About 1,500 years ago, residents of the mainland fled to islands in the Venetian Lagoon to escape barbarian invaders. Over time, they built a city on 118 of the islands, and the gaps between the islands became canals. Bridges were added later.
Until the mid-19th Century, Venice wasn`t even connected to the Italian mainland. (A railroad causeway finally was built in 1846, linking the city to the shore, a distance of roughly 2.5 miles.)
Venice is serviced by two airports: Venice Marco Polo Airport and Treviso Airport (used by budget airlines).
If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you have a few options. From Marco Polo (4 ¼ miles north of the city), there are several options to get into town. The cheapest is by bus, though this is not recommended if you have heavy luggage; you`ll also have to walk to or from the final stop at Piazzale Roma (the closest point to Venice`s attractions accessible by car or bus), to the nearby vaporetto stop for the final connection to your hotel.
The ATVO airport shuttle are quick and cheap (www.atvo.it), but they only take you as far as Piazzale Roma (the last stop for motorized traffic from the mainland). Buses leave for/from the airport about every 20 minutes, costs is about €8 (€15 return), and takes about 20 minutes. You can buy tickets at the automatic ticket machines in the arrivals baggage hall, or the Public Transport ticket office (open 8 am - midnight). From Piazzale Roma you will have to walk, take the vaporeto or hire a water taxi.
The ACTV bus no. 5 also costs about €8 and also takes about 20 minutes. This bus runs 2 to 4 times an hour depending on the time of day. The best option is to buy the combined ACTV and `Nave` ticket for about €14 that is valid for 90 minutes, which includes your first vaporetto ride at a slight discount (the `vaporetto` is the seagoing streetcar of Vinice, which goes to all parts of the city). Tickets can be purchased at machines just outside. With either bus, you`ll have to walk to or from the final stop at Piazzale Roma to the nearby vaporetto (water bus) stop for the final connection to your hotel.
A land taxi is also possible to take from the airport to Piazzale Roma which will cost about €40. While this is more convenient and a bit faster (only about 15 minutes) it still doesn`t get you direct to your hotel.
You can also travel by boat for about €15 (€14 if you purchase online, www.alilagua.it) you can take the Cooperative San Marco/Alilaguna, a large motoscafo (shuttle boat), that services from the airport with two primary routes. The linea Blu (blue line) rund about every 30 minutes from 6:15 am to 12:30 am, stopping at Murano (about €8) and the Lido before arriving, after about 1 hour and 30 minutes, in Piazza San Marco (this service will continue to the cruise ship terminal). The Linea Arancio (orange line) rund almost every 30 minutes from 7:45 am t midnight, taking 1 hour and 15 minutes to arrive at San Marco, but almost every 30 minutes from 7:45 to midnight, taking 1 hour and 15 minutes to arrive at San Marco, but gets there through the Grand Canal, which is much more scenic and offers the possibility to get off at one of the stops along the way. This may be more convenient to your hotel and could save you from having to take another means of transportation.
Another alternative is the Venice Shuttle (www.venicelink.com) that runs daily from 8 am - 10:30 pm; minimum of 2 people for reservations). This is a shared water taxi that carries on average 6 - 8 people A good alternative is the Venice Shuttle (www.venicelink.com; daily 8am–10:30pm; minimum 2 people for reservations), a shared water taxi (they carry 6 - 8 people) that will whisk you directly from the airport to many hotels and most of the major locations in the city for 25€ to 32€ (add 6€ after 8pm). You must reserve online in advance.
If you`re staying in Mestre, on the mainland, you can take the Mestre airport bus from Marco Polo Airport.
Finally, if you`re arriving in Treviso (16 miles from Venice) you can take the Treviso Airport bus to Mestre or Piazzale Roma. Barzi Bus Service (www.barziservice.com/en/services/airport) offers a round-trip ticket (costs about €22). There is a counter at the airport selling these tickets, and they are available for purchase on the buses. Barzi services only to Trochetto parking island, where you need to take the `people mover` service to connect to Piazzale Roma (the maind bus terminal), or take the train from Mestre. ATVO also offers a service for the same price which terminates at the more convenient Piazzale Roma. Another option is to take the local ACTT (www.actt.it/index.php) bus no. 6 to Treviso railway station. Bus tickets are sold in a bar on the opposite side of the street in front of the airport terminal, or onboard for a higher price. From there you can take the train from there to Venice Saint Lucia (the main station on the island).
Venice has two railroad stations. Venezia Santa Lucia is the main station on the island at the edge of the historic center. If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you can walk, take a water bus (vaporetto) or hire a water taxi.
Venezia Mestre, on the mainland, is both a commuter station for locals and a `through station` for express trains. There is frequent, inexpensive service from Mestre to Santa Lucia.
Yes, if you`re staying in Mestre or one of the hotels in the Piazzale Roma. Otherwise, the answer is no, unless you are hiring a water taxi.
