Where to stay in Venice – an insider’s guide 2019

Where to stay in Venice – an insider’s guide 2019

Unlike other cities, Venice is divided into six districts or neighbourhoods, and this is the reason why they are called sestieri instead of quarters (quartieri, in Italian). We’re here to guide you through the best area to stay in Venice according to your travelling tastes!

Venice is one of those cities that everyone wants to see at least once in their life. The romantic atmosphere, canals flowing amongst fascinating palaces, the voices of gondoliers singing traditional songs echoing around, and that feeling of being in an outdoor museum is just something that you won’t experience anywhere else in the world.

Everything you’ll see in Venice has some sort of history behind it and an interesting way to learn about Venice’s neighbourhoods, remember they’re called sestieri, is through the symbols on the “fero da prora” (that metal blade on the prow of the gondola). Its S shape represents the turns of the Canal Grande, the main canal that flows through the city, while the six fingers stand for the six sestieri of Venice: San Marco, San Polo, Santa Croce, Castello, Dorsoduro and Cannaregio. The one finger that stands alone, represents the island of Giudecca. In some cases, you’ll also find smaller fingers in between the bigger ones, and they represent the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello.

where to stay in Venice - scala del bovolo

👋 Hi, it’s Giulia here! 📍  Scala del Bovolo Contarini – 📸:  @giuliciu

I’m Giulia and I’m from Venice, and I get asked SO many times if it’s possible to park the car in St. Mark’s Square, and to be honest this question makes my skin crawl every time! The answer is: absolutely not! In Venice the only ways to get around is by foot and by boat. That’s it. No bikes, no scooters, no cars, no horses, no unicorns. The best way to visit Venice, is on foot, and you’ll find incredible places just by getting lost in the maze that this city is. If you are a backpacker on a budget, I highly discourage you taking the vaporetto (the public boat) because of the high prices:  €7,50 per ride, it doesn’t matter if you have 1 stop or 10.

There are many ways to get to Venice: by plane at Marco Polo International Airport (located in the city of Tessera, 45mins away by bus), by train at Stazione Santa Lucia, and by bus at Piazzale Roma both located in the historical centre. Some travellers decide to take a water taxi from the airport, but be aware, they are VERY expensive (we are talking €100-110!). Alternatively, you can take the Alilaguna boat from the airport, which will cost you around 15€ per person (this will take you directly to the heart of the historical centre such as San Marco e Rialto).

Before we continue with this guide to Venice’s neighbourhoods, I’d like to make an important disclaimer: Venice has a fragile balance, with only 60 thousand inhabitants and more than 20 million tourists every year. Venice is an open-air museum and every single stone is part of the UNESCO World Heritage, so let’s all treat it as such. There are some simple rules that the municipality listed through the ongoing campaign #EnjoyRespectVenezia; some of them might sound crazy, but if they are in this list it means they’ve happened!

Jump straight to:

  1. Santa Croce
  2. Cannaregio
  3. Dorsoduro
  4. Giudecca
  5. San Polo
  6. San Marco
  7. Castello
  8. Murano
  9. Burano
  10. Torcello
  11. Lido di Venezia

Where to stay in Venice - map of the neighbourhoods

Santa Croce – The best area where to start your itinerary

where to stay in Venice - santa croce

📍 Just after crossing Calatrava bridge – 📸: @giuliciu & @romane_r

This district is known as the starting point for most of the itineraries, as here there is the bus station of Piazzale Roma. Santa Croce is the smallest sestieri and is often overlooked by travellers but it has its hidden gems too! The area takes the name from an old church on the Canal Grande built in the 6th century but destroyed in the 1800s; now you’ll find the super cute Papadopoli Gardens.

What to do in Santa Croce

In this sestiere there are plenty of things to see such as San Simeone Piccolo’s Church, located right across the train station, renowned for its crypt painted with religious scenes and for the fact that it is the only church that still has masses in Latin! Even if you don’t consider yourself religious, this church will make you time travel.

In this area, if you don’t know about the existence of some sites, you’ll never come across them, after all Venice is a real labyrinth! La Chiesa del Nome di Gesù is one of those places that’s never mentioned in the classic itineraries because it’s well hidden. Located along Fondamenta Santa Chiara, you’ll find this gorgeous 19th century building with an amazing barrel vault. Definitely worth a visit!

While the Italian translation for “squares” is “piazze”, in Venice they have a very specific name which is “campi”, that in English can be translated to fields. Why is that? In the past, all Italian squares were called campi because originally, they were green areas used for agriculture and livestock. Around these campi there was an intense social buzz, as well as trading activities and in the middle of the campo there is usually a well. Nowadays, Venice is the only city to have kept the name campi to indicate what a square originally was. That said, in the district of Santa Croce, you will find the beautiful Campo San Giacomo Dell’Orio, that takes its name from the church. This used to be the Venetian starting point for the Santiago’s Walk.

