Planning a trip to Venice but unsure where to stay? You came to the right place! Venice is an incredibly unique city and that has a much larger feel than you’d expect. Choosing the right neighborhood can have a massive effect on your opinion of the city. In this article, we’ll detail where you should stay in Venice so you experience the city in the best way possible.
Pro Tip: Bookmarks are the key to organizing a great trip. Bookmark this post in a “Venice” folder in your browser so you can circle back to it. Also, check out our top-rated Venice tours – the floating city needs explaining.
Venice’s Neighborhoods & Districts
Like many great cities, Venice is subdivided into neighborhoods. Once you understand the characteristics of a neighborhood you can better choose which one is for you.
It is important to note that some areas of Venice can cause a “claustrophobic” feeling. This is due to how narrow the streets and the buildings are. Not every area has this effect and our goal is to help you understand that before your trip. This is because many areas are near canals or open-space that will allow you to breathe a bit.
Here are the main neighborhoods of Venice and I have bolded the ones we’ll cover:
Over the years Dorsoduro has become one of my favorite neighborhoods, if not my favorite in Venice. Why?
Why I love Dorsoduro:
- It borders the Grand Canal on one side and another large waterway on the other side giving it a very open feel.
- The high concentration of great museums – 3 of our top 7 museums in Venice are in Dorsoduro.
- Fewer tourists tend to go to this area and it is also the University area so full of locals.
- Cool bars and restaurants – check out the best restaurants in Dorsoduro.
- Close proximity to St. Mark’s Square and other attractions
Dorsoduro has an awesome vibe as you walk through. The main square is undoubtedly Campo Santa Margherita (featured above) which is a great place to hang out and get a coffee during the day or a drink in the evening. There are plenty of cool places to eat and drink in the area and great hotels.
Attractions in Dorsoduro:
It is also rich with museums that most people tend to overlook. I am talking about amazing collections of artwork that are practically void of your average tourist.
- Peggy Guggenheim Museum
- Accademia Gallery
- Pinault Collection: Punta Della Dogana
Be sure to check out our best museums in Venice article.
Great Hotels in Dorsoduro:
I tend to flock towards 4 and 5-star hotels when I travel. I normally travel a lot for work and want a clean and comfy place to sleep each niight. Here are a few ones that I have either stayed at myself or have had my eye on for a next visit. The links will take you to Booking.com who will pay us if you book through them but we choose to work with them instead of others as we believe they have the best deals. Also, we could recommend any hotels and booking would pay us if you booked them. These hotels are our favorites.
- Charming House DD724 – €€€
- Hotel Nani Mocenigo Palace – €€€
- Il Palazzo Experimental – €€€ | Far, but romantic view
- Hotel Palazzo Stern – €€€ | Grand Canal with great restaurant balcony
- Ca’ Maria Adele – €€€€ – Very luxurious
Popular Venice Tours
Castello is one of the most local and interesting neighborhoods in Venice. It is heavily populated by locals and has a strong concentration of great places to eat. The biggest draw to this area comes once a year when the annual Biennale Art Festival takes place. The Biennale is a 6 month long modern art exhibit taking place in Venice that draws millions of visitors.
Why Castello is Great:
- Tons of coastline makes it feel very open.
- Giardini della Biennale is the largest green-space in Venice.
- Home of the World’s most beautiful bookstore – Libreria Acqua Alta.
- Close proximity to St Mark’s Square and easy transit to nearby islands.
- Great restaurants – See our list of the best places to eat in Castello
Attractions in Castello:
- Libreria Acqua Alta
- Arsenale della Biennale di Venezia – arguably the greatest modern art museum in the world
- Giardini della Biennale
Great Hotels in Castello:
What makes a great hotel for me? A few key features. First, I really like a good view. It is not a must but it makes an experience more memorable which is important. Remembering your trip is the most important thing of all. Second, I like a nice bed linens. Vacation is about escaping and a comfy bed with nice linens makes you wake up refreshed. Last, a great venue to drink the morning coffee. Morning coffee is undoubtedly my favorite part of the day and a nice balcony in the room or terrace at the hotel makes it that much better. Not every hotel below has all these features, but all have some.
- Hotel Locanda Vivaldi – €€€ | Great hotel terrace
- Hotel Metropole – €€€€ | Super nice
- Liassidi Wellness Suites – €€ | Great suites for families
- Hotel Danieli – €€€€ | Luxury
Cannaregio has achieved internet fame as the “Trastevere” or “Le Marais” of Venice. The center of Cannaregio is undoubtedly la Fondamenta Misericordia and a few streets/canals in either direction. The district expands far beyond that area so it can get a little confusing. La Fondamenta Misericordia is where you’ll find the best restaurants and bars in the area but there are not many hotels and that’s ok.
