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Venice Italy Neighborhoods: A Local Guide

December 13th, 2019 by Prontopia

Venice is special, we all know that. What is it maybe less known is that Venice is divided in six different neighborhoods, called sestieri. Each sestiere is special: it has a different history, it has its peculiarities and its hidden gems! We have created this quick local guide to Venice Italy neighborhoods so you can determine which is the best place to stay in Venice, and then get around Venice easily and without missing the secret places that this beautiful city has to offer around every corner.

Venice can be a difficult city to navigate. Get where you need to go stress-free – schedule a Prontopia local assistant to help you today!

Super Local Tip: if you are lost, and you don’t know in which sestiere you are in, you can always look up to one of the public street lights: you will see a small banner with the initials of the sestiere you are in e.g., if you are in Dorsoduro, “DD” will be written on the banner.

Venice Italy Neighborhoods: A Local Guide 0

Canalside on the Fondamenta in Cannaregio, at Osteria ae Bricoe


The sestiere of Cannaregio is named so because it was developed over a swamp were cane reeds were widespread.

This neighborhood goes from Venezia Santa Lucia train station until Campo Santi Apostoli, connected by the long pass-through street of Strada Nuova. This street is one of the most crowded of the city but generally on the side streets and canals surrounding it, this neighborhood remains one of the most lively and typical Venetian spots to visit, even just for a stroll. You can also get to Cannaregio by crossing the Grand Canal on a cheap traghetto gondola at Santa Sofia.

Where to eat

Cannaregio is a great spot for some local food! Go for an aperitivo and small bites to Osteria Al Timon (Fondamenta dei Ormesini 2754, tel. +39 041 524 6066), a delicious place for roast meats, seafood, or just cicchetti and a drink canalside. Try spaghetti al nero di seppia at Osteria Ai Promessi Sposi (Calle dell’Oca 4367, tel +39 041 241 2747) – a small and cozy place located in a small calle near Campo Santi Apostoli. Get your breakfast at Pasticceria Nobile (Cannaregio 1818, tel +39 041 720731) which can be very crowded in the morning since every real Venetian from Cannaregio visits this pasticceria for their morning coffee (their pizzette are also a nice afternoon snack with a spritz).

Things to do

Discover the Jewish Ghetto, established by the government of the Venetian Republic in 1516, which makes it the oldest Ghetto in Europe. Read more about discovering Venice like a local with a visit to the Jewish Ghetto. You can also have an amazing day by water through seeing Venice by boat with a local experience with Row Venice: a group of women that will teach you how to row like a Venetian through the small Cannaregio canals. Have a live music night at Laguna Libre (Fondamenta Cannaregio 969, tel.041 244 0031) where typically host Jazz Concerts with dinner, or at Paradiso Perduto (Cannaregio 2540, tel. 041 720581) on the Fondamenta della Misericordia in Cannaregio, is a cozy osteria and jazz club which hosts a different group performing live music every Monday evening.

Where to stay

Venice Italy Neighborhoods: A Local Guide 1

Canal view from one of the Venedig apartments

We are grateful to the following lodging and activities businesses in Cannaregio, who kindly recommend Prontopia to their clients as a convenient and special local option for help with getting around Venice.

Residenza Procuratie – A light-filled apartment that sleeps 6 people near the Campo San Geremia and Jewish Ghetto areas.

Venedig Apartments – Christine, the gracious hostess of Venedig Apartments, has been welcoming guests to her carefully selected collection of apartment for over 20 years in Venice. Look at this Cannaregio canal view from one of the studio apartments.

We_Crociferi – An old-fashioned, but fully refurbished accommodation where you can enjoy the most modern comfort and the utmost of environmental sustainability.

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A charming local scene in Castello


The sestiere of Castello is named after a fort that is no longer there, around which was built the area that today we call Castello (castle in Italian). If you see Venice as a fish (which is actually its shape if you see Venice from above), Castello is the tail of the fish, and it’s the Eastern-most part of the city. Castello remains a very local neighborhood where you there are still characteristic Venetian neighborhoods and local life, while at the same time it is located next to San Marco.

