Whereabouts is the best place to stay when visiting Venice?

Lungomare Guglielmo Marconi, Lido (photo by TracyElaine - CC-BY)

If you are traveling on a backpacker’s budget, there are quite (well, relatively) reasonably priced hostels and B&Bs right in the center of Venice. If you are not a backpacker, there are, of course, hotels for any better filled pocketbook.

If you are staying for just one or two nights, you may delight at the feeling of being in the middle of this unique city with its canals and narrow walking streets. But you may quickly discover that it is a little claustrophobic, that you cannot escape the crowd of tourists, whose presence emphasizes that you are just another one of the crowd. At the end of pavement-pounding day, you would like to get away from the tourist bustle and narrow confines, like to see grass and trees, anything but more shops and dark restaurants, as charming as they first seemed.

Take the vaparetto to the Lido. It is a different world: real streets (and cars and buses), but also trees and gardens with flowers, fresh air blowing in from the Adriatic, space, light, and the best view of the sun setting over Venice! It is a great place to spend an evening after a day of sightseeing. But then you have to go back to your hotel in Venice.

So book a hotel on the Lido (map). It doesn’t have to be the Excelsior on the beach or the famed Hotel des Bains, which is closed for major renovations (2010). A ten minute walk up the main street, Gran Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, will take you from the ferry to the road behind the beach, Lungomare Guglielmo Marconi, letting you forget the confines of Venice. If you spend more than one evening enjoying yourself at an open air restaurant or bar on the Gran Viale, you will recognize local inhabitants doing the same and feel like you belong.

You will want to stay longer in Venice and enjoy it more leisurely, as one should. You can rent a bicycle to explore the island, go down on the beach, take the bus that crosses on the ferry to Pellestrina. It will be a an entirely different experience than you would have had, if you had stayed in a hotel in middle of Venice.

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