If you are making a trip to Venice, be prepared to walk a lot. The city is a maze of narrow streets, alleys, canals and bridges, all of them without a clear organization. That is why I thought it best to give my advice on transportation in Venice.
If you look at a Venice map, the Grand Canal in Venice, which is the widest and busiest in the city, is shaped like an inverted “S”. This means that if as example you need to go from the train station Venezia Santa Lucia to Piazza San Marco, you have to cross the Grand Canal twice.
The first step is simple: out of the train station, few steps to your left you will find the Ponte DegliScalzi. If you walk to your right, take the Calatrava bridge directing you to Piazzale Roma, the bus station in Venice.
For the second crossing of the channel you can use the Rialto bridge on the eastern side or the Accademia Bridge. There is no other crossing in the middle. It is for this reason that a total of seven “Traghetti” in different parts of the water channel. These boats allow you to reach your final destination much easier, especially when there are many tourists in Venice, as in the famous Carnival of Venice or the Venice Film Festival.
The main routes of the “Traghetti” are:
• S. Fondamente Lucia (opposite the railway station) – Fondamenta San Simeon Piccolo
• San Marcuola – FóndacodeiTurchi (by the Museum of Natural History)
• Santa Sofia (near Ca ‘D’Oro) – Pescaria (fish market)
• Riva del Carbon – Vin Fondamente
• Sant ‘Angelo – San Tomà
• San Samuele – Ca ‘Rezzonico
• Field Traghetto – Spear Street (near the Salute Church)
You can find the routes of the “Traghetti” marked on a map of Venice, or ask people in case of doubt, if you walk through Venice.
But what is one to Sorrento? “Thraghetto” (plural “Traghetti”) is the Italian word for “ferry.” In Venice, the “thraghetti” are gondolas without the luxury seats. Each “Thraghetto” has two gondoliers, who transport the local people and tourists in Venice through the channel for only 50 cents. The journey takes only a minute, but it’s good to experience the sensation of riding a gondola, especially if your budget does not allow a longer gondola ride.
If you prefer to go on foot, you can go walking all over Venice, using the aforementioned bridges to cross the Grand Canal. There are signs painted on the corners of houses, which generally show us where the Ferrovia and Piazzale Roma, train and bus station, respectively are, or the Accademia bridge, Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco.
An easier way of transportation in Venice, suitable for all ages, is to take the “vaporetto” water buses that serve all of Venice, with several stops on the Grand Canal, and with lines that reach the nearby islands Murano, Burano, Lido, the airport, and many other destinations.
Tickets for “vaporetto” are expensive (6.50 euros March 2011). These boats are usually very crowded, especially in Venice itself, specially during the “peak hours” to and from nearby islands. It also takes time to get to other island if you travel with the Vaporetto. However, it is a convenient way to get to places if you are tired of walking in Venice.
If you decide to use the Vaporetto you should consider buying a pass card 12hs, 24hs, 36hs, 48 hours or 72 hours. Prices are not so expensive here, so if you make more than two trips it may be convenient. Passes are from 16 euros for 12 hours to 18 euros for 24 hours. Do not forget to validate your ticket in the machines at the docks, to avoid fines of around 50 euros (all prices in March 2011.)
For 90 euros per hour you can take a water taxi in Venice, which can accommodate up to 6 people. This can help if you’re in a hurry. The boats are nice and comfortable. If you only make a short walk or transfer, see the fee in advance to avoid surprises.
Last but not least, the gondola rides are very popular for tourism in Venice. The gondolas can carry up to 6 people and the usual cost is (for March 2011) about 80 euros for 30-40 minutes, but in front of Piazza San Marco, at the sides of the main bridges in other areas of high route, you can pay 120 euros for the same trip.
Try to get a gondolier who speaks your language and look nice. Ask about costs, travel time and route in advance. This is not really a form of transportation, as they usually return to its starting point, but it is a good way to explore Venice and see the best the city has to offer.
Whatever the means of transport you choose, remember to be patient and be prepared to spend plenty of time lost or trapped in the crowd. Venice is very popular among tourists, but just try to relax and enjoy Venice!