Welcome to this guide on the best area to stay in Venice for first time visitors.
Venice also called ‘La Serenissima’ is a city that never fails to attract thousands upon thousands of visitors each year.
The number of sightseeing, things to do and local produce to try is never-ending. Choosing where to stay in Venice all starts with getting to know the six neighbourhoods which divide the city.
These neighbourhoods are called ‘sestieri’ and the six neighbourhoods in Venice you’ll need to know are: San Marco, Dorsoduro, San Polo, Santa Croce, Castello and Cannaregio. Each one of them has its own peculiarities and unique vibe.
Best Area to Stay in Venice for First Time visitors
In this article, you’ll learn more about the best neighbourhoods to stay in Venice as well as get my best tips on where to sleep during your stay in the city!
If you want more help with planning your trip, why not read this in conjunction with my 3 days in Venice itinerary to get a better idea on how to spend your time here?
The best place to stay in Venice for first time visitors:
The San Marco neighbourhood is the most central district in the city and where most of the well-known attractions in Venice are located.
Your itinerary should start from the beautiful St. Mark’s Square, from where you could visit the famous Basilica, the Campanile and Doge’s Palace with the iconic Bridge of Sighs. Make sure to walk along Riva degli Schiavoni, from where you can spot the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and La Giudecca island.
From St. Mark’s Square you can get to La Fenice Theatre, one of the most important opera theatres in Italy and the Scala Contarini del Bovolo in minutes.
In San Marco, there are also important Venetian Gothic palaces today turned into art galleries or museums such as Palazzo Grassi, a contemporary art exhibitions and cultural events venue and Palazzo Pesaro Orfei also called Museo Fortuny.
San Marco is the best area to stay in Venice for first time visitors that want to cover the main attractions in one day. Staying here comes with its perks but bear in mind that accommodation is likely to be more expensive than in other districts. Prices to eat and drink out also tend to be higher than in other areas.
Where to stay in San Marco
In San Marco you have the most luxurious and marvellous hotels in Venice. Some are part of ancient Gothic palaces overlooking the Grand Canal.
The best neighbourhood to stay to feel like a local:
Dorsoduro is one of the largest neighbourhoods of Venice and the one where to jump into the most vibrant and authentic side of Venice.
In this ‘sestiere’ are based most of the Ca’ Foscari University palaces and for this reason, it’s common to see university students around the streets and piazzas. You can also find some of the best hostels in Venice around this neighbourhood too.
The most beautiful one is Campo Santa Margherita, where you can taste the best ‘cicchetti’ (Venetian small bites) and Aperol Spritz of the all city!
Furthermore, here you can find museums and art galleries such as The Peggy Guggenheim collection and Gallerie dell’Accademia.
There’s a wide selection of luxury and mid-range hotels, but less expensive than the ones located in San Marco.
Where to stay in Dorsoduro
Dorsoduro is a great neighbourhood where to stay in Venice for its fantastic mix of sightseeing and things to do and local vibe. It’s also perfect to enjoy some nightlife in the city.
The best neighbourhood to stay for authentic Venetian food:
The smallest neighbourhood in Venice is also the one offering the finest selection of authentic restaurants in the city, welcome to San Polo!
It is one of the best areas to stay in Venice for first time visitors because this ‘sestiere’ is packed with lovely churches, old public squares with local produce markets and some of the best Venetian restaurants that you could ever visit.
This neighbourhood is in between San Marco and Santa Croce, and for this reason, choosing to stay here turns out to be a strategic decision for many.
Get lost roaming in the narrow streets of San Polo and feel like a real Venetian, staring at a sunset over the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge.
Where to stay in San Polo
San Polo is a ‘sestiere’ bursting with life and wonderful attractions such as the Rialto Bridge. It’s quite touristic, but not as much as San Marco.
Best Area to Stay in Venice for First Time visitors FAQs
Here are some questions people ask when staying in Venice for the first time.
Best Area to Stay in Venice for First Time Visitors
Now you have a better idea of where to stay in Venice. As you can see, there are options for all budgets, with hotels scattered all over the city.
Venice is a walkable city, and you can get easily wherever you want, and from all the neighbourhoods I mentioned above.
Remember to plan your stay in Venice in advance as prices rise quickly and this will help ensure yourself the ultimate experience.
Be sure to see some of these tourist attractions in Venice while you are here.
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