Travel to Venice at Carnival Time? Is It On Your Bucket List?


This would be such a great trip for a group of fun loving, attention seeking, friends to borrow or buy some costumes and stunning masks (see your local amateur dramatics club)and have the most unforgettable and amazing time. Round up your friends and add it to your bucket list now!

(See below for your practical planning travel tips. No excuse not to do it!)

“Let’s spend a few days in Venice on the way to join the Croatian tour,” said the Bag Carrier. “It will be the off season in February and give us a chance to really have a good  look around Venice.”   On our last two brief visits to Venice we’d had to contend with huge crowds and the summer heat, so this sounded like an excellent idea.

Venice Carnival gorgeous costumes

We were in the planning stages of a six week winter trip to Europe incorporating an 11- day organised tour of Croatia and Slovenia and a couple of weeks independently wandering around Switzerland with a Swiss Rail Pass. We went ahead and booked our tour with Gate 1 and then our flights with Qatar Air to arrive at Venice and depart from Vienna. All done!

Eventually we got around to our online search for accommodation in Venice. We had allocated a three night stay.

Venice Carnival masked costumes

“Oh oh! What’s going on here?” said the Bag Carrier. We couldn’t find much accommodation in Venice and most of it was out of our price range. It didn’t take too long to discover the reason why. Our dates coincided with Venice Carnival and we’d be there whether we liked  it or not. There was  no way we could reschedule our flights.

Venice Carnival Masks for sale
The Grand Canal Venice by gondola

It was time to look at a Plan B. We wouldn’t be staying in affordable and luxurious accommodation in the heart of Venice for the off season price after all.  Eventually we found a hotel in Mestre, a town about fifteen minutes from Venice over the causeway. The Hotel Plaza had good reviews and it was in our price range. The local buses and trains into Venice stopped at the door. It suited our purpose very well. The room was huge and clean and the continental breakfast was great.

Colourful couple at Venice Carnival!

Carnival dates back to the 11th century and is a celebration leading up to Lent. It takes place in Venice over a two week period and the key events like the Grand Opening, the Flight of the Angel, The Water Parade and the Best Mask Contest were not on the programme for our dates. However, that didn’t spoil our fun. There was plenty of other action on and the atmosphere was amazing. Around every corner was another amazing costume and stunning mask. The masqueraders loved having their photos taken and all the attention they received. They were quite happy to have their photos taken with everyone and anyone who asked. We were surprised that not a word was spoken by the masqueraders. A nod or a small smile was all the response they gave.

Because of jet lag and time differences we were up and sight seeing relatively early in the mornings when there were no crowds around. We just kept going up and down and over the canal bridges until we were totally exhausted. We did get to see all the usual tourist sights. The weather was cool, but this was great for all the walking we were doing and we didn’t get any rain.

Fun bird costumes at Venice Carnival
Attention getting, gun toting costume at Venice Carnival

This would be such a great trip for a group of attention seeking, fun loving friends to borrow or buy some costumes and stunning masks and have the most unforgettable and amazing time. 

And while you’re in the area take an hour train ride to VERONA –So much more than Juliet’s balcony. It took us by surprise!

Venice Carnival costumes.
Traditional style Carnival costume in Venice
Striking vivid red costume at Venice Carnival.

TRAVEL  PLANNING  TIPS: with relevant website addresses

Getting from the airport to the Hotel Plaza or Best Western Hotel Bologna in Mestre:- 

By bus: WEBSITE for information-

WEBSITE to book bus tickets on-line:

Mestre Accommodation: Local buses and trains to Venice depart virtually at the door / or across the road of both hotels. 10-15 minutes to Venice.

1. Hotel Plaza Venice. We booked through a TRAVELZOO special at about NZ $100 per night. 4 star. Large comfortable room (slightly dated decor) and excellent breakfast. We were very comfortable there. WEBSITE:

2. On our return we stayed at Best Western Plus Hotel Bologna- Venice Mestre. About $200 per night. 4 star. Very modern and up to date. We didn’t have breakfast. WEBSITE:

Getting from Mestre to Venice. All the information you will require is on the following 2 websites. We used the local bus. We bought our tickets at the little coffee shop at the bus stopNo problems!

Food. A big breakfast kept us going most of the day. There are several good restaurants at the hotels and cheap and cheerful food deli type shops at the station if we were too tired to be bothered with a restaurant.

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