where to stay in venice

Where To Stay In Venice, Italy in 2024 (6 Best Areas)

Deciding where to stay in Venice is a conundrum. 

Do you go for a hotel right in the middle of San Marco, which, yes, is one of the best locations to stay in Venice Italy for seeing the most famous sights but also means being swamped by crowds? Or do you try and go for quieter parts of town, away from the people but also a longer journey to St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace?

We can’t make that tricky decision for you, but we can share some of our experiences to help you make an informed decision. 

Venice is undeniably one of best places to stay in Italy for a romantic trip! We’ve drifted down to the Floating City multiple times, and you can trust that we know the best areas to stay in Venice, but also some of our favourite eating experiences.

In this post, we’re going to guide you through the 6 different sestieri, from the bustling markets of San Polo to the quiet haunts of Cannaregio.

Andiamo!

Where To Stay In Venice Italy: At A Glance

VENICE MAP

Here’s a quick summary of the best places to stay in Venice Italy for different kinds of travellers:

San Marco ➡️ Best area to stay in Venice Italy for first time visitor. TOP PICK Novecento Boutique Hotel

San Polo ➡️ Best for foodies and gourmands. TOP PICK H10 Palazzo Canova

Castello ➡️ Best for a mixture of convenience and local life. TOP PICK Hotel Palazzo Priuli

Santa Croce ➡️ Best district to stay in Venice Italy for short trips. TOP PICK Hotel Papadopoli Venezia

Dorsoduro ➡️ Best part of Venice for nightlife. TOP PICK Excess Venice Boutique Hotel & Private Spa

Cannaregio ➡️ Best place to stay in Venice on a budget TOP PICK Hotel Antico Doge

#1 San Marco – The Best Area To Stay In Venice For First Time Visitor.

Venice St Marco Square best places to stay in Venice for first timers.
St Marco Square, Venice in the early morning.

LOCATION: San Marco is the heart of the city. Indisputably the best area to stay in Venice for sightseeing, it contains many of the most iconic spots, including the Campanile in St. Mark’s Square and the Bridge of Sighs.

There are a lot of shops and restaurants around here, but we’ve found most of them to be overpriced and underwhelming.

WHY STAY HERE: If you only have a short time in the city, picking a hotel in San Marco guarantees you are within a brief walk of pretty much all the major sights.

This is where to stay in Venice for first-timers who don’t want to travel far to see the grand, gilded halls of the Doge’s Palace or the elaborate mosaics of the Basilica of St. Mark.

Scenic streets and canals cut through much of the district, opening out suddenly onto little squares, former palaces, and innumerable cafes and souvenir shops.

Although it gets undeniably crowded, the Piazza San Marco remains a stunning place to start your exploration, framed by some of the city’s grandest architecture. From the piazzetta, you can gaze out onto the mouth of the Grand Canal and the vaporetti that crisscross the lagoon.

Blogger Gosia at San Marco, Venice.
San Marco is best part of Venice to stay for first timers.
Blogger Gosia at Cafe Florian.

Make sure to pay a visit to some of the museums in this area. Although the Museo Correr provides a great primer on Venice’s history, we have a soft spot for the Museo della Musica, which contains a selection of baroque musical instruments artfully displayed inside a deconsecrated church.

San Marco doesn’t have the abundance of space that the island of Giudecca has for expansive five-star Venice hotels with pools, but you can find some absolutely adorable boutique hotels here. Situated inside historic palazzi and characterful canal-side houses, they add another layer to the overall experience of staying in La Serenissima.

TOP THINGS TO DO:

  • Visit St. Mark’s Basilica to gape at the incredibly preserved mosaics. 
  • Climb the Campanile di San Marco for a bird’s eye view of the city.
  • Splurge on an expensive coffee at Caffé Florian, the oldest café in Venice.
  • Dazzle your eyes with the elaborate ceilings of the Palazzo Ducale.
  • Embark on a gondola ride down the Grand Canal.
  • Tour the grandeur of the Teatro La Fenice, one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses.

