Sunset In Venice
Sunset in Venice can be one of the most magical things you’ll ever see on your travels. Discover the ten best places to watch a Venetian sunset here.
Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and if you want to see it at its best, then a sunset in Venice is the time to see it.
In our guide to seeking out the most spectacular sunsets in Venice, we’ll suggest places along the splendid Grand Canal, the unforgettable Rialto bridge and in the footsteps of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet, who visited the city just once.
We also suggest views in Venice from close to its heart, the waterfront close to St Mark’s Square, while also exploring the narrow backstreet canals and the vast open spaces of the Venetian lagoon. We hope you enjoy our guide to sunsets in Venice.
What’s The Best Time Of Year To Watch A Sunset in Venice?
I’ve visited Venice many times, and at all times of year, and would have to say that if you want to see the best Venice sunsets, you might want to think about visiting Venice in winter.
During the short days of winter, the Venice sunset is to the south-west of the city. At this time of year, the sun sets behind several famous Venice landmarks, which for me makes it such an appealing time to visit Venice.
Sunset in Venice is wonderful all year round, of course. In summer, the sun sets to the west and north-west, so the place to see it in full effect is Fondamente Nove, the long promenade along the north of the city.
What Time Is Sunset In Venice?
This varies greatly depending on the time of year. During the Venice winter low season it sets around 5 pm (1700), whereas in summer it sets well after 9 pm (2100).
Where To See Sunset In Venice
The Molo is one of the first places to see in Venice. It’s the city’s grand waterfront, with the Doge’s Palace and the Piazzetta, the gateway to St Mark’s Square, greeting you as you arrive by vaporetto (waterbus). And the view from there is pretty spectacular too.
From the Molo, you get an incredible view over the rows of gently rocking gondolas to Santa Maria della Salute, the domed Basilica at the entrance to the Grand Canal.
It’s also one of the best places to see a Venice sunrise, especially during winter, as the sun peeks over the horizon to the left of the serene Palladian church of San Giorgio Maggiore.
Harry’s Bar is one of the most famous places in Venice to head for a drink, having hosted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Truman Capote and Peggy Guggenheim. It’s less than five minutes’ walk along the waterfront, past the Giardinetti Reali gardens and souvenir stalls, and just beyond the Vallaresso San Marco vaporetto station. And it’s also the ideal vantage point for another sunset in Venice.
The bar is on the corner of Calle Vallaresso, right next to a gondola station. The sunset from here is similar to the one from the Molo, with gondolas bobbing on the Grand Canal in front of you, and the domed eminence of Santa Maria della Salute just across the water.
Riva dei Sette Martiri
Many visitors to Venice seek out the location of the famous Claude Monet Venice sunset he painted on his only visit to the city in 2008. The painting depicts the island Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore in silhouette, with the distinctive domes of Santa Maria della Salute off to the right.
Monet painted two versions of the San Giorgio Maggiore sunset, taking a long gondola ride from his hotel to somewhere along Riva dei Sette Martiri, the section of promenade between the Arsenale and Giardini A vaporetto (waterbus) stops.
Our photograph of San Giorgio Maggiore at sunset was partly inspired by Monet’s painting, which, by happy coincidence, happens to hang in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, my home city. You get a similar view to this from around Arsenale vaporetto stop, on Riva degli Schiavoni – the promenade leading back towards San Marco – or Riva dei Sette Martiri.
As you continue past the Giardini towards Sant’Elena and the eastern tip of Venice, you still get a great sunset view of San Giorgio Maggiore as well.
The Ponte di Rialto – one of the most iconic bridges in Europe – is one of the best places to see Venice at sunset – especially in winter. It offers a high vantage point over the busiest part of the Grand Canal, with an amazing view along the magnificent thoroughfare, lined with opulent palaces and gondola moorings.
We’d suggest it’s possibly the best sunset in Venice. Rialto is normally pretty busy, so check the day’s Venice sunset time, grab a takeaway espresso and a spot against the parapet of the 16th century bridge and watch the day fade away in a glorious pink, orange and red finale.