We recommend staying a few blocks south of la Fondamenta Misericordia. You can venture into sightseeing territories like San Marco or San Polo during the day and disappear into Cannaregio at night. It is definitely not the most romantic area of Venice, that is the south shoreline with views of Giudecca, but a cool local area.
What Makes Cannaregio Awesome:
- Most authentic bars and restaurants in Venice
- Less tourist traffic than any other district in the main cluster of Venice.
- Very local feel.
- Long, open canals you can walk next to for a casual stroll
Attractions in Cannaregio
- The Jewish Ghetto (Campo del Ghetto Nuovo)
- Ca’ Pesaro Galleria Internazionale d’Arte – check out best museums in Venice.
- Fondamenta Misericordia (nightlife)
Great Hotel Choices in Cannaregio:
- Ca’ Sagredo Hotel – €€€
- Maison Venezia – €€€€ | Very Unique
- Al Ponte Antico – €€€
- Foscari Palace – €€ | Good value
- Pesaro Palace – € | Grande Canal & Great Value
- Hotel Eurostars Residenza Cannaregio – € | Simply, Clean & Comfy
Giudecca has basically become the island in Venice where rich people stay. You may be a rich person or be really good at playing the part for a weekend, but this area is super nice.
Hotels and accommodations in Giudecca can be expensive but there are also some budget options so that is not the expense that makes this area costly. It is the transit back and forth to the island of Venice that can make staying here expensive. There are vaporetto (ferry) that pass through here but if you have been to Venice before, they are not exactly convenient and the cost does add up.
You have to imagine you will go from Giudecca to the main island cluster at least once per day and many will end up taking a private boat which will cost you at least 50€. Many of the nicer hotels have hotel boats that run back and forth all day – it is a good idea to see if your hotel choice does as this could make the voyage much better.
What I Love About Giudecca:
- Giudecca is the island of Venice’s remote island. The irony is pretty great.
- The views of Venice and St. Mark’s are amazing.
- San Giorgio island (detached) is really cool.
- Much less crowded than Venice and a truly unique experience.
Attractions in Giudecca:
- Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore
- The hotels with pools are the real attraction here – see below!
Best Hotels in Giudecca:
- Belmond Hotel Cipriani – €€€€ | Ridiculously Amazing | Pool
- Hilton Molino Stucky Venice – €€€€ | Rooftop Pool
Where I Probably Won’t Stay in Venice
To start, you shouldn’t be upset if you or your travel partner booked these areas. I have stayed in all of them and they are all in Venice and Venice is amazing. I have never had a “bad” experience in the city personally and in the end, you’re on vacation so enjoy it no matter what.
That said, I normally don’t stay in these areas unless we are filming them specifically in which case it is a logistic decision. Here is why.
Overall a nice area but too close to the train station. Being close to a train station normally means crowds and my travel goal is not to be caught in crowds It is also where the main parking garage is in Venice where day-trippers arrive as well as a bus depot (Piazzale Roma). Get my point?
Part of Santa Croce weaves into the very center of Venice which is nice to walk around but I don’t want to sleep there. The reason being that there is a very defined tourist path in Venice that goes from the train station to St. Mark’s Square. My goal in Venice is to avoid it at all costs and sleeping near it would make that more difficult.
San Polo is a really cool district since it is home to Rialto Bridge and Rialto Fish Market. This makes it a must-see area so you should definitely walk through during your visit. You’ll also find the church of San Giacomo di Rialto which is beautiful. There are tons of great landmarks and you should definitely visit this area but I normally avoid sleeping there.
San Marco, the area where St. Mark’s Square is, also is an unmistakably important area that you should not only visit but spend a significant amount of time in. That said, other than an evening prosecco in St. Mark’s Square, I don’t want to make it my vacation HQ. I do however like staying nearby in Castello or Dorsoduro so I can easily access these areas as well as the vaporetto stations in San Marco which lead to nearby islands like San Giorgio.
Murano or Burano
Murano and Burano islands are very unique places to visit due to their local trades of glass blowing and lace making. That makes them worthy of a day-trip while you are in Venice – see our article on visiting Murano and Burano. That said, I probably won’t recommend you sleep on either island.
My main reason is that the view from Murano is not comparable to Giudecca so I would rather stay there. There are some really cool restaurants in Murano and even a really spacious 4-star Hyatt which is priced great and has far more space in each room then you’ll find at most hotels in Venice.
Again, I am definitely going to Murano & Burano for a day trip, but I will end my day in one of the recommended Venetian districts above. Sorry Murano!