VENICE - GETTING AROUND

Walking

Venice is a compact city, which is designed for pedestrians. Aside from boats, the only way to explore Venice is by walking - and getting lost, repeatedly! 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. To navigate the many twisting streets whose names change constantly or simply end in a blind alley or spill into a canal, you will need a detailed map. Ask for 'apianta della città' at news kiosks, especially those at the train station and around San Marco. The best (and most expensive) is the highly detailed 'Touring Club Italiano' map, available in a variety of forms (folding or spiral-bound) and scales.

As you wander, look for the (usually) yellow signs whose destinations and arrows direct you toward five major landmarks: Ferrovia (the train station), Piazzale Roma, Rialto (the main bridge), San Marco, and the Accademia (the only other Grand Canal bridge below the train station). And, when all else fails, just stop every couple of blocks and ask a local to point you in the right direction, but always know the name of the campo/square or major sight closest to the address you're looking for, and ask about that. Treat getting lost in Venice as part of the fun, and allow more time than you think necessary to get wherever you're going.

By Vaporetto (Water Bus)

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 60 minutes) costs €6.50, 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.

Please 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.

By Water Taxi

Taxi acquei (water taxis) charge high prices and aren't for travelers who are watching their euros. The meter starts at a staggering 14.50€ and clicks at 1.80€ per minute. Each bag over 20 inches long costs 3€, plus there's an 8€ supplement for service from 10pm to 7am and an 8€ surcharge on Sundays and holidays (these last two charges can't be applied simultaneously). If they have to come pick you up add another 6€. These rates cover up to two people; if there are any more in your party, it's an additional 1.50€ per extra passenger (maximum 20 people). Taking a taxi from the train station to Piazza San Marco or any of the hotels in the area will cost about 60€ for two people, while there is a fixed 95€ fee to come from or go to the airport.

Six water-taxi stations serve key points in the city: the Ferrovia, Piazzale Roma, theRialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, the Lido, and Marco Polo Airport. Radio Taxi (tel. 041-522-2303) will come pick you up anyplace in the city. Note that only taxi boats with a yellow strip are the official taxis sanctioned by the city.

By Gondola

To come all the way to Venice and not indulge in a gondola ride could be one of your biggest regrets. It's touristy and it's expensive, but it IS the quintessential Venetian experience and it's truly as romantic as it looks!

There are 12 gondola stations around Venice, including Piazzale Roma, the train station, the Rialto Bridge, and Piazza San Marco. There are also a number of smaller stations, with gondoliers standing alongside their sleek 36 foot long black wonders looking for passengers. They all speak enough English to communicate the necessary details.

Before setting off, establish with the gondolier the cost, time, and route explanation (any of the back canals are preferable to the much trafficked and often choppy Grand Canal). Though it's printed at differing official rates, expect to pay 80€ for a 40 minute tour (100€ 7pm-8am), with up to six passengers, and 40€ for every additional 20 minutes (50€ at night). That's not a typo - 150€ an hour for an evening cruise! If the gondola price is too high, ask visitors at your hotel or others lingering about at the gondola stations if they'd like to share it. They're regulated by the Ente Gondola (tel. 041-528-5075), so call if you have any questions or complaints.

Note: At these ridiculously inflated prices, there is no need to tip the gondolier. Aim for late afternoon before sundown, when the light does its magic on the canal reflections (and bring a bottle of prosecco and glasses). Oh, and don't ask them to sing!

By Car

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 are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.

Ifyou must have a car while you are visiting Venice then the Tronchetto parkingisland next to the historic center and the Piazzale Roma are the main parkingareas, but prices can be high during the busy season. A less expensive optionis parking in Mestre, on the mainland. The Garage Europa, San Giuliano andFusina, all have bus or water bus service to Venice.