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Venice itself is a pedestrian and a boat city - there are no cars, buses, motorcycles or Vespas (very unusual for Italy) beyond Piazzale Roma. Visitors can park on the mainland and take public transportation into the city, or can park on Tronchetto, a man-made island which sports a large parking garage, or in the smaller car parks around Piazzale Roma. This is the last time you will see your car during your stay. The City of Venice publishes a list of parking areas, the cheaper ones being on the mainland, and the most expensive being those directly in Piazzale Roma. There are many water bus lines running from Piazzale Roma all round Venice.
However the Lido is very different as car, buses etc are to be found on the streets there. You can take a car to the Lido on the No 17 car ferry which leaves from Tronchetto and sails down the Giudecca Canal.
With a Venice car hire/car rental, there are a lot of great destinations awaiting you outside the city of canals. Northern Italy is a really beautiful place throughout the year. Come in summer and drive to all of the hot beaches along the coast. If you are here in winter, you can take the car hire/rental from Venice and drive into the mountains for some skiing. During the spring and early summer the mountains are well worth a visit for their colourful display of alpine plants in flower.
The other seasons are also nice times to visit because there is less tourism. The streets of Venice are not so crowded from October through to Easter. Outside Venice a rental car/car hire is most useful to vist the mountains and the smalle towns. The main towns such as Treviso, Padova, Vicenza, Verona etc are best visited by fast trains from Venice Santa Lucia station as driving and parking in many of these cities can be difficult. A trip to northeastern Italy does not have to be only about Venice. You should seriously consider taking day trips to some of the other cities in the region.
All major car rental companies are present at the airport and several of the majors have offices in Piazzale Roma as well:
Locauto Rental Cars are known to have put bogus
charges of £800 onto credit cards which is impossible to get refunded
The fastest transport - but very expensive - to get around Venice is by private water taxi, such as Consorzio Motoscafi and ShareVenice. When it rains, these taxis are especially convenient since they have a closed cabin and will take you anywhere by water. You can get a taxi at one of the water taxi ranks, or have the hotel call it for you. Often you'll be able to pay for the taxi at the hotel. There is an extra charge for luggage, night service as well as waiting time. The water taxi drivers do not usually expect a tip.
Make sure you get a legitimate water taxi. It should have a serial number in black on yellow background clearly visible, and make sure the driver turns on the meter. Official water taxi fares can be viewed on the Venice CIty Hall website. This year Venice introduced a new online-reservation system where you can book online all public services in Venice. For more information, click here.
The most common method of transport -- aside from walking -- is the vaporetto, run by a company called ACTV. ACTV provides an extensive public transport system around Venice and many of the other islands in the Lagoon. Vaporetto tickets are 7.00 Euros for one hour in any one direction (basically a single-use ticket), and a number of transport passes are also available, as outlined in the dedicated TripAdvisor article.
Tickets for the ACTV can be purchased at major stops like Piazza San Marco, Rialto, and Ferrovia in Venice, as well as on the islands of Murano, Burano and the Lido. Tickets and passes are also available at a number of news stands, tabacconists, and convenience stores that display the "Imob" logo. ACTV provides land buses to run between Venice Marco Polo Airport and Piazzale Roma . An alternative direct coach service is provided by ATVO who also run a service between Piazzale Roma and Treviso airport . This coach service has rather better acommodation for luggage than the ACTV schduled bus service. Both services take 20/25 minutes one way. Their respective websites www.actv.it and www.atvo.it provide details of their timetables and fares for all their services.
Note that ACTV does not provide a service by water betweeen Marco Polo and Venice; Water transport from Marco Polo airport to Venice is provided by the Alilaguna ferry service with several lines serving different parts of Venice including the Lido, Punta Sabbioni and the port area - Statzione Marittima. Alilaguna is a different company from ACTV who run the vaporetti around the rest of the lagoon. See http://www.alilaguna.it/ for details of routes, timetables and fares. The major drawback to this service is that it is rather slow, taking slightly over an hour compared with the 20/25 minutes to Venice for the private water taxis.
Vaporetto tickets are checked on board from time to time. Tickets, once purchased, need to be validated by swiping over the electronic card reader on every landing stage. if you are caught riding without a validated ticket, you will be subject to the fare plus an instant fine or 30 Euros payable on the spot. The "inspectors" do not accept credit cards, so cash is required. If the vaporetto ticket office is closed, it is possible to purchase a ticket upon boarding from the vaporetto staff without a surcharge, but request a ticket as soon as you board to avoid being without a ticket.
Crossing the Grand Canal can be done across four bridges, two close to the Santa Lucia railway station and further down the Canal at Rialto and Accademia bridges, or via the vaporetto, or via traghetto. The traghetti are larger gondola-style boats, with two oarsmen. For €1 you can cross the canal in a few minutes. There are several "traghetto" crossing points along the length of the Grand Canal, marked with green signs. Most "traghetti" run from 6am to about 6pm, though some stop for the day around lunch time.
Finally, private gondole are another way to get around the city but this is the MOST expensive choice, and isn't recommended for actually getting anywhere in a hurry. Gondole are nice for a romantic tour of the canals and in general are used mainly by tourists.