venice-vs-rome

Venice vs Rome – Which City is Best if You Don’t Have Time to Visit Both?

The aim of this article is to help you plan your itinerary in Italy.  In the past, we have visited both Venice and Rome several times and loved both cities.  Some people prefer Venice whereas others favour the city of Rome. In our opinion, it really depends on what you are looking for.  In this post, we will give you some key information to make your choice easier.

Venice vs Rome

In the right corner of the boxing ring you have Venice:

RegionPopulationAreaTourists
Veneto260,896414.54 Square Km30 Million
Venice Grand-Canal
Venice Grand-Canal

Venice is found in Italy in the region of Veneto.  The currency used is the Euro and the language spoken is Italian.  Venice has an International Airport located outside the city so you need to take a taxi boat or a vaporetto to reach the main island.  In total, Venice has 118 islands and 400 bridges over canals.  As a result, Venice is known as the “City of Water”, “City of Bridges” and La Dominante” or “Queen of the Adriatic”. Venice is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It’s hardly surprising that Venice is one of the top tourist destinations in the world with 26 to 30 million tourists each year.

In the left corner of the boxing ring you have Rome:

RegionPopulationAreaTourists
Lazio4,321 Million1,285 Square Km20.4 Million
Rome Colosseum
Rome Colosseum

Rome is situated in Italy in the region of Lazio.  The currency is the Euro and the language spoken is Italian. Rome is the home of more than 900 churches and 280 fountains.   The Trevi Fountain is the most well-known.  Did you know that each night they collect almost 3,000 Euros from the fountain? Rome also has the Spanish Steps, but these steps are French not Spanish! Rome is known as the “Eternal City” or “Caput Mundi” meaning capital of the world. The river Tiber divides the city with the centre on one side and the Trastevere area on the other. The Vatican is located inside the city of Rome and it is where all the tourists go to see St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum. Rome’s mascot is a she-wolf thanks to the legend of Romulus and Remus, the creators of Rome.

Round 1 – Things to See in Venice vs Rome

Both cities have plenty to see and do, but Rome has a lot more than Venice if you are interested in history.  However, Venice has more festivals or carnivals. The Venice carnival is a very good example.

Places to Visit in Venice

  • St Mark’s Square
  • Doge’s Palace
  • Venice by Gondola
  • Rialto Bridge
  • Bridge of Sighs

These are the typical places to visit when you are in Venice, but there are plenty of other sights to discover.  One of the advantages about Venice is that there are no cars, so you can walk around safely without worrying about traffic. It is also nice to be in a city without any street noise. You can walk along any of the main streets with other tourists.  Alternatively, you can do what we do and explore narrow back streets to find hidden places.  In this way, you will discover places where the locals eat, drink, shop and socialise. However, if it is your first time in Venice, you should definitely visit the major attractions because they are worth it.

Venice Bridge of Sighs
Venice Bridge of Sighs

I love to be near or on the water and we enjoyed taking the vaporetto instead of the bus. In Venice, you have the possibility to visit other nearby islands like Burano and Murano and there are plenty of others to see if you have time. On the other islands, you will find quiet spots with less tourists.

One of Venice’s nicknames is the City of Masks because of the famous carnival where everyone dresses up in elaborate costumes and wears intricate masks.  There are plenty of other festivals during the year like the one which takes place on St Mark’s Square with a gondola competition. You can check this Website for all festival in Venice

Venice-carnival
Venice-carnival

Places to visit in Rome

  • The Colosseum
  • The Spanish Steps
  • Palatine Hill
  • Arch of Constantine
  • The Trevi Fountain
  • The Pantheon
  • Vatican
Rome-Pantheon
Rome-Pantheon

This is a little taste of what Rome has to offer.  To be honest, you have almost unlimited places to visit. Each time I visit Rome, I find new places to see.  Last time, I found the Aventine Keyhole which allows you to see the dome of St Peter’s Basilica through a tiny keyhole. You can read our article, if you want to know more about how to find the Aventine keyhole in Rome. During the same trip, we also discovered a Pyramid as well. The thing we love to do in Rome is to wander around the city without a destination in mind.  Each time we do this, we find something new and interesting.  There is almost something to see on every corner of the city because Rome is a paradise for historical buildings.  The city allows you to discover and appreciate how ingenious the Romans were. They invented a lot of building techniques which are still in use today. For example, did you know that the Romans invented the lift?  It was a manual lift to raise the animals from the basement to the surface during games in the Colosseum?

Rome is also the city of churches and cathedrals.  There are churches everywhere and they are all splendid. The most impressive one is St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.  Did you know that you can climb to the top of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica?  Read our article to find all the information you need about how to climb St Peter’s Basilica dome.

St-Peter’s-Dome top view
St-Peter’s-Dome top view

The Vatican Museum is one of Rome’s most visited museums and it is here that you can admire the amazing Sistine Chapel. You will always remember the elegant and charming ceiling painted by Michelangelo.  It is the masterpiece of the museum.

To sum up, both cities have plenty to see but Rome has a lot more.  The sights in Rome are truly impressive and dominate the city compared to those in Venice. The Colosseum and St Peter’s Basilica won’t fail to disappoint you and, in my opinion, you definitely need to visit these fabulous buildings.   On the other hand, Venice is easier to walk around than Rome and it’s a very romantic city.  The fact that the city is on water is romantic in itself. Venice is more about the city than individual points of interest.  Without doubt, the city is charming and will give you a memorable experience. Venice is also a vibrant place with many festivals during the year.

