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Things to Do in Venice Italy - The Dorsoduro

If you are looking for things to do in Venice that are slightly out of the ordinary, then the Dorsoduro sestiere (sestieri are what the suburbs of Venice are called) is the perfect place to start.

Dorsoduro does not have the touristy feel of San Marco and is very easy to get to—just across the Grand Canal from the St. Mark's (San Marco) side. 

Once you get here, though, you soon notice an entirely different atmosphere. Another Venice entirely awaits your discovery.

This Venice is far less touristy and offers you a chance to savor a genuine experience of life in Venice. Spend a little time here and in the other outlying sestiere like Castello and Cannaregio (home to the old ghetto of Venice), and you will soon understand why Venice is so special.

It is here that one truly understands how unique life is in this car-free city.

Dorsoduro Hotels

My advice, if you are looking for an excellent hotel in this area, is to stay at the Palazzo Stern Hotel. It is truly an amazing place. Click the link, and you should be able to see some photos that will show you what I mean. A splendid hotel, like few others I have ever visited.

The Charming House DD724 (click for more) has a very silly name but is another good option.

What to see in the Dorsoduro District?

In the less touristy corners of Dorsoduro, you'll discover a truly authentic Venetian experience:

  1. Traditional Bakeries: Follow the aroma of freshly baked goods to the local bakeries scattered throughout Dorsoduro. Here, you can indulge in a variety of traditional treats like "fugassa" (Venetian focaccia) and "baicoli" (delicate biscotti)
  2. Small Artisan Workshops: Dorsoduro has a long history of craftsmanship and artistry. Meander through the quiet streets, and you'll stumble upon small artisan workshops where skilled craftsmen create exquisite handmade goods. See some we love in our Venice shopping guide
  3. Local Bars ("Bacari"): Take a break from your exploration to join the locals at one of the bacari, these small, cozy bars serve "cicchetti," Venetian-style tapas. These bite-sized snacks are often enjoyed with a glass of "ombra," a small measure of wine.
  4. The student presence from Ca' Foscari University:  The presence of students adds to the lively and youthful atmosphere. This is one of Italy's top universities, and students come to study here from across Italy and indeed the world.
  5. Hidden gardens and private courtyards: Peek through open gates or enter museums and historical buildings to discover these serene spots, where you can unwind and appreciate the tranquil beauty of Venice away from the crowds.
  6. Explore the quiet canals and lesser-known bridges in Dorsoduro: These picturesque spots offer charming views and encapsulate the Venetian way of life.
  7. Dorsoduro has both exclusive areas and local neighborhoods: Areas such as L’Accademia and Zattere are considered among the most exclusive parts of Venice by modern-day Venetians and contain some beautiful villas. Most of the villas once belonged to noble families, but they are now mostly owned by wealthy billionaires and international celebrities.

Top Sights in Dorsoduro

Ca' Rezzonico

Dedicated to 17th and 18th century Venetian life this museum is definitely worth a visit and seldom features as one of the things to do in Venice Italy.: The museum's dedication to this particular period in Venice's history allows you to step back in time and experience the opulence, art, and lifestyle of the city's Golden Age. 

The third floor is the best part of the museum with masks, puppets, costumes, and the chemist’s shop, in authentic 18th century style, which reminds me of the apothecary in Harry Potter.

Situated right on the Grand Canal, Ca' Rezzonico provides a picturesque setting that adds to the overall experience. Take a moment to admire the stunning views from the museum's windows and balconies, capturing the essence of Venetian life along the waterways.

Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute

Santa Maria della SaluteSanta Maria della Salute

This magnificent church was built  to thank God for delivering Venice from the devastating plague of 1630–1631. Outside, it is one of the most splendid of all Venetian buildings, and inside, the Madonna is the most beautiful Byzantine icon to be found anywhere in Venice.

The annual festival, known as the Feast of the Salute (Festa della Madonna della Salute), commemorates the end of the plague and honors the Virgin Mary for her intercession. It is held here on the 21st of November. It is a celebration of note, and masses of people arrive from all the surrounding areas for a day of feasting and celebrating.

One of the highlights of the Feast of the Salute is the candlelit procession that takes place in the evening. Thousands of candles illuminate the church and its surroundings, creating a magical ambiance.

The Santa Maria della Salute features on our list of the most beautiful churches and cathedrals in Venice.

Venice's Guggenheim Museum

This is the smallest of the Guggenheim museums and was once the home of Peggy Guggenheim. This is a museum that houses an interesting collection of modern art, mostly a mixed bag of 19th and 20th century artists, including Pollock, Picasso, Mondrian, and Dali.