Another site you cannot miss, is the Fondaco dei Turchi. This massive 13th century building, overlooking the Canal Grande, has had hundreds of owners but Turkish merchants had ownership until 1860, when the Eastern trading declined. In 1932, the Fondaco dei Turchi, was transformed into a museum, that still exists nowadays: The Natural History Museum. The entrance is 8€ and it’s open from 10am ‘til 6pm, with the last entrance at 5pm. If you decide to purchase the Museum Pass, the entrance will be for free.

Other things that you can see in the sestiere of Santa Croce are: Palazzo Mocenigo (Costumes and Fabric Museum), San Stae Church and Ca’ Pesaro (International Gallery of Contemporary Arts).

Places to eat in Santa Croce

As we’ve already covered, Venice has its very own way of naming places – another example of this is what we call bars where you can eat too, that is, bacaro.

Bacareto da Lele. Just talking about this historical bacaro, I get a little homesick. This is the place all students go after uni; the vibe is young and cheerful, and the food is simply amazing. It’s the perfect spot for an aperitivo. Bacareto da Lele is famous for its panini, filled with anything you can think of: ham, mortadella, Porchetta (smoked pork), veggies and cheese of any kind. This place is pure paradise. Everything is obviously accompanied with a glass of Spritz (the smaller size is only €1,20!) and you can sit on the church stairs together with all the students, if you clean up after yourself.

Address: Campo dei Tolentini 183, Santa Croce

Hostaria Vecio Biavarol Dal Puppa. Just a few minutes away from the railway station, you’ll find this gem where cicheti (basically tapas, I told you, we have our own language!) costs around 2,50€ and an ombra (a small glass of wine, usually white wine) for 1€.

Address: Fondamenta Dei Tolentini 225, Santa Croce

Vecio Fritolin. If you are feeling a little fancy and you want to try some incredible typical food, then Vecio Fritolin is the place to go. This is a real institution among Venetians. Something you MUST try is definitely the scartosso, a mix of deep-fried fish and veggies that are simply delish! Another dish you can try is the tagliatelle al Ragù and the salted codfish.

Address: Calle Regina 2262, Santa Croce

Best hostel in Santa Croce

Dimora il Veliero Romantico

This is the perfect place if you are coming with your partner for a romantic escape! This hostel has stunning en-suite private rooms, and it’s located a few minutes away from Santa Lucia’s railway station. The hostel is quite small and cosy, the staff are kind and available to help you have the perfect stay.

Cannaregio – the best area where to discover old treasures

📍 Inside my favourite church, Chiesa dei Gesuiti! – 📸: @giuliciu & @romane_r

The sestiere of Cannaregio has a special place in my heart, because it’s where my high school is located, so I spent most of my time here during my teens.

This district starts right after Calatrava Bridge, the newest (and in my opinion the ugliest) bridge that links the Piazzale Roma with the historical centre. After you cross this bridge, you’ll find the railway station of Santa Lucia and Ponte degli Scalzi, the massive white bridge that connects the sestiere of Cannaregio to the Santa Croce one.

Another reason why I love this sestiere is because of its quiet atmosphere, not a lot of tourists come here. The streets (calli) are tinier here and you’ll spot kids chasing each other and playing all sorts of games.

What to do in Cannaregio

As I’ve already mentioned, this sestiere is not as crowded as San Marco for example. This will allow you to explore without having to fight with people for a nice picture.

The main highlight of Cannaregio is the Jewish Ghetto, one of the oldest in the whole world. The term “ghetto”, was actually born here, and the word originates from the Venetian term “geto”. During the Middle Ages, this side of the city was an old foundry (which in Venetian is indeed geto) and it was used to build cannons for the city’s ships. Later on, the word and the area were transformed into ghetto by the Germans. Here you’ll find several beautiful synagogues and the Jewish Museum (entrance: 8€).

Venice has always been an incredible crossroad of cultures, in fact, here in Cannaregio you’ll also find the Campo dei Mori, where in the past Arab merchants lived and today they are symbolically represented by 3 statues (find them and touch their noses, it brings good luck!).

In this sestiere you’ll find one of my two favourite churches. The first one is Chiesa dei Gesuiti, located on Fondamente Nove, it’s one of the most majestic places you’ll ever visit. In full baroque style, this church will leave you speechless and, once inside, if you look up on the left side, notice the curtains? They are not real, they are made of marble! The second church that I recommend to visit is Chiesa dei Miracoli, way smaller, with a staircase that leads to the altar. The church seems to be made for royalty!

