Best Places to Stay in Venice (For First Time Visitors)

where to stay in Venice, Italy

Wondering where to stay in Venice, Italy? This guide will show you the best areas and places for first-time visitors, including some of the top hotels on the Grand Canal.

where to stay in Venice, Italy

Venice (Venezia) is one of the most scenic cities in the world. And one of the most visited, too! Located in northeastern Italy, the city is built on more than 100 small islands and it’s all surrounded by water.

The islands are linked by more than 400 bridges and water buses (the so-called vaporetti). There are no cars, you have to rely solely on water transport or your own feet.

To see the best of the city, follow my 3 days in Venice itinerary. It covers all the must-see sites including helpful tips on how to skip the lines.

Although it’s not a particularly large city, getting around is not an easy task. Venezia is crisscrossed by thousands of tiny alleyways and canals. It’s inevitable not to get lost even with a good map or GPS walking navigation. Plus, sometimes you have to walk more than 5min just to find a bridge to cross.

Thus, when deciding where to stay in Venice, Italy, it’s very important to choose a good area. Especially if you don’t want to waste precious time walking half an hour to the nearest attractions. Using the water busses is not a perfect option, too. Many of them are slow, expensive and very crowded even in the low season.

So, I created this guide to help you easily find the best place to stay in Venice for your needs and personal preferences.

Where to stay in Venice for the first time visitor

  • San Marco and San Polo – for sightseeing
  • Grand Canal – for best views
  • Santa Croce – for convenient transport links
  • Lido Island – for beach
  • Mestre – if you’re travelling by car
Where I stayed

I spent a long weekend in the city, combining Venice and Verona in one single trip. So, I needed a place that is close to the tourist attractions, but still not far from the train station. The best area to stay in Venice for me was the San Polo district.

My favourite place to stay in this area is Hotel L’Orologio. It’s a cosy, boutique hotel with an amazing location – right on the Grand Canal, just a 3min walk to Rialto Bridge.

San Polo district is in central Venice, right between the Piazza San Marco and Santa Lucia train station. It’s perfect if you consider taking any day trips or want to be in a less touristy area, but close to everything.

Most popular hotel in Venice, Italy

Looking for a cosy hotel with a perfect location, close to tourist sites and water bus stops?
Then check out Hotel Casanova – it’s the most popular hotel in Venice. And there is a reason why – its location is outstanding.

Hotel Casanova – Great for families and couples

The hotel is perfectly situated for sightseeing – just two steps from Piazza San Marco and a short walk from a water bus stop. The beautifully decorated rooms feature comfy beds with optional additional pillows.

Where to stay in Venice, Italy – for first-time visitors

The city is broken into 6 districts, called Sestieri: San Marco, Santa Croce, San Polo, Dorsoduro, Cannaregio, Castello and the island of Giudecca. You can find a map of the areas here. Each of them has a unique charm and certain advantages. But where is the best place to stay in Venice?

If this is your first time to the city, San Marco is, without doubt, the best place to stay in Venice. It’s the heart of the city and its main tourist area. San Marco features all the iconic landmarks – Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge and Saint Mark’s Basilica.

Don’t forget to buy tickets for Doge’s Palace in advance (the waiting lines are huge).

Getting here (from Marco Polo Airport)
The easiest way (especially with a lot of luggage) is to get a water taxi.

Another option is taking the airport shuttle bus to Piazzale Roma and from there getting a water bus (vaporetto) to San Marco area. For this option, I recommend buying an Actv day ticket that is valid for all water buses in Venezia, Lido, Murano and Burano. It will save you a lot of money!

Getting here (from Treviso Airport)
Take the airport shuttle bus to Piazzale Roma and from there get a vaporetto to San Marco area. Don’t miss to buy an Actv day ticket that is valid for all water buses in Venezia, Lido, Murano and Burano.

Choose San Marco district

If you want to be in the main historic part of the city, at a hand distance to all iconic sites.

