Update on Venice 2013: Visiting Venice is easier than ever, though more expensive than ever as the hotels have increased their room rates for the summer for the tourist season by as much as 36% according to a local source. To save some money, you can buy some tickets on line in advance. In addition to saving money, the benefit of buying on line is generally you can shop in your language and you save a lot of time avoiding the lines.
Prepare Before Going:
The web has some great sites on things to do and one we especially is:
Venice Connected. The site is available in 6 languages, it gives you a wealth of information about visiting Venice, including such necessities as
"Public Restrooms in Venice" and how they operate, where they are located, important information as Venice is a city with decades old toilet facilities. If you are not near these public facilities, most bars will have a toilet and for the cost of a drink, you can use it without being harassed or annoying the owners, though they may be small or even the occasional Turkish Toilet (where you stand on the footprints). Bars are everywhere, they are not bars in the American sense. They serve coffee, small sandwiches, and of course wine and other alcoholic beverages. Children can go into these " bars." Small gift shops will not have toilets.
A one-way ticket on the Vaporetto cost 6 Euro (approximately $9 US) and is good only in one direction and 60 minutes. That's a pretty steep price and makes the Tourist cards look very reasonable. You can buy online before your go, avoiding the lines and without ever speaking one syllable of Italian. Take a look at the time you will be there. You take the vaporetto in Venice not only to save time but energy and besides the scenery along the canals can only be seen from a boat.
iMOB: Electronic Tickets:The benefit of having a pass is that you can pick up the vaporetto at any stop and it's a great way for crossing the canal instead of walking a half mile. Since the introduction of the iMOB, the electronic ticket. You need to hold your ticket over the meter at the entrance of the vaporetto station.
You must do this each and every time you board, otherwise there is the possibility of a fine. Venice Connected website will let you buy your ticket online. To view the schedules (and yes they are generally on time) visit the ACTV site.
Venice Card - Reduced Fares for Museums
It gives you free entrance to a number of Municipal Museums, like the Doge's Palace, Museo Corret, Ca' Rezzonicio, Palazzo Mocenigo, Ca' Pesaro, the Glass Museum, the Lace Museum and Museum of Natural History (houses in the Fondato Turkish. Many other sights and museums offer reduced admissions with the card. Again, the benefit is saving you time from standing in lines. You can buy online before you go at HelloVenezia.
Reminder: If you buy your passes on line, be sure you print and take the email with you. Printing in Venice will occupy your valuable time as you search for a place to print.
From 1 June until 24 November 2013 the city of Venice is submerged in "art". The art is placed all around the city and some of it takes a bit of convincing as to the nature of the art. However, 88 countries are represented and it's worth a bit of time to explore some of the pavilions.
Many exhibits are outside in squares and totally free. Those which are housed in a palazzo give you the added value of seeing inside these amazing places. For more information on museums in Venice click on the picture. The opening on 1 June brought out the mega-yatchs and socialites, with all the berths occupied along the water front. The main offices are in the Ca' Giustinian, a short distance from San Marco Square with large exhibits at the Central Pavilion in the Giardini. (Boat Stop: Giardini). The Biennale is held on even years. The art is avant-garde, and may defy your vision of art, but never boring!
Internet Access: These little shops tend to come and go. There are fewer people who need a computer as more people use their mobile phone for texting and accessing the web. The one which I have used over the years is in Cannaregio, not terribly far from the train station. From the station, (coming out facing the canal), go left down Lista di Spagna and continue through Campo S. Geremia. Cross over the Ponte de le Guglie and it is on the right just where the outdoor market, Mercato Rionale, begins. Hours are (hopefully) 9:30 to about 9 p.m. (It changes seasonally.)
A couple of Things Not to Do (not in order of gravity):
1. Do not sit on the door way, or window of stores and apartment buildings for a picnic.
2. Do not sit in the seats on the vaporetto clearly marked with pictures of elderly people, handicapped people, and mothers with babies.
3. Do not block the aisles of the vaporetto with suitcases and strollers, or occupy the seats with the same.
4. Do not throw anything into the canals, including cigarettes. (Now you may see some ill-behaved locals doing this. But you should not!)
5. Do not stand outside on the vaporetto blocking entrance and exit. We all know you want to get the best possible picture, but locals just want to get home.
