Venice Neighborhood Guide

Venice is made up of 6 neighborhoods called Sestiere, the islands of Giudecca, and Venice Lido, and then the surrounding islands like Murano and Burano.   All of it is gorgeous and picturesque and in general, it’s small enough to get around easily on foot. Below we’ve described what the different neighborhoods feel like to us, with some pictures to give you an idea of each one’s particular character.  For a map of Venice, and an overall guide of where to stay, read this earlier post.

Santa Lucia – The area around the station, and technically in Canareggio. In a certain sense, not unlike the area around most train stations in most cities. Pretty commercial. But convenient. Parking is close by at Piazzale Roma.


The Gheto - The Jewish Gheto of Venice, also technically in Canareggio and near Santa Lucia train station. Small, but characteristic. There are three squares – Campo de Gheto vecchio, Campo de Gheto novo, and Campo de Gheto novissimo. Most people, even the Gheto resident’s, won’t know which is which. It doesn’t matter: one is right next to the other and they’re all connected. Jewish and Middle Eastern flair, nice eateries (mostly kosher, of course), art and religious shops. There’s a fairly big (kosher) B&B with nice garden. And then there’s of course the Synagogue; actually not one, but seven!


Cannaregio - Both touristy and not, commercial and artisan at the same time. There’s the large ‘Strada Nova’, a newish and largish street, the only ‘real’ shopping promenade of Venice. Good for a stroll and window shopping (and ice cream of course — try GROM!). Contrasting the Strada Nova, there are many small streets, with hardly any tourists but kids playing and residents chatting. Small artisan shops if you like to watch or buy traditional crafts.


Dorsoduro – Upper-class Venice. Sestiere Dorsoduro is the most elegant neighborhood in Venice, with its larger (and lighter) streets and houses on the grand canal. A view on the grand canal is different from a view on just any canal. Light, air! This is where “La Venezia bene” used to live, and still does. Elegant houses, some with gardens. The canal here won’t be smelly!


San Polo – Touristy, but also not. Convenient – close to the Rialto bridge, and hosting the only ‘real’ market in Venice, “Mercato del Rialto”, famous for fish and other fresh produce. A good choice if you want to be able to walk everywhere easily and quickly without being suffocated by tourists. Also supposed to be the “Foodie” area with lots of restaurants and more alternative places (tea rooms, ethically mixed cuisine, etc).


Santa Croce – Similar to San Polo. Touristy, but also not. Feels a bit less dreamy and time-capsuley than the more traditional neighborhoods. You’re close to Piazzale Roma (parking, bus hub) and the train station (across the canal, big modern bridge). A good, central, mostly residential neighborhood.


San Marco –  Mostly touristy, but super central. This will work out great if you only have little time in Venice. From here, you’ll be able to see most anything of major interest, without your feet blowing up in smoke.


Castello – The largest neighborhood, considered truly the Venice of Venetians. Middle-class, lots of street life, alternative culture, a large park (‘giardini’), this is where most students, artists and working-class Venetians live, and you can feel it. It’s real and pretty unpretentious. Great food, great prices.  On the one hand calm with hardly any tourists, on the other hand very lively with people living their neighborhood. Via Garibaldi s a nice (and large) street to hang out on. The park is a pleasant respite. A ‘centro sociale’ for sub-culture music, theater and cinema. Personally my favorite neighborhood – did I give that away? I love all of Venice though.

For a ’different Venice’ experience there’s Giudecca and Venice Lido – I’m putting them in the same category even though they really haven nothing else in common, except that they both represent a different side of Venice AND that you will definitely need to take the water boat to get to them.  From Giudecca to Saint Mark’s takes about 2 minutes; from Venice Lido it’s about 15 minutes.  The boat trips are about €6.20 one way but if you plan on taking the waterbus more than a couple of times anywhere in Venice, you should get a 3-day or 5-day pass with unlimited rides.

Giudecca is a younger part of Venice, but still goes back a few hundred years. It’s a very blue-collar neighborhood. Here, houses are slightly more modern than in the rest of Venice. You have some green areas, and houses with gardens. It’s very non-touristy, as it’s detached from the rest of Venice and there’s no bridge over the canal. You get a beautiful view of the rest of Venice!


Venice Lido is for the beach girl/boy in you. Or the one who never got over Death in Venice. Or the cinema groupie. Actually, it’s also the best choice for those who don’t want to feel like they’ve travelled in a time-machine and appreciate the commodities of modern life – cars, buses, elevators – in Venice Lido you get all that.

Venezia Mestre – This is not actually Venice, but it’s close enough, distance-wise. A few minutes on the train or bus and you’ll be in Venice. And so much cheaper!


16 thoughts on “Venice Neighborhood Guide

  1. I really like your explanation on the neighborhoods in Venice. Who knew that with all the windy streets, bridges, and canals that it was all different neighborhoods. I loved Venice also when I visited in April/11. I wrote about some of my experiences there on my blog
    I am happy to have found your blog, while looking for apartments in Paris and Rome for my family of 5. Not an easy task…

  2. Hi Trina. We actually have someone in Paris right now (the same Laura that wrote the Venice post) checking out new places. So if you don’t find anything now, and have some time still before arriving, check back in a few weeks, or have a look at our Facebook page at where we’ll post some updates of new places.

