Buildings and streets in the Dorsoduro neighborhood in Venice, Italy

Venice is the ultimate walking city. It’s a place that you could spend years exploring and still discover new nooks and crannies. Yet it’s small enough to see large swaths in a day. So it was fitting that immediately upon our arrival in the city, our plan was to get lost in the labyrinth.

Until this happened.

Thankfully it was just a passing monsoon and after dropping our luggage at the hotel, we were on our way.

We didn’t know which direction we wanted to go, so we headed southwest toward Dorsoduro.

Venice Walking Tour Dorsoduro

After five minutes of walking, we happened upon San Vidal, a former church which is now a performance hall.

Venice Walking Tour Dorsoduro

On the Ponte dell’Accademia which crosses the Grand Canal

Shirt: Ann Taylor Factory Store
Pants: Banana Republic Sloan Fit (similar)
Sandals: Target (similar)
Necklace: J. Crew
Sunnies: Ray-Ban

Dorsoduro is a hub of art, history and culture in Venice, and it shows. After passing over the Ponte dell’Accademia we were immediately greeted by bright stuccoed buildings, floral balconies, meandering canals, unique shops and bustling cafes. We passed the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a world-renowned museum of 20th century art, but didn’t have time to go in and properly tour (next time!). The Gallerie dell’Accademia, for which the bridge was named and sits directly across, houses priceless works by great Venetian artists.

We wandered down to the large canal separating Dorsoduro from Giudecca before heading toward the Punta della Dogana (a modern art museum in a former customs house) at the tip of the island to rest and gaze at St. Mark’s Square.

After resting our feet, we set out to find a canal-side restaurant to have dinner. Along the way we encountered these kids playing soccer in the street. I wonder what it would be like to be a child growing up in Venice, with such a small local population but so much history and relevance?

Children play football in the street in Dorsoduro, Venice, Italy

Who needs a soccer pitch when you can play in the empty streets?

The area had just woken up in the early evening (contrary to the rest of the city which shuts down early), with bars and restaurants buzzing, streets full, and shops bustling.

We ultimately decided to eat along the Grand Canal, just under the Ponte dell’Accademia. We ordered pizza, natch.

After a long day of travel, getting soaked in rain showers and exploring Venetian neighborhoods, it was time to rest up for another big day tomorrow. We made our way back to the hotel, but not before stopping to take some puddle pictures of St. Mark’s Square. The rain showers were good for something!

Reflecting on the day, we were surprised at just how much ground we covered in a couple of hours. Now, we didn’t stop in anywhere, and if I were to go back I would definitely want to carve out a few hours to explore some of the art museums in the area. But if you’re a traveler on a strict budget, Venice – and Dorsoduro specifically – can be an incredibly enjoyable place just to walk around.

After only a few short hours in this historic Italian city, I was in love.

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Dorsoduro: The Artsy, Eclectic, Buzzing Venetian Neighborhood of My Dreams