If you’re visiting one of Italy’s most famous cities, you can expect to spend a lot of time in the traffic-free centre on foot. Finding the perfect pick among the best bars in Venice is therefore a must for many a weary traveller, who wishes to relax with a refreshing drink at the end of an exciting but tiring day.
From the best cocktail bars in Venice to the cosiest neighbourhood Osteria serving mouthwatering, freshly prepared bar snacks to savour alongside your food. This guide to the best bars in the Italian city of Venice covers every type of occasion.
Whether you want to drink in sweeping canal views as you sip, taste an expertly mixed cocktail or mingle with the locals in one of the city’s finest yet most affordable establishments, this list comprises 15 of the best bars to visit in Venice.
1. Bar Longhi
If it’s a room with a view you’re looking for, Bar Longhi is definitely the Venice bar for you. It can be found inside The Gritti Palace, one of the best luxury hotels in Venice. It’s not the cheapest place for a cocktail, but it certainly oozes class.
Bar Longhi also has a waterfront terrace, so you can enjoy views of the Grand Canal from inside or out. The word grand doesn’t do it justice: opulent details include handmade Venetian mirrors, Murano glass lampshades, original paintings, fine fabrics and a solid marble countertop.
2. Venice Jazz Club
Step back in time during your Italian sojourn at the Venice Jazz Club. This intimate venue has low lighting and a well-stocked bar, and you can be serenaded in style by the in-house VJC quartet as you sup. The band includes guitar, piano, drums and double bass players.
As Venice’s only jazz club, it’s a popular place. Live music is usually played late in the evenings between 9pm and 11pm. Located in the Dorsoduro district, the bar is positioned between the San Barnaba and Santa Margherita piazzas. A visit to the club is definitely one of the best things to do in Venice.
3. Cantine del Vino Già Schiavi
Visitors are certainly spoiled for choice at the Cantine del Vino Già Schiavi, a place that’s nothing short of legendary. The full length of each wall is lined with row upon row of bottles, and you can buy light meals and snacks as well as wine by the glass.
Despite its popularity and convivial atmosphere, the food and drinks at Cantine del Vino Già Schiavi are pretty reasonably priced. It’s super cute – and very tiny – so do grab a seat here if you possibly can.
4. Il Brillo Parlante
Though the sign says ‘Bar Il Brillo Parlante’, this Venice venue is also known among locals and tourists as a café. Don’t be nonplussed by the plain, unfussy exterior – this is a place well worth getting to know.
Drinks come with complimentary snacks, which comes in handy if you get chatting to a local and may miss your dinner reservation.
Open from breakfast time, you could spend all day dipping in and out of Il Brillo Parlante, devouring delicious pastries and toasted sandwiches accompanied by rounds of cappuccino and aperol spritz.
5. Il Mercante
Located right by the impressive Basilica dei Frari, Il Mercante literally translates as ‘The Merchant’ (of Venice). If that Shakespearian association isn’t enough, maybe you should try one of the custom-made cocktails. As well as being palate-pleasers, they are works of art.
You might even be fortunate enough to grab a table by the water, although the place generally becomes packed out as the evening wears on. The cocktails are a dream at Il Mercante and the service is impeccable.
If you’d gladly eschew sleek and modern in favour of a quintessentially Venetian joint, All’Arco is surely calling your name. A few minutes’ walk from the Rialto Bridge, it’s little more than a hole-in-the-wall, but serves those delectable bar snacks known locally as cicchetti.
For an authentic atmosphere, a warm welcome and a good selection of high quality wines, add All’Arco to your Venice tick-list. As it’s very small and can get crowded, it’s best to be willing to stand at the counter if a spot becomes free while waiting for a table.
7. Harry’s Bar
Of all Venice bars, Harry’s is surely the most legendary of all. This place is famous all over the world as the birthplace of the bellini, comprising peach puree and champagne.
Martini is also an institution at Harry’s in Venice, although it is, somewhat unusually, served in a stemless glass here.
With its location close to Piazza San Marco, the original Harry’s in Venice is still, for many, by far the best. If you don’t drop in here at least once during your visit to Venice, you may well feel like you’ve been missing out. Just be wary that its legendary status comes with a price tag.
