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, highlighting the best places to stay in Venice Italy for first-time visitors, families, and couples.
This guide will be particularly helpful for those considering staying in Venice, offering insights into the various neighborhoods and accommodation options.
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 November 2023.)
But 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!
To help you decide on the best areas to stay in Venice Italy, let’s look at some of these areas which 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.
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:
When planning a trip to Venice with your family, one key question often arises: where to stay in Venice with family?
Finding a hotel that caters to family-specific needs like separate rooms, multiple beds, and a kitchen can be crucial for a comfortable stay.
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:
This map shows you the areas recommended for families:
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).
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!
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:
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!
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:
Or just having a good excuse to visit Venice for romance.
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.
Among these luxurious options is the Hilton Molino Stucky on the Giudecca island, a beautifully restored former flour mill that now stands as a pinnacle of luxury, offering breathtaking views of the city from its rooftop pool and embodying the essence of Venetian elegance.
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:
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.
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!
This intimate bed and breakfast provide the experience of staying in a classic-contemporary room right in the Santa Croce district.
Cima Rosa Boutique Bed and Breakfast has five rooms, three of which overlook the Grand Canal. Each room was designed by an Italian architect and American decorator couple that has a mixture of elegant and antique details and furniture within each room.
Aman Venice has 24 rooms that overlook the Grand Canal and have an abundance of historical architectural details.
Located in the San Polo district, guests can arrive by boat to this wonderful stay. When walking in, guests can see the marbled floors with original fresco, a grand staircase. Take a glimpse at the impressive ballroom, look up at the beautiful chandeliers, and much, much more!
To make the stay more personal and distinctive, the hotel staff goes to each room to help guests with insider tips and suggestions that help any traveler when exploring the city.
Does everyone have their passports? Because its time to hop on the plane and fly to beautiful Venice for a fun group trip!
Sometimes, it could be quite complicated to find accommodations for a group in general. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible! All you have to do is find the right areas and hospitality to make that happen.
That is why, for groups, these are the best areas to stay in:
This map shows you the areas recommended for groups:
Generator Venice (my favorite!)
This hostel is settled on the beautiful island of Giudecca, a quick boat ride away from the attractions in Venice.
Generator Venice has the perfect view of the city while also having a great selection of dorms for you and your friends. Join in on the fun activities that this hostel has to offer, like playing pool, sharing a few meals and drinks with fellow guests, and lounging altogether in the common areas.
Each dorm has around seven to 16 beds, making it the perfect spot for any group size!
Providing dorm bedrooms with up to eight people staying in each apartment, this location comes equipped with a kitchen, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi.
If you and your friends want a quiet area to stay in that doesn’t sacrifice this beautiful location, then this is the perfect place to stay. Oh, and did I mention there’s also a roof terrace that overlooks Venice rooftops.
Don’t be afraid of this hostel being a little away from the islands of Venice as it is located next to the main train station that is only a few minute’s train ride into the heart of the city.
To make it even better, there is also a direct platform from the hostel to the train station to make everything more convenient.
Wombats City Hostel has enough room for you and your party with WiFi and a fully equipped kitchen right at your disposal. They even give each guest a welcome drink on arrival and have games and events happening almost every night!
For all those solo-travelers that won’t let anything stop them from seeing the wonders of the world, props to you!
Secondly, Venice is the perfect area to try solo-traveling for the first time as everyone is very welcoming and friendly. The city has so much to explore but feels so small at the same time that you will never feel overwhelmed when venturing through the little Italian streets.
With that said, it can be hard to figure out which accommodation is best for you.
That is why, for solo-travelers, this is the best area to stay in:
This map shows you the areas recommended for Solo Travelers:
A La Locanda di Orsaria
This historic Inn offers free Wi-Fi and has spacious and bright rooms to make a guest feel right at home. Located only a 2-minute walk from Santa Lucia Train Station, it will be effortless finding this Inn by yourself.
Each room inside A La Locanda di Orsaria has its own bathroom and satellite TV. Some of the rooms also have authentic Venetian furniture from the 18th century that will make for an excellent photo opportunity.
If ever you need a caffeine boost, just head downstairs for cappuccinos made to order!
This hostel is a little bit away from the Mestre train station but provides amazing games like beer pong tournaments to keep the fun going all night long.
