There probably couldn’t be a harder choice when looking to choose between two major cities of a country than Rome or Venice, especially with both being such a stark contrast from one another. On the one hand, Rome is packed full of history, with no end of amazing sights to behold and museums to spend hours and hours soaking up all kinds of knowledge and information in. On the other hand, there’s nowhere else on the planet that matches the picturesque beauty and charm of Venice, nor its culture or unique spirit.
We’ve put our minds together though and pit the two cities against one another on a number of topics to see which one comes out on top, and hopefully help you to come to a decision and get you onto the next stages of planning your holiday.
So without further ado; Rome vs. Venice:
Rome vs Venice, Round 1: Accommodation
You’ll find just about all kinds of accommodation you could hope to find in both Rome or Venice, whether you’re looking for affordable hostels, mid ranged hotels or want to go all out on the fanciest opulence you could possibly dream up.
Since both Rome and Venice are in the same country, you won’t really find much discrepancy in the average costs you can expect to pay. Perhaps the most pertinent thing to consider though is how you’d like to get around.
Venice is relatively small, and everywhere is more or less walkable or accessible via water taxi or water bus. Once you get used to how these work they can be a godsend, especially if you want to visit other islands like Murano, Burano or Lido. Rome on the other hand is pretty big, and you won’t be able to rely on walking alone. Thankfully they’ve a great underground Metro system, and you’ll be able to find whatever form of accommodation you’re looking for within walking distance from a Metro stop.
The winner: Tie
Since both are in the same country it’s difficult to discern where one is better than the other when it comes to accommodation, especially with such similar price points. Perhaps Rome would be slightly more expensive here or there, but not by enough to really make a notable difference.
Ultimately, whether you’re a backpacker looking to do everything on the cheap, a family trying to keep to a modest budget, or a world-famous celebrity billionaire looking for the best your money can buy, you’ll find more than enough to choose from when looking for the perfect accommodation in either city.
Rome vs Venice, Round 2: Food
Italian food is unquestionably up there amongst the most popular cuisines on the planet, so the good news is you’ll never be at a loss for what to order, even if you don’t speak the language. Whether it’s pizza, pasta, lasagne, or whatever you’re after, it’s all there, and it’s all amazing.
There’s no such thing as a bad pizza in Italy; even a slice from the cheapest and touristiest midnight fast food joint along the Grand Canal will be one of the best you’ve ever had. But the pizza in Rome is something extra special altogether, and definitely not something to miss. For the pasta lovers, Rome is also famous for its carbonara, amatriciana, spaghetti alla gricia and cacao e pepe, and again, you won’t want to miss any of these. If you decide you want to start going out for two dinners every night, we’ll understand.
Over in Venice, there’s just about everything you can hope for, whether it’s more pasta, pizza, or even a hamburger allegedly so amazing it’s chef insists it doesn’t even need ketchup. For our money though, it’s Venice’s cicchetti that really gets us going. These small, bite sized delicacies can be found all over Venice, topped up with plenty of fresh fish and some amazing meats.
The winner: Venice
This is an incredibly tough one, as nine times out of ten you’re going to find some of the world’s best Italian cuisine wherever you look. But the sheer variety on offer in Venice and the at times unremarkable fare that can be found around the more touristy spots of Rome ever so slightly nudges this one in Venice’s favour.
Rome vs Venice, Round 3: Sights
There’s going to be a running theme here, as Rome and Venice are both among the greatest cities in the world with SO much to see.
There’s almost no end to what you’ll want to see in Rome. For a start there’s nearly endless supply of Roman ruins to be found dotted around, especially in the centre of the city where the Roman Forum can be found. Right next to the Roman Forum is the infamous Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, and furthermore we have the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish steps, and the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica dotted around too. Rome was more or less the centre of the world once upon a time, and its rich architectural history is still (just about) on show to gawp in amazement at.
While Venice has a lot to offer too, the reality is that Venice itself is just one big sight to behold. Part of the joy is just getting stuck in and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells, and getting lost in the labyrinth of back alleys. Within Venice though we have St. Mark’s Square, home to St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Campanile and Doge’s Palace; the Rialto Bridge, beautifully ordaining the Grand Canal, and the iconic Bridge of Sighs.
The winner: Tie
This really comes down to the one you’ve been longing to see. For the Roman history buffs, Rome will keep you busy for days with some truly astonishing ancient sights to behold. On the other hand, there’s nothing else in the world like Venice, and it’s definitely a unique one of a kind gem that isn’t to be missed.
