Our secrets for getting around Venice

 

It is always assumed that Venice is the ideal place for a honeymoon. This is a grave error. To live in Venice or even to visit it, means that you fall in love with the city itself. There is nothing left over in your heart for anyone else.  -Peggy Guggenheim

 

Ahhhh…Venice.  The sights, the smells, the romance…the endless hours of walking around trying to figure out where the heck you are!  While getting lost is a Venice pastime that we highly, highly recommend.  At times, you want to get to a certain place by a certain time.  We are here to help.  Let’s begin our Dos with a Don’t:

Car

Enter in one of the “Fighting Couple’s” biggest fights.  Mike Google mapped Venice, and said, “it sure looks like you could take your car over to the first island where all the cruise ships are landed.  While there, we will find a parking place for an hour or so, unload our luggage, catch a “boat” over to the hotel.  WRONG!  Please don’t try this.  There is not a convenient place to unload a car even for a few seconds.  In the off chance to do get unloaded, the trek to a “boat” to get somewhere else is a mighty hike up and down stairs.  Park at the airport and take the water taxi.  Problem solved and fight avoided.  Venice is not car friendly on any level.

venice bridgeWalking

We mention this first as it is really the quickest and most cost effective way to get from point A to point B in Venice.  There are a number of great mobile phone aps that help you navigate afoot.  Find a really good map and enjoy the adventure.  Venice is made up of two central islands with the Grand Canal in a snake shape dividing them.  There is another long string bean looking island underlining the two above called the Guidecca.  There are bridges back and forth from the first two.  You must find another mode of transport over to Guidecca.  Small islands dot the exterior off the main three islands.

Walking around Venice can be a little daunting and more than a little confusing.  One hint is to focus on the bridges to decipher where you are at. If you can find a bridge, you can likely find yourself on a map.

 

Water Bus (Vaporetti)

The water bus or the Vaporetti is second only to walking for both convenience and cost.  During our stay beside walking, we relied on the Water Bus to get around almost exclusively.  Your first voyage with the water bus can be a little confusing so we have some easy steps for you:

1)Figure out where you are. (easier said than done…)  Then find a water bus stop.  They should look like this (below).  Pick up a water bus map.  Find a “line” that goes to your destination.  They are color coded to help.  The station below you can catch the red 2, purple 41, and 42 as well as the blue N.

Venice water bus

2) Buy a water bus ticket.  Most are timed 1day, 3 days, week…ect.  Get your tickets at some of the water bus stops, as well as some newspaper stands, or little stores around the stops.  If you board without a ticket, directly find a uniformed crew member to purchase a fare.  If you are caught without a ticket, you will be forced to pay a hefty fine.  Ouch.

3)Scan your ticket before boarding the bus.  Find something that looks like this (see below).  Hold your ticket next to it.  It will give you a little beep.

water bus ticket

4)Board your boat.  There are seats inside and out, standing or sitting.

5)Enjoy the ride.  You are going to have one of the most iconic views in all the world.  Venice is made to be seen on the water.

 

If your stay is 3 or 7 days you can purchase a Venice Card.  They are available online or at the airport.  This handy tool includes buses as well as waterbuses in the area.  As an added bonus it includes free or reduced admission to a number of museums and cathedrals in Venice.  You can also include the water bus trip to and from the airport.  A great deal for sure.  More info can be found at www.venicecard.com.

 

Water Taxi

Water Taxi VeniceWater Taxi’s are just that.  Very similar set up as “turf taxis”.  Wave one down.  Give them the location you want to go.  They will either have a time meter or quote you a flat rate.  A word of caution: Venice Taxi’s are the most expensive taxi’s in the world.  Know how and what you will be changed before shoving off.  The beauty of Water Taxis is they are fast.  Very fast.  These are the standard wooden motor boats.  It is usually just your party 1-6 people.   Drivers typically know the city very well, speak “tourist” in a few languages and usually offer a covered cabin.  Taxis can be few and far between in the early evening.  A note of caution.  Water Taxi’s do not have access the entire city.  There are canals that the boats cannot enter.  Have a general idea where you are heading and question your pilot if you are taking a roundabout path.

 

Gondola

Venice ManGondolas are also known by their other name: “Gone dollars”.  These floating coffin shaped boats have been around since the 12th century.  Taking an evening ride through the Grand Canal and down past the opera is something that every human must do once in a lifetime.  With that said the gondola as a mode of transportation to get around the city is not a good idea.  They are just too demmed expensive.  They average $100 for thirty mins!  We hear that you can get a better deal before sunset or before 7pm.  Good luck.  We highly recommend finding your gondola at one of the “approved” gondola stands at the northwest corner of St. Mark’s Square.

Check out our post on a Morbid Side Trip in Venice.

Enjoy your stay in Venice.  Try one of each of the above.  (Skip the car one.)  Take in the sights.  Eat a lot of gelato.  Kiss your lover a lot.  Make memories that you will never forget.  Bon voyage!

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