Water taxis, although fast and convenient, are very expensive (at least €110; from the airport). And since most hotels don`t have private boat landings and many canals aren`t navigable by water taxis, you may have to walk quite a distance from the landing pier (fondamenta) to your hotel. Furthermore, water taxis can be difficult to board/disembark if the water level is too high or too low, and you will need to haul your own luggage on and off the boat as the water taxi pilot is not allowed to leave his craft.
Venice is a compact city, which is designed for pedestrians. Unless you have mobility problems, you can save time and money by getting around on foot. Venice`s historic center is free of cars, and with the exception of the 400 plus foot bridges, the pavement is mostly smooth and level.What about public transportation?
The vaporetto can be a great way to get from place to place during your stay in Venice. However, a single fare ticket (good for 75 minutes) costs €7.50, so if you`ll be making more than one trip a day on the vaporetto it makes sense to buy a pass. Before buying a transit pass, think about how you want to use it and plan your sightseeing to make the most efficient use of the time you`re paying for.
A 24-hour ACTV travel card is about €20 (it only takes three rides to begin saving money with the card). For even more savings, there are also ACTV travel cards for 48 hours (costs about €30) and 72 hours (costs about €40). Most lines run every 10 to 15 minutes from 7 am to midnight, and then hourly until morning. Most vaporetto docks have timetables posted. You can buy tickets at Venezia Unica offices, authorized retailers displaying the ACTV/Venezia Unica sticker, and usually at the dock itself, though not all have machines or kiosks that sell tickets. If you haven`t bought a pass or tickets beforehand, you can pay the conductor onboard.
An important note, before boarding a vaporetto or other water bus, be sure to validate your ticket at the grey and white machine (ignore the green one). Traveling without a valid ticket can result in a heavy fine.
Lastly, you`re allowed one bag with a combined length, width, and depth of 59 inches. According to ACTV, Venice`s transit agency, if you go over that limit, your suitcase can be charged a full adult fare.
Pack light! It may sound cliché, but it`s good advice when you`re traveling to Venice. Luggage can be a nuisance anywhere, but in Venice, it`s nothing short of a burden. Hauling heavy suitcases over bridges and down narrow, crowded passages isn`t how you want to spend your vacation.
We suggest you consolidate everything before you arrive. Limit your luggage to one small suitcase of carry-on size (preferably upright on wheels) plus a lightweight backpack or tote and store your larger suitcase at the main train station (Venice Santa Lucia), Marco Polo airport, Piazzale Roma or the cruise port. On average, left luggage should cost about €5 per day per piece.
We don`t recommend keeping a car in Venice due to the cost and inconvenience. Piazzale Roma is the last stop for motorized traffic as cars are not allowed in the city.
If you must have a car while you are visiting Venice then the Tronchetto parking island next to the historic center and the Piazzale Roma are the main parking areas, but prices can be high during the busy season. A less expensive option is parking in Mestre, on the mainland. The Garage Europa, San Giuliano and Fusina, all have bus or water bus service to Venice.
If you are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.
Venice is also unique because of its layout. Streets have very interesting names in Venice, with unusual origins: rughe (from the French rue) and salizade (selciate) are the more important streets; calli are the smallest streets, while the strands that line the canals are called fondamenta. The rii terà are streets that were once canals since filled in, while a campo is a plaza in front of a church (in ancient Venice, these areas were cultivated with gardens), while a campiello is a square in the midst of homes, where lanes merge.
Most city streets were named after the particular function they held in the past or by the structural characteristic. The names are written on the nizioleti, the white signs posted on perimeter walls of the homes.
The Veneto is well connected by train and many towns are closely located, making it easy to travel from one city to the next. Tickets are very affordable, running between 2 and 12 euro depending on the type of train you decide to take.Can I pay/tip in US dollars?
The currency of Italy is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Italy by clicking here.I don`t speak Italian. Will many people speak English?
English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-Italian guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.Should I be worried about `acqua alta` during my stay?
The most common months for acqua alta (high water) are October through March. If you are visiting during that time then you should pack good rubber soled shoes and boots. The high waters are tidal, often occuring first thing in the morning or late in the evening, but rarely throughout the whole day. The flooding is also not uniform and certain areas remain largely unaffected by the phenomena.
The city is well equipped to deal with the water and you will find planks set up as pedestrian pathways in areas of water. If you do encounter acqua alta during your trip, it shouldn`t prevent you from enjoying your stay. If anything, it gives you a true Venetian experience!
When it comes to Murano, our best advice is that you don`t need to go there in order to get good quality glass. The glass blowing demonstrations can be fun, but are usually followed by a high pressure sales pitch. We also suggest avoiding the glass shops on the Fondamenta dei Vetri, which is the main drag. Unfortunately a lot of the cheap glass these days is actually made in China. The best way to ensure that you are buying genuine Murano glass is to look for the Vetro Artistico Murano trademark.Is Venice wheelchair accessible? Are water buses wheelchair accessible?
