Last updated on March 16, 2023 by Wandering our World

From Florence to Milan, Italy has no shortage of fabulous cities filled with life and culture. Yet Rome and Venice are two of the most-visited cities not just in Italy, but in all of Europe!

That’s no surprise considering they both have so much to offer, although the reality is these cities are actually very different…

For example, Venice is well-known for being one of the world’s most romantic locations, with its winding waterways, historic bridges, and charming gondola rides. It’s often featured in lists of must-see European destinations and is quite unlike any other city on Earth. For pictures and honeymoons, it’s hard to beat.

Rome, meanwhile, is one of the most historic cities on Earth. Famed for its role as the capital and beating heart of the Roman Empire, this city is still home to extraordinary structures from the past, like the Colosseum and Pantheon. If you’re a history lover, then Rome will be perfect.

Of course, there are some similarities between these two cities too. They’re both visually impressive and have long lists of landmarks to visit and pleasant things to do. Plus you can also find tasty Italian food and great shopping opportunities in either location. 

However, Rome and Venice also have plenty of differences. And the reality remains that one of these cities is likely to be much better-suited for your tastes and preferences than the other.

That’s where we can help!

We know both cities well, so below we show you which has the better activities, nightlife, food, which is better for couples, families and far more. All so you can make the right holiday decision!

CONTENTS:

  1. A Quick Overview
  2. Which Is Best For Activities?
  3. Which Is Better For Shopping? 
  4. Which Is Better For Nightlife? 
  5. Which Is Better For Food? 
  6. Which Is Better For Day Trips?
  7. Which Is Best For Couples & Honeymoons? 
  8. Which Is Cheaper?  
  9. Where To Stay According To Your Budget
  10. Which Is Easier To Get To?
  11. Which Is Easier To Get Around?
  12. Which Has The Best Weather?
  13. Which Is The Best Choice?
An infographic pitting Rome vs Venice and showing some of the key differences that will be discovered later in the article.

A Quick Overview: Venice vs Rome

Venice: A Quick Overview

Venice, also known as Venezia to Italians, is a city in the northeast section of Italy. It’s located around 244 miles directly north from Rome, and it’s the capital city of the Veneto Region, home to more than a quarter of a million people.

Built across the Venetian Lagoon, Venice is a unique city, being made up of 118 small islands.

The city is also divided into two main areas – the terraferma, or mainland area, where most of the population lives, and the centro storico, or historic center, which is what most people picture when they think of Venice, with canals, bridges, and historic buildings.

Venice was once a hugely influential and important trading and economic hub, serving as the capital of the Republic of Venice.

It was also a significant cultural destination, with people all over the world knowing the name of Venice and admiring the city for its power, architecture, and fun festivities, like the Carnival of Venice.

These days, Venice’s influence over the world may have waned, but the city remains one of Europe’s most-visited touristic destinations, with countless people from all over the world queuing up for gondola rides and tours of iconic landmarks like the Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge.

Rialto Bridge and gondolas in Venice.
iStock.com/fazon1

Rome: A Quick Overview

Rome, or Roma in Italian, is the capital city of Italy. It’s located in the Lazio region in the central part of the country, not far from Italy’s western coast and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Rome is also the most populous city in Italy. With over 4.3 million people in its full metropolitan area, it’s significantly larger and more populated than Venice.

One of the oldest cities in the world to be continuously inhabited, Rome has close to three thousand years of history behind it.

It’s regarded as the cradle of Western civilization and the home of the Catholic Church, having held incredible importance throughout history as a cultural, artistic, and economic center.

With so much history behind it, the so-called ‘Eternal City’ has a lot of famous buildings, structures, and landmarks that tourists like to visit. There’s the Colosseum, for example, where gladiators once fought, as well as the Ancient Roman Forum, the former heart of the mighty Roman Empire.

Drawing in millions of tourists a year, Rome also has the unique distinction of surrounding Vatican City, which is technically an independent country, or city-state, within the boundaries of Rome itself.

The Vatican also has many of its own attractions to visit, like Renaissance museums and the world-famous Sistine Chapel.

Beautiful sunset on the city of Rome in evening
iStock.com/StockbyM

Which Is Best For Activities?

