Venice or Rome? Which Italian city to visit

Venice or Rome

I just adore Italian cities – the history, the romance, the food – but deciding which one to visit can be somewhat of a challenge! Two of the most popular Italian cities are Venice and Rome, with both offering that quintessential Italian city break experience.

So which is it going to be: Venice or Rome? Well, I’m here to help you decide which city to visit on your next trip to Italy. 

Of course both cities offer a slice of Italian culture, history and beauty, as well as all the pasta, pizza and wine you could ever dream of.

But they do both have distinct personalities. Venice is hopelessly romantic with its winding canals, cobbled streets and charming bridges. While Rome is both a vibrant metropolis and a living museum, where ancient ruins meet cosmopolitan energy.

In this article, I’ll explain the key differences between the cities and which you may prefer according to your own personal interests. I’ll also share my personal favourite choice at the end.

Rome or Venice? Let me help you decide.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

This post contains affiliate links.

A brief overview: Venice or Rome

Venice: a postcard-perfect city

Venice is like a real-life watercolour painting brought to life. A floating city that’s famed for its winding waterways and historic bridges, there is no other city quite like it.

The atmosphere is one of romance, but it’s not exclusively for couples. I’ve visited the city with both friends and family; it’s the perfect city for bellini-fuelled conversation in a breathtaking setting.

Of course you’ve got epic attractions like St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and the Grand Canal to keep you occupied too. 


While idyllic in looks, the downside of its meandering waterways and narrow streets is that it feels very busy.

The sheer number of tourists all vying to get their Insta-worthy snaps does take the edge off the romance somewhat. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid visiting.

My advice? Wake up for sunrise and enjoy the morning glow of light bathe the city for a wonderfully peaceful experience.

Rome: ancient ruins meet cosmopolitan energy

As the third most visited city in the world, Rome too is overrun with tourists – but you don’t notice it as much because it almost suits the vibrant vibe that the city does so well.

Rome is a titan of ancient history with its world-famous attractions like the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Trevi Fountain. 

There’s also the incredible Vatican City with its immense artistic and religious significance. Essentially its own country, it’s almost like getting a bonus add-on as part of your Italian city break!

A trip to Rome can be whatever you want it to be – whether a romantic sojourn, a cocktail-fuelled getaway with friends, or a culturally rich escape for a solo traveller. 

Getting to Venice and Rome

Being such popular European city breaks, accessing either Venice or Rome is pretty straightforward, whether you’re travelling from Europe, the US or elsewhere.

Getting to Venice

From the UK: There are a number of direct flights to Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) from several major cities in the UK, including London, Manchester and Edinburgh. 

The flight duration from London to Venice is approximately 2 hours.

From the US: There are direct flights available from a number of major international airports in the US. However, these may be less frequent than the number of flights to Rome. 

From a number of US cities, you will likely need a layover in another European city before continuing to Venice. 

The journey time varies from 8-14 hours depending on the departure city and layovers.

Beautiful Grand Canal Venice

Getting to and from the airport: Now the best part about getting to Venice is the final leg of the journey – if you choose to travel by water. 

If you can, I’d really recommend getting a water taxi from the airport into the city centre. It is an expensive option but it’s definitely a glamorous way to arrive at your destination!

More budget-friendly options include a bus or water bus. 

Getting to Rome

From the UK: Rome is served by two major airports: Leonardo da Vinci Airport (Fiumicino, FCO) and Ciampino Airport (CIA). 

Fiumicino is the primary international getaway, and the airport I always use when visiting Rome. 

There are a number of direct flights from cities like London, Manchester and Glasgow to Rome. The flight duration from London to Rome is around 2.5 hours. 

From the US: Direct flights to Rome Fiumicino Airport from the US are widely available, including cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The flight duration from the East Coast is 8-10 hours, while flights from the West Coast can take around 12 hours or more. 

As with Venice, for any cities without a direct flight option, there are layover options in Europe.

Rail links

Both Rome and Venice are very well connected to other major Italian cities by rail.

If you do find the time to visit both cities (and I recommend that you do if you can!) then you’ll be pleased to know that there is a direct train between Rome and Venice.

It takes around 3.5 hours.

Things to do in Venice and Rome


  • Both Venice and Rome are bursting with historic attractions and significance, with large parts of both cities designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • World-famous art and architecture are also at the forefront of both Venice and Rome, with iconic landmarks, museums and galleries.
  • Of course you can’t talk about an Italian city break and not mention the food! As you’d expect, both cities are a haven of classic Italian cities, although I’d argue that Venice has a few more tourist traps than Rome. 


  • What makes Venice so unique – and incredibly photogenic – is the complete absence of cars, which is not the case in Rome. Venice is therefore more pedestrian-friendly than Rome.
  • I’d argue that Rome has a more lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere, with more of a dynamic and vibrant side to it.

