Colourful buildings and restaurants line the Canal Cannaregio from Guglie bridge in Venice, Italy
neighbourhood guide

Where to stay in Venice

Marica

Contributing writer

Venice is one of the most fascinating and evocative places in Italy. Every year it receives millions of tourists, making it one of the top three most visited cities (along with Florence and Rome) in the Bel Paese.

The municipal territory of Venice is divided into six main districts called sestieri (sestiere in the singular), plus other locations such as Mestre (located on land) and islands such as Murano and Burano.

It is important to remember that cars are not allowed in Venice. In the lagoon, there are no roads but canals, including the famous Canal Grande: to go around, you will need to walk or take a vaporetto, gondola, or water taxi.

Venice is famously an expensive city, but here are some areas to stay while you visit which are suitable for all budgets and travel groups. Whether you are planning a trip to Venice with your kids, your partner, or your friends, these are the some of our favourite districts to stay in Venice.

A gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice

At a glance

Best area to stay in Venice for first-time visitors

San Polo

Houses on the banks of the canal Rio di San Polo

San Polo is a vibrant neighbourhood in the city center. Right in this sestiere are the famous Ponte di Rialto and the Canal Grande, which makes it the best district to stay in if it is the first time you visit Venice. San Polo is the best solution if you want to discover Venice on foot or to have a gondola tour!

Regarding accommodation, the offer you will find in San Polo ranges from luxury hotels that overlook the Canal Grande, to B&B and holiday apartments. Besides the higher costs, the biggest disadvantage of staying in San Polo is that the area is very crowded due to the high number of tourists.

San Polo has a lot to offer in terms of wonderful views and attractions to see. The sestiere is home to the Ponte di Rialto and the Canal Grande, as well as Ponte della Donna Onesta (full of legends), the Basilica dei Frari, and Piazza Campo San Polo, full of cafes where you can enjoy an espresso and bars to have an aperitif at sunset.

Thanks to the presence of the Rialto Market and the area of the Erbaria canal, San Polo is incredibly vibrant and full of people both during the day and at night.

Stay at Bianca Cappello House for comfortable rooms in a very convenient location.

Best area to stay in Venice for sightseeing

San Marco

An aerial view of the famous St Mark's Square in Venice

San Marco is the heart of Venice, with the most beautiful historical and architectural spots, like Piazza San Marco with its stunning cathedral. If want to see all of Venice's major attractions, being in the sestiere of San Marco is a perfect choice.

San Marco is one of the most beautiful districts of Venice. The Basilica of San Marco will enchant you with its decorations, columns, and mosaics. The Campanile di San Marco (the bell tower) stands out on the city's profile, rendering Piazza San Marco truly magical at any time of the day and night. The Palazzo Ducale, the Fenice Theater, and the suggestive Ponte dei Sospiri ("the Bridge of Sighs") are other unmissable sights in San Marco.

It's also a very central place to stay, allowing you to explore the city by foot or vaporetto. The district's centrality means it is visited by thousands of tourists every day and night, making it not a quiet area.

In addition, in San Marco, the prices of accommodation, bars, and restaurants are above the average in Venice. The best tip to find cheaper accommodation in this fantastic sestiere is to move away from Piazza San Marco, where the luxury hotels are located.

Stay at Corte Barozzi Venice Suites just a short walk from Piazza San Marco.

Best area to stay in Venice for families

Cannaregio

Colourful buildings and restaurants line the Canal Cannaregio from Guglie bridge in Venice, Italy

Cannaregio is one of Venice's liveliest areas, but is a lot less crowded than San Marco or San Polo. This sestiere is located in the northern part of the city, a few minutes from the train station of Santa Lucia and the pier from which ferries leave for Murano and Burano. While many of Venice's major attractions aren't quite on your doorstep, they aren't far away.

Cannaregio makes a great place to stay for families as it's much less crowded than central Venice with a local feel. This sestiere is where you can still breathe the authentic Venetian soul. As Cannaregio is a neighborhood densely populated with Venetians, it's also one of the more affordable districts to stay in. A quiet residential area and streets less crowded by tourists make Cannaregio a safe area for families. The neighbourhood also has a small park and playground, Parco Savrognan, near Ponte delle Guglie, if you're travelling with younger children.

