'Is Venice connected to the mainland?'
Venice, Italy's historic center is built on 118 small islands that
are linked by 400+ footbridges. A railroad bridge and the Ponte della
Libertà, a highway bridge, connect the centro storico to Venice's
modern mainland districts of Mestre and Marghera.
ABOVE: Venice's centro storico, or historic
center, is in the middle of this aerial photo. The thin line above the "Mestre &
Marghera" label is the railroad bridge and causeway to the Venetian mainland.
Click here for a bigger image if you're usig high-speed Internet and a large
First-time visitors to Venice are often
surprised to learn that the city (or at least its historic portion) is located
offshore, some 4 km or 2.5 from terra firma or dry land. Until 1846,
the only way to reach the city center was by boat.
Today, you can reach the centro storico, or historic center, by
multiple modes of transportation:
A railroad bridge runs from the
mainland to Venezia Santa Lucia (the
city's main RR station).
A causeway, the Ponte della Libertà,
is used by cars, taxis, buses, trucks, the T1 Mestre-Venice tram, bicycles,
and pedestrians. It leads to three destinations on the edge of the historic center: The
Piazzale Roma (Venice's main terminus for
motorized traffic) the Tronchetto
parking island, and the cruise
terminals of Marittima and San Basilio/Santa Marta.
ABOVE: A railroad bridge has connected Venice
(top half of photo) to the Italian mainland since 1846. Alongside it runs the Ponte della
Libertà, a causeway that serves motor vehicles, trams, bicycles, and pedestrians.
for a larger photo.
Why Venice's location matters:
1. Venice is more than the centro storico.
Venice's historic center is just one part of the Comune di Venezia,
a.k.a. the City of Venice. It isn't even the biggest part: The centro storico
has about 50,000 residents, while the municipality as a whole has a population
of more than 260,000.
Most Venetians live in the comune's mainland districts
of Mestre and Marghera. However, nearly everything of interest to visitors is in
the historic center. This leads to our next point:
2. "Where should I stay?" requires an educated
When choosing a hotel or
vacation apartment in Venice, you
have three options:
The centro storico.
Rates tend to be higher in the center, and it's important to
pick the right location, but you'll
experience a Venice that daytrippers never see. (Early in the morning and
late in the evening, the city is less crowded and feels more welcoming than
in the daytime.)
Mestre or Marghera.
Venice's mainland districts are pleasant enough, and you'll pay less for
comparable accommodation than you would in central Venice. (Some hotels even
However, there are three significant downsides: You'll waste
time commuting, you won't have a place to relax between bouts of
sightseeing, and you'll miss out on the pleasures of off-hours Venice.
For advice on where to stay in Venice's mainland districts, see our
Mestre and Marghera Hotels
Venice's Lido di Venezia beach resort is a barrier island
between the Adriatic Sea and the Venetian Lagoon. Like Mestre and Marghera
(but unlike the centro storico) it allows bicycles and cars.
prefer the city center (especially for a first-time visit), but the Lido is
worth considering if you're visiting from spring through early fall.
The Lido is
only a few minutes from Venice's centro storico by public
vaporetto. You can
reduce commuting costs with a
tourist travel pass.
3. How to reach Venice by air, land, or sea.
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About the author:
Durant Imboden has
written about Venice, Italy since 1996.
He covered Venice and European travel at About.com for 4-1/2 years before launching
Europe for Visitors (including
Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl
Imboden in 2001.
PC Magazine has called this "the premier visitors'
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