  3. Your Venice Neighborhood guide is so useful. Glad I chanced upon it. My family of 5 with 3 adult kids (19, 21, 23) are planning to be in Venice for 3 nights, Dec 20-23. It’s just before Christmas so can you recommend an area where there are Christmas bazaars or activities, if any? My husband and I have been there once but it’s a first for my kids.

  4. Hi Steve! Its a great post! I was wondering if you could help with some budget yet central options for 4 people and an 11 month old. While looking at your options, we only see prices around $140-200 per night. Dates: 01-May to 03-May. Any help with this is much appreciated! Thank you

  5. Visiting Venice 10/9-10/11, can U recommend a district that we can stay in that is where the locals hang out. We have been & stayed near St, Marks Square before & found it to be too busy, Want to see the local markets, small shops & great eating places. Thank you!

  6. Yeah, St. Mark’s is out! Going further East in Castello more toward the tail end of Venice is one option. Otherwise, cross the Rialto toward the Dorsoduro side and go right into the center near Piazza (Campo) San Giovanni. Mostly a young, students area, but world’s apart from the throngs of tourists at San Marco.

  7. Hi Steve,
    We are a family of 3. Visiting Venice between 6July-8 July , we will be arriving by train from Mila with a bitt of luggage so can you please suggest where we could stay, we love to walk around so. Which area is near by to the station . Thank you.

  8. Hi. I’m sorry I only saw this just now. Email is definitely the best way to reach us. The “sestiere” next to the station is called Cannaregio but it’s long and extends pretty much to the Rialto bridge, about halfway into the center. The Jewish gheto is the part of Cannaregio that’s closest to the station. You could also cross the Grand Canal right when you exit the station and be close to the station in Santa Croce, and there’s also a section of Dorsoduro that’s just passed a small section of Santa Croce that’s a short walk to the station.

    I’m not sure what your budget is but we have about 13 places available. You can see them here:

    Even though it’s not the closest to the station, this would be the easiest place to get to as it’s in Cannaregio on the outer side, so you can reach it by water-bus (vaporetto) from the station and get within a block or two on arrival:

  9. Next time I go to Venice, I’ll definitely take one of your suggestions. Went there once. I stayed at Hotel Padana and my friend stayed in hotel Diana. Considering they are in the same hotel chain and are in the same area and have the same staff, I can definitely generalize. Those hotels are awful, STAY AWAY from them. The rooms are pretty old, outdated, really small and cold. The heating wasn’t working and after asking for help in the reception, they turned it on, but after sometime they were turning on and off the heating. My friend slept in cold and I also had the same “luck”. The room is full of mosquitoes. The staff is rude and avoid at all costs to talk with the clients. The manager is the worse. He is always with a bad attitude, being agressive and almost screaming at you even if you are just asking for an information. Even if you speak with them in Italian, they seemed annoyed and try to end the conversation as soon as possible (they do this by being rude, “making a call” or moving pappers to pretend they are doing something and are busy or just pretending that they don’t know or don’t understand what you are saying). Speaking with them in other language is almost impossible. There is no comfort in the rooms and you can barely sleep. If you want to leave your luggage with them, they will put it under the stairs with many other luggages. Everyone has free acess to those luggages and none of the people who works in the reception pay attention to see if people are getting their luggages or somebody’s else luggage. If a luggage disappears, they dont even move a finger to see what’s going on. In fact, they never move a finger to anything. Those hotels are extremely overpriced and definitely there is no cost benefit. Breakfast is awful. It’s very poor and the little food that it has is in bad condition. Do yourself a favour and stay somewhere else. Trust me, not even the location makes it worth it. My best friend had such a bad experience there that he had to move to another hotel because of the neglection from one of this hotels. Hotel diana and hotel padana?? Never again!

  10. Hi Steve,
    Going to Venice for 1st time with a group of six.
    Looking for a location to stay, but maybe not as touristy as San Marco. San Polo sounds pretty good from what I’ve read. We are only there 2 days before moving on, and then taking the train to Naples. Do you have any hotel recommendations that would allow us to see as much as possible and be close to activity and boat access.Thanks Carol

  11. Hi Carol,

    Sorry I’m just seeing this now. Let us know by email if there’s anything we can do to help you choose a place to stay.


  12. Hello,
    We visited Venice in 2007 and stayed in a wonderful upstairs apartment run by a mother and daughter. I believe it was in Castello, as we had to cross over several bridges to get to the center of Venice. It was near the area where a famous art exhibition is held (don’t recall name). Would you be able to recommend something similar, should this one no longer be available?
    Thank you!

  13. We are planning our honeymoon to Venice we are flying into Venice and out of Venice but we also want to see Verona and Padua .We are a little confused about how to plan out our 12 days in September and where to stay to split up the time in the middle in Verona for 2 /3 nights . We cannot afford the 5 star accommodation with Venice’s prices and we also see availability is decreasing rapidly . Any ideas .We are interested in Jewish history the Ghettos and the synagogues as well as art and general history.
    With thanks for your advice
    Elissa and Howie

  14. Hi Elissa,

    I only have connections in Venice, I’m afraid. If you’ve already done a search on the site with your dates, and need some help/advise, please shoot me an email (see contact details linked to above).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>