Where to eat

While in Castello have the best pizza in the neighborhood at Trattoria Ai Tosi Piccoli (Calle Secco Marina 738, tel.041 523 7102), have a refreshing drink before or after you visited Biennale (giardini) at Ristorante Paradiso (Castello, 1260 Giardini della Biennale, tel.041 241 3972). Or, for a more casual meal, try a typical Venetian osteria, at Enoteca Mascareta (Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa 5183, tel. +39 0415230744).

Things to do

If you are visiting Venice between May and November, you should go and visit the Venice Biennale (Arsenale + Giardini): an internationally renowned event that alternates art and architecture, one year each, so be sure you catch the right one! Go to Libreria Acqua Alta (Calle Longa S. Maria Formosa, 5176/b): a very peculiar bookshop filled with new and second hand books, and with amazing corners to discover, a super cute cat to pet and a full gondola inside! Visit Museo Storico Navale di Venezia (Riva S. Biasio, Castello 2148): This is a great spot for families visiting Venice with kids, especially if the kids are passionate about the sea and boats.

Where to stay

We suggest to book your apartment with our friends from Mitwhonzentrale Venice, and Helga, who will welcome you with her amazing and friendly staff.

Find out more about Castello on where to stay in Castello Venice article.

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Dorsoduro colors, photo by Bea Stories


Dorsoduro literally means literally “hard-back” and has probably taken its name from the hard sand dunes that characterized the area in ancient time. This sestiere comprehends also includes Giudecca island. Dorsoduro is an enchanting local area that is off the beaten path, while at the same time central and convenient for visiting the main sites of Venice.

Where to eat

Have some cicchetti (small finger food typical venetian) and a glass of good wine at Osteria allo Squero (Dorsoduro 943, tel.335 600 7513) a charming Local canalside wine bar in front of the squero, the place where gondolas are made. Eat some fish-based typical dishes at Osteria ai 4 Feri (Calle Lunga S. Barnaba, 2754/A, tel.041 520 6978), or a good pizza to his neighbour Al Profeta (Calle Lunga S. Barnaba 2671, tel.041 523 7466) that has also a charming outdoor seating. Eat a delicious pastry and have an espresso at Pasticceria da Tonolo (Calle San Pantalon 3764).

Things to do

There are so many things to do in Dorsoduro! You cannot miss to visit the modern art permanent exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, to have a look to the Galleria dell’Accademia, for a full blown view of classical art and finally enjoy contemporary art at the Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana; here be sure you catch the free guided tour every Saturday at 3 pm. Finally, get your handmade papier-marche typical venetian mask at Ca’Macana. They also organize small groups courses to paint your own mask!

Where to stay

Ca’ Del Gallo – quiet B&B near to the nightlife spot of Campo Santa Margherita and to the Art Gallery of the Accademia.Hotel Antico Capon – a small hotel right in Campo Santa Margherita: the lively center of the Venetian nightlife.

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A quiet canal in Santa Croce

Santa Croce

The sestiere of Santa Croce is named after a now demolished church with the same name that was in this area. Santa Croce is one of the most important sestiere of Venice because it includes one of the main gateways to the Venice mainland, Piazzale Roma, where you will also find the Venice train station, and is also the smallest sestiere of Venice.

Where to eat

Have a small sandwich and a ombra (small glass of house wine) at  Bacareto da Lele (Campo dei Tolentini), a super small corner bar is right after Piazzale Roma. Have a hot tea or an IPA beer at Osteria da Filo (Santa Croce 1539, tel.041 524 6554) and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and on Wednesdays, the live music. Go to eat at La Zucca (Santa Croce 1539, tel.041 524 1570) and order the famous pumpkin flan, a favorite among Venetians.