Ponte del Chiodo is another thing to see in Cannaregio; it’s a very peculiar bridge because it doesn’t have the parapet (side walls)! In ancient times, all bridges were like this and Ponte del Chiodo, together with Ponte del Diavolo on Torcello island, are the only two remaining.

As I mentioned earlier, the calli here are narrower, but if you’d like to see the narrowest streets in the whole city, head to Calle Varisco, with its 58cm (23 inches) of width.

Places to eat in Cannaregio

At the top of this list I have to put my favourite place ever: Al Timon. This is the perfect bacaro for your aperitivo while enjoying the sun disappearing behind Venice’s roofs. Al Timon has delicious small bites and a wide range of wines too. The best thing about this place is that you can enjoy your aperitivo on a boat anchored in front of the bar.

Address: Fondamenta Ormesini – 2754, 30121 Venice, Italy

Al Remer

This place is how magic looks to me. Located right in front of Rialto Bridge, here you can have cicheti with a Spritz, while sitting on the little pier and enjoying the amazing view. I usually go there with my friends, so we can catch up on our lives without being surrounded by so many people – it’s a very intimate candle-lit place.

Address: Cannaregio, 5701, 30121

Osteria Dal Riccio Peoco. Come here and try their heavenly Panino Scrocchio with aged salami. This is a quite cheap place to eat in Cannareggio, 1€ for a glass of wine and cicheti for 2,50€.

Address: Sestiere Cannaregio 4462, Venice, Italy

Osteria alla Frasca. Pay a visit to the owner Bruno and try his incredible shrimp rigatoni with red chicory. This restaurant is away from the buzz, so you’ll be able to enjoy your meal in peace among locals! 😉

Address: Cannaregio 5176, Venice, Italy

Trattoria Dalla Marisa. If you are into slow food, this is THE place. Every day there’s a different menu and the atmosphere has that real Venetian flavour! This restaurant is intimate, so book your table in advance.

Address: Fondamenta S. Giobbe, 652, 30121 Venice, Italy

Best hostels in Cannaregio

We_Crociferi

Remember my favourite church? Well, this hostel is right beside it. Its location is perfect, 15 mins walk to St. Mark’s Square and Rialto. The staff are really helpful and you can take part in their numerous activities and events during your stay.

Al Palazzo Lion Morosini

If you like hostels, but you also like your privacy, then this one is for you. This hostel is in a historical 13th century building and is really close to my second favourite church: la Chiesa dei Miracoli!

Locanda Ca’ Le Vele

A very cute hostel, that’s perfect for a weekend away! Overlooking the canal, this hostel is a great place to rest after a day spent walking and exploring every corner of the city. Great location and lovely staff, the perfect combo for your stay in Venice!

Dorsoduro

where to stay in Venice - Dorsoduro

📍 My bff enjoying the view from the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery – 📸: @giuliciu & @biciceciu

The sestiere of Dorsoduro can be considered the artsy district, since here you’ll find the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery, Gallerie dell’Accademia and more! Even if you’ve never visited you’d surely recognise the iconic Basilica della Salute, that’s the huge church visible from St. Mark’s Square.

Dorsoduro is where artists and students live, and it’s located in the south-east area of Venice. There are so many things to see here, you could dedicate an entire week to this district. Giudecca island is also (technically) part of this district, even though Venetians consider it to be its own neighbourhood, and I’m going to talk about it later. In this sestiere there’s also Ca’ Foscari University, one of the most famous in Italy, and where there’s a uni there’s fun and cultural events!

What to do in Dorsoduro

Dorsoduro is one of the most interesting parts of Venice; loads of art can be found here in every shape and form! In fact, here you’ll find some of the most prestigious art galleries, starting with Gallerie dell’Accademia, which has works of art from the 14th to the 18th century by very famous Italian artists such as Veronese, Tintoretto and Mantegna.

If you like artists like Picasso and Dalì, then you cannot miss the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery in the Venier dei Leoni Palace. Peggy left an important mark on Venice, after leaving Paris a couple of days before the Nazi invasion, she decided to buy the Venier dei Leoni Palace with inheritance from her dad, who tragically died in the Titanic. She lived there until three years before her death when she donated the palace and art collection to the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation. Here you’ll find works of art from Mondrian, Picasso, Kandinsky, Dalì, Mirò, Magritte and many more! The entrance is 15€, and 9€ for students under 26 years old (bring your student card!).

La Basilica della Salute is something you cannot miss. The masterpiece is baroque style by Longena; it was built in 1630 and it’s still a place of worship where Venetians go, especially on one special occasion: la festa della Salute, every 21st November.

