Venice transportation guide
The closest airport is the one near Mestre on the mainland, an industrial city without much charm in itself, called Marco Polo. There is another one in Treviso, its very small and at 40 Km of Venice. Both airports have bus connections with Venice (Piazzale Roma). Marco Polo airport runs a free shuttle bus to the Alilaguna water-bus jetty where 10 euros gets you a leisurely 1 hour boat trip to San Marco via Murano, Lido and the Arsenale. Alternatively you can travel in style (and much faster) by hiring one of the speedy water-taxis for about 80 euros.
Trains from the mainland run through Mestre and to the Santa Lucia train station on the west side of Venice (make sure you don't get confused with Venezia Mestre which is the last stop on the mainland!). From here, water buses (vaporetti) or water taxis can take you to hotels or other locations on the islands.
Is not a good option. Cars can arrive in Venice, but are left on the parking at the entrance to the city (Piazzale Roma or Tronchetto - Europe's largest car park.) Car parking is expensive here and the tailbacks can be quite large, an alternative is to use the car parks on the mainland (terra ferma) and catch a vaporetto or bus into Venice. A good idea is to park near the Mestre railway station and catch a train to Venezia S.Lucia; there are many trains, is very near (8-10 minutes) is few expansive and Venezia S.Lucia is a good starting point to visit Venezia.
The Piazzale Roma bus station is well served by vaporetti and water-taxis.
A water-bus is the quickest way of getting between far-flung points, and even in cases where it might be quicker to walk, a canal trip is sometimes the more pleasant way of covering the distance. The lack of clear numbering on many of the boats is confusing at first, and the ACTV map of the lagoon transport system seems at first glance to resemble the wiring diagram of a telephone exchange, but in fact the routes are pretty straightforward.
There are two basic types of boat: the vaporetti , which are the lumbering workhorses used on the Canal Grande stopping service and other heavily used routes, and the motoscafi , smaller vessels employed on routes where the volume of traffic isn't as great (at the moment this means the two 'circular routes' - #41/42 and #51/52). On both types there's a flat-rate fare of L6000/3.10 for any one continuous journey (unless it's a traghetto journey in which case the fare is L3000/1.65); a return ticket costs L10,000/5.17.
Tickets are available from most landing stages, from tabacchi , from shops displaying the ACTV sign, at the airport, from the main tourist office, and from the two ACTV public offices - at Piazzale Roma (daily: summer 6am-midnight; winter 6am-8pm), and in Ramo dei Fuseri, close to the northwest corner of the Piazza (Mon-Fri 7.30am-6pm, Sat 7.30am-1pm). The Ramo dei Fuseri office is your best source of free up-to-date colour maps of the main routes, as the tourist offices seem to run out of them very quickly. In the remoter parts of the city, you may not be able to find anywhere to buy a ticket, particularly after working hours, when the booths at the landing stages tend to close down; tickets can be bought on board at the standard price, as long as you ask the attendant a soon as you get on board; if you delay, you could be liable for a L26,000/13.46 spot-fine.
ACTV produces three tourist tickets : a one-day (24hr) ticket (L18,000/9.3); a three-day (72hr) ticket (L35,000/18.08), and a seven-day (168hr) ticket (L60,000/30.99), all of which can be used on all water- and land buses within Venice. There are also 24-hour tickets for families of three, four and five (but children under the age of four can travel free), as well as a Canal Grande , a Laguna Nord (Northern Lagoon) and a Chioggia ticket; the last three all cost L15,000/?7.75, and allow unlimited travel along the specified routes for twelve hours.
If you buy one of these tickets at the train station or Piazzale Roma it will in all likelihood be automatically validated , unless you specifically request a non-validated ticket; the same goes for ordinary tickets. When using a non-validated ticket you must validate it before embarking, by inserting it into one of the machines at the entrance to the vaporetto stop or on board the bus (the machines are painted orange); the ticket is valid from that moment, and you need to validate it just once. The Carta Venezia , which is advertised at many vaporetto stops and gives huge reductions on all ACTV services, is not available to non-residents.
Venice is a very walkable city, and the absence of cars makes it - mostly - a pleasant experience. The Rialtine islands - the 'main' part of Venice - are small enough to walk from one end to the other in about an hour.
If you want to get around a bit more quickly, there are numerous vaporetti (water buses) and water taxis. The vaporetti are generally the best way to get around, even if the service route map changes frequently. If you are going to be in Venice for a few days visiting, it is a lot cheaper to get the vaporetti than to get private water taxis. If you want to have a romantic ride along the canals take a gondala ride.
ACTVÃ‚Â (http://www.actv.it/english/home.php) runs the vaporetti and other public transport services both in the lagoon and on the terra firma. 1 day, 3 day and 7 day Venice Cards are available, in two variations (Blue and Orange). The basic Blue cards provide unlimited travel on the ACTV travel services (vaporetti, motoscafi and buses) and free use of the AMAV staffed toilets. The Orange card also provides free entrance to some of the museums (those covered by the Museum Card). Note that neither card includes the Alilaguna water-bus which serves Marco Polo airport unles you pay a surcharge. Travel cards are extremely useful since the basic fare for one vaporetto journey is typically 3.50 euro whereas 1 day Blue cards cost 14 euro, 3 day costs 29 euro and 7 day 51 euro (prices correct December 2004). There are cheaper 1 and 3 day ACTV travel tickets available (10.50 euro and 22 euro) but these are pure travel cards and offer no discounts or other goodies (like a free map and case) which come with the Venice Cards. Discounts on many of these cards are available for the under 30's or by buying online, it pays to look around.
Otherwise, take a walk! The city is not that big, and you can walk from one end to the other in a few hours, and along the way discover the marvelous art and architecture around every corner.
Click on the map for an enlargement.