Anda Venice is only 15 minutes from the historic center but sometimes, its best to come back early and make new friends. I mean, the hostel is designed beautifully to be an interactive space. With games happening all night with big common areas and kitchens made for you to be social, you’ll be making new friends in no time.
For those money-conscious travelers wondering where to stay in Venice Italy on a budget, rest assured that traveling can still be a goal of yours!
Anyone can travel if they have the budgeting system like you sure do. If you don’t want to sacrifice location because you have a tight budget, then you don’t have to worry when checking into these places.
That is why, for budget travelers, these are the best areas to stay in:
This map shows you the areas recommended for budget travelers:
Ostello S. Fosca Hostel (I’ve stayed here!)
This hostel is tucked inside the Cannaregio district that offers quiet areas when coming home late at night. With two outside gates needing a key card, every guest will feel safe when checking in for the night.
Ostello S. Fosca is open all year long with a beautiful courtyard to bask in the Tuscan sun and no curfew, this hostel is perfect for any traveler.
An exciting fact to note is that this hostel used to be a church that Galileo was a famous guest in. How awesome!
Casa Accademia is located 280 meters from the Gallerie dell’Accademia and a quick two-minute walk to Accademia Bridge (one of the four bridges to cross the Grand Canal).
Located in Dorsoduro, this hotel features a shared terrace and lounge with every room featuring all the functions and needs a budgeting traveler needs for the night. To top it off, it even has a garden for those wanting a relaxing stay.
Located in San Polo, this hotel is only 10 minutes from the Santa Lucia Train station.
Ostello Domus Civica has a shared terrace and ideal rooms for those wanting to go out and explore with ease. The hotel is close to the San Polo square, or as the Italians say, campo. It is even close to Frari Basilica and Papadopoulos gardens.
Venice has a lot to offer when filling in all the things you want to do every day. Some span towards more tourist attractions that need tickets in advance and some sights you can even see when walking towards your next destination.
Even better, most of the sights I have listed are free to do and see! It means you can spend a little bit more on an extra pizza or gelato because of how inexpensive some of the sights are.
Who doesn’t love that?
We’ve created this useful map with our top 10 sights of Venice + the recommended accommodations for your reference.
It shows you the locations of the 10 top sights in Venice so you can save and use it during your Venice trip.
The top 10 sights in Venice are:
Bridge of Sighs
Piazza San Marco (Basilica di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, Campanile)
San Giorgio Maggiore
Gallerie dell ’Accademia
Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
Day-trip to Murano
Walking Tour in Cannaregio
Libreria Acqua Alta Book Store in Castello
Tickets you should buy before going to Venice (Must Read)
Word of caution, Venice gets busy!
If you truly want to see all the sights and visit each attraction without the worry of a huge two-hour line, I would suggest buying your tickets in advance.
Like I said before, most of the attractions are free to see, but for the ones that are not, it is best to book your times before you arrive in Venice, or else you might not be able to see all of what Venice has to offer.
Throughout this post, I will explain more about what each ticket will provide for you and why I think it’s the best option.
2.1 Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is a spectacular bridge that was built in just three short years between 1588 and 1591. Some say it is the true heart of Venice because the bridge was built so quickly for local merchants to have a common area to sell their goods.
Maybe it was the place that inspired Shakespeare’s play called Merchant of Venice?
This bridge has quickly become a tourist attraction as when walking across the bridge there are rows of shops for those wanting to buy something while floating on top of the water.
However, be cautious if you have a stroller or wheelchair as it is a bridge built with only stairs and maybe a bit hard to get across.
This is one of the most famous bridges in all of Italy!
The Bridge of Sighs was originally used to connect the Doge’s Palace to the prison where prisoners used to *sigh* as they entered. One of the most famous prisoners, Cassanova, was actually from Venice and had escaped the prison with this very bridge!
After the prison was no longer used, the bridge became a symbol of love and legend has it that if couples were to kiss under the bridge, their love would last forever.
You can easily see this bridge by walking straight to the Entrance of Venice and turn left, just keep walking until you see a whole crowd standing together taking pictures on top of another bridge, it’s a dead giveaway.
When one thinks of Venice, they think about all the canals and bridges surrounding the city.
