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St Marks Basilica Dress Code Explained

St Marks Basilica Dress Code Explained

Everyone knows that there is a St Marks Basilica dress code, but many people are confused as to what it actually means. In this guide we aim to demystify the rules over what to wear to St Marks Basilica by asking your most frequently asked outfit questions and giving you some outfit inspiration.

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FAQS About St Marks Basilica Dress Code

Is there a dress code to get into the St Marks Basilica?

St Marks Basilica in Venince in rain
St Marks Basilica Dress Code

Yes there is a dress code to get into the St Marks Basilica (or Basilica San Marco as it is known in Italian), as there is in all churches in Italy. If you do not comply with the St Marks Basilica dress code you may be denied entry into the Basilica or given something such as a shawl or wrap to make your outfit meet the dress code requirements (Though the latter is not guaranteed).

Note: the queues to get into St Marks Basilica can get VERY long especially during summer so we recommend buying skip the line tickets in advance if you plan to add St Marks to your Venice itinerary.

What is the St Marks Basilica dress code?

The St Marks Basilica Dress Code basically tells you what parts of your body can or can’t be uncovered when entering the religious building.

Generally speaking the following areas should always be covered in Italian Churches such as the Vatican, Duomo in Florence, Milan Duomo and of course St Marks in Venice:

  • Shoulders
  • Knees.

Therefore when putting together your Venice Outfits for touring the Basilisa you should avoid wearing

  • Sleeveless Tops (and remember that this is applicable to both men and women)
  • Mini Skirts
  • Shorts – that don’t cover the knee. Again this is applicable to both men and women.
  • No Bare backs
  • No Hats – hats are seen as disrespectful and should be removed as soon as you entering the building, though it is useful for St Marks Square more generally.

It is also worth noting that the Basilica Dress Code applies to both men and women. For some people people seem to think dress codes usually only apply to women but this definitely isn’t true.

Although not explicitly stated anywhere it is respectful and prudent to also avoid wearing t-shirts with graphics or slogans that would be offensive to the holy place you are in. 

It is also advisable to wear comfortable shoes when visiting the Basilica. That is because any visit to St Marks involves a lot of walking over uneven surfaces and stairs which can also get slippery, especially during the flood season. For this reason sneakers are better than other shoes. for visiting St Marks Basilica.

Where does the St Marks Basilica dress code apply?

The St Marks Basilica dress code applies throughout the all the buildings and ticketed areas of the Basilica such as Terraces. .

However the dress code does not apply when in the queue for the Basilica in the Square which means you can wear a hat for instance if you are queuing outdoors.

What to wear in St Marks Square

People in San Marco Square in Venice
St Marks Basilica Dress Code

If you are just planning to visit St Marks Square in Venice in Milan and take photographs and not actually enter the buildings then there is no dress code.

However if you are going inside you must stick to the dress code.

While you are in the queue I recommend wearing a hat and sunglasses especially in summer. The piazza is very open and has little shade and it is important to stay sun safe in Venice in Summer.

The other thing to consider if you plan to visit St Marks Square in Winter is that this area can get very flooded as part of the Acqua Alta Season. Therefore for Winter we recommend having some shoes with some waterproofing such as ankle boots.

Although there are raised walkways in St Marks Square during the floods it is a good idea to have a shoe that can cope with being splashed a little.

How strict is the dress code at the St Marks Basilica?

If you are wondering how strict the dress code is at the St Marks Basilica the answer is it is very strict and it will be enforced. I have found that churches in Italy always tend to enforce their dress codes which is why we recommend always having one modest outfit with you in Italy for use in churches.

Can I wear sandals to the St Marks Basilica?

Woman in yellow dress in front of St Marks Basilica Venice
St Marks Basilica Dress Code

St Marks Basilica advises that comfortable shoes be worn for any visit. That is because of the walking involved in your visit.

If you do decide on wearing sandals to the St Marks Basilica we advise picking something like a Teva Walking Sandal. These sandals are designed for walking and can cope with uneven surfaces.

However the best shoe for St Marks Basilica for me is of course a sneaker. My favorite brand of sneakers for walking are are Hoka and AllBirds as these are great for walking in. If you are visiting Venice in the summer the Tree Runners by All Birds are a great pick as these are lightweight and deal with heat well.

However for Winter we recommend choosing a sneakers that has some waterproofing such as this Ecco sneaker.

Can you wear flip flops in St Marks Basilica?

In answer to “Can you wear flip flops in St Marks Basilica” is yes you can but you probably shouldn’t. T

Comfortable walking shoes are recommended for visiting the basilica and flip flops are definitely not these! Flip flops provide little support and offer no grip which won’t be good especially if you are visiting during Acqua Alta.

If you want a more open shoe we recommend a walking sandal such as a Teva. However to be safe I would opt to a wear sneaker instead.

Can I wear sneakers to St Mark’s Basilica Venice?

There are as of time of writing no rules regarding sneakers at the St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. In fact I think sneakers are best to wear when visiting the basilica regardless of the season.

Can you wear heels to the St Mark’s Basilica?

