There’s a lot to love about this sestiere, which wraps around the thumb of neighbouring San Marco and connects to it via the Accademia Bridge and numerous Vaporetto stops. From its picturesque canals and palazzos to its young, artsy vibe, Dorsoduro has high energy and more modest, affordable hotels due in part to the proximity of Venice’s university.
A good rule anywhere in Italy is to eat where the locals eat. And that’s very easy to do in Dorsoduro since there’s an abundance of simple, reasonably priced osterias. Estro is a perennial favourite, whether you want a sit-down meal or to just share snacks (Cicchetti) over a bottle of wine at the bar.
Venice is not a late-night city, but it tries its hardest on Campo Santa Margherita, in the university quarter. Start your evening with tasty bites and a glass of wine in a bàcaro—sort of a Venetian tapas bar—then come back after dinner for a nightcap on this lively piazza. Or just spend your whole evening bar-hopping and snacking here.
Art lovers will find manageable crowds and stunning modern artwork at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, plus all those painting from art history class, including several of Hieronymus Bosch’s creepier masterpieces, at the Galleria dell’Accademia.
You’ll find plenty of cosy B&Bs in Dorsoduro, and it’s also an area where a little splurge goes a long way. Spring for an old-world room at Hotel Galleria, and swoon at your view of either the Accademia Bridge or the Grand Canal. The hotel is currently undergoing some reconstruction work on its facade, but it is worth the wait.
If you do just one thing...
Walk to the very eastern tip of Dorsoduro, at the end of the Punta della Dogana, to marvel at the Venetian equivalent of a superhighway. Ferries, gondolas, water taxis, barges and massive cruise ships—they all navigate past this promontory with amazing ease and precision (and remarkably few collisions).