The Sestieri: the Six Venice Areas
Other cities have ‘quarters’, but in Venice, areas of the city are known as “sestieri”. So how many districts does Venice have, and what are the main things to do in each one? Here’s a quick lowdown on the six districts of Venice.
1. San Marco
As the name of this district suggests, San Marco is where the heart of Venice is located, along with its most famous landmarks. Piazza San Marco, its stunning basilica and the Doge’s Palace are all situated here, so if you’re on a Venice day trip with limited time, you’ll probably want to spend most of your time in this quarter.
Cannaregio is Venice’s largest district, and it’s where you’ll find one of the best museums in Venice – the Jewish Museum of Venice, which explains the fascinating history of the district’s Jewish Quarter. Venice is known for its stunning palazzi, particularly those that line the Grand Canal, and you’ll see one of the finest of them here: the 15th century Ca d’Oro. Check out our favourite things to do in Cannaregio for other must-visit places in this district.
3. San Polo
This more laidback part of the city has plenty to recommend it, with the Rialto Market and Campo San Polo (the city’s second largest square, after San Marco) both located here. The iconic Rialto Bridge connects this district with San Marco, so it’s easy to get to when you want to explore a slightly quieter part of the city.
Known for being the city’s university district and one of the ‘cool’ areas of Venice, Dorsoduro is a great place to go if you’re a bookworm, as it has some fantastic bookshops. Among its many gems, the district is home to the Ca’ Foscari University and to the famous Peggy Guggenheim Collection – a must for art lovers.
5. Santa Croce
From the lively San Giacomo dell’Orio square and its historic church to Venice’s fascinating Museum of Modern Art, Santa Croce has plenty going for it. This district is also the location of the city’s main bus terminal at Piazzale Roma, so you’ll be passing through if you arrive in Venice on the bus.
Castello is one of the least visited parts of Venice, which makes it a great place to head if you’re keen to escape the crowds. It’s where you’ll find the famous Arsenale, along with the Naval History Museum and plenty more besides. Take a look at our guide to what to see in Castello for more ideas for your itinerary.
We’ve answered one common question – how many quarters are there in the city of Venice? – but before we go, we’d like to answer another one: is Venice safe at night? The answer is yes! Venice is a very safe city and all its six districts are at their most romantic at night. Finally, if you want to save on the cost of accommodation, you might want to stay outside the sestieri; here are some good reasons why you should stay in Mestre if you’re on a budget.