We often get asked questions about what the Venice Dress Code is and how not to look like a tourist in Venice. In this guide we aim to demystify the rules over what to wear to Venice by answering your most frequently asked Venice outfit questions and give you some outfit inspiration.
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FAQS About the Venice Dress Code
Is there a dress code in Venice?
There is not a Venice dress code per se. However there are some places in Venice where dress codes are enforced.
Generally speaking the following areas should always be covered when visiting any church in Italy including St Marks in Venice:
Therefore when putting together your Italy Outfit for churches your should avoid wearing
- Sleeveless Tops
- Mini Skirts
This dress code is strictly enforced and you may not be granted entry should your outfit not meet the rules. It is also worth noting that the Church Dress Code applies to both men and women
On top of the churches, you will want to be sure you are wearing appropriate footwear in the more ancient places that you will be visiting in Venice where there are lots of cobbles and uneven walkways and on bridges which can have uneven and slippery surfaces.
It is also worth noting you will find that the local Venetians are a stylish bunch and therefore there are some things that you will not see on the streets of Venice which we will explain below.
Can I wear shorts in Venice?
You can wear shorts in Venice if you want to however you will find these are more commonly seen being worn by tourists instead of locals who are going to the office etc.
If you are selecting shorts to wear in Venice I would select smarter shorts such as tailored shorts for men instead of cargo shorts. But women will wear a mixture of cotton shorts and denim shorts.
Generally speaking you don’t see many short short on the streets of Italy and I personally prefer looser shorts for summer as these are more comfortable in the heat.
However having said this if you want to visit churches on your Venice itinerary you will not be able to wear shorts as these do not cover your leg enough. Therefore on itinerary days with churches be sure to avoid wearing shorts.
Also it is worth noting that is is not common to see shorts being worn by either men or women in Italian restaurants.
It is also worth saying that Venice has some great beaches and lidos near to the city and shorts will be seen more commonly here than in the city center on both locals and tourists alike.
Therefore in answer to can you wear shorts in Venice is it really depends on where you are and what activity you will be doing alongside the weather.
Can I wear crop tops in Venice?
Crop tops are really not something you will see being worn in Venice by local women. And they definitely would not be appropriate to wear in churches.
Generally speaking I would leave the crop top off your packing list unless your Italy itinerary will also take in some more beach destinations such as the Amalfi Coast, Puglia and the islands such as Sardinia, Sicily and Capri or for the beaches near Venice.
Do you have to cover your shoulders in Venice?
The answer to do you have to cover your shoulders in Venice is yes and no.
If you plan to visit a church or St Marks in Venice you absolutely have to keep your shoulders covered. And you will not be permitted entry to some churches with bare shoulders. For this reason I always carry a pashmina with me in Italy for these occasions.
However outside of churches and particularly on the beaches near Venice you will see lots of bare shoulders which are perfectly acceptable.
Can you wear jeans in Venice?
You absolutely can wear jeans in Venice and we recommend them on our Winter and some shoulder season packing lists.
We always recommend smarter pairs to be more in keeping with the locals.
Can you wear ripped jeans in Venice?
You can definitely wear ripped jeans in Venice but there are a few provisos.
Firstly, ripped jeans are not commonly seen being worn by Italians. So they could mark you out as a tourist in the city.
Also jeans, even the ripped kind will be too hot to wear in Venice in Summer and I would only really recommend adding them to your packing list for Winter in Venice. And when you do add jeans to your packing list you will find that the locals tend wear slim fit and darker color jeans.
Note: if you plan to visit a church then ripped jeans that show your thigh would not be acceptable and you would get turned away while wearing these.
Can I wear sneakers in Venice?
There is a rumor on the internet that sneakers, or runners or trainers, as they are sometimes called are not appropriate footwear in Venice or Italy on the whole.
However this is simply not the case and sneakers are my go to shoe for Venice whatever the season.
The reason for this is that they can cope with the large amounts of walking you will be doing in Italy and for the uneven terrain such as on bridges in the city.
Do I need boots for Venice Italy?
The question about whether or not you need boots for Venice Italy tends to stem from the fact it floods. Flood season in Venice is known locally as acqua alta which usually runs from October to January. So during this time many people wonder about bringing wellies or waterproof boots with them.
The only problem with this is that they take up lots of room in your suitcase, especially if you are trying to travel Carry On Only.
The truth is that the floods are tidal so you should be able to avoid the worst of the floods by following the flow of the tides.