  • All the must-see sites are within San Marco district, so it will be easy to see everything in a short period of time.
  • Easy access to the Grand Canal and vaporetto stops.
  • Take a gondola ride for a closer view of Bridge of Sighs.
  • Don’t miss to visit the iconic Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace.
  • Take an early morning walk to see Rialto Bridge without tourists.
  • For outstanding views of Venice climb to the top of St.Mark’s Campanile.

San Marco district

The best hotels in San Marco

Hotels near Piazza San Marco (Best for families)

Hotel Saturnia – Best rated

This is one of the best family hotels in Venice. The location is perfect for sightseeing – on a quiet street, just a short walk to Doge’s Palace and water transport. Rooms are spacious, comfy and feature authentic design.
Location: 250m from Piazza San Marco Facilities: rooftop terrace, Venetian restaurant Guests love: fantastic location for tourists, superb breakfast

Hotel Montecarlo – Most popular

Set in a 17th-century historic building, Montecarlo is one of the closest hotels to San Marco Square. It’s ideally situated for exploring the major tourist spots. Quiet, spacious rooms, decorated in Venetian style.
Location: 80m from Piazza San Marco Facilities: WiFi, Italian restaurant, Guests love: awesome breakfast, helpful staff

Hotels near Piazza San Marco (Best for couples)

Hotel Splendid Venezia – Most popular

It’s a charming hotel set on a canal in the historic heart of the city. And the best part is that there is a pier right outside the hotel. So getting a water taxi to Marco Polo Airport is a breeze. The tastefully decorated rooms create a luxurious atmosphere.
Location: 180m from Piazza San Marco Facilities: rooftop terrace, gourmet restaurant Guests love: boutique rooms, canal views

Hotel Ai Reali – Best rated

If you look for a hotel with canal views and wellness centre, look no further. Hotel Ai Reali is the best option. Set on a quiet canal near Piazza San Marco, the hotel has its own pier. This is very convenient if you’re arriving by a water taxi. The interior is classical and elegant – the best place to stay for a romantic getaway.
Location: 300m from Piazza San Marco Facilities: wellness centre, garden Guests love: highly professional staff, superb restaurant

Luxury hotels near San Marco Square

Baglioni Hotel Luna – Best rated

For a truly memorable vacation, choose Baglioni Hotel Luna. It’s one of the best places to stay in Venice if your budget is big. The hotel features fabulous rooms with glass chandeliers, marble bathrooms and antique furniture. Near the major tourist attraction and designer stores. The hotel even has its own private dock (perfect for arriving by a water taxi).
Location: 50m from Piazza San Marco Facilities: restaurant, private dock Guests love: excellent service and location

Hotel Danieli – Most popular

Danieli is one of the most famous hotels in Venice. It is housed in three historic palaces and the oldest one dates back to the 14th century. All connected by covered bridges. The interior is spectacular, some of the rooms feature view to the lagoon.
Location: 150m from Piazza San Marco Facilities: panoramic rooftop restaurant Guests love: brilliant location, professional staff

Apartments near San Marco Square

Cà dell’arte Suite – Most popular

Cà dell’arte Suite offers spacious self-catering apartments in a historic building. The property is tastefully decorated in authentic Venetian style.
Location: 200m from Piazza San Marco Facilities: WiFi, air-conditioning Guests love: boutique style apartment

Ca’ Maria Callas – Right on the canal

If you search for a romantic apartment right on the canals, this is the ideal choice. The property is located on the corner where three canals intersect. Therefore, you can watch the gondolas right from your own window.
Location: 320m from Piazza San Marco Facilities: WiFi, air-conditioning Guests love: excellent location

Venice canals

Places to stay in Venice near San Marco (less touristy area)

The only disadvantage of the San Marco district is that it’s way too touristy. If this is a huge drawback for you, you may want to consider staying in San Polo or the east part of Dorsoduro.

San Polo is the city’s oldest district. It’s a great alternative of the touristy San Marco. While Dorsoduro is the place to stay for a nightlife (being the hippest district).