The museum's location on the Grand Canal offers breathtaking views of the water and Venetian architecture. The beautiful surroundings complement the art on display, making the experience even more memorable.

Take a stroll around the outdoor sculpture garden, where visitors can take a leisurely stroll among intriguing sculptures, enjoying a moment of tranquility amidst the vibrant city.

In addition to the permanent collection, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection hosts temporary exhibitions that provide insights into specific art movements or showcase contemporary artists. 

Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Carmini

The 13th century Church of Santa Maria dei Carmini is not as widely visited by tourists as some of the more famous landmarks in Venice. As a result, it offers a more intimate and authentic experience, allowing you to connect with the local community and the historical significance of the church.


🚩 Stroll across the Rialto Bridge, take a ride on a traditional gondola along the Grand Canal, see St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and other magnificent places in just a day!

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Squero di San Trovaso

While not a church or a museum, this traditional gondola boatyard offers a unique glimpse into the craftsmanship and maintenance of gondolas, which are an integral part of Venetian culture.

Gondolas are iconic symbols of the city, and the craftsmanship involved in their construction and maintenance has been passed down through generations. However, the tradition of building gondolas in such boatyards is facing challenges, and the art of gondola-making is considered to be dying out. Here's why:

Labor-Intensive Process: Building a gondola is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process that requires skilled artisans with specialized knowledge. It involves using traditional techniques, hand tools, and high-quality materials. As younger generations opt for different career paths and lifestyles, the number of skilled craftsmen with the expertise to build gondolas is dwindling.

Economic Pressures: Operating a gondola boatyard is financially demanding, and the economic viability of such establishments has become a concern. High operating costs, coupled with limited demand, pose significant challenges for the sustainability of these traditional boatyards.

Cultural Shift: The younger generations of Venetians often seek modern and technologically advanced professions, moving away from traditional trades and practices. This cultural shift further contributes to the gradual disappearance of the art of gondola-making.

Despite these challenges, efforts are being made to preserve and revitalize the art of gondola-making. Cultural organizations and local initiatives are working to support traditional boatyards and provide training programs to attract new apprentices and sustain the craftsmanship. Additionally, there is growing interest from enthusiasts and tourists in supporting and learning about the heritage of gondolas, providing hope for the continuation of this essential part of Venetian culture.

While the Squero di San Trovaso and a few other traditional gondola boatyards still operate, their survival remains uncertain. Preserving this unique craft is crucial not only for the Venetian identity but also for the safeguarding of a remarkable cultural heritage that has thrived for centuries in the enchanting waterways of Venice.

The Best Part...

If you have visited all the sights in the Dorsduro, and even if you haven't, the best awaits: soaking up the atmosphere in this part of Venice.

To really get the feel of the district, visit Campo Santa Margherita, a buzzing 9th-century piazza and one of the biggest in Venice, full of life and color. A couple of the restaurants here are famous for having the best Italian meatball recipe to be found anywhere; the only one better is my great meatballs recipe.

During the morning, the market is filled with the smells and sounds of the fish and fresh produce markets, and in the evening, the piazza gives itself over to Venetian families and the young students and artists who live in this part of Venice.

By venturing off the beaten path in Dorsoduro, you'll get a chance to connect with the heart of Venice and experience the city from the perspective of its residents. Whether you're sipping wine at a bacaro, admiring artisan crafts, or simply strolling through the tranquil streets, the less touristy corners of Dorsoduro promise an enriching and authentic Venetian experience.

Visited Venice?

I would love to hear about your visit to Venice, your experiences in the city, travel tips, favorite things about Venice. Anything you can share would be really appreciated by me and I am sure by other visitors to this site.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Venice Through my Painter's Eyes 
I’ve been painting Venice watercolors for many years now! Every year, I take adult painting students with me. I rent an apartment for 2 or 3 weeks, always …

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Three years ago I rented a home in Dorsoduro for two weeks and it just wasn't long enough. I have missed it since I left. So this year in September …

Shopping for leather Goods in Dorsoduro, Venice, Italy Not rated yet
I want to share this wonderful shop that hand makes lovely small leather goods. I have been here twice & totally enjoyed each experience. The shop owner …

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Northern Italy is an industrialized region, and the hub of all that industry is in Veneto. However, the area is rife with beautiful cultural attractions, …

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The Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) is one of the most exquisite sights in the whole of Venice. The oldest of the four bridges spanning the …

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