The Grand Canal Venice

Practical Information For The First Time Visitor

Grand Canal Venice

Grand Canal Venice

The Grand Canal is 3.8 kms (2.4 miles) in length and travels in an S shape between the two islands Venice is built upon. The Grand Canal links the entry point to Venice for most (Santa Lucia Railway Station and Piazzale Roma) and St Mark's Square where it spills out onto the open ocean.

Unless you are staying in Venice longer than one day, most first time visitors will limit their visit to the area between Santa Lucia Railway Station and St Mark's Square.

Santa Lucia Railway Station and adjacent Piazzale Roma are the gateways to Venice at the end of the causeway from the mainland. As this is where the railway station, car parks, bus stations and cruise terminals of Venice are located this will in all probability be your arrival point when visiting Venice.

Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square) is the heart of Venice. As the largest square in the city St. Mark's Square has always been the location of important government buildings and other facilities central to the goings on in Venice. For first time visitors its the natural magnet to head for on first arriving.

The main city of Venice is two islands split into two by the Grand canal. There are only 4 bridges (footbridges) connecting the two islands. Two bridges are right next to Santa Lucia Railway Station.

Mid-way between Santa Lucia Railway Station and St Mark's Square is the Rilato Bridge (see image below), one of the must see sights of Venice and not too far from St Mark's Square at the other end of the canal is the Accademia Bridge.

Accessing the Grand Canal

Either side of the Grand Canal private buildings front the waterfront, there is no footpath alongside the Grand Canal.

You can walk between Santa Lucia Railway Station and St Mark's Square and view the Rialto Bridge on the way, but your only glimpse of the Grand canal will be at Rialto Bridge.

Rialto Bridge Venice

Rialto Bridge Venice

Venice Water Bus Line 1 Pulling Into Landing Stage

Venice Water Bus Line 1 Pulling Into Landing Stage

It is only when you get beyond St Mark's Square where the Grand canal spills out onto the ocean that there is a wide promenade next to the waterside.

If you want to view the Grand Canal it therefore has to be from the water. Not doing so would be missing out on one of the "must do" experiences of any visit to Venice.

Water Bus Routes 1 & 2

Although there are water taxi services and tours most visitors experience of the Grand canal will be from the water bus service.

The workhorse route is route number 1 that stops at every stop along the Grand Canal.

These are the largest boats, (see image) and even in Winter there are five boats an hour most of the day.

The scheduled journey time between Santa Lucia Railway Station and St Mark's Square is about 45 minutes. There are 14 stops along the way. Number 1 ferry continues another 20 minutes across to Venice Lido Island.

There is also another express boat, route number 2 that does the journey between Santa Lucia Railway Station and St Mark's Square in a scheduled 30 minutes making only 5 stops including Rialto Bridge. Though make sure the boat you get is travelling along the Grand Canal as this route is a circular route that loops around the south of Venice.

Water Bus (Vaporetto) Services - Full Details Including Ticketing & Fares

Venice Gondola Rides

The Venice Gondola is perhaps one of the instant images most people have when Venice is mentioned.

>Venice Gondala Traffic Congestion

Venice Gondola Traffic Congestion!

Although you will come across gondola all over Venice, at least the parts frequented by tourists the most popular base by far are gondola departures from the waterfront at St Mark's Square.

Up to six people can share a gondola.

The city of Venice sets official rates for gondola rides, typically a rate for 40 minutes, then additional increments of 20 minutes. Seek out the official rates by all means, but don't expect the actual price to be exactly the same rate in your head - make sure you have an agreement on price before you depart. In the evening rates may climb.

From the busy gondola stops by St Mark's most gondolas will follow the same route in a circuit behind St Mark's Square along the narrow canals there. At busy periods the route can have the water equivalent of traffic congestion, (see image).

Below is a link to gondola opportunities where the money side is sorted out all in advance.

Venice Gondola Rides 

Tours & Fast Track Admission Tickets In Venice

St Mark's Square, Basilica & Doge's Palace Tours

Skip the Line: Saint Mark's Basilica Tour (1 hour)   €25.00

Orientation of St Mark's Square plus tour of Basilica

Skip the Line: Doge's Palace Guided Tour (1 hour)    €27.40

See the best of Doge's Palace .

Skip the Line: Doge's Palace Secret Itineraries Tour (85 mins)    €57.00

See the best of Doge's Palace with rare access to the Piombi attic prison and the Bridge of Sighs.

Skip the Line: St Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace Tour    €50.00

See the best of Doge's Palace .

Skip-the Line Doge's Palace, St Mark’s Basilica Tours + Venice Walking Tour    €76.50

Experience all the highlights of Venice around St Mark's Square In 1 Day

Skip-the Line Doge's Palace, St Mark’s Basilica Tours + Venice Walking Tour & Canal Cruise    €114.00

Experience all the highlights of Venice around St Mark's Square In 1 Day + canal cruise

Skip the Line: Best of Venice Walking Tour including Basilica di San Marco    €39.00

2 Hour Walking Tour Including Rialto Bridge + St Marks with skip the line basilica tour

Best Of Venice Tours

Skip the Line: Venice in One Day Including Boat Tour    €67.00

Three-hour combination walking and boat tour of Venice

Venice Tour Including Gondola Ride    €67.00

Morming or Evening tour of Venice concluding with a gondola ride

Venice Gondola Rides 

A selection of gondola ride opportunties in Venice

Murano, Burano and Torcello Half-Day Sightseeing Tour    €20.00

Tour the outer islands of Venice by boat

Venice Shore Excursions From Cruise Ships Docked

Cruise Ship Shore Excursions 

A choice of Venice tours independent of the pricey ship offerings

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