I bet when you hear Venice the last thing you’d associate with it would be the beach. I know, when you think Venice you picture San Marco, Murano Glass, Museums, Operas, Carnivale, and possibly even pigeons. And I don’t blame you! Venice is all those things and more. But what many foreign tourists don’t realize is that Venice has beaches too. I do not mean dip your toes in the Venetian lagoons, yuck! (Seriously don’t do that!) But think about it, Venice is surrounded by water, namely the Adriatic Sea, so there’s bound to be a beach right? Actually there are quite a number of beaches in the area, but one of the most popular is Sottomarina.
Sottomarina is a small seaside village in the Comune of Chioggia which is part of the Metropolitan City of Venice in Italy’s Veneto region. What a mouthful! Suffice it to say Sottomarina is just outside of Venice and is easily accessible from Venice via public transportation. I’d recommend a car as getting there (or any other beach in the area) on public transportation can be a long and arduous trek.
If you must go via public transportation then the best route would be the bus 80E which leaves from Piazzale Roma (Venice’s one and only land transportation hub not far from the Santa Lucia train station) every half hour. The ride takes about an hour. Or if you have the time and the inclination you can make your way to the Lido via water bus (the Lido is one of the thin strips of land in the Venetian lagoon) then transfer onto a bus for a long ride to Pellestrina where you then transfer back on to a ferry to get to Chioggia then back on a bus to Sottomarina. To be fair this is the scenic route where you get to see little fishing shacks and small local restaurants along the way.
Sottomarina makes a fine day trip from Venice, either way you go, or it can be a great spot for a Venetian Beach Holiday for a few days of relaxation on the beach. However you get there and whether you’re there for the day or the weekend Sottomarina is a great place to visit. But here are a few things you should know before you go!
Sottomarina is a beach resort town and has lots of hotels, shops, bars, clubs, and restaurants that should fit just about any budget.
Like any beach town Sottomarina has its season, it’s not year round. Hotel availability and prices will vary depending on the season. The summer season starts in June and goes thru September with August being the peak season. So that $75 per night room with breakfast at the end of May will be $250 per night with a minimum 3 night stay come June; and the price goes up in August.
By the time August rolls around it will seem that everyone in Italy is in Sottomarina! And they probably are! You’ll find that many of the large cities including Rome have been abandoned by its local residents in August. It’s a great time to visit Rome as long as you’re prepared for the scorching heat. Rome is super hot in August which is why most of its residents flee to the beach towns along the coast. But it’s not just the Romans that run to Sottomarina, it’s a popular resort all summer long with tourists coming in from neighboring Germany and Austria.
Having said that one of the best times to go to Sottomarina is before the season starts. We went in April and May. Many of the restaurants along the beach were still closed in April, but many were open by the last week of May. Of course there were less people on the beach in April but things started to get pretty lively in May.
Most Sottomarina beaches are private. This means that to use them you must either be staying at the hotel it belongs to, you’ve rented one of the cabanas, or you’ve rented a lounge chair and umbrella for the day.
Many of the hotels will include the use of 2 lounge chairs and an umbrella with the nightly room fee. You just ask the beach attendant to set it up on the sand where ever you want it set up.
Day rentals generally run about €5 per item and the beach attendant again will set it up where you want it.
Cabanas are usually rented by the season and are all booked the previous year. The cost can run upwards of €1000 per cabana for the whole season. Cabana rentals come with lounge chairs, umbrella, and even a picnic table.
Now the strip of sand between the private beaches and the water are generally public beaches. You’ll see a marker in front of the beach chairs that marks where private property ends and the public beach begins. You can’t set up your rented chairs and umbrellas beyond this marker.
If you don’t want to pay the cost of the private beach then you are definitely welcome to your patch of sand in the public beach. In fact you can set up a mat or towel even on the private beach area and you generally won’t be asked to leave because you are a potential customer and might grab a cold drink or meal from the restaurant that’s sure to be part of the private beach.
As I just mentioned most private beaches belong to a hotel and have a restaurant on site. The hotel may actually be located across the street from the beach. Many but not all of the restaurants have a children’s play area.
The restaurants on the beach offer a variety of food including burgers and of course pizza. But we love the Frito Misto, fried and breaded fish and seafood.
Now the restaurants on the beach are not really for fine dining, at least not during the day. Many of them are actually family owned and run. So you can expect reasonably friendly service and surprisingly good food!
The one we ate at, I just can’t recall the name, serves some of the best tiramisu we’ve ever had! Our waitress, Francesca, said her aunt made it daily (and her cousin takes reservations at the hotel part of the business).
They sell everything from jewelry to kites! We ended up buying a kite because we were awed by the vendor’s talent of flying all his kites at the same time!
You can even have a massage on the beach for about €20!
But our favorite vendor by fare was the gelato guy! Yes, the Italian version of the Good Human man!
He serves up some awesome gelato!
And his prices are very reasonable too!
We paid about €4 for this delightful and delicious sundae!
By the way the beaches, hotels, and many restaurants in Sottomarina are dog friendly. So even Snookie and Bruno had a great time on the beach!
So if you find yourself with an extra day or two in Venice or even if you just hear the ocean calling on a hot summer day, take a trip out to Sottomarina, you won’t regret it!