Key Takeaways

  • When wondering where to stay in Venice and around the Venetian lagoon, rest assured that you will be spoilt with choice.
  • Each district in Venice offers a unique experience and atmosphere.
  • Proximity to major attractions and dining options influences accommodation choice.
  • Gondolas and water taxis are quintessential for navigating Venice’s canals.
A charming canal-side hotel in Venice, with colorful buildings reflected in the water and gondolas passing by

Venice, a city built upon a network of canals, is a destination like no other. Each district, or ‘sestiere,’ offers a distinct experience.

These range from the regal atmosphere of San Marco to the vibrant markets and the Campo San Polo.

Visitors can stay in accommodations that float on the water’s edge and awaken to the symphony of gondoliers navigating the maze of waterways.

Selecting where to stay in Venice is not only about the comfort of the lodgings but also about the overall ambiance and accessibility to Venice’s iconic sites.

Some of them include the grand Rialto Bridge and the panoramic Grand Canal.

Charting a course through Venice involves understanding the unique characteristics of its districts.

San Marco is known for its historical landmarks and bustling piazzas, such as the iconic Piazza San Marco.

It caters predominantly to first-time visitors while regions like Cannaregio offer a glimpse into the local life, away from the bustling tourist spots.

For those who prioritize sightseeing, staying in central locations is key to minimizing travel time.

Meanwhile, epicureans might prefer areas known for traditional Venetian restaurants and cafes. There, they can indulge in local cuisine after a day of exploration.

Understanding Venice’s Districts

A map of Venice's districts, with iconic landmarks like St. Mark's Square and the Grand Canal, surrounded by charming canals and colorful buildings

Venice is divided into six sestieri, or districts, each with its own personality, landmarks, and reasons to stay.

These neighborhood precincts offer a mosaic of experiences ranging from historic grandeur to local charm.

San Marco: The Historic Heart

San Marco reigns as the tourism epicenter. It is known for iconic landmarks like the Basilica di San Marco, the Campanile, and the vast Piazza San Marco.

As the sestiere reflects a slice of Venice’s rich history, places to stay, such as the opulent Baglioni Hotel Luna, welcome visitors amidst high-end boutiques and the legendary Doge’s Palace.

Cannaregio: Authentic Venetian Charm

Cannaregio, where local life buzzes, is home to the historic Jewish Ghetto and Venice’s main synagogue.

This district promises a genuine Venetian experience through its quieter canals, vibrant local community, and options ranging from boutique hotels to traditional apartments.

Castello: A Blend of Grandeur and Tranquility

In Castello, one can visit both the Arsenale—a historic shipyard—and the lush gardens of Via Garibaldi.

During the Venice Biennale, minimalism meets splendor in this sestiere. As a result, it offers chances for serene walks amidst a fusion of everyday living and historic architecture.

A bustling Venetian square with a mix of ancient and modern buildings, gondolas gliding through the canals, and tourists seeking accommodation advice

Dorsoduro: Artistic and Lively

For art lovers, Dorsoduro is a treasury. It houses both the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the mesmerizing artworks at the Accademia Bridge.

Nightlife pulses near Campo Santa Margherita, and the Punta della Dogana presents contemporary masterpieces in a striking setting.

A confluence of youth and creativity, this is Venice’s cultural heartbeat.

San Polo: Small and Central

San Polo, known for the Rialto Bridge and the bustling Rialto Market, balances tourist magnets with charming squares.

It’s one of the oldest sestieri with a seductive mix of shops, restaurants, and cozy places to stay—ideal for immersing in Venice’s layers of history.

Santa Croce: Convenient and Accessible

Adjacent to the transportation hub of Piazzale Roma and the Venezia Santa Lucia train station, Santa Croce is the most accessible sestiere by bus or car via the Ponte della Libertà.

This neighborhood’s proximity to Vaporetti stands and landmarks like the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari makes it an ideal choice for travelers seeking convenience in Venice.

Choosing the Right Area for Your Stay

A peaceful canal lined with colorful buildings, gondolas gliding by, and quaint bridges connecting the picturesque streets of Venice

When planning a trip to the floating city of Venice, selecting the appropriate neighborhood to stay in can significantly enhance one’s experience.

Each area offers a distinct atmosphere and amenities suitable for different types of travelers.

