I have been to Venice a long time ago and all I could remember were the crazy crowds. No wonder, I visited it in summer. Last weekend, I decided to visit Venice in the winter with my girlfriend. People were saying ‘why Venice? It’s not the season.’ But that’s exactly the point. I thought that visiting Venice in winter would be smart in order to avoid all the crowds, and I was right.
My weekend in Venice was great! We had all kinds of weather ranging from clear skies and sunny to extreme rain (even some floods in the streets) and fog. Lots of different conditions to photograph which made things interesting. But, as I expected, almost no people! So here are a few reasons why winter is a great time to visit Venice, especially for photography:
- Little to no people, especially during sunrise and sunset. There was literally no one but me at the most popular location, The Accademia bridge, where I was shooting the sunrise. During the day you could meet a few people at the popular squares, but no one in the back alleys. It was amazing to walk around so 'freely'.
- Variety of the weather. Honestly, I love photographing cities like Venice when it rains. All the reflections add to a magic atmosphere of the city and create a romantic mood that I love to capture. We had a foggy day that allowed me to take some images with a unique mood, then a day full of sun. Grey days are great for something I love to do: capturing the beautiful little alleys with attention to detail because the light is very soft and there are no harsh shadows.
- Hotel prices are generally cheaper during the off-season. So you can get a hotel at a nice central location for a bargain.
- You can experience the true city life. I saw the locals go about their day. I saw kids going to school in the center of Venice. I saw the merchants selling their goods on the streets. I learned to recognize little cafes and bars that are loved by locals and learned about places with authentic food. All the things I wasn't able to notice during summer when the city was packed with tourists.
I strongly believe that in order to experience the true beauty and romance of Venice, you should go off-season, and winter is the best choice. It's definitely cold, but it's also magical. Here are a bunch of images I shot over the long weekend.
Some of the little canals look straight out of a fairytale.
The foggy atmosphere during one afternoon enabled some unique photo opportunities. Here I did a long exposure to get a nice clean look to the image.
The view from the famous Accademia Bridge. The sun rises on the right of the famous Basilica of Santa Maria. I didn’t see a spectacular sunrise but the beautiful soft light coming from the side made up for it.
An extremely foggy afternoon that gave some unique photo opportunities. The grand canal is pretty quiet in winter.
During our sunny day, we took a gondola ride. It's an expensive but nice experience, especially if almost no one else is on the canals! And you can take some typical ‘Instagram’ pictures. Or just enjoy it with your loved one. I just cannot get enough of these little bridges.
I love exploring random alleys in Venice. You can find beauty literally everywhere among all the little streets and canals. Here’s a canal with bridge during blue hour.
I just cannot get enough of these little bridges between the canals.
Girlfriend standing in the rain. All the reflection and water creates a magical atmosphere.
The blue hour in Venice is magical. Pick your street, canal and start shooting. Fun fact: this tower is not straight!
Burano, a little village which you can reach by boat from Venice in about an hour is a must-visit if you like colorful houses. After the sunset, almost everybody left so I had this place for myself. A good example of what rain adds to the atmosphere. I enjoyed this little street.
You see these arches on a lot of narrow streets in Venice.
Plants in combination with the rain and colors of the houses create a fairytale-like atmosphere.
Burano during the blue hour. Note that that tower is also not straight. This seems normal in Italy.
The rain really gives life to these little squares. I have no idea why people are hanging out the laundry when it's raining though, I've noticed that a lot.
This foggy day created interesting light conditions on the little streets around the canals.
A good example of what rain adds to the atmosphere. I really liked the look of this little street with a single light that illuminates the door as if it's inviting to enter.
A starry night in Venice. When I was walking on the famous Accademia bridge during the night, to my surprise I saw lots of stars. I took some shots and was surprised how much I could see and that the light pollution was fairly low.
A nice sky above the beautiful little Burano village that has these cute colorful houses. Because of the rain a lot of puddles formed on the boulevard, so I used them to get some reflection shots.
Pick your favorite color and shoot. In Burano, there is a color for everyone.
An abstract shot of a colorful wall in Burano.