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There is simply no other city quite like Venice. Surrounded on all sides by water with a web of canals snaking through the interior of this island, the sea is an integral facet of life in Venice. Once one of the world’s greatest powers, the Venetians left behind a city to rival most museums. It’s a huge tourist destination, packed with historic gems and charming plazas lined with cafés. Visitors can add to their experience by using a car to travel around the region, where a slew of other attractions await. You certainly won’t need a car within Venice, however, as vehicles have never been allowed on its ancient streets.
Who to Book With
Nearly all of the car hire companies serving Venice are clustered around its western gateway at Piazzale Roma. This is where everyone parks before entering the city on foot or water taxi. Most visitors use their car to explore Venice’s surroundings, as vehicles have never been allowed in the city itself. To avoid frustration and the hassle of renting on the spot, be sure and book your car online in advance so that everything is ready and waiting.
Best Time to go
Venice has a rather unusual climate for Italy. It rains evenly throughout the year, with chilly winters and rather hot summers. Since rain and cold don’t mix well, the busiest tourist months in Venice are between April and October, when the temperatures generally stay above 20°C. The major European holidays like Easter and summer break are the most crowded and best avoided. Consider September or May, two of the finest months in the Venetian calendar.
Need to Know Essentials
To collect your rental car, you need to show the following:
- A valid EU or UK driving license or International Driving Permit
- Another form of photo ID
- The credit card used to make the reservation
- A printed rental confirmation (if possible)
Since motorised vehicles have never been allowed inside the perimeter of Venice, there is no driving anywhere within the city. Water taxis and walking are the forms of transport here, which is what makes Venice such a special place. All drivers must park at the western entrance of the city at the Piazzale Roma, where Europe’s biggest single car park (the Tronchetto) is located.
Parking at the Tronchetto is an odyssey in itself. There are many parking garages on site, and each is privately owned and operated. The rates and rules vary, so do some research before arriving to narrow down the options. City lots like ASM Garage operate by the hour, while private garages, such as Garage San Marco, only have daily rates.
Daily rates range from around €18 to €38, while short-term rates hover around €4.50 for a two-hour stay. Parking at the Tronchetto often fills up completely during busy travel periods, so it’s highly recommended to make your parking reservations ahead of time, no matter when you plan to visit. Check with your hotel to see if they have a discount parking arrangement with any of the garages. Another option is to park in Mestre and use the train or ferry to reach Venice.
As the world’s only fully pedestrian city, Venice transportation is either by water or by foot. You can walk from one end of the main core of Venice to the other in an hour, but if your feet get tired, simply hop on a public water bus or a private water taxi to move around. Gondolas are also on hand for a more expensive but memorable trip around the city.
The city’s ACTV company manages the vaporetti water buses that have a standard fare of €7 for a single journey to most destinations in Venice. If you plan to travel around more than three times in a day, it’s far better to buy the Travelcard that allows for unlimited water bus travel within a certain time limit. These Travelcards range in price from a 12-hour pass for around €18 to a seven-day pass for around €50. Passes can be bought at Hellovenezia tourist offices or the automated ticket machines.
The Venice Card is another option that combines the use of public toilets, entry to some cultural attractions and city transportation. These cards are useful for travellers staying more than a couple of days, but they don’t cover entry fees to some of the city’s most famous attractions.
Trains to Venice terminate at the Venezia Santa Lucia train station at the western entrance to the city. Venice enjoys excellent domestic rail connections to cities like Rome and Milan, as well as several direct international routes around Europe. Water taxis and walking are the options for getting from the train station into the city.
Private water taxis are the most expensive way to get around Venice. They use a meter to determine the fare, which starts at around €14.50 just to get in and continues at €1.80 per minute while the boat is moving. There are also surcharges for large bags and travel after 22:00. There are six water taxi stations: the Ferrovia, Piazzale Roma, the Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, the Lido and Marco Polo Airport. They will also pick up you for an addition fee of €6.
The city operates a fleet of water buses called vaporetti, which offer the cheapest form of transport around Venice. Your ticket allows for unlimited travel in one direction for up to 60 minutes after boarding the boat. Water buses operate from around 05:00 to 21:30 on most of the dozen or so routes.
The iconic gondolas of Venice offer the third form of water transport. They are completely for tourists and, therefore, not cheap. But it’s hard to resist taking at least one trip aboard these charming little boats with their charismatic gondoliers.
Car rental will prove useful for exploring the many sights surrounding Venice. There are plenty of historic towns, seaside resorts and natural parks nearby offering a fun day out away from the watery world of Venice.
Lake Garda - This is Italy’s largest lake, easily accessible from Venice via smooth, fat motorways. There is a wonderful road that hugs the entire circumference of this beautiful body of water surrounded by the Italian Alps foothills. Several beaches and a handful of quaint towns like Gargnano provide places to stop and rest along the way.
Padua - This is an ancient Italian city, set just 40kms from Venice. It is packed to the gills with historic landmarks that include churches, plazas, Roman ruins and botanical gardens. Padua is a dreamy place, with incredible food and a timeless atmosphere - like Venice but without all the water.
Cortina d’Ampezzo - Located just three hours by a very scenic road along the coast, is one of the easiest alpine resorts to reach from Venice. Park your car at the edge of the village and enjoy the mountain peaks, gondola rides and plenty of outdoor recreation, from winter skiing to summer hikes.