8. Birreria Zanon
Birreria Zanon stands out on the Venice nightlife scene as a place where great beers are the order of the day – or rather, the evening. Simple wooden tables and chairs, large beer kegs and painted metal signs create an ambience that is international rather than Venetian or even Italian.
Beers from Belgium, the US and Britain feature on the drinks list, and the clientele tends to veer towards the serious beer-lover – in all its forms. Students, gondoliers, builders and tourists mix as seamlessly as the beer flows from the taps behind the bar.
9. Skyline Rooftop Bar
Arguably the best view over Venice can be yours when drinking at the Skyline Rooftop Bar. In a city as beautiful as this, that’s no minor claim. The bar is on the eighth floor, and has a fabulous outdoor terrace so you can make the most of those jaw-dropping views.
The Skyline Rooftop Bar is located in the arty Accademia neighbourhood, inside the Hilton Molino Stucky. The building was a flour mill once-upon-a-time.
From creative mixologists to live bands and DJs, this is the most stylish place to be after the sun sets over the canals.
10. Osteria da Filo
This Venetian Osteria has a neighbourhood vibe and is all the better for it. It’s a place for great wine, good conversation and top quality, freshly prepared bar snacks. A visit here won’t break the bank either. Ideal if you’ve already overspent at one of the city’s pricier places.
Even during the quieter season, this is enough of a locals’ joint to be a hive of activity, helped along by frequent live music sessions.
11. Ae Bricoe
This authentic Venetian bar can be found in the Cannaregio district, and stepping into this welcoming place can feel like a homecoming for locals and visitors alike.
From artisan beers to an expertly mixed and reasonably priced Aperol spritz, it’s a great bar to go to after a long day of exploring. The food, drinks and service are fabulous, and the atmosphere is unfailingly lively.
Vino-Vero’s Italian venture has been so successful that there is now a bar in Lisbon as well as Venice. Occupying a canalside position, it specialises in offering a range of natural wines from around the world.
If you want to know more about the wines or would like a recommendation, do ask the knowledgeable and approachable staff who’ll be happy to shed some light. The cicchetti are every bit as good as even the finest vintages too.
13. Bar Al Prosecco
Several decades ago, few people outside of Italy had even heard of Prosecco. Yet now it’s the go-to sparkling wine for punters from all over the world.
This bar is located on one of Venice’s most photogenic piazzas, and specialises in biodynamic, organic wines made using natural techniques.
In addition to the quaffable goods, there are tempting platters of artisan cheeses and meats available – the perfect foil for a glass of dry white or rich red. Staff are happy to share their knowledge of the fermentation processes with you. So if you’re baffled by all the terminology, do feel free to ask.
Tucked away in the Dorsoduro, Estro is somewhat off the beaten tourist path – and perhaps all the better for it. Being recommended by the Michelin Guide, though, it’s hardly an unknown find. Nor is it the place to bag a bargain feed. But it does have a treat or two in store for your tastebuds.
Some 700 organic wines are offered here, and of course the food is top-notch. Cuisine is Mediterranean in style, with the kind of twists on traditional dishes that make it worthy of a Michelin mention.
15. Osteria Ai Pugni
With a long wine list, delicious cicchetti and a canal-side location, Osteria Ai Pugni ticks a lot of boxes. The name is intriguing too. ‘Pugni’ translates to fists, and this joint is so-called due to the frequent fist-fights formerly taking place on the Ponte dei Pugni close by.
During the Renaissance era, rival clans would hold their physical clashes here, and the four footprints visible on the bridge today mark where fighters once stood awaiting their fate.
If that all sounds a bit Montagues and Capulets, don’t despair. There’s not a hint of this violent history within Osteria Ai Pugni – just chic, rustic styling and menus offering bar snacks, full meals and a range of appealing drinks. The mature cheeses and cured meats served here are particularly appetising.
Now if you’re not in the mood for a bellini or an aperol spritz then I haven’t done my job properly! Whether you love a glamorous rooftop bar or a cosy wine bar, this guide to the best bars in Venice has you covered.
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