Should you stay on Giudecca when visiting Venice? That’s a popular question when planning a Venice vacation, so let’s get into the pros and cons of staying in the Giudecca neighbourhood.
Giudecca island, conveniently positioned opposite some of Venice’s most important attractions, from Saint Mark’s square to the Bridge of Sighs, is just a 10 minute ferry ride from the heart of Venice. However, a stay on Giudecca island can be a welcome respite from the touristy part of the city, with a reputation for peaceful days and evenings, while offering a full range of services.
Giudecca is also one of Venice’s most charming islands, offering stunning views over the lagoon. It has a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of cafes and restaurants to explore as well as some interesting churches and museums such as the Church of the Redentore and the Fondazione Querini Stampalia.
Giudecca also offers easy access to other parts of Venice by vaporetto or water taxi, including direct connections to the islands, such as Murano.
When planning a stay on Giudecca, it’s worth looking into the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice hotel, a 5* property in a former flour mill, as well as its range of mid-price accommodation, plus a Generator hostel. Giudecca is also home to the 5″ Hotel Belmond Cipriani, an historic property which is worth a visit.
Read on for my full guide to all the pros and cons of staying on Giudecca. You might also want to check out my guide to Free things to do in Venice, The 25 best things to do in Venice, plus an interesting option for Camping in Venice.
Things to see when you stay on Giudecca
Giudecca historically featured large residences with gardens, but the island became the site of an important flour mill in the late 1880ss, and was given over to industry in the early 20th century with the addition of shipyards and factories, and even a film studio.
Much of Giudecca’s industry went into decline after World War II and it became once a residential area with and increasingly a site for hotels and residences. Gondolas and ships are still built and mended to this days in the island’s extensive boat yards.
Giudecca’s most famous monument is probably the church of Christ Redeemer, la Chiesa del Redentore, which lends its name to the island’s most popular annual festival, La Festa del Redentore. It’s also worth dropping in to see Chiesa di Sant’Eufemia and Chiesa di Santa Maria della Presentazione “Le Zitelle”. Young ladies were housed in a convent here which has associations with Casanova lore. Today, Giudecca is also home to a prison for female inmates.
The last few years have seen many bars and restaurants spring up on Giudecca, and if you are staying on the island, you have a few dining options if you don’t want to catch a vaporetto at night. I like friendly lunchtime spot La Palanca on the wharf, while at night, Aromi Ristorante at the Hotel Molino Stucky is a great option for gourmet dining. Full review below.
Getting to Giudecca and exploring Venice from the island
From the train station, Venezia Santa Lucia, it is easy to catch a vaporetto direct to Giudecca. The 4.1/ 4.2 and the number 2 vaporetto lines are just two to three stops away from Sacca Fisola at the westernmost point of Giudecca. If you want to stay on until Palanca or Zitelle, these vaporetto services also zig zig across the lagoon, between the mainland and Giudecca, serving a variety of stops.
What I found really helpful while staying on Giudecca was the direct vaporetto back from the island of Murano – the 4.2 line – which took about 40 minutes but was a welcome respite after a day of island hopping. Catch it in Murano from the Via Serenelle stop.
History of Hilton Molino Stucky Venice
The Molino Stucky is a Neo-Gothic building on the western end of Giudecca island, designed by Ernst Wullekopf and built between 1884 and 1895 by the Swiss businessman Giovanni Stucky. Stucky’s grand designs for his flour mill and pasta factory resulted in a monummental red brick building with an ornate spire to boot.
Despite dominating Giudecca Island and local employment for over 15 years, the business’ fortunes began to decline in the 1910s before it was permanently closed in 1955.
The Molino Stucky stood derelict for nearly 40 years, before the Acqua Pia Antica Marcia company, part of the Acqua Marcia Group, took on the complex in 1994, to work on renovations in close cooperation with the Italian State. A deal with Hilton Hotels was signed several years later, with plans to turn the complex into a hotel and meeting centre.
Although a major fire delayed the works, the complex finally launched in June 2007 as a hotel and conference centre with 379 rooms, a rooftop swimming pool and a two-thousand seat meetings space.
In 2015 the Acqua Marcia Group went into receivership and the hotel was eventually sold to Italian peer Gruppo Marseglia. The deal with Hilton Hotels stayed in place and today, the Hilton Molino Stucky, is one of the island’s most sought after hotels.
Review of my stay at the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice
I recently returned to the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice for a two night stay as a guest of the property. I was fortunate enough to stay in a fifth floor room overlooking the sea with views across to San Marco.
The room was extremely well appointed, quiet and spacious, which can be unusual for Venice, but also reflects the fact that this was on peaceful Giudecca. Details including the gondola handles for wardrobe doors, maritime stencils on the walls and a welcome snack all made this stay particularly notable.
I had the chance to tour the hotel including the Presidential Suite, where Michelle Obama once stayed, and marvelled at the unique architectural heritage of the Hilton Molino Stucky.
During my stay, I tried the spa, which is open to hotel guests and external guests. This spacious spa has the usual amenities such as a Finnish Sauna, Turkish Sauna, Jacuzzi and dayroom with reclining beds and hot teas. It was one of the hottest Finnish Saunas I have ever experienced, so I remained very impressed with the spa.
Breakfast, which is included with many room rates, is the usual sumptuous Hilton affair with hot and cold buffets, a wide range of fruits, cold cuts, cereals, and drinks, plus fresh waffles and pancakes. Again, this was the perfect way to start a long day of sight seeing in Venice.
During my stay, I also tried the Skyline cocktail bar, which is a fun space with great views, and Aromi Restaurant, the hotel’s gourmet restaurant. The chef is Ivan Fargnoli, a consummate chef and international food expert who has recently returned from a 17 year spell in China.
Highlights of the new spring / summer 2023 menu including a porcini mushroom soup with mascarpone-filled tortelli, Australian Wagyu ribeye steak, and fois gras escalope with a pistachio crust. The maitre’d has an encyclopedic knowledge of wines, so be sure to entrust your dinner choices to his expertise. This was overall a highly impressive and worthwhile dining experience. I have had good and bad meals in hotel restaurants over the years, but Fargnoli’s menu is one of the best I have tried in recent times and the whole night was one to remember.
Overall, staying at the Hilton Molino Stucky is a great choice when in Venice, and in my opinion, the most reliable and comfortable choice for your stay on Giudecca when it comes to value for money.
Testaccina was a guest of the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice in March 2023