"Is Venice open for travel?"
With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, we think it's
unwise to schedule a visit for spring or
summer of 2021. However,
the last quarter of the year could be more promising, and it's never too early to
plan for 2022.
ABOVE: No, the body parked outside this funeral
parlor isn't a coronavirus victim--but it could be, given the high death rate
for older people and the fact that pensioners make up nearly 20 percent of
isn't at the epicenter of Italy's coronavirus scare, but there have been plenty
of COVID-19 cases in the city, and many deaths have occurred. A "third wave" of
coronavirus infections has been spreading across Europe, so travel to Venice
probably is likely to be unwise for a good while yet. Still, that doesn't mean
you can't start thinking about a future trip.
Things to keep in mind:
The bad news: Although
Italy is nominally open to tourists from the EU and the
visitors from many other countries--including the United States--may have to wait for a while. (The
European Union's Re-open EU Web
site has up-to-date, country-by-country information in 24 languages. Also
see the Italian government's page about
current travel restrictions for international visitors.)
A shortage of
and a "third wave" of COVID-19 infections in Europe will complicate matters
in the next few months. Also, the EU's vaccination
efforts have been slow and inadequate, which means that "herd immunity" may
be a long way off.
The good news:
Because of the pandemic and its economic fallout, tourist arrivals in Venice
are lower than they have been in decades. We think
fall of 2021 could be a reasonable time
the city without having to bump shoulders with mass-market tourists
(depending on whether you've been fully vaccinated and the crisis has
receded in Italy).
What's more, Venetians--who have been hit hard financially--will be grateful
for your business.
Our advice for planning a visit to Venice:
Watch the news media and Re-open EU
for up-to-date information on infection rates, lockdowns, etc. The pandemic
isn't likely to recede fully until vaccinations are widespread, so (as
much as it hurts us to say this) we can't recommend planning a vacation trip
to Venice until fall at the earliest.
If you're in a high-risk group (e.g., over 60, especially
with underlying health problems), use common sense
in deciding whether,
when, and where to travel. The
coronavirus won't disappear overnight, and Italy's healthcare
system is likely to remain under stress for some time.
When you book hotels, B&Bs, or apartments,
make sure that your reservation can be canceled without penalty. (This year is a
good time to avoid low prepaid, non-cancellable rates.) For maximum savings,
keep an eye on rate changes and be prepared to cancel and rebook if you can get a
better deal closer to your visit.
Hotel rooms are usually easier to cancel without penalty than
Be aware of cancellation policies or change fees when you
book your airline, train, or cruise tickets. Airline
fares and other transportation tickets vary in their cancellation and change
If you can't afford a fully-refundable ticket, budget some money for
ticket changes just in case. (Good news: Many airlines offer waivers on change fees during periods of severe
weather, epidemics, etc.)
Don't expect travel insurance to protect you if you need to
cancel your trip because of coronavirus fears. Most insurers are treating
the current outbreak as a "known event" and are turning down
coronavirus-related claims unless travelers have bought high-priced "cancel
for any reason" plans.
Avoid prepaid sightseeing
tours unless they're fully cancellable. Instead, book excursions when
you come or immediately before. (Gondola rides don't need to be booked
ahead--just hire a gondolier on the
As of this writing, we think the fourth quarter of 2021 could be a
reasonable time to visit Venice if you want to enjoy
the city with less crowding than usual. Our prediction assumes that COVID-19
vaccinations are well underway,
tourism has largely resumed, and you
aren't in a high-risk group. (Caveat: That assumption may be optimistic.
Also, the situation could change at any
time, so build
as much flexibility as possible into your travel plans.)
|Note for U.S. visitors:
The president of the European Commission recently
told The New York Times that she expects fully-vaccinated Americans to
be allowed into the EU this summer. However, there are several caveats
that you need to consider before booking a summer trip to Europe:
1. Proof of vaccination is a work in progress. At this point, U.S.
and EU officials are negotiating, but details of how an international
"vaccine passport" or a digital immunization certificate might work are
2. Even the best vaccines are only about 95 percent
effective. This means that 1 in 20 visitors are likely to be be
unprotected as they venture into countries where COVID-19 is still
3. Lockdowns, curfews, mask requirements, limits on
visitor numbers in restaurants and tourist attractions, business
closures, etc. could hamper your enjoyment of a European trip.