Things to do

Have a visit at Ca’ Pesaro museum for some piece of art by Klimt, Kandinsky, and Matisse as well, and an Oriental Art Exhibition. We also love the canalside cafe in the Ca’ Pesaro museum for a coffee or a snack. Go to visit the Museo di Storia Naturale (Natural History Museum). Which is great for both adults and kids of all ages.

Where to stay

Ca’ del Tentor is a small locally-owned hotel in a very charming area between the Grand Canal and the inner canal of Ca’ del Tentor.

Cima Rosa is a boutique bed and breakfast with elegant Grand Canal view suites in a convenient and quiet area of Santa Croce.

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Piazza San Marco on a winter’s night

San Marco

The sestiere of San Marco is named for its famous basilica, and of course is the most famous sestiere of all. This is one of the most crowded and touristy areas to stay in, but it is possible to find local spots if you are resourceful. Or, of course, you can always request help from a Prontopia Local using Prontopia to easily navigate the crowds and find your way to a less touristy area.

Where to eat

Start with some gourmet cicchetti or a creative risotto and a glass of house wine at the new Sepa Venezia (San Marco 5482, tel.041 302 6336), eat like a Venetian, with the Venetians, at the historical Enoteca al Volto (Calle Cavalli 4081, tel. +39 0415228945),

Things to do

Of course you cannot miss the St. Mark’s Basilica and Piazza San Marco: they are must see sites for Venice. Before you go, be sure you know how to visit St. Mark’s Basilica so you can enjoy it better and have some tips to skip the line. Also the Palazzo Ducale is a must see, and from the 7th September till 6th January it will host also the Tintoretto exhibition. Be sure you get to see the hidden gems like Scala Contarini del Bovolo and (San Marco 3958), but you will likely need a Prontopia Local for that as they are truly hidden!

Where to stay

Have a rest at Residenza Bistrot de Venise is a small charming b&b with only 4 rooms and lovely inner canal views, also hidden on Calle dei Fabbri or book a room at Hotel Saturnia & International is a family-run 4 star hotel in Venice in an elegant historical palazzo just steps from Piazza San Marco.

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Frari Church in San Polo

San Polo

The San Polo sestiere it takes its name from the local basilica, and is situated at the exact center of the city, along with the Rialto Bridge. Here you will find local places, while at the same time you will be at the main sites within minutes.

Where to eat

As usual, you should start with a cicchetto and a glass of wine or a spritz at Osteria All’Arco (Sestiere San Polo 436) where Venetians go after being shopping at the fish market in Rialto.

Eat at Cantina Ae Do Spade (Calle del Scaleter, 859) for a glimpse of true Venetian typical and simple dishes in an historical place or have a selection of raw fish, as well as more sophisticated plates from the tradition, at Antico Pizzo (San Polo 814, tel.041 523 1575).

Things to do

Lose yourself inside the Rialto Fish Market and fruit and vegetables market. Shop some beautiful bags at Rio Tera’ Dei Pensieri which are made through a cooperative of incarcerated prisoners who rehabilitate themselves by creating beautiful, and sustainable items. Get inside and visit the Gloriosa Basilica dei Frari which is probably the most majestic in the city, just after St. Mark’s Basilica.

Where to stay

At our lodging partner Corte 1321 is a lovely local option for a boutique B&B in the San Polo sestiere of Venice. In a quiet yet central location, this hotel has only a handful of suites, and one apartment, all very comfortable for families.

Le Repubbliche Marinare – Located in Calle dei Boteri, it’s just few steps away from the vibrant Rialto fish market. Cozy and elegant, this lodging is recommended if you want to be exactly in the heart of Venice.

Arriving to Venice can be hectic and stressful. For a unique Local experience that will give you peace of mind upon arrival, try Prontopia — a convenient service for travelers that allows you to request a Local for assistance finding your destination easily from anywhere in the city with help with your luggage or information about your stay as needed. We hope to welcome you here soon!


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