Where to Stay in Venice: The Best Areas and Neighborhoods

Written by Rem Malloy, since 1995 Rem has been guiding and designing trips to Italy and all of Western Europe and is considered an expert in his field for over 30 years.

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Many visitors flock to Venice to experience this fairytale destination. However, with the introduction of the Venice day fee, it’s more important than ever that you know where to stay in Venice. With distinct neighborhoods that each have their own charms, finding the best places to stay in Venice for an Italian city break can feel challenging to start with. 

In this guide, we discuss where to stay in Venice. We will highlight 4 of the best neighborhoods in Venice that appeal with their unique charms and delights. From the serene streets of Castello to the vibrant hub of Santa Croce, we unveil the amazing things to do in Venice and its inviting urban areas. 

So if you’re eager to see the lagoon city but can’t decide which part of the city to make your base, read on to discover the best places to stay in Venice.

Best Area to Stay in Venice for a First Time Visitor – Santa Croce

If you’re wondering where to stay in Venice for your first time, look no further than Santa Croce. Located in the western part of Venice, Santa Croce is renowned for its narrow streets, charming atmosphere and local Venetian vibe. While it’s not as central as districts like San Polo or San Marco, Santa Croce offers a more tranquil setting away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.  

While you may be worried about being a bit further away from the best things to do in Venice, you can navigate the city easily by taking advantage of Vaporettos, Venice’s iconic water buses. Santa Croce offers a much more authentic place to stay in Venice and keeps you away from the tourist crowds, making it a great choice for your first visit to the City of Canals.

Things to Do in Santa Croce

There are so many incredible things to do in Venice and Santa Croce is no exception. With historic buildings and charming public spaces, you can explore this Venice neighborhood to your heart’s content. To help you get an idea of what you can experience in Santa Croce, we’ve highlighted some of the best Venice landmarks in this delightful neighborhood. 

One of the best things to do in Santa Croce is to visit the San Giacomo dell’Orio. The beautiful church dominates the charming square and is a favored meeting spot among locals. The historic facade blends seamlessly into the historic Venetian skyline and the interior is even more fascinating with its impressive collection of works by Palma il Giovane. 

An unfortunate feature of Venice is its lack of green spaces, largely due to the city’s urban design and location in the lagoon. Fortunately, Santa Croce has one of the best parks in Venice which is the perfect place to enjoy the fresh air and partake in people watching. The Papadopoli Gardens is a lush park decorated with intricate statues and is a great place to relax and enjoy the city’s blissful atmosphere.  

One of the main benefits of staying in Santa Croce over other areas in Venice is its convenient transport links. You can easily explore other attractions within the Veneto region, with convenient access to Santa Lucia Train Station and the bus station in Piazzale Roma. This allows you to experience some of the best Venice tours without having to worry about your travel options.

Best Area to Stay in Venice For Culture – Dorsoduro

If you’d rather stay in a lively neighborhood in Venice, then Dorsoduro is just the place. This sestiere (district) is known for its outspoken arts scene, historic Venice landmarks and picturesque canal walkways. It has some of the best art institutions in Venice, as well as trendy bars and restaurants where you can soak up the Venetian lifestyle. 

This area of Venice has a young and high-energy atmosphere, thanks to its proximity to the university. It’s ideal for visitors who want to be in Venice’s cultural heart whilst also enjoying the idyllic canals and perfect views from the many bridges. With so many wonders around every corner and a vibrant evening scene, it’s the best place to stay if you only have 3 days in Venice

Things to Do in Dorsoduro 

Art lovers will be taken by the delights of Dorsoduro, as this district has some of the finest art museums in Italy. It is also home to some of the most celebrated Venice landmarks like the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, allowing you to visit the top sights in Venice without having to travel far. To make the most of your time in Venice, consider booking a private walking tour of the city which will show you all the top attractions and breathtaking buildings. 

The Gallerie dell’Accademia is a Venice must-do for any visitor, but it will strike an insatiable desire in art-loving travelers. It is one of the most important art museums in Venice, featuring works by renowned artists like Bellini, Titian and Tintoretto. With uninterrupted access to this incredible museum, Dorsoduro is certainly the best location to stay in Venice for culture seekers. 

There’s even more art to be discovered at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which will be a treat for art history fanatics. The collection houses some of the most influential artworks from the 20th century, making it a bastion of modern art. The works in the collection span a variety of different movements such as Surrealism, Cubism and Abstract Expressionism, which perfectly contrast with the building’s historic design. 

Of course, we have to mention the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, this Venetian landmark takes center stage when it comes to things to do in Venice. The imposing Baroque dome of the church stands out against other nearby buildings and its idyllic location on the Grand Canal makes it easily accessible. The interior is adorned with magnificent artworks by artists such as Titian and Tintoretto, including paintings depicting scenes from the Virgin Mary’s life, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the artistic heritage of Venice.

Best Area to Stay in Venice for Nightlife- San Polo

Located in the very center of the city, San Polo is another great place to stay in Venice. This vibrant district is one of the oldest in Venice and draws visitors in with its historic sites and bustling markets. However, it is also one of the best areas to experience Venice nightlife, with spirited bars and restaurants that offer an upbeat, yet authentic evening atmosphere. 

Being so centrally located, San Polo is a great place to stay in Venice as you can easily reach other districts in the city via gondola or just by walking. Some of the best hotels in Venice can be found in this animated neighborhood that cater to a range of preferences and budgets, making it the optimal place to stay for your visit.

