In Venice, no cars are allowed, so you cannot get around using one. If you are traveling by car, it is advisable to leave it in the mainland. From there, you can take public transportation going into the city.
If you go by land, take a bus to the Piazzale Roma which is across the Grand Canal from the train station. If by water, get a ride on the Alilaguna waterbus.
If you go by train, get off ONLY on the station “Venice Santa Lucia”. (The first two, named “Venice” and “Venice Mestre” are still on the mainland.) You will be deposited right at the Grand Canal with a big vaporetto waiting for you.
Once in the city, going around is by walking, of which Venice is ideal. But then, a whole city however small, cannot be explored by foot alone. Since Venice is surrounded by waterways, long transportation is carried out by water vessels.
This is the main transportation going to and from places far from the city. These are big bus boats which have regular routes along the Grand Canal from the city proper to other places. (e.g. to Murano, Burano, or Torcello, etc.)
One single ticket for an hour of travel time is around 7 Euros. It is better to get a pass that covers your whole visit. Several kinds of passes are available for tourists covering both water and land transportation. Some have discounts at various shops and attractions in the city.
The main tourist line is the #1 vaporetto. It travels across the whole of the Grand Canal, stopping at every single stop between the train station and Piazza San Marco. If you are in a rush, don’t take the vaporetto.
However, if you want to travel in a leisurely manner because of the sights along the way, the vaporetto is perfect. (Validate your tickets in the machines along the planks before you board.)
If the weather cooperates, it is one grand way to spend the hour (the whole travel time) watching the city float by. Just don’t be in the way of the people who rope the boat up at every stop.
If you want a faster transport, take the #82 vaporetto. It is faster because it stops only at some few points between the train station and San Marco terminals. However, this is a seasonal liner, operating only on high tourist seasons. If you are visiting off-season, there is no #82 vaporetto.
They look like gondolas, but they are not. They don’t have gondoliers with striped shirts singing songs. Traghettos are short distance transport boats used to cross the Grand Canal at various points where there are no connecting bridges.
There are traghetto stands and waiting boats along the banks of the Grand Canal. These traghetto boats transport passengers to and from either side of the canal.
These quaint-looking boats make up for the postcard picture of Venice. In essence, these are expensive water taxis for hire when you want to go on a leisurely, romantic cruise around the city’s canals.
In these hard times, the gondola business is still going on strong in Venice, which means the world is still full of romantics with money to burn. Of course, getting around Venice need not be in gondolas, and they can be just as romantic as you can make them to be.