BEST RESTAURANTS:

🌟 Ristorante Rosa Rossa – A place to dine out in style, Rosa Rossa offers a mixture of meat, seafood, and handmade pasta, all beautifully plated and served inside a rustic-looking eatery. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend going for the chef’s tasting menu, which provides a delicious overview of the restaurant’s fine food.

🌟 Gio’s Restaurant & Terrace – As you would expect from a restaurant inside the St. Regis, everything at Gio’s is perfectly prepared. The highlight, however, is the glorious terrace, which floats upon the Grand Canal and is one of the most scenic places in all of Venice for an aperitif.

PROS

  • The charming heart of old Venice
  • Lots to do and see
  • Convenient for shopping and eating

CONS

  • Expensive accommodation
  • Touristy restaurants and shops
  • Extremely crowded

BEST HOTELS:

🌟Luxury Pick🌟
where to stay at Venice

Novecento Boutique Hotel

Inspired by Middle Eastern and East Asian design features, this boho hotel is hidden down an alleyway just off the Grand Canal. The individually decorated rooms are perfect nests for lovebirds.

🌟Mid-Range Pick🌟
where to stay Venice

Hotel Bartolomeo

A few steps from the Rialto Bridge, the Hotel Bartolomeo is a simply decorated boutique with clean rooms and accommodating staff. The triple room is a good option for couples with a small child.

#2 San Polo – Best For Foodies and Gourmands.

San Polo is the best area to stay in Venice Italy for foodies.

LOCATION: The smallest of the Venetian sestieri, San Polo is probably most famous for having one end of the Rialto Bridge, which connects the district to San Marco’s many attractions. St. Mark’s Square is between 15 and 20 minutes’ walk.

The area is also a great place to hangout for foodies, not just because it has some dining gems, but also because its home to the city’s largest fresh produce markets.

WHY STAY HERE: San Polo has more of a local feel to it than San Marco, as well as being slightly less touristy.

It’s one of the best areas to stay in Venice Italy if you want to be within a leisurely stroll of places like the Doge’s Palace and the Teatro La Fenice, but not actually in the eye of the tourism storm. 

The first time we came to Venice, we were overwhelmed by the number of people crowding around the Rialto Bridge. Don’t let that deter you. Once you’ve escaped this beehive of activity, the rest of San Polo is manageably busy – well, at least by the standards of central Venice!

Take your time wandering the streets, which are some of the oldest inhabited parts of Venice. People have been living on this bit of land since before the 9th century, while the vibrant market has been running since the 1000s. 

Speaking of the market, San Polo is the best part to stay in Venice if you plan to do some of your own cooking. Even if you don’t, we quite enjoyed examining the fresh fish, vegetables, and fruits that fill the Rialto Market and the Campo della Pescharia

Make sure you come early in the morning to rub shoulders with the residents as they buy ingredients for their daily meals.

San Polo is where to stay in Venice for foodies.
Blogger Gosia at Rialto Bridge.

Moving westward away from the Grand Canal, San Polo puts on an entirely different face. It’s here that you’ll find some of the district’s most memorable churches and architecture.

Top of the list for history of art majors is the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, a gothic church filled with works by some of the masters of the Renaissance. Paintings by Titian are staged beside statues by Donatello. 

Along the vaulted nave are a series of impressive marble monuments. Two of the ones that stick out in our mind are the pyramid-shaped dedication to the sculptor Canova and the enormous monument to Giovanni Pesaro, a former doge.

TOP THINGS TO DO:

  • Pick up some fresh produce at the Mercato di Rialto.
  • Get up close and personal with the c to see its decorative details.
  • Explore the artwork inside the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari.
  • Snap a photo of the lions at the base of the 15th-century Campanile di San Polo.
  • See some of Tintoretto’s best works inside the glittering halls of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

BEST RESTAURANTS:

🌟 Ristorante San Silvestro – Indulge in spectacular seafood at this family-run restaurant, from squid ink pasta to the generous seafood risotto. Save room for the desserts – the tiramisu is particularly good in our opinion, even in a city where everyone and their mother serves their own version.