  1. For First-Time Visitors: San Marco is the recommended area due to its central location.It provides easy access to major sites like St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. As one of the more expensive districts, San Marco is best for those prioritizing prime location and convenience.
  2. There, you can find a bus station every few meters, making public transportation effortless.
  3. Art Enthusiasts: Dorsoduro is celebrated for its artistic heritage, housing the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Accademia Gallery, the most famous art gallery. This area balances cultural richness with a lively nightlife, catering well to both art lovers and younger couples.
  4. Local Experience:
    • Cannaregio offers a glimpse into the local Venetian lifestyle, filled with residential homes and fewer tourists.
    • Santa Croce and San Polo ( Rio di San Polo) are ideal for travelers seeking a more budget-friendly option without straying far from central Venice.
  5. For Families: San Polo is known for its historic charm and is located close to major attractions, making it convenient for families who wish to explore without extensive travel.
  6. Couples: Those seeking romance for their honeymoon in Venice might find San Polo and Dorsoduro appealing for their intimate restaurants and quieter canals.
AreaBest For
San MarcoSightseeing
DorsoduroArts and Nightlife
San PoloLively Atmosphere
Santa CroceBudget Stays
CannaregioLocal Vibes
CastelloHistory Enthusiasts

Choosing the right area involves balancing preferences for location, budget, and the overall experience. It is advised for travelers to consider these aspects to find their ideal stay in Venice.

Best Hotels and Accommodations in Venice

A bustling canal lined with elegant hotels and charming accommodations in Venice. Gondolas glide by as tourists and locals alike enjoy the picturesque waterfront setting

Venice offers a spectrum of accommodations, from the luxury palaces lining the Grand Canal to the quaint, family-run hostels nestled in its narrow alleys.

Visitors can choose to stay in the heart of the city or opt for the serene islands just a short vaporetto ride away.

Luxury Stays

The Gritti Palace and Hotel Danieli are epitomes of luxury, offering guests spacious rooms with opulent furnishings and breathtaking views of the Grand Canal.

Both luxurious hotels have a history of hosting royalty and celebrities, providing top-notch services and exceptional dining experiences.

Mid-Range Comfort

For comfort without the extravagant price tag, Hotel Palazzo Stern and Palazzo Veneziano stand out.

These hotels offer a blend of comfort, good location, and Venetian charm, with modern amenities to cater to the needs of travelers seeking a balance of luxury and value.

Budget-Friendly Options

Travelers on a budget have options like Hotel Moresco, located in a quieter part of the city, offering comfortable and clean accommodations without the hefty price.

Budget-friendly hostels also provide affordable stays without compromising on the authentic Venetian experience.

Unique Venetian Experiences

Stay in a historic, family-run hotel or a converted Venetian palazzo to immerse in the local culture.

Many of these accommodations are tucked away from the main tourist thoroughfares, allowing guests a unique and intimate experience of the city’s rich heritage.

Staying Outside the Main Island

For those looking to escape the bustle of the city center, Mestre is a convenient and often more affordable alternative.

The islands of Giudecca and Lido offer tranquil retreats and are great for those interested in exploring Venice’s surroundings or planning day trips to other lagoon islands.

Dining and Eating Out in Venice

People dining at outdoor cafes along the canals in Venice. Gondolas passing by. Iconic Venetian architecture in the background

Food in Italy offers a splendid array of flavors, deeply intertwined with the city’s rich history and the freshness of local seafood.

When in Venice, dining experiences can range from upscale restaurants to quaint, budget-friendly eateries, providing an option for every palate and wallet.

Restaurants in Venice typically showcase the region’s staple ingredient: fish.

Dishes such as sarde in saor, an appetizer featuring sweet and sour sardines, and fritto misto, a mix of fried seafood, are popular choices for a taste of traditional Venetian flavors.

Local places to eat, like bacari, offer a more casual environment with a focus on Venetian snacks called Cicchetti, similar to Spanish tapas.

These venues are perfect for those looking to enjoy small plates with a glass of wine, embracing the ‘go-to’ Venetian aperitif experience.

Dining OptionsSuggested For
RestaurantsFull-course meals
BacariLight bites and drinks
PizzerieCasual dining

For visitors on a budget, look for eateries away from the main tourist paths. These hidden gems often serve delicious, authentic Venetian cuisine at more affordable prices.

The dining experience in Venice can be as much about the local vibe as it is about the food. Waterfront dining options allow for meals accompanied by picturesque views of the city’s canals and architecture.

In summary, Venice presents a diverse culinary landscape, from high-end dining to charming local spots.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the variety of places to eat and embrace the richness of Venetian cuisine.