If you want to have a different point of view of St.Mark’s Square, walk to Punta della Dogana, right next to Basilica della Salute. During the Venetian Republic “La Serenissima”, this place was used for docking and customs, and on top of the tower there is Palla D’Oro (the Golden Globe), a spherical structure held by two statues of Atlas, and on top of it you’ll see a third statue representing Fortune. This whole sculpture represented the supremacy of the Republic of Venice, as it was the gate to the city itself. Nowadays, inside the building, many art exhibitions take place.

Among the most interesting places in Venice, there is the Squero di San Trovaso, the oldest boatyard in Venice. Here the gondolas are built and repaired. Fun fact: in Venice there are around 400 gondolas in service, and they are all handmade. Gondolas are made of 9 different types of wood and they cost from 20,000€. Being a gondolier is one of the most ancient jobs in Venice, and it’s not easy to become one! In the past, being a gondolier, was (and it kinda still is) a family inheritance but not without going through 18 months of classes about the history of Venice, navigation and how the canals are structured. After all of this, there’s a theoretical test, and also a practical one, which apparently is the toughest. Every gondolier has his/her own gondola, built based on the physical features of the owner. Walking through the streets of Venice you might hear gondoliers screaming at each other, as this is the only way to “honk” at each other when canals cross each other, or when corners are too tight to see if there is someone coming from the other side.

Places to eat in Dorsoduro

Anywhere in Campo Santa Margherita. This square is where all the students go for a spritz with friends and where everyone has pre-drinks. My favourite place here is Al Bocon DiVino where you can have some deep-fried fish bites together with your Spritz!

Address: Dorsoduro 2978, Campo Santa Margherita, 30123

You guys need to know something about Spritz. Everyone thinks that the Spritz was born in Milan, when it’s actually from Venice. There are 3 variations available that you could try, so see which one you prefer: Aperol, Campari or Select. Prosecco and seltz are added to the mix, together with a slice of lemon or orange and an olive. The most traditional one is with Select, a bitter ruby red alcohol (older people tends to drink this one), then we have the version with Campari, slightly darker colour and bitter, finally, we have the Aperol one famous worldwide, with a much sweeter taste. Some locals love to mix things up, asking for a bastardino which is usually mixing Campari and Aperol together with the rest of the ingredients. Spritz is such a common cocktail here in Venice that is VERY cheap (even compared to other Italian cities), in fact, the average price is about 2,50/3€, sometimes a little bit more if you are in a fancier place but it’ll never cost you more than 5€.

Back to places to eat in Venice, another amazing place is Osteria Al Squero located in the Zattere area. Come here to try the typical Venetian sarde in soar, which is sardines cooked with onions and raisins. Enjoy this dish while sitting on the patio enjoying the view!

Address: Dorsoduro, 943-944, Venice

Best hostel in Dorsoduro

The Silk Road

Located not too far from Gallerie dell’Accademia, this beautiful hostel features some of the nicest private rooms ever and it’s definitely affordable compared to the average cost of accommodation in Venice.

Giudecca island – the best area where to enjoy Venice’s skyline

The island of Giudecca is technically part of the sestiere of Dorsoduro but locals consider it to be its own neighbourhood and it’s the biggest one in Venice. During the centuries it’s changed identity many times: royal residence, army headquarter, cloister, prison, workers suburbs. Now, there are some of the most majestic churches and many Venetians live there, away from the crowd of tourists flooding the streets every day.

What to do on the Giudecca island

First of all, the only way to get here is through a vaporetto (water bus) and, given its high prices, I’d suggest you dedicate an entire day to Giudecca. To get there you can take lines 4.1, 4.2 and N.

You can start exploring Giudecca from Sacca Fisola, crossing the wooden bridge of Lavraneri. You’ll immediately see Molino Stucky, which used to be a windmill, a symbol of the industrial architecture, and now a luxury hotel. I’d suggest you keep on walking along the fondamenta (bank of the canal) until you reach the Redentore church. This church was built in 1577 by one of the most famous Italian architects, Andrea Palladio, after a terrible plague that hit Venice in 1575, taking the lives of more than 50000 people, a third of the population at that time. Since then, every year, Venetians still celebrate the end of the epidemic, every third Saturday of July, by building a temporary bridge made of rafts, connecting this church to Fondamente delle Zattere, to the other side of the canal! On that Saturday evening, everyone brings tables outside and connects them together to have dinner on the bank, watching fireworks, eating amazing food and drinking loads of wine. You’ll notice lanterns all over the place, people having dinner on their boats waiting for the midnight fireworks. When I was a teenager, I used to camp on the beach of Lido with my friends and spend the night under the stars until the break of dawn. It was magical!

