Venice has been one of my favorite year round destinations so far. Romantic in springs, relaxing in summers and seductive in winters, no wonder it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Although Venice also stands out to be very demanding. It can be quite tricky to plan an economical trip to Venice, as this place has so much to offer! No matter how well you plan your expenses, you might end up splurging money.
The biggest confusion strikes when you try to find that perfect hotel, the one you always dreamt of. How long is the duration of your trip, what kind of neighborhood you require, what budget do you have in mind- all these things help you decide on the hotel.
Based on my personal experience, I would love to help those seeking to visit this city of love. Since I spent a good length of time here, I have a fair idea about how to plan your stay in the city.
Whether you are a solo traveler or a family guy, you will have to come to San Marco. This sestiere (town) circumscribes a majority of touristy places of Venice. And that is what makes it the most crowded and extravagant place in Venice.
San Marco is probably the best area to stay in all of Venice. It is the most central location in Venice, located right in the dead center of the city. San Marco is a good area for everyone to stay in, whether you’re a senior, traveling with family, or a young couple. It’s got everything for everyone.
Naturally, you should expect it to always be busy and buzzing in San Marco. You’ll find most of the main tourist attractions here as well, which is another reason why you should start your search for accommodations in this area. If time is important, you will want to be as close to the major attractions as possible.
When you look for hotels in this area, you’ll find the prices to generally be higher than other parts of Venice. I think it’s still worth it to pay a bit more to stay in this area because of how convenient the location is. Venice is a walking town, and you will be walking everywhere. It’s nice to have your hotel close by as a point of exploration.
Also, since you are in the middle of the touristy part of town, you’ll notice prices of all things in this area will be higher than most parts of Venice. It’s where the tourists are, so it’s not a surprise.
But it’s actually still not THAT expensive. A pasta dish at a touristy restaurant will run you about 10-15 euros. What costs a lot of money is drinks, actually. A Soda at a restaurant could cost 6 euros.
Anyways, San Marco is still my recommended area to stay when visiting Venice.
Here are some highlights of San Marco
Almost all the main tourist sites are located here like St. Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace, Basilica, Piazza San Marco and Harry’s Bar.
If it has been your dream to be able to see the Rialto Bridge from your hotel room, San Marco it is!If mobility is an issue for you, it is better to stay in the main area of Venice.
If you have the palate for brands, then San Marco has a lot of luxury shoppers’ stops to offer. Check out some really amazing Italian designs at the exclusive boutiques here.
If you are a people’s person and love to get lost in crowded places, don’t worry. You will find plenty of such places in San Marco.If you wish to splurge on expensive food and drinks, you can locate some really fancy restaurants in this neighborhood.
Although, if you feel you need a break from the bustling streets of San Marco, head on to the Royal Gardens (Giardinetti Reali). This garden is a few steps from Piazza San Marco, between the Piazza and San Marco Vaporetto stop.
This is the smallest and one of the oldest sestieri of Venice. And thanks to its near-central location, it is also one of the liveliest and most crowded places in Venice.
San Polo has one of the best fish markets in Venice. So for the cook-it-yourself sea food lovers, the city is heaven! It also encompasses some of the best restaurants in Venice. Hence, a great hang-out for foodies!
San Polo has some of the best nightlife blowouts to offer. Truly a haven for party lovers. Not only this, the sestiere is a perfect blend of tourists and locales. So for those who wish to get the real taste of Venice while being close to all the tourist attractions, San Polo would be a great choice.
The main area of Venice is a “motor-vehicle free" area. So you will be heavily dependent on vaporettos (water taxi) and gondolas. Since you will either be walking or riding in these boats, I’d advice you to take a Tourist water transit pass to explore the Grand Canal. It offers varied prices for varied number of hours. For instance, an approximate rate ogf $24 for 12 hours, $26 for 24 hours and $33 for 36 hours is charged by vaporettos.
