Where to Stay in Venice and Mestre
The best hotel and apartment locations
Distances in Venice are short, so--in theory--location shouldn't be as crucial as it might be in a city like Rome or Milan. In practice, location does matter, especially if you're traveling with heavy luggage and don't want to spend a lot of time and money on transportation.
Here are a few points to keep in mind:
The area around the Piazza San Marco has an express vaporetto stop, and you'll disembark here if you come by boat from the airport. But it's also the most popular tourist area in Venice, with higher prices and bigger crowds than other sestieri or neighborhoods.
Hotels near the Piazzale Roma and the railway station are convenient for train travelers, although the pedestrian routes between this area and San Marco can be jammed with day-trippers in the summer and on holiday weekends.
Dorsoduro and San Polo, on the less touristed side of the Grand Canal, are good bets during high season. Cannaregio also has a neighborhood feel once you get away from the busiest streets. Closer to San Marco, the Castello district has some quiet areas not far from the main tourist attractions.
The Lido, an island that separates the Venetian lagoon from the Adriatic Sea, is popular in summer--especially with well-heeled beach buffs and golfers who can afford the tabs at classic resort hotels like the Excelsior Palace. Luxury hotels have free shuttles to the Piazza San Marco; guests at smaller hotels may have to rely on the public water buses.
Hotels for early-morning flight departures
If you're leaving Marco Polo Airport before 10 a.m. or so, see airport hotels and ground transportation for travelers with early flights. (Ryanair and Transavia passengers with early departures should consider a hotel in Treviso, near Treviso Airport.)
Hotels for cruise passengers
When arriving or departing on a cruise ship, your best bet is a hotel near the Venice Cruise Terminal unless your cruise line is handling luggage transfers. (For more advice on cruising from Venice--including getting to or from your ship--see our Venice for Cruisers index.)
Staying in Mestre, on the mainland
Finally, you can save quite a bit of money by staying on the Venetian mainland. Mestre, Venice's modern suburb, is especially convenient if you have a car and don't want to pay Venice's high parking rates.
We give our top recommendations to the Best Western Hotel Bologna, the Hotel Plaza, and the Hotel Tritone. These comfortable but affordable hotels are directly across the street from Mestre Railroad Station, where inexpensive trains from Mestre to Venice run almost constantly and reach the city in 10 to 12 minutes.
Still, we recommend booking a room in Venice's historic center if you can. During high season and on weekends, the tourist population shrinks dramatically after the daytrippers have gone home. This makes late evening and early morning the best times to enjoy Venice without the crowds.
When to book
The typical Venetian hotel is a former casa or palazzo with a limited number of rooms. This fact, combined with the great popularity of Venice, means that room shortages can occur at any time from spring through fall.
Our best advice is "Book ahead." If you do show up in Venice without a confirmed room, try the hotel reservations office in the train station, the parking garage at the Piazzale Roma, or the Venice Autostrada terminus on the mainland. But be prepared to stand in a long line, and the available hotels may be inconvenient to reach (especially with luggage).
Next page: Alternatives to hotels