stretches over a collection of 118 islands, and as cars are banned, your choice of transportation is between walking and boating. Most of Venice is easily navigated on foot. Alternatively, the vaporetti run up and down the main canals as well as to the outlying islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello.
There are several ways to arrive from Venice Airport to your hotel. The easiest—and also the most expensive—way to arrive is to arrange to have your hotel meet you. You can also hire a private water taxi yourself as you exit the baggage claim. You will see a counter for the official water taxi commission. You will then make your way under a covered walk about a quarter of a mile to the docks (takes about seven minutes), where you will meet your driver.
Says Indagare member J. McS: Don’t book your vaporetto through your hotel as the one-way is the cost of a round-trip fare. Instead, after you exit the baggage claim in the main hall of the airport, go to the water taxi desk and book a round-trip. You will reserve your return then and have your hotel concierge confirm the night before.
If you know you will be taking more than three rides in the course of a day, get a twenty-four-hour ticket. You can buy tickets at the vaporetti stops. The major lines run frequently from 7 a.m. until midnight, then hourly until morning. There are only three bridges that cross the Grand Canal (Rialto, Accademia and the one by the train station) so you can easily feel trapped on the wrong side. Venetians know the secret of the “mobile bridge,” aka traghetto, which are gondolas that run between the banks of the Grand Canal. They cost only .50 cents a person and you can find them by looking for the green Traghetto piers.
Locals will always tell you that the best way to discover Venice is to get lost in its labyrinth of streets—and they are right. For starters, there’s a maddening number of location descriptions (calle, campo, campiello, rio, ponte, sotoportego, to name just a few), and each of the six sestieri (neighborhoods) has its own numbering system. One tip is to follow the house numbers stoically and ignore the street names altogether. For example: fabled restaurant Da Fiore is located in Calle di Scaleter, but it’s easier to find it if you track the numbers until you reach San Polo 2202. Don’t get frustrated: losing the way is part of the fun—and romance—of Venice and the worst that can happen is that you reach a canal and have to backtrack.
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