Things to do in San Polo

Despite being one of the smallest neighborhoods in Venice, San Polo is the city’s main tourist hub and features some spectacular things to do. You will find top attractions like Rialto Bridge as well as more niche delights like the longest street in Venice. Once the sun sets over the Grand Canal you will be blown away by the amazing nightlife and can enjoy evenings that seem to last forever.  

One of the best things to do in San Polo is visiting Rialto Bridge, one of the most famous landmarks in Venice. The bridge stretches over the Grand Canal offering exceptional views of Venice and the chance to explore the boutique shops and stalls. As you cross the bridge you will find yourself in the colorful Rialto Market which captures the attention of visitors with its tempting produce, fresh seafood and local Italian delicacies

After exploring the market you can spend some time in Campo San Polo, Venice’s largest public square. The square is a popular spot among tourists and locals and offers a welcome respite from the busy city streets. It is often the venue for events and markets which makes the experience very dynamic and allows you to get a taste of life in Venice. 

While Venice is not famous for its nightlife, you can experience spirited evenings in San Polo. This area of Venice has a fine selection of traditional wine bars where you can sample local vintage paired with cicchetti, small snacks or appetizers. One of the most enchanting ways to experience San Polo’s nightlife is by taking a leisurely stroll along the picturesque canals and bridges and admiring the city lights as they reflect off the water.

Best Area to Stay in Venice for History – Cannaregio

Cannaregio is the largest and most diverse neighborhood in Venice, known for its historic Jewish Ghetto. It offers visitors a mix of authentic eateries and cultural immersion, making it one of the best places to stay in Venice for those looking to explore the city’s history. 

Cannaregio has a variety of accommodation options, making it suitable for all kinds of travelers. You can find some of the best luxury hotels in Venice as well as cozy homestays, allowing you to revel in this area on any budget. Whether you want a canalside view with an opulent interior or a delightful room in a classic Venetian building, you will find the perfect place for you in Cannaregio.

Things to Do in Cannaregio

Staying in Venice allows you to experience some of the most important cultural sites in Italy. Walking through the narrow streets of Cannaregio feels like stepping into the past, with buildings ranging from synagogues in the historic Jewish Quarter to gothic palaces. It’s the best location to stay in Venice for visitors looking to dive into the complex and fascinating history of the city. 

The main draw of Cannaregio is the Jewish Ghetto, where visitors can learn all about the cultural heritage of Venice’s Jewish community. As you wander the ancient streets, take note of the many synagogues and museums that make up the area. You can dine in one of the Kosher eateries before taking a visit to the Jewish Museum to learn more about this fascinating quarter. 

Aside from the Jewish Ghetto, visitors also have the option of exploring Ca’ d’Oro, a striking gothic palace perched on the northern side of the Grand Canal. The palace contains an exciting collection of artworks and Renaissance artifacts, giving visitors an intimate look into the past. Aside from photographs and paintings, there is also a collection of pottery that has been recovered from the Lagoon, providing visitors with a truly unique historical experience.   

There is much more to Cannargeio than historical landmarks, it is also one of the best places to stay in Venice for authentic eats. There’s no place better to dive into the culinary offering of this Venice neighborhood than Fondamenta della Misericordia, an idyllic canal-side promenade lined with bars and restaurants. It’s a popular spot to enjoy a leisurely stroll, try Venetian cuisine or sample local wines and recount your adventures in the Floating City.

Summary

When determining where to stay in Venice, you are spoiled for choice. The City of Bridges has delightful neighborhoods that each contain fascinating attractions and a chance to experience the Venetian lifestyle. If you find yourself stuck when planning where to stay in Venice, it is best to consider your interests. 

First time visitors will enjoy the tranquility and authenticity of Santa Croce, whilst those seeking the cultural highlights of Venice will be best placed in Dorsoduro. If you’re looking to dive into the nightlife of Venice and be in the heart of the action, then San Polo promises unparalleled evenings. Travelers who want a more varied experience will find Cannaregio to be the best place to stay in Venice. 

Have you been thinking about a tantalizing trip to Venice? Take a look at our expertly curated Venice tours or contact Italy4Real now to start planning your bespoke trip to Italy.

FAQs

What is Venice known for?

Venice is famous for its meandering canals, romantic gondola rides and fascinating culture. It is also known for its iconic landmarks such as Doge’s Palace and the Basilica di San Marco. Likewise, Venice is celebrated for its colorful Carnival festival where the streets become a fabulous parade of vibrant costumes and intricate masks.  

Is Venice safe at night?

Venice is generally considered very safe, especially in tourist hotspots and major attractions. That said, when staying in Venice it is wise to practice caution. The best advice is to avoid isolated areas and be wary of pickpockets. Exercising common sense and keeping your belongings secure on your person will allow you to enjoy nights in Venice and help you feel more secure. 

About the Author

Rem Malloy started Italy4real back in 1995 with his mother, Deborah de Maio.

He specialises in Italian tours as well as customised tours to France, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. He was also featured in the Travel Channel show Mysteries at The Museum in 2016.

Rem has family in Italy and his mothers home town is Cava di Terrani, near the Amalfi Coast. The family has a street named after them in Sorrento, Via Luigi de Maio; a relative who was mayor of Sorrento.

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