What better way to see the impressive man-made islands than from the Grand Canal!
With about 3800 meters long, the canal splits the city into two parts. One of the best ways to see the canal is from a water bus or a gondola.
However, gondola rides are costly, almost always 100 euros! I would suggest that if you desire this experience so much, to share it with another couple. That way, you could split on the cost while enjoying the experience.
If you want to see the best views of the city without the crowds blocking your photos, then this church in San Giorgio Maggiore is the best location.
As tourists line up for a couple of hours to see the Campanile, San Marco’s Bell Tower, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Venice without having to wait that long.
More importantly, you don’t have to worry about stairs as the church has an elevator to take you right to the top! All you have to do is take a water bus to the entrance of the church for 6 euros, which is two euros less than St. Mark’s Campanile!
For those painting enthusiasts out there, Gallerie dell’Accademia is the perfect place to wander around for three to four hours.
Located in the Dorsoduro district and right next to the Accademia Bridge, this museum features paintings from the 18th century and are placed in chronological order. The collection includes Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man, while it is displayed only rarely due to the frailness of the paper.
For tickets to the museum, it depends on age, occupation, and more.
To break it down:
Full price – 12 euros
Young people aged 18-25 – 2 euros
Free for people under 18, are journalists or students, are a part of the military, and more.
All you have to do is go onto the museum’s website to find out which category you belong to.
Just to mention, a booking fee of 1.50 euros is extra for each purchase.
This church is one of the largest in Venice and is commonly known as the Salute.
This church stands facing the Grand Canal and has enough stairs for everyone to sit and rest their feet.
I would suggest visiting the church during sunset, it’s the perfect place to relax and watch the gondolas, water taxis, and boats move across the grand canal. It is also a bit quieter on this side of the canal, so it’s perfect for sitting back, relaxing, and watch how magical Venice truly is.
To find the ideal souvenir to take home, just hop on a water taxi and go to one of Venice’s islands, Murano. Here you will find century-old glass that is known for its beautiful appearance and intricate detail.
Back in 1291, the Venice government banned furnaces from central Venice and moved them to the island of Murano, hence the name. Each glass showcases the history of Venice and the different techniques that glassmakers have when perfectly their craft.
Souvenirs range from affordable jewelry that is $20 or under, to extremely expensive art pieces for those luxury travelers.
Each piece of Murano glass brings with itself the history and enchanting beauty into your homes. In 1291, the Venice government banned the furnaces from central Venice and moved them instead to the island of Murano.
In fact, authentic Murano Glass prices range from very affordable small jewelry that is under $20 to extremely expensive art glass pieces, which run into thousands of dollars. Whatever the souvenir, it will be the perfect reminder of your trip to Venice.
3. Neighborhood guide (to understand the different areas)
Now that I’ve uncovered the best things to do and see in Venice, it’s time to pick our location!
The location of where you’d want to stay ultimately decides how your trip might be based on how relative the district matches with your interest.
It is always best to pick an area that has everything you want to do close by for convenience.
Here I will list all six districts and how each one is specific for the traveler you are!
3.1 Cannaregio (the Largest district in Venice)
Cannaregio is perfect for travelers interested in more local experience with a lot of walking.
Since the area holds over a third of the city’s residents, it has a lot to see and do when walking through its streets.
Cannaregio can be described as holding ‘two separate souls’ because it contains both the popular and noble side of Venice.
The noble side has grand buildings and beautiful architecture that usually faces the Grand Canal and has some of the oldest palazzos in Venice.
The popular side has two of the main tourist streets, the Lista di Spagna and the Strada Nova. Both streets are big enough for tourists to walk through while having many clothing stores and restaurants surrounding the area. When getting to St. Mark’s Square, you will be using both streets to navigate.
3.2 Castello (Home of the Venetians)
Castello has the ultimate experience of staying like a local!
Its cozy streets, traditional restaurants, and quiet atmosphere provide an enjoyable experience to feel as though Venice is your home.
In this district, you will find the real Venice as most of the locals chose this area to not be around the tourist attractions.
Here you will find children playing in the squares, laundry lines filled with clothes, and Venetian elders meeting with one another outside of their houses.