Rome vs Venice, Round 4: Museums, Galleries and Attractions
Where to begin with Rome. All of the previously mentioned sights like the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and the Vatican can all be thrown in here too, with all sorts to see, do and learn when taking a trip inside. The Vatican Museum especially is definitely something that will blow anyone away, with no end of stunning Renaissance art and opulent halls to mesmerise you. Not to mention that perhaps the greatest and most infamous piece of art of all time is located here on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Just make sure you’re dressed appropriately before going in though (shoulders for some reason are a BIG no no in the eyes of the Lord).
Over in Venice we have St. Mark’s Basilica, Museo Correr, Doge’s Palace, Gallerie dell’Accademia, the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, the Glass Museum over on Murano, and a whole lot more. There’s a lot going on in Venice, but it’s much smaller in scale than the huge poignant museums of Rome. The best museum Venice has to offer is simply Venice itself, and just going for a wander and getting lost and seeing where you wind up is one of the best joys Venice has to offer.
Venice is more a place for fine dining and taking in the city itself than it is a spot for museum hopping (although that’s not to detract from the great museums, galleries and attractions that they do have). Rome on the other hand just blows it out of the water (no pun intended), and if this is what you’re looking for from your trip, then you’re going to be hard pressed to find somewhere better.
Rome vs Venice, Round 5: Cost of Living
The cost of living in Rome and Venice are more or less the same. The average cost of a beer in Rome is €5, while in Venice it’s €4. For an inexpensive restaurant, you’re looking at around €15 in Rome against €13 in Venice, and for a three course meal for two at a mid-ranged restaurant, you can expect to pay around €60 in Rome or €75 in Venice.
If you were looking to rent or buy property in either Rome or Venice, we start to get a little wider of a difference. While renting a 3 bedroom apartment within the city centre for example will set you back on average €1,840pcm in Rome, in Venice this jumps to around €2,065pcm. To buy an apartment in the city centre on the other hand, you’ll be looking at around €6,615 per square metre in Rome, versus €5,250 in Venice.
The winner: Tie
We could hand this one to Venice for being ever so slightly cheaper, but honestly there’s not really much of anything in it. Both are major cities within the same country, and only a few hours apart, so there isn’t really much room for much of a discrepancy. The only time a real difference seems to come into play is in the property market, and that’s likely not going to be relevant when simply going on holiday (although it would be nice).
Rome vs Venice, Round 6: Nightlife
If you’re looking for a good night out with plenty of great food and wine then Rome has everything you need. Many places are open long into the wee hours, and you’ll find plenty of stylish bars (especially around the Testaccio area), clubs, and anywhere else the night might take you. Furthermore, you’ll find plenty of interesting festivals and outdoor events dotted around during the summer months too.
While Venice also offers plenty of places to sit and take in the evening, over all it’s something of a classier affair than Rome. If it’s a big crazy night out at the most popular clubs in town you’re looking for, then Venice isn’t really going to have what you want. A night at the opera though? Sure! The Teatro la Fenice bills itself as “the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre”, and who are we to argue. Alternatively, why not take a night time gondola ride? Or simply take a stroll and take in the night time atmosphere.
The winner: Tie
This one ultimately comes down to what it is you’re looking for with your evening entertainment. If you’re after a rowdier night time party scene then Rome most likely has what you’re looking for. Alternatively, Venice is the one to pick for a more sophisticated evening. Each one offers their own unique flavour of night life, so it’s hard to definitively pick one over the other.
Rome vs Venice: The Winner
Well this probably isn’t the super helpful answer you were looking for if you were stuck in a conundrum and desperately seeking answers, but the truth is both Rome and Venice offer so much, in their own unique ways, and it really comes down to what it is you’re looking for from your trip. Hopefully though, in some way or another, we hope you’ve come to some kind of conclusion already based on our comparisons above.
Both Rome and Venice are incredibly different cities, so if you’re looking for history, museums, and a trip back in time to the toga and sandal loving ways of the Roman Empire, then you’ve likely already come to the conclusion that Rome is the place for you. If on the other hand you want beautiful picturesque scenery and architecture, then you’ve no doubt already been drawn to Venice. The reality is both cities are amazing, two of the best that the whole world has to offer, so whichever you choose you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time.
For our money though, why not do both? They’re only a few hours apart on the train, and in reality you’d only need a couple of days at each to get the most out of them. You could even hop off the train half way and spend a day in Florence for a further slice of Italian variety. But that’s just us.
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