Best area of Venice for a first timer?

Old Oct 15th, 2021, 09:33 AM
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Best area of Venice for a first timer?

Well, I guess I should say an almost first timer. We were there in 2012 but just for a day before a cruise and I was extremely jet lagged, so it is kind of a blur. I remember we stayed close to the cruise port as we walked there the next day to board the cruise. I do remember it being very beautiful, though and thinking that I want to return.

So, I am planning a five day trip there next year on the tail end of my France trip. I will fly in from Nice. I would like an area that is not super touristy, but has a grocery store and some cafes. Another thing I should mention is that I am directionally challenged, so if there is a location that is easy to find, especially at night, that would be great. Also, I am a female solo traveler, so some place safe at night is a must.

What are your favorite areas of Venice for a quasi-first timer?
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 10:41 AM
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We LOVED staying at the Hotel Galleria. It's literally next to the Accademia Bridge on the Grand Canal.


"Another thing I should mention is that I am directionally challenged, so if there is a location that is easy to find, especially at night, that would be great."

It's perfect for that. There's a vaperetto stop on either side of it, so no matter which direction you are traveling, the stop is steps away. Maybe 20 steps away from the stop at the bridge. A short 2 minute walk from the stop for the other direction. Between = lovely shops and restaurants. Perfect for eating solo. I attended St. George's church nearby on Sunday. We picked up a gondola at the small bridge on the way to the church. In sort, a lovely little area around the hotel. I can't imagine an easier to find or safer location.

I traveled with a Fodorite and she loved it so much she returned a few months later and stayed at the hotel. We had the largest room on our visit. I was celebrating my birthday. When she returned, she stayed in one of the smaller rooms. All have Grand Canal views and breakfast is brought to the room on a silver tray. In my opinion it is the perfect hotel for a solo traveler. I can't wait to return.

Some more photos, including the reflection of the bridge in the window. I loved watching the work boats in early morning, especially the laundry boats taking bags of laundry off to be washed. Never thought about that!



View from the window

View of the bridge from one of the two windows

Reflection of the bridge in the window

LOVED watching the boats. Happiness is eating a peach croissant at the window and watching the boats go by.

Beautiful rooms - all with a Grand Canal view.


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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 10:52 AM
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The Grand Canal is the main street of Venice and its chief landmark for the pathfinder. Stay as far away and dine as far away for a more relaxed visit. But use it to keep your bearings. Getting lost is almost automatic so a good map may come in not just handy but essential. If pushed, I'd suggest a compass too, or one on your phone.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 11:04 AM
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Here's a map.

V stop next to the bridge. Maybe 20 steps to the hotel door.
The water tumbler music guy is often set up just outside.
A 3 minute walk "around the half block" to St. George's Church (used as a landmark) but also to the V stop when coming from the other direction.
Piazza San Marco is two stops in between.
If you take the Alilaguna back to the airport, it's a few minutes behind you. Very easy.
Between the V stops, everything you can want, but easy access across the bridge for wandering.
But coming back at night, solo, it's very safe and VERY easy to find your way. No getting lost, I guarantee it!
Plus, it's one of the nicest and one of my favorite hotels. The view of the Grand Canal can't be beat!
It's undergoing exterior renovations this year but should be back in action next year.

Last edited by starrs; Oct 15th, 2021 at 11:11 AM.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 11:20 AM
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It has been awhile since we stayed there, but we also like the Hotel Galleria. The location is great. Two things to note. The hotel is on the second floor and there was no lift when we were there. Perhaps one has been installed, otherwise, you will be carrying luggage up a flight. Second, when we were there, some of the very small rooms did not have a private bath, only a sink in the room. As a solo traveler, it will be worth it to pay a bit more and have your own bath.

I do not remember a grocery store nearby. You will have to check. There are sandwich stands, pizza cafes and lots of restaurants. There are also vegetable, fruit and flower boats in one of the smaller, canals close by.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 11:31 AM
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Good points from Sassafrass. We left out bags downstairs and the guy at the front desk (can't remember his name) brought them up.