You can wear heels to the St Mark’s Basilica as there are no rules in the Basilica dress code per se. However having said this we strongly advise NOT wearing heels in the Basilica – in fact we heels are in our what not to wear in Venice list.

There is lots of walking involved in any visit to Venice including at the Basilica. St Marks Square is cobbled and has lots of uneven surfaces where heels are a safety hazard as well as inside the basilica being liable to being slippy. For this reason you should avoid heels and pick something like a sneaker instead. For more information on what to shoes to wear in Florence for different seasons check out our monthly guides:

Can I wear leggings to St Mark’s Basilica?

Yes you can wear leggings to St Mark’s Basilica. That is because they cover the whole of your leg, including the knee.

However personally I prefer not to wear anything too clingy such as leggings when I go to any religious buildings in Italy.

Instead for summer in Venice I like to pack natural fabrics such as linen and cotton which are equally cool but usually not as form fititng.

Whereas in Winter in Winter I don’t think you cam go wrong with a jean or black pant such as the Athleta Brooklyn ankle pant for travel.

Can you wear jeans to the St Marks Basilica, Venice?

In answer to can you wear jeans to St Mark’s Basilica is yes you certainly can. Jeans that cover your knees and aren’t too low rise meet the dress code requirements.

However I personally wouldn’t wear jeans in the Summer because of the heat. Venice gets extremely hot in summer and you will be doing a lot of walking so jeans just aren’t a practical item.

However jeans are one of my favorite things to wear to Venice in Winter, especially if you pick the correct style.

Can you wear ripped jeans to St Marks Basilica?

Whether or not you can wear ripped jeans to St Marks Basilica largely depends on where the rips are. If you have rips that expose your knees or your thighs then these will obviously not be allowed as it will break the number one dress code rules about covering the knees

I personally try to avoid wearing ripped jeans to religious settings in Italy just in case. Also ripped jeans aren’t something that locals in Venice usually wear. Instead they wear more tailored, smart jeans in darker colors.

Can you wear skinny jeans to the St Marks Basilica?

Whether or not you can wear skinny jeans to St Marks is a bit of a grey area. Modest clothing is advised and skinny jeans are by their very nature form fitting. For this reason I usually avoid them to be most respectful

Can you wear a skirt with a slit to the St Marks Basilica in Venice?

While you can wear a skirt to St Marks Basilica I would advise against wearing a skirt with a slit. A long Maxi skirt that adheres to the dress code it can soon be on the what not to wear to the Basilica lists if there is a slit that could reveals the knee.

Also for Venice I prefer a midi length skirt or dress for Venice generally in case there is flooding.

To be safe we recommend not wearing any skirts with slits in so there is no doubt as to if you are adhering to the dress code in the Basilica.

Do you have to wear pants to the St Marks Basilica? Do you have to wear trousers?

Pants or trousers are a great choice for the St Marks BAsilica as they cover your knee.

We recommend linen trousers for the summer when it is hot as these will reduce sweat. But light weight chinos and dockers are another good choice for men.

However you don’t have to wear pants. Skirts and dresses are also acceptable providing your knees are covered.

In Winter, jeans, cords and heavier weight pants are a great choice.

Do your knees need to be covered at St Marks Basilica?

Yes your knees absolutely need to be constantly covered at the Basilica. In fact this is the number one dress code rule for the cathedral in Venice.

And remember that this rule applies to both men and women. For this reason a lot of men choose to wear trousers to the Basilica such as linen or light chinos. And a lot of women chose to wear pants or a long skirt or dress that does not have a slit that reveals their legs.

Do you have to cover your head in St Marks Basilica?

One of the most common concerns when planning your outfit for St Marks Basilica is regarding head coverings. But the truth is you do not need to cover your head inside of the Basilica. In fact you have to remove hats entering the building though we recommend wearing one in the queue outside in the summer where there is little shade.

Can you bring a purse to the St Marks Basilica?

There is some debate on whether bags are allowed in St Marks Basilica. Certainly no large bags or backpacks are allowed in the basilica and some say no bags or purses are allowed to be brought inside St Marks Basilica.

To be safe I would recommend bringing the smallest bag / purse possible, but be prepared to check it if required by security.

Can I bring a water bottle to St Marks Basilica?

There are no rules on the website regarding water bottles in the Basilica. However generally speaking in most Italian churches you can take a water bottle however you may be asked to take a sip by security before entering. Also bottles made of glass are not allowed in churches in ITaly.

To be better for the environment we always recommend traveling with a reusable Water bottle.

What should you wear to the St Marks Basilica in Summer?

For visitors to Venice and St Marks in Summer we recommend either wearing a cotton maxi dress with cap or longer sleeves or linen pants and blouse.

And we always recommend having a pashmina with you. This way if there is a problem with your outfit you can use it to make your outfit more modest.

For more information on what to wear in Venice in summer check out the below guides.

What should you wear to the St Marks Basilica in Winter?

What you wear to the St Marks Basilica in the Winter should follow the same rules as what to wear in the rest of the city for the same season – but obviously adhering to the more conservative nature of the Dress Code rules.

We recommend jeans combined with light top layers such as a t shirt and Merino wool sweater.

Have you been to St Marks Basilica? what did you wear? Let us know in the comments below!