Visiting Venice in a wheelchair requires patience and advance planning, but it can be done. The most convenient boats for wheelchair users are flat-decked, single level vaporetti, but motoscafi (which have passenger cabins inside the hull) have mostly been rebuilt to accommodate wheelchairs at deck level. If you`re in a wheelchair, you`ll qualify for a special fare (about one-fifth of the usual ticket price), and you can bring one companion free of charge.Can I use my cellular phone or tablet in Venice?
Yes, if it`s a GSM device that`s compatible with European frequencies, and if you`ve enabled roaming. But be careful if you`re visiting from overseas, because international roaming fees can be outrageous.
If you`re traveling with a smartphone or tablet, you can turn off cellular service and use the municipal Wi-Fi network (VeniceConnected; www.veneziaunica.it) network of 200 hotspots. There`s a modest daily fee, and coverage is limited to major squares and the Grand Canal.
Every season has its special charm and its special corners to discover. Tourists enjoy sightseeing in Venice all year round: Mardi Gras time, that lasts about two months, has its peak periods in the last ten days. In autumn and in the winter, you can enjoy a very unique atmosphere, more intimate and secluded, a mysterious ambience largely created by the mist that hovers many days.
Frequently, the flood waters that invade Venice charm visitors more than scare them off ... As many Venetians go on holiday in August, it becomes the month when the city belongs to its visitors. In any event, you`ll soon find that a visit to Venice is not enough: so, come whenever you like and discover the city in all of its diverse aspects.
The APT (Tourism Board of Venice) suggests some pleasant walking tours:
- The landscapes of Cavallino
- Discovering the sandy foreshore
- Trekking on the isles of Treporti
- Burano, Mazzorbo, Torcello: the colour, the history and the art
- Pellestrina: the enchanted island
Use of bicycles, scooters and roller blades is not permitted in the historic center. The use of scooters and roller skates are strictly prohibited in the squares and alleys of Venice. However, you are allowed to ride your bike on several of the lagoon islands (Lido, Pellestrina, Sant`Erasmo), as well as mainland Venice, Mestre and Marghera.Where do Venetians do their shopping?
You`ll find many Venetians buying their fruit, vegetables and fish at the Rialto market, as well as the other produce and seafood stands dotting Cannaregio. The few Venetians are easy to recognize as they are armed with shopping trolleys and come out to have a chat or drink a refreshing spritz (an aperitif based on white wine, Aperol, bitters and soda water) or an ombra (a glass of wine imbibed in the shade of the belltowers): age-old customs that modern Venetians are happy to carry on. You can also shop at the several supermarkets around the city.Can tourists take advantage of special discounts for public transportation and museums?
You can also find a fare for the public transportation that fits your budget with the ACTV. By purchasing the VeniceCARD, you will be entitled to even more services and discounts. For the city Museums you can take advantage of special cumulative tickets and discounts for students and persons over 65.What hours are the churches open for visits?
These are the opening hours for the 15 churches that make up the Chorus - The Association of Churches of Venice:
- From Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm
- Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 pm
The Basilica dei Frari observes the following hours:
- From Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm - Sunday from 1:00 to 6:00 pm
- Christmas Day, December 25th
- New Year`s Day, January 1st
If you`ve come all this way and don`t indulge in a gondola ride, you might be kicking yourself long after you have returned home. Yes, it’s touristy, and, yes, it`s expensive, but it is definitely a beautiful way to see Venice.
The gondolas are mostly used for scenic purposes instead of actual transport from point A to point B. There are many stops dotted around the areas frequented by tourists and they are readily obvious, even when the gondolieri dress in something warmer then straw boaters and striped tops. Daytime prices start at around €80 30 minutes and gondolas comfortably take 4 people, with a maximum of 6. Seated only, with some seats facing backwards. Special arrangements can be made to serve your interests (special routes, photo shoots, etc.).
Venetian ambulances are motorboats especially fitted for this purpose. Daily life in Venice is influenced by the water and the various activities done on foot or with the boat: boats are used to move merchandise and mail, for marriage ceremonies and funerals, as well as the police, carabiniere and fire fighters have their own specialized boats. Walking about in the city you will certainly come upon them.What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?
The Ospedale Civile Santi Giovanni e Paolo (tel. 041/5294111), on Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, has English-speaking staff and provides emergency service (go to the emergency room, pronto soccorso) 24 hours a day (vaporetto: Ospedale).
Emergencies: In Venice and throughout Italy, dial tel. 113 to reach the police. Some Italians will recommend that you forgo the police and try the military-trained Carabinieri (tel. 112). For an ambulance, phone tel. 523-0000.