🌟 Ostaria dai Zemei – Cicchetti are a Venetian tradition, and this is one of the best places to try them. Slices of bread are topped with a variety of more-ish ingredients, including salamis, cheeses, fish spreads, and pickled vegetables. Grab an Aperol and relax al fresco for an hour or two.

PROS

  • Excellent food markets
  • Plenty of unfussy local eateries
  • Short walk to major attractions

CONS

  • Gets very crowded during the day
  • Hotels aren’t cheap

BEST HOTELS:

🌟Luxury Pick🌟
where should I stay in Venice for the best canal views

H10 Palazzo Canova

This well-located property is where to stay in Venice for one night If you only have a day to experience the city. It’s a gorgeous contemporary hotel with a top-floor terrace overlooking the Grand Canal.

🌟Mid-Range Pick🌟
Antica Locando

Antica Locanda Sturion Residenza d’Epoca

Evoking the style of the 18th century, this hotel boasts heavily patterned rooms decorated in bright-red hues. Wake up every morning to a meal in the canal-adjacent breakfast room.

#3 Castello – Best Place To Stay Venice Italy For Local Flavour.

Castello is the best place to stay in Venice.

LOCATION: The sprawling sestiere of Castello takes up the eastern side of Venice. It’s a big area that can take half an hour to walk across, so make sure you know exactly where your hotel is before booking.

The part of Castello that’s adjacent to San Marco is a bit more touristy, while the other side features locals living their best lives. 

This is a good option for where to stay in Venice with kids, as there are several green spaces and the excellent child-friendly Naval History Museum.

WHY STAY HERE: What makes Castello one of the best areas in Venice to stay is its combo of convenience and local flavour. The western side abuts San Marco, while the northern side has ferries to the other Venetian islands, including Murano, which is famous for its glassware.

The eastern side, meanwhile, is where you’ll find fewer tourists and a more residential vibe that makes for a refreshing contrast to the heavily visited parts of town.

We stayed in Castello for the first time on our most recent trip to the city and it’s now our top recommendation for where to stay in Venice. 

Canals of Castello neighbourhood.
Castello
Blogger Gosia visiting Castello where to stay in Venice for budget accommodation.

We nabbed a place towards the western side of Castello, which meant we only had a short walk to St. Mark’s Square but were living on a much quieter street than when we were based in San Marco. In the evenings, we enjoyed some peaceful walks around the picturesque canals, mixing with locals out on a stroll.

Historically, Castello is associated with shipbuilding. It’s here that Venice developed its seafaring capabilities, allowing the tiny city state to have an outsized impact on trade for centuries.

Today, you can still wander around some of the warehouses and other buildings associated with this maritime might. Head to the Naval History Museum for a bit of factual info, paired with exhibits that are great for families with kids.

Castello has some great places to eat, including our favourite place for takeaway pasta, Dal Moro’s. For something a bit more fancy, Ristorante ai Barbacani has an Instagram-famous couples’ table that hovers right over a canal.

TOP THINGS TO DO:

  • Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the Venetian Arsenal.
  • Wonder at the big brick beast of the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo.
  • Soothe your soul in the under-visited Chiesa di San Francesco della Vigna.
  • Take the load off in the Giardini della Marinaressa, a lagoon-side park with modern sculptures. 
  • Purchase a souvenir from one of the stalls surrounding the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, Italy’s first king.

BEST RESTAURANTS:

🌟 Ristorante Bacarandino da 1974 – A nice spot to park up if you can get a table outside, this restaurant has a broad menu with something to cater for most tastes. Prices are punchy, but the wine list has never disappointed us yet. 

🌟 Osteria Alla Staffa – This bijou eatery is great for people looking to get off the beaten track. Not far from the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, its best dishes revolve around pasta and fish, served up with rustic charm.