Whether you choose a trip to Venice or a tour of Rome, you’ll have plenty of fun and interesting activities to keep you entertained. Both of these cities have amazing architecture, historic landmarks, and other attractions for visitors of all ages.

However, there are some key differences. Firstly, since it’s so much bigger, Rome has far more things to do and requires more time to truly appreciate.

You can see a lot of Venice’s main sights within 2-3 days, while Rome might need closer to 4-5 days to fully appreciate.

In addition, Rome has more of a diverse range of activities, including everything from museums and historic buildings to ruins, parks, a zoo, water parks, and other family attractions.

Venice has a narrower selection of attractions, but it can boast of some truly unique activities you won’t find anywhere else, like shopping for genuine Venetian masks or taking a gondola ride.

Below we’ll look at the activities in both cities, so you can see which city will suit your vacation preferences the most!

Woman walks on Navona square in Rome city a sunny day. Female person with bag and colorful shawl in hair. Concept of italian lifestyle and travel
iStock.com/RossHelen

Venice: The Activities

Visitors to Venice typically have a few must-do activities on their minds, beginning with a visit to the Doge’s Palace.

Once home to the Duke of the Venetian Republic, this stunning building is a testament to the city’s powerful past and artistic culture, with extravagantly-decorated rooms and extraordinary artifacts on display for all to see.

You may also like to spend some time on the water during your trip to Venice.

No visit can be complete without a gondola ride, especially if you’re looking for a romantic moment with someone special, and a voyage on the city’s vaporettos, or waterbuses, is one of the best ways to appreciate the full beauty of the Grand Canal.

Venice is also famous for its bridges – there are over 400 of them dotted around the city in total – and some of them are very decorative, historic, and worth seeking out.

The Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous, and also happens to be a great place to watch the sunset, while the Bridge of Sighs, Ponte dell’Accademia, and Constitution Bridge are also worthy of attention.

St. Mark’s Square is one of the most exciting places to visit in Venice too, with the breathtaking St. Mark’s Basilica open for visitors.

Meanwhile, art lovers might like to check out the Peggy Guggenheim Collection or the magnificent Teatro La Fenice opera house. Or, for an experience you’ll never forget, visit in February to enjoy the iconic Venice Carnival.

couple having date at pier with beautiful view of venice canal eating pizza
iStock.com/Vera_Petrunina

Rome: The Activities

Rome has a very long list of landmarks to visit, beginning with the iconic Colosseum.

Standing for almost 2,000 years, this iconic structure is the biggest amphitheater on the planet. It’s often associated with gladiators, but also hosted various other spectacles, like dramas and mock battles. You can visit and walk around it by yourself or take a guided tour

The Pantheon is another must-see Roman landmark. It was once a temple, but later converted into a church, and it’s by far one of the best-preserved structures from the days of Ancient Rome.

Meanwhile, the Roman Forum is another place to go when you want to delve into the past, housing the ruins of various buildings that once stood proudly at the heart of this great city.

Rome also has many museums, piazzas, and monuments. Tourists often head to places like the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Castel Sant’Angelo, for example, but the list really does go on.

You can also take a tour of Vatican City, admiring Michelangelo’s handiwork in the Sistine Chapel or enjoying the colossal art collection of the Catholic popes in the Vatican Museums.

Like Venice with its carnival and film festival, Rome also boasts an impressive list of annual events that you might like to check out, depending on the dates of your visit.

The Natale di Roma festival celebrates Rome’s birth and history, for instance, while the summer Vino Forum is one of Europe’s best wine festivals. There’s even a festival to honor the day Caesar died!

Overall, Rome has a wider range of activities, especially for those who want to learn about the city’s past or immerse themselves in Rome’s culture.

However, both of these cities have things to offer that you simply can’t find anywhere else, like Rome’s Colosseum and Venice’s gondolas, which is why it’s certainly worth visiting both locations, if you can.

View of Colosseum in Rome and morning sun, Italy, Europe.
iStock.com/vwalakte

Which Is Better For Shopping? 

No matter whether you love high-end designer handbags or cute little craft souvenirs, Italy is a fabulous country for shopping, with everything from luxury boutiques to vintage markets. And you’ll find a nice mixture of shopping opportunities in both Venice and Rome.

Venice is one of the best cities in Italy to shop, especially if you’re willing to spend a little more than average.