Cannaregio has fantastic attractions to see, particularly the Jewish Ghetto, made famous by Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", the Ponte degli Scalzi, and the Ponte delle Guglie. Besides walking through the gorgeous bridges, in Cannaregio you will find many shops, restaurants, and buzzing nightlife.

Stay at the Locanda Leon Bianco with traditionally-decorated family rooms on the Grand Canal

Best area to stay in Venice on a budget

Dorsoduro

A small bridge and colourful buildings in the Dorsoduro area.

Dorsoduro is the university area of Venice, where the famous Ca' Foscari University is. Dorsoduro is the best sestiere to stay if you travel on a budget: the presence of students makes the prices of accommodation and food/drinks in this part of Venice suit every kind of pocket.

Thanks to the presence of the student population, Dorsoduro is a lively area to spend the evening in. If you are looking for a cheap aperitif or an after-dinner drink, check out Campo Santa Margherita, the district's main square.

Dorsoduro is directly adjacent to San Paolo and the Canal Grande. This sestiere is considered the district of artists, characterized by buildings that tell the city's history and amazing art galleries. In Dorsoduro you will find the Accademia Gallery, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and the wonderful Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute.

Stay Hotel Tivoli for affordable rooms near the university.

Best area to stay in Venice for foodies

Santa Croce

A canal in the Santa Croce neighbourhood lined with pastel-coloured buildings

Santa Croce is not a super central sestiere, making it ideal if you are looking for quietness and lower accommodation prices. In Santa Croce you won't find particularly famous attractions, but its proximity to the central train station and Piazzale Roma, the bus terminal, make Santa Croce a very convenient district to stay in.

Santa Croce is a residential neighbourhood, full of charming cafés, pizzerias, and lively bars frequented by the locals. In Santa Croce, you will also find lower-priced bacareti, the typical Venetian gastro-bars that serve fine wine and excellent cicchetti (the Venetian version of tapas). The district is also home to well-loved and affordable trattorie (local restaurants), perfect for an evening meal.

The countless dining and drinking establishments make Santa Croce the place to stay if you are a foodie! Most restaurants and bars are near the Gallery of Modern Art, the Oriental Art Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Fondazione Prada.

Stay at Hinc Domus for air-conditioned rooms with balconies in a convenient location.

Best area to stay in Venice for a local experience

Castello

View of the Venice lagoon from the Castello neighbourhood

Castello is Venice's easternmost area, bordering the San Marco sestiere. Castello is the least known district of Venice and one of the largest in the city, characterized by wide avenues and parks where you can admire the lagoon and San Marco without being surrounded by crowds.

The view of Venice's most famous area that you can enjoy from Castello makes for a romantic getaway for sure! But the main reason to stay in Castello is that this neighbourhood is residential and gives you some insight into Venice as a regular city. If you're looking for tranquillity, this sestiere should be your choice.

In Castello you will find the Arsenale di Venezia and the beautiful gardens - Giardini della Biennale - where the popular Biennale Art Exhibition takes place. The reasonable prices and the more relaxed and genuine stay that Castello offers make it perfect for everyone - from groups of friends to couples. It also makes a great option for families, with wide streets and local parks.

Just consider that Castello is relatively far away from Venice's main attractions, and you will need to walk for at least half an hour to reach Piazza San Marco, and even more to other sights of interest. However, you can always jump in a vaporetto and cruise Venice's lagoon to go to all the beautiful spots in the city!

Stay at Hotel Bucintoro with elegant rooms and panoramic views over the Venice Lagoon.

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Marica

Author - Marica

Marica was born and raised in Italy. Originally from Le Marche region, she moved to Bologna for studying cultural anthropology and global history at university. From Bologna, she traveled widely around north and central Italy. One of her favorite cities is Venice, which she visited consistently over the years.

Last Updated 25 August 2022

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