One of the best views in Venice is from San Giorgio island, especially during sunset. Here you’ll have to take the vaporetto again, but it will be worth it, especially during summer! The church on this island, is another work from Palladio, and if you are planning to go to St.Mark’s bell tower, don’t! Choose the one on this island instead: cheaper, less crowded and better views!

Places to eat in Giudecca

Mensa Interaziendale. This is a pretty hard spot to find if you don’t know of its existence! Most of its customers are workers and students, the menu is very simple and it has a welcoming atmosphere. It’s in quite a peculiar location: you’ll find yourself in a shipyard! Here, they often organise art exhibitions and cultural events, so lunch often becomes a social gathering!

Address: Campo Junghans, Giudecca 487-487/B

Trattoria ai Cacciatori is another mouth-watering place to eat in Venice. Here you can have shrimps with polenta for around 14€ or fritto misto (deep-fried fish and veggies) for about 20€, and believe me, it’s a hell of a deal!

Address: Fondamenta Ponte Piccolo, 320 (near the Palanca vaporetto stop)

Best hostel in Giudecca

Generator Venice

Enjoy incredible views of the city and the impeccable service of Generator! This is the perfect hostel if you want to meet fellow travellers and the staff are super friendly and always willing to help you with tips about Venice’s hidden gems.

San Polo – the best area for your dose of Renaissance

where to stay in Venice - san polo

📍 Rialto Bridge – 📸: @giuliciu & @romane_r

This sestiere, together with San Marco, is the heart of Venice. It’s a busy area, given that here you will find some of the main highlights such as Rialto Bridge and the Rialto Market and here is where the movie “The Tourist” with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp was filmed!

What to do in San Polo

In the district of San Polo, there are plenty of things to see and some of them are often overlooked by travellers. On top of the list, there’s the Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge of the city and it’s ALWAYS crammed with tourists! In the 16th century, a competition was held among architects to design and replace the wooden version, which often caught fire. The Rialto Bridge we have today has been there since 1588! The bridge is basically a shopping centre with load of jewellers and some souvenir shops. The views from here are pretty cool, if you manage to avoid the crowds of people with selfie sticks.

If you are passionate about the Renaissance, you cannot miss the Basilica dei Frari, which has some of the most important masterpieces by Tiziano and Bellini, among the most famous Italian Renaissance painters.

One of my favourite buildings is Scuola Grande di San Rocco, especially at night because of the way it’s lit. Inside, more than 60 paintings are preserved. Even though the word “scuola” means “school”, this was actually a secular confraternity. Its members were part of the Venetian bourgeoisie and their goal was to protect and regulate different workers, mainly artists.

After St. Mark’s Square, the second biggest square in Venice is Campo San Polo. Here kids come to play after school and it’s nice to pass by and realise that Venice is a city like others, with ordinary lives going on.

Places to eat in San Polo

where to stay in Venice - erbaria

📍 Sippin’ Spritz in Erbaria (they are not all for me, I swear!) – 📸: @giuliciu

Erbaria is the area everybody goes for aperitivo with Spritz, definitely not to miss! Stop in one of the many bars, grab your cicheti and Spritz and you are all set 😉

Ostaria dai Zemei. Considered one of the best places to eat chiceti in Venice. You’ll find fish, meat, veggies made in every way possible, and the portions are quite big too!

Address: Sestiere San Polo 1045, 30125

La Bottiglia. It’s a little gem with amazing wines and food. The owner is a real expert, so you could ask him to choose and he will surprise you with delicious stuff!

Address: San Polo 2537 Campo San Stin, 30125

San Marco – the best area to see the main highlights

where to stay in Venice - san marco

📍 St.Mark’s Square – 📸:  @giuliciu & @romane_r

This is the first place all the tourists go because here you’ll find the main highlights of the city like St. Mark’s Square with its bell tower, Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs and SO much more.

This is probably the most expensive sestiere of Venice, for obvious reasons, so if I must warn you: if you want to sip coffee in one of the bars in St. Mark’s Square, get ready, because a coffee will cost you 8€! I’m not going to say it’s not worth it, as you’ll be sitting in one of the most charming “living rooms” in the world, with an orchestra playing and waiters dressed in tuxedos. Maybe it’s something you want to tick off from your bucket list, just don’t get angry when the bill comes! The places to go are Caffè Florian, Caffè Quadri and Harry’s Bar.

Another very cute (and free) thing to do in San Marco is to go to the Fondaco dei Tedeschi rooftop, you need to book your visit in advance, but the view from up there is simply breathtaking.

