Where to Stay in Venice for a first time visit? An insider's guide

Where to Stay in Venice for a first time visit? An insider’s guide 2021

What is the best location to stay in Venice? This is a question we always receive. Therefore, we created this guide on where to stay in Venice. It includes the best areas for first-time visitors, families, and couples.

We even included a big map with all the neighborhoods and handpicked hotels for couples, families, and friends.

(This guide is always up to date, the last updated April 2021.)

Where to Stay in Venice for a first time visit? An insider's guideBut first things first:

Question: Where to stay in Venice for a first-time visit?

Answer: that’s easy, stay central and  chose to stay like a local!

Some of these areas include:

  • Cannaregio (the Largest district in Venice)
  • Dorsoduro (Best for Walking)
  • San Polo (Oldest in the City)

We know the district’s names, what the Italians call sestiere, can be confusing. Do not worry! Within this post there are descriptions of what each sestiere (district) is like. That way you can find which area is best for you.

Why do I recommend these areas?

Venice is all about immersing yourself in the history and getting lost walking alongside the canals.

Sometimes, the streets get very crowded because of all the tourists wanting to see how magical Venice is. That is why if you wish to have an authentic Venetian experience, stay in the areas that are less crowded and have more locals.

Good to know: We recommend reading our big, detailed guide on 7 days in Venice. Besides accommodation, I also recommend my 33 best fun things to do in Venice – outside the tourist box.

Here’s a full map for you to understand the different areas.

We highlight the districts, main tourists sightseeing in Venice and our handpicked accommodations.

Please note: those are not the exact names of the districts, neither its absolute borders. I just tried to simplify this information.

Important: We actually do not recommend to stay outside the city center in Venice, Italy.

1. Best areas and handpicked hotels for Venice

As mentioned, the sestiere’s in Venice can be a bit confusing because this floating city is made up of 118 islands. It can also be a bit confusing to distinguish the districts because there is no fine line marking when one has entered a new area and when one has not.

Especially since a lot of times when walking in these small streets, you can lose your GPS signal. However, after you have walked in Venice for a couple of days. It becomes a lot easier to rely on the twists and turns, ups, and downs, that makes your experience all the worthwhile.

I understand that picking your hotel is an important part of one’s experience and that different hotels might make more sense to a different person’s needs.

That is why I have created an in-depth look at different hotels that match the different lifestyles that one may have when going to Venice.

So, let’s see those handpicked hotels!

Continue scrolling or pick your group and travel type on the menu:

1.1 Families
1.2 Couples
1.3 Luxury Traveler
1.4 Design Traveler
1.5 Groups
1.6 Solo-Traveler
1.7 Nightlife-seeking traveler
1.8 Budget Traveler

1.1 Families

Sometimes it can be tough to find a hotel that fits what a family may need, like needing separate rooms, multiple beds, a kitchen, and a lot more.

Especially in Venice, when the city has only so much room to build new hotels and accommodations. The solution has been to build up to allow more options for tourists and their families.

That is why, for families, these are the best areas to stay in:

  • Santa Croce
  • San Marco

This map shows you the areas recommended for families:

Hotel Olimpia 

This hotel is perfect for families coming from the airport or train station as it is only a short distance away from this location.

To add on, this hotel features a lovely garden in the back of the hotel, which lets your children play with one another and run around while you enjoy the Italian sun.

Within their walls, Hotel Olimpia creates an atmosphere with Old World flare that includes wood ceilings, marble bathrooms, and wood-crafted bedding. It means you don’t have to take the luxury away from the family!

The hotel is also a few minutes’ walks on foot to Basilica Dei Frari (Venice’s main church” and Scuola di San Rocco (a theatre of Tintoretto’s work).

Book Hotel Olympia here

Hotel Olimpia Venice Garden Hotel Olimpia Venice Breakfast Room

Ca’ Maria Callas (my #1 recommendation)

For those families that want to stay within the district that has the most things to do, as well as be on almost all of Venice postcards, then San Marco is the perfect area to stay in.

An excellent option for families would be Ca’Maria Callas where all of their rooms overlook the beautiful canals. Here, you will see all the gondolas float across your windows while staying comfortably in your rooms.

This hotel is an apartment that is composed of three rooms, which allows families to have a more intimate and quieter experience when it is time to relax.

Each room has antique furniture, wooden floors, and enjoy space for you and your family to relax in one of the busiest areas in Venice.

