Italy Places trip reports Venice

Imagine Venice without mobile directions

a narrow alley between brick walls
Skinny passage

Getting to Venice is the easy part, except in our case. Getting around Venice is difficult. There are no cars once you walk into the main city of islands. Boats are the only motorized transport. Venezia has six districts or sestiere in the main body of bridge connected islands. These districts are divided by the Grand Canal with Cannaregio, San Marco and Castello on one side and Santa Croce, San Polo and Dorsoduro on the other. Santa Croce is where the bus and tram stops are to the mainland and the train station is across the Grand Canal in Cannaregio. There are only four bridges across the Grand Canal, so unless you buy boat tickets you need to know how to reach one of the bridges. (Public transport ACTV ferry tickets are €7.50 per one way trip around the districts and other islands; much cheaper with daily pass options).

a map of a city
Google Maps – Venice

Imagine Venice without Mobile Directions

Here is a close up view of one section of San Polo showing all the islands and the few bridges connecting them. There are seven islands here separated by canals and only six bridges connecting them in this part of San Polo. 

a map of a city
Sestieri San Polo close-up

Whenever I tried to navigate without use of Google Maps, I generally ended up at dead-end streets or an alley that took me to a dead-end canal opening. Even after three days of walks and a couple of hours after returning from the Jewish Ghetto in Cannaregio, I tried to backtrack to the ghetto with Kelley from our hotel without use of Google Maps. 15 minutes later we found ourselves back at the hotel with no idea we were walking in a circle.

Venice by Boat or Bus

Arriving from Venice Airport by bus cost €8.00 one way per ticket to the Venezia bus transit area a short distance from the end of the causeway. From there navigating Venice is all by foot or by boat if you stay in a hotel with those facilities. There are no cars once you walk into the main city of islands, Venezia is divided by the Grand Canal with four pedestrian bridges and hundreds of brick covered islands separated by canals and these blocks are strung together by hundreds of canal bridges.

Hotel Aquarius Venice in Santa Croce is only a 16 or 17 minute walk from the bus depot according to Google Maps. I’d probably take a boat if I were staying in Castello or San Marco districts. You need to cross a lot of bridges with stairs to reach those locations. 

a canal with boats in it with Grand Canal in the background
Sestiere Santa Croce

a canal between buildings with boats

a bridge over water with boats and buildings
Cannaregio Siestre, Venezia

Google Maps – Depot Bus to Hotel Aquarius Venice

a map with blue dots and white text
Google Maps: Venice depot bus to Hotel Aquarius in Siestre Santa Croce

Low tunnel, narrow passageway

On our first walk to the hotel I kept saying to myself ‘this can’t be the right way’.

two people with luggage on a sidewalk
Giardini Papadopoli green space across from Depot Bus area where airport bus arrives and departs.

We walked along the Grand Canal for a way, where I snapped my best photo of Constitution Bridge, the most northerly bridge crossing over the Grand Canal from the Depot Bus in Santa Croce (left side) to the train station in Cannaregio (right side).

a boat on the water
Ponte della Costituzione – Constitution Bridge (in background)’

When we turned off the Grand Canal the streets kept turning into smaller and smaller alleys. The pavement was smooth wherever we walked in Venice, so easy to roll luggage. The canal bridge stairs are the tough part.

a street with buildings and people walking

a person walking through a tunnel
Low tunnel
a street with buildings and a stone walkway
Notice white sign on wall to left
a narrow alley between brick walls
Narrow passageway
a narrow brick alley way
Really skinny

a person's feet on a stone surface

a cat standing on a stone path
Cat in Santa Croce

Kelley liked this route to our hotel for the street cat that was generally hanging around a restaurant.

a canal with boats and buildings
Santa Croce canal bridge view
a tall tower in a courtyard
Campanile-bell tower of Chiesa di San Giacomo dall’Orio
a group of people walking in a courtyard
Hotel Aquarius Venice (white building) in San Giacomo dell’Orio, Sestiere Santa Croce, Venice

We finally made it to Hotel Aquarius, our Venice hotel for five nights, after 44 hours since leaving our home in Monterey.

Venice Stairways and Canals (April 2022)

Stairways across Venice for Star Alliance Gold status renewal

Would pre-trip illness cancel our trip to Venice?

Venice Delayed after Catering Truck Hits United 772 at SFO Gate

Hotel NH München Airport free night from Lufthansa

Imagine Venice without mobile directions

Hotel Aquarius Venice, Choice Hotels Ascend Collection

Hotel Aquarius Venice Art and Space


  • DaninMCI April 22, 2022

    Funny. What did we ever do to get around Venice 10, 20, 30 years ago? The horror 🙂

  • Petrus April 22, 2022

    Maybe you should stay in the US. Leave Venice for those of us who like to get lost in it’s splendor you uneducated git.

  • Ric Garrido April 22, 2022

    I got plenty lost in Venice multiple times.

    The most common sight I saw in Venice is a tourist walking along staring at their phone.

    I got into the habit of following people who were not using phones and moving quickly. Ended up following someone to their house doorway one time. Then I turned on my phone maps and was happy to see I was still on the correct route from Dorsoduro back to Hotel Aquarius.

  • Too Many April 22, 2022

    Clearly we’ve come to a point in society where the ability to read a printed map or having a sense of direction has been surpassed by mental laziness and over-reliance on technology.

  • bill April 22, 2022

    I don’t know why people think being rude anonymously is somehow appropriate. My strong suspicion is that Petrus is not a Venetian local.

  • bc April 23, 2022

    Great post, Ric. I had a similar reaction when wandering around Venice a few years back… not necessarily an over-reliance on Google Maps, but just a glance at the map every so often can definitely help avoiding those dead end canals that always seem to come up. Without a doubt it’s one of my favorite places in the world to wander around.

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