T Fondaco dei Tedeschi
One of the best rooftop Venice locations is the terrace above the Fondaco dei Tedeschi by DFS duty free store, a few palazzi (palaces) north along the Grand Canal from Rialto Bridge.
Entry to the terrace is free, but limited to 15 minutes per person (not enough for greedy photographers like me!). The view is superb, a bird’s eye view over the Grand Canal from the apex of the bend over the rooftops and church towers of La Serenissima.
As with several other sunsets in Venice, this one is better in winter, as it sets behind the top of Rialto bridge and the Grand Canal. Book your slot – having checked the sunset time in Venice beforehand – at the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi website here. You can book your slot up to 15 days in advance – and there will be plen ty of other people hoping to see a rooftop sunset in Venice, so book ahead rather than relying on there being walk-in spaces available.
Along the Grand Canal
Apart from Rialto and to a lesser degree, the Accademia Bridge, you don’t get to see full sunsets along the Grand Canal, as the view tends to be blocked by rows of splendid palazzi. That said, sunset on the Grand Canal can be spectacular, with late golden light on the richly decorated buildings, the ‘borrowed light’ reflecting and flickering on the water of the Canal.
Some of the best places to experience this are either side of the Grand Canal around Rialto. On the San Marco (east) side there are rows of gondolas and mooring posts, especially along the Riva del Carbon. Across on the San Polo (west) side, the last of the light on yet more rows of gondolas and ornate palaces make for a wonderful sight.
Aboard a Gondola
One of the most romantic times to splash out on a gondola ride is around sunset. A Venice sunset cruise doesn’t cost any more than a gondola trip at any other time of day, so you’ll be spending 100 euros for 40 minutes gently manoeuvring around the tight corners of the backstreet Venice canals, or perhaps venturing out onto the Grand Canal.
You don’t need to be out on the Grand Canal to enjoy the sunset. We took a circuit around the narrow canals of Castello district, and the late sunlight and the twinkling of the first lights on the water made it a magical experience.
Aboard a Vaporetto or Motoscafo
Many visitors take a day trip from Venice to some of the lagoon islands, especially Burano, with its colourful painted cottages, and Murano, home to numerous glass-blowing workshops. We recommend seeing both island – and the cathedral island of Torcello – though much of the pleasure of the trip is in getting there, skimming across the still lagoon waters on a motoscafo towards the wonky belfry of Burano. If you’re heading back to Venice towards the end of the day, you’ll also be in prime position for a superb Venezia sunset.
The Venetian lagoon is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe, with wooden marker piles punctuating the endless horizon. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric place to travel around sunset, as I discovered when we passed the beautiful cemetery church of San Michele in Isola as the golden orb gradually sank into the red horizon to the west.
Fondamente delle Zattere
Numerous websites mention the Zattere – the promenade along the southern part of the Dorsoduro district (sestiere) as a great spot for watching sunset in Venice.
It’s a great spot to enjoy a gelato, coffee or glass of prosecco on a balmy summer evening – we’ve done it, having stayed a minute’s walk away on one of our Venice visits. However, I don’t regard it as much of a Venice sunset location. The sun sets behind the buildings along the Zattere in spring and summer, so you don’t get much sunset sky action, just late light on the buildings of Giudecca, just across the water to the south.
The Zattere is a little better for sunset in Venice in the shorter nights of autumn and winter , when on a cold, clear evening you will often get an orange afterglow in the sky, especially around the Redentore basilica and Molino Stucky hotel.
Pellestrina is a long, strung-out fishing village on an island to the south of Venice Lido and its long beach. I took a day trip from Venice to the lovely town of Chioggia some years ago, opting to return the ‘scenic’ way via ferry and bus to Lido, then vaporetto back to central Venice. I got quite a surprise when I saw just how scenic it was.
The waters of the lagoon are on the western – sunset – side of Pellestrina, the long horizon punctuated by typical Venetian mooring poles, fishing boats and even some wooden fishing huts built a short distance from the shore. One of the best off the beaten path Venice locations you’ll find, especially if you’re a sunset seeker.