Round 2 – Transport in Venice vs Rome

Both cities have good transport links but they are completely different. You have standard public transport with trains, trams, buses and metro in Rome whereas Venice has a unique transport system with vaporettos, taxi boats and private launches.  In both cities, it is easy to transfer from the airport to the city centre.  To reach Rome, you need to take the train from the airport to the centre.  There is no need to take the express train as the normal train is cheaper and does the same.  To reach Venice, you need to walk from the airport to the boat terminal and here you have the choice of taking a taxi boat or the vaporetto.  The vaporetto is very slow but much cheaper than a taxi boat.

Venice Gondola
Venice Gondola

To travel around the city of Rome, you can use buses, trams or the metro and prices aren’t too expensive.  Our advice is to choose a hotel near the city centre.  Our hotel was located fairly close to the Colosseum and from there you can walk. To visit the centre of Venice, you don’t need to use a vaporetto because you can walk. The vaporetto is a good solution if you have suitcases with you.  Be aware that it is difficult to travel with suitcases in Venice because there are a lot of bridges with steps.  This is one of the many reasons why we always use a backpack when we travel. To find out more about the benefits of backpacks, read our article about how to choose a good backpack.  Venice transport can also be affected by a high tide.  If this happens, vaporettos don’t operate which can cause a problem.  You may have no other solution but to walk to your destination.

To summarise, Venice presents more difficulties when you arrive or leave with large pieces of luggage than Rome.  At the same time, Venice is free of cars, trucks and scooters so there is a lot less noise and pollution. In contrast, central Rome is not enjoyable in heavy traffic.

Round 3 – Venice vs Rome Food and Drink

Both cities are in Italy and everywhere in Italy you will find delicious food. In Venice, you will enjoy more sea food than in Rome, but the speciality in Venice is the Aperol Spritz. This is an aperitif made with wine, sparkling water and Aperol. It is a delight to enjoy on a sunny terrace but you can even buy it ready made in a bottle, but it’s not quite as good. The other great speciality in Venice is Tiramisu.  Did you know that this dessert (made with mascarpone and biscuits soaked in coffee) was created in the Venice area?

The best speciality I ate in Rome was artichokes.  In Rome, there are a few ways to cook them, but my preference is the fried version. This dish isn’t available all year round, so you need to be visiting Rome during the artichoke season to enjoy it. The other speciality is pasta carbonara, made with pancetta, eggs and pasta (but no cream as I used to add to this dish at home). Another great pasta dish is pasta cacio e pepe.  This is a pasta dish made with pecorino cheese and some of the pasta water. It’s simple, easy and delicious!  This is the philosophy of Italian dishes!

Cacio-e-pepe-pasta-Roma-Speciality
Cacio-e-pepe-pasta-Roma-Speciality

To summarise, you will eat very well in both Venice and Rome.  One of the main differences is that Venice is surrounded by water so the fish is very fresh which will please fish or seafood lovers. Rome is the best place to eat popular classic pasta dishes or beautiful seasonal products like artichokes.

Round 4 – Venice vs Rome Cost of Living

This round is very simple, Rome is less expensive than Venice in all categories. You will find cheaper hotels and restaurants in Rome. We love to go to the Travestere area to eat.  For us, it is the best place to go to find a restaurant in the evening. This area is known by locals and the food is authentic and good value for money. In Venice, you can find affordable places if you avoid the tourist areas.  We found a very nice bar/restaurant in a small and narrow back street where the food was lovely and inexpensive.  Overall, however, Rome is less expensive. For both cities, you need to avoid eating near major attractions as most of the restaurants are tourist traps.

milarly, Rome offers the best value for money accommodation. This is due to supply and demand.  Tourists in Venice are competing for fewer hotel spaces.  One of the best ways to find reasonable hotel prices in Venice is to stay on one of the islands. You can check prices below with our partner Booking.com to find the best deal for you. They have a great choice of hotels for all budgets.

Round 5 – Venice vs Rome Disappointments

For both cities, the big downside is the number of tourists and the waiting time in queues.  For both cities, we recommend buying your tickets in advance.  The link below is for a trusted company which allows you to not only skip the lines but allows you flexibility as tickets can be cancelled up to 24 hours before.  They also offer mobile-friendly payment and tickets so that you can book on the go as you explore the city.

In Venice, on top of the usual tourists, you also have the day tourists coming from the enormous cruise ships.  When a big cruise ship arrives, you can have three thousand additional tourists swamping the city from the ship. Another downside for Venice is the floods or the high tide.  When you have a high tide, the vaporetto stops working and it is difficult to go from point A to B. 

One of the downsides of Rome is the traffic as the city can be extremely busy when you are travelling by car or scooter and the noise can be annoying compared to peaceful Venice.

Final Round – Our Verdict Venice vs Rome

You can compare Venice and Rome to David and Goliath.  Venice is peaceful and elegant compared to powerful Rome with its massive archaeological sites.  However, both cities come highly recommended.  In short, Venice and Rome are great destinations to spend a long weekend and you won’t be disappointed whichever you choose.  However, the city you choose will depend on your personal taste and what you want from your weekend.  Rome is a fascinating city thanks to the ingenious Romans and their grandiose buildings.  On the other hand, Venice is a unique, picture-perfect place which is perfect for a romantic escape. I hope we have helped you to decide between Venice and Rome.  Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below to help the community.

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