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Top things to do in Venice

St Mark’s Basilica and Square: The beating heart of Venice, St Mark’s Square is a hub of activity – and pigeons! The opulent architecture of St Mark’s Basilica is a beautiful backdrop while you sip on a coffee.

Doge’s Palace: A must-visit Venice attraction, the breathtaking Doge’s Palace offers the chance to learn about the rich history and politics of Venice. 

Inside Doges Palace

Gondola rides: It may be a cliché but you simply cannot leave Venice without a gondola ride. It’s the perfect way to explore all the nooks and crannies of the city.

Murano and Burano: While in Venice, I’d suggest doing a bit of island hopping. Especially to the nearby islands of Murano, famed for its glassmaking, and Burano, famed for its lace and colourful houses.

Discover more amazing things to do in Venice.

Top things to do in Rome

Colosseum and Roman Forum: One of the most famous attractions in Rome is the iconic Colosseum. Combined with the Roman Forum, you’ll get incredible insights into the history of the Roman Empire.

Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps: Another two recognisable landmarks, the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps are well worth seeing for their beautiful architecture. I’d recommend going at sunrise if you can, to beat the crowds!

Vatican City: One of the most impressive places I’ve ever visited, the Vatican City is a powerhouse of art, history and religious significance. Here you can see the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.

Food tours: One of my favourite things about exploring any Italian city is the food. One of the best ways to explore what Rome has to offer the avid foodie is via a food tour

Have a read of my guide to the best Rome landmarks and attractions to visit.

Food and drink scenes: Venice or Rome?

On the topic of food, I simply had to include a section on the drinks and dining scene in both cities. 

Overall I’d say the food scenes in both cities are pretty similar, in that you can expect plenty of delicious pasta and pizza.

But there are some subtle differences. 

Venice: a seafood lover’s dream

What really sets Venice apart from Rome is the focus on seafood. Influenced by its location on the Adriatic Sea, it’s no surprise to see many dishes in Venice comprise seafood.

Another Venetian speciality is cicchetti: small tapas style snacks that make the perfect accompaniment to an Aperol Spritz or Bellini. 

Gelato in Venice

You’ll also find polenta in a lot of Venetian dishes, as it’s a staple of Northern Italy cuisine. 

Finally, I have to mention the many beautiful bars in Venice. From cosy wine bars to palatial canalside spots, there is no better city to enjoy a tipple in.

Rome: classic Italian cooking

Personally I’m not a huge seafood fan, so I love the hearty rustic dishes that you find in Rome. Here it’s all about fresh pasta, cheese and meats. 

Rome is the place to indulge in all your favourite pasta dishes: carbonara, amatriciana and my own favourite, cacio e pepe.

Also if you want to satisfy those pizza cravings but not inhale a whole pizza, luckily Rome is the birthplace of Pizza al Taglio.

It’s pizza by the slice and has a crispy thin crust plus a variety of tasty toppings to choose from.

With its vibrant trattorias and pizzerias, I love the experience of dining in Rome. You’ll also find some fantastic wines in the city, due to its proximity to the wine regions of Lazio.

Rome or Venice: other considerations

Time of year

When you’re visiting Italy may influence which city you visit. I’d recommend spring and autumn for both cities but I’d definitely avoid Venice in winter, as the city is more liable to flooding.

Jessie in Venice

I’d also try to avoid the summer months in Venice due to the almost unbearable crowds!

Likewise, summer may be best avoided for Rome too due to the intense heat in the city.

Length of stay

Given that Venice is considerably smaller and more compact than Rome, I’d say that you don’t need as long to explore. So Venice is perfect if you only have a few days.

If you have longer then I’d recommend Rome, as there is more to see and do here. Plus, there are some great day trips nearby, including a number of beautiful beaches near Rome


Both cities are pretty expensive but Venice is definitely the more expensive of the two. In particular, Venice hotels and dining are both very highly priced. 

While there are also pricey restaurants and hotels in Rome, you’ll find more variety due to the city’s size. So you’d be better able to tailor the trip to your budget. 

Final words

As you’d expect, choosing between Venice or Rome will primarily come down to your own personal interests.

In terms of history, culture and food, you can’t go wrong with either city.

If you’re after romance and a truly unique city then I’d recommend Venice. If a buzzy atmosphere and more cosmopolitan feel is more your thing, then I’d suggest Rome.

My personal favourite? This really is a tough one but I think Rome just about wins it for me. It will always be one of my favourite cities in Europe and it’s a place you can return to over and over.

Which would you choose between Venice and Rome? Let me know in the comments!

If you’re planning a visit to Venice then you may like:

Or if you’re planning a visit to Rome then you may like:

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.