I don't remember a market either but there's one on the google map. We grabbed what we needed while we were about and about, but I don't remember buying much in Venice. We had spent a week in a villa in Tuscany just before and had a kitchen to store things. With breakfast served to the room, lunch while we were out and about and dinner at a restaurant steps away, we really didn't need anything for the room. We brought prosecco from Tuscany with us, but other than that, can't think of anything.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 11:54 AM
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This hotel is booked pretty far out, so if you like it, book as soon as you decide.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 12:04 PM
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Not an area, but a hotel tip to keep in mind as you choose your area and hotel: If you choose a hotel with boat access to a canal, if you are flying into Venice you can take a water taxi from the airport directly to your hotel and NOT have to drag any luggage through the streets or over the bridges. Wish I had known that on MY first trip. Now that's the only way I want to go! And the taxi rides from and to the airport are very much fun.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 01:27 PM
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I couldn't find a good public domain map, so I took this one from venetoinside.com

Venice sestieri

Cannareggio has some nice neighborhoods in the northern part, but there is also a long stretch of tourist hell in the southern part, that stretches from the port to San Marco. It's awful - the streets were lined with kiosks selling cheap products from overseas, and the route packed with day trippers. Avoid the southern part.

San Polo and Dorsoduro are by far my favorite neighborhoods ... but you will get lost!

The area where San Marco, Castello, and Cannaregio meet is popular and fine, but I like other neighborhoods better.

Further out in Castello, and the island of Giudecca, are more residential.

I like staying Hotel Tiziano, in Dorsoduro. It's the most affordable good hotel that I know of. It's closer to the port, but a longer walk to the center. I would almost always get turned around somewhere in the maze of streets and canals - and I have a good sense of direction, usually. I love wandering in Venice, so this was fine. Sometimes I would take the longer but simpler walk into the center along the Giudecca Canal - it was impossible to get lost here.

Last edited by michael_cain_77398; Oct 15th, 2021 at 02:06 PM.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 01:48 PM
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We spent two weeks in Venice on our second or third trip there. Our apartment was in Cannaregio, in the northern part near the church of Santa Maria Della Orta. It was not touristy at all, had small grocery stores/markets and restaurants nearby. But, because Venice is so small, we could walk over to the Grand Canal easily. There also were vaporetti nearby on the north side of Cannaregio. We also ie Dorsoduro.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 04:25 PM
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Thank you for your help. I am actually looking for an apartment, which is why I mentioned the grocery store.

The location of Hotel Galleria looks perfect! I checked on booking.com and they don't show any availability. I did find a couple of apartments fairly close to it which look promising. One thing I really want to do is take night time photos from the Accademia Bridge (as well as other locations), and then be able to find my way home! Lol. I am fine with getting lost during the day when I am out and about. I will look on Amazon for a map. That is a good idea.

Thanks for the tip about the northern part of Cannaregio also. I think there were a couple of apartments in that area too that I liked. If they are close to a V stop I could probably jump on a vaporetto after taking my photos and find my way back home.

My DH had an excellent sense of direction, so I never had to worry about this before. But now that he is gone, I find I really have to pay attention. I sometimes take photos of my surroundings so that I can find my way back, or ask someone for help.

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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 07:15 PM
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In 2017 I stayed here
https://www.trulyveniceapartments.co...ext-guggenheim

Excellent location, great apartment. I was solo and I tend to get lost.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 07:15 PM
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I think you would find grocery stores all over venice - the best known are Conad (nee Punto) and Coop.
I have stayed here twice, each time for two weeks. Not to hard to find; the Frari is a significant landmark.
https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/3605...kQrglFNLynA6Of
To find it:
Find the Frari.
Find the main doors.
With your back to the doors, walk straight ahead.
The bar Al Archivo is right in front of you, save that for later.
Turn right, go a few metres, take the first left, and enter a courtyard.
Newspaper stand is to your left, walk past it and turn left.
First door on your left, and you are home.

Last edited by Peter_S_Aus; Oct 15th, 2021 at 07:20 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 07:21 PM
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Do get a paper map. Available from any news stand, about four euro.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 10:24 PM
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There are supermarkets all over the city. You won't find any hypermarkets but the mid size Carrefour or Conads are available. Likewise with bars (cafe)

At night the city empties out and safety isn't a huge issue IMHO.

Venice isn't that large. The distance from the train station to St. Marks is an easy walk.

Budget can help narrow down your choices. The more touristy areas are often more expensive.

The other issue is how are you leaving Venice?

If leaving by train staying near the station has advantages. It's easy to find. Half the signs in Venice point to the station. The other half to St. Marks. It tends to be cheaper. Obviously dragging your bag there will be easier if you're near the station to begin with.
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Old Oct 16th, 2021, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by pgtraveler View Post
The location of Hotel Galleria looks perfect! I checked on booking.com and they don't show any availability. I did find a couple of apartments fairly close to it which look promising. One thing I really want to do is take night time photos from the Accademia Bridge (as well as other locations), and then be able to find my way home! Lol. I am fine with getting lost during the day when I am out and about. I will look on Amazon for a map. That is a good idea.
I never book with a 3rd party vendor. I always book directly. My personal preference.

