To experience it once in a lifetime is the epitome of dream come true and I would assume that the feeling will always be the same regardless if you’ve been to Venice as a couple on a honeymoon, on an annual family trip or a solo traveler.
From the time I stepped out of the Venezia Sta.Lucia train station (Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia) and purchased a water bus ticket (vaporetto), the view of the main thoroughfare hold all possibilities and a twirl of imagination, reminding me of a movie once saw or a book read.
Contrary to the popular belief that Venice is reserve for the wealthy, although the general price is higher as compare to other Italian towns, one thing that will always cost less is to explore the main reason why Venice is Venice after all, none other than the Grand Canal.
Taking the Grand Canal via public transportation called vaporetto, specifically ACTV Line No. 1 is the cheapest way to go and I don’t think it will diminish the over-all experience. Though it is a matter of timing, either early in the morning or late in the evening is the best time to go. Try to avoid peak hours where local commuters are mostly on their way to work or heading back home.
Though the trip will not be as private as a gondola ride, a well-plan use of vaporetto to experience the Grand Canal will be a close one, particularly if you are seated at the open bow portion of the water bus.
It will be wise to purchase the tourist travel card for a unlimited ride. At least you can do as many round trips as you want, possibly one in the morning and one in the evening, whether you want to start from San Marco to Piazzale Roma or the other way around, or maybe stop by at Rialto for a closer look at Venice most famous bridge.
Touring the Grand Canal is an introduction to the mixed architectural style of Venice.
With over 170 buildings lined across the canal, with style ranging from Byzantine, Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, Neo-classical, which are accumulated result of wealthy Venetian owners who want to demonstrate their richness by building a grand palazzo.
The 2.5 miles long Grand Canal is Venice main highway dividing the city in two equal parts. Whether you look left or right, there is just too much to admire. Therefore, the best course is to enjoy the vaporetto ride and make a mental note of places you want to revisit soon, like a closer look at the Salute (Santa Maria della Salute Basilica) later on.
My canal tour in particular is an extended version, since I was staying at a different island other than historic center and the Grand Canal route. I need to take a different vaporetto to go to the opposite island of Giudecca where the Ostello Venezia is located.
Usually the fastest route is to take the ferry across from San Marco back to Zittelle at the Island of Guidecca, but I often took the long journey starting from the Sta. Lucia train station. I like this longer trip as I get to glimpse the other islands of Venice, the non-touristy ones.
Every time I came back to the hostel after a day of sightseeing at the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco, it feels like travelling back home, back to the simplicity and quietness of Isola della Guidecca. The view of San Marco from afar is what greeted me in the morning and the last thing I often see before I go to sleep.