, if you do wreak your shoes walking through a narrow street on a tour in the rain, you’ll be left with an excellent story to tell!
Fun Fact: You can’t swim in the canals in Venice. The water is polluted, and you’ll recieve a fine if you’re caught.
Whether you’re visiting on a cold winter day in the height of the winter months or the summer forecast shows rain showers all day, you’ll find that in this cosmopolitan city, you’ll undoubtedly find awesome things to do in Venice when it rains!