I do adore the Hotel Galleria. It's one of my favorite hotels anywhere. Definitely in my top 5. They are currently closed for exterior renovation work. In any case, I found the location perfect, especially for having ZERO problems in finding it/ getting lost. The area around it is small so anything in that area would work.

We arrived via the train station and just got on the V and got off at the A bridge. Nothing could have been simpler and it was a fabulous, no stress arrival in Venice. Magical. I'll post my favorite photo of the arrival later.

Leaving via the airport could not have been simpler either. I was thrilled to realize (after we arrived) that the Alilaguna was such a short walk away.

Using Google maps,
Ponte dell'Accademia, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy - for the starting point
Pizzeria Da Gianni, Fondamenta Zattere Ai Gesuati, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy - next to the airport boat pickup
4 min - 350 m

No wandering curvy streets to/from V to Z. VERY short walks with luggage.

Something in the area would be perfect, based on your concerns.
I have gorgeous photos (IMO) of the bridge and from the bridge, many taken from our bedroom window. There were two and we spent a lot of time in front of our windows, just watching. Mesmerizing.

I had originally wanted to book goddesstogo's favorite hotel on the Grand Canal, closer to the train station. It was full and after about an hour of searching using a variety of factors, I found this one. I don't remember it being recommended here on the forum but perhaps it was. Finding it was perfection. I know how much I loved it but my travel friend loved it so much she returned about five months later (and stayed in a smaller room) for a solo trip. I was very jealous, but I had to work. The joys of flexible travel after retirement!

Adding - she also wanted to spend more time on Burano and Murano so she moved to one (can't remember which but can ask) and stayed in a small inn for a few nights on the island. I don't remember the details but can ask if that's of interest.

I would love to arrive via water taxi so the earlier suggestion upthread is a good one. My friend DID find a fabulous first night activity for us. We took a water taxi tour that includes apps and drinks. It was amazing and a perfect first night activity. The pickup location was a short walk away. Goddesstogo wrote a beautiful description years ago of riding in a water taxi in the fog and the same happened that night. Perfection.

Last edited by starrs; Oct 16th, 2021 at 08:08 AM.
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Old Oct 16th, 2021, 01:47 PM
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I have only been to Venice twice. Both times stayed at Pension La Calcina, Dorsoduro neighborhood. It was perfect. Overlooking the Giudecca canal. A bit out of the fray of the central area but very convenient and a quick walk into it. Grocery store just down the street.
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Old Oct 16th, 2021, 02:24 PM
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You may have your heart set on an apartment, We each have different needs and likes. If you do decide you might want Hotel Galleria, call the hotel directly. They may only allot a few rooms to a booking site, but have more reserved to rent themselves. When we stayed there, we could stay only two or three nights because they were so fully booked, so we had to move once. It was a pain to move, but also the second place was so lacking by comparison. It was worth it though to have some time in the hotel. Some people might be bothered by it, but I loved waking up to the morning activities on the Grand Canal. For fear of getting lost at night, just get off the Academia Bridge vaporetto stop and the door to the hotel is right there, about 30 seconds. Good luck with whatever you choose.
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Old Oct 16th, 2021, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Sassafrass View Post
...t I loved waking up to the morning activities on the Grand Canal. For fear of getting lost at night, just get off the Academia Bridge vaporetto stop and the door to the hotel is right there, about 30 seconds. Good luck with whatever you choose.
I loved the early morning boat "traffic" too. Not noisy at all, but that was the busiest the Grand Canal was all day. I found it fascinating to see all the work boats go by. I stood in the window, eating a peach croissant from the breakfast that was delivered to the room and was entranced. My friend sat in a chair in front of the other window and was the same. "Magical" doesn't begin to describe it. I'm sure there are countless other options that are wonderful, but for me the Hotel Galleria was one of the best experiences ever and a perfect birthday morning!

I'll add some photos in a minute.


Morning boat traffic on the Grand Canal

Breakfast delivered to the room

Laundry going out

Not taken from the room

Last edited by starrs; Oct 16th, 2021 at 03:17 PM. Reason: add photos
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Old Oct 16th, 2021, 03:24 PM
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For reference - as far as distances and confusing streets.
We found the location of the Hotel Galleria to be almost virtually lost-proof.
These photos may help visualize.

Accademia bridge - first bridge on left, before the curve. Just up the Grand Canal from St. Mark's Square.

The Hotel Galleria is steps away from the Accademia bridge and in an area we did not find confusing at all - to/ from V stops nor to the stop for the water bus back to the airport.

The door is steps away from the bridge

This guy was often near the entrance. Enchanting music from "playing" water glasses.
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