When you come to this district, brace yourself because it’s crowded. Crowded AF. Venice is one of the few cities in the world where high and low season don’t really exist, there are no quieter periods (or at least this is how it felt like to me, for my whole life!)

What to do in San Marco

Tiny and full of beauty, is how I would describe this district. If you want to fully enjoy this sestiere, I’d suggest you wake up before everybody does and go to St. Mark’s Square with the first light of the day. You’ll have the whole place to yourself (apart from the seagulls) and there’s nothing more magical than sunrise here.

If you’ve never been to Venice, the best way to make your jaw drop to the floor is to enter in St. Mark’s Square from Calle Specchieri. I can’t explain why, but every time I do it (and believe me, I’ve done it so many times) my heart starts racing. It’s just too beautiful.

Once in St. Mark’s Square, you’ll literally be surrounded by incredible buildings. The Basilica di San Marco is one of the most beautiful structures in Venice, with golden mosaics on its façade and a beautiful terrace overlooking the whole square. The queue to get in is always super long, because the entrance is free! Right in front of it you can’t not notice the staggering Bell Tower (8€ to get to the top), and few people know that this campanile tumbled down 117 years ago. Because of its weak foundation and some overlooked structural failures, the bell tower collapsed in a pile of bricks and dust, on July 14th 1902. The only thing that survived was the golden angel on top (it miraculously remained completely intact!) and it was pure luck that this incident didn’t destroy any of the surroundings. In 1913 the Campanile was back as it was and where it was (words used by the mayor of the city at that time, Filippo Grimani, during the beginning of the reconstructions).

Also, interesting to check out are the two massive columns that are on the bank of the lagoon, full of mystery and stories, they look like the gate to the city itself.

With your back to the Basilica you’ll have the Procuratie along the three sides of the square with many luxury shops and boutiques, as well as fancy bars. The column on the left has the symbol of Venice on it, the winged lion, that we can also find on the city flag. The other one features San Teodoro while killing a dragon – he’s considered the patron saint of Venice and its people. During the Middle Ages, cruel things were happening in Venice, in fact, the space between the two columns was used for executions. They also used to hang the criminal in between the two pillars, tying him/her by wrists and ankles, so everybody could see what would happen if you broke the law. I mean… Middle Ages, right? The most superstitious locals still don’t walk in between the two columns as they believe it’d bring bad luck.

Impossible not to notice is the massive and stunning Doge’s Palace. During the Republic of Venice, that lasted 1100 years, the king was instead called “doge” and unlike kings, he was not allowed to receive gifts and he couldn’t nominate his successors. His residency was the Doge’s Palace – it’s many rooms are impressive and there are plenty of things to see inside. It’s definitely worth a visit, but the entrance fee is not the cheapest: 20€ and 13€ for students under 25.

Just beside the Doge’s Palace, there’s the famous Bridge of Sighs, so-called because it was the last bridge prisoners would cross before facing prison. During those times, it usually meant a life-sentence so most prisoners died there -symbolically, they would take their last breath. This bridge connects the prison to the Doge’s Palace with a double passage. You’ll be able to visit the prison too, where a lot of famous poets and artists were held captive, and only few of them managed to escape like Giacomo Casanova!

In the sestiere of San Marco, there is also one of the most famous opera houses in Italy: Teatro La Fenice, built at the end of the 1700s. Nowadays numerous opera shows are held there, and the experience is both elegant and charming!

If after visiting all of these amazing places you feel a little overwhelmed by the crowd, go to Scala Contarini del Bovolo. It’s a true hidden gem from where you’ll find one of the best views of Venice’s roofs! Entrance fee is 7€, but it’s SO worth it and calming!

Places to eat in San Marco

Rosticceria Gislon. This is a very dear place to me. When I was little, me and my grandma used to go to visit an old aunt every week in a retirement home. We would always stop here first to buy some mozzarelle in carrozza, a deep-fried sandwich filled with mozzarella and ham or anchovies for 2€ each. This place has been here since I can remember and here you can also try tramezzini, another type of sandwich with loads of mayo and different ingredients.

Address: Calle de la bissa, 5424 – Campo S. Bartolomeo

Osteria Enoteca Al Volto

Next to Campo San Luca, you’ll find this cute place where you can have amazing tapas and wine. Definitely try the fresh codfish spread on a slice of bread, it’s the best thing in the world!

Address: Calle Cavalli, 4081, 30124 Venezia VE

Best hostel in San Marco

Ca’ dei Fuseri

This customer review speaks for itself: “Epic location! Quiet hostel, great for couples. Plenty of room in the private room with en-suite, shower was hot, bed was comfortable, air conditioning in room worked well. Breakfast was standard European breakfast but yummy – it was also served to us in the room. We were provided great instructions to get to the place and had no issues on arrival!”.