PROS

  • The more local part of town
  • Family-friendly parks and museums
  • The western side is convenient for St. Mark’s Square

CONS

  • The eastern side is quite far from the main attractions
  • Doesn’t have the same vibrancy as San Marco or San Polo

BEST HOTELS:

🌟Luxury Pick🌟
what area to stay in Venice

Hotel Palazzo Priuli

One of the best places to stay in Venice Italy if you want to relive the glory days of the city, the Palazzo Priuli features Murano glass lighting fixtures and antique furniture.

🌟Mid-Range Pick🌟
where to stay in Venice Italy first time

Hotel Scandinavia – Relais

Situated on the Campo Santa Maria Formosa, this is where to stay in Venice if you want period lodgings in a historic building. Piazza San Marco is just 5 minutes away.

#4 Santa Croce – Best For Short Trips. 

Santa Croce is the best district to stay in Venice Italy on a short trip.

LOCATION: Santa Croce is the best neighborhood to stay in Venice if you plan to stop off for a short visit. It’s here that you’ll be closest to the train station, which connects directly to Florence, Rome, and Naples via high-speed rail. There are also regional services to nearby cities like Verona and Trieste.

Part of the district curves around the northern side of San Polo, so that the Rialto Market is only a short stroll away. St. Mark’s Square, on the other hand, is about 20 minutes to half an hour’s walk, though much of that is along atmospheric streets and canals that you’ll want to experience anyway. 

WHY STAY HERE: Santa Croce has excellent connections to mainland Italy, whether by train, bus, or car. For people that are undertaking a grand tour of the country with only a few days on the itinerary dedicated to Venice, it’s much easier to stay here than schlepping your luggage across the city and back.

Although we can’t say that this is the most happening part of town, it does have its own hidden gems. We’ve stumbled upon several seemingly forgotten historical churches brimming with artwork, like the San Giacomo dall’Orio

For a little bit of a challenge, try and get into Venice’s most famous ‘secret garden,’ hidden behind the Palazzo Soranzo Cappello. We’ve not actually managed this feat yet, since it’s only open to the public very occasionally – usually for an exhibition of some kind. Still, we live in eternal optimism that one day we’ll turn up at the right time to sneak a peek!

Santa Croce is also one of the best areas to stay in Venice for waterside palazzi that have been converted into museums. What better way to make the most out of your time than by simultaneously exploring Venetian architecture while browsing modern artwork (at the Ca’Pesaro) or aristocratic apparel (at the Mocenigo)?

TOP THINGS TO DO:

  • Learn about Venetian fashion at the Mocenigo Palace Museum.
  • Ponder over the works of Kandinsky and Klimt at the Ca’Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art.
  • Enjoy the tranquillity of the unobtrusive, medieval Chiesa Parracchiale di San Giacomo dall’Orio.
  • Wander past the Palazzo Soranzo Cappello, whose secret garden inspired authors Henry James and Gabriele D’Annunzio.
  • Let the kids loose in the green spaces of Giardini Papadopoli.

BEST RESTAURANTS:

🌟 Rio Novo – This rather unassuming canal-side spot serves up refreshingly generous portions of seafood pasta, alongside nicely priced wines by the glass. In terms of value for money, it’s one of the best eateries we’ve found in Venice.

🌟 Hostaria Venexiana – On the same stretch of canal as Rio Novo, the casual Hostaria Venexiana has a friendly vibe that makes for a relaxing dining experience. We particularly recommend the squid ink risotto, but the grilled fish is also superb.

PROS

  • Good transport links
  • Less touristy

CONS

  • Not as much to see
  • A bit of a walk to St. Mark’s Basilica

BEST HOTELS:

🌟Luxury Pick🌟
best places to stay Venice Italy

Hotel Papadopoli Venezia

Boasting its own private dock, you can glide up in style to the Hotel Papadopoli. Drawing upon traditional décor, the rooms are a compact slice of 18th-century luxury.

🌟Mid-Range Pick🌟
where is the best place to stay in Venice

Palazzo Marcello Hotel Al Sole

One of the best locations to stay in Venice Italy for a less-touristy vibe, Palazzo Marcello occupies a stunning 15th-century building only 10 minutes from the city’s train station.

