Venice, Italy. It is a wonderful and beautiful place to visit. There are many things to see in Venice such as St. Mark’s, Piazza San Marco, Doge’s Place, Bridge of Sighs, Rialto Bridge, Murano Glass Factories and several museums.
First is getting there. You can fly into Marco Polo airport. It is small but very nice. Or you can fly into a larger airport and take the train. Either way you have several options. Let’s say you fly into Marco Polo, from there you can either take a bus, train, taxi or water taxi into Venice. Know however on the bus, you will have to carry your own luggage on and off the bus. Trains, buses and taxi will only take you to the Santa Lucia Station which is on the Grand Canal across from Piazzale Roma. The water taxi cost a little more but they will help you with your luggage and take you directly to your hotel in Venice. There are several less expensive hotels along the road to Venice and you will find that the buses run all the time into Venice.
Once you’re at your hotel, check with them about tours. However, remember you can go to all those places on your own. Second thing to do is find a water bus stand (usually are near hotels and just down the street) and buy a pass. These are called Water Buses or Vaporetti and are the best and easy way to get around Venice. These are similar to buses as you can get on and off with several other people. Do not confuse this with a ‘water taxi’ as they will cost more and usually only have you or a couple other people on them. The Vaporetti (water buses) have passes available good for 7 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, 7 days and 3 days. These are the best to get as they allow you to use all the water buses as many times as you want. They also have a new pass that include various attractions called Venzia Unica City Pass. If you have your trip all planned out, this allows you to buy online and includes all the tickets to places you want to see and the water bus pass. Check out their website at – http://www.veneziaunica.it/en/content/how-it-works
You can book Gondola rides through your hotel or at any Gondola location along the Grand Canal. There are several different companies and a few independent ones. The ride is nice and worth doing at least once. If you book with your hotel, you may end up going with a group. If you want to go alone, make sure they know. It may cost a bit more but you get a more comfortable ride.
Window Shop around before buying any glass. Stores at the Rialto Bridge have glass from Murano Island that may be by a master or by their students. Taking a tour to Murano Island allows you to watch them create two or three glass items. It is great to watch a master turn a blob of glass into a prancing horse. They also sell all different kinds of glass items and will ship it home for you.
Even with doing a tour of Murano, please take the water bus (#12, #4.1 or #4.2) and visit more than just the one glass factory you get to see with the tour. There are several stores all along the water front where you can buy glass items from tiny figurines to larger items. I found the stores outside of the one you visit had some wonderful items at better prices. From what you are told, the items in the glass factory store are made by masters where the ones in the stores outside are from their students. It takes a long time for a student to become a master and I found their work just as wonderful and beautiful.
Have a small notepad in your purse, jacket or bag. If you are window shopping and see something you like but aren’t sure, I would recommend writing down what and where you saw the item. That way, you can find your way back to their store. By having the water bus pass, you can visit as many stores as many times as you want to!
One thing you should do is walk! You can’t get to all the hidden places if you only use the water buses. You will walk a lot so make sure you have good and comfortable shoes. The main tourist places are along the canals but you will miss a lot of wonderful places that the water taxis do not go. There is also a ‘back street’ walking tour of Venice that I would recommend. There are wonderful restaurants in the back streets that have great food so don’t forget about walking. Also you may see some intriguing architecture.
The weather can be very chilly so check the average daily temperatures to see what to expect. The summers are humid and hot, the winters chilly and rainy and the floods are between October and January. Don’t worry too much about the floods, they put out raised walk-ways for you to use. Plus they are having an all time low. Fall and Spring are good times to go if you want to miss crowds.
Water bus routes are easy to use for traveling around Venice. The buses are mark and go in both directions, so watch which one you jump on. Of course it goes around in a circle so if you end up going the wrong way do not panic as it will end up back where you want to go. Route #2 goes around the Grand Canal and connects the Tronchetto with the train station, Piazzale Roma, Lido and Guideccal. Route#4.1 and #4.2 goes around the outside of Venice, serving the train station, Piazzale Roma, and Guidecca and going to Murano Island from Fondamente Nove. Route #12 goes to Murano Island and Burano Island from Fondamente Nove. Get a bus map so you can see all the other routes and give them a try. You can ride the bus all the way around back to its stop/start point and then you may have to get off and get back on. It is a fun and easy way to see all kinds of things in Venice so enjoy a day of just riding a bus to see where you may want to go.
Lastly enjoy your trip and the beauty of Venice.