Taking part in the
8. Where to go & how to get there
St. Marks Square (San Marco), by waterbus or on foot.
St. Marks Square is where the crowds gather, but you'll also find plenty going on at the nearby waterfront, next to the gondolas and the Bridge of Sighs. Elsewhere in Venice, you'll get the attention of passers by, but not to the same degree. The St Marks area is where people in costume go to promenade along the waterfront and around the square.
You can turn this to your advantage though. If you're desperate for a break, take a dive
into the narrow side streets off St Marks Square. You'll find you can grab a bite to eat
and go to the loo without attracting too much attention. However, if you want a quick
drink, there are often stalls in St Marks Square selling hot wine and traditional
pastries. If you want to keep your mask on, the stallholder will often be happy
to provide a drinking straw!
Various web sites (including the ones in the Links section) have details of events that happen during the carnival - organised parades, parties, and so on. But by far the best source of information is the free booklet published by the tourist board, and available once you get there. This booklet has far more information than is on the web sites, contains information on free and cheap events (which the web sites often don't) and will also tell you about non-carnival events that you may wish to go along to. There is an official Tourist Board office tucked away in a corner of St Marks Square, which stocks the booklets in various languages. They're usually just inside the main door, which is handy as the office itself is small and usually pretty busy.
As far as accomodation goes, there are plenty of hotels in Venice itself. But you should expect to be carrying your luggage through the streets to get there. Some city centre hotels have moorings for water taxis, but water taxis can be very expensive (see below).
An added bonus about the Lido is that scarcely anyone will bat an eyelid at someone walking down the main street in full costume and mask. The same goes for the waterbus into Venice. This gives you time to prepare for the crowd awaiting you when you arrive at St Marks. I'm sure actors call this "getting into character", but I call it "wondering why on earth I'm dressed like this". Thankfully, this question soon becomes irrelevant once you meet the crowds!
Lots of companies do package tours that include your flight and hotel, as well as including some carnival activities and maybe costume hire too. But it is wise to check what you are getting for your money. Sometimes you may be promised entry to St Marks Square to parade in costume - in fact, it's free and there's no ticket required. You might even be promised a costume - which could turn out to be a cloak and a hat, leaving you to pay extra for a mask. "Invitation-only parties" may sound very elite - but can anyone go, as long as they pay the tour company?!
Ask lots of questions. After all, if the package tour company is putting on a Carnival tour, they should know something about the carnival!
If you're a bit shy at donning a costume, then the support of other people on the same package tour will almost certainly help. If you're single, there are even special singles holidays that include organised tours (so you're never left alone unless you want to be) - see the Links page for ideas.
Finally, some notes about getting to Venice.
If you're flying, Venice Marco Polo (VCE) is the main airport. It is connected to Venice, Lido and other main destinations by a regular express waterbus run by Alilaguna. The trip to Venice takes around 30-40 minutes, and the trip to Lido takes around 45-60 minutes.
Venice Treviso (TSF) is the other airport, but is further away from Venice itself. It's used by some low-cost airlines and charter companies - but not all. There is public transport available from the airport to Venice, but your options are more limited, because Treviso is a much smaller airport.
Other transport options to get to Venice are:
If you need more information about transport, there are a number of web sites that can help.
See the Links page for details.
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