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A Quick Guide to the Neighbourhoods of Venice

  • Italy

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Venice off the beaten path

The romantic city of Venice, famed for it’s canals, bridges, art, and masks, is a gorgeous place full of iconic sites. But, there’s so much more to be seen and enjoyed by simply wandering, getting lost, chatting to locals, and soaking up the stunning scenery. Following on from my recent post about getting off the beaten track in Venice, I thought it might be a good idea to share a brief guide to the various neighbourhoods in this island city, to help you choose where to take a stroll. Dive into any of these Venice neighbourhoods and discover the charming reality of this rich and beautiful city.

SAN MARCO AND SAN POLO

venice neighbourhoods
Rialto Bridge in San Marco.

The central districts of San Marco and San Polo are the most touristy and busiest neighbourhoods of Venice. San Marco is home to popular sites like the Rialto Bridge and the Basilica di San Marco, and is one of the most expensive parts of the city, but it’s also the historic and commercial heart of the city. Northwest of the Rialto, San Polo is more of a mixed bag, still popular with tourists but also packed with Venetian locals. It’s considered to be the foodie area, and is home to the famous “Mercato del Rialto” food market.

GUIDECCA

venice neighbourhoods gidecca
View of Guidecca across the canal.

With blue sea on all sides, the quiet island of Guidecca offers panoramic views of central Venice. To get here, you’ll need to take a vaporetto (water bus), but if you prefer a more luxurious crossing or have a lot of luggage with you, you could always hire a private water taxi through a company like Consorzio Moscafi Venezia. An isolated district which is popular with the locals, Guidecca has a laid-back atmosphere, strong fishing traditions, historic churches, and plenty of small local bars and cafés.

DORSODURO

The residential area of Dorsoduro in the Southwest of the city is very popular with locals for it’s artistic vibe and great nightlife. The area around Campo Santa Margherita is rife with students and has a fantastic, chilled vibe, while the rest of this neighbourhood is home to the Accademia gallery and the Peggy Guggenheim museum, and is generally known as an artist’s haven.

SANTA CROCE

A Quick Guide to the Neighbourhoods of Venice

Another student area, Santa Croce is generally one of the least visited parts of Venice, and is considered one of the more authentic. A quiet, residential neighbourhood which is perfect for simply wandering and exploring, Santa Croce offers a glimpse of true-to-the-roots Venetians in Venice.

CANNAREGIO

A Quick Guide to the Neighbourhoods of Venice

Home to the Jewish Gheto, the district of Cannaregio is very residential – with around a third of the city’s population settled here. It’s quiet, fairly off the beaten track, and has a great nightlife, with plenty of bars and live music venues, authentic Venetian restaurants, and a strong jazz scene.

CASTELLO

Minutes away from the crowds of St Marks Square, the district of Castello is tranquil and wonderfully picturesque, with plenty of green areas, gardens, and stunning architecture. Considered ‘local at the edges’, you’ll find authentic stalls and criss-crossing laundry lines along the canals and walkways of this lovely neighbourhood.

Have you visited Venice recently? Which was your favourite part of the city? 

9 thoughts on “A Quick Guide to the Neighbourhoods of Venice”

  1. I’d love to visit Venice! I’ve heard so many conflicting things, about how dirty it is or how touristy it can be, but then I see things like this and remember that every city has those issues. Visiting less-frequented neighborhoods would be the way to go!

    1. Definitely – it’s so good to explore and find out how locals view a city. I think it’s also one of those places you have to see and make up your own mind about, because everyone’s expectations/experiences will be so different :)

  2. This comes at the perfect moment, I’ll be going to Venice next week. :)
    I’ve never been there, so what would you say is a MUST visit next to the usual tourist attractions?

    1. Ooh exciting – how long are you going for? “Must-visits” really depend on the person – for me a must is just eating all the gelato I can get my hands on, but if you’re an art lover you shouldn’t miss the galleries – especially the Accademia. It all depends on what you love best :) Enjoy the trip!

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