Teatro La Fenice is an iconic opera house in Venice and one of Italy’s most famous performance spaces. If you’re planning a trip to Venice, seeing a show at La Fenice is a memorable way to spend an evening in the city.
The name translates to The Pheonix Theatre, a phoenix being a magnificent mythical bird that rises from its own ashes. The theatre was built to replace the old San Benedetto Theatre, destroyed by fire. As soon as you step into Teatro La Fenice’s beautiful red and gold auditorium, you’ll understand the name, representing how this magnificent building has risen from its ashes.
What’s in this guide?
- What to see at Teatro La Fenice
- Teatro La Fenice history and facts
- Restaurants, bars and shops nearby
- Opening times and ticket prices
How to get to Teatro La Fenice
Wondering how to get to Venice’s famous La Fenice Theatre? You’ll have a couple of options.
The first way to get there is by public boat. Take the water bus (vaporetto) line 2 towards Rialto Bridge, St Mark and Lido, or if you’re coming from Piazzale Roma and Venezia Santa Lucia train station, take line 1 or 2 in the same direction.
What to see at Teatro La Fenice
The beautiful gilded theatre has risen from the ashes three times, each version more stunning than the last. The most recent rebuild came after arsonists burnt the previous theatre down to a shell in 1996.
What does Teatro La Fenice look like?
A team of architects and artists were determined to recreate the 19th-century theatre, which means visiting today feels like stepping back into historical Venice.
Every inch of La Fenice exudes magic and charm; the hazy blue ceiling is painted with angels, while lamps cast a warm, candle-like glow around the space. Gilded balconies rise up in parallel, set back for privacy and home to the best seats in the house.
The aesthetic beauty continues on the ground, where hundreds of plush, pink velvet seats are spread flat across the floor. Audience members are separated from neighbours by soft armrests.
If you’re planning to see a performance at La Fenice, you might want to get dressed up to enhance your experience. Smart-casual is fine most nights, but you won’t be out of place in black-tie attire. You’re there for the setting and atmosphere as much as for the show!
Shows and performances at Teatro La Fenice
La Fenice has hosted many now-iconic shows in its lifetime, including world-premiers of operas by Gioacchino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti and Giuseppe Verdi.
In more recent years, the theatre has shone its spotlight on more contemporary productions, including premieres of Stravinski’s The Rake’s Progress, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Prokofiev’s L’angelo di Fuoco (The Fiery Angel), Nono’s Intolleranza (Intolerance) and Maderna’s Hyperion.
Teatro La Fenice history and facts
The story of La Fenice began in 1789 when a competition was launched for Italian and international architects to propose plans for a new theatre 'most satisfying to the eye and ear of the audience'.
The area was cleared in 1790, and the theatre was built quickly for the time, over just two years. Many Venetians opposed the new theatre throughout the construction period because of its high costs. Nevertheless, building work was completed in 1792, and the theatre was inaugurated by Count Alessandro Pepoli for the Feast of Ascension.
The first fire
La Fenice was first destroyed by fire in 1836. The night guardian was woken by thick clouds of smoke; looking into the theatre, he saw fire and smoke covering the stage. The guardian and building caretaker raised the alarm.
The curtains, canvases and dry wood inside the theatre meant the fire spread quickly. This first fire was started by a newly installed stove and burnt for three days and nights.
After the fire, the theatre was quickly rebuilt and inaugurated. The project was given to architect brothers Giovanni Battista and Tommaso Meduna. The theatre opened with Giuseppe Lillo’s opera Rosmunda in Ravenna in 1837.
In the decades following its rebuild, La Fenice became a renowned venue for famous singers and performers. Conductors like Strauss, Reiner and Toscanini are just a few to lead performances in the opera house. The first International Festival of Contemporary Music was staged at La Fenice in 1930.
The 1996 fire
The building was destroyed by fire again in 1996, set intentionally by malicious arsonists. The world mourned the loss of one of its most beautiful theatres, while plans were made to reconstruct La Fenice in the original style.
In 2004, Teatro La Fenice rose from its ashes once again. It reopened with a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata, the famous opera that premiered on the same stage in 1853.
Restaurants, bars and shops near Teatro La Fenice
Whether you see La Fenice as a passerby or have tickets to a performance, there are few better ways to improve your experience than with a drink or meal in the area.
Enjoy old-school Venetian cuisine in one of the best restaurants near Teatro La Fenice, refresh with an aperitivo before lunch or dinner or grab a quick bite to refuel before moving on.
The opera house is in San Marco, the tourist heart of Venice. So it should come as no surprise that many of the city’s best shops and other attractions are also nearby! Spend a day in San Marco to see many Venetian best bits.
Restaurants near Teatro La Fenice
Hungry? There’s plenty of choice near La Fenice, whether you want dinner before or after a performance or a bite to eat while sightseeing.
- La Caravella – enjoy the cosy interiors or charming courtyard garden, a perfect setting for romance in Venice; the seasonal menu is sure to satisfy
- Al Vaporetto – for a quick, casual and affordable Italian meal, Al Vaporetto is your go-to; order traditional pizza, pasta or risotto and classic desserts like tiramisu
- Ristorante Quadri – the only restaurant overlooking Saint Mark’s Square, ideal for people-watching and soaking up the atmosphere. This Michelin star spot serves contemporary Italian and Venetian dishes
- Ai Mercanti – a welcoming restaurant serving creative, seasonal cuisine and fine Italian wines
- Osteria Enoteca San Marco – this traditional Italian Taverna offers an extensive wine list and seasonal meat, fish, and vegetarian dishes
Bars near Teatro La Fenice
Enjoy pre- or post-theatre drinks or an aperitivo before dinner at one of the many excellent bars near La Fenice.
- L’Ombra Del Leone – a bar and restaurant right on the Grand Canal
- Bacaro Jazz – a relaxed jazz bar for cocktails and live music
- Harry’s Bar – a Venetian attraction in its own right, this bar is the home of the Bellini, a must-visit when you’re in San Marco
- Vino Vino – an intimate wine bar close to La Fenice, a favourite among locals and tourists alike
- Bar Longhi – an elegant bar in the Gritti Palace, with a terrace overlooking the Grand Canal
Teatro La Fenice opening times and ticket prices
Want to visit Teatro La Fenice? So you should! Watching a show here is one of the best ways to spend an evening in Venice. Guided tours are available between 09:00 and 16:30, 17:00 or 18:00 daily. Performance start times vary but usually begin between 17:00 and 20:00.
Admission to the theatre for a tour costs €12.65 without a guide and €20 with a guide. We highly recommend booking a guided tour to make the most of your visit.
Ticket prices for operas and performances depend on the show you’re seeing and can cost anywhere between €150 and €300. The cost of a ticket also varies depending on where you want to sit. The front row and boxes cost a little more!
Travelling by train to Venice?
If you're planning to visit Venice, why not travel by train? Travelling to Venice by train is easy due to the high-speed rail connections operated by Trenitalia and Italo. You can travel to Venice from some of the most popular locations in Italy, including Peschiera del Garda to Venice (1h 16m), Verona Porta Nuova to Venice (1h) and Trieste Centrale to Venice (1h 37m).
Need more information about travelling to Venice by train? Check out our dedicated page to trains to Venice.