San Polo and Dorsoduro districts are separated from San Marco by the Grand Canal. The areas are central and at a walking distance from Piazza San Marco. Yet, the biggest plus is that the crowds of tourists are smaller.

The atmosphere is more authentic with a lot of local restaurants and nightlife bars. Even if you choose to stay in the San Marco neighbourhood, come here for dinner or lunch if possible.

However, when booking a hotel, be careful and check where the nearest bridge is. There are only 4 bridges on the Grand Canal and the average distance between them is about 1km.


Choose San Polo and Dorsoduro

If you’re looking for a central less touristy area or visiting Venice for nightlife.

  • Easy access to Piazza San Marco through the Rialto Bridge.
  • The city’s biggest fish and vegetables market, Rialto, is here (just in case if you want to cook on your holiday).
  • Most popular attractions: the city’s oldest church San Giacomo di Rialto, Gallerie dell’Accademia and the museum Ca’ Rezzonico.
  • For a late night drink visit the square Campo Santa Margherita, the main hub of the city’s nightlife.
  • Don’t miss to cross Pont dell’Accademia for a stunning view of Venezia.

Best family hotels near San Marco

Hotel American-Dinesen – Most popular

The hotel occupies a 17th-century townhouse overlooking the San Vio Canal. It’s just a short walk to Ponte dell’Accademia. This is one of the bridges over the Grand Canal. It connects Dorsoduro and San Marco districts. Thus you can easily reach Piazza San Marco in no time.
Location: 80m from Grand Canal Facilities: WiFi, air-conditioning Guests love: attentive staff

Hotel Palazzo Stern – Best rated

The hotel is very conveniently situated right on the Grand Canal and close to Ponte dell’Accademia. Easy access to the main tourist area and water buses. Rooms are spacious, decorated in authentic Italian style.
Location: on the Grand Canal Facilities: breakfast terrace, rooms with canal views Guests love: nice room view

Best hotels for couples near San Marco

Hotel Nani Mocenigo Palace – Best rated

The hotel occupies a former palace from the 15th century. The elegant interior features frescos from the early 1800s. The location is great for sightseeing – on a quiet corner on the little Canal of San Trovaso. Close to Ponte dell’Accademia and vaporetto stops.
Location: 600m from Grand Canal Facilities: WiFi, garden Guests love: helpful staff

Palazzo Veneziano – Most popular

This is one of the most popular hotels in Venice for a romantic getaway. The spacious luxurious rooms feature parquet floors, Murano glass lamps and Carrara marble. You can even enjoy a spa bath in your own room. It’s an excellent place to stay for exploring the city.
Location: 600m from Grand Canal Facilities: wellness centre, on-site bar Guests love: great location, stylish rooms

Apartments near San Marco

Ca’ della Scimmia – Best rated

Ca’ della Scimmia offers stylish, modern apartments next to Rialto Bridge. Close to the historic part of the city, restaurants, bars and water transport.
Location: 150m from Rialto Bridge Facilities: lift, air-conditioning Guests love: quiet apartment, lovely city views

Grand Canal

The best Venice hotels on the Grand Canal

If you’re looking for a room with a view of the water, there is no better place than the Grand Canal. This is a perfect area for honeymooners, because of its romantic views.

If you’re in the city for a romantic holiday,
check out my guide to the most romantic things to do in Venice. The guide covers the best activities for couples, including how to get a gondola ride and the best sunset spots.

The Grand Canal is the city’s main artery. It’s the biggest canal in Venice lined with numerous former palaces of Venetian merchants. Today, most of them are turned into hotels. So, you can imagine staying there would be a once in a lifetime experience.

For a room with a gorgeous view, check out these affordable hotels below. All of them are situated directly on the Grand Canal. Thus, besides the amazing city views, you’ll be at a hand distance to the vaporetto stops.