The hotel even has breakfast served in a common room so families can meet fellow traveling families, how awesome is that!

Book Ca ‘Maria Callas here


Ca' Maria Callas Venice Room Ca' Maria Callas Venice Terrace View

1.2 Couples

Venice is the perfect destination for romance. The city takes you back in time with its historical buildings, fantastic seafood, and wine, while being carried through the canals on a gondola ride.

This makes Venice the perfect place for honeymoons, getaways, and more.

That is why, for couples, these are the best areas to stay in:

  • San Marco
  • Dorsoduro

This map shows you the areas recommended for couples:

Hotel Saturnia & International (top pick!)

This hotel has been run by the same family since its opening in 1908. It is my favorite answer to where to stay in Venice as a couple?

Hotel Saturnia & International has its own Venetian restaurant and a terrace that offers unique views overlooking Venetian rooftops and the canals. It is the perfect area for couples to enjoy Italian wine!

The hotel is only 200m from St. Mark’s Square and a 10-minute walk to the famous Rialto bridge. For those art-lovers, the Accademia Art Galleries is also close by.

Within the hotel, guests can enjoy classically styled rooms with private marble bathrooms, all offering the perfect environment for couples!

Book Hotel Saturnia & International here

Hotel Saturnia And International Venice Rooftop Terrace Hotel Saturnia And International Venice Room

Novecento Venice 

This hotel is also in the San Marco district and is just moments away from classic Venetian restaurants and bars.

Novecento Venice is perfect for couples as there are an on-site jacuzzi and library. In every room, there is printed wallpaper, cotton drapes, and some even have Moroccan carpets.

Between the beautiful St. Mark’s Square and the historically amazing Accademia Gallery, couples will find amazing things to do that around their hotel.

Book Novecento Boutique Hotel here

Novecento Boutique Hotel Venice Room Novecento Boutique Hotel Venice Fireplace

Hotel Palazzo Stern

This hotel is located in the Dorsoduro district, which provides a more private and quiet area for couples.

Hotel Palazzo Stern used to be a house that was build in the 15th century. Now, the house has been converted into 24 rooms that all represent the classic Italian style. To make it even better, the hotel features a grand staircase, a rooftop hot tub, and a terrace that overlooks the Grand Canal.

All of these features provide the perfect background for couples to celebrate:

  • birthdays,
  • weddings,
  • anniversaries,

Or just having a good excuse to visit Venice for romance.

Book Hotel Palazzo Stern here

Hotel Palazzo Stern Venice Restaurant Hotel Palazzo Stern Venice Bar Hotel Palazzo Stern Venice Jacuzzi

1.3 Luxury Traveler

Venice is the perfect place to find everything luxurious. With its historic charm and luxurious flare hidden inside its walls, there’s so much to do and spend for the luxurious traveler.

Staying in areas that allow for quick access to shopping like Merceria streets, which has all the high-end boutiques. It is a must for anyone trying to get Venetian souvenirs that will be used daily and last a long time.

So, I have gathered a couple of hotels that perfectly make you feel like Italian royalty while exploring this remarkable city.

That is why, for luxury travelers, these are the best areas to stay in:

  • Cannaregio
  • San Marco

This map shows you the areas recommended for Luxury Travelers:

Al Ponte Antico Venice

The Al Ponte Antico Venice is a 4-star hotel that faces directly in front of the Grand Canal. Not only that, each room has its own terrace for a more private viewing of the beautiful water, or you can head up to the rooftop terrace and see Venice from their own Jacuzzi.

You can even arrive in style from water taxis or your own boat as there is conveniently a landing dock directly for the hotel.

This hotel is also providing easy access to Venice’s top areas, with an eight-minute walk to St. Mark’s square that takes you through the infamous Mercerie, Venice’s luxury shopping street.

Book Al Ponte Antico here

Al Ponte Antico Venice Restaurant Al Ponte Antico Venice Room

The Gritti Palace

The Gritti Palace is known to provide a fantastic stay for its guests, which is also within the San Marco district.

This hotel is from the 15th century, has amazingly grand rooms, a rooftop dining area, and amazing views of the Salute church! I could go on and on about how fancy this hotel makes one feel, but I’d suggest seeing it for yourself!

Book The Gritti Palace here

The Gritti Palace Venice Restaurant The Gritti Palace Venice Room

1.4 Design Traveler<