And usually there are boardwalks set up during the worst of the floods.
For this reason it is unlikely that you will need wellies however due to rain anyway a pair of ankle boots with some waterproofing is never a bad idea for Venice during this season.
Can I wear flip flops in Venice?
You can wear flip flops in Venice, there are no rules against it however I would strongly advise you not to do so unless you are planning on spending time on the beach or around the pool.
Flip flops offer very little arch support and aren’t great to wear on the uneven surfaces of Venice.
Do people wear leggings in Venice?
You will find that many tourists wear leggings in Venice however they are not commonly worn by Venetians, unless they are actually doing sports such as running.
Therefore if you want to look more like a local then I would recommend leaving the leggings at home. However if you feel comfortable in leggings and aren’t trying to fit in with local styles then by all means wear leggings.
What do you wear at night in Venice?
Although Venice isn’t a very formal place, you will find that most restaurants in Italy and Italians in them will adopt a smart casual dress code.
For more information on what to wear in Italy for dinner check out this post.
We would normally however avoid shorts and sneakers at restaurants in Italy and opt for dresses and either sandals and boots for women depending on the city and chinos and shirts, either long and short sleeved, for men in Venice.
Do I need swimwear for Venice?
Swimwear is definitely an optional for your Venice packing list depending on where you are visiting and when.
Venice is really only warm enough for swimming during the summer months, unless you have access to a heated pool.
Whether of not you need swimwear for Venice depends on:
- if you plan on visiting a beach
- if your hotel has access to a pool
- if you plan to travel to other beach regions of Italy
- if you plan to go on a Med cruise as part of your Venice trip
If you answer yes to the above we definitely recommend bringing swimwear with you however if you answer no to all of the above the chances are you won’t need swimwear.
Note: you will also need a quick dry towel and a beach cover if you plan to visit the beach in Venice.
How to dress for Venice / Venice Dress Codes
When you are looking for how to dress for Italy, we advise taking all of the above advice into consideration but also thinking about how to dress for the weather.
Despite many people thinking of Italy as a year round warm destination this is in fact not true. And many places in Italy experiences four seasons.
For this reason we advise checking out our monthly what to wear in Italy guides to help you put together your Italian Capsule Wardrobe:
- What to wear in Venice in January
- What to wear in Venice in February
- What to wear in Venice in March
- What to wear in Venice in April
- What to wear in Venice in May
- What to wear in Venice in Summer
- What to wear in Venice in June
- What to wear in Venice in July
- What to wear in Venice in August
- What to wear in Venice in September
- What to wear in Venice in October
- What to wear in Venice in November
- What to wear in Venice in December
Generally speaking I would advise packing trousers / jeans along with t shirts and blouses for winter alongside coats and blazers.
However in summer I recommend sticking to Maxi dresses and skirts, with shoulders covered for days when you are planning to visit churches.
And a pashmina is an essential whatever time of year you are visiting Italy as it works as a great extra cover for churches and for when you feel chilly when dining al fresco.
And sunglasses are a must whatever season you visit as some of the cities can be quite dazzling in Venice especially on the canals.
What is the dress code for St Marks Cathedral?
The dress code for St Marks is the same as all other Italian churches and is strongly enforced.
Keep shoulders and knees covered and don’t wear anything overly, tight, skimpy or with slogans or graphic that can cause offence.
What do you wear on a gondola ride?
Gondola rides are on a lot of people’s Venice bucket lists. If you decide to do a gondola ride we recommend trousers and a nice top – and jacket or top layer suitable for the time of year and weather you are experiencing.
That is because although the gram may have you believe flowing dresses make the best pictures, the truth is they are hard to get in and out of the gondola in and can get quite shaky on the bottom.
What Else to Add to Your Venice Packing List
On top of the above the following items should be added to your Venice Packing List whatever season you are traveling in.
- Crossbody bag – one with plenty of zips that can put off pick pockets is best. You can get pickpockets anywhere around tourist attractions so having a bag that deters pickpockets is best.
- Water bottle – One of my favourite things about cities in italy such as Venice is the free water fountains around the city so be sure to make use of them.
- Travel First Aid Kit
- Blister plasters
- Travel Adaptor
- Quick Dry Towel – for the beach in Venice
- Power Pack / Battery recharger
Are you traveling to Venice? Is there a question you have we haven’t answered? Then please leave us a comment below and we will do our best to answer.