Castello – the best area for off the beaten track itineraries

where to stay in Venice - castello

📍 Inside Libreria AcquaAlta – 📸: @giuliciu & @biciceciu

This is the greenest of the districts, with loads of parks and gardens where you can chill with a fresh beer. This is mainly a residential area where most of the Venice population lives, so here there are many sports centres and schools, but also some very cool things to see!

What to do in Castello

Definitely visit the Biennale di Venezia, a cultural institution that organises various art festivals, like the Venice Film Festival and the contemporary art exhibitions and events held every year. You can also walk in Via Garibaldi, where you’ll find many shops and you can buy the famous Venetian carnival masks, made in the various artisans’ labs around this area.

Absolutely do not miss Libreria AcquaAlta, a book shop which recently become Insta-famous for its incredible location. You’ll find books literally everywhere: in a gondola, in a bathtub but, most of all, the tiny outdoor area with the stairs made of books!

Visit the Arsenale as well, it was once was the centre of the shipbuilding industry during the Venice Republic, and today it’s the Italian Navy’s headquarters. Here you can also visit the Historical Naval Museum, the most important one across Italy. Entrance fee is €10, or €7.50 if you are a student under 25.

Another super cool area is Campo di Santa Maria Formosa, surrounded by beautiful historical buildings such as Palazzo Querini Stampalia where you can learn all about 1700s history and art.  Entrance fee €14.

Places to eat in Castello

Osteria al Portego is among the students’ favourites, and you know that students = cheap stuff! Only a few seats are available but the food here is simply amazing!

Address: Calle della Malvasia 6014

Bacaro Risorto. In Campo San Provolo you’ll find this amazing bacaro where you can stuff yourself with delicious food. If you choose tapas, you can eat for as little as €1,20 per dish. Definitely try the deep-fried codfish!

Address: Fondamenta Osmarin 4700

Murano – the best area where to buy Murano glass

Murano is part of the trio of islands, together with Burano and Torcello. I suggest you do an island-hopping tour and dedicate an entire day to exploring these 3 islands.

Murano is famous worldwide for its glass, an artistic tradition here that’s been passed on for centuries. The blown glass of Murano’s history goes back to 1291, and back then, artisans had many privileges like immunity from prosecution and marrying royals. But together with privileges came cons too. Glass blowers couldn’t leave the city; if an artisan was caught opening a shop outside the Venice Republic they could get killed or have their hands cut off! These artisans were extra special because back then they were the only one in Europe, able to make mirrors!

This industry, nowadays, is still very prestigious with Murano glass being exported all over the world for its features and beauty.

You can only arrive in Murano by boat; you can take the vaporetto from Piazzale Roma (line 4.2), San Marco (line 4.1) and Fondamente Nove (line 4.1 and 4.2)

What to do in Murano

You could dedicate an entire day to this island without getting bored. You could start your itinerary by visiting the Glass Museum to learn everything about this incredible tradition. The entrance fee is €10 or €7,50 for students under 25.

Visit the huge church of Santa Maria e Donato and walk up to the Murano Lighthouse on Fondamenta Francesco Maria Piave. Also check out Palazzo da Mula and the Church of San Pio Martire – all very cool and historical buildings.

Something that you cannot miss is visiting the glassmaking factories. You will be able to sit and watch the artisans at work and it’s one of the most mesmerising activities ever. Check out the Vetreria Murano Arte, entrance fee is only €3 and you’ll also get €3 discount on any product you’ll buy. Definitely worth it!

Places to eat in Murano

La Perla ai Bisatei. In this original Venetian restaurant you can have amazing sea food for €13-20! The place is simple and authentic; a meal here won’t disappoint you. Here you could try something really traditional, that my grandma always makes: Bussolai biscuits dipped in wine. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it’s delicious!

Address: Campo San Bernardo 7, 30141

Burano – the best area for Instagram freaks

where to stay in Venice - burano

📍 Strolling around Burano – 📸: @giuliciu & @romane_r

This is my favourite among the three islands. It’s very tiny and famous across the whole world for merletto (lace), which is another tradition with years of history. There is a legend which says that a fisherman, betrothed to a lady in Burano, was tempted by mermaids (similar to the Odyssey) during his travels, but he was so in love with his girlfriend that he resisted. The queen of the mermaids was so impressed that she decided to give him a gift. Hitting his boat with her tail, she created a beautiful white lace veil using the foam of the waves for his bride to wear on their wedding day. Everyone was jealous of this veil’s beauty, and since then the ladies of the island have tried to imitate the same veil with their merletti.

Legends aside, this handmade practice dates back to the 1500s, and it was made exclusively for royal families but now it’s exported all over the world.