There are several stores here dedicated to famous Italian designers along the Salizada San Moise, and you can visit other areas, like the Piazza San Marco, to find fun souvenirs or go mask shopping – a carnival mask could be a great gift for a friend back home.

Rome has a terrific selection of markets, boutiques, and department stores to discover.

The Via del Governo Vecchio is an amazing place to find vintage stores selling all sorts of hidden treasures, while the Via dei Coronari is home to antique stores and the Via Cola di Rienzo is where you’ll find big brands from around the globe.

Overall, Venice might be a good place to shop to souvenirs and luxury items, but in our opinion Rome is even better, with a more diverse range of options and much more potential to find great items at affordable prices. 

A young elegant woman is choosing book in ancient secondhand bookstore Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice, Italy.
iStock.com/NataliaDeriabina

Which Is Better For Nightlife? 

If you want to spend a night on the town, hopping between bars or dancing the evening away at a nightclub, you’ll want to know how the nightlife scenes of Rome and Venice compare.

Well, in this particular category, there isn’t much of a comparison, as Rome has a much more developed and better nightlife scene than Venice.

Naturally, as the capital city with millions of inhabitants, Rome has a whole lot of bars and clubs to keep its people entertained.

The sheer selection of nightlife destinations in Rome is off the scale, including everything from student clubs in the Trastevere neighborhood to trendy bars and retro discos in Testaccio.

You simply won’t run out of options in Rome if you like to stay out late with drinks, music, dancing, and entertainment.

In contrast, Venice tends to be quite a sleepy city after dark. There are some things to do in the evenings, like a visit to the theater or a romantic meal, along with some clubs and bars in the Lido area, but it just can’t compete with Rome.

Bartender stirring cocktail with a spoon
iStock.com/MaximFesenko

Which Is Better For Food? 

When many people think of Italian cuisine, their minds immediately conjure up images of stone baked pizzas and flavorful pasta dishes.

And while it’s true that pizza and pasta are key elements of Italian cooking, this country has so much more to offer for foodies, and you’ll find a plethora of tasty dishes and top notch restaurants in both Venice and Rome.

Thanks to its watery setting, Venice actually has some of the best seafood eateries in the country.

There are plenty of tasty traditional dishes to try here that involve ingredients sourced from the sea, like sarde in saor – deep-fried sardines in a sweet and sour marinade.

However by wary that there are also lots of overpriced eateries in Venice that cater to tourists and offer quite basic food. Those are the places to avoid!

You’ll also find some tourist traps among Rome’s restaurants, but the city’s culinary scene is mostly excellent, with a super mixture of restaurants that offer the full spectrum of Italian cooking.

Some of the best pizza and pasta in the country can be enjoyed in Rome, and the city is particularly well-known for its carbonara and amatriciana dishes.

Overall, the right city for you will depend on what kind of food you prefer. Rome is king for pasta, while Venice is better-suited for those who like fish dishes.

A summer dinner .Pasta , pizza and homemade food arrangement in a restaurant Rome .Tasty and authentic Italian food.
iStock.com/maroznc

Which Is Better For Day Trips? 

After spending a few days seeing what Rome and Venice have to offer, you might like to leave these cities behind temporarily and take a day trip to a different part of Italy. So, which location has the best day trip potential?

Well, Venice has some decent options. For example, Verona isn’t too far away, and it’s a very romantic and picturesque city.

Wine lovers might also enjoy a tour of the famed Prosecco region, while island hoppers can visit places like Torcello and Burano. For a truly relaxing escape from the crowds of the city, you could also head to peaceful Lake Garda.

Thanks to its central location, Rome is ideally-positioned for all sorts of day trips. You can head down to the Amalfi Coast, for example, to see colorful coastal villages built into the cliff, or explore the ruins of the legendary city of Pompeii.

It’s also possible to visit cities like Naples from Rome in a day, or learn more about the Roman Empire with a tour of Tivoli.

Both cities have good options, but Rome takes the win in this category due to the diversity of its day trips. It has something for everyone, from beach lovers to history buffs.

Ancient walls in Pompeii with volcano Vesuvius in the background
iStock.com/dbvirago

Which Is Best For Families? 

If you’re heading to either Venice or Rome with children, you’ll need to think about what kinds of activities to include in your itinerary to keep the whole family happy and entertained.

