We took a train from Rome to be in Venice for a short while. We preferred the Italian Frecciarossa (fast train) in place of taking a flight to Venice. This was for various reasons including convenience, experiencing the Italian country side views and of course because the train would give us an option to get down either at Mestre or Santa Lucia and walk right to our hotel (or a very short cab, bus or Vaporetto ride).
If you are taking a train to Venice and are wondering about where to get down; Mestre or Santa Lucia, or if you are confused about where to stay amongst these two places, then here are my inputs!
If you want to know more on train travel in Italy do read –
The City of Venice is divided into two portions –
- The old historic town amidst the canals – Santa Lucia or St. Lucia
- The new industrialized portion which falls just before the historic Venetian island – Mestre
Venezia Santa Lucia Station – Old City of Venice
Santa Lucia is the last stop of all trains to Venice. It is the gateway to the old historic island that we see in televisions and documentaries. This is also the real touristy fragment of Venice. The old city is where the numerous canals are giving it the maximum magnetism to draw that crowd. It is where we find some of the most expensive hotels and restaurants. Of course, it is that part of Venice where Shylock and Antonio got virtually captured in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice! Ha! Yes, this is what we know of Venice and why we essentially want to go there.
It is definitely beautiful and for once you will feel you have come behind in time for good. The longstanding buildings, bridges, museums and churches will leave you spell bound for sure. It would be beautiful to stay in one of the old-world hotels here and walk out and go awry in the island.
Sounds dreamy, isn’t it?
Well, yes I wouldn’t deny that. However, for that you need a comfortable hotel to get some good sleep. If you have a budget of $100 or $150 per night in a medium season, all you will find is a hostel or a really worn out hotel with a sharing bath within a very gloomy building. That is definitely not what you want on a vacation. Also even if you increase your budget to $200 to get some comfort, you should ask yourself if you are getting any value of what you would spend!
On the other hand, if you do get a great deal for a hotel or an apartment that you know is going to be an absolute value, then by very means you must go for it and stay in this part of Venice!
Venezia Mestre Station
This is not the slice of Venice you see on television. This is that part of modest Venice where most regular businesses occur. It has business hotels, corporates and common people running a systematic commercial routine – just like an ideal city! This side of Venice is called the Venice Mestre! All trains to Venice stop at Mestre first and then proceed to Santa Lucia (last stop). Even the fast trains stop at Mestre because this is where Venice actually starts from! Mestre is just a 10 minutes train ride away from the historic island. It will cost you only 1.5 EUR from Mestre to Santa Lucia.
Tip – When you are coming to Venice from another city in a train, the cost would be the same regardless of whether you get down at Mestre or Santa Lucia station!
Mestre is like a steady urban town! You see typical supermarkets, fast food places and business hotels. Most neat hotels are walking distance across the Mestre train station and staying in these will give you an absolute value for money with the best of both worlds! In the range of $80-$100, we can find hotels like Best Western or Plaza which are right across the train station with comfortable walking distance. The rate includes good quality rooms and breakfast.
At Santa Lucia, you would get a bare hostel at this rate with a sharing bath!
I would prefer staying in Mestre even if I had to travel to the island in a 10 minutes train ride. That is what we did and trust me, it wasn’t inconvenient at all!
You can board any train from Mestre because all of them go to the last stop of Santa Lucia. Trains ply every 10 minutes and any train can be boarded except the Frecciarossa (Fast train). At 1.5 EUR one-way, the fare is a steal. Also, while you are in Venice you would prefer to be out the whole day regardless of where you stay. A short straight 10 minutes train ride back to the hotel in Mestre will not ruin anything of your tour! In fact, it will be even more relaxed with a good night’s sleep at a great value.
Tip – Buy an excellent Venetian mask or some good souvenirs to take back home or have a luxury dinner in a fancy restaurant for that extra money you save by staying in Mestre!
Check out on how you can spend a day in Venice –