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If you are staying in Venice and the weather is nice, tour Venice on foot. You'll almost certainly enjoy walking through the narrow alleys (calli [sing. calle]) of this enchanting city. You'll come across many little squares (campi and campielli), small shops, as well as stands selling souvenirs of many kinds. It is advisable to take a good street map with you on any such outing as it is all too easy to get lost in the tangle of medieval streets. Beware: Do not buy merchandise from the street sellers with their wares laid out upon sheets. They are usually not Italian, are irregular, and much of the merchandise is counterfeited (accessories: purses, belts, glasses, wallets, etc.) for which the purchaser can be steeply fined (+€+1000s!).
Being located on a collection of islands in the middle of a lagoon, there are times where you will need to use water transportation to get from one place to another. Venice has a very efficient public transportation service run by the public company ACTV, based mainly on various sized "vaporetto" boats ("water buses"), which derive their name from the time long past when they were powered by steam engines.
Vaporetto lines run on a schedule and guarantee essential connections to outlying islands such as the Lido, Giudecca, Murano, Burano, Torcello and others throughout the entire night as well.
For more information about Public Transportation, with details about fares and routes check the links below:
The period passes are well worth considering if you are staying for more than single day.
For Cruise Passengers - there is a "People Mover," a shuttle train that runs directly between the Stazione Marittima - the cruise port - and Piazzale Roma. It only costs 1.30 Euro each way and runs frequently.
However your cruise liner may be moored in Stazione Maritima some considerable distance from the People Mover so if you have a lot of luggage you may well be advised to call a land taxi which can either take you to Mestre railwaystation on the mainland, or take you direct to Marco Polo airport if you are not spending time in Venice or direct to Piazzale Roma if you do intend to spend time in Venice. From the landing stage at Piazzale Roma various water bus lines serve most of Venice, the Lido and some of the surrounding islands in the lagoon. Alternatively, as all the remainder of Venice is pedestrianised, you can walk if you wish, into the more interesting parts of Venice though it can be quite a way if you are carrying or wheeling your luggage.
Getting around Venice can be a challenge. It starts at the Marco Polo airport where you are confronted with several ways of entering the city. By water you can travel on the Alilaguna ferries of which there are several lines including one which will call at the Lido and all go to various landing stages around the city. Expensive private water taxis are also available at the airport landing stage or can be booked in advance from the desk in the Arrivals Hall They are very convenient as they can take you directly and quickly to your Hotel if it is located on a canal, as most are. There is no railway station at Marco Polo.
By land you can go to Piazzale Roma by land taxi, by public service bus or by airport coach. From Piazzale Roma you can walk if you do not have a lot of baggage to carry or use the city's vaporetto water buses. Note there is no railway station at Marco Polo airport; the nearest is at Mestre on the mainland or Santa Lucia station in Venice immediately across the Grand Canal from Piazzale Roma. There is a bridge across the Grand Canal conveniently at hand.
Researching your destination before your arrival will help. You'll need a map showing the public water taxi landings that you'll need to go to for moving around the city. Many hotels can supply a copy. Water taxi personnel as well as others may not be fluent to any degree in English. Luggage is going to be a problem. You need to drag it yourself. Then you come to a small bridge over a canal and must lift the luggage up and down steps.. This is not a city where you can call a land taxi to get around. The Venice experience makes your effort worth it!
CAUTION: If you use public transit buses, they have a ticket validation system which, while being very common in many Italian and European cities for all public transport, including trains and buses, is not explained or necessarily obvious to foreign visitors that do not bother to inform themselves in advance of the local customs. When you purchase a ticket (€8, for example to or from the airport), if you do not validate it before you board, or as soon as you board the vehicle, you are subject to a fine of €60 per person without a valid (validated) ticket. You must scan the ticket using a scanner located inside the bus, or in the case of a vaporetto, before entering the boarding dock area. Beware as all three doors to the bus open to allow people on and off (though the middle one is supposed to be only an exit, and is indicated ouside with a large circular "do not enter" sign) but scanners are only located at the front and back of the bus where the entrances are. The same is true of the ACTV vaporetti where your tickets (7.50 euros valid for 75 minutes total travel from the moment of validation, so you must complete travel and disembark before the time has expired) or period passes must be validated before use by swiping over the card readers found on the landing stages. Beware that on board the ACTV vaporetti there are no validation machine, so the tickets MUST be validated on the landside machines which are positioned just before the docking platforms.