While both of these cities have fun things for kids to enjoy, you may find that Rome is a little more family-friendly, overall.

That’s because Rome has multiple attractions designed specifically for families.

There’s a zoo – the Bioparco di Roma – for example, as well as theme parks like Rainbow Magicland and Cinecittà World, plus water parks like Hydromania.

Rome even has a museum dedicated to video games called Vigamus, and kids of almost any age can appreciate sights like the Forum and Colosseum.

In contrast, Venice isn’t home to too many family attractions. However, you can find some water parks in the surrounding area, and young kids should have fun riding the boats and water taxis.

Older kids may also appreciate places like the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. So, there are certainly fun things to do here for families, but not quite as many as Rome.

A mother is having fun with her daughter on gondola at Venice, Italy. both are wearing venitian masks and laughing
iStock.com/Gulcin Ragiboglu

Which Is Best For Couples & Honeymoons? 

Couples might have a hard time choosing between Rome and Venice, as both of these cities are highly romantic, beautiful places where you and your partner can make many happy, magical memories together.

Venice is often cited as one of the most romantic destinations in the world, and it’s not hard to see why.

Whether you’re relaxing in a gondola and listening to the sounds of the city or enjoying a romantic meal as the sun goes down, loving couples can have the time of their lives here.

Rome also has a lot to offer for couples of all ages, from its landmarks and attractions to its fabulous culinary scene.

Many areas of Italy’s capital have romantic vibes, but the busy nature of Rome, coupled with its huge size, might make it less appealing for a couples’ getaway.

Smiling couple riding in gondola in Venice
iStock.com/Sam Edwards

Which Is Best For Backpackers? 

Planning a backpacking journey across Italy? If so, Rome and Venice might be at the top of the list of cities you’d like to visit.

Both cities are worth visiting for backpackers or budget travelers, but Rome is a little more accessible and welcoming.

There are lots of hostels and budget hotels around Rome, and it’s a common spot on many backpackers’ journeys across Europe.

You can easily meet other travelers and make friends at the hostels right in the heart of Rome, and we’ve already spoken about how Rome is perfectly-placed for day trips to other destinations, too.

In contrast, Venice isn’t quite as accommodating for backpackers, purely due to the fact that prices here are quite high.

There are some hostels in Venice, but they’re over on the mainland, away from the main sights and attractions. This means that you’ll have to travel in and out of the historic center each day, which can add to the total cost of your trip.

Pretty young female tourist studying a map at St. Peter's square in the Vatican City in Rome
iStock.com/ViktorCap

Which Is Cheaper? 

It’s really important to consider the costs of things like hotels, food, and public transportation when planning a trip like this, as both of these cities can be quite pricey.

However, when we compare the average costs of most things in Rome and Venice, one clear winner emerges: Rome is usually cheaper for travelers to experience than Venice, with lower average prices for accommodation, transport, food, and even touristic activities. 

Backpackers and budget travelers should have a much easier time finding a cheap place to stay in Rome, with several hostels around the city, and you won’t have to worry about spending so much on food.

In Venice, since the historic center is relatively small and draws in such big crowds, businesses know that they can get away with charging high prices; even something as simple as a drink or sandwich can cost significantly more there than it would in Rome.

St. Peter's cathedral over bridge and river with flowers in Rome, Italy
iStock.com/neirfy

Where To Stay According To Your Budget

Rome

Budget: Residenza Maritti Decò Style is a gorgeous three-star guest house set in the heart of Rome. Not only is the location perfect, but so is the roof terrace with exceptional city views. See photos and rates!

Luxury: Located in one of Rome’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, Hotel Eden – Dorchester Collection is a five-star hotel that oozes luxury. It’ll come as no surprise then that their in-house restaurant is Michelin starred. See photos and rates!

Young woman tourist fashion white dress with glass of white wine in front of panoramic view of Rome cityscape from campidoglio terrace at sunset. Landmarks, domes of Rome, Italy.
iStock.com/Tfilm

Venice

Budget: Finding a Venice accommodation with a canal view on a budget is difficult in such an expensive city, but Residence Laguna Giudecca is a two-bedroom holiday apartment that offers just that.

