You will find no cars or buses in Venice for the simple reason that there are no roads or streets, just canals. Therefore all transport in the city has to be either on foot or by boat. Everyone has heard of gondolas, but unless you do not mind spending approximately 160 euros for an hour’s trip, we would recommend that you use the public water buses or vaporetti. All the major canals in the city are well served by this system. The tickets are bought on land in one of the small sheds by the stops and prices are 7,50 euros (June 2017). If you are staying in the town for a few days, it is often worthwhile buying a ticket for several days travel allowing you unlimited use of the waterbuses.
The waterbuses also take you to the small islands in the lagoon such as Murano, Burano and Torcello, all of which have their own unique charms.
- On Murano you can experience the art of glassblowing, which has been the pride of Venice for centuries. Glass works were placed out here because of the danger of fire and also because the secrets behind certain techniques were considered so valuable that the Venetians did not want them to be leaked. This attitude has happily changed and today you can freely choose which of the many workshops you would like to visit.
- To get to Burano requires a boat trip of up to 30 minutes, but it is well worth the trip because this little fishing community is a real treasure. Whereas the houses in Venice often appear to be decaying and badly maintained you will be pleasantly surprised by the amazingly well kept and splendidly colorful houses on Burano. The town around the small canals is incredibly picturesque. Women here have always earned good money with their lace making while the men were out fishing. The island has a small museum dedicated to the art of lace making, and many of the shops also sell examples of this dying craft, but remember: if they are genuine, they carry a hefty price tag. When you visit Burano you should also visit one of the island’s restaurants, which almost exclusively use locally caught fish and shellfish in their dishes.
- Torcello can be quickly visited. The island has under 150 inhabitants and when you walk the kilometre from the step of the boat to the only attraction on the island – two churches, you will find it difficult to believe that the population is so big! It is impossible to imagine that before the 13th century the island was larger and more powerful than Venice itself with a population of over 20,000 inhabitants! The competition from Venice and malaria destroyed the island’s once flourishing trade. Today there are only 2 churches left and they stand next to each other. Both are worth the trip, especially because of the former cathedral’s 14th century mosaics. If you enjoy good quality food you should have a meal in the humble looking Inn Locanda Cipriani. It is expensive but it is very good!
Many people say that Venice is far too crowded with tourists year round to be fully appreciated. It is true that a considerable amount of tourists visit the town. If you consider that this town with its 50,000 inhabitants receives just as many tourists as Florence or Rome with their millions of inhabitants, it can feel rather overwhelming.
However it must be remembered that the vast majority of tourists only come here for a short visit and therefore spend all their time seeing the conventional sights: Saint Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge. So the straight road between these two super attractions and the train station is always crowded with busy tourists, while only a few percent visit the peripheral areas, which are often charming and overlooked.
Try taking a boat to the long island Giudecca which is a few minutes away from Saint Mark’s Square. Not many tourists come out here with a charming atmosphere and an abundance of lovely restaurants. Try taking a trip along the harbour promenade Zattere, which runs two kilometres down the southern side of the city. Here we can warmly recommend trying a waffle with gianduia ice cream at “Nico”. Also don’t miss out on a trip to the eastern side of the town Castello. Here you will find the old arsenal and two large green parks, where you can relax away from the tourist hordes. If you make it out here you should also take time to enjoy the atmosphere on Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, the large shopping street.
Venice is a town that improves upon better acquaintance. The longer you spend here, the more interesting aspects you discover. The first times you will normally only see the most famous sides of the town but there is enough to see here to keep you occupied for many visits.