Islands in the stream: a guide to Venice’s neighborhoods

Venice is historically divided into 6 neighborhoods, acknowledged in Italian as sestieri. This division has lasted more or considerably less unchanged ever since the Romans arrived in the Lagoon to create 1 of their castrum there. It’s also the motive why the Venetian avenue number procedure might seem incredibly bizarre at a initially glance – due to the fact each sestiere has its individual numeration.

Street figures are not the only issue that is exclusive about every single community. When all sestieri are certainly Venetian, each and every of them has its have options, charms and vibes to discover. So listed here they are.

When you’re keeping in the coronary heart of Venice, stunning landmarks surround you © Danny Lehman / Getty Photographs

San Marco

Ideal community for sensation at the centre of the Lagoon

San Marco is where you can find the picture ebook Venice. Named immediately after the city’s patron Saint and the genuine heart of the metropolis at any time due to the fact its foundation, San Marco has it all. Want amazing, earth-popular landmarks? The Basilica and its Campanile, as properly as the Palazao Ducale, are just a short wander absent. Want to do some purchasing ahead of heading back again household? You can check out out Calle Larga XXII Marzo, the superior-conclude browsing avenue of Venice, or head to the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, at the time the palace-warehouse of German merchants coming to the Lagoon and now just one of the metropolis center’s key purchasing malls. 

San Marco is the put to be if you like to be surrounded by generations-outdated properties and luxury, as nicely as people, considering that it’s likely the most well-known spot of an now renowned city. It is also an superb choice if you want to keep away from general public transportation and use your legs as substantially as you can, as all the major sights are inside of strolling length.

A man selling fresh seafood for sale at the Rialto farmers market (Mercato di Rialto) in Venice, near the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal.
Sign up for locals obtaining fresh meals at the Rialto farmers market place by the Rialto Bridge © EQRoy / Shutterstock

San Polo

Greatest community for straddling two worlds

Just on the other aspect of the Canal Grande, San Polo is shut more than enough to San Marco to enjoy its polished palaces and stylish vibes but it’s also individual adequate to feel like its have metropolis inside of a metropolis – possibly since San Polo is the smallest of all the six sestieri. You can have it both of those means in San Polo – keep shut to the Canal Grande and appreciate the landmarks on both sides of the water as effectively as earlier mentioned it, like the Rialto bridge or you can shed your self in the alleyways and small calles off the principal highway and discover picturesque corners and authentic parts of Venetian heritage.

San Polo will also welcome you with open up arms if you are looking to dwell the gourmand daily life. You just cannot skip the Rialto industry, divided into fruits and vegetables and clean seafood – stalls are there virtually each and every early morning, Sundays excluded, right up until close to midday. But the sestiere San Polo is also where you can get a very good pre-meal aperitivo, and then take pleasure in some put up-supper nightlife.


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A woman stands on a bridge in Venice and admires the view of the Grand Canal.
A beautiful check out of the artistic haven of Dorsoduro from Ponte dell’Accademia © RossHelen / Shutterstock

Dorsoduro and Giudecca

Ideal neighborhood for searching for Venice’s hip facet

The southernmost of the sestieri Dorsoduro, which consists of the island of Giudecca, has some of Venice’s most intriguing museums and most populated universities. Dorsoduro is home to the well known Ca’ Foscari college, broadly recognized in Italy as becoming one of the ideal for the examine of languages, as effectively as the Venice Architecture Institute. It goes without expressing then that the spot is a top rated option for learners and as a final result, the whole of Dorsoduro brims with eateries and nightlife. 

Dorsoduro has reinvented itself as Venice’s possess Soho. Go to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Pinault’s Punta della Dogana, and keep an eye out for the smaller galleries sprouting up in the community all the time. The district has long been a beloved with overseas next-dwelling prospective buyers, meaning that Dorsoduro doesn’t have the very same Venetian feel of nearby San Polo. However, it has stunning boutique inns, good eateries and environment-renowned modern-day and up to date art. This is a great community for artwork enthusiasts, but it’s also best for wintertime breaks as it’s the sunniest aspect of the town.

Porta Magna and Arsenale entrance (naval shipyard), in winter afternoon sun, Castello, Venice, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Veneto, Italy, Europe
Castello is a quieter neighborhood on the Lagoon with the Unesco-mentioned Arsenale at its centre © Eleanor Scriven / Getty Pictures

Castello

Ideal community for becoming immersed in art

While Dorsoduro can boast some amazing collections, a person may possibly say that the correct artwork hotspot of the metropolis is the sestiere Castello. Struggling with ideal onto the Lagoon and with a quieter vibe than its packed up coming-doorway neighbor San Marco, Castello is the area of the Venice Biennale. From the Giardini della Biennale with their popular 30 pavilions, every single belonging to a various region that works by using them to exhibit their will work of art each two a long time, to the spaces within the Arsenale, you can really feel the mark still left by the Biennale just about everywhere you wander in Castello.

But background hangs heavy right here as properly – the Arsenale, where by specialised artisans crafted all sorts of ships, is what created Venice a maritime powerhouse and served it dominate the seas for a lot more than a millennia. And if you want to get a split from all the sightseeing, you can always rest for a bit at the Parco delle Rimembranze, also identified as the Sant’Elena pinewood, suitable on the tip of the sestiere and on the lookout out onto the Lido.

worms eye view of Jewish quarter apartments, in Cannaregio Venice, Veneto, Italy
Cannaregio is active with regional life and property to the aged Jewish quarter of Venice © gab90 / Shutterstock

Cannaregio

Finest community for feeling like a regional

Cannaregio is the largest and most populous Venetian sestiere. It’s very near to Venice’s practice station, Santa Lucia, and so it bustles with activity – commuters arriving from the mainland into Venice for their workday, people heading to and from the far more central locations of the metropolis. Not like San Marco, even though, Cannaregio’s vibe stays extra regional and casual and it is a terrific put to be if you want to delight in the a lot more famed landmarks through the working day but then retire to a quieter place (as silent as Venice can be) for the night time.

This sestiere is also the place the previous Jewish quarter utilized to be, and the Jewish community and their heritage are nevertheless a large portion of the neighborhood – from the two energetic synagogues to museums and various kosher eateries.

The dome of the Chiesa di San Simeone Piccolo is hard to overlook as it pierces into a clear blue sky sitting above the dark reflective waters of the canals in Santa Croce - Lonely Planet © red-feniks / Shutterstock
The Chiesa di San Simeone Piccolo is difficult to overlook and can make a pay a visit to to Santa Croce nicely worthwhile © crimson-feniks / Shutterstock

Santa Croce

Most effective neighborhood for shifting all over effortlessly

Santa Croce is the only sestiere of Venice where cars and trucks and buses are authorized to transfer about prior to obtaining to stop because of to the lack of roads and abundance of canals. It is where the Santa Lucia train station is positioned and the main entryway into the metropolis for everyone who comes utilizing the bridge connecting Venice to the mainland. It is a fantastic alternative if Venice is not the only halt of your journey to this component of Italy – these arranging to depart the Lagoon for some day excursions to other pieces of Veneto or it’s possible some of the beach locations equally North and South of the city.

Santa Croce may not appear as rather as the other sestieri, but really don’t be fooled – this is nonetheless Venice, and there is a good deal of matters to maintain you fascinated like the Museo di Storia Naturale di Venezia within the aged Fondaco dei Turchi, the lively sq. of San Giacomo dell’Orio and the Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice’s museum of manner history as well as probable haunting grounds of the ghost of philosopher and author Giordano Bruno.