Hotel L’Orologio – Best rated

Hotel L’Orologio is the best place to stay for sightseeing, restaurants and views. It has an unbeatable location – in San Polo district, just a short walk from Rialto Bridge. It’s a modern hotel with beautifully decorated rooms and wooden ceilings.
Location: on the Grand Canal Facilities: soundproofed rooms, terrace Guests love: rich and delicious breakfast

Foscari Palace – Best for families

Foscari Palace is right on the Grand Canal in Cannaregio district. An elegant boutique hotel, housed in a 16th-century palace. Easy access to Piazza San Marco and Santa Lucia train station. Murano and Burano vaporetto stops are just a short walk from the hotel.
Location: on the Grand Canal Facilities: rooftop terrace Guests love: ideal location

Pesaro Palace – Best for couples

Pesaro Palace features a truly romantic atmosphere. The large rooms are decorated with classic furniture, massive beds and Murano glass lamps. At a walking distance to Rialto Bridge, ferry stop, Murano and Burano vaporetto stops.
Location: on the Grand Canal Facilities: garden Guests love: marvellous rooms

venetian gondolas

Where to stay near the train station (or Venice cruise port)

If you need a hotel near the Venice train station or the cruise port, Santa Croce is the ideal district for you. This is the city’s main transportation hub.

The train station, Venezia Santa Lucia, and the cruise port are situated in the western part of the main island. Here you’ll also find Piazzale Roma, the last stop of the airport buses.

How to get to the city’s historic part

You can take the vaporetto (water bus), that takes you directly to Piazza San Marco. Don’t miss to buy an Actv day ticket. A single ride on the vaporetto costs half the price of a daily card.

You can also walk to the historic city centre. It’s about 1.5km till you reach Rialto Bridge and another 500m to Piazza San Marco.

Stay here if you:
  • plan several day trips (you can easily get to Verona, Padua, Vicenza)
  • have a lot of luggage. This is the furthest point in the city where you can get using land-based transport. From here you have to take a water bus or water taxi.
  • you’re visiting Venice for 1 night. You can leave your luggage at the hotel as soon as you get to the city. You won’t waste time trying to find your way to the hotel with heavy suitcases. Plus the hotels here are cheaper.
  • you’re arriving by rental car. This is the closest place you can get by car.

Hotels near Venezia Santa Lucia train station

Hotel Cà Zusto – Best for families

The hotel is set in a historic building in a quiet part of Santa Croce neighbourhood. The location is very convenient for Santa Lucia station, less than a 10min walk. Plus, there are a lot of restaurants in the area. Rooms combine authentic atmosphere with modern amenities.
Location: 500m from train station Facilities: WiFi, 24-hour front desk Guests love: good breakfast

Bellini – Best for couples

Bellini is perfectly situated for arrival and departure (especially if you have a lot of luggage). It’s just a 2min walk from the train station and the airport bus stop. No need to carry heavy luggage across tiny canal bridges. And the Grand Canal is just around the corner.
Location: 50m from train station Facilities: garden, 24-hour front desk Guests love: comfortable quiet rooms

Best Venice hotels near the cruise port

Hotel Santa Chiara – Best for families

Set on the Grand Canal and just a short walk from the cruise port, this hotel is a perfect choice. You can even take a water taxi or bus right outside the hotel. Rooms are comfy with huge bathrooms and modern perks. And in case if you’re arriving by car, this is one of the few hotels with parking.
Location: 200m from cruise port Facilities: parking, 24-hour front desk Guests love: canal views

NH Rio Novo – Best for couples

Stylish hotel with modern facilities, close to the cruise port. At a walking distance to Rialto Bridge and a lot of restaurants and bars. The breakfast features a lot of options, catering for all needs (including lactose and gluten intolerance).
Location: 600m from cruise port Facilities: 24-hour front desk Guests love: great breakfast

 Giudecca island

Where to stay in Venice (for beach)

You won’t find any beaches on the main island. Thus, if the beach is your main priority, stay on Lido island. Lido is a long island, situated southeast from Venezia. You’ll find some lovely beachfront resorts here with a lot of spacious rooms.

