If you haven’t crossed water, you’re not there yet.
The first thing to understand about Venice is that your car is of absolutely no use here. Venetian “streets” are for walking, and do not accommodate any wheeled motor traffic (or even bicycles, for that matter), so you cannot drive to your hotel or park anywhere near it. This also means for the length of your visit, you’ll be paying a daily car rental as well as daily — and not inexpensive — parking. If possible, arrange to arrive by train, for example, or return your rental car immediately on arrival.
DRIVING INTO VENICE
SR11 is the Strada Regionale off the A4 / A57 that leads directly into Venezia — although the VENEZIA signs are more prominent than the route number itself. The SR11 will lead you onto the 4.5km-long Ponte della Libertà, the causeway that connects the mainland with the last stop for Venice motor traffic, Piazzale Roma. Once you see water on both sides of the highway, you know you’re almost there.
CAR RENTAL RETURN at PIAZZALE ROMA
Once the water ends, keep an eye out on your right for a five-story, windowed, industrial looking building: this is the Autoremessa, or parking garage, and all car rental agencies are located on the bottom floor. They are perched up above street level, though, so scan carefully; in fact, you’ll see the garage *before* you reach Piazzale Roma itself. You don’t have to drive up into the garage to return your car; just pull along the road as soon as you spot the rental agency signs, and walk up to return your car. They drive the car into the garage for you — easier for them, and you.
ATTENZIONE: Piazzale Roma is a one-way traffic loop, so if you miss the rental offices, the traffic pattern will sling you around the loop and back toward the causeway. Keep an eye out and stop as soon as you spot the parking garage and rental offices on your right, and park along the road at the base.
Once you’ve returned your car (or parked in either the ASM Garage Autoremessa Comunale or San Marco Garage), you can either walk to your lodging if it’s nearby (not recommended otherwise with luggage), head across the street to the vaporetto landings to take the public transportation option, or in the other direction to pick up a private water taxi.
» To take the water bus, or vaporetto:
- If you’ve purchased a discount pass through VeniceConnected.com, look for their sign at the ticket booths, down the stairs at the water level, just to the left of the big Ponte della Costituzione that leads acoss the canal to the train station. You may also retrieve your pass at the nearby automatic ticket machines.
- You may also purchase passes at the ACTV ticket counters on the street and inside the offices (take a number) — on-site prices are listed above the ticket windows.
- Automatic ticket machines can come in very handy and are located at many stops throughout the city — review the ticket and pass prices, decide which option you prefer, and make your purchase using the English language option.
» For the private water taxi, or motoscafo:
Direct to your hotel, €100 for up to four people and luggage – there’s also an option for a less-expensive shared taxi; see venicelink.com.
If you’d like more info on the water bus vaporetti, check out the Vap Map
PARKING YOUR CAR IN VENICE
There are two attended, (mostly) covered garages in Piazzale Roma (San Marco and ASM), and a larger one on Tronchetto island, just west of Piazzale Roma. In fact, you’ll turn right before you reach Piazzale Roma to arrive at the Tronchetto Parking. Tronchetto is served by a vaporetto Line 2 and the Peoplemover tram; the 3-minute, €1 connection from Piazzale Roma to the Marittima port entrance to the Tronchetto parking garage. All these garages are comparable in price (about €25 per day), and should be reserved in advance.
In contrast, there is inexpensive parking at the airport, Marco Polo 2002; you’ll then arrive in Venice proper via Alilaguna transfer.
There are also parking possibilities available in Mestre (like the ASM San Giuliano) before you cross the lagoon to Venice itself. They’re about half the price of the Piazzale Roma and Tronchetto garages and a good option if you intend to park for several days — just make sure the one you choose is attended 24/7.