For a scenic stroll along the waterfront, the Riva degli Schiavoni offers breathtaking views of the Venetian lagoon, a perfect spot to witness the vibrancy of Venice away from the crowded tourist areas.
Additionally, Castello is home to the Giardini della Biennale, a serene park known for hosting the prestigious Venice Biennale art exhibition.
A wander through this area not only lets you imagine what life would be like if you were to live in Venice but also offers a chance to explore these beautiful gardens, brimming with art and culture.
Even to take a wander within this area for one day lets you imagine what life would be like if you were to live in Venice, how awesome!
3.3 Dorsoduro (Best for Walking)
For those travelers looking to be close to the museums and churches, then Dorsoduro is the perfect area for you.
Dorsoduro is not only home to the impressive art inside the Accademia Gallery but also the renowned Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
This prestigious museum, situated along the Grand Canal with a stunning canal view, houses a rich collection of modern art, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Its location offers visitors the unique experience of enjoying both the art inside and the picturesque canal view outside.
This combination provides a fantastic look into Venice that is sometimes overlooked, blending classic Venetian architecture with a treasure trove of 20th-century art.
This area is excellent for photography and to see a little bit less crowded street.
In addition to its artistic treasures, Dorsoduro also boasts the lively Campo Santa Margherita. This bustling square, known for its energetic atmosphere, is lined with cafes, bars, and shops, making it a popular spot among locals, students, and visitors alike.
Adding to the artistic appeal of Dorsoduro is the Punta della Dogana, a beautifully restored old customs house now functioning as a contemporary art museum.
Located at the tip of the district, it provides stunning views and an intriguing mix of historical architecture and modern art, further enhancing the area’s rich cultural tapestry.
It’s a great place to experience the daily life of Venice away from the more tourist-heavy areas.
Dorsoduro includes the island of Giudecca, one of Venice’s greatest islands! Here, you’ll encounter every walk of life, from the wealthiest parts of Venice to historic buildings, to student quarters, making this perhaps the most diverse area to stay in.
3.4 San Polo (Oldest in the City)
San Polo is the perfect area for those historical people out there!
San Polo is the oldest part of the city, extending from where the Rialto was built, this area holds an ancient charm that makes you feel as though you were walking in Italy in the 11th century.
When a terrible fire burned a large part of the area in 1514, it led to the reconstruction of some of the buildings that are famous today. These buildings, Palazzo Dei Dieci Savi and Palazzo Dei Camerlenghi are within walking distance of the Rialto bridge, and you can see just how different both these buildings are.
This entire area has small shops and bars, with open sun-lit squares and has an ancient church around every corner, and you will find the hidden gems of Venice without even knowing it.
Personally, this is one of my favorite areas but I feel it sometimes goes unnoticed, so go see it!
3.5 Santa Croce (Least Touristy)
Santa Croce is an area that is less crowded but worth all its charm.
If you arrive in Venice by plane, this is the first district you will see as it has Piazzale Roma.
This area has local shops and pretty quaint churches like San Giacomo dell’ Orio and San Simeon Grando.
If you have a free afternoon, go check this area out and get lost in this local part of Venice.
3.6 San Marco (Cultural and Commercial Center)
It’s time for what everyone has been waiting for, San Marco!
This area is the most well-known part of Venice because of St. Mark’s square, so of course, you’d love to stay close to all the action.
This area is the most luxurious and beautiful part of all of Venice. With an abundance of churches, shops, restaurants, and the atmosphere of royalty, it’s understandable how much everyone wants to stay in this area.
This area holds the magical sense of both past and present because of its historic buildings and its luxury shops, and it makes for the perfect area to be in if you have only a couple hours or just one day to see this impressive city.
4. Safest area to stay in Venice
Venice is generally a safe city to visit. You will never find a dark figure lurking behind the shadows or feel unsafe in any parts of the city.
One thing I will say is to be careful of pickpockets.
People that do this tend to stay in heavily crowded areas that have a lot of tourists that may be more distracted by the beauty they see then whose hands are in their pockets.
For those that still want the safest area to stay in, I would consider the less-touristy areas, such as Castello and Santa Croce.
If you have any more questions that were not covered or even if you have any concerns, feel free to drop a comment below so I can help ease your mind.
Before you run off, a quick reminder on my other detailed guides:
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