20 November, 2017 / By Nejma Bk / 286 views

How to survive Venice Biennale


From May to November. The next one will be in 2019. In 2018, the Biennale is dedicated to architecture.


The main venues are the Arsenale and the Giardini. The ticket gives you one entrance to each venue on non consecutive days. Many countries have their National Pavilions scattered in the city. There are also exhibitions organised in private palaces, hotels, monasteries, churches... as well as in some public gardens. These are mostly free, unlike those organised by museums.

Survival kit

A bottle of water.

Good walking shoes.

Good nerves. It will be crowdy, even off-season.

An open mind. Contemporary art can be weird.

A raincoat just in case. Umbrellas are no use when walking along the water from Palazzo Ducale to either the Arsenale or the Giardini.

A good bladder. Not that there are no bathrooms but the queues are huge.

Also, although food is sold on-site, it is expensive so maybe take some snacks with you.

Do your homeworks

The Biennale website will then be your best friend: www.labiennale.org

Tickets bought online are cheaper. There is no need to buy the muti-entry ticket, unless you plan to come back several times to the main venues. You do not need this ticket for the events organised elsewhere.

As the event is dispatched between more than 25 venues, it is better to come prepared, knowing what you want to see and where you want to go. There also many exhibitions held at the same moment.

Also check if the main subjects of the Biennale are interesting for you. The 2017 edition was mainly about human rights, migration and feminism. The 2018Architecture Biennale will be about generosity.

Besides the Biennale of Art, the Biennale di Venezia organise other events, meaning that during that time, Venice is even more crowdy! So check ahead when are held the Venice International Film Festival, the International Festival of Contemporary Dance, the International Festival of Contemporary Music and the International Theatre Festival.

Beware that numerous National Pavilions are open only during the summer months, especially the ones of "developing" countries.

Discloser: the exhibits shown here after are from the 2017 edition.

The Arsenale Venue

This will take you a full day. The venue is gigantic and more than a 100 artists are exposed, as well as 23 National Pavilions.

The Giardini Venue

Here you will find the Central Pavilion (up to 40 artists) and 28 National Pavilions. This can easily take more than 6 hours to be visited, especially because some exhibitions and performances are limited in time or space, therefore the waiting time than can be long.

Across the city

The Biennale is a great way to visit places not open otherwise. It is also a good excuse to wander in hotel lobbies.

National Pavilions, hotel lobbies and monasteries are usually free. Exhibition entrances can be both paid or free so check ahead. Same goes for churches.

Some of the National Pavilions

Palazzo Cavallo Franchetti: Iraq Pavilion (free) and paid collateral exhibition
Palazzo Mora (right): Kiribati Pavilion (free) and free exhibitions
Palazzo Lezze
Palazzo Zenobio: Armenia Pavilion

Some of the Collateral Events

Ca Sagredo
Giardino della Marinaressa: Swimmers, Carole A. Feuerman, free entry.
Chiesa della Pietà in Riva degli Schiavoni (church): free painting cycle exhibition.
Abbazzia di San Gregorio: Free exhibition Jan Fabre.
Chiesa di San Gallo: Pavilion of Humanity, free entry.
Palazzo Grassi & Punta della Dogana: paid exhibition Damien Hirst.

Special & parallel projects

There are also quantity of other projects such as open table events during which artists meet visitors over lunch and discuss their practice.

For more insight, check the itinerary below.

Two days at the Biennale in Venice

2D1N Italy

Showing you how to make the most of this gigantic contemporary art fair happening every other year while seeing a bit of Venice at the same time.

View Detailed Itinerary >