Venice is beauty and history, but also architecture, cuisine and a very unique local life. The more you get into the outer sestieri, or neighborhoods, the more of the authentic everyday life with fewer tourists you will experience. But also the center around San Marco with its famous sights cannot be missed.
Do: This district is the oldest part of Venice, here you find the Mercato di Rialto, today the fish market. Of course you can’t miss the Rialto Bridge and the view of Canal Grande. For even more spectacular views visit the department store T Fondaco dei Tedeschi right at the bridge with its viewing platform. But consider that you have to wait long times in order to get on the roof and you only have about fifteen minutes there. However, the old palazzo itself is a fantastic place and great luxury shopping destination. A nice souvenir from Venice are furlane the traditional godonliere shoes. You can buy a handmade pair at Piedatierre right at Rialto bridge. Or alternatively at Gianni Dittura in Calle Fiubera close to piazza San Marco. The Fondazione Prada located on the other side of the canal hosts great exhibitions, as well as Ca’Pesaro. At Palazzetto Bru Zane you can enjoy all sorts of cultural events and concerts. In San Polo there is also Casa Parmigiano, an old shop full of Venetian delicacies and Antica Drogheria Mascari, one of the oldest delis and spice shops.
Eat: Go to Cucina del Tentor for a chic, modern dinner. But in San Polo you also find several good bacari where you can enjoy cheap wine and simple food close to the fish market and Campo Bella Vienna, like Osteria all’Arco, Osteria alla Ciurma, Cantina do Spade, Al Merca, Osteria Bancogiro, Il Diavolo E L’acqua Santa, Antiche Carampane and finally Cantina do Mori. For doci and cakes try all the delicious pastries at Pasticceria Rizzardini on Calle dei Meloni.
Do: This neighborhood is also lovely to explore by foot, for example you can see the Squero di San Trovaso, one of the last boatyards, where they still build the traditional gondolas. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Palazzo Ca’Rezzonico are also located here. Furthermore, Dorsoduro is great because the university is located in this sestiere, so there are many bars and cafes where you can enjoy a more inexpensive espresso or Aperol. A nice piazza is Campo San Banaba and the cafe Ai Artisti, for instance. Here, you also find one of the market ships, where they sell fruits and legumes right from the ship. Campo Santa Magherita is also a laidback place with bars and the delicious bakery Majer, which bakes a delicious basil cake.
Eat: Osteria Al Squero is right across the boatyard and close to Cantina del Vino Gia Schiavi, another fine bacaro. The wine bars Al Bocon DiVino and the more modern Al Do Draghi are located right on Campo Santa Margherita. Already located in the district of Santa Croce you find the delicious trattoria Antica Besseta, Osteria La Zucca and Al Vecio Marangon fro dinner and Chet Bar for drinks.
On the Island you find the small museum for photography with interesting exhibitions Casa dei Tre Oci. For a stylish drink, head to the rooftop bar of the Hilton hotel for a cocktail hour with a view, or go to Harrys Dolci for cakes and drinks.
On the even smaller island of Saint Giorgio Maggiore just before Giudecca there is chic cafe and restaurant San Giorgio, great for aperitivo.
Find all the important information and tips about the rest of the Venice neighborhoods here and about the other islands of the lagoon here. There are more travel guides for destinations in Italy, the most beautiful country! Read about the islands Panarea, Salina, Stromboli and Vulcano, Sicily here, here and here, Puglia here and here, or the amazing Amalfi Coast and Capri.