Things New in Venice:
Sephora! While I am not usually the fan of the every city having exactly the same shops and will complain greatly, Sephora is a necessity I rejoiced to see open. It is between the train station and Piazzale Roma (same side). Seems like every trip I forget something, imagine my happiness when I saw this American mall fixture right in Venice.
The train station is under upgrading, hopefully to be completed for the summer season. Meanwhile, it is a bit confusing, so give your self plenty of time if you want to buy tickets. The little café has moved and while not a huge improvement, appears to have more items travelers need. You can still get a cappuccino and sandwiches with a small space for sitting.
Arriving in Venice by Train: Be careful that your destination is St. Lucia, Venezia, not Mestre. If the destination says Mestre, the train will not arrive in Venice and will depart for parts unknown, like Milano, Trieste, Udine or further. You will have to get off in Mestre and catch another train to Venice. There are literally hundreds daily, but it is a hassle to get your luggage off the train, up and down the steps to find another train, remembering that the train only stops for 3-5 minutes there. Once you arrive at St Lucia Venezia, you will most likely still need to take the vaporetto to somewhere close to your hotel. Just outside the train station along the canal, there are 5 boat stops. Some going each way up and down the canal. (A hint here is that the boat points in the direction it will go!) When you walk out of the train station (facing the canal) to your left is the direction of San Marco and to your right is the direction of Piazzale Roma, Tronchetto and the cruise terminal.
Arriving in Venice at the Airport: Here the issue is to be sure which airport.
Marco Polo is the international airport with arrivals/departures to the US and to most other European cities. However, when you reach Marco Polo, you are still a good hike and a boat ride away from Venice, or you could catch a Pullman to Piazzale Roma. For the bus, be sure to buy your ticket inside the airport, then just walk out the doors to the street.
Take the bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma:You can buy your tickets for the ACTV (pubic transportation) at the Hello Venezia kiosk inside the airport until 8 p.m. most every day. There is a better view of this picture on the ACTV website explaining the routes.
You can take the #5 directly from the airport to Piazzale Roma. If you need to get to the train station in Mestre from the airport, there are also buses for that route. Once you reach Piazzale Roma, you will most likely need to take a Vaporetto to get near your hotel.
Take a Water Taxi: Even if you take a water taxi, it is about 1/4 mile from the airport to the dock, which you must walk, rain or shine. So rethink your packing! You can arrange the taxi inside the airport or when you reach the dock. Depending on how many people and luggage you have, and of course location of the hotel, a taxi may be your best option. Alilaguna tickets are 14 Euro one way from the airport to Venice. A taxi will be somewhere between 100 Euro and 150 Euro, but generally can get you quite close to the hotel. Print your hotel reservation and show it to the taxi driver.
Alilaguna (do a little research on their website, at least you'll know what the boat looks like) which is less expensive than a taxi. Be careful which line you get on. Look on the map and know which stop and line are closest to your hotel. Carrying luggage over several bridges because you took the wrong boat will put you in a grumpy mood! You can buy a ticket online before you go, but you must take the voucher to one of their ticket booths, so it only waste time, you can always pay also on the boat. There is a ticket booth conveniently located dockside. Do look at your airline schedule and make sure that Alilaguna is operating when you arrive and that upon your return, it will arrive at the airport in time for check-in. A taxi is your only alternative for 6 a.m. flights as the first boat does not depart Venice until about 6a.m. The same is true if your flight arrives very late.
Treviso is the regional airport used by Wizz Air, Ryan Air, and other low cost airlines. Treviso is 40Km from Venice. There are frequent buses from Treviso to Venice and if you fly on Ryan Air, you can book their Pullman directly through their site. Be sure to get your luggage and head immediately for the departure point as it has a strict time schedule. You could also hire a taxi - which will be faster but much more expensive. Or you could hire a taxi to take you to the train station where you could catch a local to Venice.
General Reminder for all Travelers:
Passports: Make a copy of your passport and keep it with you. In the event you somehow loose your passport, a copy will expedite your ability to replace it. It is also safer to carry this copy around with you. Remember that in Italy everyone is required to carry a card of identity with them at all times.
Credit Cards: For your credit cards, stash a list of numbers to call (from outside the country) in case of loss and the card numbers. It makes reporting them to your credit card companies a whole lot easier.
For more read our earlier post on Visiting Venice and Murano