What I love the most about this island is its colours. Every single house has a distinctive and vivid colour and recently it’s become very Insta-famous.

You can get to Burano from Fondamente Nove or San Zaccaria with line LN.

What to do in Burano

As soon as you get off the boat, go straight ahead and peak in the tiny lace shops. This is a residential area and there’s not much to see or do in terms of monuments and highlights. But, it’s very charming so you can wander around taking plenty of pictures. You can visit the Lace Museum if you want to learn more about this tradition. Two or three hours will be enough to visit this island.

Places to eat in Burano

Trattoria Al Gatto Nero is the most famous place to eat in Burano. You can try the local risotto, Risotto alla Buranella. Here you can also feast on fresh fish, seafood and other delicious stuff.

Address: 30100 Burano, Venezia

Torcello – the best area for Byzantine art

Last but not the least, there is Torcello, the very first island in Venice dating back 638 AC. Nowadays, Torcello has barely a dozen inhabitants and it’s only 5 minutes away from Burano by boat. This island is famous for the Byzantine mosaics, like the one inside the Basilica di Santa Maria, representing the Last Judgement.

What to do in Torcello

This island is very quiet and the things to see are limited. Visit the Basilica di Santa Maria, the mosaic is really impressive and definitely worth a visit. Entrance fee: €5.

Here you’ll find the second bridge with no parapet called Ponte del Diavolo (Bridge of the Devil) and the local legend says it was built in only one night, that’s why it’s incomplete.

Another impressive mosaic is inside the church of Santa Fosca, both on one of the walls and on the floor… are you Insta-ready?

Places to eat in Torcello

Sorry! Here restaurants are very pricey, so I’d suggest you pack yourself a meal if you intend to stay here for lunch!

Lido di Venezia – the best area for Art Deco buildings and… the beach!

where to stay in Venice - lido di venezia

📍 Sunset from S.M. Elisabetta Pier, Lido di Venezia – 📸:@giuliciu

If you look at the map of Venice, you’ll notice quite a long island sheltering the city from the Adriatic sea. Lido is famous because of the International Venice Film Festival held at the beginning of September each year. Among locals, this island is the go-to during summer because of the beach!

My grandma lives here, so I was lucky enough to spend my summers here, and many of my teenage memories are here. This island is not very touristic, which is bizarre because from here you have THE perfect view of Venice.

What to do in Lido di Venezia

Lido di Venezia is a different reality, as it’s the only island where there are cars and buses too, but the best way to enjoy Lido is definitely by bike. Here you’ll find amazing art deco villas and a very chilled atmosphere.

If you are coming to Venice during summer, join the locals on the beach for a beach volley match. Or walk to the Hotel Excelsior, a stunning art deco building where all the movie stars stay during the International Film Festival.

Places to eat in Lido di Venezia

where to stay in Venice - el pecador

📍 El Pecador – 📸: @giuliciu

El Pecador. The undisputed king of the island, you’ll find this old double-decker bus parked on the seafront. Here you can treat yourself to some freaking mouth-watering burgers made on the spot, with delicious ingredient and loads of combinations. You’ll want to try them all! El Pecador opens only during summer time, usually from April ‘til the end of September. You should come to Lido di Venezia just to try their food.

Address: Lungomare d’Annunzio, impossible not to see it!

Chiosco Bahiano. I’ve spent most of my summer nights here. Enjoy the amazing atmosphere and some of the best cocktails you’ll ever have, accompanied with delicious sandwiches, wraps and much more. There’s music and loads of young people cramming into this tiny kiosk on the beach!

Address: Lungomare Gabriele D’Annunzio 30126

EnigmaPub. The same owners of Chiosco Bahiano, decided to open this amazing pub with a lot of options and surprise dishes!

Address: Via Sandro Gallo, 142/A, 30126

That’s all from me and I hope this guide will help you plan your trip to Venice! Let us know in the comments which one of these neighbourhoods you loved the most and remember to tag us on your Instagram pictures using @hostelworld in the caption! We’d love to see your content and you might have a chance to be featured on our profile too!

Where next?

Best hostels in Venice

Where to go for a Bacaro tour in Venice

Amazing Venice attractions you won’t find in any guidebook

 

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About The Author

Giulia Salerno (Hostelworld)

I'm Giulia, Italian, and I'm an insatiable traveller obsessed with sunsets, photography, and marketing. Social Media & Content Executive and #HostelworldInsider at Hostelworld. 🌍 Favourite place on earth: Nubian Village - Aswan, Egypt 🏠 Favourite hostel: Bet El Kerem Hostel - Aswan, Egypt Follow my adventures on Instagram @giuliciu ✨

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