The Best Places to Stay in Venice for Tourists
Experience the magic of this floating city with a stay in some of Venice's most beautiful neighbourhoods.
Find an authentic slice of life in Castello
It’s only right that we kick off this list with Castello; it’s the largest of the six sestieri (districts) of Venice, and the place that most of the city’s residents call home. Fittingly, most of the amenities here cater to a more local clientele; expect to find sunny squares crammed with independently owned cafes, tiny bars, and far fewer chains than in more touristy parts of town. The dining here is also a glimpse into proper Venetian cuisine; we recommend a trip to the family-run Trattoria Corte Sconta, where you can dine on inventive pasta dishes in an ivy-strewn courtyard. (If you spot their moleche on the menu, order it – this traditional Venetian soft-shell crab dish is something special. Trust us).
Though Castello may feel like venturing off the beaten track, it’s not actually that far from the action – the western part of the neighbourhood borders San Marco, and attractions like the famous basilica, the Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Square are just minutes away, so staying here will mean you can easily embark on your Venice 2 day itinerary. Castello is also home to the San Zaccaria waterbus stop, which is where you’ll catch the vaporetto if you’re paying a visit to the iconic coloured houses of Burano or the glass factories of Murano. If you want to glimpse a more authentic side of the city but remain close to the main sites, Castello is the best place to stay in Venice for tourists.
Explore the historical hub of Cannaregio
Cannaregio was the site of the Jewish quarter from the 1500s -- the area was originally a foundry (geto), and so this is the origin of the word ghetto. Today it’s the centre of Jewish life in the city; kosher bakeries and restaurants offer an alternative to pasta, and the Jewish Museum runs tours to explore the history of the area.
Cannaregio is also home to attractions such as the magnificent Ponte delle Guglie bridge and a 15th century palace which is now an art museum, the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca' d'Oro (try saying that with a mouthful of gelato). If you ask us (and you really should) Cannaregio is one of the best places to stay in Venice for tourists who have been to the city before and have already visited the major sites; though everywhere in Venice is within relatively easy walking distance, Cannaregio is on the opposite side of the island to the main hub of St Mark’s Square. It’s perfect for a stay at a slower pace; morning coffee in the square, dinners at local tavernas, and lazy days wandering through the antiques and handmade crafts of the boutiques that line Cannaregio’s streets. If you’re visiting Venice for a long weekend, this is the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs.
Marvel at modern art in Dorsoduro
We took a lot of factors into account when considering the best places to stay in Venice for tourists; it had to be close to the main attractions, have a lively atmosphere, and capture the essence of the city that day-trippers sometimes miss. Dorsoduro ticks every box. It may have a reputation as the more student-y area of the city, but don’t let that put you off; there’s plenty on offer for visitors of all ages. It’s here that you’ll find the world-famous Peggy Guggenheim Collection, filled with pieces the eccentric heiress sourced from her many artistic friends and lovers. You can even visit the woman herself – or at least her headstone, as she’s buried in the gardens alongside her beloved dogs, surrounded by Jenny Holzer benches and Pollock paintings.
If all that modern art has helped you work up an appetite, Dorsoduro is also a great place to explore Venice’s traditional cuisine. Our favourite place in the neighbourhood is Osteria Al Squero. It may not look like much from the outside, and you’re unlikely to ever get a table (if you do, write in and let us know exactly what strings you had to pull) but you don’t really need one as this bar primarily serves up cicchetti (Venetian finger food). Take your paper plate and glass of wine outside to lean on the wall and gaze over at the bar’s namesake - Squero di San Trovaso, one of Venice’s last remaining gondola repair boatyards.
Try traditional cuisine in San Polo
Seafood lovers could do a lot worse than staying in San Polo; this district is best known for the fish market at the foot of the Rialto Bridge, which has been going for almost a thousand years. Gourmands and photographers alike are drawn into the stalls laden with the lagoon’s catch of the day, and if you’re looking for some less stinky souvenirs to take home you’ll find more travel-friendly edible gifts here as well like bouquets of peppers, dried squid-ink pasta, and of course, plenty of wine. Several of the stalls serve up light dishes, but for a proper seafood feast head to Osteria la Busara; the octopus is a favourite, but you can’t go wrong with the catch of the day. Finish with a shot of limoncello – the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion in Venice.
Staying in San Polo also means that there’s a wealth of the city’s history on your doorstep; winding cobbled streets and tiny, picturesque alleyways hide some of the most impressive churches in the city. And in any Italian city, let alone Venice, that’s no mean feat. The standout is, of course, the Frari, with its Titian altarpieces and the unique pyramid-style funerary monument to Antonio Canova. If, after all this reverence, you fancy a spot of history that’s a little more lively, San Polo is also home to the oldest bar in Venice, Cantina do Mori, which dates back to 1462; grab a glass of wine and soak up the culture along with some cicchetti.
It would be a shame to leave Italy so soon – in our experience, a few days in the countryside prove to be the perfect palate cleanser after a stay in the heart of a city like Venice. Here at Plum, we’re dedicated to finding the perfect homes for you to fully unwind; why not luxuriate in this home’s magnificent pool, or soak up the sun in this home’s gorgeous gardens?