Here are some of the top reasons to choose San Polo as your stay:
The Rialto Bridge is easily accessible. Besides San Marco, San Polo is the second best option to be near the main area of the Grand Canal.
Some of the most popular and statuesque churches are located in San Polo, including – The oldest church of Venice – the Church of San Giacomo Di Rialto
– The famous artist Titian’s burial place and a home to his most famous artworks- the
Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari – Home to a cluster of paintings by Tintoretto- the Church of San Rocco
Campo San Polo is the second largest square in Venice, the first being Piazza San Marco. Its location in San Polo makes this place all the more touristy and attractive.
Although I’d like to mention that since the city has a lot of bars and clubs, it can get a little too noisy for tourists traveling with family, or people who like peace and calm. So choose your options accordingly.
Dorsoduro is the perfect combination of both peace and party. It can be really serene in the daytime and utterly crazy for the party animals in the night.
A true venetian sestiere, Dorsoduro is a puzzle of bridges and streets. There’ll be too much of marching around, so get your sports shoes on!
Dorsoduro, like other venetian sestieri, is extremely complicated and confusing. No matter how hard you try, you WILL get lost. But don’t panic. Just make sure you have your GPS on. Besides Venetians are amazingly hospitable and friendly. They will always be eager to guide you. Also, this city of love is very safe for tourists.
Why choose Dorsoduro? Here’s why:
It resides Venice’s most famous art gallery- The Accademia.
Other important sites of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Church of St, Sebastiano are also located in this sestiere.
This place has some really gorgeous back streets. The area South of the Campo Santa Margherita is the most picturesque for a stay. The bars and clubs located in Santa Margherita is flooded with young tourists and students.
Castello is the largest sestiere of Venice, and also the most ‘local’ and authentic of all the sestieri. Basically, spotting old women chit-chatting and kids playing soccer in the piazza is a common sight here.
Some of the most popular tourist sites like the Arsenale, the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, the Church of San Zaccaria, the Church of San Maria Formosa and Scuola Grande di San Marco come under this district.
Besides the western part of Castello, which is vastly crowded, this town is quite parochial. A good option for people on a long vacation to Venice.
You can find really cheap accommodations here.
If you have the islands of Burano and Murano in your itinerary, Castello has a lot of ferries to offer.
If you are a true Church-lover, I’d suggest you get a Chorus Card. It’s a great value card and allows free access to 15 major churches across Venice. It can be availed at any of these 15 churches for around 10 euros. Also, note that this card doesn’t hold good for all the churches in Venice. Some of them are free, while others have their separate entry fee.
It is one of the most picturesque towns of Venice. Famous for its Hanukkah celebrations, Cannaregio resides Venice’s Jewish Ghetto.
The Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Madonna dell’Orto are famous tourist attractions located in this city.
This sestiere offers a variety of budget locations for backpackers and couchsurfers.
Again, for Burano and Murano tourists, Cannaregio offers many transportation facilities.
My personal experience
Venice is absolutely stunning from every angle, north or south. I stayed in San Marco and loved every bit of my neighborhood. My hotel was in close proximity to the Grand Canal. The Gondola drivers sung beautifully, I could hear them in my room. Although at night, it could get a bit noisy and sometimes, smelly of the waters.
Despite the fact that I was centrally located, I had to walk a lot. The streets in Venice are ghastly confusing; you are bound to get lost. But don’t hesitate. The streets have their own charm. You would be surprised how delicious the street food is, here.
Make sure you visit all the main tourist attractions in Venice. Some cost you a fortune. But in the end, they are worth every penny. You can save on museums by purchasing a Museum Pass which allows you a single visit to 11 main museums of Venice. This card can be bought from any of these 11 museums.
All in all, Venice is a perfect holiday destination for all kinds of travelers, be it honeymooners or solo wanderlusts. Enjoy every bit of your holiday!
Godetevi il Viaggio! Ciao ciao!
This article was a guest post by Amanda Marie, a native of India and European travel enthusiast.
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