Wondering what not to wear in Venice? Worried about fitting in amongst all the stylish Italian locals? In this guide we will round up what not to wear to Venice so you won’t look like a tourist, what to pack for Venice to cope with the canals and cobbles and provide the best alternatives to things that may normally be in your travel wardrobe.
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How do people dress in Venice?
In answer to how do people dress in Venice I have to say it varies. Like any of the European capitals there isn’t a hard and fast Venice dress code but some things are more commonplace than others.
As with many of the cities in Italy, Venice is a stylish place. The locals seem to adopt a smart casual dress code when going about their business however that isn’t to say that you won’t see jeans and sneakers amongst the locals in Venice.
Evenings tend to be slightly more smart with most people opting for a smart casual attire for eating out than say sneakers and jeans but for more information on what to wear to dinner in Italy check out this post.
Similarly to what not to wear in Paris, I would say that sportswear is usually reserved for doing sports in Venice and you want see much athleisure wear on a day to day basis.
Note: Wondering what to wear in Venice at a particular time of year – check out our monthly what to wear guides
What Not to Wear in Venice
High Heels, thin heels and Stilettos
Venice is a city that is best seen on foot or via boat of any kind. The combination of the cobble stone streets, cobbled and uneven piazzas and the frequent bridges mean that high and thin heels such as stilettos are a hazard. They are easy to catch and an ankle injury or fall can really ruin your trip to Venice.
I would advise leaving the above at home for Venice – unless you have a specific event such as wedding that they are required for. Generally speaking you won’t find anyone wearing heels even for dinner in Venice because of the surfaces of the city.
For more information on what to wear for dinner in Italy check out this post.
Instead of heels then I recommend taking sandals for the evenings and sneakers for wearing during the day in Venice.
As I said above Venice is a city you are best exploring by foot or boat. However the combination of the uneven surfaces, the step count you will do in Venice and the slippery surface when they get wet means that flip flops like stilettos should be left at home.
Sneakers are a better bet than flip flops for walking around Venice.
Even if you visit Venice in Summer you should leave he baseball cap at home in favour of a smarter type of hat. This will help make you look less like a tourist.
Also if you are planning for visit an Italian church the dress code stipulates that hats should be removed.
Instead of a baseball cap we recommend picking a more stylish hat to protect you from the sun such as a straw hat or Panama hat.
White Socks and Shoes
Italians are a stylish bunch, even the men. There is no way a local Venetian man would ever wear white socks and shoes and nothing shouts tourist more than a white sock and sandal or sneaker combo.
Instead switch out those white socks for sneaker socks or wear sandals without a sock.
Shorts (But Only in Certain Places)
There are rumours that shorts are a big no no in Italy. This is entirely not true. While locals may not wear shorts to work or to high end restaurants they will wear them on occasion. Though it tends to be a smarter type of short and definitely not a short short.
If you want to wear shorts we recommend picking a pair of shorts that are more tailored or slim fit shorts rather than short ones or cargo shorts.
However do not wear them if you are planning to visit the Churches in Venice including St Marks Basilica. All Italian churches have a strict dress code including St Marks and you will be turned away if your knees are uncovered.
On days you are visiting these chose linen pants, flowly skirts and things that cover your knees instead.
By all means wear a short skirt if that is what you feel most comfortable in however do not do so if you are planning on visiting religious sites in Rome such as St Marks Basilica..
It is not respectful and you will not be allowed in.
Not to sound like a broken record but you need a shirt with sleeves if you are visiting Italian churches. Also sleeveless tops that expose your shoulder also puts you at a greater risk of sunburn if you are visiting Venice in August say.
Tops with no sleeves for both men and women are not allowed in places of worship in Rome and you will be refused entry.
Tight Fitting Clothes
I have put tight fitting clothes on the what not to wear in Venice list for a couple of reasons.
Firstly I don’t find super tight clothes very respectful for churches in Italy. Though there are no codified rules about tight fitting rules I like to dress more modestly when I visit a church in Italy.
Secondly and more importantly tight fitting clothes will make you hotter and sweatier which you won’t want when visiting Italy in Summer.
Hoodies with university names on them scream I am a tourist. Or I am a foreign exchange student here for a semester or year.
Therefore to help you not look like a tourist in Venice I recommend leaving the university or college branded attire at home especially when you are near the big tourist sites.
Synthetic Fabrics in Summer
Venice is a hot city in the shoulder seasons but particularly in the summer. We recommend leaving all your synthetic fabrics at home in favour of breathable fabrics such as bottoms and linens.
Instead opt for light and breathable fabrics such as loose linen trousers and beautiful cotton tops.
An Open Bag / Fanny Bag
As with any tourist city pick pockets are a problem in Venice. One way many tourists try to counteract this threat is by wearing fanny bags. However these can mark you out as a tourist.
It is also worth noting to that fanny packs like other bags are not permitted inside the St Marks Basilica in Venice.
Instead of a fanny pack in Venice I recommend packing a cross body bag with lots of zips.
Our preferred bag for Venice is the following.
FAQs About what Not to wear in Venice
Can I wear shorts in Venice
Can I wear shorts in Venice? I don’t know why but the internet has generated many rumours that you can not wear shorts in Italy generally speaking. However it is not true.
If you are visiting Venice in summer I would add a smarter pair of shorts with you but just be sure not to wear shorts when visiting a religious site.
The Vatican dress code is enforced so don’t be caught out. Shorts, mini skirts and sleeveless tops will not be allowed in the Vatican so on days you plan to visit religious sites be sure to dress appropriately. This rule also applies in other Italian churches.
Have you been to Venice? What would you add to the what not to wear in Venice guide? What would you leave at home next time