#5 Dorsoduro – Best Part of Venice For Nightlife.

Dorsoduro

LOCATION: Dorsoduro is Venice’s university district, so it’s hardly surprising that we encountered plenty of buzzy bars and affordable bacari (traditional Venetian wine bars) in this part of town.

The neighbourhood is home to two of Venice’s most famous art museums, as well as the iconic Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Getting to St. Mark’s can be a bit of a walk, although the vaporetto shortens the journey a bit.

WHY STAY HERE: Aside from being the best place to stay in Venice Italy for nightlife, Dorsoduro is a less touristy part of town if you want to avoid the big crowds. What we most liked about the area is its laidback ambiance that crackles with the youthful energy of its student population.

It’s also not short of things to do.

The most famous place in Dorsoduro is unequivocally La Salute, the 17th-century basilica that is one of the most recognisable images on the Venetian waterfront. It’s prominent location between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal means you can see it from across the Bay of San Marco.

Dorsoduro - the best for nightlife.
Dorsoduro - where to stay at Venice Italy for nightlife.

Wander westward from here and you’ll come to a pair of fab museums that bridge the gap between the Old Masters and the modern greats. First up is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which displays works by Picasso, Kandinsky, and Duchamp in a former palace on the Grand Canal.

A bit further along the water is the Gallerie dell’Accademia, which skews more traditional with its works by Titian, Tintoretto, and Canaletto.

Dorsoduro lays claim to a lovely, relatively wide bit of waterfront promenade, the Zattere, where you can gaze across at the picturesque buildings of Giudecca.

Finish your day at the Campo Santa Margherita. We had a very chill early evening drink at Caffe Rosso, a great place to relax and watch the world go by.

TOP THINGS TO DO:

  • Gaze up at the domes of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from the vaporetto. 
  • Bask in the rococo flourishes of the Church of Saint Mary of the Rosary ‘Gesuati.’
  • Absorb the history of the Ponte dei Pugni, Venice’s most famous fighting bridge.
  • Give yourself neck ache starting at the ceilings of the Scuola Grande dei Carmini.
  • Imagine yourself as royalty within the opulent interiors of the Ca’Rezzonico museum.
  • Camp out on the Campo Santa Margherita and observe the bustling local life of Dorsoduro.

BEST RESTAURANTS:

🌟 Ristorante Riviera – On the more expensive end of the scale, Ristorante Riviera lives up to its name with super views out over the Giudecca Canal. A place to go for a special occasion, the service and food are both exquisite. 

🌟 Taverna San Trovaso – For something less ostentatious, this taverna offers a mix of pizza, pasta, and seafood cooked like mama used to make. It’s popular with locals, who often seem to be queuing out the door just before the dinner opening time.

PROS

  • Authentic local vibe
  • Social, friendly bars
  • Amazing art collections

CONS

  • Quite far from the centre of town

BEST HOTELS:

🌟Luxury Pick🌟

Excess Venice Boutique Hotel

Where to stay in Venice if you value peace and quiet over centrality, this property has colourfully decorated rooms and a lovely little garden where you can enjoy breakfast on warmer days.

🌟Mid-Range Pick🌟
where should I stay in Venice for the first time

Hotel Tiziano

This simply appointed B&B offers a mixture of rooms and apartments that are ideal for couples or families. The San Basilio vaporetto stop is just a short walk away.

#6 Cannaregio – Best For A Budget Stay.

Cannaregio, Venice

LOCATION: The northernmost sestiere, Cannaregio encompasses the city’s train station in the west, ferries to Murano and Burano in the east, and the original Jewish ghetto. 

It’s a big old region, and some parts are a significant walk from St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace. As with Castello, you’ll want to make sure you know exactly where your hotel is situated before confirming the reservation.

WHY STAY HERE: Cannaregio is one of the best places to stay in Venice Italy if you’re looking for a budget hotel. Due to the out-of-the-way location, we tend to see better deals on offer here for accommodation – in other words, more space for less money!