Getting Around in Venice

A gondola glides through narrow canals, passing by colorful buildings and ancient bridges in Venice. The city's iconic architecture and waterfront hotels line the picturesque waterways

In Venice, the absence of cars creates a uniquely tranquil urban environment.

Travelers predominantly get around by foot or via the waterways.

Walking is a prime choice due to the city’s compact nature, providing not only a means to keep fit but also to uncover the city’s hidden alleys and bridges.

Water-Based Transportation

  1. Vaporetto: These are the water buses that navigate along the Grand Canal and to surrounding islands. They operate as part of Venice’s public transport system and are a cost-effective way to travel.
  2. Water Taxis: For a faster and more private option, water taxis are available. They are more expensive than Vaporettos but offer direct routes to destinations.
  3. Gondolas: Mostly used by tourists, a gondola ride in Venice can offer a historic and romantic way to experience the city’s waterways. However, they are not typically used for transportation purposes.

Land-Based Transportation

Generally, you can explore the city on foot. Most attractions are within walking distance of the transportation hubs like the ACTV stops.

Key Transportation Hubs

  • Marco Polo Airport: Situated on the mainland, travelers reach Venice via bus or water taxi.
  • Santa Lucia Train Station: This is a gateway for those arriving by train, offering immediate access to the Vaporetto and other water transport options.

Travelers should note that navigating the labyrinthine streets of Venice is part of the city’s charm.

Getting lost is almost a rite of passage, and local signage and friendly locals will guide lost walkers back to their chosen path.

Final Thoughts

A cozy, waterfront hotel with colorful buildings and gondolas in the background, capturing the essence of Venice's charm and beauty

Venice offers a diverse range of neighborhoods (sestieri) suitable for every type of traveler.

First-time visitors typically find San Marco an ideal location due to its proximity to major landmarks like the Doge’s Palace, the famous Rialto Bridge (or Ponte di Rialto), and Saint Mark’s Basilica.

It’s a prime spot for sightseeing and feeling the city’s pulse.

Families may prefer the centrally located San Polo, known for its blend of lively atmosphere and accessibility to Venice’s attractions, such as the San Giacomo di Rialto church.

It provides a convenient and family-friendly environment for exploration.

Those in search of Venice’s hidden gems and a taste of local life might enjoy Santa Croce or Cannaregio.

These areas offer a more authentic Venetian experience often at more budget-friendly prices.

Cannaregio also boasts rich historical significance, with areas less frequented by tourists.

For travelers with a love for arts, Dorsoduro is the go-to sestieri, where art galleries and museums abound. It’s less crowded, allowing for a relaxed atmosphere to indulge in the artistic heritage of Venice.

In pursuit of a historical adventure, Castello offers a mix of museum experiences and quieter spots.

Its position makes it a strategic choice for those looking to delve into the city’s past.

Regardless of where they choose to stay, visitors can be confident in experiencing the vibrant culture and unique charm that is distinct to each Venetian neighborhood.

Each offers its own slice of Venice to explore and appreciate.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the most recommended areas for first-time visitors to stay in Venice?

    For first-time visitors, the San Marco district is highly recommended.

    It is the historical center of Venice, housing iconic landmarks such as the Doge’s Palace and Saint Mark’s Basilica.

  • How can one experience Venice like a local through their accommodation choices?

    Staying in the Castello district offers a blend of proximity to major attractions and a taste of local life.

    Alternatively, Giudecca provides a quieter, artistic atmosphere away from the main tourist throng.

  • Can you suggest budget hotels in Venice?

    Santa Croce and Cannaregio districts are known for their more affordable accommodation options.

    Cannaregio offers a slice of local Venetian life while still providing access to the city’s major sights.

  • What are the ideal places to stay in Venice for a family vacation?

    Families may find San Polo to be ideal, with its central location and spacious accommodations.

    The area’s proximity to major landmarks and dining options make it a convenient base for a family stay.

  • For a short stay of 2-3 nights, which areas in Venice are preferable?

    For brief visits, staying in San Marco or along the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge can maximize sightseeing opportunities.

    These areas allow for easy access to many of Venice’s main attractions within a short timeframe.

  • Which parts of Venice are considered overly touristy and might be less desirable to stay in?

    San Marco, though popular, can be considered overly touristy and might not appeal to those seeking a more authentic Venetian experience.

    It often has higher prices and larger crowds, particularly in peak tourist season.


5 stars
5 stars
5 stars
5 stars
5 stars
Trustpilot logo


Melina Thalassinou