However it’s often reserved months in advance, and no wonder due to the location and gorgeous views. See photos and rates here!

Luxury: Set 80m from Saint Mark’s Square and with stunning lagoon views, Baglioni Hotel Luna is known for being one of the best hotels in Italy.

Arrive in style by gondola – yes that’s possible at this five-star hotel on the water – then head past the chandeliers to the exceptional terrace with panoramic views. A stay here really is holidaying in style. See photos and rates here!

Ponte Rialto and gondola at sunset in Venice, Italy
iStock.com/faust

Which Is Easier To Get To?

Travelers can easily fly to Rome or Venice, as both of these cities have international airports.

In fact, they both have two airports – Rome has Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino and Ciampino Airport, while Venice has Marco Polo Airport and Treviso.

Ciampino Airport and Treviso Airport are both used by budget airlines, giving Europeans a cheap and easy way to get to either of these cities.

However, the majority of travelers will arrive at either Leonardo da Vinci or Marco Polo.

Of the two, Rome’s airport has more direct connections. It has direct flights from places all over the globe, including the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Africa, South America, and most of Europe.

Venice’s Marco Polo has good connections, too, but isn’t quite as accessible as Rome.

Couple of tourists on vacation in Venice, Italy - Two lovers having fun on city street at sunset - Tourism and love concept
iStock.com/Kar-Tr

Which Is Easier To Get Around? 

Once you’ve landed in Rome or Venice, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to get around.

Fortunately, since both of these cities are very tourist-friendly, it’s usually quite easy to get around in either location, even if you’ve never visited before.

Venice, of course, has its many waterways, with multiple vessels you can use to get from place to place like the vaporettos of the Grand Canal and the water taxis.

The historic center of Venice is also relatively compact, so it’s quite easy to simply walk around, although first-time visitors might get a little lost at first among the winding streets and countless bridges.

In Rome, you’ll find a great public transport network. It’s cheap, easy to understand, and varied, with buses, metro lines, and trams, along with taxis for those who don’t mind paying a little extra.

Navigation in Rome is pretty simple, but you’ll need to check maps and plan out your routes ahead of time, and since the city is so big, you’ll have to spend more time getting around.

Overall, Venice is probably the easiest of the two cities to navigate, thanks to its much smaller size. It’s also quite a fun place to get around with the various boats and ferries, although tickets can be quite expensive.

Beautiful young woman in colorful fashion dress alone on a hill with bike takes pictures of colosseum in Rome using smartphone camera at sunset. Attractive tourist girl with elegant straw hat.
iStock.com/Tfilm

Which Has The Best Weather? 

Since they’re situated in such different parts of Italy, with Venice being over 200 miles further north than Rome, the weather conditions in these cities tend to be quite different. This might be worth considering when you’re choosing which one to visit or planning the dates of your trip.

Venice has a humid subtropical climate, with quite warm and humid summers. The fact that the city contains so much water makes it a damp and sticky place during June, July, and August.

Conditions are a little more hospitable in months like May and September, so this might be the best time to visit. There’s also a risk of flooding from October to January.

As the more southern city, closer to the equator, Rome’s average temperatures are a little higher than those of Venice.

The city’s Mediterranean climate allows it to enjoy relatively mild winters and hot, dry summers. The weather stays quite mild and pleasant in Rome even in October and November, so it’s perfectly possible to visit the city and have a good time during fall or winter.

Woman eating ice cream in cone while visiting famous di Trevi fountain in Rome. Concept of happy summer vacations, traveling famous italian landmarks
iStock.com/RossHelen

Venice vs Rome: Which Is The Better Choice?

Rome and Venice are easily two of the best cities in all of Europe, boasting wonderful architecture, tasty food, rich history, and safe, tourist-friendly streets that you can roam for hours on end.

However, when it comes to picking an overall winner, Rome takes the crown.

Italy’s capital city is a truly special place, steeped in history and stories, with so many amazing and interesting things to see and do. It’s a city that can appeal to anyone, from families with young kids to solo travelers, couples, and groups of friends looking for a good time. 

Venice is also a wonderful place. It might lack the vibrant nightlife and diverse attractions of Rome, and it’s a little more expensive, too, but it’s still more than worthy of a visit. This city’s distinctive beauty and fascinating past are unlike anything else on Earth.