The district also has several claims to fame: it is the home of the world’s first casino (still running today), the site of one of Venice’s oldest churches (Parish Church of the Holy Apostles), and boasts one of the first palazzi built along the Grand Canal (Ca d’Oro).

Arguably the most historically important part of the Cannaregio is the former Jewish quarter. We were fascinated to learn that Venice’s ghetto is the original ghetto. The word literally means ‘foundry,’ as the area where the Jews were forced to live was near a well-known cannon manufacturing facility.

We took an English-language tour from the Jewish Museum of Venice that took us round a couple of the major synagogues, providing some interesting detail about each building and its past.

TOP THINGS TO DO:

  • Gamble away your pocket money in the world’s oldest casino, Casino of Venice.
  • Take an educational tour of the Sinagoghe e Museo Ebraico di Venezia.
  • Gape at the exquisite marblework of the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta detta I Gesuiti.
  • Wait for your train’s departure time in the soothing greenery of the Parco Savorgnan.
  • Make a pilgrimage to the site of one of Venice’s oldest churches, the Parish Church of the Holy Apostles.

BEST RESTAURANTS:

🌟 Osteria Al Cantinon – Down a quiet canal away from the main tourist track, this osteria serves up classic Italian cuisine with simple flair. There’s a good mix of wines, many of them sourced from the local region.

🌟 La Corte 1642 – Hidden down an alley less travelled, La Corte 1642 is one of those places we kind of just stumbled upon and decided to give it a go. Good decision. The concealed courtyard is a haven from the busier parts of town, serving cicchetti and pasta.

PROS

  • Situated away from the noise
  • One of the best locations to stay in Venice Italy for affordable rooms

CONS

  • Can feel a bit drab and subdued
  • Not particularly close to the major sights

BEST HOTELS:

🌟Luxury Pick🌟
Venice hotel

Hotel Antico Doge

Around 5 minutes from the Rialto Bridge, the Hotel Antico Doge has more spacious rooms than the average Venetian hotel. Most are outfitted with parquet flooring and antique furnishings.

🌟Mid-Range Pick🌟

Al Mascaron Ridente

The most affordable hotel we’ve included in this post, the Al Mascaron Ridente is an excellent value option with touches of Venetian flair adding a bit of zest to the pared-down rooms. 

Where To Stay In Venice Italy: FAQs

How long to stay in Venice?

Based on our past visits, we reckon you can probably see the city’s most famous places in 2 days, but 3 or 4 will allow you a little more flexibility. Any longer than a week and you’ll probably be sick of people and/or need to remortgage your house to pay the bills!

Which is the best area of Venice to stay in?

The best part of Venice to stay in our opinion is Castello, due to the combo of proximity to St. Mark’s Square and the relatively tourist-free streets. For people who want to be a bit more in the action, San Polo is buzzy but more authentic than centrally located San Marco.

What is the prettiest area in Venice?

San Marco of course has the picture-perfect sights, but the southern shore of Dorsoduro offers really lovely views out over the Giudecca Canal. To be honest, some of the nicest photos we took were down random alleyways and canals we stumbled upon at random.

Is Venice walkable?

Venice is very walkable, especially since the streets that you go along to get from place to place are almost always intriguing. The city is just so unique that walking never feels like a chore. For longer distances, however, you can always hop on the vaporetto.

Is Venice very expensive?

Yes, Venice is very expensive. There’s no way to soften the blow. Hotels are costly, restaurants deliver eye-watering bills, and everyday goods have punchy price tags. That’s not to say you can’t be savvy about budgeting, just that you definitely won’t leave thinking, ‘well, that was cheap!’

Where To Stay In Venice Italy: The Wrap-Up

When it comes to making a final decision on where to stay in Venice, the most important factor is time. If it’s just a flying visit that you’re planning, stick to the busier, more central sestieri. If you have a longer vacay in mind, experiment with the quieter residential districts that offer a bit more local character.

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