20 Things to do in Venice - 14/20 Getting Lost in Venice

There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that is as important when you’re visiting Venice than just wandering aimlessly through its streets and alleys. If you only had 3-4 hours in the city, I’d recommend that you do this before you set foot inside a single museum or attraction – it’s that critical to enjoying your visit. By wandering (especially if you point yourself in the exact opposite of the direction where the herd is going) you can find Venice’s many charming and often-empty squares and streets, which goes a long way toward helping you appreciate the city. I’d almost say you could ignore basically everything else on this list and just stroll around without a map… But although I might not go that far (again, unless you’ve only got 4 hours or less), I do consider the sentence “get lost in Venice” an order, not a suggestion.

 

 

But really, the point of Venice – for me, anyway – is to wander its maze-like alleyways and bridges, getting thoroughly lost and then finding your way back to something familiar. It’s about accidentally finding a gondola workshop where the men are working their lathes into the groove of the boats outside in the sun. It’s about seeing a market boat (rather than a brick-and-mortar store) selling Venice’s few residents their vegetables and fish. And it’s quite a challenge to do any of that in a day-trip, or by staying close to the Piazza San Marco.

20 Great Things to do in Venice 9/20 – Tour the Lagoon

If you're spending more than a few days in Venice, take time to visit the islands of the Venetian Lagoon. Explore the famous islands of  - Murano, Burano and Torcello - on a half-day or full day excursion. You'll see  glass-blowing display on Murano, shop for lace on Burano, be lost in the wonderful colours of Burano and visit Venice's first church on the tranquil island of Torcello. This tour is a great introduction to the magical islands of the Venetian lagoon Burano Venice  Colours and lights of Burano...HOW TO LICENCE THIS PICTURE: please contact us via e-mail at sales@xianpix.com or call our offices in Milan at (+39) 02 400 47313 or London   +44 (0)207 1939846 for prices and terms of copyright. First Use Only ,Editorial Use Only, All repros payable, No Archiving.© MARCO SECCHI (Marco Secchi)

You'll reach the islands on water buses operated by ACTV, the Venice public-transportation company best place will be from Fte Nove. Allow a full day for the entire excursion, or half a day if you skip one of them.

ACTV's lagoon water buses can be crowded during peak season, on weekends, or if local groups of senior citizens or schoolchildren are travelling between the islands. If crowds bother you, or if you're unwilling to stand on a moving boat when seats aren't available, consider one of these alternatives:

  • Take an escorted tour of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. This half-day tour is more expensive than a tour by public transportation, but it's worth considering if your schedule is tighter than your budget. The trip is offered by Viator, our sightseeing-tour partner.
  • Hire a water taxi by the half-day or day, which could easily cost several hundred euros. If you want the services of a private guide, try a customized lagoon itinerary from WalksInsideVenice or the Venice Tourist Guides Association and let the guide arrange transportation.

Tips:

  • Organized tours don't give you much time on the islands, so we'd recommend traveling independently unless you're in a hurry or have limited mobility.
  • Instead of buying individual tickets for the boat trips between the islands, buy a 12-hour to 7-day  tourist card at any Hellovenezia or ACTV ticket booth. (See our Vaporetto Fares article.) Or order the tourist office's Venice Connected pass before you leave home, if you can figure out the byzantine pricing scheme.
  •  If you have access to the Internet during your trip, you can check boat schedules at the official ACTV Web site.

Pick a number. The Venice waterbuses

Venice's vaporetti (singular - vaporetto), or water buses, are the public transportation of Venice and for the Venetian Lagoon. I have posted a Printable Map here. Vaporetti take visitors along the main canals, to the islands, and around the lagoon. Although often crowded, they are by far the least expensive way to get around (other than walking). If you're visiting Venice, sooner or later you'll probably find yourself on a vaporetto!The single vaporetto fare is a steep 6.50 euro (good for one hour from the time it's stamped) but if you plan to spend much time on the vaporetto system, it's wise to buy a travelcard that can be bought at any vaporetto ticket office. Travelcards are good for both water and land transport in the Venice area (land services on the Lido and in Mestre). Here are prices :

  • 18,00 € - 12-HOUR TRAVELCARD
  • 20,00 € - 24-HOUR TRAVELCARD
  • 25,00 € - 36-HOUR TRAVELCARD
  • 30,00 € - 48-HOUR TRAVELCARD
  • 35,00 € - 72-HOUR TRAVELCARD
  • 50,00 € - 7 DAYS TRAVELCARD

Recently, ACTV announced a renumbering of several vaporetto lines, effective November 2, 2011. Here's a handy chart to help make the transition. I can't even imagine what kind of havoc this is going to cause with all the maps of Venice having the old numbering system on them.

Colours Coordination in Burano

Burano is a pretty island in the northern part of the lagoon of Venice, Italy  with a current population of about 2,800 inhabitants. It consists of four individual islands, which are separated by narrow, 10 meters wide, canals, rio Pontinello in the west, rio Zuecca in the south and rio Terranova in the east. Burano is famous for lace-making and for its brightly-colored fishermen’s houses; the island is a photographer’s paradise.  (Marco Secchi)

How does Venice work?

Venice, Italy, “stretching across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy,” may be one of the most amazing places in the world to live. Fans of Donna Leon’s fictional detective Guido Brunetti come to know it as a land of good food, water taxis and alleys that dead-end at the water.

Venice Backstage. How does Venice work? from Insula spa on Vimeo.

Having said that Venice is not just a stage set. It is also a city with a resident population, which has productive activities, transportation and services. But how does the “Venice system” work? How do the tides in the lagoon behave? How are the canals formed? And the embankments? What’s under the buildings?

 

How does Venice work?

Venice, Italy, "stretching across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy," may be one of the most amazing places in the world to live. Fans of Donna Leon's fictional detective Guido Brunetti come to know it as a land of good food, water taxis and alleys that dead-end at the water. Having said that Venice is not just a stage set. It is also a city with a resident population, which has productive activities, transportation and services. But how does the “Venice system” work? How do the tides in the lagoon behave? How are the canals formed? And the embankments? What’s under the buildings?

Venice Backstage. How does Venice work? from Insula spa on Vimeo.