The atmosphere is very different from Venezia – pretty calm and laid back with lovely beaches. Yet, the biggest difference is that there are cars and bicycles. It’s a great place to stay in Venice if you look for something a little different or if this is not your first time in the city.

How to get to Venice from Lido

The only option is by taking a water bus (a 20-30min journey). So, when choosing a hotel take this in mind and book a place not far from a vaporetto stop.

Hotel Villa Laguna – Best for families

Situated on the western bank of Lido island, the hotel features a unique view of Venezia. The location couldn’t be more convenient. Less than a 2min walk to the ferry stop for Piazza San Marco and Murano, near the beach and restaurants.
Location: 50m from water bus stop Facilities: small garden Guests love: room views

Hotel Villa Pannonia – Best for couples

Stylishly furnished hotel in the heart of the island, just a short stroll to the beach and vaporetto stops. Close to main street, restaurants and bars. Plus, the hotel has a private beach area.
Location: 450m from water bus stop Facilities: flower garden, bike rental service Guests love: spacious quiet rooms

Bridge of Sighs

The best place to stay in Venice with a car

If you’re arriving by car you have two options. You can use the parking lots at Piazzale Roma (which are super expensive) or stay in Mestre.

Mestre is the mainland of Venice. You’ll find a lot of affordable parking options, 2-3 times cheaper than the ones at Piazzale Roma.

However, the biggest disadvantage is that you have to spend extra time to get to the heart of Venezia. It’s about 15-20min to Piazzale Roma and from there about a 20-30min walk to the main attractions. And this time doesn’t include getting to the bus stop and waiting for public transport. The hotels are a lot cheaper, however, there are fewer options in comparison to the island of Venezia.

How far is Mestre from Venice city

Mestre is very well connected to Venezia by regular trams and buses. There is even a night bus. Yet, keep in mind that you’ll need probably about 40-60min to get to the major tourist attractions.

Mestre is not a great option to stay if you have more than one day in Venice. I’d recommend paying more for a hotel on the island and don’t waste so much time in transportation.

Hotel Plaza – Best for families

Comfy hotel right next to Mestre train station. An ideal location for travelling to Venice and the airport. The bus station is right outside the hotel. Thus, you can reach Piazzale Roma in less than 15min. Easy access by car, as the highway exit is not far.
Location: next to Mestre train station Facilities: restaurant, public parking nearby Guests love: convenient location

Best Western Hotel Tritone – Best for couples

Best Western Tritone is one of the best hotels in Mestre. It’s practically located across the street from Mestre train station. Plus, there is a private parking lot next to the hotel.
Location: next to Mestre train station Facilities: private parking nearby, 24-hour front desk Guests love: good breakfast

Venice Grand Canal

Stay in Venice or outside

Wondering is it better to stay in Venice or outside? Unless your budget is really tight, I’d not recommend staying outside Venice in any case.

The atmosphere of the city is truly magical and you won’t be able to fully experience it if you stay outside. Plus, you’ll waste precious time to get to Venezia. In the best scenario, it’s minimum 40-50min to get to Piazza San Marco.


Also, you won’t be able to get to your hotel for a rest during the day. This means spending more than 12 hours on foot, especially if you want to see the city at night. And Venice at night it’s not something to be missed, it’s a truly magical place.

In addition, you won’t be able to hit the tourist attractions early in the morning. The later you get to the historic part of the city, the more time you’ll waste waiting in lines.

Yet, if your budget doesn’t allow it, the best place to stay near Venice is Mestre. Mestre is the mainland part of Venezia. The most convenient areas to stay in Mestre is around the Mestre train station and Piazzale Cialdini. From Piazzale Cialdini you can take bus 4L or tram T1 to get to Venice.

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About the author
Avatar Milena Yordanova
I'm a travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places and cultures. I want to show you how easy it is to organize your vacation all by yourself.

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