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Getting Around in the Labyrinth of Venice
Getting around in watery Venice can be one hack of an adventure. It is time-consuming, but if you stick to a few basic rules, then you will manage to save time, effort and get to see more of its wonders!
Expect huge crows in Venice. Especially during the warmer months. Spring, summer and early autumn the city looks like a Disneyland. Filled with foreign visitors. Commerce flourishes... But it's hard to find an empty place at a restaurant.
On the photo below (in the background, behind the small motorboat) you can see a water bus (vaporetto) embarking/disembarking passengers at a local water bus station.
Just like cars and buses on concrete roads - water taxis and water buses connect various parts of Venice
Venice Transportation, Getting Around
You can walk by foot, but almost certainly you will require a boat to take you further, at some point in time... Let's see the transportation options in Venice!
Venice transportation means by vehicle:
Water bus (vaporetto): they are larger ships operating on the Canal Grande and around Venice's main islands, linking the most important parts of the city; they also operate to some major islands nearby
Water taxi: you can hire a small motor boat for best mobility(for example, like those fine wooden motor boats that you see so often in the movies) to get around, which can take you to further locations, but the prices are quite high - if you want to feel like a movie star, try it!
Gondolas: might be great "for an experience", but they're human-powered (don't forget!) and they're rather costly - except for trying out how it is, don't expect to take long trips with these slow boats...
By foot: I admit that I primarily walked across Venice (you'll see more by foot than if you travel by boat or water bus). and it's free!
The vaporettos are Venice's water buses
For the vaporettos you can buy 12, 24, 36, 48 and 72 hour passes and single journey tickets, but even 7-day passes.
The water bus can spare you a lot of time (if not money) - it brought me down from near my hotel to the Piazza San Marco (where the famous Saint Mark Basilica is found).
One of those typical water taxies in Venice. Some hotels have their own!
Water taxis are quite expensive for the common traveler. You can hire one by pre-booking online (advised), because it's often hard to get one - despite the high price! (Many people pre-book, pre-reserve them).
The water taxi will typically cost 100 EUR from the Venice Marco Polo Airport to the hotel. Most taxis can receive 4-5-6 passengers.
Can't leave the gondolas out... There are between 400-500 gondolas in Venice. Nowadays they're only used for transporting tourists. But in the past there were 10,000 boats of this kind - used for general transportation.
A gondola trip will cost 80 EUR for 40 minutes, but that's between 8 AM and 7 PM. Outside that interval (like late evening and night trips) will consume 100 EUR for a mere 40 minutes!
For budget travelers, I personally recommend the water bus and walking combination.
There are between 400-500 gondolas in Venice
Orientation, Finding Your Way in Venice
I personally relied mainly on walking. But it can be exhausting. Even for experienced travelers.
Finding attractions can be awfully hard... Despite signs pointing left and right, they are scarce and the roads are winding. And eventually you won't see any more signs and will get lost!
Ha ha, but it's such a beautiful adventure to get lost in Venice!
I intentionally didn't buy a map. Usually I don't buy maps (wicked habit), because I have the map in my mind.
Even if you do have a paper map, it's rather difficult to get around, because Venice has a labyrinth-like layout where narrow the streets, the hidden alleys and narrow waterways form a spiderweb-like structure. You'll walk a lot in zig-zag, going straight is almost impossible on longer distances!
Many advise to "follow the Canal Grande" and compare your position to it. But it's almost impossible, 'cause you can't walk along it most of the time. The buildings' walls stretch out to the main channel... most of the time you will only be able to walk on narrow hidden streets and alleys and won't even see where the main channel runs.
Getting lost in Venice is easy.
I'd say it's guaranteed!
One night I got lost and it took about 2 hours to get all the way home from the Saint Mark's Basilica area to my hotel, which was near the railway station in northern Venice.
It was adventurous. Along the way I had come across several interesting places, including the wooden bridge at the Academia area, churches and squares that I haven't seen before. That southeastern part of Venice is very exciting. It's kind-of "the center of the city"!
Wicked thing is: at night there are far less tourists on the streets. Partly because most of them arrive in from the mainland (that's where they stay at hotels), others stay on their cruise ships and they all return early.
And there's not much dynamism in Venice at night. Honestly, there's not much to do except eating out and perhaps contemplating the views.
Boat traffic is also less and less intense towards the end of the day. But expect filled restaurants by the evening...
At 10 PM and at 11 PM the city streets almost totally died out! Between 12 PM and 1 AM I could walk for minutes without seeing anyone out.
Venice is totally different from the city of Barcelona, which is more alive during the night than during the day! Yay!
It felt weird walking there at night... Only dangerous because you can't see the land's edge and can easily walk into the water!
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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