Staying in Historic Venice vs. Mestre or the Surrounding Islands
While there are hundreds of options, let me begin by saying that if you’re coming to visit Venice, then Mestre is not the best option unless you absolutely have to be near the airport. Even so, I would recommend staying near Piazzale Roma or the Santa Lucia train station and leaving thirty minutes earlier, just to make the most of every minute in Venezia. Many say that you can save a few bucks but the experience is not the same. Staying on the mainland is completely different from the historic island, where you can roll out of bed and take in the sounds and life along the canals.
As I mentioned before, all the sestieri (districts) are safe, and each has its own feel, but not to worry—there is no part of Venice which doesn’t constantly remind you of its beauty and charm. There are some parts that are noisier because of the people-traffic, but unless you have a room in one of the surrounding islands, you will always hear the echoes of footsteps, neighbors opening or closing doors, and the Venetian voices, which seem to carry along effortlessly down the echoing calle (alleyways).
Below is a map with the various sestiere of Venice and what they are most known for:
Santa Croce – The innermost part is great to roam around, with fewer tourists and more local artisans.
Cannaregio – The train station, Jewish Ghetto, and longest shopping promenade are located here.
San Polo – Enjoy the oldest bridge, great restaurants, and the not-to-be-missed Rialto Market.
Dorsoduro – Mingle with the university crowd or shop at smaller boutiques. Includes Giudecca Island.
San Marco – Where the only basilica and entrance to the city are located as well as many tourist traps.
Castello – Home to the Biennale Art Exhibit, runner’s circuits, and the only area with trees and grass!
I highly believe in staying in a safe and clean place, but remember: space is limited in Venice, so if you need lots of space, you will be paying NYC prices. Rialto is right in the middle of the city, and San Marco is just a ten minute walk away from there. There is no bad spot, as long as you’re on the main island.
The only time you may want to stay on the island of Lido is for the Venice Film Festival (but prices skyrocket then), or if you prefer to hang out at the beach during the summer, but I suggest this to second-time visitors. On your first visit, just pick any hotel, B&B, apartment, or guest house anywhere in Venice. I recommend staying in B&Bs, apartments, or guest houses as I feel that is the best way to get the feel of how Venetians truly live. Many B&Bs and apartments now come with Wi-Fi access in the room, while hotels usually limit the usage to the lobby area. Hotels may have gyms, gardens or rooftops which are like gold in Venice, but now with the wide variety of private apartment rentals, I think there is something out there for everyone. Any hey, why not, live as the locals do!
That’s why I have included my personal favorites in the links below:
Book your room in Venice today!